Update on the “World War Four” Anthology

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Promotional image for Zombie Pirate Publishing’s “World War Four” anthology

Remember a few days ago when I announced that one of my short stories was going to be published in Zombie Pirate Publishing’s anthology World War Four? The accompanying graphic stated that there would be a “Special Guest” author’s work included in the project.

Late yesterday (in my time zone), Adam and Sam at ZPP posted a brief video on Facebook (it should play in a new window or tab when you click the link, even if you aren’t logged into Facebook) announcing the author.

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Galactic North: A Brief Book Review

galactic north

Cover art for Alastair Reynolds’ book ‘Galactic North.”

A friend of mine loaned me his copy of this book because we share similar tastes in reading and I must say I found it well-written and compelling. Galactic North is a collection of eight short stories all set in the same “universe” and spanning centuries.

They involve different variations of the human race, and how they cooperate and compete with each other across the ages and light years. It’s space opera at its finest including plausible “space pirates.”

Author Alastair Reynolds has a Ph.D in Astronomy and was previously employed as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency, so he definitely possesses the qualifications for writing “hard science fiction.”

Interestingly enough, in addition to realistically portrayed interstellar travel, suspended animation, and human cybernetic hive minds, he focuses quite a bit on the medical adaptations to human beings, from the hyper-cerebral Conjoiners, to the terrifying Denizens.

The only thing that put me off a bit were the instances of what I call “medical atrocities,” that is, how some of the people in the stories end up horribly altered and mutilated, but that’s more a problem with my squeamishness than Reynolds’ writing.

As I understand it, Reynolds has written a number of other short stories and novels in the “Revelation Space” series, comparable to Larry Niven’s “Known Space” series. I have no problem giving “Galactic North” a solid five stars on Amazon, which I will be doing in just a bit.

Anticipating the Anthology “To Be Men”

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Cover image of the soon to be published book “To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity.”

I’ve become aware of a book soon to be made available through Superversive Press called To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. It’s an anthology and actually the sort of project I’d have loved to contribute to. The theme is based on a premise currently popular in speculative fiction and in certain social perspectives, that traditional masculinity is considered toxic or otherwise undesirable or harmful.

Actually, the issues are more complicated than they seem on the surface, but they are also very polarizing (like so many social issues are these days).

I came across the term Beta Male in relation to this, and depending on your perspective, it’s either highly denigrated or highly celebrated. If traditional masculinity is “toxic,” then “beta maleness” seems to be the goal in some circles.

In response to Disney’s current “take” on the “Star Wars” franchise, I’ve decided to “take back” Star Wars by re-watching the original trilogy (“Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi”). To me, those are the only three films that truly embrace “StarWars-ness”), even though “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” (the latter film I have yet to see) feature some of the original actors.

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Planetary Anthology: Venus – A Book Review

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Cover art for Venus Planetary Anthology

I’m delighted to be the first person (on Amazon) to review the Planetary Anthology: Venus. I’ve been aware of the Superversive SF movement and their publications for a few years now, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to review any of their works apart from God, Robot.

Each anthology in the series takes the theme of a particular planet or other major body in our solar system and asks contributors to create a short story on that theme. In this case, it can be about the planet Venus, but it can also be about the mythological goddess, or even on the wider topic of love and romance (with or without the SciFi/Fantasy elements).

One of the motivations for reading an anthology is to become exposed to a wider variety of authors (twenty in the case of “Venus”) and then decide which ones you like well enough to read more of their works.

I downloaded “Venus” onto my Kindle Fire and spent a few weeks of lunch hours reading stories and taking notes.

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