The Amber Project by J. N. Chaney

ChaneyTheAmberProjectWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrator: Alexander Edward Trefethen 

Publisher: JN Chaney (2015)

Length: 11 hours 41 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Variant Saga

Author’s Page

This dystopian young adult novel is set in 2157 somewhere near the Atlantic coast. Terry and his classmates are growing up in an underground city. The surface of the planet became contaminated years ago by a mysterious and deadly gas named Variant. The city is slowly falling apart; the surface must be reclaimed! As such, a clever scientist has come up with a way to create Variant-tolerant humans. Terry and his classmates are the first generation of these new humans.

Take Ender’s Game and mash it up with The Handmaid’s Tale and you get something good, disturbing, and thought-provoking. This underground society was founded by survivors of a world calamity. As such, they put in place some hard and fast rules in order to keep humanity alive. The military and the Matron have the most power. Human reproduction is closely managed. The Matron is the head of the organization that provides reproducing women (the mothers) status and perks in housing and food. All reproductive assignations must be approved by the Matron. Meanwhile, the military has made attempts over the years to reclaim the surface. The new Variant humans are their latest attempt.

The story opens with Terry Eckles on his seventh birthday. His mom, Mara, drops him off at the Academy. There he learns that he won’t be allowed to go home for 10 years, after he graduates the Academy. John, who will become his best friend, is his roommate. May is the brains of the little group. Alex has anger management issues. The story moves ahead in chunks of time, so we get to see the kids grow up in the Academy. While this was interesting, I didn’t become very attached to the kids until they become teens and they start doing interesting things.

I really got hooked on the story when we start seeing how the city reproduction is controlled. Mara Eckles became a mother at 15 and has produced several promising children for the city. All her daughters have proven to be fertile reproducers as well. The Matron, Eva Long, is a formidable woman. She has to walk a difficult line between the survival of humanity and protecting the mothers from certain aspects of the military branch of power.

Then we have colonel James Bishop. He’s been a stalwart pillar of the Academy for decades, leading the training of the city’s military. Now he’s taken a personal interest in the new Variant humans. The author could have easily made Bishop an outright villain. However, I found myself sympathizing with him sometimes. After all, humanity might well be facing extinction if they don’t do something drastic. I really enjoyed that he was a complicated character and that I couldn’t outright despise him.

Dr. Henry Newbur is the main scientist and head teacher at the Academy. I pictured him as a man who is more comfortable around test tubes and dusty books. He’s also missing an arm, making him a source of mild gossip among the students. Dr. Archer is a complete 180 from Dr. Newbur. He’s very much into the science unlocked by the latest Variant discovery. To him, Terry and his classmates are specimens.

Taken all together, the book has a solid set up and then the action starts once the teens are sent to the surface. I don’t want to spoil things too much, as the teens don’t head to the surface until the second half of the book, but I really had fun with them exploring the now defunct buildings. There’s also things up there on the surface that the underground city folk are barely aware of, things that can rip the face off a grown, armed man. It’s a great start for a dystopian series.

The Narration: Alexander Edward Trefethen did a good job with this book. His voice is pretty masculine, so I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be able to pull off the female voices, but he did, though in a few instances the ladies would sound alike. I really liked his voice for Alex, who is always disgruntled about something. His old lady (and sometimes tipsy) voice for Matron Eva Long was also really good. 

What I Liked: Near-extinction event; underground city; the Matron and her mothers; James Bishop isn’t a simple bad guy; the mysteries surrounding Variant; all the questions brought about by adventuring on the surface; Alex may be evil but he’s not always wrong.

What I Disliked: It took me about half the book to get attached to the kids, who are the main characters of the book.

What Others Think:

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Golden Son by Pierce Brown

BrownGoldenSonWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

Publisher: Recorded Books (2015)

Length: 19 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 2 Red Rising

Author’s Page

Note: You really need to read Book 1, Red Rising, to understand this book.

This book picks up several months (a year?) after the end of Red Rising. It’s a space battle! Well, it’s a training space battle for the Academy. Darrow and his crew finish out the contest well enough, but then Darrow is publicly humiliated. Darrow is on the brink of losing it all and he must make some daring moves to maintain what he has worked so hard to achieve. Yet with his boldness comes new challenges and new enemies.

I thoughts the story couldn’t get any better when I finished Book 1, but I was wrong. Golden Son has impressed me more than Red Rising did. I became attached to several of the characters in Book 1 and that held true for Book 2. Darrow remains a complex character, discovering new parts to himself as he continues his ruse as a Gold. The layers of lies start to weigh on him and some of his closest friends notice his moodiness. There were so many times where I wasn’t sure whether Darrow should open up to a friend or not – can any of them be trusted with his deepest secret? Argh! It was nail biting!

There were moments where I was cheering the book on, doing a little fist pump when no one could see me doing so. Then there were times that my eyes misted up a bit. There are several intense moments in this book. Tactus. Mustang. Quinn. Darrow’s mom. Even though this book wrung emotions from me I wasn’t sure I had before, when I finished it, I wanted to go reread the first 2 books again.

While Book 1 took place all on Mars, Book 2 spreads out a bit and we get to see more of this terraformed solar system. Book 1 taught us the basics of this hierarchical society, but Golden Son shows us people from these other castes and what they are capable of. Darrow certainly has his hands full with the Sons of Ares and trying to upturn this caste system.

And why don’t we chat about the Sons of Ares. I, like Darrow, was expecting them to be all on the same page. Unfortunately for Darrow, that was not so. This added another dimension to the plot and made one more dangerous pitfall for Darrow to avoid. Though I did guess who Ares was early on, it was still a great reveal scene.

Next to Darrow, Sevro is my favorite character. He acts crude and rude all the time, but he has these shinning moments where he sets the bar high for what true friendship is. To my surprise, I became a bit attached to Victra. Perhaps it was her unashamedly flirtatious manner. Ragnar was an excellent new addition to Darrow’s circle of friends. The characters all around are just very well done. I love that the author doesn’t hold back from placing female characters in every job a male character traditionally holds in so much of SFF literature. The swordswoman Ajah is terrifying. The Sovereign is wickedly smart but also too proud of that fact.

The ending is super intense and I am so glad I have Book 3 lined up and ready to go. Golden Son does end on a cliffhanger and if I had read this book a year ago before Book 3 was out, this might have bothered me. Books 1 & 2 have set the bar high for Book 3 – I have every expectation it will live up to it!

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds continues to do this series justice. I love that he shows a little of Darrow’s Red heritage in his accent when he thinks of home, yet maintains his cultured Gold accent throughout the novel. His voice for Ragnar is very well done, considering limitations on human vocal cords. Surprisingly, Reynolds does a very good sexy vixen for Victra. 

What I Liked: The series continues to impress!; we get to see more of the the settled solar system; the witty scene between Darrow and the Sovereign; this book brings out the emotions but also packs a lot of action as well; very intense ending!

What I Disliked: Nothing – truly an excellent read!

What Others Think:

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Dune by Frank Herbert

HerbertDuneWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrators: Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, Simon Vance, Ilyana Kadushin

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (2007)

Length: 21 hours 8 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dune, Book 12 Dune Saga

Author’s Page

Set in a sweeping science fiction universe, the human empire is vast and complicated. Spice, from the planet Arrakis (aka Dune) powers it all, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in not so subtle ways. For years, the Harkonnen family has managed Dune for the Emperor, but now the Emperor has handed control of that planet over to House Atreides. Of course, the Harkonnens will do whatever they can to take down the Atreides. Paul Atreides and his mother Jessica will have to learn how to survive the most harshest zones of this desert planet in order to survive the Harkonnen.

I have read this book so many times over the years and each time I take something new from it. I was originally fascinated by the book because of the desert planet, which holds such great significance for the plot. Having spent most of my life in one desert or another, I really appreciated that Herbert built real desert life into the scenery. It’s not all sandy dunes, dry heat, and wind. Plus there’s giant sandworms and who doesn’t love giant worms of any kind?

This book is full of cool SF tech as well. There’s the small transport ships for collecting the Spice in the desert, the enormous space going vessels, personal protective shields, assassin’s tricks and tools, the specialized desert suits that reclaim and recycle the body’s water, and plenty more. If you’ve only seen the various movies/mini-series based on the book, then you are missing out.

The characters are also fascinating. While some are drawn simply, they still have motives and are useful to the plot. The main characters are layered, complex, have faults and foibles. Duke Leto, Paul’s father, comes across as a capable ruler who is worthy of respect. He is sure in his priorities and his code of honor. Jessica, Leto’s concubine and most trusted companion, is Bene Gesserit trained. Yes, she does scheme but her reasons are solidly good. Still, she miscalculates and makes mistakes. Paul starts off as a smart but somewhat sheltered boy. His story arc tosses him into a world of danger, literally, and there are so many ways he could have ended up dead. Gurney Halleck, Paul’s troubadour warrior trainer, is also a favorite. He has some of the roughest humor but also pushes Paul the hardest.

For a book that has staunchly remained in the SF genre, there is a mystical side to the story. The Bene Gesserit is a long-standing sisterhood that has spread it’s seeds of religion throughout the human universe. Most are trained from birth in mental abilities as well as history, languages, and martial arts. They also have the Voice, which allows them to compel most people to simple actions. The Bene Gesserit use the Spice to peek into the future (a talent called prescience) and thereby have kept humanity from being snuffed out by this disaster or that (or it’s own stupidity). Yet there is a place they can’t look, a place that terrifies them. Paul will play a role in helping them discover what is hidden there. Since this mystical element to the story can’t be nailed down by science, it has fascinated me the over the years.

There is so much to love about this book. The desert people,  the Fremen, have their own well-formed culture, shaped by the environment of Dune. Indeed, Dune itself is like a character in the story because it’s nature has such a strong influence on the story. The little touches of various languages throughout the story are also appreciated. I find it immensely sensible that House Atreides would have it’s own battle language, making it that much more difficult for their enemies to figure out what they are doing during a fight.

If you haven’t given this book a read yet, I highly recommend it. There is plenty to be discovered and enjoyed in this classic SF novel.

The Narration: The narration on this book is a little odd. There are chunks where multiple narrators are giving voice to the characters and then chunks where it is only Simon Vance narrating all the characters. I wonder if a trimmed radio theater version was recorded and then the publisher went back later and had Vance fill in all the in between spaces for an unabridged version. Vance’s performance is really good and the multi-cast parts are really good, but I found myself not liking switching between the two. I would get used to a character sounding a certain way and then have to get used to Vance’s performance of the same character, and then switching back and forth throughout – it was an unnecessary annoyance. Still, I love this book enough to tolerate it and for the most part, I still enjoyed the narration. 

What I Liked: The desert planet Dune and how it shapes the human existence; all the SF tech; so many assassins!; the worms of Arrakis; Paul’s story arc; the use of languages; the mystery of the Bene Gesserit; a worthy classic.

What I Disliked: The narration is odd – switching between a multi-cast performance and a single narrator, and back and forth for the entire book was a little annoying.

What Others Think:

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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.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: S. C. Flynn, Author of Children of the Different

FlynnChildrenOfTheDifferentEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author S. C. Flynn. I’ve quite enjoyed his Australian dystopian novel Children of the Different. Today, we chat about survival quests, making up stories in grain bins, a Doctor Who debate, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – an Audible.com version of Children of the Different, narrated by Stephen Briggs

If you were sent on a survival quest, which other 4 post-apocalyptic/dystopian authors would you take with you?

SCF: Margaret Atwood, because she would be our high priestess and could communicate in all known languages and cultural situations. David Brin, because he would invent anything we needed. Hugh Howey, because he would have plenty of time to tell me the secret of publishing success. Jeff VanderMeer, because of his experience in organising expeditions and group endeavours. 

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you choose to do?

SCF: Jazz musician. I grew up playing trumpet in my dad’s band.

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?

SCF: I really like finding new bloggers and serious readers. I have made lots of good online friends. The biggest challenge is simply finding the time to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

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

SCF: I always wanted to hide away and make up stories. I grew up in country Australia, and I used to sit in a wheat bin, where I was away from everyone and free to invent things; there’s a photo somewhere of me in there. Back then, I didn’t think in terms of being a writer as such, but I was already on the path.

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

SCF: Mary Shelley: spaghetti and clams. James Tiptree Jr: steak and chips, beer, neat whisky, with port and cigar afterwards. H.G. Wells: steak and kidney pie.. Jack Vance: fillet of black marlin. Philip K Dick: Baked Ubik.

What do you do when you are not writing?

SCF: Not much music these days, unfortunately! Reading, watching films.

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

SCF: The best era of classic Doctor Who (the 3rd Doctor, by the way, even though it was before my time…).

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

SCF: 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne; I still liked it last time I read it! 

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

SCF: This interview is part of a blog tour for “Children of the Different” that is running every day on various sites and podcasts till early October; details of what I am doing and where can be found on my site, www.scflynn.com

Thanks for your time.

SCF: Thank you, Susan!

About the Author

S. C. Flynn was born in a small town in South West Western Australia. He has lived in Europe for a long time; first the United Kingdom, then Italy and currently Ireland, the home of his ancestors. He still speaks English with an Australian accent, and fluent Italian.

He reads everything, revises his writing obsessively and plays jazz. His wife Claudia shares his passions and always encourages him.

S. C. Flynn has written for as long as he can remember and has worked seriously towards becoming a writer for many years. This path included two periods of being represented by professional literary agents, from whom he learnt a lot about writing, but who were unable to get him published.

He responded by deciding to self-publish his post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, Children of the Different and, together with an American support team, aimed for a book as good as those created by the major publishers.

S. C. Flynn blogs on science fiction and fantasy at scflynn.com. He is on Twitter @scyflynn and on Facebook. Join his email newsletter list here.

Book Blurb for Children of the Different

FlynnChildrenOfTheDifferentNineteen years ago, a brain disease known as the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. The survivors all had something different about their minds. Now, at the start of adolescence, their children enter a trance-like state known as the Changeland and either emerge with special mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals.

In the great forest of south-western Australia, thirteen year-old Arika and her twin brother Narrah go through the Changeland. They encounter an enemy known as the Anteater who feeds on human life. He exists both in the Changeland and in the outside world, and he wants the twins dead.

After their Changings, the twins have powers that let them fight their enemy and face their destiny on a long journey to an abandoned American military base on the north-west coast of Australia. If they can reach it before time runs out.

CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT is a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel set among the varied landscapes and wildlife of Western Australia.

Purchase Links

Amazon US             Amazon UK              Amazon Australia

GIVEAWAY!

S. C. Flynn is offering up an Audible.com audiobook of Children of the Different. You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) What do you do when you’re not reading? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends October 17, 2016, midnight.

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Flynnchildrenofthedifferentfinalanimation2

Good Morning… Processes Must Be Improved by Ray Jay Perreault

PerreaultGoodMorningProcessesMustBeImprovedWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Christopher M. Allport

Publisher: Raymond J. Perreault (2016)

Length: 1 hour

Author’s Page

Robert has been assigned to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, to mine methane. Much of the operation is done by robots and a human is needed to fix minor break downs and such. The resident built-in AI is TCI12, or Tessy. Things start off well enough but then little by little they fall apart.

This was a fun piece of scifi. While it’s a bit of a classic plot set up, I still enjoyed seeing how the author played with it. There’s some miscommunication with Earth about shipments, supplies, and the state of the miningbots on Titan. As Robert sees mangled messages congratulating other mining colonies, he both redoubles his efforts and becomes more and more pessimistic.

Meanwhile, Tessy does it’s ‘best’ to keep Robert on schedule, prodding him with daily reminders of the shipping quota and how many bots are down. On the surface, Tessy seems quite helpful and organized. Can an AI have ulterior motives? Or a (twisted) sense of humor?

I liked that Robert comments a few times about how it’s a tough assignment, being the only human on Titan for so many weeks/months at a time, how important it is to stay busy in order to stay mentally balanced. This is a good question for the story, not just for humans, but for any sentient being stuck on Titan with minimal socializing for any significant length of time.

I liked the ending because it speaks of further mischievousness. I hope when us humans start using AI for stuff in general, folks go back to the ‘Perreault classics’ and build in safety features that prevent and/or recognize questionable behavior in AIs at an early stage. This tale is a worthy read, and would make a good lunchbreak story.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  Christopher M. Allport gave a good performance. He made transmissions sound like transmissions with radio noises and such. I liked his helpful, calm voice for Tessy. He also did a great job with Robert’s voice, showing how Robert was somewhat enthusiastic about his assignment at the beginning and how little by little, that changed over the course of the story.

What I Liked: The cover art; a classic plot set up redone well; Tessy is just so logical and sounds so sincere; Robert’s character arc for the story; how things end – with the hint of a new beginning for some other miner. 

What I Disliked: Nothing – a fun tale!

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Arthur Slade, author of The Hunchback Assignments

SladeDustEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Arthur Slade. I’ve enjoyed Slade’s works – check out my reviews of Dust and Ember’s End. We chat about book villains, which fictional characters to invite over for tea, tough jobs, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the international GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – ebook of Dust.

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

The Six Million Dollar Man. Battling sasquatches! Running at amazing speed! A bionic eye! When I was a kid this was the only science fiction type show on tv and I watched it religiously. In fact, I think we only had one channel on our TV (I grew up in the outback). So I’d love to experience that amazing, overwhelming joy that I felt whenever the show came on TV. In second place would be Star Trek and Space: 1999 (tied for 2nd, of course).

SladeEmber'sEndWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I was a night auditor for a hotel. It wasn’t horribly difficult, except that I was the only employee in the hotel from 1 to 7AM and that meant I was the plumber, the security guard, and the guy behind the desk. Often there were hours of boredom peppered by the occasional crazy party that I’d have to break up. Writing is certainly safer and, oddly enough, pays better. I was able to get a bit of writing done between 2 to 4 AM because the hotel was usually quite then.

SladeTheHunchbackAssignmentsMore and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel, etc. Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm? Will there be more Arthur Slade audiobooks?

I do have plans to create more audiobooks. My latest novel, Flickers is in the hands of a studio right now that is putting the book together. I’ve been lucky, also, to delve into graphic novels via Kickstarter. And my steampunk series, The Hunchback Assignments, has been optioned for a movie. So there are several irons in the fire, so to speak. One of the joys of this modern digital age is that so many of these types of publications are easier to access. Well, except making movies. Those still cost a mountain of money.

SladeTheDarkDeepsWho are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

As far as villains, I’m partial to Captain Hook. That villainous pirate who always hears ticking in the background. I’m also a huge Lord of the Rings fan, but in all honesty Sauron is a boring villain. He’s just so powerful and so far in the background. Instead betrayers like Saruman are much more interesting. Any of the hobbit duos were great fun in those books, too.

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

Hamlet, but he probably wouldn’t be able to make up his mind whether he wanted tea or a beer. Darth Vader, to see if he would use the force in a ping pong game. Katniss, to tell her to hurry up and make up her mind about one of those men. Sherlock Holmes, because he could probably find the socks that I’ve lost. And Julius Caesar (who appears as a fictional character in many works) to ask him whether he was represented properly.

SladeIslandOfDoomCare 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?

The restraining order from Stephen King doesn’t allow me to repeat the story. Kidding, of course. I did go to his house once because I was in Bangor, Maine. I just wanted to see it. Didn’t knock on the gates or anything. I did ask his neighbour what it was like to live next to Stephen King and he said, “It’s fine, but I get tired of the tourist buses pulling up and people getting out to stare.” Not sure I’d want to be that famous.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Netflix. Oh, and reading. Far too much Netflix, though.

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

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. Still one of my favourites! I blame it for turning me into a fantastical type writer.

ArthurSladeAuthorPlaces to Find Arthur Slade

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Author Bio: Arthur Slade was raised on a cattle ranch in the Cypress Hills of southwest Saskatchewan and he caught the writing bug at an early age. He is the author of eighteen bestselling books, including “Dust”, “Jolted,” and “The Hunchback Assignments.” He currently lives in Saskatoon, Canada.

SladeDustBook Blurb for Dust: SEVEN-YEAR-OLD MATTHEW DISAPPEARS one day on a walk into Horshoe, a dust bowl farm town in Depression-era Saskatchewan. Other children go missing just as a strange man named Abram Harsich appears in town. He dazzles the townspeople with the promises of a rainmaking machine. Only Matthew’s older brother Robert seems to be able to resist Abram’s spell, and to discover what happened to Matthew and the others.

GIVEAWAY!

Arthur Slade is offering up an ebook copy of Dust. Giveaway is open internationally! You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Who are some of your favorite heroes from books? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways end October 7, 2016, midnight.

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