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

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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.

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The COVID-19 California Police State

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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.

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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.

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A Few Freebies While Enduring COVID-19 Separation

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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.

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

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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:

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Book Review: “And Hell Followed – An Anthology”

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Cover image for the Death’s Head Press anthology “And Hell Followed”

I don’t quite recall the original conversation I had on Facebook, but a little over a month ago, I agreed to review the Death’s Head Press anthology And Hell Followed. Jarod Barbee purchased a digital copy for me, and I downloaded it to my kindle device and started reading.

What intrigued me about this particular horror anthology, was that the theme required authors to craft tales based on the Book of Revelation. Yeah that one. The last book in the Christian Bible. The one that foretells the end of life as we know it on Earth and the second coming of Jesus Christ…

…and a whole bunch of very, very horrible sounding events.

I just finished reading it earlier today, and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. The general quality of the tome held up pretty well. Usually in anthologies, there’s some fluctuation in quality from one story to another, and while each missive was quite different from the next, all of them were engaging and entertaining.

More than a few creeped me out.

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Infestation Anthology Now Available!

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© James Pyles

I received an email this morning with a digital copy of this book “Infestation,” published by Terror Tract. I had previously mentioned that this anthology, featuring my SciFi/Horror short story “From Deep Within the Skin,” was available for pre-order on Amazon and would be delivered to your kindle device by March 30, 2020.

I checked again, and it’s available now!

I’m including a photo of my computer screen showing a page from the book, as well as the anthology’s Amazon page.

From the book’s Foreword:

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This Probably Isn’t Funny, But…

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© James Pyles

…we’ve got plenty of toilet paper in Boise, Idaho.

Addendum – March 13, 2020: Idaho’s first case of coronavirus has just been confirmed. While an Oregon doctor said that 82% of cases are mild, there is also information about how it is different from the flu.

This is off the cuff. No research (or damn little) involved. I’ve been listening to the hysteria over coronavirus for weeks it seems. No cases in my little corner in the world, but I can’t ignore that thousands have died. I also can’t ignore that this isn’t anything like Stephen King’s The Stand, either.

Look, I’m sorry actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson contracted the virus while on a trip to Australia, but on the other hand, being celebrities doesn’t mean they are any more victims than the rest of the world.

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Review of Max Barry’s Novel: “Lexicon”

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Cover image for Max Barry’s 2013 novel “Lexicon”

I just finished Australian author Max Barry‘s 2013 novel Lexicon and I think it’s terrific.

I first became aware of him and this novel by reading a 2014 article he wrote for Gizmodo called How to Write a Great Science Fiction Novel in 7 Easy Steps and, as far as I can tell, “Lexicon” is the first SciFi novel he ever published, though he’s written other books before.

The novel is intriguing in that words are used as weapons, and they can ultimately kill. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but as it turns out, there are certain individuals who, properly trained, can analyze the personality “segment” of people around them, determining which words (which in the book are all nonsense words) will influence them.

But it’s worse than that. A teenage girl named Emily Ruff, who is a runaway and homeless in San Francisco at the beginning of the story, is recruited by a mysterious group of people and begins training at an exclusive prep school in Virginia (think “Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Children” except the children are especially persuasive, but not mutants).

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More on the “Planetary Anthology Series” and Other News

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Promotional image for Tuscany Bay Books Planetary anthology series

I know I’ve been harping for a while on having two of my SciFi short stories accepted into the “Mars” and “Sol” anthologies in Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Series, but I was just sent a link to Amazon that displays that entire collection on a single page.

This is definitely one-stop shopping. Pre-order all eleven volumes in the series in a single action. They’re waiting for you now.

I’ve just completed my first major edit to the tale “The Pleiades Dilemma” for the “Sol” anthology, and after doing a bit more research, came up with a different, and what I think of as a more dramatic climax to my story. Really, I’m very proud of it. Hope the editor agrees.

In other news…

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