Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Four

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day Four

And I’m back with another entry in the Ten Day Book Challenge. I’ve been very bad at keeping up with these, but I am determined to share my choices for the top ten most influential books I’ve ever read. So what I lack in punctuality, I hope to make up in sincerity and selection :).

Okay, so as usual, here are the rules of this challenge:

  • Thank whoever nominated you with big, bold print. If they have a blog, link to the post where you got tagged there.
  • Explain the rules.
  • Post the cover of a book that was influential on you or that you love dearly.
  • Explain why it was so influential to you.
  • Tag someone else to do the challenge, and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Thanks once again to RAMI UNGAR for the nomination, and you can find him at ramiungarthewriter.com. And here’s my third selection for the challenge, the post-cyberpunk classic The Diamond Age!

This book takes place in the 21st century after the world has been fundamentally changed by the introduction of nanotechnology. If Eric K. Drexler’s book The Engine of Creation was the authoritative treatise on how nanotechnology would change our lives, The Diamond Age was definitely the fictional counterpart. In this novel, Stephenson treated fans to his usual mix of weirdness, genius, historical and social commentary, education and growth.

For me, this book remains immensely influential, not because it introduced me to the concept of nanotechnology, but because it did so in a way that had such depth. Anyone who reads this is sure to feel that this book came along at exactly the right time to offer commentary on a concept that was slowly moving from the realm of science-fiction to science fact. And as this concept becomes more and more realized, I feel that this book will become required reading for people looking to understand the evolution of nanotechnology.

But, as I said, this book went beyond mere technological commentary, and contained some very interesting thoughts on social change, historical patterns, and the role of culture in development. While I didn’t agree with everything he asserted, it was interesting to see Stephenson detail how specific cultures may go about embracing technology differently, and how the pendulum of history can swing back and forth depending on the time and place and what means are available to people.

If nothing else, it got me thinking in a very serious way, like most of his works. And it was also delightfully fun to read and inspired me as a science fiction writer to take more risks and tackle issues I felt were previously inaccessible to me. Again, I highly recommend this book.

Okay, now for my nomination. This time around, I nominate the Tousled Apostle herself and a long-time friend and colleague of mine, Jamie A. Hughes!

 

Cover Art Reveal for the Future Days Anthology!

Behold! When the anthology drops, this will be the beautiful artwork that adorns the cover! This anthology is a collection of short stories by Castrum authors and is being released in advance of a number of new books by said authors (one of which is the second installment in my Formist Series – The Jovian Manifesto). My wife thinks there’s a strong resemblance between the child wearing the jet pack and yours truly. Yeah, I suppose I can see it too! 🙂

For those interested, my own contribution is the story Jericho, a story that takes a look at a generation ship that arrives at its destination many centuries from now. The colonists are what are known as Seedlings, people who use advanced nanotechnology to seed and terraform other worlds in advance of colonists. When they arrive, their homes, cities, streets, industries, and all the basic amenities are already built. All they need to do is take their places among the colony and get things working.

This story takes place in the same universe as The Cronian Incident, thought not the same time frame. Speaking of which, stay tuned for cover art for the second installment in that series, The Jovian Manifesto!

The Jovian Manifesto, More Good News!

The Jovian Manifesto, More Good News!

Some good news on the publishing front. My latest novel, the Jovian Manifesto (the second installment in the Formist Series), is back from the editor and I’m now making corrections. Once that’s done, it’s back to the publisher for another run-through, and then it will be ready for publication. While I can’t give a precise date, a realistic estimate at this point places the release date early this summer. And I’ve already seen some sample artwork, and it looks awesome!

And while I don’t want to spoil anything, I can say that the second book has plenty of action scenes! One thing I worried about in book one was that it had a rather slow buildup. Of course, that’s a consequence of having a story with multiple settings and an intricate plot. Nevertheless, I wanted there to be more action scenes in the second and third books, and ensure that they occurred throughout.

Credit: NASA

Suffice it to say, there are a few combat scenes that involve powered exosuits, some exotic locations, and the aforementioned space combat. Writing these scenes was admittedly a bit of a challenge, since its kind of hard to predict what combat would look like where super-advanced technology is involved. In a society where anything can be synthesized and manufactured at the atomic level, what kinds of weapons, armor and ships would be possible?

In other news, The Cronian Incident is still getting reviews. At this moment, it has accrued 12 reviews on Amazon (with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars) and 16 on Goodreads – with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars. Hopefully, the second book will do just as well.

 

The Jovian Manifesto is Complete!

The Jovian Manifesto is Complete!

Yes, after a good six months of planning, plotting, writing, rewriting, and worrying about deadlines, The Jovian Manifesto is finally done! And by that I mean I’ve finished writing the manuscript and the process of editing and polishing is about to begin. I’m also expecting some artwork in the coming weeks so there are plenty of surprises ahead!

In addition to being the sequel to The Cronian Incident (released in September of 2017), The Jovian Manifesto is the second book in the Formist Series. So based on the release date of the first book and assuming I can get all the edits done by the end of this month, that would make this the second books that I’ve written in the past six months. Would now be a good time to take a wee break? I hope so!

Here’s the preamble that I’ve been saving for the release:

“Months have passed since the incident on Titan. For Emile and the Formists, life is returning to normal now that their enemies have been dealt with. Or so they thought. On the Jovian world of Europa, a mysterious document has been released that threatens to reveal everything. The Jovian Manifesto, as it’s called, has the Outer Worlds up in arms and the Inner Worlds fearing a civil war. The Solar System is on the verge of ignition, and all that is needed is a spark.”

As I stated in a previous post, this sequel will feature a whole new bunch of characters and locations. In fact, all of the new leading characters in this novel are women, which surprised me even. I did want to move away from male primary characters since the first book was a little heavy on them. But even I was a bit surprised when someone pointed this out to me.

As with The Cronian Incident, my publisher will be the venerated UK-based company known as Castrum Press!

I’d also like to take this opportunity to say congrats to my friend and fellow writer, Rami Ungar! Rami recently signed a contract with Castrum Press to write horror and suspense (his specialty). Thanks to Castrum’s pro-active approach to recruitment, I was able to set up a meet between him and Rami, and the two hit it off! Good luck to the both of us, Rami! Busy times ahead 🙂

Press Kit for The Cronian Incident Goes Live!

Press Kit for The Cronian Incident Goes Live!

Castrum Press has just released the Press Kit for The Cronian Incident. Basically, its a rundown of who I am and the book they just published (which bears my name, of course!) For those interested in doing an interview with your’s truly, there are suggested questions and all the relevant info you would need.

http://castrumpress.com/the-cronian-incident/

New Trailer – Blade Runner 2049!

New Trailer – Blade Runner 2049!

After many years of starts and stops, the fandom community has been pretty excited that we are finally getting a Blade Runner sequel. Whether or not it will be the sequel we want  remains to be seen (we all remember Jar Jar!). In any case, the first teaser trailer has just come out. As you can see, it shows Ryan Gosling in the lead role, with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard.

As was likely the intent, this trailer establishes that there is a passing of the torch between Ford and Gosling, who has become a Blade Runner himself. And if I had to guess, I would say the whole exchange (which takes place at gunpoint) indicates that the plot will center on what Deckard did at the end of the previous movie – which was to run off with Rachael (a Replicant) to make a life with her.

The movie is scheduled for release in October of 2017, and includes performances by Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, and Ana de Armas.  Check it out!

Featured Guest Post: “Realistic Sci-Fi – The Best Films That Accurately Portray the Modern World” by Maria Ramos

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Please welcome back to the site, Maria Ramos. You may recall her last contribution, which dealt with Contemporary Dystopian Novels that are worth reading and not part of the current, overplayed YA fad. Well she’s back, this time with contemporary science fiction movies that are definitely worth watching. Enjoy!

The world of science fiction is full of fantastical tales that have no place in reality. Some of the best stories could never happen in real life. Still, the ones that really capture our imagination are those that contain a hint of truth. These five films are fascinating examples of realistic sci-fi films that may provide a glimpse into our future.

Many films of the past have been able to accurately predict things like tablet computers, home security and automation, cell phones and wearable tech. It’s a strange thought that these objects, when shown for the first time on the silver screen, seemed so far fetched and borderline ridiculous, but today are as commonplace as a coffee maker. Let’s take a look at some of the films that have gotten it disturbingly right in their predictions.

Metropolis (1927):
This film from the 1920s is set in a seemingly perfect city filled with wealthy people living a charmed life, with no idea that a vast population of oppressed workers are forced to stay underground, operating the machines that keep life going for the upper class. Although created decades before the advent of computers or even television, Metropolis predicted video calls through programs like Skype with its “television phone,” which characters in the movie use to communicate.

The Andromeda Strain (1971):
This film based on the novel by Michael Crichton tells the story of an alien virus that comes into contact with humans, mutating as it goes, almost destroying civilization. From biological warfare to satellites and laser weaponry, a lot of what is used throughout The Andromeda Strain mirrors the technology we have available to us today. Even the premise of the movie in general is not completely outlandish; microbiologists believe that it is possible that we may one day contract an extraterrestrial disease. If that were to happen, it’s unclear whether we would have the tools to combat it.

Gattaca (1997):
The premise of this 1997 flick may seem completely impossible: society is structured based on genetic sequencing, which reveals everyone’s genetic makeup. Clear lines are drawn, giving those who are genetically superior special privileges over everyone else. The discrimination the main character faces for his inferior dreams isn’t yet a reality, but as we work towards sequencing complete genomes, we will find ourselves closer to uncovering the secrets of our genes, and the consequences of this knowledge may not all be good. The film’s basic premise echos the recent controversy surrounding genetic testing to detect cancer.

Interstellar (2014):
In this movie, the world has become uninhabitable due to drought brought on by global warming, forcing mankind to search for somewhere to live. Although we haven’t reached this point, scientists stress the very real possibility of climate change ending life on Earth. If this were to happen now, humanity would be doomed, since we haven’t quite mastered the art of long-distance space travel yet. Still, scientists say that a trek on the scale of the one taken in Interstellar is possible. Ideas for how to accomplish this are still being explored, but thermonuclear fusion, light sails and gravitational slingshots are all potential solutions.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015):
One of this year’s most popular films is also one of the most noteworthy as far as realism in science fiction goes. While apocalyptic settings aren’t uncommon in sci-fi, the psychology of the characters in Mad Max: Fury Road is unique. Instead of the stereotypical hero who beats the villain and gets the girl, Max shows the kind of psychological damage you might expect in a harsh environment like the apocalypse. The other people in the movie also show the influence of this trauma through their behaviors, making for a realistic portrayal of what the end of the world might really be like.

Scientifically accurate sci-fi can both educate and inspire its viewers. Films like the ones listed above offer a window to the future, letting us see what might happen if we continue on the path that we are on. These predictions are sometimes an encouragement to innovate, but also sometimes a warning to change course before it’s too late. Either way, realism in science fiction makes for quality films that can be enjoyed for decades to come.

Madmax