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Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Category

I haven’t done a review in a while and those that I have done for other websites and magazines over the years are gone  from the web. I did download a whole lot of them with the view to put them here but I haven’t got around to it.

I enjoyed The Interdependency Trilogy a lot. I’m sort of writing this as a form or procrastination from working on my Phd exegesis. Here goes.

The Last Emperox (Audible Edition)

By John Scalzi

Performed by Wil Wheaton

I had been hanging out for this third book in the Interdependency Trilogy so I was keen to listen to it. Published in April, 2020, I was entertained by the Audible Version. Wil Wheaton was excellent as the narrator and performer of the characters. I enjoyed listening to the Last Emperox so much that I immediately went back to listen to the whole series again. Combined, Scalzi’s words and Wheaton’s performance was so good that I want to buy the print versions as well to add to my collection, just so I can savour this series.

Scalzi has outdone himself. I understand that the MRAs (The men’s rights activists) the sad and very sad puppies, are against Scalzi’s stand as a feminist, as a social justice warrior and as an science fiction author. Well he has stuck it to them with this series with the content as it contains a lot of things that those detractors hate and apparently he earned big bucks from it. I feel like cheering here.

The Interdependency Trilogy is a critique of the globalised Neo-liberal capitalist society. At least that is what I thought it was. In addition, it is feminist or at least I read it that way. The heroes are female and the dastardly baddy is a female. Also, most of these leading characters are descended from people of colour. Cardinia Wu-Fitzpatrick’s paternal line is from China originally. She is Emperox Grayland II, a shy, sensitive and passionate leader, thrust into power and who unlike the rest of the court, cares about the everyday people. Feisty, sweary Kiva Lagos’s family were from West Africa and she just powers through the narrative, starting out a little self centred and self serving and focussed on profit but then learning how to try monogamy and developing a social conscience. I’m not sure where the villainess, Nadashe Nohamapeten’s family descend from but the name sounds exotic enough to complete the picture. There are male characters in the series but they aren’t the big characters sketched by Scalzi in the starring roles. There’s Lord Marce, the mathematician, sensitive and normal and Grenny (sp) Nohamapeten, the arch villain who is barely competent and the puppet of his sister, Nadashe. He’s stuck on the planet End in the last part of the trilogy.

The Last Emperox was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. To my mind, Scalzi has some great ideas and also great characterisations combined with narrative grace. His work is accessbile. He’s does not appear to be trying to dazzle the reader with heavily constructed or artistic prose, but rather telling a fast paced narrative, with lots of reminders of key events so the reader doesn’t have to remember too hard about what happened. At times, these reminders serve a dramatic purpose, even comedic, when the baddy, for example, doesn’t understand why someone doesn’t want to join the new scheme.

With the Interdependency, Scalzi has built a system of interconnected systems that depend on ‘the Flow,’ a naturally occurring space/time phenomenon to interact, trade and so on. A number of times, Scalzi points out in the series that you can’t go faster than the speed of light, but the Flow allows this travel. Not a worm hole, but maybe something like a series of them, but not just allowing passage between different points in the systems, but also playing around with time as well. The crunch is that the Flows are collapsing and that these systems that are so interdependent won’t be able to continue as normal but they will die out as the various worlds are in systems that can’t support life, except for the planet End.

I was listening to The Last Emperox and the whole series in April/May while in social isolation. It was really profound. In The Last Emperox, the interdependency is going through a crisis, on the verge on the collapse and the leaders of the great houses were in denial, more denial and even more denial and then they panicked. When Scalzi wrote this there wasn’t a hint of pandemic and that our globalized economy would suffer from a major disruption. So in the real world that denial, more denial and then the powers that be trying to keep their money and economies going juxtaposed with keeping people safe resonated between the novel and real life. I actually laughed when I heard that in the story. The societal elements of the science fiction were coming true.

For me, I see another piece of popular culture responding to the issues in society and discussing them. It is ironic that The Last Emperox landed during a pandemic, which shut of most of the travel between nations, gutted world economies, required dollars from governments to support workers and had a strong right wing agitation to get back to work and make money and some left leaning government support to keep people going.

With a deft hand at intrigue and political machinations, Scalzi had me on a roller coaster ride. There are secrets, lies, mathematics, coups, murder, scheming and betrayal all so Nadashe can become the Emperox. It’s a kind of fixation for this character, a goal without a good understanding of what that means–just power, give me power. Nadashe sort of represents those right wing elements in society who are out for the money and power and damn the rest of the world. Emperox Grayland II is trying to save everybody and her enemies think this is: one not possible; and two crazy as they just want to get to End with their money and their lives and leave everyone else for dead. Meanwhile, with the support of Grayland II, Lord Marse is trying to find a way to save everyone or as much of everyone as possible, and he has an idea, but how can anyone get anything done when there are coups, assassination attempts, murder and so on.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I want to assure you that this is a fast and satisfying ride. It made me think deeply about things and I guess that makes it a great book, but I also laughed with along with this story and hung on every word.

In a talk last year in Australia, Scalzi said that Old Man’s War was a response to Starship Troopers by Heinlein, which was in turn a response to War of the Worlds by H G Wells, the first of its kind. I’ve been trying to think what the Interdependency Trilogy is in response to on the literature side, possibly The Expanse (TV series name), in part, but the novels by James S. A Corey. Why I say this is that Corey’s series discusses capitalism and exploitation and differences in wealth also known as the human condition. It has the sweary older woman of Indian descent, Belters who live substandard lives, multiple races and an alien invasion that upsets the status quo. There is also a hint of Iain Banks Culture series in there too. Whether this is conscious or unconscious or not, this response to the previous works has made something exciting and new.

The books in the series are reasonably succinct too. The Audible versions were under ten hours. I like this aspect too because I’m not committing 20 to 30 hours into a narrative which can at times make me guilty. Thank you John Scalzi.

 

PS this review is by no means as thinky and analytical as it was in my head. I blame real life on that and my brain.

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It’s been a long time between posts and I really don’t have an excuse. Life if just hectic at times. I’ve also decided that my daughter and her new baby will come first this year. That decision requires refoccusing. And I’ve been baking bread, particularly sour dough. It’s therapeutic!

Still on the writing front things have been plodding on. At times, I do not understand this industry. I love writing and making up stories but at times it is hard to be positive about the longer term. Selling a book a day is not sustainable. I will try though to keep positive!

Emerald Fire, Cry Havoc Book Two was free on Amazon for five days and people downloaded a lot of it (635). I was shocked. Ruby Heart , Cry Havoc Book One, hardly had any downloads in comparison and that was the book one (about 120). I umed and ahed about putting a book 2 on for free but I did and I’m not sure what it all means. I think my newsletter subscribers are waiting for Ruby Heart to be discounted again so they can have the set. I love writing this series so much. So much fun and research. I will be discounting Ruby Heart in May, which Emerald Fire goes wide.

Meanwhile, Argenterra, Silverlands Book one, has been 99 cents on all platforms for the whole of April. The sale ends on April 30. I even had a paid promotion and I’ve only shifted like 25 copies all up. That’s with newsletter shares and so on. The weird thing is the sell through on Argenterra appears pretty good. People do buy the next books in the series. I love the new covers. I’ll put links below in case you are tempted to sample.

I love the Silverlands series. Argenterra was the first fantasy I tried to write. My second novel ever, rewritten many times before it was ever published. I love the Argenterra world and the characters and the stories of the history.

You have until April 30 to get your 99 cent copy.

Buy links

amazon ibooks Kobo Google Nook

I have a collection of stories from Argenterra planned, ostensibly told from Kushlan Silvertongue’s point of view as commissioned by King Oakheart. A bit of a literary conceit there, having a story teller tell the story.

I’ll be releasing the stories one by one, at first, to introduce readers to the world of Argenterra and an extra for fans of the series. When they are done I will release them as a collection in one volume. They will be free or 99 cents.

The first one of these will be released in a couple of weeks as it is with the proofreader right now. That tale is Vorn and the First Comers, an appropriate place to start. I have thought about writing Vorn’s story as a prequel novel so the novella doesn’t cover the war, just the trip to Argenterra and early settlement. Here is the cover below. It’s from Patty Jansen’s premade cover store and I’ve been eyeing it off for ages.

It is stunning. It is a generic fantasy cover, I know, but evocative and beautiful.

Over the Easter break I did some writing, well technically revision as this novel was drafted years ago and I’m still working on it. I had feedback that meant I needed to change the title and confirmation of my thoughts on this SF romance of mine.

It’s a story that wants to be just SF without the romance, or it’s an SF romance that wants to be romance. In the end, I’ve decided to make it SF with romance on the side. You might think there is no difference, but there is.

Anyway I spied this cover on Patty’s site and I had been eyeing it off. My partner, Matthew, thinks Deleen’s pose is too sexy, but I think the cover is deliciously retro looking and reminds me some 80s’ covers of books say from Lois McMaster Bujold.

My great author buddy, Nicole Murphy, asked for the draft and she read it in one day. I’m gobsmacked! She gave me some great feedback and came up with the new title. The old one was ‘Cold Soldier’.

Patty was really good about retitling this cover many times. I haven’t got a blurb for this yet. They usually come last. I’m still working on the story too. This book having an identity crisis borked me from getting very far into the rewrites over the years. Now, I’m two thirds in and I’ll need to revise it again, but I feel I have better direction. It is also part of a planned series but not a trilogy. The stories should work on their own. Awakening should come out later this year. After I’ve done a few things like this blog post, I will return to it today.

No blurb as I said, but a bit of a teaser.

On peaceful Colony Five there is a coup in progress. The administrator is mysteriously replaced and security advisor, Deleen is sent on forced leave.  Previously unknown cryo soldiers are being taken out of people’s basements and burned in the city parks. People hiding the cold soldiers are being taken away and charged with treason. Disturbing as this is for Deleen, she senses danger as a kind of martial law is being enforced in the city. Then she starts having dreams of a man asleep in a glass case-a suppressed memory that is forcing its way out. She escapes the city her abandoned homestead to confront the past and save the present.

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Another author interview for you. I have had Amanda Bridgeman on my blog before. However, something new and exciting happening in her publishing life fired my imagination with questions. Thank you Amanda for dropping by to talk about your new release The Subjugate, published by Angry Robot.

But first, the blurb so we know about the book!

In a small religious community rocked by a spree of shocking murders, Detectives Salvi Brentt and Mitch Grenville find themselves surrounded by suspects. The Children of Christ have a tight grip on their people, and the Solme Complex neurally edit violent criminals – Subjugates – into placid servants called Serenes. In a town where purity and sin, temptation and repression live side by side, everyone has a motive. But as the bodies mount up, the frustrated detectives begin to crack under the pressure: their demons are coming to light, and who knows where that blurred line between man and monster truly lies.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Pure & Savage | Hard Boiled | Bright Spark | Finding Serenity ]

Amanda Bridgeman

 

Can you tell us a bit about the book and how you came to write it?

I’d been wanting to write a female cop protagonist for some time. I can’t recall how the idea for the Solme Complex came to me, but I suspect it was partly my fascination/abhorrence of violence and violent men, and the desire to see equality in the world. The religious aspect comes from my upbringing – I was raised a Catholic but haven’t continued with the religion since high school, and naturally I have ‘feels’ about that. So the book formed from a culmination of my own life experiences, natural intrigue and research.

 How did you get picked up by Angry Robot?

I actually met Marc Gascoigne at Conflux in Canberra back in 2013 (and I won that conference ticket from you at Genrecon in Sydney in 2012!). I did a panel with Marc and at some point over the convention he bought me a cup of tea and we had a chat about my books – at the time it was the Aurora series. I guess we followed each other at a distance over the years and then when The Subjugate was finished I got my agent, Alex Adsett to pitch it to him. Voila! Here we are.

(Wow! that is so fab. I know from talking to Marc at the time that he was interested in your work. And, yes, lots of opportunities through Genrecon and Conflux!)

How did you fit writing it in around your massive Aurora series?

I had written 5 Aurora books before the first one was published, so my previous publisher was able to release them relatively quickly – the five books over three years – so I look more prolific than I actually am. After I had written the 5 and had spent a little time learning about the publishing process, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing something different. A result of this was my novel The Time of the Stripes, and then The Subjugate. It was important for me to take a break from the Aurora world and try some different flavours of science fiction – being an alien contact story and the sci-fi crime thriller. I think they’ve made me a better writer. It’s always been my goal to be a versatile writer and not be pigeon-holed into any one genre or sub-genre. Plus I love a good thriller, so it was always my plan to branch into thrillers at some point.

Was there any new challenges in writing The Subjugate?

Absolutely! The biggest challenge was predicting law enforcement in the future. Let’s face it, with the improvements in technology and forensics, it’s going to be harder and harder for people to commit crimes and get away with them. For me, it helped that the crimes in my novel were committed in a community that shuns technology…

 Is there any more books of yours coming out from Angry Robot?

Not as yet – I need to finish writing my next book/s. I’m not going to rush anything out, though. The Subjugate has been so well received that it’s important my next book is just as good, if not better! I do have a follow-up planned for The Subjugate (a whole series in fact, centred around Detective Salvi Brentt), and I’ve started researching a new book (and potential series) separate from The Subjugate, but set in the near future, involving a female police detective and time travel! And, of course, I have the final Aurora books to work on. And if time permits, a sequel to The Time of the Stripes. And that’s not including any of the other ideas I wish to develop into novels or screenplays. If only I had more time!

What’s ahead for you in the publishing world? More traditional, more Indie?

I’m keen to pursue more traditional possibilities if I can. If publishers don’t want my new work, then I’ll happily self-publish and continue on the hybrid path. I’ve built up a strong and loyal readership over the years, so that makes things easier! There are pros and cons to both sides of the publishing fence, but right now I value the extra eyes (namely mainstream media eyes) a good publisher can help get your book.

 

Thank you Amanda. That is truly amazing. You write so long, too so it is mind boggling that you write so much. Matthew and I are both fans of your Aurora series. I think Matthew has read more than me. We have the print copy on order and Matthew already has the ebook on his Kobo! I love how there is such a buzz about this one. I wish you great success with it and more.

You can get The Subjugate in print or ebook.

About Amanda from her webpage/blog http://www.amandabridgeman.com.au

Amanda is an Aurealis Award finalist and author of 7 science fiction novels, including the best-selling space opera Aurora series and apocalyptic drama The Time of the Stripes.

Born in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, she moved to Perth (Western Australia) to study film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University, earning her a BA in Communication Studies. Perth has been her home ever since, aside from a nineteen-month stint in London (England) where she dabbled in Film & TV ‘Extra’ work.

When she’s not writing/reading books, you can find her indulging in films/tv/art or jumping up and down at rock concerts.

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Friday was a big day at World con. For me it was all about the Hugos as I was so honoured and delighted to be invited to co-present an award. And my daughter came in with me and also did my hair for World Con. We went with an Austenesque style but we had to do it in the morning with the hope that it would hold until the evening.

We were going to take the tram, but another tram had broken down and we couldn’t see how our tram was going to get through as there was only one track. After thinking about it for like 30 seconds we decided to catch the train in instead. The train and tram are so convenient from our location.

We had packed all our gear in case we needed to change on site. My first item was to go to the Hugo rehearsal session. I had arrived in good time but was so directionally challenged I couldn’t find the hall. In an act of desperation I ran up to a security guard. She said you can’t go there as it is shut. After I explained I was going to the rehearsals she directed me to an inconspicuous door. I would not have found it without help.

I made it in good time and watched a few of the run throughs, met people and then John Purcell turned up and we were able to go through some minor edits I made to the text and then it was our turn. Things were a little rushed and we had marks to move to. John and I did a vocal run through off stage just so we knew we could say it all. We needed one name, and Irish one, to be tutored. Lucky the Hugo Award administrator is Irish and could help out.

After that, there wasn’t much to do. We had lunch and hung out with Robert Hood and then Cat Sparks briefly. Cat has donated a signed copy on her Blue Lotus book for the fan fun auction.

The pre-Hugo reception was to start at 5.30 so my daughter suggested we take the tram back to our hotel and come back again. We were having vigorous discussions about shoes and in the end she decided to go to buy some.

I was going to rest but by the time we got back there wasn’t much time. My daughter went out to buy shoes and a big hand bag. We needed extra shoes because we couldn’t stand in high heels all night!

We made it to the reception with the aid of directions. This is the closest I’m ever going to get to a Hugo so it was a pleasure to be there. It was really quite crowded. I guess you can’t experience the impact of all those names until you see them gathered. There was rumours of food. I did see people eating but by 6.15 there was no more food, but some chocolates out for sweets. Lucky I wasn’t too hungry.

I was handed a cocktail/drink when I arrived. I think it was a long gin with Lingon berries (sp) and I had to make sure that was all I had. On an empty stomach too much alcohol is not a good thing.

I caught up with Carrie Vaughn, Paul Weimer, Nalo Hopkinson, Mihela and others. I met CE Murphy, from Ireland via Alaska she tells me. Then it was photos. I was going to get a photo with Jukka Halme, but I lost Paul Weimer so I had to scrap that idea. Then I lined up with Beans for a photo but just as it was nearly our turn, they announced they were taking official photos of the different categories of nominees so there went our chance.

Later though, Jukka grabbed me and said, come and have a photo with my official photographer and so I got my photo after all.

Then it was time to go in and take our places. We made sure to sit with John and Valerie Purcell (TAFF delegate and his wife) as we were presenting together.

This is the shot from inside the auditorium.

IMG_8392.JPG

There was type written script on the screen. It was for the hearing impaired I think but it had problems at times and some of the mispelt words were hilarious.

“I am slighted to be here” etc. I forgot most of them but really, 6000 delegates from 6000 countries. Hahahaha.

Then it was our turn to go on stage. The ceremony is on You Tube I believe and was webcast. We were in the beginning section. There was an International group of people presenting, South Africa, Poland, China, US and Australia. We had to sit on a sofa on stage and then after we presented we had a short interview. Amazing, John and I got to plug the fan auction to like 5000 people! They had John’s name wrong in the script so Karen Lord called him Jeff. We gave John a hard time. So Jeff what did you do with John etc.

After the awards ceremony we were invited to the Hugo Losers’ Party. There was a shuttle bus (a small one) so a lot of people took cabs. We waited with C E Murphy and ? (I’m sorry I forgot your name again) and Nalo Hopkinson, George RR Martin, Pat Catigan and others. A Finish fan guy leaped on the bus and Nalo can I come with you and did.

The venue was Helsinki’s steam punk nightclub. It was crowded by the time we got there. Winners turn up and are boohed and made to wear ridiculous head gear. There was an amazing steampunk cake. Lots of booze. Lots of food and desserts in mini containers. The music was good at first but then we tried to dance and the music went to shit. Go figure. I had a blast but wanted to go home. Beans, my daughter, wanted to party and dance and I didn’t get out of there until around 2 am. But I met people, talked to people. John and Valerie turned up late dressed in their steam punk gear. So cute.

Here is a collection of shots, including the steampunk cake. The steampunk couple are John and Valerie Purcell.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And well today is Saturday and I must get out of here.

 

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Just sharing a snippet from Opi Battles the Space Pirates. The book is only available on Amazon and Amazon Unlimited for the moment.

The Blurb

Ms Opeia Gayens, head of AllEarth Corp, has a problem—her company is rotten with Space Pirates. She wants to get rid of them once and for all. An unexpected invitation to dinner challenges her plans to be the bait that will draw the nasty pirates out. It’s been forever since she’s been on a date—just been Opi. Somehow, Owain McDevitt, mild-mannered, potato farmer from the planet Islay 2 is drawn into the intrigue. Yet, no one is who they seem, least of all Owain McDevitt.

opibattlesthespacepirates

Chapter One

Explosive Personality

 

Opeia Gayens was having a bad day. She was tired, oh so tired, and a wee bit cranky. Running AllEarth Corp had its highs and its lows. So far today had been one of the lows. And it wasn’t getting any better. Not only had her daughter, Rae, just told her that she didn’t want to join the company or want her inheritance, this executive interview with Jors Finksy had taken a bad turn.

Finksy held out a hot pink, round object about the size of a tennis ball that looked suspiciously like a plastic explosive. ‘This is a bomb,’ he declared, waving at her. ‘I’m going to take you with me.’

Opeia let out a sigh, moved her knee to key her distress alarm. ‘That,’ she said, ‘is rather counter-productive.’

It had been a run-of-the-mill ethics appraisal. Obviously, the testing regime designed to filter out space pirates, or those likely to be suborned by space pirates, was more stressful than she anticipated for her employee to take such drastic measures.

Jors had standing-on-end, spikey, white hair and his red, sweating face sported puffy cheeks and very pale eyes. His burnished-silver body suit hugged his plump frame in a less than complimentary manner. Not the sort to bring a bomb to a meeting.

Her security chief, Mueller, was going to get an earful for his team letting this incendiary device through the screening procedures. It signalled a lapse that wasn’t acceptable. She eyed the bomb. It had no discernible controls or wires or lights. It looked like a lurid, ball of soft, mouldable plastic that a child might play with.

Finksy stood up suddenly, waving the ball around. Instinctively, Opeia leant back. Where was her security team anyhow?

‘You were going to dismiss me from my job. It’s all I have…’

Opeia blinked. She hadn’t been about to sack the poor fellow, but that outcome seemed inevitable now.

Distracted by security taking their time, Opeia was taken by surprise when Finksy thrust the bomb into her face. Instinctively, she slapped his hand and the bomb flew up. She leapt for it in case it would explode on impact. She caught it with one hand and with the other, punched her terrorist under the chin. The man wasn’t expecting it and went down.

Letting out a breath, she had one second of relaxation and then she noticed the bomb started to sweat in her hand and was slightly warm. Leaning down, she said into her intercom, ‘Polly where the hell is security!’

‘Oh? We thought you’d triggered it by accident.’

‘I have a bomb in my hand and an unconscious executive who will come around very soon. Get the team in here now.’

Polly didn’t answer but in about thirty seconds her door slid open. ‘Don’t move,’ the lead security guy said. ‘Smithy, get up here with the analyser.’

Opeia swallowed and looked slowly down at her hand. ‘Geez.’ Bubbles appeared on surface of the ball. There was a chemical reaction going on. The hot pink bomb was definitely giving off heat. Why had she tackled for the bomb anyhow? Was she insane?

Smithy, face covered in a shock proof shield, aimed the pointy end of the analyser at her. ‘Plastic explosive. DNA key.’

‘Can’t you get a bin or something. I don’t want it going off in my hand.’

Smithy backed up, head titled on the side. ‘Containment possible,’ he spoke into the mic.

A rumble from the back of the door and a trolley came in, bearing a two metre by two metre metal box.

Smithy keyed a small panel. ‘Now, mam, a drawer will slide out. Quickly place the device onto it and back away. It will shut rapidly and should contain the blast.’

Opeia looked up. ‘Should? Great.’

From the bottom end of the metal box, a square door opened up. It could hold a basket ball-sized object. With lips compressed, Opeia bent her knees, bringing the bomb closer. The bubbles on the surface of the bomb resembled boils now. The heat it gave off was starting to burn her palm. Carefully, she placed her hand near the bottom of the box and started tilting her hand to allow the ball to slide off.

Finksy sat up suddenly and shook his head. ‘Stop!’ he said. Opeia jerked her hand with surprise. The bomb dropped. She snatched her hand back. A security guard charged forward tackling her to the ground to shelter her with his body. The drawer shut with a snap. The containment box jumped and a loud boom sounded from inside. From where the little drawer had retracted, the metal had melted and fumes were rising.

The guard levered himself off her. ‘Pardon me, mam.’ The label on his hazard gear gave his name as Muri. He offered his hand and assisted her to stand.

‘Thank you, Mr Muri.’

Another security man came up and sprayed her hands. The burning stopped as the spray cooled her skin.

Two burly ones grabbed Finksy. They brought him in front of her.

Her hands were red and the skin had started to peel. Compared to what could have happened. No hands. Or no body. She had come off lightly. ‘Mr Finksy. I am sorry to have to tell you but you’re fired…and under arrest.’

The containment box was wheeled out. The security team followed, along with Finksy who was quite verbal in his resentment. When they left, Polly buzzed. ‘Chief Mueller for you.’

‘Send him in.’

‘He’s not actually here, sorry. On comms.’

Too chicken to face her. Damn the man. Walking to her desk, she keyed her comms. ‘Mueller what the actual?’ she yelled at him. He opened his mouth and kept it open. ‘Nobody responded to my distress alarm and how did that goddam bomb get through screening?’

‘Ms Gayens…Opeia…’

‘Don’t try to sweet talk me.’ Mueller’s bull dog face loomed on the viewscreen.

‘I won’t. The bomb was a new type of material,’ he rushed on before she could interrupt again. ‘We had rumours of it being in production but our screening wasn’t calibrated. It is now.’ He let out a breath. ‘The non-response is a bit more difficult to explain.’ He ran his fingers through his short cropped hair. ‘It had been reported to me that you accidentally set off your distress alarm seven times in the last month. My men advise that you were pretty pissy at them for the repeated interruptions when they responded as per procedure.’

Opeia nodded, recollecting the mayhem. The distress switch had been relocated to under the desk so she could call for help without anyone knowing, unfortunately she kept bumping it. Her annoyance at having important and confidential meetings and video conferences interrupted had been quite strong and verbal. May have involved threats too. She chewed the inside of her cheek. ‘Put the location of my distress alarm back on our regular agenda. I don’t want to be left vulnerable like that again.’

‘I’ll tighten security measures.’

‘No! Goddam it Mueller! They are so tight already.’ As it was she hardly saw normal people. Her children were exempt from the security procedures but not anyone else. At times it was a tad embarrassing. I hope the cavity search wasn’t too uncomfortable, Mr…

‘But not tight enough. Today is a good example.’

‘You’ve explained today. It won’t happen again.’ He opened his mouth to protest but she raised her hand. ‘Your hand to hand training came in useful.’ She thought this would divert him.

He growled. ‘Ms Gayens you aren’t meant to tackle people with bombs or grab the devices yourself. May I remind you that you could have died if it had been another type of bomb?’

‘I know. I’m sorry. I just reacted when he thrust the bomb in my face and no one had come to help.”

He let out a sigh and rubbed his hand through his hair. ‘I see.’

Opeia thought she could wrap this up with another diversion. ‘Say, can you send me an update on that bomb material. DNA triggered you say? Let me get across that.’

‘Very well. Done and agreed. The information will be sent to you by the end of the day. My advice is that you should not have ill effects from holding the bomb except for some superficial burns.’

She held up her hands. ‘I got that part.’

‘Although I wish you hadn’t tackled the man and taken it.

‘I know. I don’t know what came over me. Spur of the moment—panic. It was entirely stupid. It won’t happen again.’

Mueller grunted and she keyed off. Turning to her handheld, she entered in the information about Finksy’s dismissal and sent a memo to her personnel manager to start new recruitment activity. Then she slumped across her desk. She was sick to the bone of this. Over it. That’s why Rae’s message had gutted her. If she wasn’t doing this for her daughter why was she doing it? Essa, her other daughter, had already bailed a year ago.

Sometime later her office door chimed. ‘May I come in?’ Polly, her personal assistant, asked as she poked her head through the gap in the sliding door. Polly was a few years younger than Opeia and had such an easy going personality that Opeia thought of her as a friend. About five foot five, trim with a pixie-like face, she was a trendy dresser and was forever ribbing Opeia about her penchant for pantsuits for business or shapeless coveralls when travelling on space cruisers. Polly argued they marred her beauty, where Opeia thought they hid a multitude of sins, like a peach shaped butt, well-rounded belly, largish breasts and generous thighs.

‘Sure, Pol. What is it?’ Opeia sat up and self-consciously tugged at the tunic top of her pale lemon, pantsuit. The material was self-cleaning and wrinkle proof. What could be easier?

Polly raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips, then let out a sigh before continuing. ‘I have a priority-keyed message for you from someone called,’ she looked down at her handheld. ‘Owain McDevitt.’

‘Who?’

Polly sighed. ‘Owain McDevitt.’ She scrolled through the page on her handheld. ‘McDevitt Enterprises. You completed the takeover of his transport companies last year. All the official paperwork is completed.’

‘Refresh my memory. What did I do to him, actually?’


Intrigued? You can buy or download Opi Battles the Space Pirates here.

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It has been hectic here at Dweebenhiem! A lot happening on the publishing front.

First of all, new book!

opibattlesthespacepirates

Isn’t the cover wonderful?

Are you in the mood for a light-hearted romp through space? Forget POTUS! Take a spell from despair! Join Opi and her gravity problems. Opi Battles the Space Pirates is an adult SF romance, which features an older heroine and no explicit sex scenes.

Here’s the blurb

Ms Opeia Gayens, head of AllEarth Corp, has a problem—her company is rotten with Space Pirates. She wants to get rid of them once and for all. An unexpected invitation to dinner challenges her plans to be the bait that will draw the nasty pirates out. It’s been forever since she’s been on a date—just been Opi. Somehow, Owain McDevitt, mild-mannered, potato farmer from the planet Islay 2 is drawn into the intrigue. Yet, no one is who they seem, least of all Owain McDevitt.

Betrayal after betrayal threatens Opi’s existence and she must discover who the traitor really is before she can find her true path to happiness.

Opi Battles the Space Pirates is out on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited for 3 months. Then it goes wide to other retailers.

You can get your copy here US$2.99 Aus $3.99

Link is here

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Some of you may recall my first long form publication was Rayessa and the Space Pirates, which was picked up by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing (digital imprint) in 2013. Rayessa had been languishing my hard drive for a number of years. It started as a short story, maybe way far back as 2002. I was writing the story for Elsewhere. At the time the first 7,500 were the longest short I’d written and it still wasn’t done. When the space pirates turned up, well I knew it wasn’t going to be a short story anymore. It ended up as a novella, then a slightly longer novella. It took it out and revised it a couple of times. I gave it to a couple of people to read with some positive feedback. I submitted it a couple of places. Once it was forwarded to the children’s editor at HarperCollins Australia. It was rejected but the rejection was along the lines of we already have stories along these lines and sorry to take  so long to get back to you. Then it sat in the hard drive a little longer. Then I went to my first RWA conference in the Gold Coast (2012) where Penguin launched their Destiny Imprint and Harlequin launched Escape. It was actually at the launch cocktail party of Destiny that I clued in that Rayessa was also a romance. Chinking champagne glasses with Nicole Murphy I said that I thought I had romance arc in some of my stories. She was like ‘Dah, why do you think I told you to come here?’ The clue people was the slideshow they had playing on the walls. Science fiction scenes at a romance conference.

So Rayessa was published. Then I wrote Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures, which should have been titled, Essa Takes on the Space Pirates or better still. Essa Rescues Mum from the Space Pirates etc. Now Escape decided they didn’t want any more spate pirate stories from me when they took Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures (and also revamped the Rayessa cover). Not with this family at least. So I changed the ending to Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures so there wasn’t too much hanging. But I always had in mind to write Opeia’s story. Opeia (Opi) is the mother of Rae and Essa, the head of AllEarth Corp.

Now pesky ideas will keep bothering you until your write them down. I thought I’d dealt with Opi by writing some notes about the story in my ‘Notebook of Really Cool Ideas’ that Gillian Polack gave me when I started the PhD. It is meant as a place to park ideas so I can come back to them when the Phd is done. Well obviously Opi had other ideas.

Opi meets NaNoWriMo and viola! she is out there on paper! I tried to be more emotionally contemplative in Opi Battles the Space Pirates. My wonderful beta reader (who is a fan of the first two books) gave me feedback. I had to rewrite the beginning and the ending after that. That plot twist that I had come up with but abandoned because I was trying to address my plot addiction by being a bit more touchy feely, well I had to put the plot bit in. It’s just that type of book.

It’s fluff, it’s funny (I think so) and it’s light and possibly uplifting. (Complete opposite to the Dragonwine series). Opi Battles the Space Pirates is also longer than the first two books, just under 60,000 words, it’s adult, but not sexy, more sweet in keeping with the other two books. It features an older protagonist (42) and a space battle goddamit!

Stay tuned. Cover art is in progress. Proofreading is in progress. I’m going to self-publish this one for fun.

Just to refresh your memory, here are the covers of the first two books, which I adore. Not sure the wonderful covers sell as many books as they should, but they are pretty and swish.

Link to the Escape website here. The books are at all major e-retailers. You can also buy these books in large print format/hardcover for libraries I think. I can’t afford to buy myself a  hard back version. There are some copies in libraries in Australia and the USA. Here.

However, I plan to have a print version of Opi Battles the Space Pirates. Just for fun, for a laugh and maybe as giveaways. So watch out.

Oh and the moral of the story? Don’t throw anything out. Learn from rejections. Don’t give up. Keep writing. Follow your heart…and whatever!

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My indie published Argenterra, Silverlands book 1, is on promotion this weekend for 99 cents.

Argenterra is an epic fantasy novel, interweaving three romances over the three books. The story starts with Sophy and Aria and then joins up with Rae’s when Sophy and Aria are whipped into the world of Argenterra a land where everyone can use magic except Sophy. The story is YA appropriate.

Argenterra with subtitle

Argenterra is featured among around 100 books, from SF through to Fantasy so here is your chance to do some exploring. There are some very interesting books here for 99 cents.promo-jan

The link to the promo is here and you can select via your favourite retailer. For example, click on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo etc and you will see the books that are featured for 99 cents with that retailer. Links are also geocoded in understand.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for allowing me to participate in her promo weekend.

Oathbound, Silverlands book two is still with the editor but I hope to get that our in the next few months. The Ungiven Land is close behind that.

Ciao!

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I can’t believe it is six months already.

I’ve been at this gig for six months!

Do I miss work? No.

Do I miss the money? Yes, a bit, but not as much as I thought I would. I keep telling myself I will get a part time job, but I’m not desperate enough yet.

Do I miss my work mates? Yes, I do. The social scene at uni is different. You come to the study centre and you study. Occasionally you chat to people. It takes time.

As a PhD is self-directed research it can be difficult to judge your progress. If I sat around at home and did nothing, then I’d have the guilt meter out. But I’m on campus usually four days week and if I don’t then I’m working from home. If I consult my guilt meter it’s pretty good actually. No falling into the red zone there.

Actually, I’m just getting to the part of my study where I’m calming down. I won’t call it slowing down. Looking back I can see I approached this PhD like a bull charging a red flag. I was anxious. I was stressed. I was working like a maniac at times, dreaming up papers in my sleep. There was so much to know and I wanted to know it all. But that’s been settling down now for a few weeks.

I think there came a point that I thought I can do this. I can understand. A bit earlier than that I knew I had to dial it back as I couldn’t sustain the pace over three years. I was studying on my day off. Technically my day off is my writing day. My fiction not related to PhD writing day. It also doubles for catching up with friends day, which means I usually don’t get to write much when I do the social thing.

I’m enjoying it though and it can be absorbing. Some days on campus, I look up and see the time and think what am I doing here at 6.00 pm? Then I scurry home.

I’m coming up to my six months study. I am going to be doing my introductory seminar next week. That’s where I get to stand up and talk about my research topic, methodology and my creative project. I think my supervisor is optimistic that I won’t flubber, blubber…splat. This is a compulsory seminar, but it is not assessed. I have a bit of work to do before my first year is up as I have to do my confirmation seminar. Yes that’s right. I can be booted. I can’t see that happening but you know I have to get things up to scratch.

I’m heading for the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Adelaide this week. We are driving down because we’ve not driven to Adelaide before. We are driving over two days. I’m doing a signing there. Waves! There is an academic stream for the conference. I put in for a paper but didn’t get chosen. Apparently there was an over supply of papers. But I believe it is a truncated stream. I am putting in a paper for the conference proceedings. Well I will. I’m just waiting on some final comments from my supervisor. I’ve been working on this paper since March. But as it is my topic area, none of it’s wasted. It was probably a good way to get across the topic, having that paper to write.

When I get back from Adelaide, I’ll be reorganizing myself. I want to start working on my creative project. So far I’ve thought about it and drafted a short outline. However, I think I have to write it and see if it works, then change it if it doesn’t. This is a fiction piece I’m giving myself time to draft. I think I might have mentioned it will be SF with romance. The other task I have to complete for my confirmation seminar is my literature review. I still have stuff I need to read, most stuff I will read two or three times before I’m done. Then I have to read romances! This means dividing up my time so that I get things done. I like to be flexible of course, but still…Would you believe I’ve been tidying my desk today? I’m sorting my journal articles into alphabetical order and putting flags on them as to why I think they are important. I feel saintly and so unlike me. I think it’s because I’m treading water. I’ve done my prep for the seminar. I’m heading to a conference and I’m waiting for comments on a paper so I can send it off.

I also have a romance readers survey and a romance writers survey as part of my PhD and it’s ready to go. Give me a hoy if you want an invite. I’m going to kick that off in September post introductory seminar.

 

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Time just flits by so quickly. I’ve had a nasty bout of RSI this week and lots to do. I’m still in Audible mode as well as reading print and e-books. This not quite review is of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead. Older SF but still good. When I started on Audible I wanted to use it as a vehicle to read those books that I don’t already own and that I’ve wanted to read but for some reason haven’t. These books were recommended to me by a work colleague.

The Audible files for these two books were good. I haven’t seen the movie btw so I’m basing this on my listening experience.

Ender’s Game for me was an interesting book. I can’t say that I found it easy to identify with Ender’s situation or character. He is a six year old genius sent to military school to be carved into a tool. This doesn’ t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. I enjoyed the idea of the story, of the boy and his experiences. I enjoyed the craftmanship of the story. I enjoyed Card’s depiction of working in micro gravity and how it changes perceptions. We work in a space that has sideways and up but rarely do we conceive of down or no up. I believe the book had a profoundness to it, particularly the ending. If you haven’t read it I recommend you do.

In comparison though, the next book, Speaker for the Dead moved me greatly. Card says in his interview on Audible for Ender’s Game that he wrote Ender’s Game to set up the book he wanted to write, Speaker for the Dead. You wouldn’t necessarily have to read Ender’s Game to understand the next book or get the message, but after being on Ender’s journey it adds to the poignancy of Speaker for the Dead if you do.

What stood out for me with Speaker for the Dead was those elements of realness in there. Card did his Mormon  mission in Brazil and he used that experience to layer Lusitania, with a Portuguese, catholic culture. Despite him not being catholic himself, he used it quite sensitively and knowingly. The economic workings of the colony were very well thought out and solid.

The depiction of the Piggies, the alien race and their alienness was intriguing and fully- fledged. He’d really thought about this. No wonder that both books won Hugos and Nebulas.

The strength of the book for me was the characters. I felt them. They were very three dimensional. Something I admit I wasn’t expecting from an 1980s SF story. I’m not sure why but it was streets ahead of Ender’s Game on this point. I cried in parts of the book. I had to sit in my car and compose myself before going into my office.

The Piggie called Human touched me. I’m getting teary just writing this blog post.

Anyway, if you were thinking of some retro SF then try these books. I’m going to read/listen to the next one, Xenocide soon (after Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy gets its claws out of me).

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