Monday, July 20, 2015

Time Heist by Anthony Vicino

Anthony Vicino came to my attention when I read a blog post of his in which he reviewed two cyberpunk thrillers--my own The Immortality Game and Convergence by Michael Patrick Hicks. His quirky writing style came through immediately and his honest review, giving both what he enjoyed and what he didn't, set him apart from so many reviews that try to only present the positive.
from the One Lazy Robot blog
I finally found time to read Vicino's own cyberpunk thriller Time Heist, and having read it, I think anyone out there who enjoys good technothrillers will want to give his a try. It's very well written and most of all Vicino has a vivid, visceral writing style that adds vitality to every paragraph he writes.

His writing style is about the opposite of my own, but the world he writes about is so very like mine in so many ways that I feel we are akin in our thoughts about the future. Nanotechnology is huge in both of our worlds, and the capture of the human mind in digital form also weighs heavily in our stories. The use of this technology to create a form of immortality is the very backbone of my own book.

It's almost as if someone gave the basic building blocks of a cyberpunk story to two different writers and told us to go at it. We cover much of the same ground using the same technologies, yet we each have our own styles and thoughts, so we end up with two very different stories.

I truly enjoyed Time Heist, and I think many of you would as well. I look forward to reading more of Vicino's work in the future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Kindle Countdown Deal

This week I'm trying out a Kindle Countdown Deal for my epic fantasy novel The Shard. It is $3 off at only .99. It's not easy to let readers know about such deals, so if anyone reading this has friends who enjoy this type of fantasy, perhaps do me a favor and let them know about it? I appreciate the support!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Release -- Darkhaven by AFE Smith

Out today: DARKHAVEN

Darkhaven cover
About the Book: 
Book title: DARKHAVEN
Author: A.F.E. Smith
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: 2 July 2015 (ebook), 14 January 2016 (paperback)
Price: £1.99/$3.99 (ebook)


Book description:
Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

Buy links 

Amazon (global link)
Barnes & Noble
Google play



A.F.E. Smith photo
About the Author:

A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.

What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.

Author social media links
DARKHAVEN on Goodreads

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Excerpt from New Novel

For any who might be interested, I thought I'd post a teaser excerpt from the first chapter of the new novel I'm working on. It's a far future sci-fi set on a colony planet in another solar system. It's tentatively titled Penthesilea, and I'm sure it will change quite a lot before it is done!


The morning of her thirteenth birthday, Keng entered the family room to accept the embraces and kisses of her mothers.  She had bubbled with excitement for weeks, knowing something special would happen today, though no one, not even the habitual gossips, would do more than drop hints.  Her oldest mother, Adanya, smelled faintly of cloves as she drew Keng close in her thin arms and whispered in her ear, “I’m so proud of you, first child of Themis.  Always so many questions.  Now today some can be answered.”  Adanya kissed her cheek and held Keng out at arm’s length, eyes shiny with tears.

Keng was afraid to respond in case her voice broke.  She took a deep breath and used the moment to scan the faces in the room.  Naturally Mother Slade was not there.  All twelve of her other mothers, but not her favorite.  Keng had hoped that today would see a change in the way Slade treated her.  If not when Keng was officially counted as a woman grown then when?

Mother Zahra looked at her with her lips quirked in a smirk.  “Why so sad?  It’s your special day.”

“I think you know,” Keng whispered.

“Oh, we all know, young lady,” Zahra said.  “So much warmth and love in this family, and the one you miss is she who so rarely speaks a word to you or deigns to glance your way.  Perhaps if I beat you I would be your favorite?”  Keng didn’t need Zahra’s grin to know she was at least half joking.

“I’m sorry, Mothers,” Keng said to the gathering.  “I only thought that today perhaps I could see my whole family together for once.”

She watched the smiles as her mothers passed glances around the room.  Something was up.  Keng wished they would just get on with it.  She didn’t like surprises.

“We’re sorry to tease you so,” Mother Hasinah said.  “It is only that we know today you will get something that you have long wanted, so we are happy.  Go to the roof garden, love.  Your gift is there.”

Keng suppressed the urge to immediately head for the stairs and completed her round of the room, accepting hugs and congratulations from the rest of her mothers.  On her way out the door, she spotted one of the cats lazing near the bottom of the steps and scooped him up.  “Come, Mouser.  Let’s see what the big surprise is.”

The stairs to the roof garden rose only a single story since her family’s home lay near the edge of the great dome.  Keng sometimes wished she were lucky enough to live near the center in one of tall buildings, and every so often she took the long trudge up the stairs of one of the tallest in order to stare out over the entire colony.  She had read of doll houses during her studies, and if she lay on the edge fifteen stories up and looked down, she could pretend that all of Panthesilea was her own personal doll house.

Every building had rank upon rank of gardens, helping to feed the colonists, along with the farms that Keng had heard lay outside of the dome.  Her own gardens were meagre, given that the home was a mere one story.  It primarily consisted of hydroponic fruits and vegetables, though several of the mothers insisted on a few types of flowers as well.  Keng reached the top of the stairs and fell quickly to her knees, for she saw Mother Slade performing her exercises near the central fountain and she knew the security chief disliked being disturbed.  “Go on, cat,” she hissed, and dropped Mouser on the top step, where the gray furred beast scurried right back down the way they had come.

Keng liked to try to sneak up on Slade, but she had never once succeeded in catching her unawares.  From her knees, Keng peered under a row of hanging grapes and watched as the slim but muscular figure flowed through a series of lunges and blocks and kicks.  Except for eyelashes, Slade was hairless, which always made Keng think of her as looking both young and old at the same time.  Keng wished to learn martial arts as well.  They seemed far more interesting than the usual gardening and sewing performed by most of her mothers, or the Tai Chi most of the women did each morning out on the lawns.  Usually by now Slade would have halted her routine and glared at Keng until she departed, but this time Slade went on punching and sliding as if she were unaware of Keng’s presence.  Keng recalled that her present was supposed to be here.  She looked at the benches near the fountain but could see no sign of a package.  A moment later, Slade completed her routine and bowed to some invisible opponent before turning to Keng and crooking a finger at her.

Keng was surprised. 
 It was the first time Slade had ever invited her to approach.  Cautiously Keng rose to her feet and skirted the garden rows until she came to the patch of grass near the fountain.  There she halted and remained silent.

Slade stood straight and still as a statue, remaining expressionless for so long that Keng wondered if she was meant to speak first.  As she debated on what she might say, Slade spoke at last.  “Thirteen.”

Keng nodded.

Slade had a deeper voice than most women, but she always spoke in a soft manner, even when angry.  “I’ve been tasked with providing your birthday gift.”

Keng wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so she remained silent.

“Come,” Slade said, and stalked past Keng toward the stairs.

Keng scurried to catch up and fell into place a meter behind as they descended.  Instead of turning into the house, Slade passed on, and Keng understood that they must be headed toward the security hut near the edge of the dome.  That made Keng smile.  She had always been forbidden from entering the ten meter protective zone circling the inner perimeter of the dome.

As they drew near the security hut, Slade motioned for Keng to stop, while she continued on.  The hut’s door slid aside and Slade reached in and pulled forth two backpacks.  Now Keng’s heartbeat raced and she gave a little hop in place.  At last she was going to get to see the world outside the dome.  Slade passed her a pack, and she felt the lumpy, hard-packed exterior with one hand before slipping it over her shoulders.

They stood near the edge of the dome, just off the paved road used by the auto-haulers that brought in supplies from the factories and farms outside.  It was the nature of the dome that Keng could never catch a glimpse of the outside world, even when trucks were passing through.  Her studies had taught her about the material used to create the dome, a synthetic substance that everyone called anaglass.  Keng had never before been so close to it.  She wanted to reach out and touch it, but she didn’t dare with Slade standing nearby.

“We’ll pass through in a moment,” Slade said, “but first prepare yourself.”

Keng wasn’t sure what Slade meant, so she took a moment to gather her thoughts.  She knew what she should see beyond the dome, but studying something is far different from seeing the reality.  The nearby surface of the dome shimmered and swirled with a deep blue that reminded her of Mother Magda’s tea cups.  It looked solid, yet on a daily basis Keng watched auto-haulers pass in and out as if the wall were air.  And when she looked up, the dome looked like a clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds.  The afternoon sun was hidden beyond the buildings, but a pale sliver of moon showed overhead.

“How long is the day out there?”

Slade’s sudden question snapped Keng out of her reverie.  “I don’t remember exactly.  Less than eighteen hours.”

Slade nodded and said, “Let’s go.”  She walked directly into and through the blue wall and vanished from sight.

Despite having watched so many people and vehicles pass through for years, Keng was nervous, as if touching the anaglass might shock her.  She groped out with one hand and was surprised when she felt nothing at all upon passing it through the wall.  Then she shrieked as a strong hand grasped her wrist and yanked her through.

Keng gasped.  Everything looked wrong.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cover Reveal/New Book Coming in August

I am planning on releasing a collection of four short stories in August. It contains two shorts based on my fantasy novel The Shard, one short that bridges the gap between The Immortality Game and The Shard, and a Viking short story that was included in The Dragon Chronicles. So far I plan on only including it on Amazon for .99 as part of their Kindle Unlimited program, though later I might expand it to other sites. My hope is to let new readers experience some of my writing, and hopefully they might then check out my novels.

Since this is a cheaper book, I used a pre-made cover, though I still like how it came out.

I have a favor to ask anyone who is interested. This is a short book and wouldn't take long to read. I'd like to get as many reviews as possible around the launch date in August. I expect honest reviews, so no pressure to rate it highly if you don't feel it deserves it. I'm willing to give a free Kindle copy to any of my friends who are willing to write an honest review (it doesn't have to be long) for Amazon/Goodreads near the launch date in mid-August. If interested, please email me at knight_tour at hotmail dot com.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alphabet of SFF

Mark Lawrence did an intriguing blog post where he posted photos depicting from A to Z his favorite books by authors whose last names began with each particular letter. It got me thinking about my book shelves and in the end I just had to try it myself!

It ended up being somewhat difficult because there are so many books still to be read, so I decided not to list any of those, which left me with some letters unused. It also turned out that in many cases a single letter, like 'M' had multiple of my favorite authors.

Here you see me cheating right off with Robert Asprin listed first when he was the editor of the Thieves' World series, which was written by a bunch of terrific writers. But I just LOVE the Thieves' World series and think it's a shame that more people don't seem to remember it. I could have listed Joe Abercrombie there. Then comes Terry Brooks. I know most people sneer at The Sword of Shannara, but I loved it. Louis Bujold gets a secondary nod for 'B'. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't include my own writing under 'C', but I stuck Glen Cook in there as well to make it legit and because I love his work. Who can beat Philip K Dick for 'D'? Steven Erikson wins the 'E' category. I didn't have much under 'F', so I went with Alan Dean Foster.

'G' goes to William Gibson. No one can touch Robert E Howard, though Joe Haldeman deserves a mention. I didn't have any I or J that I had read, and Stephen King just doesn't fall under SFF for me, so I move to 'L' with Le Guin and Leiber. I know, it seems wrong to leave out Lawrence when he started this idea and I do like his work, but honestly, who can touch Le Guin? Or Leiber? I didn't even get to include Scott Lynch! The M's were trouble, so I put George Martin, of course, but I decided to throw in McKiernan and Morgan as well. Then Larry Niven for 'N'.

Pohl for 'P'. 'R' was hard since I just love Rothfuss's work, but I didn't want to leave out Chasm City by Reynolds, which is awesome. Scalzi slips in to 'S', though I was sorely tempted to include Dan Simmons. 'T' is flat out owned by Tolkien, naturally. 'V' goes to Vinge, who is amazing. I could have gone with Tad Williams for 'W', but I decided to choose Westerfeld, since The Risen Empire is great and so few people seem to have read this series.

Well, that's it! I have plenty of other books I love that didn't make it here since I didn't want to duplicate too  many in each category. For example, Ender's Game by Card feels like it should have made it. What about you? You up to the challenge?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Acting in Swedish Comedy

Some time ago I wrote about my various movie acting experiences on this blog, and today I was thinking about my favorite one, a Swedish comedy called The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Yes, a very long title, but it comes from a hit book and the movie is the highest-grossing film from Sweden and quite good. It has been driving me mad that it hasn't yet been released on DVD in America.
Last time I posted about it, I posted this picture taken by the Swedish star Robert Gustaffson (He is the one on the right). We had done several takes of this scene and Robert suddenly told us all to look over, and he snapped this 'selfie'. I realized I had never posted any shots from the scene, so just now I paused the scene a few times and did screen shots so you can see what the scene itself turned out like in the movie. For the actual scene, you'll need to look up the film. It is out on DVD in Europe, but in the U.S. we'll just have to wait.