Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Yesterday’s Future by J. Scott Coatsworth

Yesterday’s Future
by J. Scott Coatsworth 

I just finished the first draft of my next novel, The Rising Tide. It’s the sequel to The Stark Divide, the book just releasing now and is the first in the Liminal Sky series.

I started writing The Stark Divide in 2014 and completed it in 2016, just as the US elections came to a close and we found out who our new president would be.

What a different world we live in now.

As a sci fi writer, I am tasked with writing both probable and improbable futures, some that are connected to the here and now, and some that are more distant or, in some cases, entirely divorced from Earth and our present day issues.

The Liminal Sky series take place on a future Earth, starting a little more than a hundred years from now, and so the stories in it are strongly influenced and informed by the trends I see happening around me today.

Climate change, human denial, and greed all play a role, as do the bending arcs of justice that our last President was so fond of talking about.

The Stark Divide, while doubtful about the ultimate future of the Earth, had a fairly hopeful tone for humankind as a species.

But as I started writing The Rising Tide, I found that some of my optimism had flagged, and the result is a more complex, sometimes darker story. We live in a world that is changing so rapidly that the future I saw just three years ago now seems much less likely. This sci fi writer has changing future whiplash.

So what am I supposed to do?

On the plus side, I have the chance with each new book to address the future I see at that moment in time. Sometimes it’s hopeful, and sometimes it’s a little more dark and twisty.

If I’m any good at this job, I’ll figure out a way to make it all work together, and create a series that has lasting relevance for many possible futures.

Only time will tell if it all works out, for the series and for the Earth and humanity as a whole.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see what tomorrow’s future will bring.


About the Author

J. Scott Coatsworth spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Ushered into fantasy and sci-fi at the tender age of nine by his mother, he devoured her library of Asimovs, Clarkes, and McCaffreys. But as he grew up, he wondered where the gay people were in speculative fiction.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would write them himself.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently—he sees relationships between things that others miss, and often gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He transforms traditional sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He also runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring LGBTIQA communities together to celebrate fiction that reflects queer life and love.




About the Book

The Stark Divide
Liminal Sky | Book One
J. Scott Coatsworth

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

Monday, October 16, 2017

Top 5 Video Games I Played Between Writing Sessions in 2017 by Glynn Stewart

If you spend all day writing, you pretty quickly learn to come up with a system that works for you. I write a book every six weeks or so, and for me, the trick is timers: write for a set time, take a break, repeat until I have 3000-5000 words.

For me, the breaks in between writing sessions are usually taken up by playing video games, because it’s the easiest way for me to “switch off.” Here are my top 5 writing companions for 2017:

1) Overwatch. I’m usually a little leery about multiplayer games, but my friends finally dragged me into this one in fall 2016. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s incredibly pretty. You can team up with your friends to complete missions, or—if your friends are the kind of people with day jobs that don’t allow video games—you can let the system randomly assign you to a team. The sheer variety of characters and play styles to learn means that you’ll never be bored, but I’ll admit that my current favourites are Junkrat and Mercy.

2) Stellaris. You’ll see from this list that I love strategy games. This is one that explores my chosen genre of space opera in great detail. Stellaris has an astounding number of variables with at least four methods of space travel, and that leads to some interesting strategic interactions. I need to be careful with this one, though: I’m not worried about the number of hours that I put into it (as long as I’m also writing), but sometimes I keep playing for too long and realize I’m not having fun with it anymore. That’s the cue to put it away for a few months and come back later.

3) Crusader Kings. This is a sort of alternate-history strategy game, where you start playing with one European power and follow your dynasty through the ages. I’ve attempted to spread the Old Norse pagan religion across the globe (not very successfully) and I’ve seen some interesting royal soap operas develop. Like the time one of my queens had a daughter who was almost of age and ready to take the crown until suddenly she had a half-brother she needed to murder. I’m still not quite sure how that happened.

4) Wolfenstein: The New Order. This is a straight-up action-adventure first-person shooter, and the designers did a really good job of taking some old school gaming sensibilities and building a new game around it. It’s a fast-paced action-oriented blasting-nazis-in-the-face game, but it also uses everything we’ve learned to do better with these games in the last twenty years (especially new user interface elements) and uses them to tell a quite interesting and entertaining story.

5) Sunless Sea: This one is a “survival/exploration” game where you control a ship as it explores a vast underground ocean, and here there be much worse things than dragons. I actually had trouble getting into this game initially. A friend walked me through something at the beginning that I just wasn’t getting, and suddenly I was immersed in a game with a really unique theme and tone, and the world that they’d built was fascinating. I had a really long chain of captains that kept passing down money and a house to their heirs, and then I forgot to write a will for one… and my character went crazy and the crew murdered me. Which is pretty typical for Sunless Sea.


About the Author

Glynn Stewart is the author of Starship’s Mage, a bestselling science fiction and fantasy series where faster-than-light travel is possible–but only because of magic. Stewart’s other works include the science fiction series Castle Federation and Duchy of Terra, as well as the urban fantasy series ONSET.

Writing managed to liberate Stewart from a bleak future as an accountant. With his personality and hope for a high-tech future intact, he now lives in Canada with his wife, his cats, and a portable cast of thousands for readers to meet in future books. You can learn more about Glynn Stewart at his website, glynnstewart.com.


About the Book

Interstellar Mage
by Glynn Stewart

Mars destroyed his ship — but gave him a new one.
Mars drafted his Mage — for the good of humanity!
He should have known that wouldn’t be the end of it…

Captain David Rice has a new ship, a new crew, and a new set of Jump Mages to carry him between the stars. All he wants is to haul cargo, make money and keep his head down.

His past, however, is not so willing to let him go. An old enemy is reaching out from beyond the grave to destroy any chance of peace or life for Captain Rice—and old friends are only making things more complicated!

All he wants is to be a businessman, but as the death toll mounts he must decide what is more important: his quiet life or the peace humanity has enjoyed for centuries…

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday - Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, originally hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Since Jill is no longer hosting it, I'm joining Can’t Wait Wednesday movement over at Wishful Endings.

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
Expected publication: November 14, 2017 by Tor Books

The eagerly awaited sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Words of Radiance, from epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson at the top of his game.

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together—and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past—even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

This was probably my most anticipated read of the year, and definitely one of the most prized ARCs I have ever received. A review embargo means I can take my time and enjoy it, which is a nice problem to have.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Non-Fiction Review - Untamed: An Atlas of Wild Places by Chris Fitch

Abandoned ruins, strange places, and natural beauty. These are things I live for, the geography of my bucket list. Chris Fitch clearly shares that passion, with Untamed: An Atlas of Wild Places the perfect first volume in that.

A collection of global snapshots that are as fascinating as they are incredible, this is not the kind of book you sit down and devour over the course of an evening. Instead, it is something you leave sitting on that proverbial coffee table, a book to be sampled, shared, and appreciated.

The Atlas is divided into six sections - Extreme Environments, Untouched Lands, Human Activity, Weird Worlds, Isolated Realms, and Nature's Wilderness. Each features 6-8 short articles of a few pages each illustrated by photographs and (more importantly) detailed maps.

Human Activity set the bar high for abandoned ruins. Here we find details of Chernobyl that are almost unfathomable, such as the fact that the process of decomposition has ceased to operate, and walk through a town in Pennsylvania that has been burning since 1962, although it took the collapse of a 100-foot deep sinkhole to finally begin its abandonment nearly 20 years later.

In terms of strange places, Extreme Environments was easily my favorite. Where else can you find shipwrecks a few hundred yards into the desert, toxic gas spewing lakes, and a cave full of massive 36-foot crystals? As for natural beauty, it's hard to choose between Untouched Lands (which tell of a cave beneath Vietnam that is not only large enough for a jumbo jet, but which has its own weather system) and Weird Worlds (with a lake in Venezuela that receives 1.2 million lightning strikes each year).

Honestly, Untamed: An Atlas of Wild Places could be ten times as long and I would still want more, but as first volumes of a bucket list go, it's a great start.

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 28th 2017 by Aurum Press

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday - All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault by James Alan Gardner

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, originally hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Since Jill is no longer hosting it, I'm joining Can’t Wait Wednesday movement over at Wishful Endings.

All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault by James Alan Gardner
Expected publication: November 7, 2017 by Tor Books

Monsters are real.
But so are heroes.

Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice . . . mostly.

Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality. Doors creak at their approach. Cobwebs gather where they linger.

Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident (what else?) transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks—and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities—and (of course) to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names.

Turns out that “accident” was just the first salvo in a Mad Genius’s latest diabolical scheme. Now it’s up to four newbie heroes to save the day, before they even have a chance to figure out what their team’s name should be!

I really only know Gardner from his League of Peoples series, but this sounds like a ton of fun.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fantasy Review: The Core by Peter V. Brett

Wow. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you conclude one of the pivotal fantasy epics of the 21st century. The Core is not just a fitting conclusion to The Demon Cycle, it is (by far) the greatest book of an already impressive saga. Peter V. Brett has saved the best for last in a story that is big, bold, and brilliant.

You know you're in for something special when the book opens with a chapter told from a demon's point of view. That's right, the first voice we hear is not that of Arlen or Jardir, not that of Leesha, Renna, or Inevera, but that of the Alagai Ka. It's creepy and unsettling, it sets the perfect tone for a story that is rife with darkness, slipping ever deeper into the Abyss . . . and, yet, we are never without hope.

That, right there, is what distinguishes Brett from the grimdark crowd. His story is about as dark as it gets, with one crushing defeat after another, but the world never feels completely lost. Even as it becomes increasingly hard to see how humanity can possibly survive the Waning and the Swarm to follow, we latch onto any one of a dozen battles, trusting in one of those heroes to show us the way. Even as the demons become smarter, finding some very human ways to undermine what once seemed impenetrable warded defenses, we look to the most unlikely characters to cast off their pasts and sacrifice themselves for redemption.

For the first time in the series, we have a story without flashbacks. The entire book is told in the now, giving it a sense of immediacy, and adding to the already palatable tension. There is nary a slow chapter to the book, with every scene advancing the story forward. Time and time again we get epic confrontations that threaten to destroy major set pieces, any one of which would serve as a fitting finale to another book. We hardly have time to catch our breath between battles, but when we do, Brett brings back a surprising cast of characters, many of whom get their moment. Evils are forgiven, cruelties redeemed, and hatreds put aside in the face of Sharak Ka.

As for the epic descent into The Core itself, Arlen and Jardir both get their respective moments to shine. There's is a journey worth of the saga itself, full of one sacrifice after another, and several discoveries that rock the foundation of the story's mythology. Without spoiling anything, we do finally learn who the true Deliverer is, and what that legacy means . . . and it is an ending so perfect, I honestly cannot find a single flaw in how it all played out.

Hardcover, 781 pages
Expected publication: October 3rd 2017 by Del Rey

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.