Tag Archives: science fiction

Book Review – You Dear, Sweet Man by Thomas Neviaser

How much attention do you give to the advertisements that surround you every day?  They’re constantly there, and many of them barely even register.  But what if one of them insisted that you pay attention?  Such is the case in You Dear, Sweet Man.

Note:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion on something before linking to it.

You Dear, Sweet Man is the story of a burger joint that will go to any lengths needed to redesign its marketing campaign and keep up with the times.  It’s also the story of a burned out man in search of something new in his life.  There’s also the story of the two young-and-hungry men who are desperate to help make the ad happen, and the woman who is manipulating all of them.

What I Loved:  This story was so very different from anything I’ve read recently, and I mean that in a good way.  It wasn’t just your average genre fiction.  The characters were well-developed and described, making them easy to differentiate from each other and to envision as I read.  The story held my attention even when I really wasn’t certain what direction the story was heading.  I think this is in large part because the opening chapter was such a great hook, and it made me want to know more.  There’s also just a great sense of suspense.  Once I finished, I felt that You Dear, Sweet Man had an ending reminiscent of something out of the Twilight Zone.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Unfortunately, this book could really use some better editing.  There were repeated or missing words and redundant phrasing that needed to be taken care of.  Overall, the story was well-written, but I found these distracting.

I also felt that the ending could have used a little bit more explanation.  I don’t want to go into anything specific in order to avoid spoilers, but I wish there was a little bit more clarification.  Perhaps it was meant to be somewhat mysterious, and I can see how that works, but I’m one of those people who really likes to understand what’s going on.

Rating and Recommendations:  I hovered back and forth for the star rating on this one because I was slightly disappointed at the end.  Since it is so innovative and well-written, though, I’m giving it 4 stars.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes science fiction when it’s incorporated into our current way of life.

* * *

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

Book Review: Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein

Okay, I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I completely did.  I mean, just look at this thing.  Every time I went to Barnes & Noble, this book was practically dancing and singing on the shelf, begging me to take it home.

I resisted at first, but that’s pretty much just because I’m a ridiculous tightwad unless I’m buying something for my kids.  Also, I was a little worried that it might be too “heavy.”  It’s about a mission to Saturn, and while I’m not afraid of heavy reading, I’m not always in the mood for it.

It turns out I didn’t have to be.  When I finally decided that I had to buy the book even if it was just so I could look at the pretty cover on my shelf, I discovered a story that was riveting and thrilling while also being very real.  It was surprisingly down-to-Earth for a story about space, and I loved it.

Saturn Run is the story of an urgent flight to Saturn (and a race against the Chinese to get there first) when the possibility of a visit by an alien spaceship is discovered.  You couldn’t possibly tell a story so big from just one viewpoint, so the authors didn’t.  This a character-driven plot, focusing on how the mission affected the different people involved in it.  There are a lot of characters, but they’re all very deep, distinguishable, and memorable.  While the novel outlines the political aspects of space travel, it emphasizes the direct impact on the characters involved.  The viewpoint changes numerous times, even within chapters, but it’s so seamless that it only adds to the story.

Although Saturn Run falls doubtlessly in the category of science fiction, it also just might be creating a new genre of “science really-could-happen-in-the-timeframe-specified.”  The author’s note in the back (which you can’t read until you’ve read the story) shows just how much prep work the authors did for this novel, including plotting orbits and calculating the engine specifics of the starships involved.  While the science is not what we have today, there was nothing as Star Trek-y as a transporter or a tractor beam (although those could have been quite useful to some of the characters).  Sandford and Ctein took current science and advanced it by fifty years without throwing in a lot of magic and fantasy.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in science fiction.  I even finished the last third of it with a terrible head cold because I just couldn’t put it down!

***

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to come find me on Facebook and Amazon!

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

Author Interview with Tyler Omichinski

As a game designer and writer who has traveled widely, Tyler Omichinski brings a lot to the table.  I got to spend a little time chatting with him about his writing life, his most recent book, and whether he prefers real books or e-readers.

How has your work in game design influenced your writing?

Two main ways. The first of all is that when you’re doing things like writing up rules, you need to be extremely specific and efficient. It’s really almost technical writing at that point, and it teaches some great skills. I’m not a particularly purple writer when it comes to my prose, and this kind of thing really forces you to look at your writing with a brutal sense of efficiency.

The other thing is that same old focus on the shape of stories. A good game should, functionally, be telling a story, just one that emerges from gameplay. Risk has you waging war against your friend, and every time a story arises from that. When I’m designing a game, I’m trying to keep an eye on telling the right kind of story when that happens – with ReAnimator, for example, we wanted to keep the stress piling up, while also giving a general sense of unease. That was accomplished through forcing the players to make an increasing number of choices between suboptimal choices, reflecting what happens to a lot of protagonists, while also having the subplot cards dealing with some unsettling things here and there.

I see that your book takes place in Paris.  Have you ever been there?

Yes I have! I’m also a huge fan of the city. I was there for about three days while living abroad, and something about the city just grabbed me. For this piece I also read a ton: Robb’s Parisians, a bunch of books about the history of the city, Robb’s Strangers (about LGBT people throughout the Victorian Era) and more. Then I promptly went and did an alternate history so if I got anything wrong, I could claim that it was on purpose.

What was your inspiration for this story?

A combination of a couple of factors. I’ve gushed about Robb above, he’s a phenomenal historian that sometimes covers these amazing niches of history, weaving masterful narratives with these anecdotes that give you so much information and makes you feel like you’ve really experienced something.

The next part was to try to put my mind in the struggles that are going on for some people in our own world right now. I’m an out bisexual and I’ve faced my fair share of discrimination, but at the same time we have people literally being killed for being like me elsewhere in the world. Even not that far away if we think about Orlando. I wanted to try to put myself into that experience, to try to figure out what someone would do in order to avoid the worst of that. To really try to understand when coming out wasn’t even really an option for people.

To all of that, I really just wanted to write about Paris and monsters. It all wove together pretty well.

You’ve done a lot of work in the board game industry.  What was your favorite board game growing up?

Probably Trivial Pursuit: I’m from a family of competitive know-it-alls  (including myself) and we would all get really into that game. It’s fascinating how much useless knowledge like that can really encourage you to be a writer. You want to figure out “Well, why is that random factoid a thing,” then you realize that there’s a story behind it, and a story behind that. Stories the entire way down.

What’s your favorite book?

Probably American Gods – it was there for me during an incredibly dark time in my life and it was like the perfect balm. It really is one of those books that you can go in looking for something and probably find it. There’s so much going on in there, and the prose is so beautiful. That being said, it is definitely fighting against something like Name of the Wind or Three Parts Dead.

Favorite authors?

Now that’s a list. Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Vandermeer, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Khaw, Caitlin R Kiernan, Ben H. Winters… I read a crazy amount. Like, three or four books a week. It’s so hard to pick just a few, but at some point it becomes way too long and unwieldy. My friends have long ago learned that if they ask for a recommendation, I’ll just keep piling books on them until they politely tell me to stop. Then I’ll go for a bit longer as I think of a few more ideas.

Where’s your favorite place to write?  What’s your writing process like?

My favorite places to write are either lying down on the couch, or in a bar. I need a lot of noise around me to get my best work done, and I do this weird thing where I don’t usually look at the screen while I’m typing. I’ll usually be staring off into space, or my neck at a weird angle as I look at the ceiling. Almost like the story has to sneak up on me, and I’m trying to make it easier for it.

Most of my first full-length book that I’ve finished was written in the back of a bar while my friends played pool. I’d sit there watching the pool game and typing away.

For a process – it really seems to be different for each project. It’s almost like each one needs something specific to bring it into the world. Queen in Yellow was a lot of Lou Reed and other punk like music written in the middle of the night in bars. Wild Bloodlines was written listening to Celtic instrumentals during the afternoon and was almost done in a single, mad, fury of writing.

Plague in Paris was done with classical music in short, focused, attacks. Each session was a few hundred words here or there, and the entire thing had an outline and a structure to it. I’ve never been able to recreate that process for anything else, but that’s basically the way it has been for everything for me.

Real books or e-readers?

Oh jeez. Both? I love the convenience of e-readers, but there’s nothing beating a book. I’m also a collector of real books, so that similarly helps me out. But, I have friends and colleagues around the world so I love being able to read something from them the instant it comes out. You might have to come back to me on this one – I’m not sure if I can really choose.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was twelve, so what’s that, 17 years now? That’s been quite awhile. I still have the first “story” I wrote as a kid, complete with the regular kid deus ex machina at the end. It was about the Elves going on strike on Christmas, and then I think Santa replaces them with robotic transforming snowmobiles. Even as a kid I was writing some pretty weird stories.

Do you have any other books in the works?

Yes, pretty much always. I have a book called The Queen in Yellow that I’m doing another round of edits on after it went through some agents who gave me some nice feedback but it wasn’t quite for them. I have a ghostwriting contract that is in the works, and I’ve started another book that’s currently called The Last Witch and is still in its first draft.

 

You can find Tyler’s book on Amazon.  Make sure you leave a review to tell him how much you love it!  You can also check him out on Facebook, Twitter, or his website at www.omichinski.com.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews