the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘science fiction

tim-wardYou probably know today’s guest from the podcast Adventures in SciFi Publishing, SFSignal, and his social presence on twitter.

Timothy C. Ward is a former Executive Producer for Adventures in SciFi Publishing. His debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution, blends Dune with Alien in a thriller where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America’s buried fortresses. Sign up to his author newsletter for a free ebook copy of Scavenger: Evolution before it releases, March 31. His first printed story, “The Bomb in the President’s Bathroom,” released in the Amish SciFi anthology, Tales from Pennsylvania. You can find reviews to the books mentioned above on his Goodreads page.

If you’re a fan of Hugh Howey, you’re sure to be interested in Scavenger: Evolution, as Howey is allowing fans to write in his Sand world.  Tim was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his new novel. Scroll to the bottom for information on a give away!

LRR: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution. What’s the quick pitch for the new novel?

TCW: In an America covered in sand, a sand diver will find treasure in a buried military base which will force him to evolve or lose everything.

LRR: Scavenger: Evolution takes place in Hugh Howey’s world of Sand. Isn’t that fairly unusual, to be able to write in someone else’s universe? How did you go about getting Howey’s permission to use his world?

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flights of fictionFlights of Fiction, edited by Gery Deer and Barbara Huiner Deer

published in 2013

where I got it: received a copy from Gery Deer (thanks Gery!)

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I’m one of those terrible people who ignores the table of contents in an anthology. I read the stories in whatever order I please. Yes, I know this negates all the hard work the editor has put into choosing a proper order for the stories, and yet. And yet I should I have read Flights of Fiction in order, or at least read the opening story first, and the closing story last. The opening story, “The Dead of Winter” is one helluva opener – dark, subtle and twisty, and the closing story, “Kayfabe”, balances a secret of magic with the inevitability of a life at its end. This anthology was put together by WOWA, the Western Ohio Writers Association. A humorous description of how the book came to exist is on the back cover:

 

“in 2008, a group of authors in Dayton, Ohio, got together for the sole purprose of ripping each other to shreds, leaving behind the mangled hopes of promising scribes who lay finally broken and decaying on the floor. After that, robbed of all dignity, they went out for coffee and decided to write a book.”

 

All of the stories take place in Ohio, but you don’t need to be from Ohio (or even be able to find it on a map) to enjoy this collection. Here are some thoughts on my favorite stories:

“The Dead of Winter” by Michael Martin – A near-perfect opener to set the tone of some of the darker tales, with an effective whisper of a first line:

 

“What I’m going to tell you only makes sense if you believe that I love my wife”.

 

A post-apocalyptic middle America isn’t a new playground by any means, but pay close attention to the man’s relationship and interaction with his wife. How he makes sure she’s protected, how he takes care of her as if she can’t take care of herself, her silence. Your observant mind is telling you one thing, but the man in the story, he’s telling you something very different. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for “it” to happen, what I didn’t realize until the closing sentence was that it had already happened, and he truly does love his wife. I fricken’ loved this story.

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Cold Comfort and other talesCold Comfort and Other Tales by David McDonald

published December 2014

where I got it: received review copy from the author (Thanks David!)

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Beginnings are important.

 

Like a first impression, an author has one sentence, one chance to make in initial impression on the reader. We’ve all come across lackluster openings, openings that didn’t inspire, or confused, or simply made you scratch your head. Maybe you kept reading, maybe not.

 

For me, the ideal opening sentence is a perfect balance between nowhere near enough information, and just enough to draw me in. Not unlike that first floral nose of a glass of wine – you get the aroma, a suggestion of what’s to come, but little to no information about the mouthfeel or finish you’re about to experience. You take a sip because that first scent was intriguing. The titular story of Cold Comfort and Other Tales has just the kind of opening I dream of: perfectly balanced yet minimal information with just the barest hints of the entire worldbuilding of the story:

 

Vanja shivered as the icy wind pried at her furs with cruel fingers

 

What a tease! and I’m instantly curious. Is she used to the cold? Was she planning on spending so much time outside? Is this normal weather?  Time to find out what this wine tastes like. My first sip was fantastic, and it just got better from there.

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Confusion ProgramA few weekends ago I was at Confusion, a fan run scifi convention in Detroit Michigan. This is my fourth year attending Confusion, and every year there are more “hey, great to see you!”’s, more hugs, more great conversations, more random meetings with people I was hoping to run into (but didn’t know what they looked like until now), and more happy surprises.  Long story short is that Confusion is a fan-freaking-tastic convention, and if you live within driving distance of Detroit, you should consider going.

 

this year’s Confusion was a whole new con for me, for two reasons:

 

I was on panels

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People knew who I was

 

We arrived after dinner on Friday, just in time for Opening Ceremonies.  That event leads into the Dessert Reception, where you can get pastries and cookies and such and mingle with the special guests. I was hoping to introduce myself to Karen Lord, because I’d recently interviewed her at SFSignal. I caught up with her as she was finishing a conversation with someone else, and introduced myself. And she knew who I was! We had a very nice chat and I may have nearly passed out.

Karen Lord reading from The Best of All Possible Worlds

Karen Lord reading from The Best of All Possible Worlds

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wow, it’s the end of January already! How did that happen??

 

As it turned out, the majority of what I read for Vintage Month was published in the 60s and 70s.  I got a taste of New Wave, more psychology studies than I can shake a stick at, our fears of overpopulation, our hopeful expectations of future technology, and science fiction as written through the lens of the Vietnam War.  My focus on that time period was accidental, but i’m happy it worked out that way.
I want to thank everyone who participated in Vintage Science Fiction Month this year. Whether you wrote reviews, did a discussion or a guest post, or simply retweeted something tagged #VintageSciFi that looked interesting, it’s because of YOU that Vintage SciFi Month was a success.

A huge Thank You goes out to:

Vintage SF badgeDrunken Dragon Reviews

Book Haven

Lesley Conner

Uncertain Tales

The Broken  Bullhorn

Andrew Robins (for the guest post AND the loan of the DVDs!)

Antyphayes

Bruce Baugh

Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased

Fate SF

Howling Frog Books

Tethyan Books

Dab of Darkness

this is how she fight start

Over the Effing Rainbow

Susan Hated Literature

The Bastard Title

Two Dudes in an Attic

My Reader’s Block

Stainless Steel Droppings

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations

Science Fiction Times

Lynn’s Book Blog

Nashville Book Worm

RedStar Reviews

The Finch and Pea

Bookishly Witty

 

 

the books of the warsLords of the Starship by Mark Geston (book 1 in the Books of the Wars omnibus)

first published in 1967

where I got it: purchased omnibus new (published in 2009)

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This trilogy came highly recommended by a friend who described the novels as “grim and bleak”, so I went in expecting some kind of Abercrombie-esque grimdark violence. What the story actually has couldn’t be further from what I expected, but I still can’t think of any better words for it than “grim” and “bleak”. The Books of the Wars trilogy includes the novels The Lords of the Starship, Out of the Mouth of the Dragon, and The Siege of Wonder. So far, I have only read the first book in the series.

Written in 1967, The Lords of the Starship was Geston’s  first published novel, and hit bookstore shelves when he was only 20 years old.   In his introduction, Geston mentions this was written against the background of the Civil Rights struggle, the Vietnam War and the growing Cold War, and many critics have mentioned that these books reflect the feelings of hopelessness and futility they experienced during these times.  It’s a connection I can never have with these books, a separation. Something interesting to think about when I read older fiction – that I am reading it out of, and with no context.  I imagine something similar would happen when someone who was born in 2014 grows up and reads something “older” that was written as a reaction to 9/11.

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babel17 cover open roadBabel-17 by Samuel Delany

published in 1966

where I got it: received review copy from Open Road Media

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Samuel Delany wrote Babel-17 when he was in his mid 20s, and in a very short novel he offers up fascinating linguistic theories and applications, compelling characters and social situations, and intergalactic war.  The too long didn’t read version of this review is I absolutely loved Babel-17.  It doesn’t feel dated, Delany’s stylistic experiments paid off, and it’s just a damn gorgeous book to read. Everyone else must have thought so as well, as it was a joint winner for the Nebula Award for best novel, and nominated for a Hugo.

 

Rydra Wong is a young and intensely talented poet, and her books and poems are known throughout the galaxy. She doubts her own talent, and feels that she only writing what other people have already thought but couldn’t come up with the words for. Recruited by the government for her linguistics talents to decode a message picked up from the invaders, she quickly realizes this isn’t a code, but an entire language, and she soons become desperate to learn the entire thing.  On a mission to both acquire more snippets of the Babel-17 language and learn where it originated, Wong is given a ship and her choice of crewmates.

 

Nothing about Babel-17 is done or shown in an expected way, and I loved that. When Wong is looking to recruit a crew for her ship, she shops for a pilot at a wrestling match, tries to fix up a broken marriage with help from the morgue, and even recruits few completely discorporate (dead) crewmembers. Weird at first for me, but easy to get used to and hella fun.

 

My favorite things about the book were the discussions of language and communication, and the character interactions While in discussions with her mentor, Rydra mentions that she only reflects other people’s thoughts, she’s putting words to things they don’t (or feel they don’t) have words for. This is one of my favorite passages about how and why she writes poetry:

 

“You know what I do? I listen to other people, stumbling about with their half thoughts and half sentences and their clumsy feelings that they can’t express – and it hurts me. So I go home and burnish it and polish it and weld it to a rhythmic frame, make the dull colors gleam, mute the garish artificiality to pastels, so it doesn’t hurt anymore: that’s my poem.”

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2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.