Friday, December 22, 2006

Please welcome Chris Gerrib!

Lulu author Chris Gerrib is joining POD People as a reviewer. Chris's first novel, a science fiction story called "The Mars Run," is set in 2071. His protagonist, Janet Pilgrim, a recent high school graduate, suddenly finds herself unable to afford college, thanks to her father's financial mismanagement. Faced with the fear of dying of embarrassment if she goes to a junior college, she looks for a way out. After considering joining the Army, she stumbles on the solution to her problems - becoming an astronaut on a commercial space ship.

Chris's work has been favorably reviewed by a number of people, including:

Jeff Duntemann - SF author and publisher Jeff Duntemann likes The Mars Run. Jeff says, "[Chris] has an intuitive grasp of the criminal mind" and that he would have "gladly read it at twice the length."

Ron Miller (Hugo-nominated artist & writer) "It reads very much like a three-way cross between early Heinlein, Joe Haldeman and Allen Steele," and [the heroine] is tough, resourceful, likeable and altogether realistic and who she is and what she becomes is really what the book is all about."

Julie Ann Dawson, writer, publisher and general Renaissance woman, likes The Mars Run. She said, "Presents an interesting twist on the standard space travel fare." She likes the subtle presentation of future technology, and says, "Overall, The Mars Run will appeal to readers looking for a sense of action and adventure in their fiction choices."

These and other reviews can be seen at Chris's web site, Chris is fond of science fiction, history and mysteries, and also blogs at

Thursday, December 07, 2006

'Occult Crimes Investigation Unit #1: Sorcery Squad' by Jamie Gregory

TITLE: Occult Crimes Investigation Unit #1: Sorcery Squad
AUTHOR: Jamie Gregory
PRICE: $10.29 (ebook $3)
GENRE: Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-4116-9825-3

Jamie Gregory is definitely a master of character and setting. His near future Britain artfully blends real occult traditions with inner city police drama. From the opening pages this novel promises to be the perfect blend of mystery and urban fantasy with every character a fully rounded, flawed human being, and every detail rich and authentic. The Occult Crimes Investigation Unit or ‘Sorcery Squad’ is a new policing initiative led by DCI Amanda Oliver—a voudon practitioner holding together a team of detectives with their own occult talents, including the undisciplined DS Abe Rosen who is still struggling with the aftereffects of his rebellious youth.

When two incinerated bodies are found in a magical circle the sorcery squad swings into action. However, because I was expecting a mystery to unfold I found the writing style to be supremely exasperating. A great many scenes would open with just a few sentences before launching into five to ten pages of a detailed retrospective account of some peripheral topic such as why a certain location was ideal for summoning a demon or how two characters first met. These vignettes whilst interesting after a fashion were digressions that never proved relevant to the main plotline. Added to that, the mystery is finally solved through coincidence and outside manipulation—the detectives themselves proving almost credulous in their beliefs and just happening to stumble over vital clues and confessions.

A subplot involving demons making an offer that exploits Abe’s deepest weakness enlivens the closing stages of the story but neither the crime itself nor the personal subplots are well resolved. I was left with the impression that Jamie Gregory has the potential to be an astounding breakthrough author of gritty urban fantasy truly in a league of his own—but only if he manages to place as much emphasis on plot as he does on lovingly portraying the motivations of his complex and engaging characters.

If you are a devotee of unique fantasy with a gritty, urban edge and a multi-cultural ensemble cast I do encourage you to give this book a try. If you have a sneaking addiction to Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle this may not be the book for you.

RATING: 6.5/10

8.3/10: Lulu


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

[GUEST BLOG] Why I Like -- And Hate -- Shopping At iUniverse

Today we have a guest blog by Devon Kappa that originally appeared in the November 29th issue of the new POD Blog None May Say.

iUniverse POD books are particularly well-represented on my bookshelf. It’s not that iUniverse authors are uniquely talented. Every POD publisher has a few great books, and a whole lot of dross. It's certainly not that iUniverse produces an especially beautiful physical product. iUniverse's cover art is as unforntunate as any POD publisher's.

Rather, I like iUniverse because it allows me to read several pages of the books I'm interested in before I purchase them. Other POD websites offer less extensive preview functionality. For example, Lulu (which I also really like, and which will be the subject of a future post) recently began providing pages from most (but not all) of its newer offerings. AuthorHouse sometimes provides a few random paragraphs. But iUniverse lets you check out the first several pages of all of its books.

This obviously does not advantage every iUniverse author. I've often passed on a book that initially looked intriguing after I've read the first few pages (or sentences). However, the fact that iUniverse gives me the opportunity to make this assessment is what makes me willing to buy its books at all. If I bought every POD book that caught my eye without further investigation, I'd be broke (and my house would be filled with awful fiction).

However, as much as I appreciate iUniverse's preview policy, its absurd e-book policy drives me crazy. Because POD paperbacks are expensive, I only buy a novel if I am very confident that I will enjoy it. However, I would be happy to take chances on more novels, ones that I am not quite as certain about, if I could purchase them in the cheaper e-book format.

In this regard, ordinary pdf e-books are convenient: they can be printed, read by a variety of software on a variety of systems, and freely transferred between all of my computers and handheld devices. Indeed, several POD publishers (like Lulu) distribute their e-books in basic pdf format.

Unfortunately, all of iUniverse's e-books are sold in Adobe Ebook format. Adobe Ebooks cannot be printed, which is a huge inconvenience for me. Moreover, Adobe EBooks can only be read using Adobe's own proprietary Reader software. The Adobe Reader must be installed and registered on every computer or device on which you want to read your Ebooks. If Adobe doesn't make a reader for your device, you're out of luck. If you buy an Adobe Ebook but then change your system someday so that the Adobe Reader no longer works or is not available, your investment is gone. You can never read your EBook again.

This is unacceptable. Why shouldn't I be able to print my e-books to read in the bathtub? Why shouldn't I be able to read my e-books on any program I want, and on any computer I want, without registering my every move with Adobe? Why should I have to worry about someday losing access to my EBooks altogether? Is iUniverse really that afraid of POD e-book piracy? I'm as big a POD novel booster as there is, and I truly believe that some POD novels are as good as any contemporary popular fiction. But let's be honest: the demand for these books in the black-market underground just isn't that great. All that iUniverse has succeeded in doing is alienating me and reducing its own sales.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Open to Submissions in category: Gay & Lesbian

POD People is open to submissions in the category of 'Gay & Lesbian' only. This category will remain open until 5 submissions are received. We are also interested in hearing from people willing to review in this category on an ongoing or guest basis.

1/5: 'Pop-Up Book of Death' by Chad Helder