Absolutely Free Collection Short Science Fiction/ Fantasy limited time so this is your chance #shortstory #free #flashfiction #bookworm

jupiter-diving-web-ebook-24feb2017-267x400From a ship mining helium-3 in Jupiter’s atmosphere, Kelly launches a probe to search for life in the ocean of a Jovian moon. In the title story, Jupiter Diving, she finds more than she expected. If you missed out on ebook week earlier in the month, here’s another chance. I’m about to offer Jupiter Diving and other Short Reads on Amazon but you can download an advance copy for free.

Visit colorful and dangerous worlds in short stories and flash fiction. From an angel’s photo op on Mars, to the agony of a berserker warrior, a tiny craft’s interstellar mission, and an astronaut’s cries for help, you’ll find many new tales plus opening chapters and vignettes from my On Mars series, the multi-generational story of the first colony on Mars. Plus a few pieces of microfiction too 🙂

Perfect to fill a break in your day or an afternoon curled up in your favorite chair.

I’m going to offer the ebook on Kindle Select (I never used that outlet before but it’s supposed to be a good idea) but you can grab your free copy now. Sign up before March 31st to receive your book in April, before I let Amazon get its hands on it. Hurry – limited time offer.

You’ll receive a coupon code to download the book in your choice of formats, and to receive an occasional email from me with offers, a piece of flash fiction, and news about my writing projects. No spam and you can unsubscribe any time.

The code goes out April 1st (no fooling) so sign up before you forget and download your free book of short reads. I hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

Last Day of Ebook Week – Awesome Discounts and Free Books #free #bookday #ebook #giveaway

jupiter-diving-web-ebook-24feb2017-267x400Don’t let time zone comfusion defeat you. Get your discounted and free ebooks on Smashwords now, before ebook week ends. Start with my collection of short scifi and fantasy reads at https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1213/newest/1/promo_SFREE/any/

Prefer novels or poetry? Got you covered! Go to Glory on Mars or Rhyme and Reason Three and use coupon code SFREE to get a free download through March 11. All major digital formats available!

Thanks to the dozens of you who have already downloaded these ebooks 🙂

 

Emma wants to explore Mars in her robotic walkabout suit, but something’s terribly wrong at this near-future Mars colony.

Poetry inspired by science – astronomy, biology, humanity, environment, and more.

 

 

 

Don’t Miss Out on Ebook Week – Awesome Discounts and Free Books #free #bookday #ebook #giveaway

jupiter-diving-web-ebook-24feb2017-267x400It’s ebook week and you’ll find loads of discounts and promotions all week on Smashwords – look for some of mine, too. Start here https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1213/newest/1/promo_SFREE/any/

Prefer novels or poetry? You’re not left out! Go to Glory on Mars or Rhyme and Reason Three and use coupon code SFREE to get a free download through March 11. All major digital formats available!

 

Emma wants to explore Mars in her robotic walkabout suit, but something’s terribly wrong at this near-future Mars colony.

Poetry inspired by science – astronomy, biology, humanity, environment, and more.

 

 

 

Daring Do in a Fantasy Sky from Jim Butcher #amreading #fantasy #review #books #bookreview

aeronauts-windlassWell known for his Dresden Files series about a Chicago wizard in increasingly convoluted conflict with various vampires, fairies, and other supernatural beings, I’ve read that Jim Butcher really saw himself as a swords and warhorses sort of fantasy writer before Harry Dresden took off.

The Cinder Spires, first in the Aeronaut’s Windlass series, came out in 2015 and Butcher fans snapped it up. It’s categorized on Amazon as Steampunk, though that seems like a stretch to me. In Butcher’s world, everyone lives in spires and airships far above “the deadly green hell covering the surface of the world.” The world’s power sources are magical crystals and “etheric” forces people access with webs and fabrics made from silk spun by incredibly deadly and horrible surface creatures. While a cool concept, it doesn’t seem to fit the Victorian, steam-powered, mechanical fantasies I associate with Steampunk. Obviously I’m quibbling because most fans don’t care.

This is a long book – 522 pages in my epub version. I checked it out from my public library and was only half done when the book expired. So I checked it out again. By that point I was ready to skim forward quickly to see what happens to my favorite characters.

The book is chock-a-block with Butcher’s trademark battle scenes – the characters get ambushed a lot and the battles are long and detailed. Even in the Dresden series I skim thorough the battles – they simply go on too long for me.

Most of the characters fit easily into a swords and magic fantasy – brave, noble, and attractive, born in Noble Houses (are there no democracies in fantasy worlds?)

I found the less expected characters were my favorites. There are tribes of talking cats and one in particular, the warrior tom Rowl, protects “his” human – who is the least typical of the Noble House characters. Rowl offers refreshing and often funny critiques of the brave/noble/attractive characters and human actions in general.

There are also wizards who feel and control the ethereal forces – forces that drive them mad in various ways. One wizard can blast his opponents to pulp but can’t figure out how to make a doorknob work. An apprentice, Folly, was fun to watch as she comes into her powers and the others learn to accept her odd ways.

Bottom line, if you love fantasy battles with magically-powered humans and monsters, this book is for you – there’s one battle after another. If you prefer stories about more unusual characters, you’ll find them too, and can skim through the battles.

What others are saying.
Only a few percent of readers leave reviews, so with over 1,400 reviews on Amazon Butcher’s book is wildly successful. Eighty-eight percent give four or five star reviews – “rousing and action filled.” Even some of the three star reviewers say they’ll read the next book in the series. Others found the characters too predictable or the story line disjointed. Proof, I guess, that no book pleases everyone.

4-books-on-mars-white-backgroundMy stories stay on the science-y side of science fiction. Join the first Mars colony in our near future. This is a colony where you might live one day. Start with Glory on Mars and join Emma – a setler with second thoughts who wants to explore in her robotic walkabout suit – but  the hostile planet and troubles from Earth endanger survival. Read all four across the colony’s generations.

Mysterious Ways – flash fiction #scifi #fantasy #podcast goes live on Friday Sept 2nd

Strange women walking on mars

From NASA’a Curiosity – but is it just a rock? a digital artifact?

Listen to Mysterious Ways on the Sept 2nd podcast of 600 Second Saga starting at 6pm CST.

I’m happy to say my short short-story about an angel visiting Mars will be podcast next week. It’s exciting for me to hear one of my stories read aloud, and it’s perfect for your trip to work or a break during the day. Listen in and try some of the other stories, too.

Thanks to Mariah Avix at 600 Second Saga: Tales of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Choose your favorite way to listen:

New to 600 Second Saga? How to listen to podcasts

The 600 Second Saga team appreciates sharing, reviewing, and rating the podcast – this helps to reach more people. Please consider giving us a rating in iTunes.

Mariah is now accepting flash fiction submissions for future podcasts – let your favorite author know or (authors!) submit one of your own pieces.

4 Books on Mars white background (500x500)Read one of my books today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major on-line retailers. Books 1 and 2 of the On Mars series are available with books 3 and 4 coming in fall 2016. Catch up now.

Receive any of my books free – click here to find out how.

Does Reality Matter? #reality #science #politics #dnc #rnc #reason

Hartwig HKD

Hartwig HKD

I usually stay away from politics on this blog, but America’s two major political parties have their conventions in July so it’s hard to resist. The Republicans are done and the Democrats are about to begin. Conventions are an opportunity to revel in the echo chamber, to be surrounded by those who agree with you.

And to ignore facts in favor of politics.

I was reminded of that by a piece in Live Science. This article fact-checks truthiness in the Republican platform but I don’t doubt you’ll find similar fabrications when the Democrats issue their platform. It seems that anyone zealously bound to a position is immune to information. Each extreme dismisses different facts, but they both do it.

Even a depressing reality is better than a fantasy however pleasant, because reality wins in the end. I try to read multiple opinions and fact-checks, and to be ready to change my mind. It takes conscious effort.

Once a human being embraces a position, proofs and facts are abandoned, and showing a person contradictory facts just makes them more angry and more determined to dig in deeper.

That’s because we are each grounded in moral foundations deeply important to our vision of who we are – more important than any fact.

Friendly relations, commonality, and trust make it easier for people to listen to each other. More important than presenting facts is establishing bonds with people before you try to convince them. Try it. You might both see the issue in a new light.

I read a book with insight to this aspect of human behavior and reviewed it here for a friend’s blog. I also posted a piece on how to talk with people who disagree with you: Don’t be a jerk.

Keep in mind what Carl Sagan said:

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

This is why science inspires me and also why I’m optimistic about the future. Let your open heart lead to an open mind and we can build a better world.

Earth Can’t Hide Alien Boy Forever #fantasy #book #newadult #scifi

I Am Number FourI Am Number Four was written for teenage boys. Five years after publication, it still scores in the top couple percent of its Amazon sales categories. I like a lot of Young Adult books, so I had high expectations.

You may recall the book was made into a movie in 2011. From comments I read, the movie was forgettable. But that’s not unusual for a movie adaptation, so I don’t hold it against the book.

I guess I’m just too-much-not a teenage boy. My reaction is a more modest “meh.”

Swords mean fantasy
Despite being tagged as science fiction, this is a fantasy story – not that there’s anything wrong with that. It may have aliens but – come on – it opens with swords. Magical swords.

The fifteen year old hero comes from a world where some kids – called Garde – are super-strong and super-fast. But that’s just the beginning. They develop specific superpowers in their teens, like becoming invisible or fire-proof. An alien race of monstrous beings has slaughtered the inhabitants of their home world. (Because the monsters destroyed the environment on their home planet – a little message there.)

Despite having killed a whole planet’s population of super-powered people, the monsters feel threatened by nine Garde who escaped to Earth as young kids. The monsters are therefore hunting them and their adult companions – each kid has one Cepan, or guardian. The Garde/Cepan pairs scatter and hide. Fortunately, they look exactly like humans and fit in perfectly. Of course, they don’t reveal their alien nature to anyone on Earth or ask for help.

There’s more magic
Because of a “charm” the monsters can only kill the kids in a certain sequence and if they kill one, a scar magically appears on the ankles of the others. Three scars have appeared on Number Four, so he knows he’s next. He and his Cepan move and assume new identities twice a year anyway, so when that third scar appears, they run – to a tiny rural town with a surprisingly well equipped high school – the home ec lab has ten kitchens and there’s a class in astronomy.

None of that is a spoiler because it’s all explained in the first few pages. Then the story can begin.

As the August 2010 “Amazon Best Books” review says
I Am Number Four is a breathless page-turner of a sci-fi novel that will have readers rooting for the teen alien who must unleash his fire power to save himself, his human friends, and the planet.”

At fifteen, Number Four, going by the name John Smith, is due to develop his superpowers any day now. But his first concern is with the stereotypes at his new school – a pretty girl who makes him nervous when she’s nice to him (which leads to a lot of kissing), a bully jock, and a geek in a NASA tee-shirt. At least John gets to adopt a strange stray dog.

I was indeed turning pages quickly, scanning rather than reading every word after John’s first couple days in his new school. Some of the story I expected but there was also a quirky twist I liked. I don’t think it will be much of a spoiler to say there’s a climatic battle.

BTW – the author is shown as Pitticus Lore – a name from the Garde’s world. Cute.

Tremendously popular
With over 1,000 Amazon reviews averaging four stars, and still ranked number three in its kindle Best Sellers category of sci-fi aliens, you don’t need me to tell you this book is hugely popular. The follow-on books in the series are, if anything, more highly rated and close behind I Am Number Four in sales ranking. I’ll just add this book is most likely to appeal to tween and teen readers.