Friday, December 30, 2011

Portal: No Escape

So it's been a while since I posted a Portal related video. But this is one as worth the wait:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Sith-mas?

Okay, so maybe I should be a little more pious on the day before Christmas Eve, but I just can't help myself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


And thus Kerry Nietz's DarkTrench Saga ends with Freeheads.

Sandfly and HardCandy are returning to Earth after their encounter with the jinn on the planet Jannah. Only when they arrive on DarkTrench, their ship, they discover a planet that has changed and not for the better. They're strangers now, complete outsiders, worse than they've ever been.

But Sandfly's mission hasn't changed. He has a message for the people of Earth, one that could set them free. Will anyone listen? Or will the message of A~A^3 die with him?

I really liked this series overall. The premise, if you're not familiar with it, is a future world where Islam has pretty much conquered the globe. Sandfly and HardCandy are debuggers, humans implanted with a device that allows them to connect to technology wirelessly. It's a fascinating idea and a bit chilling. And while Freeheads wraps everything up nicely, I think it's probably best if you've read all of the books in the series recently. It took me a few chapters to get back into the groove, so to speak, and there were a few characters I couldn't remember from the first book.

The only other thing that I noticed, and this isn't a really big deal, is that the first half of the book struck as . . . well, a little slow. I'm not sure how to describe it, exactly. I got a feeling that something big was lurking under the surface (pun intended?) that never really revealed itself. I don't know if Nietz was trying to intentionally misdirect me, but there you go. Like I said, it's not a big deal and it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book at all. Just a weird, nagging feeling I got.

It'll be interesting to see what Neitz does next. Given what I've seen from this trilogy, I'll be first in line.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday, December 09, 2011

Cello Wars

You may have seen this floating around the Internet recently, but it's worth sharing anyway.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Pencils Up!

Okay, so not many people stopped by to play my game of "Retell the Fable." That's okay. I know I've been away from the Blog Tour scene for a while.

So the assignment was to take one of Aesop's Fables, chosen by me at random, and find within it the basis of a story. The fable chosen was The Stag at the Pool, which has a listed moral of What is worth most is often valued least.

Before I share my idea, I'll name Blog Tour Overlord Rebecca LuElla Miller as the winner. Just because. Although Christian Miles definitely deserves runner up too!

So what did I come up with? Well, after reading the fable, I couldn't help but notice a distinct parallel between the foolish stag and an Old Testament character. The Stag, while fleeing the lion, winds up getting his antlers caught in a tree. While fleeing an enemy, the main character winds up getting his head caught in . . .

Hello there, Absalom.

So what is it that Absalom overlooked, something that's worth a lot more than he valued it? And how can we take the story of the Stag, merge it with Absalom's story, and come up with something different?

This is what I came up with:

In a far off kingdom, there's a king who has two sons. The younger is a strong warrior type, brash and out-going, a real ladies' man, whose personal livery bears the symbol of a stag. The older is a bookish sort, not very out-going but prone to charitable actions. Younger brother constantly mocks older brother and his ways, especially since the older brother's symbol is that of a lion ("More like a mewling kitten," is a constant jibe). Instead, the youngster is always going out on adventures and garnering glory for himself.

Then an enemy something-or-other (wizard maybe? Then it could be a fantasy) does something bad. Really bad. And when the King doesn't seem ready to do anything about it, the younger son takes matters into his own hands and . . .

Wait a minute, that's the beginning of Thor, isn't it?

Well, you get the idea. Something happens between the younger son and his dad, something that drives a wedge between them. It prompts the Stag to rebel against the King. The King tries to fight back, but the Stag proves too much for him. He steals the throne and expels the King. He ignore the Lion completely, figuring that his brother can do little to stop him.

The King tries to reclaim his throne, only to lose badly. The Stag proves too much for him. The King is either killed or exiled (depending on how dark I feel like going). The Stag consolidates his power, or at least tries to. But then his brother stands up against him. The Stag scoffs at the Lion's threat, until the entire kingdom rises up with the Lion. It turns out that the Lion's actions, caring for his subjects, has won their support. Faced with a revolt, the Stag flees, only to wind up being taken down by his subjects and made to pay for what he's done.

The spiritual payload would be something from John 13, maybe. The idea that the greatest in the kingdom is a servant. That sort of thing.

At least, that's the idea I came up with in 48 hours. Not much, but there you go.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wordcount Wednesday

Well, that's the end of that. Project Disappointed Viper has been shelved. I didn't make it much past 5,000 words, but I have to call it quits. Too long of a story. Don't worry about it.

So I'm not sure what I'll do next. I've got some revision work to start on Failstate. And there is a major holiday coming up quickly. Oh well. There's always something.

CSSF Blog Tour: "Corus the Champion" Day 3

So here we are, wrapping up the tour for Corus the Champion by D. Barkley Briggs and it occurs to me, it's something of a miracle that we're even having this tour in the first place. After all the first book was published back in 2009 and then the original publisher (the name of which escapes me) canceled before published Corus. But then Living Ink Books stepped in and re-released the first book and has been publishing the rest. And fans of well-written

Now I'm not saying this to knock the aforementioned anonymous-by-way-of-forgetfulness publishing house. Instead, I think this is a great lesson for writers when it comes to patience.

I've never met Briggs nor spoken to him, but I can only imagine what he was going through when his series died. It must have hurt. And who knows how long he waited before Living Ink stepped in and performed a little resurrection. But I'm sure those intervening months or even years were tense. Maybe Briggs wanted to throw in the towel and move on to something different. But he didn't. He hung in there. And the result is a fabulous book that makes me want to read more.

So for all of you pre-published authors, don't despair. Remain patient. Your time could be coming soon too.

Go check out what the other tourists have to say:

Gillian Adams Noah Arsenault Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse CSFF Blog Tour Carol Bruce Collett Theresa Dunlap April Erwin Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Christopher Hopper Jason Joyner Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Marzabeth Shannon McDermott Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen Sarah Sawyer Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Nicole White Rachel Wyant

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: "Corus the Champion" Day 2

Okay, so I've got nothing. Perhaps I've been out of practice too long.

See, after reading Corus the Champion by D. Barkley Briggs, I couldn't help but think how really cool it was that Briggs was able to take the Arthurian legends and twist them in a new an unique way. It's always fun to see a classic myth twisted in a new and unique way (hence why I'm rooting for my friend Christian Miles to get his book published. Post-apocalyptic Arthur FTW!).

Except as I started trying to organize my thoughts, I realized deja vu. And on the second day too!

But maybe it bears repeating. As many Christians have pointed out in the past, most myths contain within them a kernel of truth, echoes and reflections of deeper spiritual principles that God has woven into the very fabric of reality, principles that haunt us and have to be expressed in some way. It's our fallen nature that wraps those echoes in non-Christian images and themes. Folks like Briggs or C. S. Lewis simply peel away the garbage until the truth remains.

Shall we have some fun, folks? Almost three years ago, I reminisced about an assignment that was given out by a friend of mine on a previous blog tour. Mirtika challenged us to take a myth or fable and find a way to baptize it and make it Christian.

Let's try it again. I have in front of me a copy of Aesop's Fables and I'm going to pick one at random. What I want you, dear reader, is think on the themes and images of said fable, search for Scriptures that parallel it, and come up with a germ of an idea for a story.

And I'll put my money where my mouth is. I'll post my idea on Thursday.

So here we go. Drum roll please.

I'll trust that you're creating a drum roll somehow.

The Stag at the Pool.

So have at it. Come back and share what you come up with. The person with the best story idea gets . . . I don't know. Bragging rights. My eternal admiration.

In the meantime, go see what the other tourists are up to:

Gillian Adams Noah Arsenault Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse CSFF Blog Tour Carol Bruce Collett Theresa Dunlap April Erwin Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Christopher Hopper Jason Joyner Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Marzabeth Shannon McDermott Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen Sarah Sawyer Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Nicole White Rachel Wyant

Monday, December 05, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour: "Corus the Champion" Day 1

You know, I'd like to bill this as my triumphant return to the Blog Tour. But I'm not exactly sure what I'm triumphant over. Certainly not the calendar, as I originally posted this three weeks early. And, truth be told, I suspect that the blog tour has done just fine without me. So hey, everyone, I'm back.

What brought me back was Corus the Champion by D. Barkley Briggs. When I heard that we were going back to Karac Tor, I signed up immediately. Yes, I'm selfish like that. I couldn't wait to read this book (which, in the interest of fairness, was provided to me for free by the publisher).

The Barlow boys are still in Karac Tor. They've defeated the witch named Nemesia but things are not going well. For the Horned Lord is out to break Corus the Champion and then the rest of the Hidden Lands. Each of the boys have a role to play in trying to bring him down, but it's going to cost them, some of them dearly, as they seek a way to stop their enemy.

I have to be honest, I had a really hard time getting into this story. I think it has something to do with the fact that I read the first book almost three years ago. I remembered bits and pieces of it: one of the brothers has magical music, there was an adventurer named Creed who had a magic sword that didn't like it when he lied, and that's about it. For the first third of the book, I was trying desperately to play catch-up. It made for slow going. I seriously thought I wouldn't be able to participate in the tour because I'd still be reading. But once I got past the midway point, things picked up and I obviously finished in time.

That said, this book felt a little muddy to me. I enjoyed it; the storyline involving Ewan engaged me the most. The other plots seemed too connected to the overall plot (which I have largely forgotten) and for the most part, the book felt like the middle chapters of a larger epic and I felt more than a little lost. Maybe it would have helped if I read the first book again; alas, it has since disappeared from my house!

I'm not saying that this is a bad book. Far from it. Briggs did a fantastic job building a believable world and some very fun characters. Creed is still a favorite. And it was enough to make me want to keep traveling in Karac Tor when I get a chance to read The Song of Unmaking. Hopefully it won't take three years again.

Go and see what the other tourists have to say:

Gillian Adams Noah Arsenault Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse CSFF Blog Tour Carol Bruce Collett Theresa Dunlap April Erwin Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Christopher Hopper Jason Joyner Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Marzabeth Shannon McDermott Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen Sarah Sawyer Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Nicole White Rachel Wyant

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Broken Sight

I've finally been able to dig into my pile of Marcher Lord Press's most recent releases (see my previous book review). Now I've polished off Steve Rzasa's Broken Sight.

The book is a continuation of Rzasa's earlier books with Marcher Lord. In this world, religion had been pretty much outlawed. More specifically, it had been illegal to own the printed word (e-books were perfectly fine, because the government could monitor and censor the contents). But then, in the previous books, that situation changed. Want books? Get them! Want to publicly practice your religion? Go for it!

This is the situation facing Lieutenant Commander Brian Gaudette, the skipper of the Rescue Ops ship Weskeag. He's got a crew of Christians, Muslims, agnostics, and former sympathizers of Kesek, the fallen and disgraced secret police of the Realm, all mixed in one ship. That's a problem, because he finds himself heading out to answer a distress call, one that's fraught with danger.

Because Kesek hasn't disappeared. Not even close. And this mission could easily kill them all.

I checked my reviews from the previous books. Apparently I was a bit cool toward the second. That's not the case here at all. I loved this book. Once again, Rzasa's story world simply shone. You can tell he did a lot of work figuring out the "physics" of interstellar travel.

I loved the characters, the adventure, all of it. The only thing that threw me even a little was the sheer amount of foreign phraseology peppered throughout the book. I mean, it added to the verisimilitude, but there were a few times where I was scratching my head.

But overall, this was a great book, and I'm hoping that it won't be the last time we see Rescue Ops in action!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wind and Shadow

I've been waiting for this one for a long time. A long time. I'm talking about Wind and Shadow by Kathy Tyers.

True confession time: Tyers is the reason why I stuck with writing Christian speculative fiction. I still remember browsing the CBD website for Christian sci-fi (back before the Web 2.0 revolution) and stumbling across her Firebird books. And I remember staring at her name, thinking, Why is that name so familiar? And then I looked up at my Star Wars books and saw The Truce at Bakura and I knew I had to get Firebird. And I did, and it was awesome, and that inspired me to keep working on my own books and I . . .

I'm gushing, aren't I? Sorry. Ahem. Dignified.

Seriously, I loved Firebird. Those three books were a lot of fun and after reading them the first time, I kept hoping that some day, Tyers would return to that universe. That day has come.

Wind and Shadow follows the children of Firebird's man characters. Kiel Caldwell has become a priest, Kinnor a Sentinel like his father. Kiel is called to the barren world of Mikuhr, the former home of the Sentinels' enemies, the Shuhr, by a diplomat named Wind Haworth. But as soon as he steps off the ship, Kiel disappears.

Once his disappearance is reported, the Sentinels send in his twin brother, Kinnor, to investigate his disappearance. But little does either brother realize that they have stepped into a larger conflict, both in terms of the Whorl and in terms of the spiritual realm, one that could easily end the life of everyone they know.

I really enjoyed this book. I did. Tyers has a flair for creating rich worlds and layering in some great sci-fi details. The characters are great. The action is top-notch.

But here's the thing (and I hesitate to say this, because I think it's more my fault than anything else). I felt a little lost in the early going. I don't know why that is. I got what was going on, for the most part, but every now and then, I got the feeling that I was missing something important, that while all of the pieces seemed to fit together, I was overlooking something.

I don't quite know how to explain it. That sense of "missing pieces" dragged on my enjoyment just a little in the earliest chapters. But once I got past that, I had a blast.

Like I said, it's probably just me. Life has been a bit crazy today and I can't say that I've been able to read as much as I like to with as much focus as I normally would bring to bear on a book. But if you're a fan of Christian sci-fi, be sure to check this one out. Totally worth it!