Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Licensed to Thrill

It's not only James Bond who likes things shaken and not stirred
 

For in Doctors in Hell, you'll discover a devilish dark cocktail of delights that make up the perfect recipe for disaster.
 
You think you only live twice?
Well in Hell you'll find the damned live, just so that they can die another day on the whim of his infernal majesty's displeasure
 
Served hot on the rocks
This latest serving from Janet Morris' critically acclaimed
Heroes in Hell universe is just the tonic to keep sweet dreams & solace away

 
Come raise a glass to the morally twisted...
Its for Your Eyes Only
 

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Earth 2.0
NASA made a recent announcement regarding the discovery of Kepler 452b, which scientists are dubbing 'Earth 2.0', an earth-like planet in our galaxy.

Let’s find out why they’re so excited.
It's the most similar planet to Earth that has ever been discovered
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for Nasa's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said: "Today we're announcing the discovery of an exoplanet that as far as we can tell is a pretty close cousin of Earth. It's the closest so far. It's Earth 2.0."
What does he mean by “pretty close?”
Everything about Kepler 452b - from its size, the length of its years, the estimated conditions on the surface - is very similar to Earth.
Years on Kepler 452b are about the same duration as they are on Earth
A year on the newly-discovered planet - the time it takes to orbit its star, Kepler 452 - lasts for 385 days, only 20 days longer than a year here on Earth. That’s more unique than you think. For example, a year on Venus, the closest planet to the Earth, lasts only 88 Earth-days. A year on Neptune, further out in our solar system, is the equivalent of 185 Earth-years.
It's spent billions of years within the optimal habitable distance of its star
Kepler 452, the planet's star, is around 1.5 billion years older than our Sun. If a planet is too close to its star, it will be too hot to host life. If it's too far away, it will be too cold.
However, Kepler 452b has been the perfect distance from its star for many billions of years. According to Jon Jenkins, the Kepler data analysis lead at NASA's Ames Research Centre, this means it's possible that it hosts life on its surface, or at least could have at some point in its history.
 
This brings all sorts of other “life essential factors” into play.
The planet's star, Kepler 452, is slightly bigger than our own Sun. The added light and heat energy that the planet receives from the star not only means it is slightly warmer than Earth, but could also mean that plant life could thrive there, especially as there’s also a good chance liquid water is present.
Remember, since plant photosynthesis is what produces the air we breathe, that means this essential building block of life has a good chance of living on Kepler 452b.
Jon Jenkins told the press conference: "The sunshine from Kepler's star is very similar to sunshine from our own star, and plants could be able to photosynthesise just the same."
"It would feel a lot like home."
You could even get a tan there
Dr Daniel Brown, an astronomy expert at Nottingham Trent University, said: "Kepler 452b receives the same kind of spectrum and intensity of light as we do on Earth. This means plants from our planet could grow there if it were rocky and had an atmosphere. You could even get a healthy tan like here on holiday."
But don’t get too excited just yet
 
Unfortunately, it's pretty much impossible to get there (at the moment)
Yes, Kepler 452b is warm, possibly wet, and might be able to host plant life - BUT, it's 1,400 lightyears away.
(A lightyear is the distance that a beam of light can travel in a year. Light travels at over 670 million miles per hour. Light from the Sun takes around eight minutes to reach Earth, so naturally, a trip to Kepler 452b would take an incredibly long time.)
Let’s put that into perspective with something else that was currently in the news:
Nasa's New Horizon probe - the one
that recently took the amazing pictures of Pluto - left Earth's orbit faster than any other spacecraft before it, at around 36,373 mph.
If a specially adapted New Horizon launched at this speed towards Kepler 452b, it would take YOU around 25.8 million years to get there. What does that mean? Well, think about it this way...early, primitive humans only developed around 2.5 million years ago. So by the time you get there, you’d probably have evolved into something very special?
 
Sad news? Perhaps. But think about it in another way. If scientists are finding planets like this, it increases the probability of them uncovering evidence of what many have suspected for years.
We are not alone...
(Just as well X Files is coming back. Mulder and Scully might get very busy, real soon)
Source material: NASA Independent Newspaper UK
 

 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Review of the IX - By Hugo Award Winner - Michael A. Armstrong

 
on July 17, 2015
 
Take one part Roman military history, one part Old West adventure, one part near-future thriller, and combine with an alien, other wordly far-future battle against the meanest, nastiest monsters ever and you have Andrew Weston's The IX. Oh, and throw in a little Native American mysticism just to shake things up.
Just when you think you've figured out how The IX might end, Weston pounds the reset button of your expectations. The Horde, the aliens threatening to overcome the last outpost of civilization, come right out of The Forbidden Planet's "monsters from the Id," which is to say, Shakespeare's Tempest. Like all good villians, they seem to be a force impossible to overcome that demands great heroism and sacrifice from Weston's heroes. But also like all good villians, the Horde may have a little of us in them. Weston's Romans and Celts, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and terrorists get pulled from certain death into a battlefield where to win they must set aside their human hatred. It's an amazing idea that keeps the reader enthralled and guessing. Like all good fiction, The IX also is a novel that resonants long after the last sentence. Highly recommended.
**********
If you like your science fiction fast paced and gritty, full of realistic action and dark humor in the face of overwhelming odds, then The IX is definitely the epic for you.
Fans of Julian May’s “Saga of the Pliocene Exiles,” Robert Heinlein’s “Have Space Suit, Will Travel”, and Jerry Pournelle's “Janissaries Series” will love this tale. It combines the divergent elements of the past, present, and future, and blends them together into a slick and stylish package that will leave you breathless and hungry for more.
The Must Read Science Fiction Adventure of 2015.
Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure...
Find out for yourselves why...

Amazon:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Amazing Stories

Featuring the excerpt from Hell Bound
A Moment of Clarity
 
 
The folks over at Amazing Stories have very kindly run a chapter length excerpt from
Hell Bound, the very first Novel featuring Daemon Grim.
 
You can read it here:
 
Remember,
Hell Bound will form part of Janet Morris' award winning Heroes in Hell universe, and will continue the adventures of Satan's chief bounty hunter introduced to you in Doctors in Hell
 
 
Make sure you stay tuned to the diabolical events taking place in the underworld...
 
Hell Bound
Coming Fall 2015
 
 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

TMV Radio Café

 
I recently stopped by at TMV Radio Café to talk about bears in the wood, rugs in the attic, and the benefits of fighting premature ageing by the regular application of apricot facial scrubs with... Bill ZobieZak Snider.
 
Oh yes, and we had cookies too!
 
 
You know you want to...
 
 
Amazon:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

This Dark Matter - Review - The IX

 
Review: Bringing together competing groups of warriors from multiple different time periods to fight a war not their own can’t be easy.
This epic story takes a moment or two to set up but then skillfully guides you along for the adventure, never leaving you much time to come up for air. There’s always a new twist coming in, a new element you hadn’t considered, but always carefully worked in such a way that it seems completely natural. It relatively quickly focuses in on the three main characters of Marcus, Lex, and Mac — a Roman Centurion, a US Calvary man, and the lieutenant of a slightly futuristic UK special forces unit, respectively — as they struggle to understand why they were selected to help save an alien race on the far side of the galaxy.
It is impressive to see how the author has blended science fiction with history and classic Westerns into a cohesive whole, but it is also interesting to see how he predicts these cultures would come together and interact amongst each other. Snatched from Earth at the moment of their deaths through a time-traveling wormhole, the three leaders and their teams have to learn to understand each other before they can figure out what drives the mindless attack of the Horde on the Ardenese people. Not only do they need to defeat the Horde, but they must also overcome a number of additional challenges no one could have foreseen.
***************
Something that bothered me, especially in the beginning, were the info dumps between characters. Of course, this was necessary to a great degree in order to keep the different population groups separate (Romans, US 19th century cavalrymen and Plains Indians, future era elite soldiers, alien beings from a planet called Arden). It was also necessary to initiate individuals into their new home and, to the author’s credit, each introduction provided different information for the reader about what was actually happening. However, there were several moments when two relatively equally informed members of a group were talking amongst themselves and clearly rehashing old information just for the reader’s benefit. Given the artistry in other parts of the book, it seemed these sections might have been smoothed a bit more.
Another difficult element of the book at first was the jumping around from group of characters to group of characters. Keeping all of the names straight and understanding how each related to each other and eventually to the other groups within the story was confusing. A character chart would have been helpful here (my apologies if it already exists and I missed it). As much as I confused the characters in the beginning, though, I never caught the author doing so. Even in characterizing how the Ardenese communicate the new situation to their arrivals, Weston changed the approach based on the individual character’s own internal understanding. For example, while the future era special ops guy gets a relatively straight-forward explanation of what happened, the Cree warrior understands himself to be on a Vision Quest:
**********
Excerpt.......
The Creator took his newly fashioned weapon and drew the blade across his palm. Holding his hand before him, he squeezed his fist tightly, so that scarlet vitality pooled into a natural bowl-shaped depression in the rock at his feet. Stained-with-Blood noticed a thin gully leading away from the hollow and toward the cliff.
As the ruby-red ichor flowed toward the edge, it ran into a wall of invisible resistance. After surging and boiling for a moment, it reared upward. A birch sapling sprouted from the depths of the turbulent liquid. Growing quickly, it pushed down thick roots and matured into a majestic specimen of impressive height.
The rock along the lip of the chasm cracked. The tree shuddered and began to tip forward. As it fell, it abruptly budded, before exploding into the air. Stained-with-Blood watched, transfixed, as the seeds were caught up by glowing cinders from the fire and carried away into the starlit sky.
**********
Since the reader has already seen the explanations offered to several of the other principle characters, this vision is understood to convey at least as much meaning to the old Indian warrior as the more straight-forward explanations given to the previous soldiers. Touches such as this easily make up for a little awkwardness here and there elsewhere.
 
The author’s knowledge of military history and his speculations about what might have happened to the legendary Ninth Roman Legion have led to an amazing trip through time and space to a world where things are not ever as straight-forward as they seem. Blending in believable science and classic elements of old Westerns, Weston has created a truly delightful story worth the time it takes to read it. At more than 500 pages, that could take a little while. However, you might want to set the alarm. You’ll be caught up in the action enough that you might forget to eat dinner!
5 out of 5 stars




Amazon:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Roundtable Podcast - Part 2

 
Dave Robison & Mike Luoma must be truly mad
They invited me back to the Roundtable Podcast for a brainstorming session.
 
While we failed to find the residual sludge that was the rest of my sanity, we were able to share ideas with Clara Robertson regarding the formula for a winning novel.
 
Why she would listen to us prattling on, I don't know. Did we bribe her? Was she tied down? Were chocolates and diamonds involved?
(If so, why was I only paid with a cracked mirror and an empty bottle of hair restorer?)
 
In any event - I can't remember much, as I was very, very drunk at the time...hic!
 
Listen in on the fun here: