|Posted by martinschiller76 on April 10, 2013 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
Ren Cummins creates a unique world that is a mixture of steampunk, sci-fi and fantasy, combined with an intriguing back story. Definitely intended as the introduction to a larger series, ”Reaper’s Return” reads like a classic anime tale, and as I went through it, I found myself thinking about how well it would adapt itself to that media. I also drank up the hints that the author gives about the greater world beyond Oldtown, and the strange forces that lurk behind the main character and her adventure. Clearly, there is a great deal more waiting for readers like myself as the series progresses, and this will undoubtedly prove to be just as matchless as the beginning was.
|Posted by martinschiller76 on March 30, 2013 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
To borrow from another reviewer, H.L. Reasby manages an interesting trick in “Akhet”; at some point in the book—and I have yet to recall exactly where it occurred--the reader transitions right along with the main character from the world of the mundane into a world of Gods and magic. It is a subtle border that occurs seamlessly, and once within its boundaries, a hidden world of ancient Egyptian religion combined with modern day intrigue and romance is revealed. The first installment in a series, “Akhet” is not for children; while set against the backdrop of mysticism and legend, it is at its essence, a war story, but one that is fought between ancient underground cults and the Gods that guide them.
|Posted by martinschiller76 on March 16, 2013 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
“Once Again Upon a Time” revisits old tales, adding new twists, and also introduces the reader to entirely fresh and innovative concepts. While I certainly enjoyed the previous anthology by Talaria Press, “Quests and Answers”, I feel that the authors outdid themselves here. Ranging from charming little stories like "To Bee or Not to Bee", to dramatic retellings of fairy tale classics such as in "Prussia 1735", or the hard sci-fi of "Aurora", “Once Again” is a wonderful and entertaining collection. Like its description suggests, “Once Again” is certainly a collection of fairy tales, but upgraded and modernized for grownups. And in so doing, the talented writers of Talaria Press have managed to make them just as enjoyable and as enthralling as the stories that we listened to when we were little.
|Posted by martinschiller76 on March 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
Raised as I was by a gay dad, I became quite familiar with this film in my teens. A fun little romp, it is best viewed in French with subtitles. Robin Williams did his best to emulate the original, but didn't come very close in my opinion. Favorite scene: learning to butter the toast "like a man".
|Posted by martinschiller76 on March 2, 2013 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
Garth Reasby takes his dynamic character, Jordan Law, and her supporting cast to a new level in “Evolve”. It continues the story begun in “Awaken”, and in addition to introducing us to a fun and unique new level of ‘tech’, it intensifies the struggle the Metahumans have to face now that their secret is out, not only with humanity at large, but also against those of their kind intent on chaos. “Evolve” reaches a level that “X-men” tried to achieve, but never reached. Reasby accomplishes this by injecting a level of grittiness and realism that brings this work to life. The war is on; and while it’s tough on Law and her associates, it’s great entertainment for the reader.
|Posted by martinschiller76 on January 19, 2013 at 8:25 AM||comments (0)|
“Run Like Hell” is a science fiction/adventure story set in the not-too distant future. The United States has been broken up through a series of traumatic events and the story’s main characters navigate their way through the various nation-states that have come to replace it. The author presents likable characters and provides a plausible reason for the book’s main protagonist, Cass to be compelled to run for her life. But that’s not what gave this book its charm for me. Instead, it was the matter-of-fact/this-is-every-day-for-us manner in which the technology and the environment are presented to the reader. That, and the social changes that have occurred. “Run” is a light, well written book, which moves as fast as its characters do, and will leave the reader wondering what will happen next. Intending to find out, I have already purchased the next work in the series, “A Deadly Quest (The Cassidy Chronicles)”
|Posted by martinschiller76 on January 13, 2013 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Now that the Sisterhood series has been ‘out there’ for a while, and people have had the opportunity to read it, certain criticisms have arisen. I feel that the time has arrived to reply to some of the most significant of these, and to offer explanations.
One of the more common complaints is that the books are too long. There are three reasons for this.
The first are my personal reading tastes. When I find a story that I like, I enjoy reading about it, and at length. “Dune”, “The Dragonriders of Pern” and the “Temeraire” series are three examples of this, and they are all quite long. I never once regretted this feature about them, and I was sorry when they eventually ended. Therefore, when it came time to write the Sisterhood books, I simply went with what I prefer.
The second is product integrity. I feel that I have an obligation to my customers; if someone is willing to spend $20 on a hard-copy book, or $3 on a Kindle version, then it is only right that they get their money’s worth.
The third is an obligation I have to the story itself, and its characters. In my mind, to describe a universe and individual lives, and do them justice, is to give them the time that they deserve. While some might argue that this can be done with greater brevity, and might even be correct, I write as I write and even with an editor I would still tend towards the lengthy. As a side-note there are just as many readers who have felt that even more detail was needed, and wanted more sightseeing in the Sisterhood universe. I will tend to default to this faction until a paying publisher says otherwise, and even then, the fight will be on.
Another issue that has come up is the feeling that there are simply ‘too many characters’. In fact, while there are scores of what could be called ‘supporting characters’, there are really only seven major players moving throughout the storyline; Lilith, Sarah, Maya, Kaly, Jon and later, Ellen n’Elemay and Erin taur Minna. This remains consistent.
And it must be pointed out that the Sisterhood universe is just that—a universe. Such places have the nasty tendency to be populated with many individuals, and it only stands to reason that any group of characters would also encounter a host of new personalities as they go about their adventures. On a personal note, I recently read “The Game of Thrones” and saw this same thing occurring; it is a vast and complicated world, and there were points where I became lost in all the personalities—but I accepted their existence and soldiered on, ultimately enjoying the book.
I would also offer up a parallel from daily life. Many of us have gone from one job or residence, with one set of employers and co-workers/neighbors and friends, to another, and in the process, have been forced to become acquainted with a new set of unique people. In creating the Sisterhood, I reflected this condition. The Athena is a good example of this; with over 10,000 crewomyn, it is quite likely that its Commander (having served for years aboard her) would be compelled to become familiar with more than just a handful of subordinates, and to develop relationships with them.
So, yes, there are many characters, and there will continue to be many characters.
The Sisterhood is Not a Utopia
Some readers came to the series expecting this, and were disappointed. My answer to them is no, it is not, nor was it ever intended to be one. While there are those who earnestly believe that an all female government would create a paradise for its populace, the fact remains that people—regardless of their sex or race--are still people—with all of their flaws and weaknesses.
Many political groups throughout history have promised that their philosophy would usher in an era of fantastic prosperity, happiness and peace. But to date, none have ever fully delivered on this and I do not believe that this condition will change as we move forwards (despite the glib claims by the ‘Star Trek’ universe that we will somehow ‘solve all of our problems’---without ever providing any concrete examples of exactly how this little miracle was accomplished).
My personal theory is that governments will remain governments, and that they will do business as they always have, which is not always in the best interests of their citizens. The government that I created for the Sisterhood was realistically fashioned, with all of the subterfuge, manipulation, political maneuverings and corruption that we find in the real world.
There is also another factor involved. The Sisterhood government is part of a social satire; it is actually a snapshot of ourselves. In the beginning, I only had eyes for the story line, but as it developed and I spent time with it, I began to realize that what was emerging was actually an image of our own modern culture. A culture that while technically advanced and militarily formidable, still possesses glaring flaws, towering arrogance, and ingrained prejudices that are either only partially addressed, or completely ignored.
Only an outside observer can appreciate the full extent of such weaknesses. In our world, this role is played by the citizens of other countries, but in the case of the Sisterhood, it is the reader who performs this function.
Like us, the Sisterhood believes itself to be on the side of good, even though this may not actually be so. And just like today, there are good individuals within its ranks, but its government is another creature entirely. I have only to point out the contemporary examples provided by the nations of China, the former Soviet Union, the United States, and England, to make the case. To those who came expecting utopia and didn’t find it, I deeply apologize, but utopia was not my intent. Honesty was.
Too Much Magic
The final issue that arose was that there is allegedly too much magic in the books and that I am straying into a genre that has been labeled ‘science fantasy’ as part of some kind of inner conflict. In my defense, the presence of the supernatural is deliberate and not the product of any creative confusion.
The human experience is more than our technology. Since our very earliest days, we have always had the capacity for wonder and a perception of the mysterious. Ghosts, superstitions and spirituality have played just as significant a role in our evolution as our inventions have. Even today, in our computerized world, the supernatural still occupies a vital part of our lives, whether we are believers or debunkers. I do not believe that this condition will change ‘one nano’ as we move into space. We will still see ghosts, we will still believe in luck, and we will still pray to deities. This will not change.
|Posted by martinschiller76 on January 12, 2013 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
In “Empire” the human race is at war with a matriarchal alien race. A young human is captured by them to see if his race possesses souls. He is subsequently given over to one of it’s warrioresses and subjected to a rigorous and often brutal, training regime. While very well written, Empire has its weak points; some aspects of the plot are standard science fiction fare, and the author falls short by presenting us with an advanced interstellar society that somehow lives on a purely medieval level at home--without ever showing us the ‘tech’ that makes them so powerful. However, the main strength of this book, and what prompted me to give it a good rating, is its excellent depiction of an utterly alien mindset, non-human hive consciousness and the changes in personality that these things would impose on a human being forced to live around them. These aspects impressed me greatly, and I will read on, hoping that the author brings more balance in the ‘tech’ area and therefore creates a more believable universe to support his otherwise excellent work.
|Posted by martinschiller76 on December 1, 2012 at 11:45 PM||comments (0)|
“Quests & Answers, A Talaria Press Anthology” features an interesting mix of prequels to existing works by the writers of Talaria Press as well as samples of the latest books being released by this house. The intent of the collection is, as the title suggests, to answer some of the questions that dedicated readers have had about their favorite characters, but also to wet the appetite of those who are new to what Talaria Press has to offer (myself being one). I found many of the tales not only to be imaginative and entertaining, but quality short-stories that stood on their own quite ably. This makes it a worthwhile read even if the reader doesn’t ultimately choose to delve deeper into the books that they are related to. My particular favorites were “Lioness in the Grass” (which convinced me that I should go on to read the Sekhmet’s Light Series by H.L. Reasby) “London 1865” (also by Reasby) and “Everybody’s Cousin” (by Ren Cummins). Overall, I found ‘Quests’ to be an intriguing mix of fantasy, magic, and adventure that I am certain others will enjoy just as much as I did.
|Posted by martinschiller76 on November 29, 2012 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
What is the title of your book?: “Sisterhood of Suns: Pallas Athena” This is book 1 of a series. Book 2 is entitled “Sisterhood of Suns: Widow’s War” and Book 3, which is currently in production, will be called “Sisterhood of Suns: Daughters of Eve”
Where did the idea for the book come from? The idea for the Sisterhood universe came from a dream I had in 1978. I saw a group of spaceships, which I knew for war machines, and went inside the largest of them. There, I realized that the entire crew, and their whole society for that matter, was female. It was also where met Commander Lilith ben Jeni for the first time. I was very intrigued by the concept and worked on developing the story on and off for the next 34 years.
What genre does your book fall under? Military science fiction primarily, but with political intrigue and espionage/black operations closely interwoven within it.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published, although I am still soliciting agents and conventional publishing houses.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your book? 2 and a half years.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your book? I'm a bit odd, as I don't really do a outline/rough draft/first draft/final draft progression. Each day, when I write, I begin by reviewing what I wrote the day before. This allows me to refresh my memory, get back into the feel of the story, and smooth over any flaws that I find (especially continuity errors). Then, as I write, I'm constantly going back and reading and editing what I just wrote. The downside is, it takes me longer to write the story (this one took about two months). The upside is, when I finish writing, I'm pretty well done editing.
Give a one sentence synopsis of your work: One thousand years after the MARS plague killed all human males, the Sisterhood of Suns is thriving, but beset with warlike neighbors and the re-introduction of men into their society.
What other works would you compare your story to? “The Forever War”, “Starship Troopers” with James Bond and Tom Clancy’s touches.
Who or What inspired you to write this book? The dream I mentioned, and a dramatic change in my life. After making several half-hearted attempts to put the story together, my wife of 14 years suddenly abandoned me, and the life I had known ended. Like one of my characters, Kaly n’Deena, I had nothing left, and in a sense I decided to do what she did. Kaly joined the Sisterhood Marines, and I joined the Sisterhood. I don’t regret signing up.
What else might pique the reader's interest? This isn’t just a sci-fi book, although it is set in the future. And it’s more than just about ‘amazon women on the moon.’ It’s really a story about people, and about us, in this society today. The things that make us great, and the things that are our shortcomings are all there. That, I think will make reading it just as entertaining as the space opera that surrounds it.
And, now an excerpt from Book 1:
“…Keeping to the shadows, the girl reached the outskirts of the Living Center an hour later. The first outbuildings seemed untouched, and her spirits were momentarily lifted, but as she walked along, she realized that all the Center buildings were dark. Hugging herself, she pressed on, trying to spot anything reassuring. Then she saw the fires.
What had been one of the dwelling complexes had been squashed flat like a kzizka bug under a giant’s heel, and flames roared from a deep pit in the center of the rubble. Further on, another dwelling unit seemed intact at first glance, but a regular pattern of blast marks scarred the entrance, and the automatic doors hung off of it at odd angles. Beyond this, the young trees that her Primary Class had planted just a few years earlier were burning, illuminating the Gathering Square with a sickening orange light. Piles of what looked like discarded clothing lay there, arranged in odd little clumps. Drawing closer to them, Kaly realized that they weren’t someone’s laundry left behind in a panic. They were bodies.
“Oh Goddess,” she whimpered, not wanting to go any further. But her legs seemed to have a will of their own and she found herself walking towards the Square, unable to stop herself. With nightmarish slowness, the details of the corpses became clearer with each leaden step. A girl of her own age lay face down on the grass, her arm missing from the elbow down. The orphaned limb lay nearby like a discarded part from a child’s doll.
Kaly suddenly felt like she’d drunk too much harvest wine. The scene took on an unreal, dreamlike quality as she realized that she recognized the dress that the girl on the ground was wearing. It was Maarta’s—she’d seen her working on it just a few days earlier in preparation for the Founder’s Dance. Its pattern was unmistakable.
Ayleen lay on her back nearby, her eyes wide open and staring up at the stars with an expression of surprise. A blackened hole gaped wide where her stomach should have been. Kaly stared down at the wound, unable to fully accept what she was seeing. Then the smell of burnt flesh reached her nostrils. She dropped to her knees and vomited until nothing would come up.
A familiar voice called out in a half whisper from somewhere behind her, “Kaly! Get over here now! They’re coming back!”
Kaly looked up and saw the ragged features of Anna n’Gwyn, one of her classmates in school. She was peeking out from behind a piece of broken wall. “Come on! They’ll kill us if they find us!”
Kaly ran, tripping over another corpse in the process. As she scrambled to regain her footing, the harsh staccato of an energy weapon being fired nearby sounded off in the darkness…”
And now to the tags for other Blog Hop sites:
Adam Gaffen's The Kildaran (And Others), www.thekildaran.blogspot.com/2012/11/next-big-thing-blog-hop.html
Alivia Anders, www.aliviaanders.blogspot.com
Koco Trajevski, www.legolasbt.blogspot.com
Allison Bruning, www.allisonbruning.blogspot.com
Hedonist6 (her pen name, obviously, but I'm sworn to secrecy), www.hedonist6.blogspot.com