Book Review of “War Factory: Transformation Book Two”

Cover image for Neal Asher’s novel “War Factory”

Disclosure: My short story “Joey” appears in the Zombie Pirate Publishing science fiction anthology World War Four. It also features Neal Asher’s novelette Monitor Logan.

Neal Asher’s War Factory is the sequel to his novel Dark Intelligence and the second in his “Transformations” trilogy.

We continue to follow the travails of a plethora of characters, human, Prador, AI, and other, all orchestrated by the dark AI Penny Royal, who has mysterious motivations for manipulating lives and even entire regimes.

Asher remains a top author in the crafting of space operas, interweaving a large cast of players on his interstellar stage, this time upping the game. Penny Royal leads herself, the assassin droid Riss, and Thorvald Spear on a journey to rediscover their beginnings, which for the mechanized members, is a massive space station. “Room 101” was a sapient intelligence who felt a maternal instinct toward her martial creations, and who, when on the verge of destruction, did the unthinkable.

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The Nature of Social Media in a Nutshell

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Meme found on Facebook

I was checking on Facebook this evening and, alas, was inspired to end the work week with a bit of snark. This really is the nature of social media, and especially (but not exclusively) twitter. It’s also the nature of blogging and fandom.

Over the past year and a month or two, my investigation into “science fiction fandom” (as opposed to science fiction) seems to indicate something pretty similar to what you see above. The same as when you comment on twitter, and for that matter, blog in general, Facebook, Instagram, whatever.

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In Response to “Toxic Fandom”

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Found at knowyourmeme.com

Oh heck. I wasn’t going to comment on this here. Seriously. I admit, when I saw the title of the File 770 article Fandom, Entitlement and Toxicity I had a pretty good idea of what it was all about. When I saw the author was my old “friend” Hampus Eckerman (really, we’ve only had brief online encounters, but they were pretty unpleasant) I was sure of it.

Turns out I was wrong.

What Eckerman was really saying was that his “ownership” of certain characters and franchises, he focuses on “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic book, can lead us as fans to respond pretty badly at times when the creators of these pieces of work do something that rubs us the wrong way.

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Reading about “Palestine + 100” (2019). Was This Really A Good Idea?

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Cover image for the science fiction anthology “Palestine + 100”

I found a link to the book review Palestine + 100′ Explores Contested Territory, Past And Future at Mike Glyer’s File 770 and was intrigued. Apparently, Palestine + 100:

…poses a question to twelve Palestinian writers: what might your country look like in the year 2048 – a century after the tragedies and trauma of what has come to be called the Nakba?

The reviewer, Amal El-Mohtar is the Hugo-award winning author of “The Honey Month” and writes the Otherworldly column for the New York Times Book Review according to the blurb on NPR. Among other things, she states:

The choice of subtitle — “stories from a century after the Nakba” — exemplifies this, drawing attention to the fact that for Palestinians (and many Israelis), May 15, 1948 is not a date to celebrate, but to grieve.

In case you didn’t know, May 15, 1948 was the date when Israel declared it’s independence from British rule and was established as a Jewish state.

The book hasn’t yet been reviewed at Amazon.co.uk, but received two favorable reviews on the U.S. site for Amazon.

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One More Commentary on the Dragon Awards

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Image found at DragonCon.org

I’m new to the whole hype over awards for science fiction and fantasy, well, ever since last year when I learned about the controversy involving the Hugos and the so-called Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.

However, I’ve been paying attention to the Dragon Awards. Unlike most other awards of this type, anyone who has internet access can register for no cost and be able to vote for their favorite authors, books, television shows, and so forth (in other words we mere mortals). I even voted myself, but unlike others, the purpose of this blog post isn’t to share who I favored.

I discovered at least three other commentaries on the Dragons: File 770‘s Mike Glyer, Camestros Felapton‘s, an apparently associated blog which I’ve just started following, and Richard Paolinelli’s SciFiScribe.

They all had slightly different takes.

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Film Review of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970)

Promotional image for the 1970 movie “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” featuring James Franciscus and Linda Harrison

I’m a huge fan of the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, and Roddy McDowell. Unfortunately, my local branch of the public library doesn’t have the film available in DVD, so I’d have to request it from a different branch. It does have three copies of the 1970 sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes starring James Franciscus and Kim Hunter. It’s a horrible movie.

Okay, good things first. James Franciscus is heroic as hell. He’s a great looking guy, especially with his shirt off. Interesting side note. In the film’s beginning, his character Brent is seen nursing his skipper (no name given but played by Tod Andrews) outside their crashed spaceship. The skipper dies subsequently after having been blinded in the accident. The following year, Franciscus starred in a television show called Longstreet. The title character is a blind insurance investigator in New Orleans. No, I’m not kidding.

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The Hugo Award Will Not Be Renamed and Why Are All Conservatives (seemingly) Called Alt-Right?

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Author Anthony Gramuglia – found at Goodreads

I recently wrote three related blog posts: Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again, Science Fiction, Opinions, and Why It’s Okay to Disagree, and especially The Sins of John W. Campbell Revisited. That last one started something of a minor storm in the comments section at File 770, Mike Glyer’s popular SciFi fanzine.

Although I’m still following that site, I haven’t commented there again since, what’s the use? Most people there ignored me (which is fine), one disagreed with me but was pretty civil about it, and two called me “dishonest” and “racist.” I ignored one and actually had to block the other on twitter since he looked me up just so he could continue to troll me.

File 770 does what they call Pixel Scrolls which I gather are collections of all the latest SF/F news, including noteworthy birthdays and such.

I slowed down when I saw a link to Steve Davidson’s article On Renaming Awards. I had previously mentioned that if John W. Campbell’s name was to be removed (and it has been), that perhaps all other awards named after people should be examined, just in case the person in question had a “difficult” past. I pulled Hugo Gernsback’s name out of a hat since the famed Hugo Award is named after him. Lo and behold, Davidson seems to have been thinking the same thing, but in his case, explained why Gernsback’s rather checkered past (in terms of his allegedly shady business dealings) won’t result in the Hugos being renamed.

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Science Fiction, Opinions, and Why It’s Okay to Disagree

A statute honoring Ray Bradbury was unveiled outside the Waukegan Public Library just after sunset on Aug. 22, 2019, the 99th anniversary of the late author’s birth. (Dan Moran / Lake County News-Sun)

I just read an article at File 770 called Waukegan Public Library Unveils Ray Bradbury Statue (click the link and read, the story’s pretty short). Waukegan was Bradbury’s hometown and I’m thrilled to see that he is being honored. He is a truly timeless writer, and I can prove it, since my 33-year-old son Michael just read Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Over a year ago, I wrote my own wee Bradbury essay titled Should We Burn Ray Bradbury’s Books?. I crafted my missive in response to Katie Naum’s essay at Electric Lit called The New ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Movie Fails to Reckon with Bradbury’s Racism.

I seriously doubt he was a racist, at least in the dictionary definition sense, but assuming Bradbury had character flaws and perhaps some dated beliefs given that he was born in 1920, that doesn’t change his influence on the field of science fiction, nor make him unworthy of being honored.

Of course, we’ve seen this sort of thing before.

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The First 500 Words

From the comic strip “Peanuts” by the late Charles Schulz

Something new happened when I tried to submit a short story to a publisher via the platform Submittable. There was no option to upload my Word file. There was only a field to paste in up to the first 500 words of the story.

I looked at the publisher’s specifications again and they said they’d respond to submissions of the first 500 words in a few days, and then the entire story in a few months.

Of course I submitted the first 500 words (491 actually so I wouldn’t have things cut off in the middle of a sentence) and a day later, got this back:

Thank you for sending us the first 500 words of “XXX.” Your writing caught our attention and we would like to read your entire story. Please upload your full story and complete the requested fields in ‘Step 2’ under the Forms tab that now appears in your Submittable dashboard for this submission. We look forward to reading it in consideration for XXX.

I have since uploaded the file, but I think this illustrates an important point.

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My Interview as Author of “The Recall” at Dark Fringe Radio

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Screen capture of the Dark Fringe Radio promotional image for my interview.

It’s here.

I probably mentioned that I was interviewed by William Martinez at Dark Fringe Radio. We previously discussed my then unpublished short story “The Recall,” which is now featured in the Cloaked Press science fiction anthology Spring into SciFi: 2019 Edition. He said if my wee tale ever saw the light of day, he’d like to interview me for one of his podcasts.

Well, it was published and I was interviewed and now, #60 in DFR’s series is available online. As my four-year-old granddaughter would say, “Ta-Da!”

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