Friday, June 27, 2008

REVEW: 'Mutiny (Starship, Book 1)' by Mike Resnick

TITLE: Mutiny (Starship, Book 1)
AUTHOR: Mike Resnick
PRICE: $25
GENRE: Science Fiction
ISBN: 978-1591023371
POINT OF SALE: Amazon, Pyr

Pyr, a new science fiction book publisher, recently contacted us at POD People and offered “pick of the litter” for review. It was like a kid being given keys to the candy store. After some wandering about on my part, I decided to try Mike Resnick’s “Starship” series, and the nice people at Pyr sent me out a copy.

I’ve met Resnick socially, and he’s an engaging fellow. He also writes an entertaining rogue, and the lead character in Mutiny, Commander Wilson Cole, is just such a person. The Republic, a galaxy-spanning organization dominated by humans, is at war with a coalition of species not particularly interested in being dominated by Man. Commander Cole is a genuine war hero, who’s also prone to ignoring orders to win an engagement. This does not sit well with the brass (it never does) but since they can’t cashier him, they do the next best thing – ship him to the Theodore Roosevelt, an obsolete ship stationed as far from the front as possible.

Well, it wouldn’t be much of a story if the Teddy R.’s sector remains quiet, so it’s not a surprise that we’re quickly involved in a crisis. Mutiny is straight-up Space Opera, with ships zipping across thirty light years in a few hours and English-speaking wisecracking aliens. Unlike a certain space opera that boldly goes where no one goes before, we have intelligent watch sections and the Federation, er, the Republic isn’t always 100% right. By the end of the book, this leads to the titular mutiny.

How we get there is both fun and an interesting commentary on politics, the media and government. Commander Cole is not of the “blast-them-first, ask questions later” school, so his solutions to the problems presented are inventive and indirect. The secondary characters are well-realized, and the problems presented are grounded in human nature.

I really enjoyed “Mutiny” and can recommend it to fans of science fiction and good stories. Since Pyr is a traditional if small publisher, the mechanics of layout and editing are perfect.


chrisChris Gerrib is a resident of Villa Park, IL and Director of Technology for a Chicago-area bank. Chris is the author of the science fiction novel The Mars Run. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Darien, IL.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Meanwhile at Lulu--veinglory

In the lulu forums I cam across this promotional post:

“The Feelgood Porno Colouring Book is more than just a colouring book, and more than just pornography – carefully chosen, thought provoking and life affirming quotes interspersed throughout ensure it is at once something to inspire you, to relax you, to intrigue you and even make you question your own perceptions, purpose and prejudices.The Feelgood Porno Colouring Book means porn no longer needs to be a guilty pleasure; it shows that porn can be positive and creative, releasing energies that can only benefit yourself and ultimately mankind. So, grab your felt tips and tissues and enjoy, the Feelgood Porno Colouring Book has over thirty images printed on quality paper which cater for most tastes, persuasions and perversions making it an ideal gift for that awkward to buy for person we all know."

Color Me intrigued.

Unfortunately by the time I got there the listing had fallen afoul of Lulu’s listing requirements. I must admit that I am not sure why this item was removed when I have bought and reviewed plenty of adult written and photographic (e.g. fetish) work there. Perhaps simply because the promotional post in the forum drew attention? Lulu requires that material not be: “material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable;” etc.

But as with many user heavy organizations (Amazon review abuse, anyone) they seem to only act when some user objects. It is their call which genres they support, but in the absence of enforcement these rules will almost inevitably become arbitrary. And if adult (or in any way "objectionable") material are not allowed, why do they have a ‘direct access’ mature content category where, according to their own description, there are no limits on the ‘between the covers’ content?

Color me bemused.

I won't really know why this played out this way unless I can get a review copy, so I can see whether the cover and title was too extreme (“excessive or gratuitous profanity/suggestive or gratuitous nudity, additionally overly sexually explicit posing”) even if you ignore the inside content. Besides, I need an excuse to use my new set of crayons.

Jumping off from... Diving for Pearls--veinglory

"How often have you read a book published through Lulu? BookSurge? PublishAmerica? Never? That’s what I figured. Sure, maybe you made a pity-purchase directly from a desperate-looking author. Maybe that author was your neighbor or your sister-in-law. But did you actually read the thing? Come on, admit it: You didn’t get past the first page. You swear that some folks shouldn’t be allowed near a word processor."

You can read Diving for Pearls in full at Internet Review of Books.

My summary of the points would be
1) You, the reader, don't buy self-published books because they are hard to find and mostly crap.
2) Some of them really aren't crap, including mine. We reviewed some others, that also weren't crap.
3) You can send us review queries if you are self-published.

I found the curve of the essay--from addressing the average reader to addressing someone who might query for a review (send "the title, brief description (100 words or so), any pertinent author info, page count, publisher, and publication year")--a little Escherian. But there you go, another potential source of reviews for the self-published masses....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One agent's take on mentioning self-POD in queries

My generic advice is to be aware of an agents or editors preferences before approaching them. You may be wasting your time if they really hate POD, you may want to mention it, you may not. This from Janet Reid:

"Every single time you tell me you've been published I look it up. Every single time. No exceptions. If the only edition I find on Amazon is the iUniverse edition, and there's no hint of the other edition anywhere, I'm not impressed." [read more at her blog]

Friday, June 20, 2008

REVIEW: 'Living with the Truth' by James Murdoch

Title: Living with the Truth
Author: James Murdoch
Price: 7.99
Genre: Literature Fiction, Existentialist/Philosophical
ISBN: 978-0955063619
Point of Sale: Amazon

Jonathan Payne is waiting on Death. Not because he wishes to die, but because he feels it’s long overdue. That is how our story begins. Jonathan is the owner of a small, almost antique, bookstore. His mother long passed, gifted with a tidy inheritance, Jonathan is a bachelor by choice. If it weren’t for the laundry list of failed sexual excursions, he would be hermit. He seems to have reached a point where all the illusion, or delusion, of life has lost its lustre.

Jonathan Payne is a man who preferred to “doodle in the margins” of his life rather than writing his great Opus, and admittedly, he is satisfied with the state of his affairs. Yes, this story is chalk full of anecdotal truths and realizations that the protagonist is well aware of but too tired to care about. This book begins at the end really, the end of a futile journey where the only enlightenment is that the journeyman is not only aware of the futility but has accepted it. Payne is a morose soul. And here we have the thrust of the story, Payne will be forced into enlightenment, will be forced to reject the futility, and that force comes by way of a strange man in a business suit who calls himself Mr. Truth and is as campy and without decorum as a know-it-all can get.

Now, altercations with the grim reaper, or truth, or agent of (insert applicable subjective principle here), or whatever you need to call it, are common—too common—but it’s the flavour of the prose that drives this story: glib dipped in eloquence and then rolled in a coating of irony. Everyone can relate to Jonathan Payne. How often have we said, “It just is what it is.” We have all said that from time to time when confronted with futility, and we have all resigned ourselves to the fact that we were too tired to try to make it anything more than what it is, and so we take a whatever, who cares attitude. How often do we slap a bit of delusion on things in order to make them bearable? We are all compulsive liars to an extent, and we lie to ourselves most of all. Deception and delusion, a disposition to which Jonathan Payne is perfectly suited, and like many, it is his preferred milieu. Well, until Mr. Truth gives him a swift kick in the ole bollix. Mr. Truth is here to stay for a while, a little holiday perhaps, and he knows everything about Jonathan, from his idle musings to his not so idle sexual proclivities. And Jonathan is going to know everything as well, in a way and with a depth he has been avoiding all of his life. This is the moment where Jonathan will actually confront himself, for better or worse, and in some scenes the confrontation is hilarious and absurd, in others, deeply moving. Mr. Truth might seem a bit snarky and heavy handed at first glance, but in reality, he has a light and sensitive touch … not to mention that he is one of the most endearing antagonists I have come across.

I like to pick a line that generally sums up a book, that is if one stands out. In this book my choice would be: “We’re only as sick as our secrets. It’s a fact of life, what we fear tends to control us which means everyone has a religion—with a small g, if you like—a way of looking at yourself in relation to the big picture.”

Conceptually, and in tone and texture, the story is wonderful, for those who enjoy literary works of the dark and penitent, peppered with sarcasm variety, which I do. It reminded me a little in style to Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job, with the added flavour of local dialect. However, there are some editorial issues I had a difficult time ignoring, which made the reading experience, on occasion, a bit trying.


Reviewed by Cheryl: Cheryl Anne Gardner is a retired writer of dark, often disturbing, literary novellas with romantic/erotic undertones. She is an avid reader and an independent reviewer with Podpeople blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For most of you I think the following could be filed under D for Duh. But just in case it is under D for D'oh'...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

REVIEW: 'Dragon Ring' by Lettie Prell

Title: Dragon Ring
Author: Lettie Prell
Price: $15.95
Genre: Science Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-9795889-6-9
Publisher: Flying Pen Press
Point of Sale: Amazon

I met Lettie Prell at Wiscon, which is billed as the “world’s leading feminist science fiction convention.” She was selling copies of her first novel, Dragon Ring, at a launch party for the book. I’m a sucker for authors selling their books, so I took a flyer and bought a copy. I’m glad I did.

Dragon Ring is the story of Nadine Xitumul-Washington, a half-Guatemalan, half-American girl. She lives with her family in Guatemala, which has become a corporate-owned country, and quite prosperous. Nadine’s mother is attuned to native spirituality, specifically Mayan, and Nadine shows some tendencies as well. However, Nadine is more interested in modern technology and virtual reality.

The story starts a bit slowly at first, as Nadine explores then rejects her Mayan sprit powers, but do pay attention to the story told to Nadine in Chapter 1. It starts to pick up when her father, Cypress, is killed. He had become involved, to the point of being an absentee father, in a somewhat mysterious US-based company called AEI, developing a free-energy device. When Nadine graduates from college, she applies for a job at the same company, and starts investigating what they are really up to.

This is where the story gets good, and picks up a lot. Since the plot is basically a science fiction mystery, I can’t discuss it further, other than to say there’s a cameo by Nikola Tesla. Ms. Prell weaves together an interesting tale of magic, science and aliens, creating if you will a unified theory of these three items.

As far as I can tell, this is the first book by Flying Pen Press, based in Denver, Colorado. They are using print-on-demand as their production medium. The various technical aspects of the book are very professional, including editing and production. I truly enjoyed Dragon Ring, and look forward to more works from Ms. Prell.

Rating: 10/10

chrisChris Gerrib is a resident of Villa Park, IL and Director of Technology for a Chicago-area bank. Chris is the author of the science fiction novel The Mars Run. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Darien, IL.