Signed Book Giveaway & Interview: Jeffrey Bardwell, Author of Broken Wizards

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Jeffrey Bardwell. He kindly lets me heckle him with questions and is also offering up 5 signed advanced review copies of Broken Wizards, open internationally! Scroll to the end of the post to check out that giveaway!

1. If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

If I were a background character, I would be the cheeky voice of experience gleefully hanging lampshades on all the plot holes while the protagonist was walking down the street and pontificating or ordering a pizza. I would be the very astute, very snarky delivery boy who would be stiffed his tip for my troubles.

2. Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

Fiery breath? Long nails? Flaky skin? I’m half way there already every time I wake up in the morning. I would much prefer to be than to have a dragon. That way, I’d be the one making the messes instead of cleaning them up (of the destructive burning building variety). Any dragon I own will be house trained.

3. As an ecologist, what’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

There are several species of fungi that will invade insects’ bodies and nervous systems and turn them into zombie bugs. I find the concept terrifying. I once had a mentor who could eat a ham sandwich with one hand and perform a blunt dissection with the other, so gore doesn’t really gross me out these days. My nightmare fuel is more psychological and of the body snatchers variety.

4. 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?

Um . . . Batman, hands down. Save me, oh knight of darkness!

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

The one with the most engaging plot twists of course: Game of Thrones. Mostly, I just want to wipe my mind and binge watch the whole series after it’s released while curled up on the couch with the love of my life. Now, where can I find some of that brain-warping fungus?

6. Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

It’s a tie between Sherlock Holmes and Watson and Batman and Robin. I guess it’s no coincidence the the latter are the superhero expies of the former.

7. What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

My den is a semi organized mess. I can usually jot notes, work on revisions, write the bare bones of scenes, and plot novels anywhere. But actually sitting my butt in a chair and writing chapters at a time requires either my desk in the basement or the kitchen table, depending on the weather. I hope to get a proper office organized someday in the guest room, but as they say, hope springs eternal.

8. 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?

Oh, wow. You’re asking that of an ex academic [rubs hands together and grins]. Let’s teach! I would arrange my course around authors rather than books. I guess I would start with Edgar Allen Poe and the intersection of mystery, horror, and fantasy and then look at how different authors have added their own unique spin on SFF over the years. I’d throw in some lesser known authors like James H. Schmitz to show off a few outliers like well-rounded, perceptive female characters. Then, we’d examine common tropes and how they reflect how SFF changes with society and then start deconstructing them. Now that I’ve said all that, I really want to teach that class . . .

9. It’s a long sailing trip: what books make it into your trunk and why?

I admit I would cheat and bring the following: 1) a hand crank generator, 2) an AC/DC converter, 3) a few shrink wrapped ereaders with an eclectic mix of everything I can cram into them, and 4) OK, one or two hardbacks: Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein and The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve read those multiple times over the years, so I wouldn’t mind being stuck with them when my generator fails or the boat sinks and it’s desert island time.

About Author Jeffrey Bardwell:

Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.
The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at: jhbardwell@gmail.com

 

Places to Stalk Jeffrey Bardwell

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Book Blurb about Broken Wizards

Time’s up for mages!

The wizard purge is in full swing. Sorcery is illegal in the modern, steam-powered Iron Empire. The Magistrate’s Black Guards hunt the uncivilized mages using mechanized armor and mysterious, clockwork weapons. The guards deliver their prisoners to the Butcher, Captain Vice. All wizards are tortured and executed as traitors to the state . . . with one exception.

That exception is Devin, an outbreak mage and ex artificer, a prince of machinery. The Magistrate exiles the youth over Vice’s protests to the wild kingdom of wizards and dragons. Devin only knows gears and springs, but his savage magic offers salvation, if he can tame it. The exile must learn to harness his dangerous, new powers before the Butcher tracks him down to finish the job.

Follow Devin’s quest in Book One of The Artifice Mage Saga. Join the fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.

Amazon ~ kobo ~ Free Sample

GIVEAWAY!!!

Jeffrey is graciously offering up 5 signed ARCs of Broken Wizards [OPEN INTERNATIONALLY]. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What books would you take on a long sea voyage? 2) Where do you live? Giveaway ends May 10th, 2017, midnight.

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Giveaway & Interview: Heather Henderson, Narrator of The Egg and I

Everyone, please welcome Heather Henderson to the blog today. I really enjoyed her narration of the classic The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. A big thank you to Jess at The Audio Book Worm for setting up this book tour. Swing by the tour page to catch more interviews, reviews, giveaways, and audio excerpts. If your interested in the giveaway (and who wouldn’t be?), scroll to the very bottom to learn how to win an Amazon GC, or credit at Post Hypnotic Press (audiobooks, yay!). On to the interview!

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?

Actually, in thinking about this question, I came up with a cool idea (well, I think it’s cool!).   I would invite a group of my friends who are audiobook narrators, and I would ask each of them to bring a book to discuss that he or she had narrated.

I thought of this because narrators’ experience of books is so much different from that of readers or even listeners.  No matter how well I might know a book in print, when I perform it, I learn all these new things about its style, cadence, rhythm, syntax — new layers of meaning and technique.

Narrators live in these books for weeks, as we prep (pre-read and study) the script, figure out how to perform the author’s intention, decide how we are going to do each character and accent, research pronunciations . . . And then we go into the studio and record every word, every sentence for hours and hours a day for a week (or three, depending on the book).  I think it would be fascinating to hear other narrators share what they have learned about an author or a book through narrating it.

For our first meeting, I would bring Betty MaDonald’s Anybody Can Do Anything (the third in her memoirs series that I narrated, and I think my favorite of the four).  I would invite . . . well, I wouldn’t know where to start.  We narrators are spread all over the world, and sometimes the only time we see each other is at conferences, so I would want to see all them.  Off the top of my head: Judith West, Cassandra Campbell, Hillary Huber, Scott Brick, Johnny Heller, Grover Gardner, Andi Arnt (who would keep us all in stitches), Xe Sands, Elizabeth Wiley, Ann Richardson, Simon Vance . . . .

Oh, forget it: I couldn’t possibly choose!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to voice acting/narrating?

The worst job I ever had ever was through a temp agency in 1978, in the days before computers or even copy machines that collated for you . . . read on:  I was sent to a company that made utility boxes for electric companies — you know, those bland green things on street corners?  This company designed a whole range of shapes and sizes of these boxes (who knew?), and they needed me to collate their 12-page catalog.  I spent two weeks, eight hours a day, taking one page from each 12 piles and stapling it into a catalog, over and over again.  It was absolutely silent in there all day.  If only Walkmans had been invented — I could have listened to music, or an audiobook!

Voice acting — especially audiobook narrating — is on the other end of the spectrum.   It is all kinds of things: incredibly technically difficult, exhausting, rewarding, and exhilarating, intellectually stimulating.  It challenges all of my training in theater and voice, is wonderfully creative.  And I get to work with wonderful people — and with books!

Who are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite heroes from the pages?

Iago (from Shakespeare’s Othello) comes to mind as the worst villain.  I think it’s because he’s so intentional about doing evil, and he does it parasitically, through Othello.  Othello is one of the most kind, intelligent, loving characters in Shakespeare, but Iago manages to get to him.

Heroes:  Jane Eyre.  She has a heart willing to give everything, but she’s made of steel.  She speaks her mind, and she insists that everyone around her live up to her high standards of honesty and authenticity.

You are co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry. What is the toughest accent for most American voice actors to do well?

That absolutely depends on the actor.  I honestly could not identify a single accent that “most” actors struggle with.  We all have natural abilities with some and not with others, and we have all gotten different training.

A tougher challenge, especially for less experienced narrators, is not to overdo an accent.  You don’t have to speak East Indian like a native — you just have to sound like an Indian who is speaking English with an Indian accent.  Otherwise you’ll come off like Apu from The Simpsons (which Hank Azaria does brilliantly — but that’s a whole different kind of character voice and voiceover specialty).

I worked really hard on this balance when I was narrating the character of Kimi in The Plague and I (Betty MacDonald’s third memoir).  Kimi is Betty’s Japanese-born best friend, and her dialogue is written with a pretty strong Japanese accent.  But I didn’t want to make her sound like, you know, Mickey Rooney doing Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  I did many takes of Kimi’s lines as I recorded the book — I’d do sentences over until they sounded natural enough to my ear.

On AudioEloquence, we list two types of resources: pronunciation sites and dialect/accent sites.  The pronunciation sites are the most valuable part to most people, I think.  You would not believe how many words you need to research when you have to say every single one of them correctly — character names place names, technical terms, sci-fi character names . . . etc.  If you go onto AudioEloquence.com, you can see what I mean — we have resources for pronunciation sites on everything from music to microbiology to Alaska towns.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

For some reason, all the people who come to mind for this question are not fictional — they’re authors.  They would be:

1)  Robert Heinlein.  I met him at a Star Trek conference in 1976 (yes, you heard that right), and he was so sweet and interesting that I always wanted to get to know him better!

2) Betty MacDonald, of course.  When you read The Egg and I and her other memoirs, you feel like she could be your most loyal and hilarious BFF.

3)  Charlotte Brontë.  I would love to meet the woman who created that amazing character of Jane Eyre.

4)  M. Wylie Blanchet.  She wrote one of my favorite books, which I was fortunate enough to be able to narrate: The Curve of Time.

5)  Alice Hoffman.  I like to imagine that we could have tea and do magic spells together.  🙂

What is the first book you remember reading on your own? And what is the first book you narrated professionally?

I have no idea what the first book I ever read was.  As soon I learned to read (via Dick and Jane books in first grade — I clearly remember that), I read so constantly that it’s all a blur.  On more than one report card, I had the teacher comment, “Heather must stop reading during class and pay attention.”  🙂

The first book I narrated professionally was a wonderful young adult fiction, Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney, produced by Audible Studios.

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

Well, the final book in the Betty MacDonald memoirs series — Onions in the Stew — is just about to be released, which means that the whole set will now be available in audio for the first time ever!

The back-story to this is that I had been searching my whole career to find a producer who would collaborate with me on pulling this classic series out of obscurity.  Most of the book jobs I do are new releases, and I don’t choose them — I get asked to do them by audiobook publishers.  But I had a dream of narrating Betty MacDonald’s humorous memoirs (published betwen 1945 and 1955), because they are some of my favorite books ever.  There are four: The Egg and I, The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew.  Finally, I found Carlyn Craig, who owns Post Hypnotic Press . . . and my dream came true.

About Heather Henderson:

NarratorHeatherHendersonHeather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts.  Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire;  and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine.   She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry.  In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.

Connect with the narrator: Website ~ YouTube ~LinkedIn

MacDonaldTheEggAndISynopsis of The Egg and I:

When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall – through chaos and catastrophe – this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor.

A beloved literary treasure for more than half a century, Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I is a heartwarming and uproarious account of adventure and survival on the American frontier.

Audible        Amazon

About the Author Betty MacDonald:

AuthorBettyMacDonaldBetty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters. 

MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island). 

Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

Find out more on Wikipedia

Connect with the Publisher Post Hypnotic Press

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GIVEWAYS!!!

There are 4 different giveaways for this tour. You can enter any of them or all of them. These giveaways are hosted by The Audiobookworm and the prizes provided by the publisher. Enjoy!

Giveaway 1: Grand Prize! $100 Credit to Post Hypnotic Press

The Egg and I Grand Prize

Giveaway 2: $80 Credit to Post Hypnotic Press

The Egg and I Runner Up

Giveaway 3: $60 Credit to Post Hypnotic Press

The Egg and 2nd Runner Up

Giveaway 4: $20 Amazon Gift Card

The Egg and I 3rd Runner Up

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Peter Riva, Author of The Path

RivaThePathFolks, please give a warm welcome to Peter Riva, author of The Path. We chat about space exploration (real and fiction), memory virginity, a fantastical book club meeting, and plenty more! And don’t forget to check out the print, audiobook, & gift card giveaway (International!) at the end of the post!

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?

Dr. Norman Borlaug, Dr. Linus Pauling, Robert Heinlein, Joseph Conrad, and Arthur C. Clarke. Let me explain why.

Arthur because I was lucky enough to have him write a foreword to a book I did on NASA photography in 1985 – at which time he and I talked for hours discussing the state of astronautics and the hopes and dreams he had for a space elevator in Sri Lanka – if only they would perfect single, continuous molecular wire that would be able to take the strain – Arthur was an eminently practical person who would add to any discussion with feet firmly planted in the possible, not fantasy.

Conrad because he always saw accurately into the heart of man, understood that the real danger was always in the well-meaning do-gooder, a person so myopic that they do not realize the dangers they pose.

Heinlein because his ability to be prescient of the actual future we all face – everything from Waldos (robotics), video glasses, omnipresent recording everything, portable telephones, commercialization of space, burgeoning open sexuality and so on – that vision of his would open up any conversation in a hurry.

Pauling because I met him, through his grandson who I went to school with for a while, and he struck me as a very frustrated man, way ahead of his time, pushing the boundaries of human biomechanical possibilities. In any discussion, he would be able to assess the effects of any postulation upon humankind’s ability to tolerate a different future.

And Dr. Borlaug? People don’t know him very well. They should. The Nobel Peace Prize winner said, in his acceptance speech (for growing more wheat per acre and thereby avoiding conflict due to want) that more food also could mean more people and that is NOT what he had in mind. Dr. Borlaug, America’s leading environmentalist and an admirer of Teddy Roosevelt, understood the real global environmental threats better than almost anyone.

The choice of the three books is selfish – I would love to listen to such great minds discuss the future of humanity, this planet, and space.

“Infinite Tropics: An Alfred Russel Wallace Anthology” – the writings of the man who said about humans (to paraphrase), “It is a paradox that the only creature able to appreciate the beauty of nature is also the only creature on earth able to bring about its destruction.” Wallace also hinted at something gaining traction today – that survival of the individual is not the main evolutionary pathway – survival ability of the tribe leads to greater evolutionary changes than the individual alone.

“The Heechee Saga” by Frederik Pohl – a most optimistic look at a futuristic confined galaxy around us – replete with seriously flawed humans. The conclusion of the novels being a version of “duck and cover” – escaping a deadly outcome by hiding inside the edge of a black hole – so typically human.

And

Well, I was going to pick “Remembrance of Things Past” by Marcel Proust (only the first book)[i] but then Orson Scott Card dealt with the same issues brilliantly in “Speaker for the Dead” – where people’s memories are questioned for recall for what they wanted (or tried) to remember or actually did remember – which brings into question the whole concept of the human brain’s ability to store anything accurately or, indeed, what the brain conjures up as a parallel memory or original thought. Bang goes copyright in one paragraph.

[i]  – sticking especially to the Episode of the Madeleine….

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of Madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray… when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

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?

A supernatural creature, of course. If you consider that evolution has confined all our muscular and brain ability in favor of increased longevity (and thereby accumulation of wisdom which is better for our tribe’s survival), my hope is that a supernatural creature would have the ability to unlock those restrictions – mental and muscular – and save me from doom.

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

What an interesting thought – memory virginity… putting thoughts back into the (Pandora’s) box… someone should write that book.

I remember loving Bonanza, first time color TV and all the wonderful Colorful World of Disney hours – especially the science ones. I guess I would add the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World and my friend James Burke’s brilliant Connections – these always blew me away.

Seeing one of my favorite films for the first time again – Lawrence of Arabia – on the giant screen, or, indeed, yes, 2001, A Space Odyssey, sitting in the front row, staring up at the screen, being blown away. It was a time of societal “otherness” and 2001 fit the bill perfectly.

On the book front, that is harder. Book memories are always colored by where I read them, and the more thought-provoking titles rarely were a pleasure to read initially, only to savor in the coming months. I suppose I would love to read any of the Dr. Seuss stories for the first time again, there is an innocence there that is still captivating – similarly, I miss Paul Gallico’s “The Hurricane Story” that thrilled me to my core. That I would love to re-experience.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

To be frank, this is about the most fun an author can have – answering serious questions without restriction. Book writing is all about sharing. In my case perhaps a bit too much of a desire to impart what I know before it is all gone… “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” well, perhaps, but if no one ever hears of them, how can they be evident to everyone? It causes me to want to talk too much, makes me feel I am bragging, when in fact I really don’t like to talk about me, I just want to give all this information to people so they can color their own lives the way they want. Book promotion should not be about self-promotion but about imparting the stuff you write about. Sadly, often it is about people only wanting to buddy up to the author – and for that you need to open your sphere and promote yourself – but hopefully as little as possible.

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

I grew up with the notion of responsibility. Jobs were merely the manifestation of responsibility. Every “job” I have ever had was deeply personal and I attacked each one from that perspective. That includes writing. You want to write? Write, finish. Re-write.

I have a life motto – try and be at the vanguard at least three times in your life.

One of the least rewarding jobs I ever had was like pushing boulders up a huge hill. UCAR set up a team to negotiate, in 1986, to make NASA leave the Shuttle External Tanks in high Earth orbit instead of ditching them in the Indian Ocean. Vast pressurizable islands in space, they could have formed the habitat for space living for centuries to come. I got the program as far as a MOU with NASA and then they pulled the rug – NORAD and others didn’t want more space “junk” floating up there. Three years and countless hours, all for nothing. I put it down to shortsightedness, but the truth was, we tried to get NASA corporate on board before we got Congressional approval and support. That one failure still hurts.

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

“Caution: He tries, hard – but means well.”

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?

Well, it has to be me with John Young the astronaut, America’s first real spaceman. He seems to be a most boring person… totally disinterested in mundane trivia – until you ask him anything about walking on the moon – then his eyes light up, he smiles and won’t (thankfully) stop telling you how great it was, how mind-expanding the new reality to stand on another planetary body… His outpouring was interrupted by fellow spaceman Robert Crippen, in building 2 at JSC where we were editing astronaut’s images, because they had a meeting to go to… my plea, said like a five-year-old, squeaky voice and all, “Please, don’t go! I want to hear more!” John smiled and patted me on the back as he walked out. My face was red for long time.

RivaThePathBook Description for The Path:

All life on earth is about to be terminated by an entity as old as the galaxy itself. To make matters worse, Simon has broken everything already.

In a future world that is run by computer systems and that is without want, how can a man find his role? Then, if the very computers he works on to try to make them more human suddenly try to kill him, revealing a secret so vast that it affects every living soul on the planet, can that man be a hero?

These are the questions that face the stumbling, comic, and certainly flawed Simon Bank. His job is to work with the System’s artificial intelligence, making it fit more perfectly into human society so that it can keep the country running smoothly. But when the System threatens the peaceful world he knows, Simon suddenly must rush to save his own life, as well as the life of everyone on earth. Forced to reassess everything that he thought he knew, he is caught within circumstances way beyond his control.

Simon’s only hope is to rely on intellect and instincts he didn’t know he had, and on new friends, not all of them human, to change himself and all humanity. And he doesn’t have much time.

Buy the book:     Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Indigo/Chapters

Peter Riva AuthorAuthor’s Bio:

Peter Riva has worked for more than thirty years with the leaders in aerospace and space exploration. His daytime job for more than forty years has been as a literary agent. He resides in New York City.

Connect with the author:   Website     Twitter     Facebook

There’s plenty of more interviews, guest posts, reviews, and book spotlights on this tour, courtesy of iRead Book Tours. You can check out the tour schedule HERE.

GIVEAWAY!!!!

Win 1 of 10 print or audiobook copies of The Path and (2) $25 Amazon gift cards (International)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview: Paul B. Spence, author of The Madness Engine

SpenceTheRemnantHello Dark Dabbers, please welcome SF writer Paul Spence to the blog today. We chat about heroes & villains, geeky stuff, books & movies, and plenty more. Enjoy!

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

Out of the Dark, by David Weber, because it was then that I knew I could do better.

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

Worst or most difficult job? Most of them. Anything monotonous that keeps me from thinking? Worst Job? Ditch digger. Writing is more stressful, but more rewarding.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Other than mine? Seriously, I’d love to play a Fallout-type game set in my universe(s). Other than mine, Skyrim done Dragonriders of Pern style.

SpenceTheFallenWho are your non-writer influences?

Non-writer influences? What is this thing you speak of?

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

Gilgamesh. I haven’t made time for it yet. I need to.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

To be honest, I’m not fond of villains. As for villains I thought worked great, Eddorians would top the list. Maybe Cthulhu.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Kip and Peewee from Have Space Suit — Will Travel, by Robert Heinlein.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed?

The one that comes to mind is the movie Forbidden Planet, by William Shakespeare — er, The Tempest, yeah.

SpenceTheMadnessEngineIs there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you? 

I thought the later Hunger Games movies were good. I usually don’t watch adaptations too often. Don’t even ask my opinion on The Hobbit movies. I don’t read books derived from games.

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

Off the top of my head: Roger Zelazny, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, and E.E. “Doc” Smith. I haven’t got a clue what they’d order, but I imagine alcohol would be involved.

SpenceMilankovicCare 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?

Can’t think of any offhand. I’m pretty comfortable in my skin. Maybe when I shook hands with Neil Armstrong as a kid and realized I was already too tall to be an astronaut.

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I like cover art that conveys something from the book. The original cover for John Steakley’s novel Armor really nailed it.

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

Too many to count. I’m a scientist, dammit! We geek out all the time! That said, I do have recurring arguments about Classic Star Trek vs Next Gen. Next Gen sucked and has no rewatch benefits. Classic Trek was real science fiction and still relevant. Anyone who thinks differently can feel free to try and debate me.

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

The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. I have dyslexia, so I started reading later than most. I’ve made it since then.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

Invite someone to go through an obstacle course? How bizarre. I’d challenge anyone who thought Next Gen was better than Classic Trek. How about that? Libations? No. Not till after I kick their asses. Then they can buy me Guinness.

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

My third novel, The Madness Engine (#3 The Awakening series), is scheduled for release on the 22nd of May. I will also most likely be at Bubonicon in Albuquerque again this year.

The Remnant (#1 The Awakening series)

SpenceTheRemnantLt. Commander Hrothgar Tebrey is assigned as a military attaché to an archaeological expedition as light duty to recover from the disaster of his previous mission. But things quickly begin to go wrong on Cedeforthy. Someone, or something, is manipulating events to sabotage the expedition.

When the science team becomes marooned on the planet by the tides of war, the sinister force reveals itself, and Tebrey must fight against a seemingly unstoppable enemy to save not just himself, the expedition, and the woman he loves, but his very soul.

Some things are worth dying for; it is the things worth living for that matter.

The Fallen (#2 The Awakening series)

SpenceTheFallenLt. Commander Hrothgar Tebrey has returned to duty in Special Operations, but it is becoming harder for him to fight in the name of a government he no longer feels is just – one that orders purges against its own citizens.

Meanwhile, dissention is growing within the ranks of the Earth Federation Fleet. Ships continue to go missing, and the military needs someone to blame. A war with the Sentient Concord seems inevitable.

But if the Earth Federation destroys the Sentient Concord, who will fight the true enemy? For the Sentient Concord is the only government that knows the truth about the hellish Theta entities…

…Entities that want Tebrey dead, and are willing murder entire worlds to make it happen.

The Madness Engine (#3 The Awakening series)

SpenceTheMadnessEngineThe war between the Sentient Concord and the Earth Federation grinds on, but dark forces are moving behind the scenes, forces intent on unleashing terror on a scale never seen before, a terror that has already spread beyond Commander Hrothgar Tebrey’s universe.

On an alternate Earth, acid rains fall smoking from the steely skies, and feral things that were once human skitter through the ruins. Tebrey’s father Daeren Drake searches for clues about the enemy and finds more than he bargained for.

Meanwhile, Lt. Commander Tonya Harris and Ghost stumble upon an engine, a weapon that must never be used, but already has been… by the enemy.

Loyalties will be tested, dark pasts revealed, and the enemy will strike a blow at the heart of the Concord from which it may never recover.

Places to Stalk Paul B. Spence

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Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert Heinlein

The drowsy effects of a winter fire on cats.
The drowsy effects of a winter fire on cats.

Why I Read It: I needed some vintage SF in my reading diet.

Where I got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: PG-rated adventure SF fans.

Narrator: Spider Robinson

Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2007)

Length: 5 hours 27 minutes

Author’s Page

The story starts with three friends who like to build rockets and fire them off in the back field. Only a few mishaps have taken place by the time we meet them….just in time for another mishap. As they leave the field, they come across a man who was evidently struck on the head by a falling bit of the latest exploded rocket. Turns out the man is the uncle of one of the boys, so they don’t have to be worried about being sued. He is also a physicist and planning a trip to the moon. Oh, by the way, this book is set shortly after WWII and before man has made it to the moon. OK, back to the kids. Of course all three of the boys are little geniuses in the making with skills in radio, physics, math, welding, rocket fuel, etc. So the four of them start laying plans.

I have read a few of Heinlein’s adult SF (The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is my favorite of his works so far), but this was my first Heinlein YA. It was cute. Very PG with no cussing, minimal violence, the kids are always respectful to the adults, the one female we see on screen is a mom and in the kitchen. It was probably excellent in the time it was published, imagining a home-grown rocket ship, powered by some 10th grade physics, a little aeronautics, canned foods, spit, and teen boy muscle.

The part I liked best about the book was the spirit of adventure the book captured and held for nearly the entire book. Towards the end, it seems to get muddled with a political message, but I’ll chat about that below in the spoiler section. Still, the boys come up with some at-the-time great solutions to mechanical and technical difficulties, both on Earth before take off and later on the moon. There is also a side mystery that becomes integral at the end that was fun to watch unfold.

I had to keep reminding myself that this story is dated. We had not been to the moon (first landing was 1969) when this was published (1947), over 2 decades before the first moon landing. There’s no freeze-dried space food as we are use to seeing. The washroom-needs of the trip were glazed over (though you can find detailed info about such things in Packing for Mars by Mary Roach – a highly entertaining read). Oh, yes, there was also pipe smoking on the trip to the moon. Of course an open flame, however brief, would be terribly fun in space. Of course, all the space cadets are male and there is only one female who gets any lines – the mother of one of the lads. Still, it had a certain charm.

And then things got really whacky. But telling you about that means ruining the plot.

2014SFExperienceSPOILER ALERT There are Nazis on the moon. Yep. They’ve been there for a few years, have a large moon base, regularly ferry food and personnel from Earth to the moon. They even have families up there. They’re holed-up awaiting the rise of the New Reich. Yeah. Space Nazis. That alone took this book from a quaint, OK space adventure to a comedy that had me thoroughly delighted (Oh, was I suppose to laugh at the idea of space Nazis?). Well, at least until the political speech set it, had tea, and decided to take up house keeping for the rest of the book. END SPOILER

Overall, fun, and definitely a look at SF literature from a historical perspective.

VintageScifiBadgeThe Narration: Spider Robinson was a fun narrator. He did the teen boy voices well.

What I Liked: Spirit of adventure; historical SF literature for its own sake.

What I Disliked: Only 1 female role; story gets lost at the end in a political message; crazy turn towards the end; kids 100% respectful of the adults (lacks reality).

This month I am participating in two SF reading events: Vintage SF Month over at The Little Red Review and The 2014 Science Fiction Experience over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Make sure to head over to these two places for more SF goodness.

What Others Think:

Julian Perez Conquers the Universe

Snake Oil Review

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Patrick T. Reardon

The Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein

HeinleinGreenHillsEarthWhy I Read It: Folks tell me Heinlein is awesome. I wanted to find out if they were right.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: Good mix of Heinlein works for those who haven’t tried him.

Narrator: Tom Weiner

Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2009)

Length: 6 CDs

This audiobook contained several short stories by Robert Heinlein and the collection was named for the most famous of those short stories, The Green Hills of Earth. Overall, I found the collection an interesting walk down Classic SF Lane. Most were entertaining, some a bit sexist, other taking on some Big Picture items such as slavery. While this collection was a bit entertaining, I won’t be rushing out to borrow more Heinlein. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is still my favorite Heinlein work, and superior to what is found in this collection.

Delilah and the Space-Rigger (1949)

Gloria McNye landed a radio tech job on a space station that is still under construction. The boss is severely unhappy about this as it was an all-male crew until she arrived. At first, he tries keeping her locked up in her room, preventing as much contact with the crew as possible. To her credit, she goes about her job as she would even on Earth. In the end, the boss and the crew agree that having more female construction workers wouldn’t be a bad thing. On one hand, I applaud Heinlein for being progressive for his time; on the other hand, I am saddened that this is still a prevalent issue in the work force (and I was 1 of 3 ladies working with 26 guys in a unisex change room no more than 7 years ago).

Space-Jockey (1947)

The day in the life of an on-call rocket pilot for commercial spacecraft is not easy. Especially when his wife is always henpecking him. Said wife doesn’t appear to have a job or life of her own, so she gets tangled up in his. He expects her to wait on him when he is home and not mind a bit when he has to break engagements to pilot a ship. Dysfunctional marriage. Do you think divorce was easy in Heinlein’s futuristic worlds? Anyway, our fearless pilot manages to save the day and is offered a permanent position based out of Luna City, where of course, his wife will be happy to move.

The Long Watch (1948)

John Dahlquist, a young bomb officer, is part of the Space Patrol is assigned to the lunar base. Colonel Towers plans to overthrow Earth’s government, and he wants Dahlquist’s help. Towers plans to take out an unimportant town or two as an introduction to negotiations. Dahlquist does his best to prevent the attack by locking himself in the hold with the bombs and creating a dead man switch as he goes about disarming each bomb.

Gentlemen Be Seated (1948)

We’re back on Luna with a supervisor giving a reporter a small tour of some tunnels. They also have a tunnel worker with them to provide details and keep them safe. Things go awry when a pressure seal fails and they have to take turns sitting on the hole. Yes, this provoked some giggling on my part.

The Black Pits of Luna (1948)

A rich family decides to take a side tour on the back side of the moon. Small brats…er, kids are not allowed unfortunately. But after much screaming and threatening by the parents, a small space suit is found and the family can go walk about with the guide. The little dude has to decide it would be funner to play hide and seek. Luckily, his big brother refuses to give up the search and the boy is eventually found.

It’s Great to Be Back (1947)

I think out of the collection, this was my favorite. The MacRaes have decided that they truly, deeply miss Earth. The story opens with them handing in the keys to their apartment and saying goodbye to their Lunar friends and colleagues. Of course, they get to Earth and have a harder time than expected adjusting to the gravity. Then they find that there is dirt everywhere, and the temperature is never quite right and always changing. Next the longed-for social life isn’t quite as expected with all the ‘Loonie’ jokes. I liked this story in part because both husband and wife plan equal parts, she wears a size 10 dress, and he defends a mutual friend of theirs to the mother who believes her daughter is doing a man’s job as a radiation tech. If this was the only Heinlein I had ever read, I would think him pretty equal minded when it came to the sexes.

-We Also Walk Dogs (1941)

This was a fun story about a service company that can provide any service you require (except murder). They are asked to assist in setting up an intersolar conference on Earth. The trick is that the conference needs an antigravity device to make some of their guests comfortable. Of course, this is next to impossible. The services company takes on the task and finds a scientist that may have the answer. However, he also has scruples and won’t give over his ideas for money. Instead, he has a porcelain bowl fetish, and desires this one particular, and nearly unattainable, piece.

Ordeal in Space (1948)

This was an interesting piece because it dealt with bone-deep, incapacitating fear. After a near fatal space walk, our hero (whose name I should have written down) can no longer handle working in space. Indeed, he is much more comfortable in a room with 4 walls and no windows. However, while visiting friends, he hears the pitiful cries of a kitten. Unfortunately, it is coming from outside his 35th floor window. No, I don’t know how the kitten got there, let a lone hung around without being blown off for the duration of this story. The short of it, is that the efforts our hero expends to save the kitten cure him of his fear and he is able to return to space duty.

The Green Hills of Earth (1947)

This is probably the most famous story in this collection. It is the tale of the galactic poet Rhysling, who manages to offend one higher up after another. On a voyage between world, he goes blind due to radiation exposure while holding the ship together in a heroic effort. This doesn’t add to his already questionable looks as he takes less care of himself afterwards. And that is where my CD became too scratchy to hear the rest of the tale. I guess it must be required reading for the highschool or something, so this book gets checked out from the library and only this story listened to. (Well, not anymore). So I found this radio dramatization by X Minus One (1955).

Logic of Empire (1941)

Two dudes at a bar are arguing the merits of the indentured workers, or slaves, of Venus. They themselves have never been indentured workers. Indeed, I doubt they have worked at all having been born into wealth and received higher educations. Well, they are drinking, quite a bit. Apparently they drink enough to black out the part where they signed up to be Venus workers. First, they have several months traveling out to Venus on ship where they must work for their passage, bunked in a large hold with no privacy. When they do finally arrive at Venus they are ‘sold’ into different colonies and therefore don’t even have the comfort of close friendship. This tale has few females, and they are described as not much to look at and invariably stupid. Sigh…Classic SF does have it’s downside.

Tome Weiner did a decent job of narrating the individual stories. Typically I avoid short story collections in audio format especially when there is only 1 narrator. With that said, Weiner did a pretty good job of varying the main voice from story to story so that they didn’t all run together in my head. His female voices could use a little more work, but that is true of many male narrators.

readandreviewbuttonWhat I Liked: The collection was a spectrum of Heinlein’s early works; one dealt with bone-deep fear and another with slavery; there was a kitten; occasionally the women were competent and held in esteem; humor was prevalent in some form in all stories.

What I Disliked: None of them really shined as jewels for me; most stories had women as inferior.ScifiExperience2013Badge

This is part of the weekly Read & Review Hop hosted by Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings. Stop by over there to catch other great book reviews.

Also, Jan. and Feb. 2013 is The Science Fiction Experience over at Stainless Steel Droppings, so stop by there if you would like to join in some SF goodness.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

Why I Read It: Killing time at the library and I remembered that my knitting buddy said he ‘adores Heinlein’.

Where I Got:  Library

Who I Recommend This To: Those into scifi-rebellion stories

Narrator: Lloyd James

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks (1999)

Length: 12 CDs

Manuel O’Kelly is our hero, with his fancy cyberarms and Russian accent. Set in a colonized Moon future, where that vast natural satellite has been used as a penal colony for generations. Manuel lives in a time where not all Loonies are convicts serving time, but rather a mix of folks bred and born there and new, incoming penalists. Due to physiological changes brought upon by the difference in gravity, visitors can only stay for a short time before they become residents. And the vast majority of residents live to serve Mother Earth with their hard work and natural carbons, which are sent to Earth in the form of grain crops. Robert Heinlein wrote a brilliantly intricate society with polygamous, complex marriages, mixed ethnicities, future, low-gravity tech, and rebellion.

Manuel is a computer tech repair guy. An excellent one. And he has a secret buddy, Mike, the city’s main computer. Mike was born to consciousness shortly before the opening of this book and he and Manuel have had enough time to become friends. Mike likes jokes and he usually, but not always, runs them past Manuel for ‘funniness’. This added some much needed humor to an otherwise serious book.

Pretty soon, Manuel and Mike are sucked into the burgeoning rebellion – independence from Earth. Wyoming Knott and the Professor Bernado de la Paz are central figures in this rebellion. The four of them plot and with Mike’s great resources, instigate a highly organized and informed rebellion. Then there is the aftermath to deal with (which takes up most of the 2nd half of the book).

This was my first book listening to Lloyd James and I was mightily impressed. He has placed himself up there in My Top 5 Fave Narrators by his performance. Most of the book is told in Manuel’s voice, in a Russian accent, which James pulled off without a flaw! Then the various other accents (such as de la Paz) and Mike’s aging voice. In short, he was excellent and highly entertaining.

What I Liked: The future tech; complex marriages; Manuel O’Kelly; the negotiations with Earth.

What I Disliked: the ladies are still mainly cast in the Romantic Interest role.