Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review: Decision Points edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

When I saw the author list, I knew I had to have this anthology!

Decision Points is an exciting YA anthology with many strong stories, including:

"Sisters" by Jonathan Maberry, in which two sisters find that zombies are not their biggest enemy.
"The Prince of Artemis V" by Jennifer Brozek, which centers around a haunting fae dream realm.
"Aftermaths" by Lois McMaster Bujold, which deals with the carnage left by a war in space.
"My Father's Eyes" by E. C. Meyers, in which a disease robs its victims of their intelligence and sends them back to primitive existence.
"Like a Thief in the Light" by Alethea Kontis, which deals with death and gargoyles.
"Clockwork Fagin" by Cory Doctorow, in which orphans take over the orphanage and build a clockwork man to fool the adults.
"Rivalry on the Sky Course" by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, which ties into Schmidt's Saga of Davi Rhii space opera.
"An Echo in the Shell" by Beth L. Cato, a haunting tale of a grandmother who is turning into a giant bug.
"Blood and Water" by Kate Corcino, in which the protagonist is asked to murder his girlfriend.
"Newts" by Kevin J. Anderson, where a separatist war rests on the shoulders of an emotionally neutered protagonist.
"Shade" by Steven Gould, where a dire water shortage in Africa is alleviated through magic.
"The War of Gifts" by Orson Scott Card, which ties into Enders Game and deals with childhood abuse and religious hypocrisy.

Decision Points on [ Amazon ] and on [ Baen ]'s website, as well as most other places where books are sold.

Don't forget to leave a review, event a short one, to support your favorite authors!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Review: The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

In The Worker Prince, emperor tyrant Xavilar orders all first-born male slaves killed. One boy gets away – Davi, who is adopted by none other than princess Miri, Xavilar's sister. When Davi finds out that he is the progeny of slaves, and witnesses the slaves' treatment first-hand, he confronts his uncle and lands himself in more trouble than he could have imagined.

The Worker Prince is a story of family, with Davi as an inverted prodigal son. Davi loves his adoptive mother and his uncle, the tyrant emperor, even as his definition of family expands to include his biological parents and cousins. Xavilar makes a great villain in part because he also cares for his family as part of his skewed moral code. The tyrant's soft spot for princess Miri allows her to raise Davi to think for himself, setting events in motion beyond the emperor's control. Part of Davi's journey is his realization that his own moral principals differ greatly from his uncle's, and to a lesser extent from Miri's. The Worker Prince offers the reader many heart-warming scenes that line up characters like dominoes for the action-packed end, which in turn leads into an exciting sequel (The Returning).

The Saga of Davi Rhii series is also a story of war – of a long-brewing conflict that comes to a head when Davi meets the rebels. While Davi's influence as a prince and as a fighter pilot is important, we also see how smart and capable the rebels are, as are the emperor's lackeys who hunt them done. A lot of the rebel's planning and infrastructure is already in the works when Davi shows up, which makes the rebels' ensuing battles feel realistic. Schmidt does an excellent job of weaving realism into The Worker Prince through carefully chosen details that mimic real life conflicts – from mass graves to Xavilar's gradual erosion of the counsel's powers. And where Davi is sometimes a naive, as befits his age, many of the supporting characters are not, and together they make big events possible. Davi's confrontation with the emperor and his interactions with the rebels force the hands of supporting characters like Miri. Of course, emperor Xavilar has a large military with trained officers and many ships at his disposal, so when the rebels launch their attack, soldiers die. But as with many rebellions, there is no turning back once the ship has launched – or in this case, the fighter pilots.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt's Saga of Davi Rii is an engaging space opera about standing up against abuse even if that means defying public opinion and the Emperor himself.

Check out Hugo Nominee Bryan Thomas Schmidt's website to read more about the books he writes and the big-name anthologies he edits:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Appearance: Createfest in Fuquay-Varina, NC

I've been invited to the Writer's Tent at Createfest, a family-friendly, one-day, FREE event that runs May 14th from 12:00 PM - 7:00 PM.

Find me at the Writer's Tent
May 14th, starting at 3PM

341 Broad St #151,
Fuquay-Varina, NC
(in the downtown Varina district)

I will be signing copies of my speculative fiction chapbook, Premeditations, at the Writer's Tent starting at 3:00 PM

I will have a mic and a question for you: What is one fictional character, place, or invention you would like to see made real? The answers will be compiled and shared on the Pendragon Variety Network.

So come say hello, get your signed copy, and browse the works of other local artists and writers!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Review: Funny Fantasy edited by Alex Shvartsman

Funny Fantasy, edited by Alex Shvartsman, is an excellent collection of humorous fantasy tales with a wide range of subgenre and tone, from irreverent hyperbole to clever social commentary.

“Dave the Mighty Steel-Thewed Avenger” by Laura Resnick opens up the anthology with over-the-top, ostentatious fantasy trappings that summarize down to a talking raccoon giving a disbelieving drunk college student a magic weapon. What could possibly go wrong? Many of the other stories are also quite glib, including Mike Resnick's "A Very Special Girl," wherein a zombie thug falls in love, demonstrating that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To balance out the collection's tone, “Fairy Debt” by Gail Carriger is a sweet story wherein fairy Cups can bake amazing banana cupcakes.

Retold folk tales and blatantly inverted tropes provide the backbone of Funny Fantasy. In “Crumbs” by Esther Friesner, Hansel's son becomes a paladin for an obnoxious king who sends him deep into the evil woods, where he finds that Hansel and Gretel's version of the story, and his view of witches in general, is patently erroneous. In “The Blue Corpse Corps” by Jim C. Hines, goblins scramble to let zombies bite them so that they can gain near-invincible powers. For those who are tired of faerie realm stories, “The Best Little Cleaning Robot in All of Faerie” by Susan Jane Bigelow mixes in a little space opera and ends on a completely irreverent note.

On the social commentary side, “Another End of the Empire” by Tim Pratt follows a tyrant king determined to undermine the prophecy of his downfall by creating the Village of Progress. A few stories take on sexism directly; “A Fish Story” by Sarah Totton shows just how inappropriate an unwanted suitor's attentions can be, and in “The Queens Reason” by Richard Parks, the young man who has come to save the queen from her insanity is not at all what he appears to be.

All-in-all, Funny Fantasy is a solid anthology with plenty of laughs. 

Funny Fantasy represents the fantasy genre well by including fourteen stories published in the past decade by current magazines and big names. With such a wide range of style and subject matter, there's bound to be something for every one:

“Dave the Mighty Steel-Thewed Avenger” by Laura Resnick 
“Crumbs” by Esther Friesner 
“Fellow Traveler” by Donald J. Bingle 
“A Fish Story” by Sarah Totton 
“Another End of the Empire” by Tim Pratt 
“Giantkiller” by G. Scott Huggins 
“A Mild Case of Death” by David Gerrold 
“Fairy Debt” by Gail Carriger 
“A Very Special Girl” by Mike Resnick 
“The Blue Corpse Corps” by Jim C. Hines 
“Librarians in the Branch Library of Babel” by Shaenon K. Garrity 
“The Queens Reason” by Richard Parks 
“The Best Little Cleaning Robot in All of Faerie” by Susan Jane Bigelow 
“Suede This Time” by Jean Rabe 

Are you still reading this? What are you waiting for? Pick up Funny Fantasy on [ Amazon ] and check out Alex Shvartsman's website, - he writes plenty of funny fiction himself and edits great anthologies, including the Unidentified Funny Objects series.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Review: The Overseer's Son by @SarahJaune

The Overseer's Son (Children of the Guard Book 1) by Sarah Jaune is a post-apocalyptic science-fiction fantasy following Elijah Hunt, son of a powerful magician, the Overseer of Chicago:

Imagine a world where there are only two classes: people with power, and people without.

Imagine a world where cities are ruled by families with magical powers, where their will determines their citizen's lives, and where the strongest thrives.

For Elijah Hunt he doesn't have to imagine a world where bullies rule. He lives it everyday under the cruelty of his magical father: the Overseer of Chicago.

Will Elijah choose to run from the father determined to mold him into a monster too, or will he stay and face his future? Will Eli even have magic of his own?

The stakes are high as Eli and his sisters have to choose whether to stay or run for their lives.

Although the introduction may come off as a bit of an info-dump, the majority of The Overseer's Son is a fun coming-of-age story propelled by big magic, engaging dialogue, and a clear moral foundation.

As Elijah meets new friends who help him unlock his potential, he also witnesses the true state of the Chicago first-hand. Readers learn about an expansive world that blurs genre by combining technology and magic, and Elijah learns about problems too big for any one person to fix, but also too big to ignore. These discoveries drive him to moral crisis as he confronts the man his father wants him to be, the man others hope he can be, and the person he thinks he is.

Elijah receives wonderful support from other characters but finds that he still must fight an internal battle – will he grow up to be a monster like his father? Can he truly escape his father's physical and emotional influence? Sarah Jaune addresses many of the issues that stem from childhood abuse, and does so in a way appropriate for upper middle-grade and YA audiences.

The Overseer's Son hints at bigger mysteries to be explored in later books, adding depth to the world while promising an adventure-oriented plot. Dark undertones introduce the readers to deep issues such as poverty. Yet, Elijah's story is a positive narrative of overcoming obstacles with the wise and loving support of family and friends.

You can find The Overseer's Son on [ Amazon ] and [ Goodreads ], and you can connect with author Sarah Jaune on twitter @sarahjaune