Listen to Berserk-Norse Tale of Terrible Magic #Fantasy #podcast #listening #today #story #fun

Eirik joins a raiding party led by invincible Berserkers, terrorizing coastal villagers with sword and axe. What’s the secret to their strange magic?

Listen to Eirik’s story – episode now live.

Go to 600 Second Saga now!
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Then scroll through the archive. There are lots of science fiction and fantasy stories, each one perfect for a break during your day. You’re sure to find something you love.

You can read Eirik’s story in my latest collection, Jupiter Diving and Other Short Reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Enjoy short stories, flash fiction, and microfiction – a crew mining Jupiter’s atmosphere finds more than they expected, an angel has a photo-op on Mars, sea level rises for an island nation, excerpts from my On Mars series, and more. Take a break with one story or curl up in your favorite chair with the whole book.

Available on Amazon in ebook and paperback – read for free with Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon Prime’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Do you write stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy? 600 Second Saga is now accepting flash fiction! Check them out on iTunes. It’s a lot of fun to hear your story – it has been for me.

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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.

Like #Houdini, James Randi Entertains and Exposes Frauds #magic #skeptic

Randi is famous for debunking psychic frauds who bend flatware

Randi is famous for debunking psychic frauds who bend flatware

I love magic – real magic done by slight of hand and misdirection, not camera tricks. There have been several TV shows recently that revealed some of the tricks of the magic trade. Penn & Teller are well known for this, and for their dislike of bullshit.

Now there’s a documentary coming out about the Amazing (James) Randi, a venerable magician who, like the famous magician Houdini, has been debunking psychics and frauds for decades. There’s a challenge on his site randi.org offering a million dollars to anyone who can prove something paranormal. Randi’s team has evaluated claims of psychic powers, ESP, dowsing, magnetic humans, astrology, faith healing, and more. He says that scientists are ill-prepared to evaluate such claims – you need a magician to catch a magician; or a well-meaning person who has fooled themselves. As Richard Feynman said, “the first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” So far no one has claimed the prize, but it will truly be amazing if someone does – a breath-taking surprise to science. I’d love to see that, but sadly, so far, the paranormal is home to superstition.

RANDI

James Randi

It may be harmless entertainment to read your horoscope every day, but superstition can cause harm, can even kill. What intentional frauds do is immoral, sometimes illegal, so I applaud Randi. But I do disagree with him on one point. He says, people don’t really want to know how a magic trick is done, it bums them out. Not me – I am even more amazed when I see how I have been tricked (I’m always tricked – I can never figure out magic), and still enjoy seeing the trick again. I can love magic, science fiction, and fantasy, and yet live in the real world. Reality, after all, is pretty amazing. Besides, no matter how hard you believe, reality always wins.

I don’t see the release details yet, but watch for the documentary. StrictlyDocs.com

BTW – Penn and Teller have a new TV show on the SyFy channel: Wizard Wars which promises to take “viewers behind the scenes of magic by challenging a new team of magicians each week to create the most jaw-dropping illusions.” The episodes I’ve seen so far make me realize that magicians spend a lot of time perfecting their routines – and the show doesn’t allow them that time. But I’ll keep watching.

Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller