Book Giveaway & Interview: Ryan Hyatt, Author of Rise of the Liberators

Join me in welcoming Ryan Hyatt to the blog! He’s the author of Rise of the Liberators, as well as his science fiction novel Stay Younger Longer. Don’t miss out on his thriller, The Death of Rock and Roll. GIVEAWAY!!! Scroll to the bottom for the chance to win a signed copy of either the military SF Rise of the Liberators or the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

I think I’d have to go heavy on this one … the library of my dreams would contain the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts

I wouldn’t be able to read them, of course, because they’d be written in languages I don’t know, but I’m assuming there’d be scholars on hand in this awesome library who would be wiling to translate these books for me, so I could ask them questions like this: Who was the author of the Bible, really? How does the original draft of the Bible compare to the one people read nowadays in Sunday school? Have any important parts been changed or omitted? Which parts, and why do you think so?

Depending on the answers, more questions might follow: Is it fair to conclude that the Bible really is the word of God, then, because it sounds to me like a lot of people have had their hand in writing and revising this thing? Therefore, how can I be sure God exists, if even the author(s) of His book have come into question? And if God does exist, regardless of who writes His books, who created God, then?In fact, how can there be anything at all  — the stars, the ocean, my laundry, myself? In other words, how can anything come from nothing, including us?

Yet here I am, here we are. These concerns would likely bring me to the final question I’d have for the scholars about the original draft of the Bible and the world’s other religious texts …

How am I to believe in a book whose truths easily contradict my own line of questioning about them? Thus, can I conclude is life a miracle, a charade, or a little of both? To which I would listen attentively to the scholars’ response. I have a lot of questions on this topic, obviously, and some I suspect they wouldn’t be able to easily answer …

And that’s okay, because I’ve had these questions all of my life, but having access to the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts might shed some light on those who wrote these amazingly beautiful and terrifying stories, and perhaps help me and others think better about and beyond them.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

Easy. I always wanted to write a science fiction story about a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan (like me) who obtains a time machine and uses it to travel into the past to see all of the great concerts he’s missed over the years …

Therefore, the decade I’d choose to live in as a teen would be the sixties — an era of passion and protest and an explosion of the music I love, thanks to millions of youth who dared to make the world a better place. I’d hit up Woodstock the Monterrey Music Festival … I’d see bands like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie before they were broken up or taken from this Earth or too old to care who wanted to see them play …

Perhaps these concert-hopping visits would be part of my investigation into some of the cosmic conspiracies associated with those famous rockers that died that same decade all at the same sweet young age — the famous ’27 Club’ — musicians like Jimi HendrixJanis Joplin and Jim Morrison

The sixties would probably provide the most bang for the buck for a sound junkie like me, closely followed by the punk rock and funk of the seventies, where maybe I could make a pit stop before returning the present?

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

Back to the Future — Now there’s a funny, family-oriented film similar in theme to the eighties when it was released and worth a review — for me, at least — because that was the magical decade of childhood, a glorious time when suburbs were cool and my friends and I wore netted tank tops and Velcro pants and rode around our neighborhood on Gordon & Smith skateboards, the beginning and ending of innocence …

The Matrix — I’d also like to experience the power of this this film the first time all over again, because it was the first time in my young adulthood that I noticed that Hollywood was starting to finally gamble a little bit and put out edgy sci-fi movies that managed to be both thoughtful and entertaining. I wrote a short story, “Cerebral Cathedral,” years before The Matrix was released, which many of my friends read growing up, eerily similar to the movie — minus the bad-ass action and special effects, of course. (I dare say, the Wackowskis did it better). Still, seeing that movie on the big screen for the first time made me realize that maybe my writing was something others might enjoy, too.

Now we have Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Man in the High Castle, of course, which makes me feel anything awesome is possible in entertainment, as long as Hollywood continues to give awesome a chance!

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

Artificially-intelligent bobbleheads, such as Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Lady GagaVoltron, Kevin Hart or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which follow their owners around wherever they go and provide them with constant companionship, amusement and advice. These walking talking gizmos would be so distracting, they would not only help ween people off their smart phones for a minute, but they would also allow them to maintain moral standing in a world of ever-changing choices and possibilities, modern sages made in the image of pop culture icons — and to each of our own choosing — that guide us through this overly-complicated existence we have created for ourselves. They’d be available for $500 online or at the local shopping mall.

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

I’ve worked a lot of terrible jobs in my lifetime, too many to count, and most in a pitiful effort to support myself as I write. Nonetheless, in one of my more desperate hours, I signed up with a temp agency to work in a call center on behalf of a famous Los Angeles fitness infomercial guru. I sat side by side a bunch of fellow losers, artists and misfits. We were comrades in customer service!

The first part of our job: when people called to place their orders, we charged them for additional items such as vitamins, video tapes, leotards, jump ropes that they never asked for or wanted or might ever use, and then the second part of our job: refuse to refund their money to them when they called to complain and yell and scream about what we did and how it was so wrong, explaining to them calmly and casually instead that we were “just doing our job.”

I quit at the end of my first day, but it was that first real powerful and ridiculous taste of mindless conformity — a taste of hell, really — which so many billions of people have to put up with every day on this planet, listening to dumb-ass bosses and Presidents of countries in order to put food on our tables and a roof over our heads for ourselves and our loved ones — that made me want to fight and resist in whatever way I could, even if it meant just writing a story once in a while about someone who fights and resists a little better than me, or worse.

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Philip Dick and Kurt Vonnegut: we may not return alive, but we’d laugh trying.

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

The two above, plus Hunter S. Thompson, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and Henry Miller. They’d order two tofu steaks, whiskey, escargo, and strippers. It may not be the best meal I’d ever have, but I’m sure it would be an interesting one.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

My grandfather, Arthur Hyatt, World War II and Korean war hero, a man of great humility and loving family patriarch, definitely one of the Greatest Generation. The odds would be a lot more in my favor with him in play.

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

In April, I was named a finalist in the 2016 Book Pipeline Competition which “aims to deliver unique, compelling stories to the industry — with the specific intent of getting them on the fast-track to film and television production.”

A bio on me and more information about my award-winning sci-fi novel, Stay Younger Longer, can be found on the Book Pipeline website.

Stay Younger Longer (2015), along with the recent release of Rise of the Liberators (2017), are part of my Terrafide series, techy tales of woe and hope in which the characters grapple with the economic and environmental realities of their world falling apart.

More information about this series can be found on Amazon or Goodreads.

This summer I might take a stab at turning my print books into audiobooks or adapting them into screenplays, but really I want to start another novel in my Terrafide series. We’ll see. I work as a high school English teacher nowadays and have a daughter, so time is limited. We’ll see.

For more updates on the state of the future, visit my satirical sci-fi news site www.thelalalander.com

Places to Follow Ryan Hyatt

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for Rise of the Liberators:

In 2022, the United States is in the throes of the Greatest Depression, and discharged Marine Corps Captain Ray Salvatore, a 34-year-old father and husband, must either allow his family’s poverty to continue or accept an employment offer to lead a band of military misfits with a new secret weapon into war in the Middle East.

Amazon

Book Blurb for Stay Younger Longer

Dick White, a 28-year-old Los Angeles bachelor and journalist, is put in peril after he learns a popular anti-aging drug called Euphoria is a biological weapon, leaving Dick to find the eccentric criminal who has developed a cure that might save countless lives, including his own.

Amazon

Book Blurb for The Death of Rock and Roll

Talented guitarist Darrell Breedlove is caught in the crosshairs of jealous psychopath Jake McKenzie, forcing Darrell to reconcile his past in order to embrace a promising future.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Ryan Hyatt is offering up 3 signed copies of the military SF Rise of the Liberators and 3 signed copies of the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer. Yep, 6 winners! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Where do you live? Which book interests you the most? (You can choose a different book later if you win). Optional: Follow Ryan Hyatt any way you want and tell me in the comments how you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 20th, 2017, midnight. Giveaway is limited to the USA due to shipping.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

DickTheManInTheHighCastleNarrator: Jeff Cummings

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2015)

Length: 9 hours 58 minutes

Author’s Page

In this alternate history, the US and it’s allies lost WWII in the 1940s. The US in 1962 is divided up between Germany and Japan, with an unoccupied strip in the middle following the Rocky Mountain Range. A banned novel, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, is read by many of the main characters, influencing their choices, but perhaps not as much as the popular I Ching.

It was very interesting visiting this SF classic after having watched the first season of the TV series. Juliana is one of the few ladies to have a full name and a role in the plot. She’s Frank Frink’s ex-wife and lives in Canon City in the neutral Mountain States teaching martial arts. Meanwhile, Frank is still in San Francisco working at a metalsmith’s shop. He’s one of a shrinking number of Jewish Americans living in the Japanese occupied states. For me, it was these two characters that I initially gravitated towards the most.

A Mountain States author wrote The Grasshopper Lies Heavy some years ago and it was initially banned in all Axis occupied lands. However, Japan lifted it’s ban and this has allowed the book to spread a bit. This book depicts a world in which the Allies won; the book’s WWII outcome doesn’t reflect our historical reality but provides yet another possible scenario which I found interesting. Most of the main characters have an interaction with this book and each character’s reaction is a bit different. Juliana becomes a bit obsessed with the book after she meets a truck driver, Joe Cinnadella, who let her borrow his copy.

I didn’t particularly like Juliana after she hooked up with Joe. Her character really had this shift that I didn’t find fully believable. I also noticed the same thing happen with Robert Childan, the man who runs a San Francisco antiques store. Both characters change direction and are then used by the plot. It felt like PKD wrote a quarter of this novel, set it aside, and when he came back to it he decided he wanted to take a different path but was too lazy to rewrite these characters to fit what came next. Instead, he just has this rather swift shift in character for each of them that feels unnatural the rest of the book.

While there is not much more than a peek into Nazi-occupied US, we do hear quite a bit about the Germans. They have a huge advantage in technology, so much so that they are sending Germans to Mars and Venus to colonize them. Japan is increasingly falling behind in their tech and tensions continue to mount between these two world powers. I did get a giggle out of the apparent jump in tech and science (colonizing Mars) and yet the Germans and Japanese continue to use tape recorders. I just had to keep in mind that this book was originally published in 1962 and many authors, even the SF greats, rarely saw any tech beyond physical recordings on some sort of plastic strip.

The story winds up the reader, tightening the tension with each chapter. Some characters are just trying to get by. Others are actively assisting the German government in maintaining their current world dominance. Some few are interested in finding a way out of this Germany/Japanese controlled world for everyone. Yet even as the story reaches what I was expecting to be the final crescendo, nothing truly big happens at the end. Most of our characters are still, for the most part, stuck in their various situations trying to find a way out. Nothing is truly resolved. Since I wasn’t fully invested in the characters, I was OK with that. This novel was pretty mediocre for me.

I received a free copy of this book from eStories in exchange for a review of their audiobook services. Their service is set up much the same as other audiobook platforms. When you sign up, you get 1 audiobook for free and you have this free audiobooks trial period as well. There’s also the free audiobooks download app for iPhone or Android. Keep in mind, my experience is for this single book. Nowhere on their website does it say that you can download to a PC or laptop, so I had to clarify that with a representative before I agreed to give their services a try since 90% of my audiobook listening happens on a laptop. Once I signed up, I picked out my book, I went to my eStories library, and there is a DOWNLOAD button, which I clicked. I was expecting options to pop up – various formats, perhaps a eStories specific player for computers (or links to Windows Media Player or iTunes), etc. However, instead it just started downloading a zip file full of the MP3s for my book. Now, for me, this was fine. Once fully downloaded in my Download Folder, I wanted to move my audiobook to another folder but the move failed completely and I had to redownload. (I don’t know if the failed download was due to corrupted files or not, but considering the small difficulty with the Android player, that might well be the case.) Later on, since we were headed out on a road trip, we downloaded the same book from eStories to my man’s Android cellphone. The download went swiftly, however there was some minor corruption of each MP3 file. Each file ended with a random sentence fragment taken from that file. At first, we thought the eStories player was cutting off the last word or two of the chapter but a spot check of my laptop audiobook revealed what was happening (though not the why of it). I informed my contact of this and the info was passed on to the tech team, so hopefully that is already fixed if you go to use the Android player. Browsing their selection is pretty good – genre, length, abridged or unabridged, etc. They don’t have as big a selection as Audible.com but they do have some small publishers and indie authors/narrators as well as the big publishing houses. You can create a Wish List as well. One cool thing is that you can upload any audiobook from your computer to your eStories library and from there listen to it on your Android or iPhone. I haven’t tried this yet but I like the idea for Librivox audiobooks for my husband’s Android. Each book has a detailed description – author, narrator, publisher, length, series, etc. However, unlike other platforms, I can’t click on the series and have all the books in the series pop up. Overall, eStories has potential.

The Narration:  Jeff Cummings was OK. He did fine with regional American accents but his foreign accents were pretty rough, especially his Italian accent. He did do a good job imbuing the characters with emotions at the right times. 

What I Liked: It was an interesting look into a world where WWII had a different outcome; Frank Frink is an interesting character; Having the US divided up into 3 sections gives a view into 3 different sets of human standards; use of the I Ching; the alternate WWII ending in the fictitious book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.

What I Disliked: Juliana is one of the few female characters; a few characters have sudden shifts in their outlooks and then their motives feel forced the rest of the book; no real look into German-occupied US; the story winds us up and then just leaves us; narration was a little rough with foreign accents.

VintageScifiBadgeVintage SciFi Month! This book was originally published in 1962, and being of the alternate history SF genre, it easily qualifies for my Vintage SF challenge. Hooray! Anyone is welcome to join the yearly Vintage SF Month!

What Others Think:

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Bury Me by Tara Sivec

SivecBuryMeWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Stephanie Willis

Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (2015)

Length: 6 hours 36 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in 1965,  Ravenna Duskin, who recently completed high school, doesn’t feel quite like herself. Two days ago, she had an accident that left her with scratches, bruises, and a head wound. Her parents dote over her as she recovers, but her memories are not returning as quickly as she would like. Violent dreams haunt her sleep. She just doesn’t fell like herself at all.

My, oh my! This is one of the best Suspense genre books I have listened to in some time. I was hooked from the beginning and engaged the entire book. Ravenna and her parents (Tanner and Claudia) all live in a prison (Gallows Hill) that was turned into a museum/tourist attraction some years ago. Ravenna grew up in this prison, her father having worked there since before she was born, back when it actually held prisoners. As you can see, we have an interesting setting for this nail biting story to play out in.

We enter the story two days after Ravenna’s head wound accident. However, everyone is being rather vague about events of that day and it’s pissing Ravenna off. She wants answers. Her mother is trying hard to soothe her worries by making her pretty pink bed, braiding her hair, and preparing snacks on demand. Yet all that does is raise angry feelings within Ravenna and she doesn’t know why.

Indeed, Ravenna has a lot of emotions in this book and they swing back and forth. At first, we don’t know why and neither does Ravenna. But there is a mystery here, one that Ravenna can’t ignore. As the story moves forward, bits and pieces of her memory break through, and at first, they don’t make sense. Or at least, they don’t match what she has been told. More emotions boil within her, and sometimes they are violent ones.

Now, if you are concerned this book is full of teen angsty behavior and emotions, that’s not the case at all. I think most characters in her position would have most of the emotions she lives through in this tale. Something traumatic happened and no one wants to be honest with her about it.

The cast is small in this story, yet still interesting. Ravenna’s parents have their own ideas of perfection, secrets, and regrets. Nolan,the groundskeeper, is also not telling all he knows, though, admittedly, he’s a bit confused over Ravenna’s changing personality. There’s a mild romantic interest between the two. Trudy, who was once Ravenna’s best friend, is now somewhat too perky and goal-oriented for Ravenna’s taste. Then there’s the rude and somewhat creepy Ike, who is also a groundskeeper. Toss in the shadowy character of Dr. Thomas, and you have an interesting cast, all with there own little dramas.

The ending was very well thought out. For a while, I thought the story would go one way, and it didn’t, then I thought it would end this other way, and that wasn’t it either. I was happily surprised that I couldn’t guess the ending. I was on pins and needles for the climax. Then we have an epilogue that explains things further and gives more insight into the main character’s motives. It was excellent. I haven’t been this satisfied by a Suspense story in some time.

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

Narration: Stephanie Willis did a great job with Ravenna. She really brought forth all these emotions the main character is feeling without over doing it. I could really feel Ravenna’s confusion and resultant anger over the situation. Willis also had believable male voices and distinct character voices for the entire cast.

What I Liked: The tension and suspense; rather unusual setting; the mystery that no one wants to talk about; Ravenna’s missing memories; the climax as nail biting!; the epilogue explained further and was interesting in and of itself; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a thrilling book to listen to.

What Others Think:

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