Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review -- Patient Zero

Author: Jim Beck
Genre: Zombie
Price: $2.99
Pages: Kindle
Publisher: Black Rooster Creations
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

I don't read many zombie stories unless they have some profound socio-political edge to them or are just plain different. Last one I read was Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist, which was brilliant. In most zombie stories, the zombies are more or less irrelevant, a nuisance to be dealt with so we can focus on the real story, which is about the characters and how they deal with life under duress. In Beck's Patient Zero, we have poor Bob. Bob has a tumor and has opted for an experimental procedure to remove it. Bob dies during the procedure, and the Zombie virus is born. The whole procedure/virus/mutation scenario was an interesting and believable one.

But what makes this flesh eating tale a bit different is that the story is told from the point of view of the virus. It's a callous and uncompromising point of view, but then again, it is a virus. It sort of reminded me of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter in The Dark, in which entire chapters were devoted exclusively to the point of view of Dexter's dark passenger, which also seemed virus like in its ancient physiology. Aside from the point of view here, the rest of Beck's story is pretty standard zombie fare. Bob will eventually become a zombie, and his son might just have to blow his brains out. Readers will be able to connect with Bob, such a sad sack of a troubled man who never seems to get dealt any luck in life, and even though the point of view is a detached one, often over the course of the story, we get the impression that the virus feels bad for Bob too.

This was a short, enjoyable read, though my Kindle file seemed to have some paragraph formatting issues.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Createspace discontinues Pro Plan

Createspace has announced the end of Pro Plan:

:"We're happy to announce that Pro Plan has been discontinued and now it's free for ALL CreateSpace authors to receive the higher royalty payouts and lower pricing on owner orders that was previously available through Pro Plan! Any existing books that were previously on the Standard Plan and new books that you set up will automatically receive the benefit of improved royalty payouts and lower unit costs on orders."

Good news for anyone, except those who recently paid for Pro Plan.

Monday, January 09, 2012

REVIEW: Saucerers and Gondoliers

Title: Saucerers and Gondoliers
Author: Dominic Green
Genre: science fiction (young adult)
Price: $0.99
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

The “back of the book” blurb for Saucerers and Gondoliers says, “Flying saucers do not land in country parks. They are not piloted by Englishmen. They do not bear nameplates saying "HAWKER SIDDELEY AVIATION." And they are never, ever filled with smuggled catering packs of Monster Munch.”

Well, except for the flying saucers of Dominic Green’s newly-released book, they don’t. The book, written in the same spirit as 1980s “Doctor Who,” complete with a British Brigadier (well, Commodore, which is the RAF equivalent) has all that and more. The story is that of Ant and his friend, girl, Cleo, a pair of modern 12-and-a-half-year-olds who come across the Hawker Siddeley flying saucer in an English forest. For a variety of reasons, they get abducted, and end up arriving at an “American” colony called New Dixie.

It seems that, in 1947, the Americans discovered flying saucer technology. This was shared with the British and stolen by the Russians, and the three parties set up secret programs to exploit said technology, secret even to US Presidents and Soviet Premiers. These programs created colonies, a group of which broke away from Earth. Now, the colonies send saucers back to Earth to steal supplies, including packages of crisps. (I think that’s British for French fries.)

So, the premise is a bit out there, and much of the science doesn’t withstand a hard look, but darned if Saucerers and Gondoliers isn’t a fun romp. Mr. Green has a very British sense of humor, which colors the book. I suspect that “smart” kids will like that (I did when I was the target age for this book). There is a bit of redeeming social virtue in Saucerers – Cleo is black while Ant is white, a fact that confuses the local New Dixie-ites. At any rate, I found Saucerers a perfectly enjoyable short romp.