Girl Power and the Role (or lack thereof) of Men

© James Pyles

My 3 1/2 (closer to 4 actually) year old granddaughter loves books and she loves being read to. She knows her alphabet really well and can spell her first and last name. She’s a smart kid.

I love reading to her and my wife often takes our granddaughter to the local public library to check out books, lots and lots of books. The other day, I came home from work, and after my granddaughter woke up from her nap, she wanted me to read to her. Two of the library books she chose were Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs by Jacky Davis and Red Riding Hood Superhero: A Graphic Novel by Otis Frampton.

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The Reviews of My Anthologies are in

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From cover image for “1929: A Zimbell House Anthology”

I didn’t think this would happen so soon, but the three anthologies I’ve been published in so far this year have started to get a bit of buzz.

Pixie Forest Publishing’s “Magical Reality” featuring my short story “The Dragon’s Family” has three 5-star reviews (and ratings on goodreads) on Amazon and goodreads.

Zombie Pirate Publishing’s “World War Four” containing my short story “Joey” has a total of 29 goodreads‘s ratings (no reviews so far) with a total score of 4.93 (out of a possible 5.00).

And even though it only became available for purchase yesterday, Zimbell House Publishing’s “1929” received a single 5-star rating on goodreads, although to be fair, the rating was from the publisher.

First Review of “Magical Reality” Anthology

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Screenshot of goodreads review

My short story “The Dragon’s family” is featured in the Pixie Forest Publishing anthology Magical Reality and guess what? It got its first review, both on Amazon and on goodreads. Yes, five-star review praising ALL of the stories within its pages, which includes mine. Yes, I’m thrilled.

Keep ’em coming, readers.

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Screenshot of the “Magical Reality” page at Amazon

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Screenshot of Amazon’s “Magical Reality” page including author’s list and review details

Book Review: “Red Mars”

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Cover image for Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel “Red Mars.”

When reading author Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1992 Nebula award-winning novel Red Mars, I made a decision I rarely consider. I stopped reading before I finished. Yes, it was that dull.

The book is actually the first in the Mars Trilogy describing the colonization, terraforming, and the final result of turning the fourth planet into an Earth-like environment over several centuries.

So what was so dull about the novel? I mean, the first part deals with passion, jealousy, and murder, so you’d think it would be exciting.

It has to be Robinson’s writing style. Even during “the action,” the presentation and characters were about as thrilling as watching grass grow (especially in early March in Idaho). The story is told through the points of view of several of the 100 initial colonists of the red planet, but their lives, even aboard a spacecraft and on the surface of Mars, is so ordinary. I didn’t particularly like or relate to any of them.

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Book Review of “Escaping Infinity”

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Cover art for Richard Paolinelli’s novel “Escaping Infinity”

I’ve wanted to read and review one of Richard Paolinelli’s novels for quite some time now, since I previously reviewed his short story The Last Hunt which was featured in last year’s Superversive Press anthology To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. I finally got my opportunity with Escaping Infinity, a 2017 Dragon Award Finalist.

As I got into Paolinelli’s book, I found it had some similarities to Australian SciFi writer Matt Reilly’s 2000 novel Contest. In both books, an innocent couple is thrown into a highly unlikely environment where they must solve a series of challenges in order to survive. In Reilly’s case, it was the location was the main branch of the New York City Public Library, and in Paolinelli’s novel, it’s a seemingly five-star hotel located in the middle of the Arizona desert, miles away from where any such structure has a right to be.

Peter and his friend and co-worker Charlie are driving to Phoenix for a business trip and become lost. Running out of gas and miles from nowhere, they come across an incredibly futuristic and opulent hotel called “Infinity.” Once inside, they realize the hotel and casino can provide a virtually unlimited supply of pleasures and experiences, enough to keep them there for a lifetime, which seems to be the idea.

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Book Review of Yage: A Tom Regan Thriller

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Cover art for Aidan Reid’s novel “Yage.”

It’s been quite a while since I reviewed Irish indie author Aidan J. Reid’s mystery novel Sigil. The book introduced Father Tom Regan, a Catholic Priest with a nose for mysteries, and particularly the bizarre.

Yage is the second in the “Tom Regan Thriller” series, and this time, Reid takes it up a notch.

Based on his own drug use experiences under somewhat similar circumstances, Reid takes Father Regan to Peru, ostensibly to meet his young niece Louise, who has been hiking throughout the Peruvian region, but also to process his own crisis of faith, particularly in light of the conclusion of the Sigil ordeal.

What Regan finds is a mystery he didn’t ask for and one that puts the life of his niece at risk. Slowly putting the clues together, he finds that Louise is only one of a number of victims of a mysterious shaman, who is somehow tied to the Yage tourist trade, people from western nations who pay local companies to administer and monitor their use of a hallucinogen for a variety of personal purposes. Tom himself must undergo this challenge in his desperate efforts to find his missing niece. Along the way, he finds unlikely allies in the form of a local priest, other tourists, and another young woman he must use, and put at risk, in order to discover what happened to Louise.

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Book Review of “Dark Intelligence: Transformation Book One”

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Cover art for Neal Asher’s 2015 novel “Dark Intelligence.”

Disclosure: My short story “Joey” will be published in the upcoming Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology World War Four which also features the novelette “Monitor Logan” by best-selling author Neal Asher. Watch for the anthology on Amazon starting March 1, 2019.

I must admit that prior to being informed of the above, I had never heard of Asher or his works, though scanning his published novels, I was certainly impressed. Since we’d be “sharing” the inside of an anthology, I felt I should get to know his writing a bit better, and so selected Dark Intelligence: Transformation Book One (2015) as my introductory novel.

There was a superficial resemblance to Alastair Reynolds’ 2008 collection of short stories (all set in the same universe) Galactic North, particularly in the area of “medical atrocities,” but other than that, they’ve both described unique universes.

The novel is an ensemble piece, however the main protagonist, and the only one who speaks in first person, is a man called Thorvald Spear, who was killed in a war a century before by the rogue AI Penny Royal, or so it seems. Spear is revived with a strong desire to revenge himself on the supremely powerful Penny Royal, but as he continues to pursue her, he becomes uncertain if some, or any of his memories are truly his rather than images implanted by the AI in order to manipulate him.

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Book Review: Contest

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Cover art for Matthew Reilly’s novel “Contest.”

Sometime last summer, I wrote a short piece of fiction on this blog, and one of the comments made about it was that it was vaguely reminiscent of Matthew Reilly’s novel Contest.

Intrigued, I discovered that my local public library system had a copy, so I checked it out and started reading (however, I forgot to write a review until now).

Actually, the novel was originally self-published in 1996 when Reilly was age 19. Then Cate Paterson, a commissioning editor from Pan Macmillan, found a copy of in a bookstore and subsequently signed Reilly to a two-book deal. Apparently, Reilly had success with later novels as well.

Reilly is an Australian, but he chose to set his tale in New York City, specifically the main branch of the New York City Public Library (which was featured at the beginning of the 1984 film Ghostbusters), and his main characters are New York natives, which is where he starts to get into trouble.

Actually, I liked the book, but he introduced plot holes big enough for me to walk through, and he occasionally called things like the trunk of a car “the boot,” not keeping it straight in his mind that the people thinking these thoughts were American.

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Blocked: When You Make a Hugo-Award Winning Author Upset on Twitter

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Screen capture from twitter

Yesterday, I wrote and posted a book review of SF/F author N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo award-winning novel The Fifth Season, both here on my blog and on Amazon (considering Goodreads as well).

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Screenshot from twitter

I then posted links of my review on twitter and in a private writer’s group on Facebook. As you can see by the accompanying screenshot, I included Ms. Jemisin’s twitter “handle” in the body of my message in case she might want to read the review (and what author doesn’t want to read reviews of their books?).

As an aside, before someone mentions it, I suppose I could be accused of “trolling” Jemisin…except I wasn’t. All I did was put @nkjemisin into the body of my tweet which also contained a link to my review of her novel. If I had put her handle as the very first word in the tweet, it would have gone straight to her and it would not have appeared in my twitter feed. I didn’t do that. I wasn’t exclusively “aiming” my tweet at her, though I certainly wouldn’t have minded if she saw it and read the review. I suppose she could have taken it the wrong way.

Now to continue:

I popped over to her twitter account just for the heck of it and gave it a brief read. I don’t recall the specific content. I was just curious.

This morning, I decided to post another tweet referencing my review. I do this several times in twitter since folks might miss it the first time or two. I decided to include Jemisin’s twitter name once more, and out of curiosity, visited her twitter account again. Lo and behold, I was blocked. What the heck? What happened in the last 22 hours or so?

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Book Review: The Fifth Season

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Cover image of NK Jemisin’s 2015 Hugo Award winning novel “The Fifth Season

“Jemisin is now a pillar of speculative fiction, breathtakingly imaginative and narratively bold.”―Entertainment Weekly

“Intricate and extraordinary.”―The New York Times

“[The Fifth Season is] an ambitious book, with a shifting point of view, and a protagonist whose full complexity doesn’t become apparent till toward the end of the novel. … Jemisin’s work itself is part of a slow but definite change in sci-fi and fantasy.”―Guardian

“Astounding… Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come.”―NPR Books

“Jemisin’s graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world.”―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“A must-buy…breaks uncharted ground.”―Library Journal (starred review)

“Jemisin might just be the best world builder out there right now…. [She] is a master at what she does.”―RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)

“Wait! What? Sure, it’s an interesting story, but… –Me

I’ve read most Hugo nominated and award-winning novels from 1988 back to 1958, when the Hugos first came into existence, but recently, I decided for the sake of fairness, I should consume more recent popular SF/F novels and stories to see how cultural perception is changing the landscape of speculative fiction. The fact that N.K. Jemisin is a three-time Hugo award winner wasn’t lost on me, particularly after having read her latest controversial historic Hugo Award acceptance speech.

Fortunately, The Fifth Season (2015), the first book in “The Broken Earth” series, was available through my local public library system. Given its obvious “hype,” I was hoping for something spectacular and afraid that it wouldn’t be.

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