Tag Archives: science fiction

[GUEST POST] Timothy C. Ward on The Problems with Writing Fan Fiction and How To Solve Them

Timothy C. Ward is the former Executive Producer of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. His newest story, Scavenger: Red Sands (Scavenger #1), is available on Kindle for $.99, and is the first in a serialized, five-part epic. Scavenger: Blue Dawn (Scavenger #2), will be released October 1. His novel in progress, Order After Dark, is a Post-apocalyptic Fantasy set in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases and to become a first 100 reviewer to get future stories for free.

The Problems with Writing Fan Fiction and How To Solve Them

by Timothy C. Ward

A few weeks ago I released Scavenger: Red Sands (Scavenger #1), an authorized fan fiction novelette set in the world of Hugh Howey’s novel, Sand. Hugh has opened up his world of Wool to fan fiction through Kindle Worlds, but Sand is not yet open and thus has only one other writer, Michael Bunker’s Dunes Over Danvar, writing in Sand‘s world. I’ve read all of the Silo Saga (WOOL, Shift, and Dust), but one scene in particular in Sand inspired me to create my own character in his story. Without that inspiration, I don’t know that I would have bothered. There are a lot of Wool fan fiction stories out there, and while the world is full of opportunity, I just never moved any into the top of my queue. Call that a case of running Adventures in SciFi Publishing and having a crazy reading schedule or maybe it’s a preconceived notion that I’ve already read the story of the Silo. The Last Prayer by Lyn Perry put a different spin on Silo life, focusing more on religious persecution, and while it was a good story, it felt very similar to Wool 1.
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The Best Podcast Fiction of All Time (#21 – #30)

This is my third installment of my Best Podcast Fiction of All Time List, covering #21-30. You can find #41-50 here and #31-40 here.  This is the middle list of the five pack–just two more to go!  I hope some of you are tuning in and listening to them all–would make for an epic road trip (though many of the stories are not suitable for children so probably not a whole family road trip).

Please comment, follow along, share this list with your friends.
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BOOK REVIEW: Afterparty by Daryl Gregory


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A woman who long ago overdosed on the designer drug Numinous sets out to discover who is pushing the drug on the streets.

PROS: Amazing characters traveling through a diverse and convincing near future based on speculative neuroscience.
CONS: A possibly overly optimistic view of mental illness.
BOTTOM LINE: Fast-paced and engaging with a great narrative voice, perfect for those who like their science fiction to explore the borders of human consciousness.

With the title of his fourth novel, Daryl Gregory has given his game away. In his four novels so far he starts his stories where other people might end theirs–after the party, after the crisis. In his Crawford-award winning debut, Pandemonium, the main character is still a mess twenty years after being possessed by a demon. In Devil’s Alphabet, a town has settled into a new ‘normality’ after a mutagenic plague hit them; the protagonist comes back to try to heal his old wounds. In Raising Stony Mayhall, the zombie plague was intense but short lived; the few remaining zombies have been living underground, and the title character is the only zombie baby to have grown up. In the hands of other storytellers, these stories would be centered on the demonic possession, the mutagenic plague, or the zombie apocalypse. For Gregory, those moments of drama are back story, traumatic events that haunt the main characters for the rest of their lives.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Memory of Sky by Robert Reed


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Reed’s newest novel offers astoundingly vivid world-building and visuals that set the stage for an unusual coming of age story.

PROS: Astonishingly unique world; interesting characters; a true blending of science fiction and fantasy elements.
CONS: Uneven pacing; world building descriptions can be infodumpy; ending won’t have as big an impact for readers unfamiliar with Reed’s previous Great Ship novels Marrow or The Well of Stars.
BOTTOM LINE: Reed presents a fascinating and alluring world, but muddled exposition gets in the way of enjoying every level of the story.

I’ve enjoyed every Robert Reed short story I’ve come across, so I figured it was time to try one of his longer novels. It’s very difficult to talk about this story without dumping a lot of plot on you, but please trust me when I say I’m barely scratching the surface of the plot and the far-reaching consequences. The world-building and sprawling plot are presented in a very dense way, and there is a lot to tell.

Let’s talk about world-building first, because it’s as stunningly vivid as it is complex.
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BOOK REVIEW: Age of Shiva by James Lovegrove

REVIEW SUMMARY: Possibly Lovegrove’s best yet.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A team of godlike super-powered beings based on the ten avatars of Vishnu from Hindu mythology is assembled, but are they in fact a harbinger of apocalypse?

PROS: Original take on superheroes, exploration of a vivid and colorful religion, sympathetic protagonist, deft plotting, great action.
CONS: Not enough development of the Avatars.
BOTTOM LINE: A combination of science fiction and mythology, superheroes and deities, further solidifying Lovegrove’s title as Godpunk King.

I’ve been a devoted fan of James Lovegrove since I first read The Age of Zeus, his second Pantheon novel. Each year I anticipate the release of the next Pantheon novel. As far as running series go, this is one of my favorite. Six novels and three novellas (collected in one omnibus) in and Lovegrove continues to thrill. There’s no over-arcing plot and no recurring characters. It’s a series united in theme rather than narrative, a technique that results in a cohesive whole while continually managing to change up the dynamic that makes the Pantheon novels so compelling. With Lovegrove novels you always know what to expect and yet he still manages to subvert these expectations. You’re always going to get solid prose, dry English humor, a gripping mix of science fiction and mythology, and ultimately a clever plot. Age of Shiva is tied for my favorite novel in the series. Here’s why…
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Recommended Reading by Professionals…with Mark L. Van Name

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Mark L. Van Name. The CEO of a marketing and technology assessment firm, Mark L. Van Name has written five Jon & Lobo SF novels (One Jump Ahead, Slanted Jack, Overthrowing Heaven, Children No More and No Going Back), numerous short stories, and edited three anthologies. He’s also a spoken word artist.

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Top Ten Superhero-Free Dystopian Comics

The last fifteen years have seen an enormous resurgence in the popularity of comics. So much so, in fact, that some are arguing that we are living in the second golden age of comics. Everywhere you look, our culture is inundated with comics; their imagery pervades our toy shelves, our theaters, our televisions, our tablets, and our game systems. Yet, even amid skyrocketing sales and increasing cultural ubiquity, there is still an ever-present mainstream majority that looks upon comics with contempt, as though somehow, the very medium were somehow inferior to other storytelling traditions.

Sadly, the latest round of comic-shaming was recently launched by industry giant Alan Moore himself, who claims that our ongoing obsession with superheroes could prove to be “culturally catastrophic.” But I’m here to tell you, that comics aren’t always about superheroes. In fact, some the best comics ever published are completely superhero-free. And, far from “having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in,” many young adults are turning to comics not to escape, but to better understand the world that they are living in through allegory, metaphor, and satire.
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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 234): Django Wexler, Cat Rambo, Jason Hough and Kevin Hearne Discuss The Popularity of Science Fiction and Fantasy

In episode 234 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester, Django Wexler, Cat Rambo, Jason Hough, and Kevin Hearne discuss how the popularity of science fiction and fantasy, varies based on the medium – and how they’ve flipped over time.

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The Completist: CASSANDRA KRESNOV by Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd’s Casandra Kresnov novels were originally published in the Australia, beginning in 2001 with his debut Crossover. When Pyr launched, as I indicated in my column on David Louis Edelman’s Jump 225 trilogy, part of editorial director Lou Anders’ mission was to bring non-US books to a US audience.  With Shepherd’s future-SF action series, he did just that.
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BOOK REVIEW: Control by Lydia Kang

REVIEW SUMMARY: A light, fun, young adult medical thriller that serves as a good gateway book for YA fans looking for something SFnal.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After the death of their father, sisters Zelia and Dylia are separated. In this dystopian future, genetic mutations (be them natural or not) are illegal, and it’s believed Dylia has a secret genetic trait that can be exploited. Zelia needs to rescue her sister from a dangerous organization and come to terms with their father’s secrets.

PROS: Excellent scientific explanations of genetics and biology without infodumping; empowered teenaged characters; interesting world.
CONS: Many plot points felt rushed; over-the-top villains; story never quite reached that “Wow” moment.
BOTTOM LINE: A light, fast SFnal thriller with some fun hard science aspects and a satisfying (if somewhat telegraphed) twist at the end.

After the car accident that killed their father, teenage sisters Dylia and Zelia are quickly processed through social services. Hopefully they will be placed with a foster family soon, and won’t have to spend too long at the New Horizons Center. Older by four years, Zel is very protective of her thirteen year old sister, Dylia. When their father was alive, his medical practice kept him working long hours and moving around the country, so it often fell to Zelia to raise her little sister.

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Trailer: Earth to Echo

Synopsis: After a construction project begins digging in their neighborhood, best friends Tuck, Munch and Alex inexplicably begin to receive strange, encoded messages on their cell phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they go to their parents and the authorities. When everyone around them refuses to take the messages seriously, the three embark on a secret adventure to crack the code and follow it to its source. But taking matters into their own hands gets the trio in way over their heads when they discover a mysterious being from another world who desperately needs their help. The epic, suspenseful and exciting journey that follows will change all of their lives forever.

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Recommended Reading by Professionals…with Andrew Post

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Andrew Post. Andrew Post has been writing science fiction and horror stories for years and has been published in several literary magazines. His first novel, Knuckleduster, came out last year. His second book, Fabrick, was released earlier this month.

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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 208): Panel of Irregulars – What Books Do We Want To Read Before The End Of The Year Part 1

In episode 208 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester welcomes two of our newest Irregulars, Sarah Chorn and Ria Bridges, along with a couple of long-term Irregulars, Larry Ketchersid and Lisa Paitz Spindler to discuss three books we want to read before the end of the year.

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Indie Author Spotlight: An Interview with POST-HUMAN Author David Simpson

Welcome to the latest addition of the Indie Author Spotlight! This month we’ll be digging deep into the Post-Human series by science fiction and horror author, David Simpson. In this entry, your brain will overload with artificial intelligence and your mind will be transplanted with future technology the likes of which you’ve never dreamed. Prepare to be upgraded.

I actually purchased the first three books in the Post-Human series (Sub-Human, Post-Human, Trans-Human) about six months ago as David Simpson was offering the Kindle omnibus for just $.99. At the time, I already had a long list of books I wanted to read, but I couldn’t pass up the great deal; so, I bought them with the intention of reading them at some other point in time. Well, this month, instead of reading just one book for the spotlight as I have in the past, I set aside the time to read three of David’s novels! Let me tell you: I found myself wishing I had placed my reading list on the back burner and read his books months ago. Check out the premise of the series below to get glimpse of what I mean:

It’s the story of humanity’s future, both the possible bliss, the possible torment, and all of the in between. It might expand your view of what “human” really means, it might make you consider the pleasures and pains of immortality, and reflect on the extraordinary benefits and profound danger of strong A.I. All of this delivered in an epic series, paced faster than most novels, with twists and turns around almost every page, and a set of characters with whom you’ll fall in love.

Sounds good to me! I read through the books, feeling a strong connection to the characters, wishing at times some of the tech were real, and at others being very thankful that humanity is not quite there. While making my way through his stories, I contacted David — who happens to be an extremely friendly and personable guy — and set up an interview with him to discuss his projects and what’s in store for his writing career. Check it out!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

REVIEW SUMMARY: A thrilling and distinctive sci-fi adventure.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: All that remains of humanity is concentrated in the city of Darwin, home to the space elevator. The elevator, a mysterious gift from the alien Builders, emits an aura that protects against a virus that turns victims into subhuman monsters. But the elevator is starting to malfunction and it is up to Skyler Luiken, the immune scavenger captain, to restore order before it is too late.

PROS: Plenty of action, politicking, and discovery; mostly solid characters and a unique setting.
CONS: A few characters could have used more depth.
BOTTOM LINE: Debut author Jason M. Hough has created a fantastic future that is fully fit to expand into a full blown franchise.

No one knows why the Builders sent the space elevator to Earth. All they know is that it has an aura that protects against a horrible disease that kills 90% of humans and turns the other 10% into mindless savages. And so the remnants of humanity cluster around the elevator in the slum city of Darwin, Australia. Earth’s brightest live on the elevator, sending down food in exchange for water and oxygen. There is a power struggle between the dictator that defends the elevator from the dregs of Darwin and the Orbital Council that live high above. Darwin is overpopulated, teeming with unskilled workers and rife with crime. Scavenger crews strike out into The Clear beyond the aura, braving the dangerous subhumans in order to make a living by providing much needed supplies. Bullets are a reliable form of currency and gardens are a sign of wealth and affluence. This is the future of The Darwin Elevator.
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Series Spotlight: George Mann’s “Newbury and Hobbes” Series

It’s not a secret that I like George Mann’s Newbury and Hobbes series.

So perhaps it’s also not a surprise that at the Kirkus Reviews Blog today, I shine the Series Spotlight on Newbury and Hobbes.

Check it out.

Still More SF/F Books to Read Before You See Them on the Screen

Do you like to read books before their adaptations appear on TV and film? If so, you have a lot of catching up to do.

Today at the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I look at Even More SF/F Books to Read Before You See Them on the Screen.

Today at Kirkus Reviews: This Month’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Highlights & Top Picks

Today at the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I pick the books I’m most looking forward to.

Hop on over and check out Science Fiction & Fantasy Books – July 2013 Highlights & Top Picks.

The Best Ways for SF Fans to Waste Time on the Internet

Today at the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I look at some of the fun websites that are out there just waiting for science fiction fans to come and explore them.

Hop on over and check out The Best Ways for SF Fans to Waste Time on the Internet.

5 Tips for Finding a Good Science Fiction Book

Today at the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I’m offering up advice for how to find a good science fiction book. Hop on over and check out the aptly-named article 5 Tips for Finding a Good Science Fiction Book.