A Time Travel Tagging

I was recently tagged by Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn. The subject is all about books and time traveling, in one way or another. I really enjoy these tag posts as they often give me something to talk about without having to use a lot of brainpower. Here are the Q&A.

SummersOwlDanceWhat is your favorite historical setting for a book?

It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve read plenty of stories set in ancient Greece (Mary Renault), Roman murder mysteries & ‘celebrities’ (John Maddox Roberts, Conn Iggulden), and the 1800s of the American West (David Lee Summers, Cherie Priest). Also, the Tudor era attracts me. In fact, I’m currently wrapped up in Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory.

AsimovStarsLikeDustWhat writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Isaac Asimov is near the top of my list. His books feature prominently in my childhood/teen years. I read his Lucky Starr series but also many of his adult novels. For kicks, I’d love to meet Homer and put to rest the age-old argument on whether Homer was male or female or collection of authors. I wouldn’t mind meeting Pearl S. Buck. Her novel, The Good Earth, was required reading in both the 5th and 9th grades (I moved and changed school districts, so that’s why I got hit twice with this classic) and I loved it both times. She had a very interesting life and it wouldn’t just be her books I’d pester her with questions about, but also her travel and years living in China.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraWhat book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

There’s so much good stuff out today! Apart from a few classics, most of the ‘safe’ or required reading I had access to as a kid was boring and often felt fake or like it was missing a big element of life – you know, all the gooey, messy bits that make all the good parts that much better. Luckily, I had full access to any SFF novel in the house and there were plenty of those. So to supplement my childhood bookshelf, I would give myself Andy Weir’s The Martian, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

Chupacabra
Chupacabra

What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

I would speed ahead to my future self and hand her a copy of Robert E. Howard’s stories. His writing is some of the best I have enjoyed and yet several of his stories, Conan or otherwise, have certain sexist and racist elements that really repel me. This book would remind me that humans, including myself, are flawed and that things change over the years, such as views on a woman’s proper role in high fantasy adventure. Yet despite these shortcomings, a person can still love a story, or a person, or a country, etc.

ChaneyTheAmberProjectWhat is your favorite futuristic setting from a book?

I always enjoy closed systems and several feature in SF stories. These are domed cities (Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson), underground villages (The Amber Project series by JN Chaney), underwater towns (Lucky Starr & the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov), very large space stations (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey), etc.. There’s the wonder of discovering these places, seeing how they are supposedly working and will go on working forever, and then watching it all come apart in some horrible way that means death for most of the people in the story. Yeah, welcome to my little demented side.

 

Grahame-SmithAustenPrideAndPrejudiceAndZombiesWhat is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

For fun, I wouldn’t mind visiting Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really like the idea of making polite ball jokes, decapitating zombies, working out in the dojo, and politely trading British insults over tea. Honestly, I think that is the only way I would survive the Victorian era.

RobertsTheKingsGambitSpoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

Back when I was eyeball reading printed books (I do mostly audiobooks now) I had a ritual. I would start a book and at that moment that I knew I was hooked, that I had fallen in love with the story, I would turn to the last page and read the last sentence. Most of the time this didn’t spoil anything, but every once in a while there would be a final line that gave away an important death or such.

PriestMaplecroftIf you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

Actually, I do have a Time Turner. My husband bought it for me at the start of September while he was at an SCA event. It was right after we learned that I was quite sick but a few weeks before we learned just how sick. So, lots of bitter sweet emotions tied up with that piece of jewelry.

Anyhoo, if I had a working one, I would go everywhere and do everything. I would start with planning things that Bill and I have wanted to do together (like celebrating Beltane in a pre-Christian era) and then add in things that I have always wanted to do but which my be a big snooze fest for Bill (such as Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage).

JonasAnubisNightsFavorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

Currently, I’m enjoying the Jonathan Shade series by Gary Jonas. Time travel really becomes an element in this urban fantasy series in the second trilogy with Ancient Egypt featuring prominently. I also adore Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I finally read a Stephen King novel, 11-22-63. The characters were great even as the underlying premise was only so-so for me. The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones was a fun, crazy creature feature.

ButcherColdDaysWhat book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, for sure. I’ve read the early books several times each and I get a laugh out of them each time. Also I would like to experience Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey all over again for the first time. That book showed me how prudish some of my ideas were when I first read it. I wonder what it would show me now? Perhaps the same thing, if indeed this book has had as big an impact on who I am as I think.

Tagging Other People

So in general with these fun tagging posts, I never want anyone to feel obligated to play along. As usual, if any of you want to play along, I definitely encourage you. You can answer any of the questions in the comments or you can throw up your own blog post and then let em know about it so I can come read it. Here are some people who I think would like this particular time travel subject:

David Lee Summers

Under My Apple Tree

Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat

On Starships & Dragonwings

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Ray Jay Perreault, Science Fiction Author

PerreaultSIMPOCHumanRemnantsEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Ray Jay Perreault. I’ve quite enjoyed his various SF novels, especially those focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI). You can check out my reviews on his work HERE. Today, we chat about how his past work fed into his creativity as a writer, the subtle meanings of words, the AI classics, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY (ebook or audiobook) at the end of this post.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Interesting question and to be honest, I’ve never thought of such a scenario. One way or another each of the options has a certain allure to it. I guess it boils down to the fact that I’m a Science Fiction Author which would lean me towards the space alien. Of course I don’t want to offend any superheroes or supernatural creatures. If the situation would arise where I need to be saved by one of them, I don’t want to burn any bridges as the saying goes.

PerreaultGoodMorningProcessesMustBeImprovedReality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I think ‘reality’ is important in all stories. There needs to be elements of the story that readers can relate to.  Every element of our lives is based on shared experiences, even language. When we use a word it brings up a similar image in the mind of the other person. The same applies with storytelling. It is important to have a shared set of experiences for the reader to understand and appreciate what is happening. Of course an author can go too far and present a scene where the amount of mundane detail exceeds what is necessary for the story. Some readers like the details and others want to focus more on the story. My personal style is more towards the latter. My stories tend to move quickly along the story line and I use ‘reality’ in scenes all long as they support and contribute to the story. I have seen some successful authors that can take a couple of pages to describe a field of flowers, but that isn’t something that I do. When I write a story I focus on the story and action, then I have to go back and add the ‘reality’ where I think that it’s necessary to set the scene.

I do admit that I change my styles. Some of my books focus on the action and drama where others focus on the back story. In some situations I like to fully develop the back story because I think it helps when the reader gets to the action. In my book Gemini, I spend almost half the book describing a totally alien culture. I go into their agriculture, history, religion and social practices. I did that for a couple of reasons, first off there were few shared experiences with the reader so I had to develop the similarities. Second, their culture and religion was a key element of the action scenes. If I didn’t take the time to give their back story the action scenes wouldn’t have made sense.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

This might seem as an evasive answer, but I’ve been very fortunate. I spent 10 years flying airplanes in the US Air Force, during which time I traveled to 27 countries. After that I worked for Northrop Grumman and helped design the best weapon systems in the world. During my years at Northrop I had a tremendous amount of autonomy and could do what I needed to get the job done. There were times where I had to make an appointment just to see my bosses. Some of my jobs were damn near impossible, but they were challenging and demanding with associated risks and potential success. They were difficult but I enjoyed the challenges.

I’ve always been lucky, in the fact that my jobs needed creativity. The creativity helped me to become an author. I’ve always loved storytelling and extrapolating future outcomes. Both skills contribute to writing a successful Science Fiction story.

PerreaultProgenyWhat were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I always enjoyed reading and letting my mind see the story the author was presenting. I got into Science Fiction early and loved the classic writers. They seemed to open up a world of possibilities that my mind grasped immediately. At that age I never saw myself as an author, although I did enjoy creative writing classes. I remember one of my favorite college courses on public speaking. In particular I remember one live speaking assignment where we would go to the head of the class and the instructor would give us the subject and we had to immediately put together a five minute speech on that subject. I remember one in particular where I was given a paper clip and I had to talk about it for five minutes. After a few seconds of thought I was able to come up with a very entertaining five minutes talking about the design, the functionality and even the artistic design elements of the paper clip. Needless to say I got an A for that and I think I got an A for the entire course.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Artificial Intelligence literature and non-fiction, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Without a doubt the first required reading would be Asimov’s “I Robot” series of 38 short stories and 5 novels. They are the basis for all AI writings and were a major influence in most of my books. I loved his ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ and I took them one step further in my short story “Progeny” and then in my novel “Progeny’s Children” where I created Four Laws. The context of my laws were different than Asimov’s because my laws were written without consideration for humans. The story takes place a long time in the future after man was forced to leave Earth because of pollution. The robots that the humans left developed their own society and eventually forgot who created them. Their lives and society was governed by their Four Laws of Conformity.

For non-fiction the list is long. I’ve read everything from political biographies to historical romance. I think the two recent books that I’ve read and left the biggest impression was “1491” and “The Accidental Superpower.”

“1491” is a historical analysis of the American Indian world before Columbus. It described the trade, politics and population. It also shows how large, interconnected and sophisticated the combined cultures were. Sadly it showed the precipitous decline in population because of contact with the Europeans.

“The Accidental Superpower” is a realistic projection of the world order over the next couple of decades. The inverted population pyramid shows that countries like Iran and Russia will be unable to sustain their position in the world as their populations decrease along with their earning power.

PerreaultCircleIsClosedCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I haven’t had a ‘gushing event’ yet, but I have noticed what I call the ‘bartender effect.’ When a reader enjoys the works of an author they seem to connect with them on a personal level. That connection opens up email where the reader says things that are normally only shared with a bartender. I’ve got emails from well-meaning readers who share with me their challenges and how my writing has influenced some facet of their lives.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

I tend to get involved in a lot of ‘geeky arguments.’ I enjoy language and the subtleties of words.  I drive my wife crazy when I debate which word is the best and how a sentence can be said in a multitude of ways and each one carries a slightly different meaning.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I can’t say that I remember the first book, but I do remember when I really embraced reading. During my sophomore year in high school I had a great English teacher that really challenged us. I think we had to read a book a week, and over the summer we had a long list. The interesting point was the varied topics. I read everything from “The Tropic of Cancer”, to “Rabbit Run” to the “Communist Manifesto.” It was during that period that I began to appreciate the written word and how many emotions it can create. I also learned how the author’s styles varied and how they used images and style to convey images.

About the Author

RayJayPerreaultAuthorRay was born in New Hampshire, received his Bachelors of Science in Aeronautical Engineering at Arizona State University.  He is now retired from an influential, multi-decade career in aerospace.

Bringing a new voice to science fiction writing, Ray realized there was a niche that was calling him as he began to write deeper characters, create more sophisticated stories and realistic situations for Sci-Fi fans to relate to.

Initially attracted to heroic characters with powerful weapons taking on hundreds of aliens, Ray began his literary career with a desire to extrapolate Sci-Fi stories with a touch of everyday reality that most of us experience in work and our every-day lives.

His literary work is thoughtfully enriched by his decade long experience in the US Air Force where he flew C-130s on missions to 27 countries, and T-38s while training the best pilots in the world, as well as the first female US Air Force pilots.

During his 28 years at Northrup Grumman, Ray worked on some of the most top-secret military aircraft projects in the world including the F-23, F-35, B-2, Global Hawk and many more that can’t be named.

He is grateful to his wife, Charlene and his two daughters, Christine and Robynn for their support on this new journey.

Places to Find Ray Jay Perreault

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

PearreaultSIMPOCBook Blurb for SIMPOC: The Thinking  Computer:

99.9997% of all humans have been wiped out by a very suspicious virus. SIMPOC’s programmer doesn’t come in to work, that day, the next; or ever. The commander of the space station Oasis, Joan Herl is forced to abandon the station because of dwindling resources. When they land on earth they are attacked by another thinking computer who would do anything to protect itself and to continue thinking.

The moon colony Dessert Beach, is trapped as their resources are running out and they must decide when to come home. They have only lifeboats to carry them back to the lifeless earth and what will they find when they enter the atmosphere and land.

The astronauts trapped on the Mars colony Red Dirt are in worse condition. Their systems will break down and resources will run out. Coming home for them is a different story. The lifeboats aren’t made for that purpose and must be rebuilt before the colony breaks down. Should they stay and take their chances on Mars, or should they journey back to earth.

PerreaultProgeny'sChildrenBook Blurb for Progeny’s Children:  

After many years people return to Earth and something else was living there.

People of Earth treated her badly, neglecting the needs of their home planet which resulted in a world that was hostile to life. They were forced to leave and find another planet.

Humanity traveled over 300 years to Horizon. They had learned from their mistakes and took care of their new planet.

1,300 years after leaving Earth they wanted to return to their home. The first ship entered Earth’s orbit and found a pristine planet welcoming them home, but they also found something else living there.

Purchase Links

Amazon US             Audible.com

GIVEAWAY!

Ray Jay Perreault is offering up 2 books, winners’s choices and the winners can each choose the ebook version or the audiobook version (Audible.com account required). You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Ebook or audiobook (Audible.com account required)? 2) What stories featuring AI have you enjoyed? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends October 19, 2016, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bloggity Award and Other Stuff

Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn blog recently nominated me for the Real Neat Blog award. I tend to enjoy blog awards because it forces me to be a little more personable and chatty. Plus, we all get to talk about books.

The Rules:

    • Thank and link the blogger that nominated you.
    • Answer the 7 questions that the nomination has provided you.
    • Create 7 questions for your nominees.
    • Nominate 7 other bloggers.
    • Bend said rules

1. If you could meet any author, from any time (past and present), who would that be and what would be your most pressing question?

That’s a tough one. Andre Norton (Forerunner Foray, Timetraders, etc.), Alan Dean Foster (for his Pip & Flynx series), Isaac Asimov (for his Lucky Starr series), and Anne McCaffrey (for her Dragonriders of Pern series) all an impact on me as a kid and it would be cool to get a drink with them and find out what books, authors, or artists had an impact on them.

2. Who is your absolute favorite character, ever. I know you’re probably groaning and rolling your eyes but there must be one character that springs to mind immediately – probably followed by a host of others – but, I want that first knee jerk reaction please and why!

I find that if you ask me this today, you’ll get one answer and if you ask 6 months from now, you’ll get another. I’m easily swayed by whatever I’m reading and thoroughly enjoying at the moment. Let’s go with Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing wizard PI. I like how he can think out side of the box and come up with crazy polka powered T-rex zombie type solutions to messed up situations.

3. What is your favorite series out of all the books you’ve read?  The series you would recommend without hesitation.

I will always adore Jacqueline Carey’s Terre D’Ange Cycle. The epic fantasy, the alternate history, breaking so many standard tropes! However, I’m not sure I would recommend it to everyone because of the sex. I love the sex, and that’s part of what breaks so many dated, sexist standards in fantasy fiction, but is everyone ready for it? Personally, 9/10 people I recommend this series to, has enjoyed it.

4. What’s your preferred reading format, book or e-reader?

These days I do a lot of audiobooks. I dabble in other formats, but find that my deep fatigue from illness makes concentration an issue. Audiobooks are great for me because I don’t get hung up on typos, grammatical errors, large words that I once knew but now find difficult to connect meanings to, etc. The story continues with an audiobook no matter what issues the book may or may not have.

5. The book you were most looking forward to but ended up being really disappointed with?

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. Wow! This book was a bit of a snoozer for me. The main character that ties it all together, that everyone knows or is tied to in some manner, is pretty darn boring. I kept on with it to the end hoping it would get better. There’s plenty of interesting side characters and I liked the slower pacing than usual for the fall of modern society story. But instead the book really is about this one guy who is pretty bland.

6. Blogging – what do you love/not love – any embarrassing moments?

I love that I don’t have a schedule. I blog when I feel like it (or when I feel up to it) and can take a break from it when I don’t. I like that I have kept it small and just blog what I want to blog about and don’t try to force myself into being glitzy, trendy, or the first to post a review on the latest hot ARC. There’s plenty of blogs that do focus on those things, and I’m glad they’re out there because I read them.

So far, I haven’t done anything too embarrassing. I know my typos and such have gone up this past year while I have been sick. But in the big scheme of things, that’s rather small.

7. Most anticipated book for the remainder of 2016?

Kevin Hearne is coming out with his first epic fantasy, I think. Hooray! I really enjoy his Iron Druid Chronicles (urban fantasy). Scott Lynch may be releasing his next Gentleman Bastards book (hooray!). As far as I know, there’s no release date yet for Peace Talks by Jim Butcher. Henry Hertz & his two sons have at least 2 more kids books coming out this year – they’re always so well illustrated! Of course, the next A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. I always look forward to something new from Jim Bernheimer. I’m hoping Domino Finn does another Sycamore Moon book. I’ve really enjoyed the first 3 Jonathan Shade urban fantasy books by Gary Jonas and I’m hoping he puts more of the series out as audiobooks. Joe Hempel does a great job narrating them.

Here’s my 7 questions:

If you could be an extra on a period piece (Outlander, Spartacus, etc.) what would it be and what would you be doing?

What makes you cringe?

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Bonus Question: If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class about your favorite genre, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

While I will mention some favorite blogs below, I’m going to leave this open mic. If you find the questions (or my answers) amusing, feel free to chime in down in the comments or create your own blog post answering them – if you let me know you did so, I’ll swing by and check it out.

I like to visit author David Lee Summers blog for the steampunk – most definitely for the steampunk. Viviana, Enchanstress of Books is doing a lot of cool audiobook stuff this month. Broken Teepee has a fun mix of home gardening, book reviews, and info on home brewing kits and such. I’ve found Home Cooked Books by narrator Karen White to be a fun place with lots of interesting bits on what it’s like to make an audiobook. Violin in a Void is constantly expanding my world of books, and I like her focus on African authors and book blogs. Mike Powell is a photographer and he focuses on nature. I especially love his photos of herons. Evelyn Aster, who writes mostly contemporary romance (which, admittedly, is a bit outside my favorite genres), regularly posts pics of her fancy nails and her fancy drinks.

On a personal note, I haven’t been as involved as I normally am due to chronic illness. 2015 was one of the toughest years of my life and 2016 is shaping up to be as well. However, just last month I finally got a diagnosis! Hooray! Turns out I have many, many tiny blood clots throughout my lungs. Because the blood clots have been tiny, the condition didn’t present with the normal sharp pains to the chest, etc. Various scans and doctors missed it, and I was often misdiagnosed as having an asthma exacerbation. Now my doctors suspect the blood clots could have been going on as long as 2 years, with my lungs absorbing at least some of them. Because it went on so long, I have a moderately high case of pulmonary hypertension, which in turn has enlarged my heart. So, I have lots of work to do to get better and it will take many months. I’ve been on 24/7 oxygen since January and will be for at least a few more months, perhaps longer.

So, if you pinged me about something and I haven’t responded, feel free to ping me again. I’ve been hypoxic for probably about 12 months now and when your brain doesn’t have it’s regular stream of healthy oxygen, you get stupid, tired, and forgetful.

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Matthew Davenport, Author of the Andrew Doran Series

DavenportTheStatementOfAndrewDoranFolks, please welcome Matthew Davenport. It’s a pleasure to have him on the blog today. I really enjoyed his book The Statement of Andrew Doran several months ago and jumped at the chance to pick his brain. Today we chat about dead authors, networking, side characters, and much more! Also, we have an awesome AUDIOBOOK GIVEAWAY for you all. Scroll to the bottom to check that out!

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

Not in any of my works. Sidekicks all have value to some degree. I try to keep to giving anything that I introduce value. So, if you meet a new character at the beginning of a story but don’t see him for a while, just hang in there, because it’s very likely that he’ll have a pivotal role in the end of the story.

A great example of this is in my Andrew Doran novels. Andrew…collects certain people in his travels. At first they are just a means to an ends, but somewhere along the way, Andrew finds value in keeping these people along as more than just tools, they become friends and allies in his battles.

Comparatively, my horror novel The Trials of Obed Marsh does this as well. Instead of collecting people in his travels, Obed Marsh has family and friends that you might meet near the beginning of the story, but it isn’t until the story begins to climax that you realize their true role.

I’m a firm believer that every name, object, or place that an author focuses on needs to have some sort of reason that it was introduced. If you’re just going to say “Look, an apple!” and never use that apple as a plot device, it has absolutely no reason being in your book. Cut out the fluff before your editor does.

DavenportTheTrialsOfObedMarshIn my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

My first two novels (Random Stranger and Stranger Books) didn’t have any research…at all. But they were fictional accounts completely based on character development. The little research I did was focused on mythical creatures and their evolutions through different cultural interpretations. While that sounds heavy, it really wasn’t. A quick Google search of “All the names Santa Claus ever had” gave me most of my research.

Alternatively, The Trials of Obed Marsh and both Andrew Doran novels demanded a heavy amount of research. All three are heavily influenced by both the eras that they take place in, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I wanted the horror and adventure aspects within Lovecraft’s stories to resonate with the true fans, and read everything that Lovecraft wrote (again, as I was already a fan), taking very extensive notes. Once those notes were done, I looked toward the expanded works. A lot has been added to the mythos since Lovecraft died, and I wanted the relevant pieces to make it into each of those stories as well.

On top of that, the eras that these stories were placed in made a huge change to the flavor of each story, and they needed to be right. The Trials of Obed Marsh was a 19th century sailing story. I didn’t want to just guess at what sailing culture was back then, or how the boats would circumnavigate the globe, so I studied up on how it was done.

With Andrew Doran, I wanted it to be a sort of history lesson that had nothing to do with history. Each chapter of the first book takes place in a new city in Nazi-controlled Europe. I sprinkled in facts explaining the states of those countries during those years, and then I added monsters.

As for how I decide what to research, I start writing my draft notes and if I don’t know how something was done, I start searching the web for everything I can on it until I feel I could hold my own in at least a basic conversation about the subject.

It helps to read…a lot.

DavenportRandomStrangerAs a experienced author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

First: Networking. Outside of my author stuff, I run Davenport Writes, LLC. It’s a company that offers publishing resources for authors. I offer consulting, freelancers (cover artists, voice actors, editors) and book signings for the local folks. The most powerful tool in any author’s toolbox is a handshake. The more people that you can tell about your books, the more people who are going to want to help you get your books out there. What I’ve found is that everyone wants to help you, but they can’t help you until they know about you.

Second: Live. Say yes to everything. Even if it doesn’t sound entirely fun. Once you’ve had the experience, it’s a tool in your toolkit for writing. If I have a friend that wants me to do something that I find unpleasant, that little bit of life I’ll be living will be material for the next story. That adds realism and realism makes great writing.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Arthur Conan Doyle, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams. Let’s start with a serious dinner and end on the lightest. I feel like we’d also end drunk, and drunk with Douglas Adams sounds more fun than drunk with Lovecraft. *shiver* A drunk Lovecraft would be a terror I don’t think many are prepared for.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I manage Davenport Writes, LLC, read, watch horror/adventure movies, and enjoy my evenings with my wife.

DavenportAndrewDoranAtTheMountainsOfMadnessWhat is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The first full novel I read, and it wasn’t really a novel like what I read today, was an old book called My First Toolbox. The book was about a kid who purchased a toolbox with his allowance in order to build…something or another…and then he found he still didn’t have enough money to make whatever it was he wanted to make. That was when he learned that he could make more money by fixing all the neighborhood kid’s stuff. I read that in first grade, and I was more excited that I had completed such a huge book (not even 60 pages, I’m sure) than about the book itself.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

I guess this would depend on the types of obstacles. I’m not inviting some lanky author to some sort of duck and jump obstacle course. On the other hand, I’m leaving the shorties behind if I’m going to have climb or jump on anything.

…I take it back. Ralph Macchio. Why not?

And yes, libations. I never say no to libations. Celebratory Templeton Rye

DavenportTheStatementOfAndrewDoranThe Statement of Andrew Doran Book Blurb:

Dr. Andrew Doran has been out of touch with the major civilizations for quite a while. When an emissary from his Alma Mater demands his assistance, Andrew is in such a state that he has no choice but to help. The Nazis have taken the Necronomicon from Miskatonic University’s library. With it they could call upon every form of darkness and use the powers of the void to destroy all who stand in their way of unlimited power. For years Doran has been at odds with Miskatonic University. Putting his negative feelings aside, Andrew takes charge and heads straight into the Nazi controlled territories of Europe. Along his journey from America and into the heart of Berlin, the dark Traum Kult, or Dream Cult, has sent beasts from the void between worlds to slow his progress. This is adventure and monsters unlike anything the anthropologist has ever experienced, and only with the assistance of the trigger-happy Leo and the beautiful Olivia, both members of the French Resistance, does Dr. Doran have any chance of success. Nazis, zombies, wizards, and beasts roam the path before Dr. Andrew Doran. A sane man would flinch. Dr. Andrew Doran charges in.

DavenportTheTrialsOfObedMarshThe Trials of Obed Marsh Book Blurb:

Innsmouth was a corrupted and fallen town, consumed by its greed and controlled by the Esoteric Order of Dagon. In 1928, the Federal Government destroyed Innsmouth and the nearby Devil Reef based on claims made by a man who had visited the town.

Four years after the mysterious disappearance of Robert Olmstead, the man who sent the FBI to Innsmouth, his closest friend has discovered new evidence into the reality of what Innsmouth truly was: He has found the Journal of Captain Obed Marsh.

The journal paints an intense scene of a vibrant town and how one man’s good intentions can pave the way to Hell itself.

Or in this case…to Y’ha-nthlei.

What can test a man so intensely as to break him from his righteous path?

Only the journal can shed light on that.

Places to Stalk Matthew Davenport

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Matthew Davenport is generously offering up 5 audiobooks of The Statement of Andrew Doran and 5 audiobooks of The Trials of Obed Marsh. You’ll need an Audible.com account to receive one of these books if you win. You can enter to win either book or enter to win both! To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Which book (or both) do you prefer to win? 3) What’s the first book you remember reading? 4) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends October 26th, 2015 midnight.

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Giveaway & Interview: Franz Ross, Author of Our Future Good

KirbyOurFutureGoodFolks, please welcome Franz Ross (aka T. J. Kirby), author of Our Future Good. I really enjoyed Our Future Good, a sharp mix of near-future scifi and social commentary. The audiobook is narrated by Simon Vance, one of my all-time favorite narrators. He’s here today for a lovely chat about physics in science fiction writing, holography, life as a realtor, Warren Buffett, and much more. If you’re here for the giveaway, Franz if offering up 3 audiobook copies of Our Future Good. Scroll to the bottom to enter!

You have a dedicated interest in holography. How did you get started in that? How has the hobby changed over the decades?

I have a small publishing business and I happened to see a notice that these guys were giving classes on how to make your own holograms.  If you ever see a real good volume hologram (a hologram that actually forms an image in space out in front of the plate) it is very impressive. People that have never seen one spend a lot of time running their hand through the ghost-like image.

So I did a book with the people that conducted these classes and the book was called the Holography Handbook and it was very well received. Both MacMillan and McGraw-Hill put it in their book clubs and the book sold well in stores too.

I then went on to do a series called the Holography Marketplace which had 8 editions and came out almost annually. Each edition had articles on holography and a database of all the businesses in holography. Each edition was also filled with lots of holograms from various vendors.

Artistic holography was very big for quite a while and there were hologram stores in lots of cities. It has kind of died down now and most uses of holograms today are in security devices like credit cards, money and things like that. It will probably come back in time.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

Aldous Huxley. I thought Brave New World was an interesting insight to where things might go. The other possibility for the future was 1984. It would be interesting to hear his comments.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Being a Realtor is very difficult because you never know what is going to happen or where your next dollar will come from.

Writing takes a long time and it is more time consuming and difficult than I first thought but you do it because you love doing it.

Who are your non-writer influences? 

I like to casually follow stocks so people like Warren Buffett are interesting.

I really like cutting edge science so the things that people like Elon Musk are doing are very interesting. It is really exciting to be alive today because everything is changing so rapidly.

You have a degree in physics. Did that make writing your book, Our Future Good, easier or more difficult? 

It helps a little because it allows you to discount a lot of the garbage in the news and gives you a more realistic idea as to where things are going to go. Our Future Good is the not too distant future and I think people will be surprised how quickly these things come to exist.

I will take this moment to sketch this out: One way of looking at the near future is that there will be 3 major human inventions during our time. The inventions will be so important that you would have to go all the way back to the invention of written language or the wheel to find something comparable.

1)     The internet – We have just started this one and it is difficult to understand how incredible it is because you are living it.

2)     Mobile Robotic Devices – This has not started yet but it is coming very soon. Call them robots if you like. Robots will make robots and repair robots. So you will be able to create huge quantities of robots if needed and they will do all our mundane chores.

3)     Biological Evolution – This comes soon too. To survive as humans we have always gone out and wacked a plant or animal to death and then stuffed it in our mouth to get the nourishment we need. So we are basically using our body as a garbage disposal that leaches out nutrients that we need and this process also slowly clogs up our plumbing and kills us. We will find a way to provide all the nutrients our body needs without going through all this waste.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging? 

I really have to spend more time on this. I published a number of books by other authors in my business called Ross Books (www.rossbooks.com) but I never actually wrote a book before Our Future Good.

I admit I am not good at self-promotion and I need to work on it. Maybe your readers have some ideas.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

1984

Brave New World

Some of Isaac Asimov’s voluminous writings (hundreds of books).

Arthur Clarke

H. G. Wells

Ray Bradbury

Thank you Franz for spending time with us!

Book Blurb for Our Future Good:

KirbyOurFutureGoodMary and Joe are young people just graduating from their General Lessons. It is time for them to go to their first Project Day and choose the first Project they will to join. Mary wants desperately to get her boyfriend Joe to join her in the NutriSuit Project, but Joe wants just as desperately to do a Journalist Project because a major event is happening and Joe has an opportunity to play an important role

Places to Find Franz Ross (T. J. Kirby)

Ross Books

T. J. Kirby Website

Goodreads

Audible

Amazon

Now for the Giveaway! Franz Ross is offering up 3 (three!) copies of the audiobook Our Future Good. You need to have an Audible.com (USA) account. For a quick, easy entry in to the giveaway, leave me comment with the following: an email address, do you have an Audible USA account?, and recommend a scifi audiobook. For even more chances to win, do the rafflecopter thing.

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Interview: Gabi Stevens, Author of The Wish List

StevensTheWishListEveryone, please welcome Gabi Stevens to the blog today. She is the author of the Time of Transition series. She also writes under the name Gabi Anderson (Destiny Coin series) and G. S. Anderson (Preternatural). Today we discuss Harry Potter and Cinderella, Star Wars I and backstory, game shows, reboots versus retellings, and plenty more!

Who are your non-writer influences?

Dare I be cliché and say my family? Okay, now that that’s behind us . . . I have to thank the teachers in my life who taught me how to think and dream, especially in high school. I went to boarding school and not only did those teachers see us in the classroom, but they also lived with us on campus. We ate meals with them, I babysat their children, etc. They introduced me to Sci Fi and Fantasy novels.

StevensAsYouWishWhich ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Ooo, confession time. I haven’t read Dickens. I know. Shocking. But I will, one day. I’ve really never read Hemmingway, but I know the plots, and I just don’t want to. Okay, I have read The Old Man and the Sea, but none of the others. Steinbeck is another author I’ve never read. I tried to read The Red Pony once, but, well, no. I only kick myself for the Dickens. I haven’t read all of The Canterbury Tales or any of Beowulf, but I can claim to have read part of The Aeneid in Latin, as well as some Livy, Tacitus, and Palutus’s Menaechmi. And I can claim Faust, parts one and two in German. (Too much bragging?)

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

If you subscribe to the Joseph Campbell school of thought, there is only one story, so essentially every story is a reboot. That said, I loved Harry Potter (books more than movies, although I loved the movies too), which is essentially Cinderella. I myself have written a couple of Beauty and the Beast stories (one of my favorites). If you can’t tell, I love fairy tales (must be my German Lit background). I enjoy most of the new retellings of them–although no one has ever tackled my favorite, King Thrushbeard (or Grislybeard, as some have translated it, although the point of Thrushbeard is that the king’s beard looks like the beak of a bird).

StevensWishfulThinkingI’m not as fond of reboots. If it was good before, why remake it? Psycho? Really? And not enough time has passed to reboot some of the series (Could be that I’m just old). Dare I confess I haven’t seen the new Spiderman reboots? Planet of the Apes? Mad Max, ignoring the modern incarnation of Mel Gibson, is pretty awesome already. So what if it’s dated. That’s part of its charm. And clearly, the new one is not out yet, but did we really need a new one? There are so many untouched stories out there, why remake something that’s already been done and done well? But of course there are exceptions. I can’t wait for a good Hulk movie. And (I know this is controversial) I do like the reboot of Star Trek (but I loved the old series). But if they have to reboot, why not pick the really old stuff, like the Thin Man series. But my favorite is the reboot of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s Sherlock (huge fan of this reboot).

There is this rumor that you have been on a few game shows – an experience worth repeating? What would your favorite characters from your own writing be like on a game show?

I have indeed. I was on the Family Feud with the women in my family when Richard Dawson was the host. We won twice then lost the third time, but only won the “Big Money” once. So many tales to tell from that experience, especially since two of our members had heavy Hungarian accents.

Then I appeared on Sale of the Century, and lost it in a tiebreaker because they said tiebreakers would be hard questions– it was easy, and by the time I thought, “But that’s easy,” the other guy had answered.

AndersonTemptation'sWarriorBut my favorite was on Jeopardy, where I came in third, but won the best set of pots and pans ever. No, seriously, they will be handed down to my children, the quality is that good. And I was doing great until Final Jeopardy. To myself I was chanting, “Don’t be US presidents, don’t be US Presidents”, and up pops the category: US Presidents. Man, the day before (because you watch several tapings while you wait) no one got the Final Jeopardy question right (What does Alice cross in “Through the Looking Glass?), and I was sitting in the audience screaming to myself because I knew it. My question: The last surviving president to have signed the US Constitution. Really?

So if my characters would be on game shows my characters, Tennyson Ritter, hero of THE WISH LIST, would do awesome on something like Jeopardy, but horrible on something like Family Feud. He’s got brains, but he just doesn’t have the exposure to the real world to answer questions about how other people would answer. Jonathan Bastion, hero of AS YOU WISH, is too savvy a businessman not to know how people respond to things, so Family Feud would be his game. And Hyacinth, one of the Fairy Godmothers who appear in the entire trilogy, couldn’t be bothered to do something like a game show. She would probably watch them and mock the contestants that appeared on them.

What is your favorite fictional holiday (from books, movies, or tv)?

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th) is my favorite, closely followed by May the Fourth (Star Wars day!).

AndersonFalconAndWolfHow did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

That was fun. I bought my daughters little tokens—one got a Pocket Dragon (porcelain figurine) reading a book, one got items for her Josefina doll, and I just can’t remember what I got the youngest. I bought my husband a ping pong table, which has since gone the way of the dinosaur. For myself, I bought a tiny Swarovski crystal inkwell with gold quill. When I got the call my husband was in the air, flying to Britain, so I had to leave a message at his hotel to call me as soon as he arrived with the words, “Good news” so he wouldn’t panic upon arrival. My two oldest daughters jumped up and down, and my youngest just looked up at me and said, “Chocolate milk.” Way to bring me down to reality quickly, but she was only four.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Mark Twain, Isaac Asimov, Edgar Allan Poe, L. Frank Baum, and Agatha Christie. But I would order for them–tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chips and salsa, margaritas, green chile, and sopapillas. They need to be exposed to the food from where I’m from. Especially the margaritas. Can you imagine the conversation we could have after a couple?

AndersonEverYoursIf you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

How about for your 8th grade students?

I already did give my eighth graders SFF literature. Not only did we read a bunch of short stories—Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” “There Will Come Soft Rains”; Asimov’s Nightfall; Stephen Vincent Benet’s By the Waters of Babylon; but we also read the entire I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.

As for college, here is my list of must reads: Stranger in a Strange Land, The Stars My Destination, A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Martian Chronicles, The Foundation Series, The Lord of the Rings, Doomsday Book, Lord Foul’s Bane,…I know I’ve forgotten a ton.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

When isn’t such a moment awkward? When I’m the one doing the gushing, I figure I’m bothering the author. I had a chance to meet Brent Weeks last year and his wife and their little girl and all I could talk about was child rearing. And when someone gushes to me, I always wonder why? I’m not that good (did you know that most writers are terribly insecure).

AndersonPreternaturalWhat is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

When my husband and I watched Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, we spent two hours discussing the movie at the end. We are both huge Star Wars fans (the original series, and Han shot first) and we didn’t like it. What it boiled down to for me was it was all backstory. As a writer you’re taught not to dump backstory on the reader. Yes, you give hints to what happened in the past, but unless it’s relevant, you don’t need backstory. SW I, II, and III are all backstory. I didn’t need to know why Anakin turned bad. I already knew he had and that he was redeemed. Funny, considering I usually like spoilers, but the difference between spoilers and backstory is huge.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I am currently working on shopping around my first pure fantasy novel. I’ll keep you posted. In addition, I’ve got a story collection, Preternatural, on Kindle and Nook under the name GS Anderson, which is receiving some great reviews (Phew). Look for me and news about me at my web site: www.GabiStevens.com. You can also find me at Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Places to Stalk Gabi Stevens

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Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov

Pico concentrating on the ruffled covers.
Pico concentrating on the ruffled covers.

Why I Read It: I had to see how the Galactic Empire trilogy ended.

Where I Got: My library.

Who I Recommend This To: Space opera lovers.

Narrator: Robert Fass

Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America (2009)

Length: 8 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 3 Galactic Empire

While Pebble in the Sky is Book 3 in the Galactic Empire series, it can be read as a stand alone, just as the other two books in the same series. In this novel, initially published in 1950, Joseph Schwartz is inadvertently transported to the far future where Earth is one piddly little lightly populated planet in a galaxy of several million populated planets. Earth’s ancient history has been forgotten and poor Schwartz knows none of this, suddenly appearing in a field. He makes his way to the nearest house, only to discover he doesn’t understand the inhabitants, and they do not understand him. The people he has bumped into are farmers, and they believe he is an idiot. Then they hear about Dr. Affret Shekt’s synapsifier and how the good scientist needs human volunteers.

Off to Chica, the once large booming city of Chicago, to get Joseph zapped out of idiocy. While Joseph is coming up to speed with the local Galactic Empire language and settling into his new mental powers, we meet some of the other players. Bel Arvaden is an archaeologist with this wild theory that Earth may once have been the center of all human civilization, but mostly he is considered a crackpot for saying such things. Some typical bad guys (pretty forgettable) are introduced with wild dreams of galactic domination.

Overall, Isaac Asimov followed the same story arc as in the other two Galactic Empire series: Some crazy scientist with some odd gadgetry, young male hero that magically puts all the pieces together, desperate female that alternately needs rescuing or bedding. While a fun listen, it wasn’t anything shining. The space opera action was fun, the synapsifier was interesting, the characters one dimensional, the 3 female characters were wives or love interest. In fact, every time a woman walked on scene, everyone’s IQ dropped to 80. Woman walks out of the scene, and the IQs come back up to about normal. Sigh…. Can I blame it on the 1950s?

Robert Fass was easy to listen to. He had distinct voices for all the male characters and pulled off Joseph Schwartz’s near eternal confusion and despair quite admirably. He could use a little more work on his feminine voices as they basically sounded like young men.

VintageScifiBadgeWhat I Liked: The fast pace; the weird cultural norms built into Earth society; the lost history of Earth.

What I Disliked: Fairly predictable; cardboard cut-out women whose main role is to perform wifely duties or need rescuing.

January has been the Vintage Scifi Month over at Little Red Reviewer. I started with Asimov and it’s pretty cool that I was able to finish with Asimov. This month and next is The Science Fiction Experience over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Make sure to check out both blogs for more great SF.

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The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov

AsimovStarsLikeDustWhy I Read It: The Currents of Space and The Foundation trilogy were worthy.

Where I Got It: My library.

Who I Recommend This To: Space-Spy-Thriller fans would enjoy this book.

Narrator: Stephen Thorne

Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America (2008)

Length: 7 hours, 22 minutes

Series: Book 1 Galactic Empire

The Galactic Empire series is made up of three very loosely connected books. In publication order they are: Pebble in the Sky (1950), The Stars, Like Dust (1951), and The Currents of Space (1952).  The series order is as follows: The Stars, Like Dust, The Currents of Space, Pebble in the Sky. Or as near as I can tell, according to the various Wikipedia articles. So far, I have read 2 of these books and each stands alone just fine. I expect Pebble in the Sky will be the same.

When I finished reading this book, my impression was that Isaac Asimov watched several black and white espionage flicks, took his 3-4 favorite plot lines, twisted them together and wrote The Stars, Like Dust, and set it in space. The characters are a bit one dimensional, the plot predictable, and cliches have a free run. I think this is one of his earliest published novels; I can tell a significant difference in his story-building skills just between this novel and The Currents of Space.

With that said, it was still fun. Biron Farrill, a young physically fit male, gets tricked into a plot deeper than he is mentally prepared for. Of course, it starts with the death of his father, which could off-set anyone. He believes he must flee his university and Earth for his own safety. Along the way, he meets unexpected friends, and certain friends unexpectedly turn out to be villains. Artemisia, daughter of a powerful ruler, is the main, er…only, love interest being the single female character of the story. She disobeys her patriarch and has a mind of her own, even if it is mainly interested in Biron’s thigh strength. In the end, the good guys win while Artemisia was taken in a swoon, poor lass.

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The narrator, Stephen Thorne, pulled off the different male voices well, with enthusiasm in the correct places. As there was only 1 lady, he only had to employ a semi-feminie voice on occassion, which worked well enough.

What I Liked: Asimov, even at his worst, is still pretty entertaining; Asimov pays attention to both male and female physique giving the ladies something to appreciate.

What I Disliked: Predictable plot; only 1 female and she doesn’t get a weapon and spends time in a faint.

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This review is part of both The Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage SciFi Month and Stainless Steel Droppings’ The Science Fiction Experience. Vintage SciFi Month runs through January while The Science Fiction Experience runs through the end of February. Make sure to stop by both blogs to see what other scifi aficionados are up to.

The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov

Why I Read It: It leaped off the library shelf at me!

Where I Got It: My library.

Who I Recommend This To: This was a quick, quaint space mystery.

Narrator: Kevin T. Collins

Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America (2009)

Length: 7 CDs

Series: Book 2 Galactic Empire

Rik had his mind wiped clean, which is a pretty rude thing to have happen (unless you are a violent criminal, in which case I have no pity for you). In fact, Rik couldn’t even tend to basic needs without encouragement and assistance at first. Under Lona’s care and guidance, he slowly comes part way back to himself and can hold down a very simple job at the local manufacturing plant on Florina. When Lona takes him to a doctor, they learn that he had been psycho-probed and that he might not get his memory back.

Yet there is something that is trying to worm it’s way out of Rik’s brain; something that connects Florina, the planet’s main export (kryt, which is used for making beautiful cloth), and himself. As Rik remembers more and more, the mystery deepens and they find themselves caught up in a web of intrigue with a growing body count. The regional power of Trantor and the government of the planet Sark vie for possession of Rik and what he will soon remember (hopefully).

I enjoyed this book for the mystery and because I liked watching Rik muddle and struggle through. Even though simple country Lona didn’t understand much of what Rik was trying to remember, she stuck with him throughout. The class differences between the Florina workers and the Sark nobility threw in some added tension between the characters of the story.

I actually didn’t realize this was Book 2 of the Galactic Series until I started writing up the review. This book reads fine as a stand alone space mystery. (Though I am excited to have this simple excuse to dig up the other two Isaac Asimov books in the series.)

Kevin T. Collins did a great job with men’s and women’s voices, with provincial country accents, and imperial demands, even throwing in dialect accents. I enjoyed his crisp and clear pronunciation and the pacing.

What I Liked: Mystery most tangled; ‘Rik’ is the equivalent of ‘idiot’ in the Florina language; nice twist at the end that I didn’t see coming; works fine as a stand alone novel.

What I Disliked: Out of the whole cast of characters, only two females.

As part of Stainless Steel Droppings’ R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event, I am going to count this as a mystery, even though it happens in the very far future in space. This event is still going strong until the end of October, so feel free to hop over there and join the fun.