Book Review: “SS-GB” (1978) by Len Deighton

Cover art for the 1978 novel “SS-GB”

Disclosure: I checked the hardback copy of this novel out from the public library.

Just finished Len Deighton’s 1978 alternative history novel SS-GB: Nazi-Occupied Britain 1941. I recall reading it decades ago, but remembered almost none of the content.

This isn’t actually science fiction, just a sort of “What if Nazi Germany won World War 2 and occupied Great Britain?” The tale centers around Scotland Yard Inspector Douglas Archer, a well-educated man who is fluent in German and works with the SS who have headed up Britain’s police agencies. He seems to get along with his superiors, unlike his partner, Sgt Detective Harry Woods, and many other of the nation’s beleaguered citizens, who chafe at the occupation.

While investigating was started out as a murder, Archer is plunged into a world of political intrigue, conspiracy, and assassination. It only gets worse when SS Standertenfuhrer Huth arrives from Berlin to supervise the investigation. Only then, does he learn the Germany’s secret atomic weapons development project is headquartered in Britain, and the dead man was a nuclear scientist. He also falls into a plot to free the King of England from imprisonment and clandestinely transport him to America, which has remained carefully neutral during the war.

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Are the Science Fiction “Culture Wars” Still Alive and Well?

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Image found at DragonCon.org

I’ve tried to steer this blog away from the more controversial and/or political topics I’ve covered in the past, but then I read Richard Paloinelli’s missive Wikipedia or WikiPravda?. Richard and I share some similar viewpoints, but I lack many of the wounds and scars he’s received in the past, such as those attributed to Mike Glyer at the File 770 science fiction fanzine. I think I was contended with there exactly once. It actually impressed me, since relative to Glyer’s readership, I’m pretty much a nobody.

In the recent past, I’ve heard that Wikipedia, Patreon, and YouTube have been accused of attempting to shut out politically and socially conservative creative voices through censorship and defunding. Since I’m merely a consumer of Wikipedia and YouTube and wouldn’t know what to do with Patreon, I’ve had no personal experience, but on the other hand, I have no trouble believing they are all biased left, either.

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What Not To Do When Submitting a Short Story

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Found at insidenova.com

About five days ago, I submitted a short story to an anthology. The publisher (who shall remain nameless for now) has some pretty strict submission requirements and I thought I had them all covered when I pushed the “Send” button in Gmail, but a few hours later, I got this:

Dear Mr. Pyles,

Thank you for your interest in XXXX anthologies! We are unable to accept your story at this time due to the following:

– missing story summary

– author biography does not meet minimum requirements of 100-200 words

Please consider resubmitting after previewing these links.

I won’t include the links here bu there were five of them. Yikes!

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“The Deseret War” To Be Published In The Anthology “A Mighty Fortress: Mormon Steampunk Volume IV”

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Promotional Image of this year’s Mormon Steampunk anthology published by “Immortal Works”

Remember (or maybe you don’t) when I said that so far this year, nine of my short stories have been accepted for publication, but I can only talk about eight? Well, I just got permission to talk about the ninth. It’s a very differently themed anthology put out by Immortal Works, a small publishing outfit in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The anthology is called “A Mighty Fortress: Mormon Steampunk Volume IV” and stories submitted had two main thematic requirements. First, that it had to be Steampunk. Second, that it had to involve the Mormon Church. Yup, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Normally, I don’t think of those two topics going together, but I managed to make it work.

Here are the specifics at the “Immortal Works” Facebook page. You should be able to read them even if you don’t have Facebook, but I’ll post the info here just in case:

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What the Heck is a “Neffy Award?”

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Screen capture of a portion of Mike Glyer’s online fanzine “File 770”

Having (finally) successfully subscribed to Mike Glyer’s File 770 online SciFi fan newzine, I find that most of what this rather prolific blog puts out doesn’t catch much of my interest. Of course, with WorldCon Dublin coming up next month, a lot of the content is focused there. They also put out a tremendous number of articles about various awards, again, most of which I don’t have an interest in.

However, I did pause to read Neffy Award Ballot Is Out. I’d never heard of the Neffy Awards, so I looked them up.

But before that, I took a look at the ballot, which lists science fiction and fantasy works nominated in a number of categories. They include Best Novel, Best Shorter Work, Best Book Editor, Fanzine, TV Show, Movie, Anime, and so forth. Needless to say, I didn’t recognize any of the names and most of the category entries. Oh, I have heard of “Game of Thrones” and I used to watch “Supergirl,” but that was about it. This reminded me that as a “fan,” I’m probably really lacking in keeping up with what’s current (to find out what I’ve been reading and watching lately, go to my Reviews page).

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Film Review: Captain Marvel (2019)

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@James Pyles

I finally got around to watching Captain Marvel (2019) last night. I said previously, I probably wouldn’t view this film until it came out on DVD, which is exactly what happened. I reserved it at my local public library but had to wait until over 100 other people, who also had it held, watched it before it was my turn.

Even before I saw the movie, when it was still out in theaters, I wrote commentaries about the controversy surrounding the film thanks to actress Brie Larson’s (who stars in the title role) injecting her personal issues into the public marketing of both this movie and Avengers: Endgame (2019). I’ve tried to the best of my ability to be objective in my review, but unfortunately, Larson’s “personality” sometimes got in the way. As it turned out, so did Disney’s/Marvel’s apparent viewpoint.

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Book Review of “Reviver”

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Promotional cover image of Seth Patrick’s 2013 novel “Reviver.” Note: Not the original cover or title.

I probably wouldn’t even have read Seth Patrick’s novel Reviver (2013), but I noticed on the back cover a small review by SF author Neal Asher. I’m familiar with Asher’s work and even share the Table of Contents with him in a recent SciFi anthology, so naturally I was intrigued.

A few weeks back, I was at the local branch of my little public library, and although I was already reading two books, found myself stuck there with my books and my beloved laptop still at home. So I started wandering the stacks. This library is small enough not to differentiate between general fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, so they are all intermixed. I was randomly strolling through, occasionally picking up and reading the summaries of various novels, when I happened upon “Reviver” and noticed Asher’s name on the back cover. I figured, what the heck.

This is Seth Patrick’s very first novel, and I can only imagine he went through quite a few iterations before he arrived at the final product I consumed. It was a terrific mix of horror, mystery, and a hint of speculative fiction. I know there are purists who detest that sort of thing, but I never was one for the extreme blood, guts, and gore of modern horror. Yes, there is graphic imagery in the novel, but nothing I couldn’t handle, and the psychological horror totally hooked me.

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The Superversive Press Anthology “Impossible Hope” is Available Now!

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Proposed cover for “Impossible Hope” anthology

The Superversive Press anthology “Impossible Hope” is now available, but not at Amazon or any other well-known retailer.

28-year-old Bonnie Oliver was diagnosed with Complex Chiari Malformation, Craniocervical and Atlanto-axial Instability and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome type three in 2018. It has been a long and wearisome road to these answers, and her family has watched her health decline for over a decade, with a marked downturn over the past six years. She can’t leave her home without help from a walker and preferably one or two helping hands, and even with that level of support she cannot be out for long.

In order to help Bonnie and raise funds for research into these terrible disorder, A.M. Freeman organized the “Impossible Hope” project. She asked any author who was willing to donate a short story to the anthology which would be sold to raise such funds. That’s why you can’t find this book on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel. You can only get it by donating on Bonnie’s GoFundMe. Donate to help us reach the goal of $110,000 for her surgery, and then download a digital copy of the book. Couldn’t be simpler.

A.M. Freeman

A.M. Freeman as found on her blog.

I’m actually pretty honored. My first introduction to the idea that it might actually be possible to be published was through Superversive Press (though this is the first of their books in which a story of mine is featured). I finally get to share a table of contents with my teacher L. Jagi Lamplighter and her husband John C. Wright. Others with whom I’m acquainted who have donated of their talents are Dave Higgins, Frank B. Luke, Ben Wheeler, Denton Salle, and particularly Sam M. Phillips from Zombie Pirate Publishing (one of the two indie publishers which first published one of my works).

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Another Milestone for “Impossible Hope”

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Proposed cover for “Impossible Hope” anthology

I mentioned Bonnie Oliver’s Impossible Hope last February and again in May. Here’s A.M. Freeman’s description of Bonnie and the purpose of the “Impossible Hope” project:

For over a decade, Bonnie Oliver has gone from doctor to doctor seeking answers to her worsening physical and neurological symptoms. It has been a long and wearisome road, and her family has had to watch as her health declined to the point where, at only 28 years of age, she can no longer leave her home unaided, and even then for only short periods of time.

The idea was for authors to donate short stories to an anthology project called “Impossible Hope” so it could be published and sold to fund Bonnie’s surgery for https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/ (click the links I’ve provided above for more).

The project required:

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Can I Write a Novelette in Seven Days?

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Screen capture of the Zombie Pirate Publishing Facebook page.

That’s the challenge from Zombie Pirate Publishing. Actually Adam and Sam have given us less time than that since according to the JavaScript counter on their main page, I’ve got (as of this writing) just a hair over 5 days and 21 hours. So far I’ve hammered out 2,180 words, but the target word count is between 12,500 and 15,000, so I’ve got a bit of work to do, including plotting the story as I go along.

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