Tag Archives: sci-fi

11Nov/22

M.D. Neu

November 11, 2022

It gives us great pleasure to present Season 7, Episode 45: M.D. Neu + Our Review of My Policeman!

M.D. Neu returns to the show to share his recent four works: the novels Volaria and Conspiracy, and the audiobooks for Conviction and The Calling. Baz & Vance review My Policeman, then M.D. Neu jumps back in to join in sharing who won our weeks.

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Bio:
M.D. Neu is an inclusive, international award-winning Gay fiction writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a nonprofit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of twenty plus years.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):

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February 19, 2021


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M. D. Neu back as the guest on Episode 308 – Oh God What Was I Thinking?!

M.D. “Marvin” Neu unveils his upcoming release, “The Called.” He & Baz also catch up on the virtual cons he’s participating in this year, and a short election themed story anthology, “A More Perfect Union.”

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Bio:

M.D. Neu is an inclusive international award-winning Gay fiction writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to sci-fi and paranormal television and novels, Marvin was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When Marvin isn’t writing, he works for a nonprofit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of twenty plus years.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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October 25, 2019


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M. D. Neu back as the guest on Episode 239 – There Might Be A Former Porn Star and a Scientist?

M. D. Neu brings his novel, TAD – The Angel of Death, to the show so we can discuss how he shone a light on an angel of death and a drag queen being kind over the years. Plus we crack each other up as our silliness grows.

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Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

M.D. Neu is a Gay fiction writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to sci-fi and paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a nonprofit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of twenty-plus years.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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March 8, 2019


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M. D. Neu back as the guest on Episode 206 – What Would Grace and Frankie Do?

Join us for a very different format – we are talking MARKETING with author MD Neu. Which begs the question: #WWGaFD?

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Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:


February 8, 2019


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M. D. Neu back as the guest on Episode 202 – Stop Feeding the Beast!

MD (Marvin) Neu returns to talk about his latest release, A New World – Contact. We also discuss aliens, religion, global politics, and refugees – a very timely and entertaining discussion! #WWFD (Wanna find out what that hashtag means? Listen to the blooper at the end of the show!)

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Books mentioned in this episode:

Bio:

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:


April 20, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome M.D. Neu as the guest on Episode 160 – Cross Gender, Cross Culture, Cross Economics!!

This week M.D. Neu joins us to chat about his works, with a deep look into the immortal vampires from his novel The Calling, as well as how our books are discovered, and the reality that LGBTQA is cross culture, cross gender, cross economics!!

Follow Marvin and support his work:

Bio:

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of eighteen plus years.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:

27May/22

Stephen Graham King

May 27, 2022

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Stephen Graham King as the guest on Season 7, Episode 21 – Stephen Graham King and Our Review of The Staircase!

Stephen Graham King joins us to share his latest space opera novel that features queer and disability themes, Ghost Light Burn. Then Baz & I share our review of the mini-series “The Staircase.”

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Bio:
Stephen Graham King (He/They) is a disabled survivor of metastatic synovial sarcoma, a story chronicled in the memoir, Just Breathe: My Journey Through Cancer and Back. Since then, he has concentrated on writing speculative fiction, in particular, queer-themed space opera. He has been a frequent guest on podcasts and panels, passionately advocating for lived experience queer and disability narratives in stories of the future. They are also an avid black and white photographer, with two of their photos appearing in an installation at the Art Gallery of Ontario. They are also working on a book compiling their intimate and immediate photos captured on the streets of Toronto, where they currently reside.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):

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22Apr/22

Jeffrey Ricker

April 22, 2022

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Jeffrey Ricker, J. Marshall Freeman, and ‘Nathan Burgoine as the guests on Season 7, Episode 16 – Oooh, Nerd Hot!

Jeffrey Ricker, J. Marshall Freeman, ‘Nathan Burgoine tag-team the show to introduce their latest work, Three Left Turns to Nowhere. Each has written a novella about a young man on his way to a sci-fi convention when Fate intervenes and strands them in Hopewell where they find that thing they didn’t know they needed. These three authors are so much fun, and it’s easy to see how well they worked together!

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Bios:

Jeffrey Ricker is the author of Detours (2011) and the YA fantasy The Unwanted (2014). His stories and essays have appeared in Foglifter, Phoebe, Little Fiction, The Citron Review, The Saturday Evening Post, and others. A 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow and recipient of a 2015 Vermont Studio Center residency, he has an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and teaches creative writing at Webster University.

J. Marshall Freeman is a writer of novels, short stories, and poetry. He is the author of the young adult fantasy novel The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood (2020) and the upcoming YA adventure Barnabas Bopwright Saves the City (May 2022). He is a two-time winner of the Saints+Sinners Fiction Contest (2017 and 2019), and lives in Toronto, Canada, with his husband and dog.

’Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Triad Blood and Triad Soul are also available from Bold Strokes Books, as is his YA novel Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks and his first collection, Of Echoes Born. For novella lovers, In Memoriam, Handmade Holidays, Faux Ho Ho, Village Fool, and A Little Village Blend are shorter queer romances (often with a dash of speculative fiction). A cat lover, ’Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. They live in Ottawa, Canada—with their rescued husky, in case you were wondering how the cat-dog thing turned out.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):

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22Apr/22

‘Nathan Burgoine

April 22, 2022

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Jeffrey Ricker, J. Marshall Freeman, and ‘Nathan Burgoine as the guests on Season 7, Episode 16 – Oooh, Nerd Hot!

Jeffrey Ricker, J. Marshall Freeman, ‘Nathan Burgoine tag-team the show to introduce their latest work, Three Left Turns to Nowhere. Each has written a novella about a young man on his way to a sci-fi convention when Fate intervenes and strands them in Hopewell where they find that thing they didn’t know they needed. These three authors are so much fun, and it’s easy to see how well they worked together!

Follow and support:

Mentioned in this episode:

Bios:

Jeffrey Ricker is the author of Detours (2011) and the YA fantasy The Unwanted (2014). His stories and essays have appeared in Foglifter, Phoebe, Little Fiction, The Citron Review, The Saturday Evening Post, and others. A 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow and recipient of a 2015 Vermont Studio Center residency, he has an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and teaches creative writing at Webster University.

J. Marshall Freeman is a writer of novels, short stories, and poetry. He is the author of the young adult fantasy novel The Dubious Gift of Dragon Blood (2020) and the upcoming YA adventure Barnabas Bopwright Saves the City (May 2022). He is a two-time winner of the Saints+Sinners Fiction Contest (2017 and 2019), and lives in Toronto, Canada, with his husband and dog.

’Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Triad Blood and Triad Soul are also available from Bold Strokes Books, as is his YA novel Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks and his first collection, Of Echoes Born. For novella lovers, In Memoriam, Handmade Holidays, Faux Ho Ho, Village Fool, and A Little Village Blend are shorter queer romances (often with a dash of speculative fiction). A cat lover, ’Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. They live in Ottawa, Canada—with their rescued husky, in case you were wondering how the cat-dog thing turned out.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):

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Or Listen Right Here:

OR Watch on YouTube:

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May 14, 2021

It gives us great pleasure to welcome ‘Nathan Burgoine back as the guest on Season 6, Episode 19 – The Most Annoying Trait in the World!

‘Nathan Burgoine returns with laughter and joy as he shares his new novella Village Fool. He also shares how he wrote while injured, and we dig into the merits of writing novellas as a series.

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Bio:

‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. A cat lover, ‘Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing “cat or dog?” détente ended with the rescue of a six year old husky named Coach, who gave them four wonderful years before crossing the rainbow bridge. Since then, they’ve rescued Max, another husky, who is much younger and very determined to be a bed dog. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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November 30, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to announce ‘Nathan Burgoine as the guest on Episode 192: The Queerlings!

‘Nathan Burgoine returns to discuss his latest, and first Young Adult, release: Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks. He then shares what it was like for him talking with today’s youth about the stories they want and his beautifully interwoven short story collection.

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Bio:

‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was “Heart” in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Since then, he has had dozens of short stories published, including Bold Strokes titles Men of the Mean Streets, Boys of Summer, and Night Shadows as well as This is How You Die (the second Machine of Death anthology). ‘Nathan also has a series of paranormal erotic short stories that begins in the Bold Strokes anthology Blood Sacraments, and continues with further installments in Wings, Erotica Exotica, and Raising Hell. His standalone short erotic fiction pieces can be found in the Lambda Literary Award finalist Tented, Tales from the Den, and Afternoon Pleasures. ‘Nathan’s nonfiction pieces have appeared in I Like it Like That and 5×5 Literary Magazine.

‘Nathan’s first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. His second and third novels, Triad Blood and Triad Soul, are available now from Bold Strokes Books. Both are available wherever quality LGBT fiction is found—always check Indiebound for your local brick and mortar, if you can. For novella lovers, ‘Nathan’s wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey gay romance In Memoriam is available on Kindle and Audible, and his gay holiday chosen family romance Handmade Holidays is available from NineStar Press.

A cat lover, ‘Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing “cat or dog?” détente ended with the rescue of a six year old husky named Coach. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:


June 2, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to announce ‘Nathan Burgoine as the guest on Episode 114: The Three Second Review!

This week ‘Nathan Burgoine joins us to discuss his series, to drop announcements of his upcoming projects, share the importance of chosen families, unveil Canada as a setting, and share the magic of the three sentence review.

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Bio:

‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was “Heart” in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Since then, he has had dozens of short fiction pieces published. His first novel LIGHT was a Lambda Literary Finalist. Both Light and his second novel, Triad Blood, are available from Bold Strokes Books.

A cat lover, ‘Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing “cat or dog?” détente ended with the adoption of Coach, a six year-old husky. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.

 

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:

01Apr/22

Candas Jane Dorsey

April 1, 2022

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Candas Jane Dorsey as the guest on Season 7, Episode 13 – If You Read This Your Head Will Explode!

Candas Jane Dorsey shares her wise-cracking, grammar-obsessed, pansexual amateur sleuth from her The Adventures of Isabel and What’s the Matter with Mary Jane? crime novels AND her intersex teen from her The Story of My Life Ongoing, by CS Cobb young adult novel. She also can’t help teasing a masterclass in harnessing her passion for advocacy and using it to guide her writing.

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Bio:
Candas Jane Dorsey is an internationally-known author of sci-fi, Y/A, and contemporary novels, poetry, short stories, reviews, and critical essays. She has received a variety of awards and honours for her books and short fiction.
Dorsey is a partner in Wooden Door & Associates, a professional communications consulting company in Edmonton since 1992, providing writing, editing, and consulting for private, public and non-profit clients. At WDA, Dorsey was the co-author of several significant reports including The Report of the Review Panel on the Alberta Human Rights Commission, Cultural Diversity in the Workplace, and Children’s Interactive Television in Canada. She has written screenplays and educational television scripts. She was editor/publisher for ten years of the arts newspaper The Edmonton Bullet and for fourteen years of literary press The Books Collective, including River Books and Tesseract Books.
She teaches writing to adults and youth, has been teaching at universities and continuing education since 1983, and at MacEwan University since before it was a university, where she now teaches in the Bachelor of Communications programme. She also speaks widely on writing, speculative fiction, and other topics.
She was founding president of SFCanada, and has been president of the Writers Guild of Alberta. Her awards include the Province of Alberta Centennial Gold Medal for her artistic achievement and community work, and the WGA Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts, the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, YWCA Woman of the Year Arts and Culture, and an Edmonton Arts Achievement Award. And in 2019 she was inducted into the City of Edmonton Arts and Cultural Hall of Fame.
Candas is also a community activist, advocate and leader who has won two human rights awards and served on many community boards and committees working for neighbourhoods, heritage, social planning, equality of policing, and human rights advocacy. And she also makes time to be a visual artist.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):

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10Dec/21

Gregory Norris

December 10, 2021

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Gregory Norris as the guest on Season 6, Episode 49 – Writer In Residence!

Gregory Norris comes to us from Xanadu where he wrote Ex Marks The Spot, a novel wherein dark time travel forces a choice between past or future loves.

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Raised on a healthy diet of creature double features and classic Science Fiction TV, Gregory L. Norris writes for national magazines, short story anthologies, novels, and the occasional episode for film and television. Norris writes The Day After Tomorrow series for Anderson Entertainment in the U.K. based on the Gerry Anderson NBC made-for-TV movie, which he watched and loved as a boy, and worked on Paramount’s Star Trek: Voyager series as a screenwriter. Norris lives at the Outer Limits of New Hampshire’s North Country in a century-old house called Xanadu with his giant rescue cat and emerald-eyed muse.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):

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06May/21

Review – Dropnauts by J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth was recently interviewed on WROTE! Check out Episode 315: Oh My God We’re Gonna Die, to find out more about Scott and his work.

One thing you can expect from this author is superlative world-building, as I discovered when reading other books in the Liminal Sky series. There are a ton of them, and I’ve given up making sense of which book belongs where, but it doesn’t matter. This is a standalone novel as far as I can tell, although by the end, you may well be wishing for another in the series. The blurb does a good job of describing what to expect. Basically, the titular Dropnauts are on a quest to see if the Earth could be recolonised.

It’s an accepted belief there is no one left down there but they are wrong. The team get split up, meet a couple of Earth dwellers and get split up again into teams of two. With sinister drones and the dawning realisation that the AI designed to protect them is actually working against them, this is a familiar story to anyone who loves their sci-fi. Familiar, but not tired. There are sparky characters with history, new attractions, a diverse range of gender and sexuality, a tribe of vengeful women and two Earth-dwellers wanting to find medication for their sick mother.

There are great human stories within all the tech-speak. The hard-core sci fi nuts will love the intellectual-speak, the science-y stuff and the various AI’s doing battle inside each other’s heads. Lovers of human stories will enjoy the frisson of attraction between Hera and Ghost, Sanya and Rafe and Rai and Aidan. There’s a heart-stopping finale as everyone races to save both Luna and the Earth from doom. It’s all very exciting and intelligent and fun, with relatable characters and a thrilling denouement.

BLURB

Over a century after the end of the Earth, life goes on in Redemption, the sole remaining lunar colony, and possibly the last outpost of humankind in the Solar System. But with an existential threat burrowing its way to the Moon’s core, humanity must recolonize the homeworld.

Twenty brave dropnauts set off on a mission to explore the empty planet. After training for two and a half years, four of them—Rai, Hera, Ghost and Tien—are bound for Martinez Base, just outside the Old Earth city of San Francisco.

But what awaits them there will turn their assumptions upside down—and in the process, either save or destroy what’s left of humanity.

04Jun/19

Ithani (The Oberon Cycle Book 3) by J. Scott Coatsworth

The third and final part of the Oberon Cycle trilogy, the first books being Skythane (Book 1) and Lander (Book 2) The books must be read in order, the first concentrating on building the world the author has created, and the second adding more characters to those already introduced.

The worlds of Oberon and Error have been lovingly crafted right from the get-go, so I felt I knew the characters and their surroundings, the curious alien foods they eat and the commodities they treasure. There is an excellent glossary in each book too, reminding the reader of what unusual words mean if they get stuck as I did on occasions. And the size of the glossary alone is testament to how meticulous the author has been in creating these worlds.

The writing was flawless in all three books, with colourful, almost cinematic set-pieces and rounded-out, diverse characters. As with a lot of fantasy/sci-fi novels, there were a LOT of characters, which is always risky as sometimes it can be hard to connect to them all. And yes, I did have a job remembering all of them, and what their dynamics were. There were places where I had to re-read to ensure I was following the plot correctly.

But in this world, the world of Oberon, everyone had their role, and there wasn’t one character that I felt didn’t really need to be there. They were an engaging lot as well, even the bad guys. I don’t want to give too much away, to be honest, fearful of letting a spoiler loose by accident.

What I can say is by the end of the trilogy, a lot of the characters, Jameson and Xander, Quince and Robin, almost felt like friends. Their dialogue was approachable and very natural. I love the mix of pronouns, the diverse genders and sexualities; it really was a rainbow cast, and with cool tech to boot.

Also I saw echoes of our own world and warnings for the future of what we stand to lose if we aren’t responsible for our planet (but not in a heavy-duty, worthy way) but in the end it was just a really good story from start to finish. I think I said in my review of Skythane that Scott’s writing made me fall in love with sci-fi again.

And at the end of this trilogy, I’m glad to say I’m more in love with it than ever.

BLURB

Time is running out.

After saving the world twice, Xander, Jameson, and friends plunge headlong into a new crisis. The ithani—the aliens who broke the world—have reawakened from their hundred millennia-long slumber. When Xander and Jameson disappear in a flash, an already fractured world is thrown into chaos.

The ithani plans, laid a hundred thousand years before, are finally coming to pass, and they threaten all life on Erro. Venin and Alix go on a desperate search for their missing friend and find more than they bargained for. And Quince, Robin, and Jessa discover a secret as old as the skythane themselves.

Will alien technology, unexpected help from the distant past, destiny, and some good old-fashioned firepower be enough to defeat an enemy with the ability to split a world? The final battle of the epic science fiction adventure that began in Skythane will decide the fate of lander and skythane alike. And in the north, the ithani rise….

18Apr/19

Empire Of Light (Voyance #1) by Alex Harrow

Alex Harrow was recently on WROTE! To hear their interview and check out their work, you can find them on Episode 200: Wait Wait This Is A Thing!

Empire of Light has a lot of warnings, including for for graphic violence and explicit sex. The danger with trigger warnings is that the reader will then read the book and think, so where was that violence then? Or where was the sex?

For the former, the author wasn’t kidding. From the get-go, this book has crunchy action scenes, lots of blood and flailing fists from our tough-talking main character, Damian, hitman and mercenary. 

On paper, he doesn’t sound too promising, but I sort of liked him by the end. If Quentin Tarantino had made a sci-fi, it might be something quite similar to this, shot in monochrome with flashes of blood and fire. Turns out Damian has a soft and squishy side, although he does his best to hide it. I would like to take him out for a beer and tell him how to keep in touch with his emotions.

I really enjoyed this book, despite the dizzying pace. It’s well-written, though I would have appreciated a few more calm moments to get to know the characters more.  It has balls-to-the-wall fight scenes, and a man torn between saving his lover and lusting after the man (Raeyn) who has threatened to kill him if he doesn’t do what he wants. There isn’t much in the way of complicated emotion, but we get the picture. Damian is a bit of blunt instrument. In fact, most of the characters are, apart from the blind woman, who I would have liked to get to know a bit. I loved Raeyn’s sense of style, and slinky Aris who seemed to oscillate from good to bad to good again. 

I wouldn’t say the sex is hugely explicit (though it depends what kind of books you usually read I guess) but the language can be coarse (it would be odd if it wasn’t, TBH) and there is an aura of blood-drenched lust running throughout the whole book. 

Good world-building, and a fast-paced, visceral plot. My one quibble would be the last few pages, where a LOT seemed to happen, and it felt as if there were at least one climax too many (if that’s possible.) I felt a bit breathless reading it; not in a sexy way, but in a “please make this stop” way. I fear some subtleties might have been lost in translations, but all in all, a wild ride, and a huge amount of “fist-in-the-face” fun.

BLURB

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As the revolution gains traction, Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one moment and kiss him the next. But Aris slips further away from Damian, and as Aris’ control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.

21Mar/19

Imminent Dawn by R. R. Campbell

Imminent Dawn (Empathy Book 1) is a complex and involved debut sci-fi novel, first in a series, with a large cast of characters and several different POV’s. There’s no doubt it is well-written and evenly-paced, with great world-building and realistic dialogue.

For me, the number of POV’s were a bit of a stumbling block. I’ve read a lot of books, the the ones I’ve enjoyed most have been the ones with a single or double POV. Once it gets to more than that, with equally important characters, It has to work harder to keep my attention. 

I found this with Imminent Dawn, which at times seemed over-complicated for what it was. Essentially, one woman is used as pawn by a powerful corporation, whilst an investigative journalist and a company employee, each with their own agendas, try to outdo each other in order to achieve their ambitions.

It took a while to unpick all of this, and because of that, I found it difficult to engage with the characters. For me to want to read about a character, I need to care about them or hate them. It was a shame that I didn’t find a particular character to root for in this book, as I was too busy trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

I believe this is down to personal taste though, rather than a fault of the author. Others will find much to enjoy in the characterisations of the enigmatic and ruthless tech magnate, and will relate to Chandra and her predicament. They will enjoy unpicking the complexities of the plot, and will rejoice in subtleties that I may well have missed. In short, I think this novel has far more to it than I was able to glean from it, but I only have a finite amount of time to figure things out before I have to move on. It’s a shame, but as a book reviewer, it’s life.

Finally, this is a solid sci-fi novel, confidently written, with plenty for avid sci-fi readers to enjoy. I really hope they take it on board and run with it.  

BLURB

Four people. One study. The internet-access brain implant to bind or destroy them all.

Art-school dropout Chandra would do anything to apologize for her role in her wife’s coma—including enroll in the first round of human trials for an internet-access brain implant.

At first, the secretive research compound is paradise, the perfect place to distract Chandra from her grief. But as she soon learns, the facility is more prison than resort, with its doctors, support staff, and her fellow patients all bent on hatching plots of their own, no matter how invested they might seem in helping her communicate with her wife.

Making matters worse, a dark wave of uncertainty crashes down on the compound, forcing Chandra to become an unlikely but pivotal player in conspiracies stretching from the highest levels of the North American Union government to the lowest dredges of its shadowy hacking collectives.

To save herself and her wife, Chandra and her newfound friends from the study will have to overcome the scheming of a ruthless tech magnate, the naïveté of an advancement-hungry administrative assistant, and the relentless pursuits of an investigative journalist, all of whom are determined to outpace the others in their own quests to resurrect lost love, cover their tracks, and uncover the truth.

A twistedly delightful clockwork of intrigue and suspense, EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn is an electrifying sci-fi debut from author r. r. campbell.