Mar 16, 2018

Weekend Reads - 180316

Welcome once again, this week there are two articles on writing science fiction. Both Angus McIntyre (author of The Warrior Within) and Richard Morgan (author of Altered Carbon) share where they got inspiration for their stories.

There's also an update on a real life space station nation in the making and some discussion about e-Readers and Amazon reviews. Some interesting sfuff if you're interested in reading.

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

Worldbuilding sets the stage, but a story needs an emotional core too. The key here is Grainger himself, and Stableford pulls it off with another clever trick.

As Netflix screens his brutal body-swap novel, the writer talks about the anger – and the argument at a party – that fuelled its creation...

Asgardia, a rather strange effort to initiate a nation in space, has declared it wants to ultimately build a space station in Earth orbit and on the Moon. In a press conference yesterday in Hong Kong, Asgardia also revealed its plans to launch its primary satellite, Asgardia-1, in autumn this year.

An article appeared this week, one that sagely but somewhat inflamingly asks the question, “Is The E-Reader Dead?” But rather than yet another infuriating “print is dead!” or “ebooks are dead!” or (a personal favorite) “self-publishing is finally dead!” toned article, this one provides evidence on the reading habits of US consumers, the purchasing history of total volume worldwide sales for digital pioneers like Amazon, and a close look at the competition among the top e-reader retailers

Authors have been accused of buying reviews of their books for years. At the very least, there have been accusations hurled of authors building up lists of people to pad their review counts, a practice that is not at all in violation of Amazon’s terms so long as the reviews are genuine and mention is made of the free book the reviewer received. But one couple has come forward to disclose review fraud in an entirely new form

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Mar 2, 2018

Old, Timeless, Yet Still Relevant Today - Caves of Steel

An Old Story

Set a thousand years into the future, Issac Asimov imagines an overcrowded Earth where humanity is packed like sardines into large domed mega-cities with a ridged social structures. The huge population has created a strain on Earths remaining resources and in order to allievate that we set out to colonize the galaxy but this only created a bigger problem. Humanity has now split into two factions, those who stayed behind, Earthmen, and those who ventured out into the galaxy, Spacers.

Spacers have what Earthmen need, resources and Earthmen have what Spacers need, a large population needed for a work force. After utilising the positronic brain to create Robots and fulfil the need for a larger workforce, Spacers believe themselves to be far superior to the timid stay-at-home Earthmen. When Spacers return to Earth, 'take control' and release Robots into Earths workforce their already strained relations fray even further. Robots are cheap labour and are taking over the jobs of Earthmen putting them out of a job, but worse than that, if you have no job you have no social standing. And in a ridged class system like Earth this is intolerable. Robots become discriminated against and objects of violence.

Feb 23, 2018

Weekend Reads - 180223

If you heard about a movie so good that no other entertainment could compete with it, would you watch it? If you knew it would destroy your life because after watching it all you would want to do is watch it again repeatedly and if not watching it talk only about it... would you still watch it?

That's the topic our first article explores, it's a difficult one to answer.

Next up there are two articles, each to balance the other, they discuss opposing viewpoints of whether to be pro-library or anti-library, both have some good points of view and need to be considered.

And there's more, so when you've found a quite time this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and enjoy reading more, and thinking more.

Feb 16, 2018

Weekend Reads - The Last Jedi Edition 1802

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Several years ago when I heard Disney had acquired the Star Wars franchise and were planing on releasing a movie every year for the next 80 years (or so) I was excited.

During the 70's, my formative years, there was plenty of science fiction franchises on TV which kept me going, like Blakes 7, Doctor Who, Logans Run and Battlestar Galactica but Star Wars: A New Hope was my absolute favourite movie, I couldn't get enough of it and all the merchandise. I still have my collection of figurines, minus the guns and plastic capes.

It wasn't until I watched the remakequel, The Force Awakens that I realised nostalgia wasn't going to get me through the next 80 years of Disney's Star Wars. I felt a little deflated but still enjoyed the movie, even though the death of Han Solo still brings a tear to my eye.

Rogue One turned up and I was expecting to be disappointed, but enjoyed the film, even though a lot of others didn't. Then came The Last Jedi...

Please be aware - spoilers ahead - including the following articles

Feb 9, 2018

Top 5 Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017

Looking Back - The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017

Today my children were discussing time travel and what might be needed to do so, my daughter decided all she needed was 'Some soft comfy cushions for the floor and something to snuggle in case you get scared!'

What great advice! Lets do some time travelling ourselves by taking a look back over 2017 and see what the best selling Science Fiction and Fantasy books were. I've reviewed Amazon's and Barnes and Noble's best selling list and compiled a list of the top five.

Two omissions which I was surprised didn't make the list was Nineteen Eighty Four, where sales of this book rose, in January 2017, these sales were seven times more than same time last year, 2016, and also The Handmaid’s Tale which Amazon Charts listed as the Most Read book of 2017.

I've only read the last book on the list, Norse Mythology, but most of these are on my list of books to read in the near future. Which ones have you read, and would you say they deserve a place on this list?

Time to spread out those cushions on the floor and let's go back to 2017.

At the top of both books sellers Science Fiction and Fantasy list is:

The Power

by Naomi Alderman
What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power? In the near future, women all over the world discover they have the ability to unleash “skeins” of electricity powerful enough to hurt, injure—even kill. The world order slowly erodes under the new math of this power imbalance.

The Power is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.

The Bear and the Nightingale

by Katherine Arden
Arden’s debut novel is an incredible achievement, fusing Russian folklore and history into a thoroughly modern fantasy exploring themes of belief, feminism, and magic.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a fantasy novel in the same way that The Martian was a science fiction novel; Katherine's beautiful writing gives it universal appeal. I've given it to people who would never read fantasy, and every one has loved it.

Even thought Andy Weir's The Martian wasn't the sort of science fiction novel I would pick up, I was thankful that I did, so hopefully this endorsement holds true. If you've read it let me know what you think.
Speaking of Andy Weir...


by Andy Weir
Another breezy, brainy, and addictive a read as The Martian, and it’s probably going to make for another great movie.

This one is a heist story set on the moon. Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems. Because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.


Book Three of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Oathbringer is an epic fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson who isn’t just writing some of the longest epic fantasy books running, if you've read any of this works you know that he’s also writing some of the very best.

Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman
Master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths. Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

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Feb 2, 2018

Weekend Reads - 180202

Are we 'improving' ourselves to death? That's the topic our first article looks at. With the glut of self-improvement books and guru's out there today it's interesting to step back and take a look at this 'from the outside'.

Check out the greatest books of all times, as voted by one hundred and twenty five authors, it's interesting to see what's in there and what's not.

For the writers out there, I have two articles, one about creating a coherent fantasy language and the four elements of Epic story telling, but good reads.

And in technology this week we meet the 89 year old man who is updating an old idea about moving trains from A to B. So when you have some time to relax this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and have a read through the following articles.

Jan 31, 2018

Discover | The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

Agatha Christie meets George Orwell ... a fascinating and original plot
Publishers Weekly

Another dystopian novel, for lovers of conspiracy and thrillers. The Dying Game is set in 2037 of an alternative future, and looks to have shades of And Then There Were None (by Agatha Christie)

Take a bit of alternate history, a dose of The Hunger Games, a little Handmaid’s Tale, and dash of Orwell and Dave Eggers’ The Circle, and you’d have The Dying Game. Set in a near-future dystopia where the Soviet Union never fell, the novel centers on Anna Francis, a bureaucrat assigned to observe the participants of a top secret intelligence project. Six candidates are locked in a house and told a murderer is among them – who will take control, who will crack under the pressure, and more importantly is anyone safe?
If you've read it let me know what you think.

A deliciously creepy novel revolving around a terrific paradigm shift: The job you think you’re doing? That’s not the job you’re really doing.
Chris Pavone, author of THE EXPATS