Revenger is one of my few reading picks so far this year. I particularly liked the worldbuilding. Alastair Reynolds has created an interesting world that is Victorianesque. Some may want to put it into the Steampunk category, but it doesn’t really fit as it’s filled with a mixture of far-future and not-so-far-future tech and really only has the social trappings of the 19th century. The plot also has a 19th century feel drawn mostly from (solar) sailing and a few pirates. It might also be described as YA, but this derives mostly from the age of the protagonist and a first person narration, but that shouldn’t be held against it.
A superb science fiction adventure set in the rubble of a ruined universe, this is a deep space heist story of kidnap, betrayal, alien artifacts and revenge.
The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilizations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.
And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them.
Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It's their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded by layers of protection--and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.
Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore's crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.
Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future--a tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism and of vengeance...
Revenger (2016) by Alastair Reynolds is one of my few reading picks so far this year. I particularly liked the worldbuilding. Alastair Reynolds has created an interesting world that is Victorianesque. Some may want to put it into the Steampunk category, but it doesn't really fit as it's filled with a mixture of far-future and not-so-far-future tech and really only has the social trappings of the 19th century. The plot also has a 19th century feel drawn mostly from (solar) sailing and a few pirates. It might also be described as YA, but this derives mostly from the age of the protagonist and a first person narration, but that shouldn't be held against it.
Where a sufficiently advanced entertainment system is indistinguishable from magic.
Vance Coreman wakes in a bathtub full of ice water fully dressed, with no memory of how he got there or even who he is. He finds a scarlet-skinned and devil-horned woman in neat business attire standing over him telling him he has an appointment with a potential client and to stop lazing around. Miss Doolittle, his secretary, tells him that, yes she is a demon and that his name is Vance Coreman and that he’s here to undertake investigations. The client turns out to be a beautiful angel fearful of her sorcerer husband and wanting to recover an artifact before her husband discover that she has stolen it. As Coreman tracks down the brazier he must also find out who he is and why someone trying to kill him.
I really wanted to like Ancillary Justice (2013) (Kindle, Paperback, Audio) by Ann Leckie, but, alas, it was not to be. Let me rewind. I picked up the audio version of Ancillary Justice in early September of 2014. I had heard that it had won a Hugo, Nebula, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award and was curious about a novel that had won all three awards previously noted in one year by a debut author. Very impressive indeed. I was also intrigued by the idea of an AI main character that was a fragment of its original self. I started listening. And listening. I wondered what all the fuss was about. Honestly, if Ancillary Justice hadn't won the awards it did and I hadn't been listening to an audiobook, I wouldn't have made it past the first few chapters. Why had this book won so many awards? I was bored, but I persevered, hoping that I would stumble across a plot or find some reason to care about the main character. Or any character, frankly. The writing was good, at least at a sentence and paragraph level, but it lacked the ability to engage me. I should note that I enjoyed the challenge of the non-gender pronouns. Ann Leckie handled the challenging issue of translating a non-gendered language into the gender-encumbered English form. The most interesting part of Ancillary Justice was the worldbuilding, and that was tepid at best. I reluctantly laid it aside and pursued other reading material.
15 books (one of which was a real door-stopper), 3 months, and several more attempts to finish Ancillary Justice later I forced myself to the end. The plot had wandered in at about the half-way point, and it was okay, becoming more intriguing as the glacial pace of worldbuilding caught up. Also, by the end, I was finally beginning to like the main character. Unfortunately, the climax wasn't much of a climax. It would have worked somewhere way back in the story, but it left me bereft of any sort of payoff for the 14 hours I had spent reading.
I spent some time thinking about what didn't work for me in Ancillary Justice. It was obvious that the lack of plot was off-putting (but not definitive, as I loved Among Others, which has less plot than Ancillary Justice). Certainly that lack of engagement with the characters was noteworthy (but I actively disliked the characters in Bitter Seeds and finished it despite that). No, in the end, it was because, dare I say it, there was a complete lack of sense of wonder to be had in the entire book. The worldbuilding, while well crafted, was ultimately a serious meh for me. The technology was SFnal but lacked depth (deliberately, I suspect) giving me the feeling that references to space-travel, FTL, AI's, augmentation, etc. were just there as hooks to hang things on. In a way, the story could have been told in a fantasy setting equally well. I'm not trying to trash fantasy for lack of technological depth, I have no problem with this, and am a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy despite Tolkien's predilection to use magic as an arbitrary plot device.
It's unlikely that I will read another book by Ann Leckie.
My current WIP is from Parallel Visions: City of Angels, City of Demons (apparently a detective noir urban fantasy), the first in the Parallel Visions series chronicling the amnesiac Vance Coreman’s efforts to escape assassins in his quest to uncover his past by backtracking along his own path from realm to realm before he lost his memory.
7 lines from page 7
I tried to grasp her proffered hand, but my palm passed through hers as if it was air. “Well that would explain why you couldn’t help me out of the tub.”
Chapter 3 — Did You See That?
“Would you mind pivoting around?” I said.
“Yes, I have a tail,” Miss Doolittle said. “That is what you wanted to confirm, isn’t it? Or did you want to ogle my behind?”
“I’m too tired to ogle anyone’s behind,” I said. “But, yes, I wanted to confirm that you have a tail.”
Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.
If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss.
Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.
Verdict: Thumbs up. Much like the first book, there are a lot of excellently drawn characters and dialogue, and a wonderful plot. Penny is an excellent protagonist — probably a better one than Michael was in the first book, ’cause Penny has a lot more common sense and charisma than Michael did.
You don’t get to choose what piece you are, only how you play the game…
You’d think that being stronger and tougher than everyone else at Centurion High would go down in the plus column. And it had, as far as the athletic crowd was concerned. Enough that the jocks forgave Penny for her preference to hang out with a small clique notorious for being hardcore board-gamers and role-playing eggheads. But it seemed like a small consolation.
Maybe it’s because Penny just wants to be appreciated for her brains rather than her brawn. Or maybe she hangs out with the nerds because of Michael. Michael—her childhood best friend and the boy-next-door—certainly appreciates Penny for her smarts—and maybe, sometimes, she wants him to appreciate her for more than that. Penny’s been spending a lot of time with Michael recently, helping him to take up his dead father’s superhero identity. Besides, despite Michael being a straight up genius, he’s “common sense” challenged.
If that wasn’t enough, Penny’s superhero mother has ramped up her passive-aggressive campaign to convince Penny to take up the mask and start crime fighting; her two younger sibs—almost as strong and tough as Penny—are superhero crazy; a series of mysterious attacks seems to be targeting Penny directly; and her other best friend is dating Michael.
More updates to The Red Rook and Dispensing Justice book covers. The design continues to evolve. In addition to the silhouette’s with glowing “chest icons“, I’ve added a back cover theme based on each prior book in the series. Check them out at:
Today marks the official kick-off of the “barf phase” (i.e. the writing of the first draft) of my fourth novel, The Neopolymath. I’m hoping to churn this one out in three months, setting myself a goal of writing 1000 words per day. I was successful in doing this for my previous novel, The Red Rook, so I think this is achievable. Unlike The Red Rook, The Neopolymath is the first book in a new series (which I am calling Doc Morrow World), which necessarily means more world building. Additionally, I will be promoting Dispensing Justice and getting ready to publish The Red Rook, so busy times are ahead.
I’m going to try something different with The Neopolymath. This time around, I’m going to build a chunk of it online. How much of the actual text will depend on the response from my readers, but a lot of the world building, character development, and plot will be blogged and wikified.
So, what is The Neopolymath? You shouldn’t be surprised to find out that it is an action-adventure, science fiction novel. Nor will you be surprised, if you’re already familiar with my biases, to find out that it is set in an alternate version of the 20th Century. In Doc Morrow’s world, rather than two world wars, there have been three, and thus, an accelerated rate of technological and scientific growth. Doc Morrow lives in a world where space has been colonized and the solar system is being explored. A world with an enthusiasm for atomic energy, broadcast power, and shiny spaceships. The world of tomorrow as envisioned by science fiction writers from the fifties and sixties. At least to a point. I’ll be putting my own twist on it. So check back soon. I’ll be posting more visions of Doc Morrow World.
Today, after declaring an end to the Barf Phase yesterday evening, The Red Rook moved into it’s second primary production stage, which I dub the Polish Phase. RR currently stands at a little over 78,500 words, which is reasonably close to my target of 80K words for the rough draft. Amazingly, I managed to maintain a 1K+ words per day all the up to the day before the final day (yesterday was I only managed to eke out 900 words or so), and all with only a moderate amount of pushing myself. If prior experience holds, I should be able to get a polished draft to my beta readers in about thirty days.
Yesterday marked another 20,000 words since the Red Rookprogress report #2, and a mere 20,000 left to go for my targeted fist draft length of 80K. I continue to roll out 1K+ words a day, and I keep wondering when I’m going to hit the wall. But I’m pretty determined to do 80K in 80 days (or A Novel in Around 80 Days, but that’s a post for another day). At this point I’m reasonably certain I can get the beta draft of the Red Rook done by the end of September, and the ‘final’ version done by the end of November.
Just passed over the half-way point of 40,000 words on the Red Rook rough draft yesterday. I’ve managed to maintain a rate of over 1K words per day, which has been a pleasant surprise for me. If yo had asked me that I would could have turned out 1,000 plus words a day for 38 days straight, I would have said ‘No way!’. Hope to make it at least to the end of July at this rate.
This month was a good month. I’ve made good progress on the Red Rook, (sequel to Dispensing Justice, the first in my Nova Genesis superhero SF series) (and it’s from Penny’s viewpoint, rather than Michael’s) and it now stands at a bit over 21,000 words, which is a little over a quarter of the way to my 80,000 word goal for my first polish draft. What has been a little surprising is that I’ve been averaging slightly more than a thousand words a day. I think it’s because I’ve been bouncing around a lot, writing scenes and partial scenes as they come to me. Not sure how long that will last, but I’m hoping to keep the pace up at least through half-way. Of course, at some point I’m going to have slow down and fill in the gaps.
For those of you who are in the query process or are thinking about getting into the query process, you may find this quite useful. J.M. Tohline consolidates the answers from agents to the question “What is the
single biggest mistake writers make when querying you?”
A quick announcement that the first draft, or as I refer to it, the barf draft, of my superhero science fiction YA novel Dispensing Justice is complete at 68,300 words. Now on to the polish phase. Oh, and stay tuned. It won’t be that long before it goes beta.