Election Day in USA but Festival of Lights May Be More Fun – jubilant Hindu holiday looks like a fun time #holiday #season #amreading

Fireworks over a lake in IndiaHere in America it’s election day and most of us want to curl into a ball (after we vote of course), barely able to peek out at the TV to see how it’s going. Much better to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light.

Candles, sparklers, and all sorts of lights glow to celebrate Rama’s victory over evil demons.

Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

There couldn’t be a better message. Clean and renovate your home and office for the five day celebration, don your finest clothes, prepare fireworks and feasts, and reach out to everyone you know from the Hindu and Jain diaspora.

Naturally, I think every celebration should include books 😉 There’s always time for a short story. Check out my short reads on Amazon – on Kindle Unlimited and KOLL too.

Three Fantastic Tales book cover science fiction fantasyThree Fantastic Tales 5 stars

  • Burritos and his daughter’s birthday party keep a computer developer from his artificial intelligence project, but he’ll never succeed without them.
  • A painter ensnared in his master’s Renaissance studio discovers a deadly escape.
  • For this micro spaceship, one of hundreds crossing interstellar space to search for life, sacrifice is part of the mission.

Dragon Bones a Fantastic Tale book coverDragon Bones, a Fantastic Tale 5 stars

  • Two desperate brothers find misery in California’s Gold Rush until a Chinese doctor promises them riches. They should have asked, at what price?

Two Fantastic Tales book coverTwo Fantastic Tale 4 stars

  • A trio of physics students find that theory is safer than practice.
  • A lonely woman on a deadly mission receives a second chance, if she can seize it before it’s too late.
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Here’s Spooking at You – Mexico’s delightful family holiday spreads north – it looks like fun for everyone #DayoftheDead #Halloween #festival #amreading

Day of the Dead Catrina

My own Catrina

Happy Halloween, and on November 1st, Dia de los Muertos. Here in southwest New Mexico, shrines for the Day of the Dead have been popping up all over. This Mexican holiday appeals to everyone.

The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to remember those who have died and help support their spiritual journey…

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years.

It’s time for street fairs, arts and crafts booths, parades, and family gatherings that promise to include the spirits of your ancestors.

Visit Silver City’s – my town’s – celebration. There’s even a Facebook page.

Three Fantastic Tales book cover science fiction fantasyI know you’ll be busy, but there’s always time for a short story. Check out my short reads on Amazon – on Kindle Unlimited and KOLL too.

Three Fantastic Tales

  • Burritos and his daughter’s birthday party keep a computer developer from his artificial intelligence project, but he’ll never succeed without them.
  • A painter ensnared in his master’s Renaissance studio discovers a deadly escape.
  • For this micro spaceship, one of hundreds crossing interstellar space to search for life, sacrifice is part of the mission.

Dragon Bones a Fantastic Tale book coverDragon Bones, a Fantastic Tale

  • Two desperate brothers find misery in California’s Gold Rush until a Chinese doctor promises them riches. They should have asked, at what price?

Two Fantastic Tales book coverTwo Fantastic Tales

  • A trio of physics students find that theory is safer than practice.
  • A lonely woman on a deadly mission receives a second chance, if she can seize it before it’s too late.

Artificial Intelligence, Renaissance Italy, and Interstellar Spacecraft – fantastic short reads #amreading #shortstory #scifi #fantasy

Everything happens at once! I’m getting ready for a big inspection at my volunteer fire department, crashing on the final edits for my new book about a cult colonizing Saturn’s moon Titan (pre-order here! or read the first chapter now!), so writing poems and posts has dropped on my to-do list.

Three Fantastic Tales book cover science fiction fantasyBut never fear, there’s something new from me. Check out three short reads in science ficiton and fantasy, each a thousand words or less.

Burritos and his daughter’s birthday party keep a computer developer from his Artifical Intelligence project, but he’ll never succeed without them.

A painter ensnared in his master’s Renaissance studio discovers a deadly escape.

For this micro spaceship, one of hundreds crossing interstellar space in search of life, sacrifice is part of the mission.

Stories to fit perfectly in your busy day. On Amazon, and included on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Don’t miss my new book about a cult colonizing Saturn’s moon Titan, coming December 13, 2018. Pre-order here! or read the first chapter now!

Shabby Martian Colony Suddenly in Struggle to Survive – Meet the Author #scifi #sciencefiction #Mars #author #read

Author Cheryl Lawson with her book We Are MarsToday I welcome a fellow Martian – well, another author of scifi on Mars – Cheryl Lawson. Cheryl grew up in South Africa and lives in Canada. She’s an artist and photographer too, but today I want her to talk about Mars.

So Cheryl, tell us a bit about your book We Are Mars – What’s the main premise of the book and who are the stand-out characters?

We Are Mars starts out as a story about a Mars settlement, Rubicon, that is getting a little old, shabby and down on its luck due to the repeated funding cuts of the mission from Earth that runs it. Things get a lot more difficult and dangerous when a virus breaks out in the confines of the colony. A group of characters from conflicting backgrounds suddenly find themselves in a life-or-death situation and need to work together to overcome some threatening challenges or die trying.

There are no particular standout characters as I focus on a core group of characters that each feature in individual vignettes, moving the story forward from their own points of view.

Why would fans of Mars science fiction like We Are Mars? What can they look forward to?

Planet Mars white backgroundIf you like science fiction based on Mars, you’ll love We Are Mars. It has all the elements of a sci-fi story on Mars – cool science, a grungy and dilapidated habitat, danger, adventure, romance and suspense. There are subplots that bring in a little spiciness in the form of political intrigue as well as spy drama. The characters are an awesome ensemble of very human people just trying to survive. There’s nothing over-the-top unbelievable and it makes for an absorbing read.

Are you currently working on a writing project? If so, when can we expect it to launch?

I’m working on the follow-up to We Are Mars, book two of the Rubicon Saga. It is entitled Storm at Dawn. I expect to be able to release it next year, but I can’t offer more than that as it’s very much going to depend on how well the story continues to come together and how much editing is involved. Stay tuned!

Tell us a bit about yourself: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What prompted your change in career? Where do you get your inspiration to write?

Creative Manifesto book coverI knew I wanted to be a writer when I got the idea to create a manifesto for myself that laid out my creative thoughts and process. I spent months articulating the ideas before I finally wrote them down. When I’d finished writing I knew I had a book, not just some notes. I took another swing at it and formalized the entire thing into a useful work that explained much of my process and thinking in a way that other people could understand it and benefit from reading it. After that, the ideas for creative writing came easily and I, basically, followed the same process and landed up with the bones of We Are Mars.

It was only after that that I recognized the part of me that had always been writing – the student writer for school magazines, the letter writer, the magazine writer submitting articles, the volunteer editor… It was all there, and I hadn’t even realized until We Are Mars was in front of me.

I am inspired by good stories, interesting people and the desire to tell a compelling story. My writing influences vary from Stieg Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) to Michael Chriton (Prey, Jurassic Park). I enjoy rich settings, complex characters and solid endings. My love of science fiction and space helped me choose the genre as I feel it is comfortable and familiar.

What’s your current favorite reading material?

I have lots of favorites – I like articles, comic books, novels, poetry, short stories, flash fiction and even people’s twitter posts for various daily writing challenges. I read a lot and always have a stack of books I’m moving out of the way!

Thanks to Cheryl and to our readers. You’ll find Cheryl on several places on the internet:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreMarsBook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rubiconsaga/

Facebook for Authentic Creativity: https://www.facebook.com/Authentic-Creativity-Cheryl-Bezuidenhout-269113643440259/?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9878097.Cheryl_Lawson

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cheryl_lawson_author/

PW Booklife: https://booklife.com/profile/cheryl-lawson-28178

Websites: We Are Mars: http://wearemars.com/

And look for her Authentic Creativity (creative manifesto): http://authenticcreativitybook.com/

Science Fiction Story with Real Science and Wonderful Young Woman Hero #scifi #sciencefiction #physics #reading

Two races of humans, several alien species, multiple starships and planets – this story ranges across a galaxy in Marcha Fox’s Beyond Hidden Skies.

The Brightstar family is moving from a safe but restrictive planet to a dangerous outpost world. Creena is a young teenager, a hybrid of the two human races, angry at her brother, in constant trouble for breaking rules, and also my favorite character.

As her family travels via starship to their new world, she seems to be accidentally trapped in an escape pod that launches to the wrong planet. But it may not have been an accident – a powerful man is trying to manipulate her father.

Creena’s reactions are realistic without being annoying (well, only appropriately annoying for a young teen) and her problem-solving feels plausible. Her longing to be back with her family is something I can relate to.

Fox infuses her story with the physics of space-time. The ships are traveling near the speed of light, using Time Dilation Modules. Three main subplots spin out in the book, involving Creena and various members of her family and some interesting comrades they find along the way.

As the characters navigate relations with alien species and space-time, they ponder the role of logic versus feelings, and debate taking action themselves versus trusting the Universeto provide. Growing up for Creena and her brothers requires confronting and overcoming “a serious challenge, [to] learn the meaning of courage.”

This is the first volume in a series, so all those ships, worlds, and species continue over the course of three more books, all available now. Cool.

What others are saying
“I really got involved in the story. I found it quite imaginative and entertaining. I felt that the author did a wonderful job of portraying a young teenage girl, full of fire and yet torn in so many directions.” Jay B. Cutts

I’m a sci-fi space fan and this story ticked all my boxes.” Wendy Scott

“The authors background with NASA plays a big role in the development of these books. I read the entire series.” Dawn Ireland

Personally, I like real science in my science fiction, but one reviewer said “too much techno-babble.” sterling r walker

Peace Force, a Harriet Walsh novel #scifi #sciencefiction #ebook #amazon #giveaway #read #review #bookreview

Peace Force book coverScience fiction with humor, that’s Peace Force. On a planet colonized long ago by humans, Harriet is unemployed and newly homeless. She’s recruited by a crazy robot (funniest robot since Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Marvin) to become the sole member of the police force on a planet that’s so peaceful, it doesn’t need a police force.

Or so it seems.

As new-hire training turns real, Harriet picks up an orphan pickpocket partner, an artificial intelligence car that can’t wait to get out of the garage, and a retired police officer who isn’t ready to leave it all behind.

The story is good entertainment and there are two more books in the series. Comments on Amazon call it a fun romp. Though there is a darker twist at the end I wasn’t expecting, I think the description is spot-on: “It’s good clean fun, written with wry humor.” And the day I’m posting this, it’s free on Amazon.

Blogging note: this is new. When I pasted my post into WordPress, it grabbed the Amazon link and inserted a really-big picture of the book cover with a “buy it now” and “free preview” button. Hmm. Is this convenient or annoying? I wonder who’s paying whom for the link? I took the big buttoned image out this time… but it is slick. Do you like slick?

Who-Dun-It Meets the Laws of Robotics #scifi #asimov #sciencefiction #robot #robotics #review #bookreview

Robots of Dawn book coverI read Robots of Dawn to discover how Asimov tackled sex – repressed and free-love versions. The book was important to at least one teen struggling with sexual identity.

Sex is mostly discussed rather than experienced in the story, but there is one sexual encounter – gently done. Asimov published the book in 1983, so I guess he was rather late to the topic as compared to other Giants of Science Fiction.

The story is a who-dun-it puzzle based on Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics. He wrote several stories where a robot is trapped in some bizarre behavior when the laws conflict. Here, a robot’s positronic mind has been destroyed, which leads to a political crisis between two roboticists on the planet Aurora, which further leads to detective Baley being called to solve the case.

Asimov tries to lift the story from merely a puzzle to something important to humanity by saying Aurora-humans must have humanoid robots to colonize new worlds before occupying them. And that Aurorans can somehow forbid Earth-humans from exploring new worlds. This isn’t convincing to me, but doesn’t really matter to the story.

The book is pure Asimov. While events do occur, the story is told in lengthy conversations among the characters. I read the book in many short sittings, but read every word and got through without trouble. I call the style Socratic. Characters question each other back and forth in static encounters. This can drag, and one character even complains to Baley, “I know you must have everything repeated and repeated.”

The robots are barely described. Asimov sometimes goes into great detail on settings, even basic settings like a dining room, so this seems odd. Maybe it’s because Robots of Dawn is the third book in the series and he thinks I already know.

All robots seem to be humanoid, and two are called humaniform. (Here’s a detail: a male-shaped humaniform robot is fully functional. As Star Trek’s Mr Data is fully functional. I told you this story involves sex. And in case you think Asimov’s story is fantasy, think again – sexbot-induced social change is on the horizon.) Asimov’s character also spends a lot of time in bathrooms and thinking about bathroom behavior. Aurorans have holographically enhanced bathrooms. Nothing gross, though.

I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say
Baley uncovers enough to settle the political issues, and he solves the robotics puzzle too in a neat twist that turns the book into a prequel to his famous Foundation series from the 1940s.

I read an old paperback edition from my town’s public library. The introduction promised that not a single word had been omitted from the original 1983 hardcover book.

I’ve included links to an ebook edition in this post. In reviews on some of Asimov’s other works that were transmogrified into ebooks, I’ve seen comments warning they’d been badly edited. I can’t say if this book was re-edited, but reader beware. Maybe you can find an old paper edition.

What others are saying on Amazon
“By the time this third installment was written, some of the tech was already looking and feeling a little obsolete–but Asimov is regarded as a master for good reason.”

“The book kept me guessing about the solution to the mystery. The only problem I had is that the book felt a tad contrived with the social situation.”

“This book has very little action. Almost every little detail is intellectualize then analyzed to the nth degree . It makes reading rather sluggish.”

I agree with these comments from Amazon readers, but I also found it easy to finish as laong as I took my time. Robots of Dawn was easier to read than Asimov’s earlier Foundation, and most readers enjoyed Robots and the entire robot series.