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 šŸ˜‰ 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 TalesĀ 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 TaleĀ 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 TaleĀ 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.

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

Iā€™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

Time Travel Without Wormholes, Historical Fiction from Science Fiction’s Golden Age #review #bookreview #history #fantasy #historicalfiction

Kindle cover, which is WRONG. My paperback has the 1882 picture in tinted color with black & white around it, the way the hero sees New York

Jack Finney wrote some classic science fiction. I’m most familiar with his book The Body Snatchers from 1950, a Golden Age story. But I recently found one of his later paperbacks in a used book store. It’s from 1970 but now on Amazon, Time and Again.

This is a time travel story, but there are no wormholes or flux capacitors. I’ll let you discover the method on your own. It may disappoint hard science fiction fans, but the detail put into the experiment is engaging.

The real point of this story is to contrast New York City today (remember, published in 1970) with New York in 1882. There are loads of real pictures from the era, though not all exactly from 1882. An apartment building is a key part of the story, and Finney admits in his author’s note that it wasn’t completed until three years after his story. Why didn’t he simply move his story a few years? There’s another building that figures in the story’s climax, where Finney uses a real event that was more important than the date the Dakota was completed. But the Dakota is such a magnificent structure I’ll forgive the little fudge.

The Dakota apartment building

I’ve got to show you the Dakota

The Dakota may sound familiar to you. It’s been a fancy abode for the rich and famous from its opening to today. Yoko Ono lives there now and John Lennon was murdered outside the building in 1980. So it’s infamous as well as famous.

If it seems odd to talk so much about buildings instead of the story, I think Finney would approve. Any lover of New York or the late 1800s will adore the detailed descriptions of places, people, and the way of life. Finney and his hero Si Morely love New York in 1882. The point of the book is to contrast the two times, and there are more period-correct illustrations than I bothered to count.

Si Morely is impressed at how he experiences 1882. He goes on about it quite a bit, and during his returns to today everyone wants to know how it feels. Si can’t truly put the feeling into words, but Finney tries. He’s impressed throughout the book and I thought he would have gotten a bit more used to the feel over time.

Okay, the story: Si is recruited for a secret time travel experiment, and at first his only goal is to successfully arrive in New York’s 1882. But an odd personal motive arises – a mystery. Half way through the book, it seems that his mystery is solved. He even says, my mission is over and I wish that it weren’t. At least in part, that’s because he’s falling in love with a woman as well as with 1882.

When he returns to today, a second mission arises and Si makes a decision that promises to cause trouble. It does. Towards the end, the placid tale picks up some real action. Lives are in danger and lives are lost. The original mystery turns out to have a second mystery inside, in a neat twist. Finally Si tackles the core paradox of time travel, how the past effects the present.

So if you read for action, be patient and you’ll get there. But this book is really for lovers of cities a hundred and thirty years ago. Especially New York.

What others are saying
A Kindle version came out in 2014 and has 4.2 stars from 882 reviewers on Amazon. Most readers love it, especially the vivid, brought-to-life history. “Masterpiece,” “brilliant,” and “awesome.” Of course, no book appeals to everyone. Others thought it was over-hyped, or that parts were tedious. I will admit that once I got to the action part of the story, I began skimming descriptions so I could find out what happens. The person who said “nothing ever really happened” must not have gotten all the way to the end, but if you want a fast paced story, this is the wrong book.

When Physics Tries to Restore Magic for Shadowy Government Purposes, a Time Travel Romp Begins – delightful premise, crazy problems may destroy our world #review #bookreview #timetravel #sciencefiction #scifi

Scifi reviews by Kate Rauner - visit the blogI was enthralled with the first quarter of this long novel, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. Physics and magic intersect wonderfully when an expert in ancient languages, Melisande Stokes, is hired by a man representing DODO. DODO is “a shadowy government entity you’ve never heard of.” It turns out he’s telling the truth, which gives you an idea of the irreverent tone through much of the book.

The DODO team uses time travel to change the present for shadowy government purposes. Witches once used magic everywhere in the world, until science jammed its frequencies and it disappeared in 1851. But liquid-helium cooled quantum equipment can produce a small room where magic still works. The interplay between magic and physics, as well as with the physicist and witch who join the team, are fun. Not fun for all the characters, though, who quickly learn that it’s not healthy to be rude to a witch.

Melisande narrates from the past, from last few days when magic worked. A mission gone awry stranded her in Victorian London. Throughout the story, she occasionally reminds us that she misses modern toothpaste, that corsets are terribly uncomfortable, and she’s about to be trapped forever as the end of magic approaches.

Melisande took DODO’s first trip backwards in time. To raise money for the project, she plans to steal a book from colonial America that will become rare and valuable in the present. Unfortunately, a witch can only Send a person’s natural organic body (even fillings from teeth are left behind) so Melisande arrives naked and must hide the book so it survives for centuries to be retrieved “today.”

The mission depends on help from a local witch (there’s still magic in colonial times) and Melisande discovers that, when all you take with you is your naked body, all you have to trade with the locals is information (classified!) or sex. There’s quite a bit of sex as the story progresses, though not pornographically detailed.

After a harrowing trip, Melisande returns to discover… nothing where she hid the book. The modern witch explains she must change history on multiple Strands before the present changes. Stands are closely aligned alternative realities that communicate among themselves somehow. Melisande must repeat her adventure several times, and each trip is slightly different. A neat confluence of magic and physics that will probably drive any real-life theoretical physicist crazy. But I liked it.

Starting with the next mission into the past, the book slows down. Events and conversations are explained step by step in more detail than I wanted to read. The book is written entirely as the journals, letters, emails, and files of the characters, so redundancies and tangents creep in. I began to skim. I entirely skipped some sections, such as the Human Resource files on DODO’s new-hires (honestly, such things are included.)

The DODO team grows and there are several missions to different eras. Some will probably intrigue you enough to read every word. Did you know Shakespeare’s plays are anti-Irish? Everyone at the time saw that even though we moderns no longer do. This feels like a detail the authors turned up in their research, though I didn’t check to confirm.

The bureaucracy of DODO is equally detailed. ISO 9000 standards are mentioned, and if you don’t know what those are, you’re obviously not a Quality Assurance geek. With such details, I found it odd that the authors don’t seem to know what Power Point presentations look like. Long wall-of-words paragraphs do not fit on Power Point slides.

I enjoyed the story as pruned by my skimming technique, and read eagerly to the end. The last few pages set up for a sequel, although there isn’t one available yet.

What others are saying
Amazon posts 416 reviews for 3.8 stars, and the sales ranking of DODO is phenomenal.
“Lots of intrigue, science, and laughs.”
“Fun in the use of acronyms and parody of bureaucracy. Unpredictable development of villains.”
“Farcical sendup of the classic time travel trope, complete with witches, sword fighters, and physicists.”

Readers who didn’t like it ran aground in the middle.
“Gets stuck in the middle. Listening to the audiobook, nothing happens for hours.”

Galileo’s Defiance and Destiny in an Imagined History – Science Fiction Novel #scifi #historical #alternative #history #review #bookreview

Galileo's Dream scifi novelThis science fiction novel is heavy on historical fiction. I knew the outline of Galileo’s story – his breakthrough studies of the moons of Jupiter, endorsement of the then-radical theory that the planets orbit around the sun, and his condemnation by the Catholic Church. Kim Stanley Robinson provides a richly detailed portrayal of his life – his illnesses, peccadillos, endless family and money troubles, political machinations among the city-states of Italy, and conflict with the Church.

I hope Robinson (a king of hard scifi) did his usual-thorough research because his vision of Galileo will stay with me. I think he has – he even included translations of Galileo’s actual writings.

Galileo was a genius, but not a very pleasant man. His life in the novel ends as it did in reality. This isn’t Robinson’s fault, but he fully delivers the sadness and misery.

Galileo's first telescope - a reproduction of the optics

My own reproduction of Galileo’s first telescope – it’s amazing he saw anything

Science fiction enters the story when colonists on Jupiter’s moons repeatedly snatch Galileo into the future.
Some factions want to change their present by changing how his life turns out, while other factions want to keep things the same. There are enchanting visions of Jupiter and its moons, and what technology might be like in the distant future, but the Jovians’ story was unsatisfying. The relationships among the colonists were confusing and their story didn’t resolve very well.

I didn’t like this book as much as Amazon reviewers, who averaged 4 out of 5 stars. There was a lot of repetition in both Galileo’s and the Jovian’s stories. I skimmed through most of the book. I didn’t know who the narrator was until the end, though an occasional lapse from 3rd person to 1st person made me realize it wasn’t any of the main characters. That made the story a bit distant from Galileo at times, with the narrator sometimes knowing more than Galileo and sometimes less.

Don’t expect an easy, flowing read, but if you enjoy Robinson and history, give the book a try.

Join the first colonists https://books2read.com/u/bQZp1e

I’ve created a new cover – click on it to see the latest version

All my books, including my Mars colonization series, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

Enjoy flash fiction – scifi and fantasy. Signup to receive an occasional story from me at http://eepurl.com/bCpx1v

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 šŸ™‚

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 šŸ™‚