Renegades Book Bomb!

Renegades: Declaration goes live tomorrow.   It is the third novella of the Renegades series.  For those of you who intend to buy it, I’m trying to stage a book bomb at 12 noon, EST (10 am Mountain). For those of you who don’t know what a book bomb is… it’s selling as many books as possible in as short a time as possible. As an author, book bombs are ideal because they push our author rank up on Amazon and increase our chances that we’ll get seen by more readers. So if you plan on buying the third novella of the Renegades series, help out a bit and wait until 12 noon, EST.

Below is a blurb about Renegades: Declaration:

Pixel is an engineer on the run from his own past. He doesn’t understand people and he’s focused on the things he can understand: machinery, mathematics, and design. Now he’s on the run from the alien Chxor, after he and his new friends escaped from a prison station, hijacked a ship, and managed to sabotage a lot of Chxor orbital infrastructure in the process. They’re far beyond safe human space and they’ve had to work together to survive.

Pixel has come to trust the mismatched group of humans and aliens that have become his friends. The thing is, they want to select a leader, a Captain for their crew. Pixel knows it is a bad idea… and worse, it looks like blood is about to be spilled over who might become the Captain.

It shouldn’t be Pixel’s job to solve it. He fixes problems with machines… not those of friendship, trust and leadership. But he knows if he doesn’t do something, this election might well turn into a bloodbath. Worse yet, as it calls up echoes of his past, Pixel wonders not only if he can intervene, but if he can do so in a way that will not make things worse.

The new cover for Renegades: Declaration The third Renegades novella
The new cover for Renegades: Declaration
The third Renegades novella

Cover for Renegades: Declaration

The new cover for Renegades: Declaration The third Renegades novella
The new cover for Renegades: Declaration
The third Renegades novella

Here’s the cover for the upcoming Renegades: Declaration. The novella follows the story the Renegades from the perspective of Pixel the engineer.

Pixel is an engineer on the run from his own past. He doesn’t understand people and he’s focused on the things he can understand: machinery, mathematics, and design. Now he’s on the run from the alien Chxor, after he and his new friends escaped from a prison station, hijacked a ship, and managed to sabotage a lot of Chxor orbital infrastructure in the process. They’re far beyond safe human space and they’ve had to work together to survive.

Pixel has come to trust the mismatched group of humans and aliens that have become his friends. The thing is, they want to select a leader, a Captain for their crew. Pixel knows it is a bad idea… and worse, it looks like blood is about to be spilled over who might become the Captain.

It shouldn’t be Pixel’s job to solve it. He fixes problems with machines… not those of friendship, trust and leadership. But he knows if he doesn’t do something, this election might well turn into a bloodbath. Worse yet, as it calls up echoes of his past, Pixel wonders not only if he can intervene, but if he can do so in a way that will not make things worse.

Renegades: Declaration will be available December 1st from Amazon, Smashwords, Kindle, Sony eBooks, and Kobo.

A SF Writer’s Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving, a purely US holiday. I was talking with a friend of mine, an immigrant, who told me that he really didn’t get the whole idea of Thanksgiving, so he mostly just ignored it. I’ll say this, everyone has their own take on it, but for me, it’s a time to reflect on all the good things in life, to appreciate what I have. As a writer, I’m appreciative of all the books and authors that have inspired me. I wouldn’t be the person I am if I couldn’t curl up around a good book on a chill fall day.

I’m very thankful that we’ve had the great authors who inspired so much. I’m grateful that those pioneers dared to think about the possibilities. I’m grateful for Jules Verne  and Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote the first fantastical fiction.   I’m grateful for the writers they inspired such as Robert Howard, Doc Smith, and Robert A. Heinlein, and Issac Asimov.   And I’m grateful for the science fiction writers who followed, who continued to think big, and to dream of what lay beyond the horizon.

As a writer, the important part of Thanksgiving for me is the reflection, the time spent looking at where we are and where we’re going.  Take the time today, as a reader or a writer, to think about the stories you love, and to be grateful for the people who wrote them.

Renegades: Declaration is coming!

So the third Renegades story is on the way, I am happy to say. The final editing is almost completed and the cover art is almost completed. I’m super excited to get this one out. Renegades: Declaration covers the story from Pixel’s perspective, not long after the events of Renegades: The Gentle One. The crew has escaped from Chxor space, and they now face something that might very well tear them apart: selecting someone to be their leader.

Here’s the blurb about it:

Pixel is an engineer, and a damned good one. He knows math, understands machinery, and loves nothing more than to get his hands dirty taking things apart and getting to know how it all works. He knows his understanding for the mechanical does not extend to people. When his fellow escapees decide to select a Captain for their hijacked ship, he finds himself in a unique position where his vote matters… and where he knows that the wrong decision will lead to their deaths. The problem is, as tension mounts between the crew and intimidation, threats and bribes emerge, the right vote might well lead to deaths as well.

Renegades: Declaration will be available soon from Amazon, Smashwords, Kindle, Sony eBooks, and Kobo.

Free Space Opera / SF Novella

For a limited time, I’m giving away free copies of the first novella of my Renegades series. For the next five days, if you use the coupon code MG57A when you check out, you can get Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption for free from Smashwords (link).

Mike doesn’t want to be anyone’s friend. He doesn’t want to be a leader. He sure doesn’t want to be a hero. He’s tried all of that before; it didn’t work out then and he knows it wouldn’t work out now.

He doesn’t have a choice.

Caught by an invading alien race and shipped off to a prison station as (expendable) labor, Mike will have to become all of those things in order to escape. More, he’ll have to turn a band of misfits into a group that can not only survive… but escape from a place where survival is measured in hours. In the doing, he may have to do the one thing he knows will get him killed: learn how to trust.

Thor: Dark World Review

I’ll preface this by commenting that I grew up on action and even a few comic book movies… but I never read comic books. So while I’m sure there are some diehard comic book fans who know far more about Thor than me, well, that’s fine. I’m reviewing this as a movie, and also as part of the series of movies that Marvel has done.

Disclaimer aside, I really enjoyed Thor: The Dark World. It was fun, exciting and adventurous. Better yet, the previews, for once, didn’t give the whole movie away. The movie had an irreverent sense of humor, epic scope and felt almost more like space opera than a comic book movie. Which is good, because I’m awful sick of the ‘dark gritty’ feel I’ve gotten from some comic book movies of late (Batman and Superman, I’m looking at you).

I’ll do a quick rundown of things I liked first, and I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers. First off, the characters. We got to see a different side of Thor, Loki, and the ‘mere’ mortals who run around in their circles. We got to see Thor planning and thinking, rather than just smashing. We saw Loki and some of his other motivations… and just how twisted his brain can be. There was some character development for Jane Foster, we got to see the long term effects of Loki’s mind control of Doctor Selvig, and we even got to see the indomitable Odin affected by events.

As far as the plot, things worked along at a pretty reasonable pace. There were plot twists, and changes and all manner of transitions. Thankfully, the movie didn’t try to overwhelm. I would say the best plot twists are those used in marketing. The trailers often suggested certain things to happen, yet they didn’t happen quite the way you might expect. In fact, some of the trailers set up false expectations which I really enjoyed during the movie, because when I got to those points, I had context and I realized that I didn’t know what was going to happen from the trailers. In fact, I had to figure things out during the movie.

As far as the actual effects and visuals… I found it interesting. I would not watch it in 3D if I saw it again (which I might). The 3D graphics were sort of meh. The overal visual effects were pretty good, though I would say that they made some parts of Asgard less grand in scale and other parts much bigger. I thought the overall looks of the movie were very impressive, and I never felt like the plot or any particular scenes happened just to show of some new special effect.

As far as the emotional impact, this movie managed to generate excitement, happiness, laughter, sadness, and even a sense of wonder. That’s pretty good for a superhero movie. In fact, they managed a couple scenes that were both beautiful and sad, which I found impressive. I’ve heard some complaints about the humor being buffonery of certain characters, but I’d disagree. In the context of how they presented the characters, it was at least internally consistant. Besides, they managed to produce the humor without undercutting the principle characteristics of those characters. The humor, the irreverence, kept this movie from feeling pretentious, and showed the audience that it wasn’t afraid to laugh at itself a little.

I continue to be impressed by how Marvel has both handled the individual movies of their series and also how they have continued to build the franchise. They’ve planned how these movies connect and yet managed to make them stand effectively alone. They’re big, blockbuster movies, but they’re fun, and they go into all of them with goals and plans of what they want to attain. It’s a refreshing change for movies, rather than how most sequels are “quick, milk the franchise for all the money we can!”

Ender’s Game Review

endersgame-570x353

In keeping with the general theme of this blog as a SF/F platform, I’m going to strictly limit movie reviews and comments.  However, Ender’s Game being a major influence on me as a kid in me in book form, I think the movie deserves some attention as well.

First off, let me clear the air of the standard line: I am ignoring Orson Scott Card’s politics, religion, etc.  It has little bearing on the movie, less, especially, because of the ‘boycott’ which punished cast and crew of the movie for someone else’s politics.  OSC got his paycheck before the movie ever went live.  But I digress.

The movie, first off, was surprisingly good.  Why do I say surprisingly?  Well, I’ve a very low opinion of most movies based off of books I liked.  By and large, big movie magnates go for little more than name recognition and then morph the story into rather generic/homogeneous crap.  There are exceptions, and there have been a growing number in recent years.  However, by and large, I don’t approach a movie with much optimism about the book.

Ender’s Game, as movie, I found interesting, engaging, and they managed to include a great deal of the book without making the movie feel crowded.  The movie engaged the audience with some of the moral dilemmas from the book, but allowed them to enjoy the action sequences without guilt over the choices made by the characters.  The action sequences were energetic and the emotional turmoil was there in enough amounts to feel sympathy for the characters without forcing the audience to wallow in angst.

Were there things that they could have done better?  Absolutely, but you can say that about many movies.  I could argue that the mind game had only a few seconds of movie time but took up a much more significant part of the book.  Still, with those few seconds, they managed to establish Ender’s character and also to build the links to the end of the movie.   The side characters didn’t have much screen time, and there wasn’t much time spent building up Ender as a leader and strategist, we mostly hear about it from everyone else.  This worked, but it might have worked better as a montage or mileu.  Still, I think the characterization of Ender and the essential characters was established enough to form sympathetic bonds and to encourage the viewers to want to learn more (and hopefully go out and buy the books).

There were a few plot jumps and additions, and they glossed over the lack of FTL (besides communication), and outright changed it a little bit to make other things work.  Still, I think the changes were more from a technical standpoint of allowing for a more dramatic turn around and as a way to avoid the seventeen endings of the Return of the King movie (I loved them all, but it did get a little ridiculous, just saying).

As a book, Ender’s Game gave me a desire to serve and defend my nation, made me fall in love with space, and delivered to me the knowledge that empathy can be just as cruel a weapon as anything.  As a movie, I think Ender’s Game does a good job of capturing the imagination of the next generation and appealing to a wider audience, and maybe bringing some of them into reading science fiction.  Those are both important things, in my opinion.  We need people to look to the stars and wonder what lies out there.  After all, as Ender’s Game showed, other beings might be wondering the same thing.