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Saturday, October 16, 2021

 My Recollections Of. . .




A Memory Called Empire

Leading a solitary, somewhat reclusive existence as I do, I nevertheless keep an eye out for something good to read. This is another of those authors who were mentioned within the expansive, Arcadian entity that is Black Gate. And as I’ve come to appreciate, if they make a recommendation, then I’d be silly not to listen.

A Memory Called Empire is well worth a read. Here’s the back cover blurb.

**********

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn't an accident―or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan's unceasing expansion―all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret―one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life―or rescue it from annihilation.

**********

So, what do we get?

Mahit Dzmare is from a small, self-contained colony out of the edges of the vast Teixcalaanli Empire called Lsel. The colonists are a rather proud society who extend the depth of their cultural heritage  by the use of IMAGO implants; tiny, sub dermal devices that allow the personality, skills and memories of important people to be ‘recorded’ and passed on to a suitably matched host.

That’s how we’re introduced to Mahit Dzmare. She is selected to replace the former ambassador to the Teixcalaanli court – Aghavn Yskandr – whose death, along with the circumstances surrounding it, is suspiciously devoid of detail. (And this from a society where every aspect of life is recorded, analyzed, and used to update an almost omniscient planet-wide AI that serves the goals of the emperor). Or does it?

Another hurdle is presented in that the imago devices should contain the very latest memories of the former recipient, but in Dzmare’s case, Yskandr hasn’t been home in fifteen years. So, not only is she unprepared to walk the tightrope that awaits her, but she obviously wants to know what happened to the former ambassador. And THIS shortfall lays the basis of our story. One where Dzmare’s rose-tinted view of an idealistic, wonderfully balanced and cultured civilization is brought crashing down amid a cauldron of political ambition, imperialistic ideals, and outright xenophobia toward anyone who isn’t pure Teixcaannli. Yes, intrigue abounds in a nicely crafted little whodunit investigation that, while uncomplicated, remains intriguing enough for you to want to keep reading to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I will admit that it took me a little while to get comfortable with Arkaday Martine’s writing style. But once I had, I found the story to be a pleasing balance of ‘space-opera scope meets small-town girl’ trying to keep her head above water in a place that will chew you up and spit you out if you let it. And Martine does that rather well, as you get the clear impression that while Dzmare almost drowns in an oceanlike society filled with legends, history, partisan propaganda, and the very latest hi-tech wizardry, she’s never been more alone in her life. A nice touch that keeps things real.

I look forward to seeing how the story progresses in, A Desolation Called Peace.



Amazon Review

Thursday, October 7, 2021

 Fan-tastic Goings-On Over At Fanbase Press





I've always been a fan of Fanbase Press, and have followed them for a number of years. So long, in fact, that I remember when they were called Fanboy Comics. And really, who wouldn't be a follower? Fanbase Press are an award-winning comic book publisher and geek culture website.
They celebrate fandom in all its guises; produce new and distinctive works; and conduct interviews, reviews and podcasts that span the whole spectrum of everything and anything that is uber-cool.

And THAT's why I was particularly pleased to be interviewed by none other than Fanbase's Editor-in-Chief, Barbra Dillon regarding the recent release of my latest book:

IX Genesis



A IX Origins Novel

Why not take a trip over to Fanbase Press and see what happened as I chat with Barbra regarding aspects of my writing process, my inspiration, and discuss the impact stories can have on readers, and why authors should always strive to look beyond the simple entertainment factor of storytelling so that they can really connect with the hearts and minds of their followers.

It's all good stuff.
And it can all be found here, at. . .

Fanbase Press

Saturday, October 2, 2021

 Discover How I lost Myself In. . .




The Space Between Worlds

This is another of those books I was attracted to after reading about it on Black Gate Fantasy. And thanks to them, I’ve rather enjoyed myself.

Here’s the cover blurb:

******

'My mother used to say I was born reaching, which is true. She also used to say it would get me killed, which it hasn't. Not yet, anyway.'

Born in the dirt of the wasteland, Cara has fought her entire life just to survive. Now she has done the impossible, and landed herself a comfortable life on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, she's on a sure path to citizenship and security - on this world, at least.

Of the 380 realities that have been unlocked, Cara is dead in all but 8.

Cara's parallel selves are exceptionally good at dying - from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn't outrun - which makes Cara wary, and valuable. Because while multiverse travel is possible, no one can visit a world in which their counterpart is still alive. And no one has fewer counterparts than Cara.

But then one of her eight doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, and Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined - and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her earth, but the entire multiverse.

******

Interesting eh?

And it is. Imagine a post apocalyptic world struggling to recover from a war that all but ruined the planet. And while mankind survived, it’s now a world of division. There are those who live a life of plenty within their walled cities, and those who eke out an existence in the ruined – albeit it slowly recovering – wastelands outside.

If you live inside a city, you have everything you could possibly need: security; safety; the best hospitals and medical care; education and employment. (You get the idea). Life is good . . . as well it should be, for the star of their society discovered the means to travel between dimensions to parallel worlds; a secret process by which they ‘datamine’ information and technology and anything else that can be used to improve their own scientific advancement.

But travelling between worlds is dangerous. That’s why you’ll never find city-dwellers volunteering for the job. And really, why would they when there’s an endless supply of candidates just waiting for an opportunity to earn decent money – if only for a short while – and the possibility of full citizenship if they do well.

Enter Cara, a traverser with a penchant for survival. As the blurb reveals, of the 380 realities discovered so far, she’s only alive in 8 of them. Sheer coincidence? Or is there something more insidious, more duplicitous behind those figures?

Well, we certainly find out in an engaging adventure that – although set in a bleak and miserable world – nevertheless lets the sun shine through. It’s a tale about survival. Of love gone wrong and hope for a better future. Of the determination to improve. To see things to a conclusion without giving up. Our characters are human. Flawed and broken. Their interactions are colored by their social, cultural and racial differences, allowing for an engaging dialogue that keeps things real. Well placed plot twists and an easy pace keep the story moving along nicely, until you find yourself at a poignant end that you didn’t quite expect. (Kudos there).

This is the first book I’ve read by Micaiah Johnson, and from what I’ve seen, I know it won’t be the last. The Space Between Worlds, a fresh slant on a well-used trope. And a darn good read to boot!



Friday, September 17, 2021

 Find Out How Much I Enjoyed My Stroll Through
The Quantum Garden - By Derek Künsken


The Quantum Garden

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Quantum Magician, I was keen to discover how Derek Künsken would follow it up in The Quantum Garden. And I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s what the cover reveals:

******

Days ago, Belisarius pulled off the most audacious con job in history. He’s rich, he’s back with the love of his life, and he has the Time Gates, the most valuable things in existence. Nothing could spoil this… except the utter destruction of his people and their world. To save them, he has to make a new deal with the boss he just double-crossed, travel back in time and work his quantum magic once again. If he can avoid detection, dodge paradox and stay ahead of the eerie, relentless Scarecrow, he might just get back to his own time alive.

******

This is one of those stories where the blurb does its job. It provides a hint – just a taster, mind – of what’s to come. And oh boy, when the main course hits you, it’s well worth the wait.

Now, I should point out straight away that this follow-up story isn’t about the con. It’s about facing the consequences of your actions. As such, it has a different flavor entirely to our first outing. Especially when you remember those consequences are triggered after rubbing the wrong peoples’ noses in the dirty. Yes, it’s payback time. And as Belisarius discovers, the cost is exceedingly high. So high, in fact, that he witnesses the eradication of the homo quantus as a species.

And that’s only the beginning of the reprisals, because he also finds himself marked as galactic enemy #1 and the top of a hate list that will bring tears to your eyes.

So what is he to do?

Well, don’t forget he has the time gates. But how to unravel a mess of gargantuan proportions without compromising the timeline and history itself, AND while simultaneously avoiding highly trained assassins who will commit any atrocity to see you dead?

In an amazingly structured and entertaining manner. That’s how.

And I’ve got to say I was most impressed.

Künsken relies heavily on the principles of theoretical physics to make his story arc work. Fortunately he does so in a remarkably uncomplicated way that keeps this adventure extremely entertaining. A significant feat, especially when you realize his main character, Belisarius Arjona, isn’t out to con anyone. Oh no. This is a lesson about facing consequences. About morality. About duty and honor, and putting personal vendettas aside for the greater good. About accepting responsibility for your actions and moving on and trying to make the best of the situation. (You’ll see just how deeply those threads run as you read the story). There are some remarkable surprises and OMG moments that will keep you guessing right down to the end.

The Quantum Garden. A profoundly entertaining trip down ‘possible’ memory lanes. 



Amazon Review


Friday, September 3, 2021

 Find Out What Secrets I Learned From. . .

The Quantum Magician



The Quantum Magician

I was drawn to The Quantum Magician after the author – Derek Künsken – was highlighted in one of the articles over at Black Gate Fantasy. And seeing as Black Gate has a good nose for quality sci-fi and fantasy, I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s the cover blurb:

******

Belisarius is a Homo quantus, engineered with impossible insight. But his gift is also a curse an uncontrollable, even suicidal drive to know, to understand. Genetically flawed, he leaves his people to find a different life, and ends up becoming the galaxy's greatest con man and thief. 

But the jobs are getting too easy and his extraordinary brain is chafing at the neglect. When a client offers him untold wealth to move a squadron of secret warships across an enemy wormhole, Belisarius jumps at it. Now he must embrace his true nature to pull off the job, alongside a crew of extraordinary men and women.

If he succeeds, he could trigger an interstellar war... or the next step in human evolution.

******

Okay, so what have we got?

One of the best depictions of a future human society that has gone to extremes in adapting to the colonization of deep space, that’s what.

We have homo eridanus – the tribe of the mongrel – who have been genetically altered to survive the crushing depths of alien oceans; homo pupa, literal puppet-sized people biochemically hard-wired to revere their creators, the Numen; homo quantus, those whose brains and nervous systems have been adapted to delve into the secrets of multidimensional reality; sentient AIs with their own agendas. And they’re all packed into a disjointed civilization dependent upon the Axis Mundi, an artificial wormhole system that makes traveling around the galaxy possible. The trouble is, those wormholes are ancient, designed and built by the forerunners who ceased to exist millennia ago. Nobody really knows how they work, much less understand the technology involved. And it’s all under the control of a loosely tied conglomeration of interstellar banks and corporations who are only interested in making a profit. The thing is, the Venusian Congregate think they run the show. They have the biggest, best and most heavily armed warships after all. And if anyone steps out of line, there are always the Scarecrows. (Think of a unit comprised of superhuman assets who are an unholy blending of the Obsidian Order/the Gestapo/Grammaton Clerics/Section 31/Assassins Creed, etc – and you’ll be on the right track)

Into the mix comes Belisarius Arjona, a misfit homo quantus who never really fitted into the niche his people find themselves in. When he’s asked to help transport a fleet of decrepit warships from one side of known space to the other, he doesn’t really see the challenge in it. Until he learns the truth, that is. For while these warships might be out of date – having been lost for decades – their crews have made an incredible discovery. One they don’t want to share. One that could change the balance of power throughout the galaxy. And they need to use the Axis Mundis without that secret being exposed.

What follows is an ambitiously complex, nifty little tale of misdirection, sleight of hand, the foibles of human – and inhuman – nature, and outright betrayal, all wrapped up with a leading cast of characters who are as flawed and damaged as they are quirkily brilliant. And what Künsken lacks in detailed imagery of the actual worlds in which the story is set, he more than makes up for in energy, action, and storytelling.

I loved it, especially the frictional camaraderie that builds between each of the main characters as they play off each other’s limitations and weaknesses. Without realizing, that helps them bond to each other, forming an alliance hard to beat. . .

Or does it?

 Yes, treachery abounds in this spellbinding tale of deception and double-dealing. And nobody is above suspicion.



Amazon Review

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 The IX Genesis

Cover Reveal




So many of the fans who enjoyed the IX Series asked for a prequel, that I was obliged to respond. And I’m glad I did. As I mentioned last time out, IX Genesis is a story about the origins of the Horde, their expansion, and the impact their rampage has on the people of Arden.

Here’s the back-story:

*********

Arden, birthplace of a people who have mastered the secrets of arcane, reality-bending technology, and home to a civilization that now spans more than thirty planets throughout an entire quadrant of the galaxy. They are wise and understanding. Majestic in vision. Powerful beyond compare. And intent on extending their benevolent influence throughout the stars. . .

Until the fateful day their thirst for knowledge leads them to push too far, too quickly. In doing so, they open a door into the antiverse, a realm where the very nature of existence is an anathema to life. An antithesis to all that is good. Evil. And that evil is sentient, as highly contagious as it is fueled by an irresistible proclivity to feed and multiply and spread.

And feed and multiply it does.

Faced with an overwhelming flood, the Ardenese have no option.

They must fight or die!

*********

So, does that want to make you find out more?




If so, head on over to my sister page at:

https://theix.blogspot.com/

Where you'll find a complete breakdown on the cover:

And if you like what you see, please feel free to click on the Buy Link Below:



Or feel free to try the links on the cover pictures in the side bar.

In any event, be sure to let me know what you think.

Friday, August 20, 2021

 Enjoy My Glimpse Into The Past

With. . .



Mistborn Secret History

In Mistborn Secret History, Brandon Sanderson adds a wealth of hitherto unknown details to the Mistborn and Wax and Wayne sagas.

Here’s a snippet of what you can expect:

******

Mistborn: Secret History is a companion story to the original Mistborn trilogy.

As such, it contains HUGE SPOILERS for the books Mistborn (the Final Empire), The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages. It also contains very minor spoilers for the book The Bands of Mourning.

Mistborn: Secret History builds upon the characterization, events, and worldbuilding of the original trilogy. Reading it without that background will be a confusing process at best.

In short, this isn’t the place to start your journey into Mistborn. (Though if you have read the trilogy—but it has been a while—you should be just fine, so long as you remember the characters and the general plot of the books.)

Saying anything more here risks revealing too much. Even knowledge of this story’s existence is, in a way, a spoiler.

There’s always another secret.

******

Rather tight-lipped isn’t it? That’s because to do otherwise would – as it so plainly explains – spoil what’s in store for those who haven’t yet read the opening six books. And as someone who hates to reveal any form of spoiler, I totally agree. So, be reassured by the last line: There’s always another secret.

And what a secret it is!

Before I go any further, I would say that, if you haven’t already, ensure you read the original Mistborn and Wax & Wayne adventures first. And as you do so, keep an eye out for ‘things’ that don’t quite add up. Things that make you stop and think or suspect, ‘hang on, what else might be going on?’

Because they ARE there. Little teasers of something else. Something bigger. Something . . . secret. And just what those niggles in the back of your mind might relate to is laid bare in this companion story. Yes, Sanderson has achieved something of a gem with this novella, as it lifts the veil, allowing us to peek into behind the scene developments that we suspected were taking place all along. And now we know about them, it feels as if a void has been filled. Like a comfy pair of slippers that fit ‘right.’

Personally, I rather enjoyed this step back – and through – time. The revelations it contains are evocative, mind-blowing, and fully satisfying, providing a number of ‘I knew it' moments that will leave you eager for the concluding story: The Lost Metal.

And better still, you’re introduced to characters you won’t meet for real just yet. Characters you know will take the story arc into new and exciting territory when we eventually get to the finale.

Treat yourself. It’s always better to see the bigger picture.