Tag Archives: scifi

Review – Suave Rob's Double-X Derring Do by Dan Sawyer (Ebook)

suave_rob Dan Sawyer is the most proficient author I know (personally or professionally). I’ve reviewed his Clarke Lantham series and it’s easily among my favorites of his work. He offered to send me a copy of his most recent science fiction release, so naturally I said yes.

Two X-chromosomes. One Surfboard. All Man.

Climbing Olympus Mons put him on the map, winning a gold medal in asteroid jumping got him great press, and children everywhere tune into watch every time he skydives from a space station, but Suave Rob Suarez is just getting started. Together with his stunt partner and their childhood hero, he’s gonna stage the biggest daredevil stunt the universe has ever seen:

Surf a supernova.
Or die trying.

Now for those of you who are easily confused or who don’t remember high school biology (or like me if you fall into both categories) the possession of two X chromosomes would make you a female biologically. But that’s not a typo. The protagonist of Dan’s story lives in a time that allows people to be who they want. From a young age Rob identified as a man and got most of the physical modifications to be “manlier” than any science fiction hero to date. Rob’s desire to emulate his hero Gurgle Tippler, the first man to skydive from a space station, leads him to wonder if there are no more frontiers left. When you have the brains and tech to do the nigh impossible and can have your doctor rebuild you in case you guy too far, where are the challenges?

This story is interesting to me on a couple of levels and it tackles some questions that are incredibly pertinent today. First there’s that notion that we’re running out of challenges. Like Rob discovers, that’s only true for those of us with limited imaginations. It may take time and resources that you didn’t know you had. It may also take a dash of luck and it could cost you your life if things go sour, but is it worth it? And if you find that edge, ride it for all your worth, and survive what’s next?

I’m not a risk taker by nature. The older I get though, the more I realize that there are things that I want that I won’t get risk free. So these days I take the risks, but not without doing my homework. Like Rob, I call in some expert advice and when I mess up along the way I try and make it right. The only problem with real edge seekers like Rob is, once you surf a supernova what do you do next? This book doesn’t answer that question, but maybe future books will?

Deeper than that, this story looks at identity. Ro isn’t the only character in this story that doesn’t fit into a particular mold when it comes to gender identity. Dan’s dealt with sexual politics in his books before. Usually it’s a little more subtle than it is in this one, but this was no doubt written for fun more than anything else. Still, it wasn’t an accident, or I don’t know Dan.

He’s created a character here’s that’s hyper male and the only thing he lacks is the one inherently male physical attribute. (Pssst, it’s a penis.) In spite of that “lack”, Rob managed to woo women, win bar fights, and find plenty of opportunities to stick his foot in his mouth. It’s almost as though those things aren’t dependent on the male genitalia. Hmmm.

I love the characters in this story, More than that though I love the voice it’s written in. We get this story first person and it’s hard to explain the way Rob “sounds” but it absolutely fits the story. I’m also a fan of the way that Dan works the harder sci fi elements in this story. I’m not ordinarily a fan of the harder sf since it’s usually a little dry, but this never gets near that territory.

If my ramblings haven’t clued you in I really enjoyed this. Like many of his stories, this isn’t one for the young kiddos. As I’ve outlined above, it deals with territory that’s challenging even for adults to navigate. It could be an interesting one for the teens in your life, but there are one or two scenes that are graphic in nature. My only reservation is the price. I got this for free in exchange for a review. Four dollars in exchange for something that’s barely a novelette seems a bit much. Then again it seems silly to quibble over a dollar here or there and Dan makes his living from his art. And it will take you longer to read this than it would to drink the fancy coffee that the money would buy.

I give Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring Do four and a half supernovas.

Ebook Giveaway – Ellen's Tale

Congrats to Starla for winning last week’s book!

Today’s book is Ellens Tale – First of the Sefuty Chronicles by Alberta Ross.

In a world devastated by climate change,Ellen, sheltered child of the City falls in love against all odds with Bix, a geneticaly manipulated soldier. Unable to face a life apart they have to find a way together in an uncertain world. Two researchers, using archival material, explore the events leading to this love affair and its consequences.

This also bills itself as “a historical romance set in the future”. While that in and of itself doesn’t interest me, I do love that there’s some genre mashing going on here. What sort of genre mash-ups have you read that just don’t work?

I plan on giving away a book a week this year, but none of them will be my own. Why? Well, I believe in helping introduce people to new authors and nothing does that like FREE! The contests will be as simple as leaving a comment on the blog, or showing me that you’ve left a review on Amazon or Smashwords of books you’ve picked up in the past. I’ll try and change things up to keep them interesting, but by and large you won’t have to work hard.

If you’re an author and you’d like to pitch your hat into the ring, let me know. I’m not asking you to give me anything for free. I plan on buying your e-book from Amazon/Smashwords as a gift for the winner. So in addition to you getting your name out there, you’ll also get a sale for the contest. The most I can budget per week is $2.99, so if you have a book in the $.99-$2.99 price range let me know. I reserve the right to turn you down, but I will try and do so gently. I’d like to have a variety of genres represented.

If you have a free book and would like me to just get the word out I can do that, but you won’t be part of my contest. If your book is more expensive and you would like to donate a copy, that works too.

Shoot me an e-mail, a DM, or leave me a comment to enter your book.

Review – Fables of the Flying City

Today I’m reviewing Fables of the Flying City by Jared Axelrod.

Synopsis: Ashe, a young woman from the streets of the flying city of Amperstam learns what it takes to be a member of the Aerial Guard, and finds herself at war with an invading empire and the rulers of the city she has sworn to protect!

Production: The audio here is very solid. Jared is a podcast pro. There’s no added production overhead.

Grade: B+

Cast: This is a straight read. Jared does most of it. There are a few episodes where he has a guest voice. All three voice actors do wonderful jobs with their segments. My favorite are the Hanner Gatling segments.

Grade: A

Story: This is a wonderful story. It’s a prequel for a graphic novel that will be coming out soon. He’s done a good job of setting up the world and characters. It has a very pulp, steampunk feel, but this isn’t just our world with gears tacked on. There’s some definite mystery here and this world is a different place than our own. Ashe, the protagonist is a wonderful character that we see grow and change, but as can happen from time to time, there’s an ancillary character that steals the show when she’s on stage: the afore mentioned Hanner Gatling. I’d kill for a Hanner-centric story.

Grade: A+

Verdict: This is a podcast to not be missed. I had the pleasure of being at the launch party at Balticon last year and I can say that it lived up to my own internal hype. Fair warning for those who don’t like short episodes, I think most of these clock in at about ten minutes each. Still, it’s done now so you can mainline it!

Grade: A


I’ve been charged by my buddies at Flying Island Press to participate in defining sci-fi and fantasy. That’s a mighty big elephant to eat. My response on Twitter was “As far as what SF/F is or is not, in my case I sort of know it when I see it. Which is why I like the umbrella term speculative fiction.”

That was kind of a cop out, but defining things in 140 characters or less is a bit more than I’m up to before lunch. Now in a blog post I think I can take a stab.

Science fiction is incredibly broad as a genre. You’ve got everything from Jurassic Park to Ender’s Game. It can be gritty and “hard” where science is king and every jot and tittle needs to be explained and “realistic”. Or it can be soft and take place in such a far flung future that the science almost takes a back seat. Almost. I think that science needs to be an integral part though. There needs to be some aspect of technology or a rational explanation of the universe and its hard core mechanics that forms a significant part of the story.

For me character always comes first and the science might be a part of that character. A good example of that would be PC Haring’s Cybrosis. The main character is a cyborg and her tech is fully integrated into the plot of the novel as well. That’s not to say that the science necessarily needs to be completely accurate. When you’re supposing what the world might by like in a hundred or a thousand years the details are by necessity fuzzy. Most writers are no more scientists than they are wizards and research can only take you so far. Still it should be sound. Master that technobabble!

As big as science fiction is as a genre, I’d argue that fantasy is even larger. In SF, the distinctive element is, well, science. In Fantasy I’d say it’s the numinous. Most, if not all, fantasy has something of the spiritual about it. That’s not to say that it has to be religious (though I’d argue that most Christian fiction falls into the Fantasy realm), but it often speaks to things that can’t be observed or measured. The more important elements in the story, be they plot, mechanics, or character, should focus on the mystical or the transcendent.

A good example of that would be South Coast by Nathan Lowell. And that’s an interesting one too, since it takes place in a far flung future with space ships and the like. It has that in common with Star Wars. Both are Fantasy pieces since, imo, both have a stronger connection to the mystic than the motor.

The wonderful thing about these genres is that they lend themselves well to being crossed over/blended/mashed/folded/spindled. After all, the Dune series has elements of both. The Dragon Riders of Pern does as well. Science Fiction and Fantasy can easily be just like a Reese’s Cup, though that’s not everyone’s favorite candy bar.

So that’s my stab at a definition. Look for a post later today over at Flying Island Press to get more on the ins and outs of defining these genres.