Thursday, September 16, 2021

VampirazForLife cover reveal

I'm pleased to say that Vampiraz4Life (Straight Outta Fangton #3) is now set for release on October 26th, 2021. It is being narrated by Cary Hite and will be hopefully a simultaneous audiobook and ebook release.

It’s been a rough year for Peter Stone.

Vampires are not meant to be quarantined and most of the nation is under lockdown. It has been extra hard in the city of New Detroit that depends on tourism not only for its economy but blood supply. With his creator kidnapped, mother dead, and once more exiled to the fringes of their society–he’s ready to call it quits. That’s when he receives a mysterious message from a long-dead friend who tells him that his problems are just beginning.

A mysterious new player in town wants to recruit Peter to help form a supernatural alliance against the oppressive new voivode and his human hunter allies. Unfortunately, Hell itself has sent an assassin against our antihero and even a new set of allies may not be enough to protect him.

Enjoy Peter’s final exciting adventure!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Fall of the House audiobook is coming

I'm pleased to say I've negotiated the third audiobook for the Red Room series. I'm pleased to say Jeffrey Kafer has agreed to finish up the series. I'm glad because my fans have been getting restless over this one.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Star Trek: Rogue Elements by John Jackson Miller review


    I am a huge John Jackson Miller fan from the days when he was writing the KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC comic book. He is a writer that manages to carefully walk the balance beam between high comedy and aggressively serious depressing moments. I have yet to read something by him I didn't like and was compelled to pick up this book to read what he was doing with the Picard timeline.

    I'm a huge Picard fan but I can't say that Cristobal Rios was my favorite character of the series. I felt he was just too similar to so many other tramp freighter captains I've seen over the course of my decades of science fiction fandom. JJM smartly plays into this with the fact that the story has Raffi Musiker arrange for him to become one while ignoring the fact that Rios doesn't want to be. He doesn't find it to be a romantic, exciting, or entertaining pulpy adventure as seemingly everyone else does. It makes a nice difference from Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds even as the story does become a romantic exciting entertaining adventure.

    The premise is that Rios has just been kicked out of Starfleet for the crimes of his supervisor and he's lost all of his friends but one. Raffi decides to set him up with a tramp freighter and the life of a Han Solo-esque rogue but this proves to be significantly less glamorous than the movies show. I also got a huge kick out of finding out that JJM was going to make extensive use of the Iotians from "A Piece of the Action" with them being Rios' version of Jabba the Hutt. Still gangsters after a century of contact with the Federation, they are both ridiculous as well as very good at thriving in a galaxy that has largely forgotten how to deal with criminals.

    Part of the book's fun is how miserable Rios is dealing with the loss of his Starfleet career, how disordered life is on a tramp freighter, and how angry he is about Starfleet's betrayal vs. the fact that he is going on a series of increasingly wild treasure hunts. Rios is a terrible businessman, fitting from an Earth Hu-Mon (to quote the Ferengi) and probably would have just given away his ship in a weak if not for new character, Ledger, forcing him to pay a debt that is obviously meant to never be repaid.

    JJM's experience in Star Wars clearly shows as he makes the transition a bit better than other writers might. It reminds me of the old Brian Daley Han Solo novels that I felt were the best of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. JJM envisions a seedy underbelly for the galaxy that has always been there (Harry Mudd anyone?) but has never been given particularly much attention. I also appreciated the return of a TNG villain that was underused too and won't spoil the surprise of. I will say it was kind of amusing to note that this book brought them back just as they used as an inspiration for Lower Decks too.

    While I rarely comment on this element, I also give the book's handling of romance props. Rios is a very dashing protagonist who manages to handle relationships with no less than three women in the book but somehow doesn't come off as skeezy over it. I also appreciated that one of them is with a significantly older woman and it's not treated as the least bit weird. I actually regretted that at least one couldn't continue because, of course, he's alone at the start of Star Trek: Picard. I also regret we'll likely never see any more of the Klingon merchant lord Verengar--unless we get a sequel series to this!

    So, top marks and people should really buy this! Some of the funniest most entertaining Star Trek fiction I've read in years and I've read over a hundred Star Trek novels. Hell, probably closer to two hundred. I have maybe a few minor complaints that are almost insignificant to mention like some of the goons getting away with their crimes when I felt a more final fate would have been better but forget it, Rios, it's Iotia. It's still a very solid and fun book that makes me like the Rios character a lot more.

Available here

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Star Trek: The Dark Veil by James Swallow review

    I am a big defender of the STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, PICARD, and LOWER DECKS series. However, if I had to choose between them then I'd probably say that Picard is my favorite of the three. It has the most interesting premise and ideas to develop. Indeed, my biggest issue is that I felt the first season was far too compact and that it needed another few episodes to detail all the various concepts it was dealing with.

    I was a big fan of THE LAST BEST HOPE and felt it really could have been the basis for those extra episodes. Una McCormack took the time to expand and explain the political situation and build-up in a way that helped the story breathe. I was wondering if something similar could be done with THE DARK VEIL as James Swallow (who I mostly know from his Star Trek: Titan novels) follows the U.S.S Titan into the events of Picard.

    The premise of this book is that the U.S.S Titan with Captain Riker and Counselor Troi are dealing with the fact a Federation ally, the Jazari, are suddenly leaving the Alpha Quadrant in a generation ship. Something has horribly spooked them and the Federation is left clueless. This is also just a year after the horrific Mars attacks, Synth Ban, and failure to evacuate the Romulan homeworld. After a space disaster leads to the Titan rescuing the Jazari ship, an unexpected alliance occurs between them and a Romulan warbird. Everything promptly goes to hell afterward.

    The Dark Veil feels like a combination of the Titan novels and the Picard era, which is an interesting fusion that I would be interested in seeing more of. Certainly, novel character Christine Vale shows up and I've always supported her in more properties. I'm still hoping she'll be canonized by Lower Decks. Really, it feels like a mixture in ways both subtle as well as overt.

    The Jazari are the kind of species that feel very much like a Titan creation. They are alien and "big" in a way that novels can do in ways that television can't (or is very hard pressed to) as well as alluding to past history that the shows rarely do these days. I figured out their secret fairly early and it's a bit on the nose but Star Trek has rarely needed to be subtle about it's themes. Arguably, Picard could have done more with its themes like this.

    I also appreciate the use of the Romulans in this book as we get a nice mixture of "honorable soldier", "sneaky KGB Loyalty officer", and "insane death cultist." Some people had issues with the Zhat Vash when it was introduced in Picard but seeing how the Admonition utterly breaks someone's mind like a Lovecraftian Cthulhu cultist actually helps underscore what the show only hinted at.

    The book also effectively uses foreshadowing and canon to hang an ominous cloud over all of its events. Thaddeus Riker is an adorable child that we know for a fact is not going to reach adulthood. The fact the Romulan system has about a year left before 900 million residents die is also something that hangs over the heads of each of its residents. Using that helps elevate the material as we know there's no good ending to all this. The fact the Jazari choose to make the decision they do also underscores just how badly the Federation has screwed up.

    In conclusion, this is a good Star Trek novel and would be appreciated by both U.S.S. Titan as well as Picard fans. I preferred The Last Best Hope but that was more due to the fact that it got heavier into the politics of the event. This is a more pulpy space opera adventure that I also like but not quite as much.

Available here

Friday, August 20, 2021

Vampiraz4Life is now finished

A short announcement for my STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON fans. I have completed VAMPIRAZ4LIFE, the third and final novel of Peter Stone's adventures. I am very pleased by this one and I have already sent it out to my editor. Thanks to everyone who has been waiting patiently for this one.

It's been a rough year for Peter Stone.

Vampires are not meant to be quarantined and most of the nation is under lockdown. It has been extra hard in the city of New Detroit that depends on tourism not only for its economy but blood supply. With his creator kidnapped, mother dead, and once more exiled to the fringes of their society--he's ready to call it quits. That's when he receives a mysterious message from a long-dead friend who tells him that his problems are just beginning.

A mysterious new player in town wants to recruit Peter to help form a supernatural alliance against the oppressive new voivode and his human hunter allies.  Unfortunately, Hell itself has sent an assassin against our antihero and even a new set of allies may not be enough to protect him.

Enjoy Peter's final exciting adventure!

I hope to have it out this October!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Mindfracked (Cassidy #1) by M.R. Forbes review

    MINDFRACKED by M.R Forbes is a cyberpunk spy thriller that involves a body-switching science fiction consciousness named Cassidy. Cassidy is a Shade, a secret agent of a department called Unity that sends them out on highly covert missions that will end after they finish their 50th case. It is a group with a policy of absolutely no loose ends and that includes killing anyone who is even slightly aware of the group's existence. Cassidy thinks he has it all figured out but soon discovers that he doesn't know nearly as much as he thinks.

    Mindfracked has a lot in common in Altered Carbon and that is already a very good endorsement for me. I am a huge fan of Richard K. Morgan's cyberpunk series and have always felt the body-jumping element of his "stacks" was a concept that needed to be explored further. While possessing its own identity, I enjoyed that this series managed to cover some of the issues that Altered Caron didn't deal with.

    The book opens with a really solid scene where Cassidy, possessing a little girl, proceeds to wipe out a gang that was using children to assemble gun. It is an impressive action scene and perfect for a movie. It also shows the many facets of Cassidy's personality. He's ruthless, compassionate (to a point), and brutally efficient with a sarcastic sense of humor. My favorite moment being where he decides whether to execute someone based on the amount of information they can give but does so in a delightfully sarcastic way.

    The future is a dark and dystopian one with the Earth's environment having been destroyed, no social safety net, and a police that primarily exists as a support network for an authoritarian death squad. Cassidy believes in the system but does so in a pragmatic belief that's it's better than the alternatives and that it managed to rescue his family from poverty. Mind you, he hasn't seen his family in a very long time and it's questionable just how much is true

    This is a very dark and gritty book with the protagonist faced against an utterly ruthless set of enemies while he's not that much better. There's a focus on conspiracy, lies, and the ability to screw with your mind via technology. No one is safe and several characters normally "safe" in this kind of story are killed horribly. Cassidy's ability to bodyswap is something that only happens a couple of times but shows him adjusting to the differences in body, gender, and the lives he slips into.

    Mindfracked is a book with a lot of edge and that is its primary recommendation. This is a hard R book and I feel that if you want that in your fiction then you will find this excellent hard-hitting scifi. This includes Cassidy almost being assaulted when he was still a child before his training kicked in. I did have a small problem with the end of the book where after a delightfully dark and morally bleak situation, the book tried to convince me one group was genuinely good. I didn't buy that in the slightest.

    Still, I think this is a really good dark and gritty cyberpunk story. I also listened to it being narrated by Jeffrey Kafer and think the audiobook version is the best way to experience it. He manages to really bring the bleak and uncompromising nature of the protagonist to life. I have since picked up the other two novels in the series and am going to read them one after the other.

Available here


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tropical Punch (Bubbles in Space #1) by S.C. Jensen book review

    BUBBLES IN SPACE: TROPICAL PUNCH is a discovery for a jaded cyberpunk fan like myself. It is a surprisingly lighthearted story despite the noir elements it posses as well as its techno-dystopian setting that manages to absolutely bleed neon from every pore. It is also a book that I not only finished in a single day but proceeded to immediately buy the rest of the series of when I finished it. Bubbles is a fantastic heroine and its a ridiculous but well-developed mystery that she's found herself investigating.

    The premise is that Bubbles Marlowe is a cybernetic armed ex-cop and recovering alcoholic who screws up a mission to contact a young woman. Said woman is killed before Bubbles has the chance to make contact, only for an identical one to show up seconds later and get killed herself. This is just the start of her very bad day as she finds herself also hunted by her old boss. Thankfully, she wins a lottery ticket that promises her the space luxury cruise of a lifetime. It's just she didn't enter the contest in the first place.

    Bubbles is a fantastic character that fills the role of a 1930s film noir private eye while also being a pink-haired sarcastic screwup that is just trying to keep her head above water. Given the water in the future is radioactive, this is probably futile. The world is incredibly dark but she handles it with a can do attitude and perserverance that makes her a deeply enjoyable heroine.Bubbles doesn't want to save the world or even her client. She just wants to avoid being murdered and actively resents the conspiracies she's repeatedly drawn into. I think she has more in common with the Dude in adaptations of The Big Sleep than her surname-sake.

The absurd idea of placing a noir and cyberpunk dystopian heroine on a cruise ship is a hilarious juxtaposition. Bubbles is surrounded by the ultra-rich and decadent of the future while having not a credit to spare. What she wants more than anything is to hit the buffet but soon finds herself in the machinations of a sinister cult, a drug deal gone wrong, and a science experiment that potentially could help humankind evolve into gods.

    I have to say my favorite character, after Bubbles herself, is her A.I. pig companion. Choosing to go by the pun-laden title of Hammett after Dashielle Hammet, he provides the majority of common sense as well as hacking support to our heroine. The character is just adorable and I hope to read more about them. About the only thing they could have done that was more on the nose would make him an electric sheep.

    The antagonists in the book are an interesting mix with Chief Swain being a hate sink of corruption and police brutality that already ruined Bubbles life once before. The Last Humanist Church doesn't initially appear to be bad but it's pretty hard to be sympathetic to an organization that considers Bubbles to be an abomination just for having a prothstetic arm. Other characters are good or bad depending on whether their agendas conflict with Bubbles' at the time. Specifically, her survival.

    This is a flat out great book and I strongly recommend people pick it up. It has the cool quality of using variants of 1920s and 1940s slang to help make the language appear different from typical speech of the 21st century. It works surprisingly well and lends a sense of otherness that would otherwise be lacking if they didn't have their own unique oddball phrases. Mind you, hearing "skirt" used unironically as a bit bizarre. The book is available on Kindle Unlimited and is definitely worth a read.

Available here