99¢ Promotion for Trinity on Tylos

ToT_cover_final_webLG

My science fiction novel will soon be on sale for just 99¢

I’m going to usher in spring by offering my science fiction novel at a mere 99¢ for four days, beginning on March 21. Although it has only had modest sales success, it has the best reviews of any of my novels (under Pamela J. Dodd or my other pen name) and I consider it to be a good read. One of the cooler aspects of writing science fiction is that unlike contemporary fiction, the story does not suffer as much from being “out of date.”

The current version has a few minor edits, but is close to the original, apart from the cover. No one liked the cartoonish cover designed by an artist working for Whiskey Creek Press, so I had a new one designed when I got the rights back. The cover depicts the main character, Venice, shortly after she is abducted by Azareel, the last living Archon. The Archon colony is in the background, as are the space going vessels of the Terrans and the Archons. His vision is to re-create his people, using the reluctant wombs of his human captives. And, as one professional reviewer stated, this is hardly a new plot line. But….I do not believe that life is black and white, and the good vs. evil in this novel is cast in shades of gray. Oh, Azareel is ruthless and sometimes just plain mean. Still, he has a reason for what he is doing. The best villains always do, of course.

In time, Venice comes to accept certain realities, and that’s when this novel grows up. Fans of science fiction, especially as it explores the human condition, should enjoy Trinity on Tylos.

Way back when it was released, this novel was a “recommended read” at Fallen Angels reviews, and it garnered several other positive reviews. There are newer reviews by customers on Amazon, too.

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Alarm of War— The Other Side of Fear

A while back, I wrote a positive review of Kennedy Hudner’s Alarm of War. Perhaps its greatest downside was that it clearly was intended to have a sequel. For a few months, I checked Amazon, hoping that Hudner had released the second part, but after a while, I quit looking. Then, as I reviewed my “keeper” files, I saw Alarm of War and looked again. Low and behold, Alarm of War, Book II: The Other Side of Fear was published in 2014. Finally, I had the sequel, but alas, it’s really part II of a trilogy. So, I am back to waiting.

However, it would be remiss to not review the second book. So, here’s a true confession: I went back and re-read the Alarm of War because it had been so long that I was certain I needed a refresher. Good plan, as I enjoyed it almost as much the second time. Once I had swiped the last page, I jumped right into The Other Side of Fear, and it wowed me from the opening scene.

While there are some stereotypical situations and characters, there is plenty of depth to Hudner’s ensemble of main characters, who met as they went through basic training during the first novel. My favorite is Emily Tuttle, a former history teacher with a brilliant grasp of military strategy. Other main characters include Grant Skiffington, the favored son of an admiral; Hiram Brill, a geeky guy who instinctively puts together intelligence into workable prophecies; and Marine sergeant Maria Sanchez, who is super gung ho, but reads books and likes to hang out with the nerd, Hiram. These characters all had intertwining adventures in the first book and book two immediately picks up the action.

Rather than write a bunch of spoilers, I will say this: Mr. Hudner’s series reminds me quite a lot of the early works of David Weber, the creator of the great Honor Harrington series. But, by using the ensemble, rather than centering on one character, Hudner is able to bring in various aspects of his universe, but keep the reader’s interest. At times, Weber spends more time explaining his villains than his heroine, and that has always bothered me. As a huge fan of military sci fi in general, and Honor Harrington in particular, it is hard to say this, but, “Move over, Mr. Weber.” Kennedy Hudner is writing some seriously kick-butt military sci-fi. Really.

As of this writing, the first book is a bargain at 99¢, and The Other Side of Fear is $3.99. My gosh, so much entertainment for less than the price of a movie ticket!

Return to Dakistee and Retreat and Adapt by Thomas DePrima

Recently, I decided to catch up with the further adventures of Jenetta Carver (and her clones Christie and Eliza) by reading books 8 and 9 in the Galaxy Unknown series by DePrima. Book 8, Return to Dakistee, did not sound too entertaining in the blurb, but I have enjoyed the series so I decided to forge on, and I am glad I did. Like many series, the further along it goes, the more important it is to have read the previous books, and that is true of Return to Dakistee. The main character in this entry is not Jenetta Carver, who is off doing admiral things, but her clone, Christie, who is a mere Lt. Commander. In a way, this book is more interesting because a more junior officer has to please the officers over her as well as lead the ones below her in the hierarchy. And the ending is a bit of a shock.

In Book 9, Retreat and Adapt, the main character is again Jenetta Carver, who has been almost boringly successful in her leadership of Space Command forces. However, a new threat has taken out two of the “invincible” ships that Space Command relies upon, and Jenetta’s orders to the remaining forces are to avoid engaging the enemy, but keep tabs on them. While the Space Command forces are in retreat, it is up to Jenetta to come up with a plan, and she does. Will it work? Or will this new threat take over the known galaxy. That’s the suspense of this yarn, and I won’t ruin it for potential readers, but I will say that DePrima does a good job of looking back at history for his plotline.

My appreciation for indie authors is no secret, but I have seldom followed a series through nine books. Okay, I did read David Weber’s Honor Harrington series beyond that point, and I have read that many entries in the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. But those are written by great writers! Thomas DePrima isn’t in the same league. However, I have really enjoyed these tales by DePrima. Fans of space opera should certainly hop over to Amazon and check out the series.

Fatal Boarding— a review

Cover, Fatal Boarding

Fatal Boarding is better than the cover would suggest.

Recently, I read E.R. Mason’s science fiction novel, Fatal Boarding, via the Kindle app. As of this writing, it is a bargain because it is free. And, normally, if I don’t particularly like a freebie, I do not review it. I did review this one, on Amazon, and I am going to do so in a more elaborate manner here, because I did like it, but with reservations.

Why did I “buy” it in the first place? The cover is pretty bad, I think, but the number of reviews and stars is impressive. Also, you can’t beat free. So, I added it to my Kindle library, and I did manage to finish it, although I thought of abandoning the effort more than once. The main character isn’t likable, at least not a first, but he did grow on me. The situation is interesting, and the author does a good job of putting in details to help the reader visualize both settings and characters. Actually, the plot line isn’t all that fresh. However, just about every story has been told by now, so all we readers (and writers) have left is theme and variation.

Adrian Tarn, main character, is an experienced spacer, currently serving as security officer on a ship that has a boring task, mapping. He signed on because he lost too much money gambling, and at least a portion of his grumbling is probably intended as foreshadowing. Anyway, his rather boring job is interrupted when his ship goes a tad off course to investigate a derelict alien vessel. The reason this other ship is abandoned is a bit of a mystery, and solving this mystery becomes imperative when Adrian’s ship has malfunction heaped upon malfunction, apparently all due to the close proximity of the mystery ship. Then, folks start dying, as the title indicates. So, this is a space mystery, which evolves along expected lines, as Adrian and his fellows begin to figure out how and why both vessels are dead in space.

Overall, I did enjoy the story, but the most troubling aspect is the lack of proper grammar, spelling, and/or editing. As a writer, I know it is hard to catch every little thing, especially when working on one’s own manuscript. But, Fatal Boarding suffers myriad problems, making this a distracting book to read. The author confuses “loose” and “lose” several times, and there are missing quotation marks, missing commas, odd paragraphing, and other issues. At times, I had to back up to be certain what was happening or who was speaking.

Yet, 145 reviewers have rated this effort 5 stars, and another 87 give it 4 stars. That’s 228 more reviews than my space story, Trinity on Tylos, has garnered during 8 years of publication.

I’m doing something wrong….

Terms of Enlistment

Cover art of Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos

Space Opera!

Okay, I’ve never “served” as military folks put it, but I really enjoy reading about the exploits of those who have done so. Perhaps due to watching the exploits of astronauts with military titles in my youth, I still believe that the military will play some role when (or if) mankind actually goes into space and establishes colonies on other worlds. In my own Trinity on Tylos my main character, Major Venice Dylenski, has a military background, but I viewed her as a bit like “Captain” Miles Standish might be viewed in American history. He’s a military guy who is there for security, and my character is the security chief, because someone ought to be in charge of that when landing on uncivilized planets.

In Terms of Enlistment, by Marko Kloos, the military is far more than security; it is the force that keeps the homeworld (earth) and colonies safe. Andrew Grayson is the main character; he grew up in a welfare section of Boston. Desperate to leave the vicious cycle of generations on public assistance, he joins the military. Okay, that is hardly a new plot line, but as Kloos paints his picture of Grayson’s world, readers can easily believe this dystopian view of the “North American Commonwealth.” As a new NAC recruit, Grayson is under quite a lot of pressure. Failure in any area, from taking orders to passing tests, will cause him to “wash out” and go right back to eating welfare rations and watching his folks succuomb to treatable illnesses. Thus, there is an additional layer of suspense added to the usual risk/reward of enlistment. Once our hero gets through basic, he can expect a five-year hitch, then go back home with cash, and education, and a fresh start.

(spoiler alert)

However, once Grayson gets through basic, instead of being posted to a naval (spacegoing) vessel, he is placed into the TA (territorial army) and tasked with policing the very sorts of places that he sought to leave. However, as the yarn rolls along at its brisk pace, Grayson faces domestic enemies with courage and is able to use his heroism under fire to wangle a transfer to the space navy. Once there, he hopes to be set for his five year enlistment, but an alien species invades, and he has many more opportunities to be heroic, and less and less to return home to, as the government pours all of its resources into saving the colonies, leaving the homeworld to become barely habitable.

While it doesn’t break much new ground, Terms of Enlistment does an excellent job of entertaining the reader. The  main characters are more than stereotypes, and the world building is quite good. I’ve already re-upped for the second novel in the series (Lanes of Departure) and am enjoying it, too.

Terms of Enlistment is a bit like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but with less of Heinlein’s political agenda. Fans of space opera and/or military fiction would be wise to check out this well-written novel. Oh, and it is rather long, so for $3.99 it really is a bargain, too.

Only Human— a review

Only Human is my second Chris Reher novel, but this is actually book 3 in the series, which features  Nova Whiteside, a military pilot in some future universe. For me, neither the plot nor the characters were as novel this time as they were in the first one, but this is a good book. It begins with Nova being rather bored at a training facility; however, readers are briefly introduced to her father, Colonel Whiteside. Before readers have a chance to get bored along with Nova, she is transferred (perhaps a bit of a promotion, but no change in rank) to the Vanguard, and she is specifically assigned to a Delphian officer, and they are off on a journey. At first they don’t get along so well, but as the action develops, so does the main character’s affection for her commander.

In an effort to avoid spoilers, I’ll just close by saying the main character is engaging, and there is a good bit of action and suspense. Fans of hard science fiction may have trouble with this story, as some aspects are rather like Star Trek, but that usually doesn’t bother me. There are enough editing glitches to keep this from being a five star novel, but for an indie author, it is quite good. Fans of military fiction and/or strong heroines should enjoy the further adventures of Nova Whiteside.

Sky Hunter— a review

Sky Hunter coverThere are taboos in writing fiction, including this one: female characters can’t be raped. I don’t approve of this crime, any more than I approve of murder, of child molestation, of armed robbery, of well…lots of felonies. Still, crimes do happen, and if a novel is to keep it real, sometimes bad things happen to the main character. Still, rape is taboo. As a writer, I have paid the price for violating that taboo. And, this isn’t much of a spoiler, but in Chris Reher’s Sky Hunter, the heroine does have that experience, early in the novel. But, this is a serious tale of warfare in space, and bad things happen, including the afore mentioned violation.

Now that I have that out of the way, let me say that Reher’s Sky Hunter is a very, very good space opera. The main character is one I wanted to see overcome the difficulties of the opening chapters. Caring about the heroine is absolutely necessary, especially when a book isn’t a light-hearted romp. The other characters, at least some of them, also enjoyed significant development, and the plot twists like a scenic mountain road. Reher’s world building is pretty good, too. For military buffs, there is action aplenty, and enough political intrigue to keep the reader guessing.

Right now, this book is free as a Kindle title, and I highly recommend it to fans of military fiction. But, if you’re a whimp, don’t bother.

A Galaxy Unknown— the sequels

Jenetta Carver image

This is an update as well as a review. A while back, I read Thomas DePrima’s A Galaxy Unknown, and despite some serious flaws, I was so taken with the main character and the “universe” of its setting that I immediately began reading the sequels. Somewhere around book five, I had had enough. The main character seemed way too perfect and the rest of the characters were just there to heap praise upon her. So, I read lots of other stuff, but after running out of new stuff, one night I began re-reading the series. And, when reading them back to back, they seemed a bit better. Or maybe, I got used to the annoying stuff. Anyway, having caught up with where I left off, I just downloaded book 7, so I am clearly enjoying the series.

Space opera, especially the theme sometimes called “galactic empires” is a favorite of mine. Lots of indie authors give this genre a try, so I seldom run out of reading material. However, some of it isn’t particularly entertaining. Jenetta Carver’s exploits clearly owe something to another favorite character (Honor Harrington) but while David Weber’s works have become ever so much complex, DePrima’s stories have not. So, these novels are certainly light reading, but for me that is a plus. If I want to think, think, think when I read, I can always pick up one of hubby’s law books.

If you like space opera with a dash of romance, do try Trinity on Tylos, my stand alone novel. (Right now, it is cheap, too!) But, if you want a series, with very little romance, but a strong heroine, DePrima’s A Galaxy Unknown (and its many sequels) is pretty good.

Lacuna— a review

Lacuna cover

I got Lacuna, by David Adams, as a Kindle freebie. Not because I write review, but because that’s the price. Really.

And, it is a space opera, which is among my favorite genres.

The description (blurb) from Amazon begins thusly:

“Never again attempt to develop this kind of technology.”

It is with these words that an unknown alien attacker destroys the Earth cities of Tehran, Sydney and Beijing. Fifty million people die… and nothing is ever the same again.

That’s a cool blurb, and the beginning of the book is riveting. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. (spoilers ahead) Many of the Amazon reviewers mention that the plot, especially the main character’s actions, are just not aligned with military protocols. Too true. Worse, the alien fighter pilot (a really cool character) is also not quite believable, either.

Honestly, there is much to like about this book, including plenty of action, a heroine who is dynamic and not American, and a reasonably good job of editing.  However, for readers who insist that plots and character development not require vast suspension of disbelief, then this book is not gonna work.

I’m tempted to buy book 2 in the series, which is no doubt why Adams is giving away book 1. But, if it is as out of touch with reality as the first one, I will probably be mad at myself.

Trinity on Tylos in the Kindle Store

ToT_cover_final_webLGAfter six years, Trinity on Tylos is going to be available as a Kindle book, and I’ve priced it at $2.99, the same price as my debut novel, The Gift Horse. For this new version, I went through a copy of the eBook and made every effort to eliminate some of the errors in the original. However, there are no substantial changes, as I was fairly content with it, apart from the proofreading, which was a problem with the original publisher.

The new cover was designed by Dawn Seewer, who did the cover for The Gift Horse. The background depicts the landscape of Tylos IV, with the ships in the sky. The models in the foreground are Venice and Azareel, and I think the artist did a good job. A few of the readers of the original printed novel told me that the cover didn’t really convey the serious nature of the novel, so I hope that this new cover touches the bases.

For those who haven’t read it, here is the original synopsis that I used when shopping the manuscript:

What sacrifices must an officer make to save her shipmates from certain doom? Venice Dylenski, the young security chief of the colonizing ship, Excalibur, is faced with this dilemma after her captain makes a critical error in judgement in an encounter with an alien with superior fire power and a hidden agenda.

Trinity on Tylos begins as Venice experiences an embarrassing moment on a survey mission, one which rules out yet another planet as a hospitable home for their colony. While continuing its search, the Excalibur encounters the Archeons, an alien race characterized by gray-blue skin and a facility for language. The interchange results in Venice and a crewmate, Alathea Duke, being taken captive by the mysterious Archeon captain, Azareel. In short order, he informs them that they will play a critical role in revitalizing his dying race, that of surrogate mothers to genetically engineered Archeon offspring.

Venice, reluctant “to be the next Archeon soccer mom,” strives to escape, but her companion seems all too willing to cooperate with their captor. Thus the stage is set for multiple conflicts between human and Archeon, human and human, and humanoids verses the hostile environment of their new planetary home in the Tylos star system.

Trinity on Tylos has the elements of a good space opera: complex characters faced with myriad problems to solve, set in a future where man may have escaped the bounds of his solar system, but not the bonds of human emotions.