Sep 17, 2017

Timothy Zhan Author | Treasures from the Bookshelf


Continuing the Treasures from the Bookshelf series, I take a look at old favourite from a prolific author, Timothy Zahn. It's really good to hear that people who aren't usually interested in Science Fiction have been watching and commenting that these videos have sparked an interest in Science Fiction. Isn't that great?

So, if you're new to science fiction, want to ease yourself into it, or are just after a fun read, this would be a great book/series for

Enjoy it with your favourite beverage.





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Sep 15, 2017

Weekend Reads - RAW 170915


When it's time to relax this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and have a read of the following articles.

Keep an eye out on Sunday for a new video from me about Timothy Zahn.

Conquers Saga | #6 Treasures from the Bookshelf

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Oddly enough, the answer is yes!

The Field Study Handbook is no ordinary reference manual. Its tagline is “Travel anywhere, make sense of the world, and make a difference.” This seems to tease the book (and Chipchase himself) as a kind of talking cure for the FOMO-fueled ennui that plagues a certain breed of professional: the “creative” who shares Chipchase’s self-described luck at “hav[ing] turned curiosity into a career,” yet not-so-secretly envies the fact that his version seems to prioritize international adventuring over refreshing one’s Twitter feed

People started paying attention to to the e-reader industry in 2007 when Amazon released the Kindle. The industry exploded in the ensuing years and many other companies started to make their own models, with varying degrees of success. There are a few different companies that have been at the forefront of the e-reading revolution and today we are going to look at some of the most pivotal moments in history.

Right now, plenty of people have dystopia on the brain. That might come from popular culture: the first season of the critically acclaimed television adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale recently concluded; a theatrical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 just opened on Broadway. It’s also a logical response to what appears to be an increase in authoritarian governments and totalitarian practices across the globe.

Well... I guess I could say I'm almost there.



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Sep 13, 2017

Discover | 2 Novels In The Steps of Lovecraft


The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft

Horror isn't something I enjoy, but there are always exceptions and I do read the occasional Lovecraft story. Whether it's the science fiction themes or just the way H.P. writes, there's something I like about it. Which is why these two recent releases caught my attention.

The first one A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw has a really interesting premesis where the protagonist who is a musician doesn't call up his audience from their seats, but his saophone calls up monstrosities from across dimensions. Already my minds racing, is it the person himself or is it a cursed saxophone?

The next one Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys, is a Cold War-era spy novel, where the protagonist is the only one who can help the the FBI recover magical secrets stolen from Miskatonic University, However the twist is that the US government was instrumental in destroying her family and childhood. Who does she end up helping... or harming?

Whichever one you choose, enjoy reading it with your favourite beverage!

A Song for Quiet

Persons Non Grata by Cassandra Khaw
Cassandra Khaw returns with A Song for Quiet, a new standalone Persons Non Grata novella from the world of Hammers on Bone, finalist for the British Fantasy Award and the Locus Award, and which Kameron Hurley called "a long leap into the gory, the weird, and the fantastic."

Deacon James is a rambling bluesman straight from Georgia, a black man with troubles that he can't escape, and music that won't let him go. On a train to Arkham, he meets trouble — visions of nightmares, gaping mouths and grasping tendrils, and a madman who calls himself John Persons. According to the stranger, Deacon is carrying a seed in his head, a thing that will destroy the world if he lets it hatch.

The mad ravings chase Deacon to his next gig. His saxophone doesn't call up his audience from their seats, it calls up monstrosities from across dimensions. As Deacon flees, chased by horrors and cultists, he stumbles upon a runaway girl, who is trying to escape the destiny awaiting her. Like Deacon, she carries something deep inside her, something twisted and dangerous. Together, they seek to leave Arkham, only to find the Thousand Young lurking in the woods.

The song in Deacon’s head is growing stronger, and soon he won’t be able to ignore it any more.



Winter Tide

The Innsmouth Legacy by Ruthanna Emrys
"Winter Tide is a weird, lyrical mystery — truly strange and compellingly grim. It's an innovative gem that turns Lovecraft on his head with cleverness and heart" —Cherie Priest

After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.


In these post titled 'Discovery (or Up and Coming Reads)', I want to provide you with some suggested reading material. These are books which look interesting to me and that I'd like to share with you. The links will be affiliate links, so if you going to make a purchase at Amazon I'd appreciate you using the link. Doing so will help me buy more books so it should be a win-win for us both.

Enjoy reading more and thinking more... with your favourite beverage!



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Sep 8, 2017

Weekend Reads - RAW 170908


This week we look at the question 'Should fans desires overrule author’s wishes', how Kobo is better that Amazon, beautiful bookstores and more. So when you have some time to relax this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and have a read of the following articles.


Like most authors living or gone, Pratchett had several unfinished works on his computer, books he never got around to finishing. 10 works, in fact. We learned a few days ago that his will stipulated those works be destroyed — by steamroller

The Christian gospel has a way of making us all writers in some way, shape, or form. From text messages, emails, and written notes, to church newsletters, missionary support letters, blogs, articles, and even books, everyday Christians do a lot of writing — and chances are you do too.

Amazon and Kobo both have a number of electronic readers in their portfolio. Each of these devices are bundled with a digital bookstore that customers can easily purchase e-books, comics and manga. Amazon was first to market and Kobo a few years later. Over the course of the past four years Kobo has managed to out-innovate Amazon with a number of features never seen on e-readers before. The scrappy Toronto startup is starting to win over customers as people flee from Barnes and Noble or when other bookstores go out of business.

The first thing I noticed upon entering Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal was its famed staircase. Curvy and red, it rises from the floor as if by magic. Word has it that J.K. Rowling herself was inspired by it when creating the world of Harry Potter and the magical library at Hogwarts. It’s no wonder Livraria Lello has made countless lists of the most beautiful bookstores in the world

From the moment that seven Earth-sized planets were discovered in orbit around TRAPPIST-1 — an ultracool dwarf star located 39 light years away — astronomers have been busy trying to learn everything they can about this intriguing star system, particularly its potential to foster life. Recently, an international team of scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to assess the chances of water existing on these planets — and the results are promising.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO believes the only way to keep pace with artificial intelligence is to upgrade human intelligence.



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Sep 6, 2017

Discover | River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey


River of Teeth is a alternate history adventure. I find alternate history adventures are a lot like my quest for the perfect cup of coffee.  At one stage I remember drinking the perfect cup of coffee, but can't remember where. So my life has become the search for the perfect cup, and inevitably find myself disappointed.

It's the same with alternate history adventures, I really want to read a good one so am always reading them but mostly I end up with a taste of ashes in my mouth.  Not to say that this is the case with River of Teeth, I'm hoping this one will be as whimsical as the critics say.

How about you? Have you read this book? What do you think?

You can meet the Hippos over at Tor.com.

River of Teeth

River of Teeth Book 1
by Sarah Gailey
Sarah Gailey's wildfire debut River of Teeth is a rollicking alternate history adventure that Charlie Jane Anders calls "preposterously fun."

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.


In these post titled 'Discovery (or Up and Coming Reads)', I want to provide you with some suggested reading material. These are books which look interesting to me and that I'd like to share with you. The links will be affiliate links, so if you going to make a purchase at Amazon I'd appreciate you using the link. Doing so will help me buy more books so it should be a win-win for us both.

Enjoy reading more and thinking more... with your favourite beverage!



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Sep 3, 2017

Star Wars or Star Trek? | A Critique of Utopian Fiction

When you choose a book to read would you choose a Dystopian novel over one that shows a Utopian society? Or maybe I could re-phrase the question and say Star Wars or Star Trek which show would eliminate from existence if you had a choice?

In the following video I'll explain why I prefer Dystopian fiction over and above a Utopian story.



Want more?

The article mentioned at end of video can be found here: Why I Dislike Utopian Fiction
And for another case in point read my discussion of Space Scout by S A Pavli

The sound is not as good as I wanted so I've added subtitles to the video, but you can also find the script that I worked of below.



When you choose a book to read would you choose a Dystopian novel over one that shows a Utopian society? Or maybe I could re-phrase the question and say Star Wars or Star Trek which show would eliminate from existence if you had a choice?

In this video I'll explain why I prefer Dystopian fiction over and above a Utopian story.



During Comic-Con 2017, a panel was asked the question “Which franchise you would eliminate from existence: Star Wars or Star Trek?”

Adam Savage of Mythbuster fame, said that Star Trek should be eliminated... and as you can imagine this was not taken well

And and much as I love Star Trek, his explanation really resonated with me. He said:

Star Trek lures you into a false sense of positivity that the world can be a utopia and recent events have proven it cannot. Star Wars’ dystopic vision is far more realistic and prepares our children for their future.

This is how I feel, not about Star Trek, but about Utopian stories in general, I have trouble reading them.

To me the Universe in which these stories are set should be as much a character as the Human and Alien characters and as such should have a believable back story (or history). The history of the Universe in which these Utopian societies are set need to be well thought out and allow us, the reader, to suspend our disbelief.

But for me they don't and this is where The Cringe Factor comes in.

The Cringe Factor


Many authors seem to brush off how the Utopian society that they are writing about came to be by just repeating the same old tropes. To me, it's lazy writing

'we will just become better people because X'.

Where X is normally some form of technological stimulation or a biological change (an evolutionary jump or some such thing) which make us nicer people. And like Adam Savage's critic of Star Trek, it lures you into a false sense of positivity.

In my mind it's poorly thought out and not really fully considered. It's taken as a given that we will eventually work things out and all become 'good' people, however if you look at our recorded history you can see when the embers of a Utopia starts to form, here or there, it ends up being kicked over like a sand castle, normally by human nature.

And here's my pet greve about utopian stories, even though these stories say 'we worked it out' and now no longer know the meaning of greed, violence and other shifty behaviour etc. the story line is normally moved along by showing these enlightened beings using all the traits that they said they eschewed to resolve the major plot conflict.

Yeah, but it's story why does it matter?


Why It Matters


Getting the reader to suspend disbelief is critical for the author and also critical for the reader to be able to enjoy the story, but when characters go against the ideals of their Utopian society for the greater good then it totally destroys it for me.

A major part of Science Fiction is the exploration of what does it mean to be human, and where we are going. If an author says we moved on and became better and have now been able to develop a Utopian society, then these characters need to act like they have been soaked in that culture and respond to conflict accordingly.

This then shows us, the readers, who are living in a not so enlightened culture, that there are other paths we can take which allow us to move towards a better life, Utopia. In my opinion, a well thought out Utopian story needs to provide us, the reader, with clues as to how we can live to bring about a utopian society in real life.

By having the Utopian characters going against their conditioning and resolving conflict as we, barbarians do, would seems to be a lazy way out.

Would you rather live in the world of Star Wars, where the Empire monitors and oppresses its citizens or Star Trek, where Federation citizens work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity?




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Sep 1, 2017

Weekend Reads - RAW 170901


This week there is an article on a favourite subject of mine 'Distraction', check out Attention Crisis and see if you can beat the odds and read the article all in one sitting. Also this week we look at fantasy writing, how quantum mechanics just got easier to understand and more.

Don't forget to check out Discover | An Oath of Dogs and some bonus material on my YouTube channel.

So when it's time to relax this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and have a read of the following articles.