Review of “Forgotten Ones: Drabbles of Myth and Legend”

forgotten

Cover art for the Eerie River Publishing anthology “Forgotten Ones”

I’ve been downloading a lot of digital books that are being offered cost free as promotions lately. It’s a great way to read new material and it’s easy on my meager budget, especially since the libraries have closed (sounds dystopian, doesn’t it?).

Somewhere on Facebook (probably), I found a link to the Eerie River Publishing anthology Forgotten Ones: Drabbles of Myth and Legend. Although I’ve written a drabble or two in my time, and have had them published in various anthologies, I’ve never read a drabble anthology cover to cover.

I guess the concept never really appealed to me (ducks as objects by drabble authors are thrown at my head).

And that was how I started reading “Forgotten Ones”. I quickly picked up on each author’s source material in mythology and theology, but they just didn’t seem to float my boat. At heart, I’m a short story to novella writer. I thrive on character development, painting a scene with broad strokes, and then highlighting it with subtle pens and pencils. A 100-word drabble just doesn’t allow for that.

Continue reading

Video Promotion of the “Mars” Planetary Anthology

mars

Screen capture from twitter

As it turns out, Richard Paolinelli posted a video promoting the Mars planetary anthology on twitter, which I saw when I got from my menial day job this afternoon.

You’ll have to click “Continue reading” to see it, and then you’ll have to wait through most of the video to see my credits. However, they are something special:

Continue reading

Book Review of “Plastic Nightmare”

plastic

Cover image for Aditya Deshmukh’s short story “Plastic Nightmare”

Aditya Deshmukh’s short story Plastic Nightmare reads more like a prelude to a novel than anything else. It certainly ended on a cliffhanger, and Deshmukh even states that there will be a sequel.

I really felt like the author didn’t give himself enough room to develop the situation or the characters.

Five years ago, police officer Razia lost her brother. To the rest of the world, it was a tragic accident, but accidents don’t happen in their future utopia. The result is that she has increasingly become obsessed with his disappearance, letting her career begin a long, downward spiral.

Her main foil seems to be her lover and her boss on the police force (not a good combination), and when what appears to be a serial murder impossibly occurs in a world with practically no crime, Razia starts making connections between the so-called “Scarlet Killer” and her brother’s vanishing.

Continue reading

Review of “Echo Volume 4: The Last Edge of Darkness”

echo4

Cover image of Kent Wayne’s novel “Echo Volume 4: The Last Edge of Darkness”

I finally got around to keeping my promise to Kent Wayne (pseudonym) and finishing and reviewing the fourth edition of his “Echo” series, Echo Volume 4: The Last Edge of Darkness Kindle Edition . It marks the conclusion of the physical, psychological, and spiritual quest of elite soldier, Crusader Kischan Atriya.

For reference, here are my reviews of Echo 1, Echo 2, and Echo 3.

In this final installment, Atriya finally arrives at the semi-mythical Mandala City. He has a brief reunion with his former tutor and mystical adept Chrysalis Verus, but the main action centers around his training (again) with Mandala City’s blind “Headmaster” Dake. The training physically disassembles Atriya on a daily basis in an effort to get him to “free his mind” (shades of “the Matrix”).

Actually, there were tons and tons of entertainment, literary, religious, and philosophical references. Wayne pulled no punches in pouring every last ounce of his own viewpoints and beliefs (which he makes very plain in the afterword) into Atriya, Dake, and most of the other characters.

Continue reading

“Spring Into SciFi: 2020 Edition” Available for Pre-Order Now!

© James Pyles

Just got the email update from Cloaked Press that the digital copy of “Spring Into SciFi 2020” is available for pre-order now at Amazon. The ebook will be downloaded to your kindle device on April 3, 2020.

My science fiction short story “The Colonists” appears within its pages, and I’m incredibly thrilled.

Now for an offer:

Continue reading

Book Review of Annalee Newitz’s Novel: “Autonomous”

auto

Cover art for the novel Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

“Autonomous is to biotech and AI what Neuromancer was to the Internet.” —Neal Stephenson

“Something genuinely and thrillingly new in the naturalistic, subjective, paradoxically humanistic but non-anthropomorphic depiction of bot-POV—and all in the service of vivid, solid storytelling.” —William Gibson

“This book is a cyborg. Partly, it’s a novel of ideas, about property, the very concept of it, and how our laws and systems about property shape class structure and society, as well as notions of identity, the self, bodies, autonomy at the most fundamental levels, all woven seamlessly into a dense mesh of impressive complexity. Don’t let that fool you though. Because wrapped around that is the most badass exoskeleton–a thrilling and sexy story about pirates and their adventures. Newitz has fused these two layers together at the micro- and macro-levels with insight and wit and verbal flair. Moves fast, with frightening intelligence.” ―Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

“Annalee Newitz has conjured the rarest, most exciting thing: a future that’s truly new … a terrific novel and a tremendous vision.” ―Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

“Holy hell. Autonomous is remarkable.” ―Lauren Beukes, bestselling author of Broken Monsters

“Everything you’d hope for from the co-founder of io9 … Combines the gonzo, corporatized future of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash with the weird sex of Charlie Stross’s Saturn’s Children; throws in an action hero that’s a biohacker version of Bruce Sterling’s Leggy Starlitz, and then saturates it with decades of deep involvement with free software hackers, pop culture, and the leading edge of human sexuality.” ―Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Walkaway.

“Wait! What?” -Me

Oh, here’s part of Amazon’s blurb on the book on Autonomous:

Their first novel, Autonomous, won the Lambda Literary Award and was nominated for the Nebula and Locus Awards.

My reaction to this novel and the glowing reviews it has received, more or less mirrors my response to N.K. Jemisin‘s award winning tome The Fifth Season.

Continue reading

The COVID-19 California Police State

cdc map

Found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

No, I’m really not that paranoid, but you have to admit that people are probably getting nervous about not just the pandemic, but governmental responses.

First, the rise of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic across the globe. Then the hoarding, including guns and ammo, and then martial law…well sort of.

Yesterday, I heard that San Francisco and several of the surrounding countries all went on lockdown:

Almost 7 million people are affected by the lockdown that went into place Tuesday as Bay Area counties followed San Francisco’s lead in ordering residents to shelter in place. It was the first of such measures in the United States as authorities try to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Okay, I get it. The northern California authorities are trying everything they can think of to flatten the curve.

Continue reading

Review of “Tales of the Southwest” Mentions My Short Story

About six months ago, I mentioned that my short story “The Strangers” was being published in John Green‘s anthology “Tales of the Southwest,” available at Lulu.com.

It’s now also available on Amazon, but that’s not the best news. One of the reviews mentions my story and me by name.

Continue reading

A Few Freebies While Enduring COVID-19 Separation

auto

Cover art for the novel Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

With the public libraries closed and my book budget slashed to zero, I was worried I’d be hard strapped for reading material. Then I remembered that some weeks ago, I downloaded a free copy of Annalee Newitz’s science fiction novel Autonomous from Tor.com. So I revisited my kindle device and started consuming the book.

I’m about 60% through, and I can pretty much guarantee that Ms. Newitz is not going to like my review on Amazon. That said, I don’t actually regret reading her book (since it was free), but it again brings to mind how some forms of entertainment are well thought of (in certain prominent circles) and yet cannot seem to tell a good story.

Yesterday, I discovered John Scalzi’s Redshirts novel was also available as a free Tor download, so the MOBI file is now resting comfortably on my kindle. It won both the 2013 Hugo and Lotus awards for best science fiction novel, but given my current experience with “Autonomous,” as well as how I found N.K. Jemisin’s award winning book The Fifth Season, awards don’t always mean what you want them to mean.

Continue reading

My Science Fiction Short Story “Buried in the Sands of Time” Accepted for Publication!

retro

Promotional announcement for the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology, “Raygun Retro”

I can finally announce this and I’m thrilled to do it. My retro science fiction short story “Buried in the Sands of Time” has been accepted for publication in the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology Raygun Retro: A Science Fiction Anthology.

Here’s the formal announcement from ZPP’s Facebook page:

Congratulations to all of the successful authors for RAYGUN RETRO: A Science Fiction Anthology. Thank you to everyone who submitted, you made it a difficult choice.

Preorder your Raygun Retro Ebook now for half price at the link above.

Available in paperback May 1, 2020.

I’m especially thrilled, because I’ve tried to submit various earlier versions of this tale under the title “Arabia Terra” for nearly two years, and it’s been repeatedly rejected. The final version is a major retooling of the concept which, in this case, is (in my humble opinion) the perfect missive for retro science fiction that pays homage to SciFi movies, TV shows, and novels from the 1950s and 60s, plus illustrates what might happen if the past collided with the future.

Here’s a brief sample. Keep in mind, the final and edited version may read slightly differently:

Continue reading