Exciting news! Allies and Enemies: Exiles (Vol 3) is now available from Audible,Amazon and iTunes in audiobook. Talented narrator, Erin Bateman, is back in the third installment of the Allies and Enemies series. The action picks up where Allies and Enemies: Rogues (Vol 2) left off.
Desperate to help Jon and Corsair rescue Erelah, Sela agrees to a bloodthirsty bargain– assassinate a corrupt Guild Imperator and escape capture. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s very rare for urban fantasy or contemporary fantasy (or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days) to catch my attention. No offense to the many fantasy authors out there, but I’ve always preferred space-ships over wizards. However, when The Library of the Unwritten was called out as a new release at DragonCon 2019 panel hosted by Penguin Publishing, I was intrigued. (Fun fact: At that same panel, I won a book with a dragon on the cover that I promptly gifted to a colleague that liked that sort of thing. Yes, I see the irony.)
I think it was the elevator pitch for Library of the Unwritten that appealed to me: “Characters from unwritten books come to life; hijinks ensue.“
As an author, I imagined my own unwritten characters on the loose in the “real world”. (The idea is entertaining and horrifying– like watching a fight break out in a hockey game.)
Here’s the skinny: Unfinished books are kept in a neutral section of hell called the Library of the Unwritten which is overseen by a Librarian. If a character escapes their book, it’s up to the Librarian to hunt them down and get them back to their books.
Hackwith’s story follows Head Librarian Claire, and her assistant Brevity as they are joined by a teenage demon as they track down an escaped Hero. When they run afoul of an angel on the hunt for the Devil’s bible, they uncover a plot to upset the status quo between Heaven and Hell. Claire and her allies end up hunted by angles across different versions of the afterlife (Valhalla being one of them), looking for clues to thwart a demonic rebellion.
Hackwith’s writing uses some repetitive metaphors. (Who isn’t guilty of that?) Perhaps they stick out more during an audiobook experience than they might to a casual reader. Her world-building is detailed with seamless exposition. The characters are well-rounded and compelling.
Narration by Lisa Flanagan is nuanced and adds dimension. She does a great job with a pretty big cast of characters of different sexes, cultures and time periods.
If you’re a fan of The Good Place, Good Omens, Supernatural, Dr. Who, American Gods… you should check out TheLibrary of the Unwritten.
A stand-alone science fiction novella from the award-winning, best-selling, critically acclaimed author of the Wayfarer series.
Told in the first-person narrative, Chambers spins the story of 22nd-century astronaut Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates as they explore habitable worlds. Earth and politics are decades in their wake. Through the process of “somaforming”, O’Neill and her crew survive the hostile environments of exoplanets. Combined with suspended animation, fragile humans can endure the long voyages to get to them. With their bodies transformed for each planet and with so much time elapsed back on earth, O’Neill and her crew are increasingly out of touch with the humans they’d left behind on Earth.
I came across To Be Taught, If Fortunate as I explored other books narrated by Brittany Pressley (narrator for the recent Elizabeth Moon books in the Vatta’s War follow up.) Her performance really makes the story shine. For a limited POV, she adds a fuller dimension with different inflections and accents to the other three crew members.
If you like Enterprise, Gravity, Interstellar, or, if you’re already a fan of Chambers, To Be Taught, If Fortunate is a fun fast read (or listen).
From the Publisher: A woman on the run. A captain adrift in space. One of them is infected with an alien parasite. In this dark science fiction thriller, a young woman must confront her past so the human race will have a future.
Set in a future where human travel amid the stars is common, Salvaged is a mash-up Alien and The Expanse.
The main character, Rosalyn Devar, is a bit of a mess, by her own admission. She’s left behind a career as a bioengineer and a wealthy, influential family to be a space janitor that cleans up the aftermath of ill-fated research expeditions (i.e. the remains for former ship crews). But she can’t outrun her demons.
Called out for drinking on the job, she talks her way into a second chance by agreeing to salvage the Brigantine, a research vessel that’s “gone dark.” Devar arrives to find that reports of the Brigantine crew’s death are very much exaggerated.
The crew has been infected with an alien lifeform (nicknamed “Foxfire”) that’s smarter than your average microbe. This is where the comparison to The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, comes into play. Like Corey’s protomolecule, Foxfire seeks to consume the humanity of its hosts and join them like a hive mind.
Stranded on the diseased ship, Devar’s near-constant fear of contamination by Foxfire is unnerving. As her mysterious back story unfolds, it seems Devar was fated to encounter the tragic crew of the Brigantine.
Written in the third person and alternating from the perspectives of the main characters, the plot unfolds to reveal the circumstances that sealed the Brigantine’s fate and set Devar on her self-destructive course. Some bright spots of wry humor and a fledging awkward romantic attraction between Devar and the Brigatine’s, Captain Edison Aries, defer some of the bleakness. Unlike other infected crew members, the Aries has managed to fight the organism’s influence and keep his humanity, so far.
The narration by Emily Woo Zeller is excellent. She seamlessly moves between the different characters. If you’re a fan of science fiction horror and space opera, I highly recommend, Salvaged by Madeleine Roux. I’ll be sure to look for more from Roux in the future.
At DragonCon 2019, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Comedy4Cast, hosted by my good friend, Clinton. Follow the link below to hear the interview where I talk about writing, writing with ADHD and answer questions about Armageddon (sorta).
Dragon Con 2019 has come and gone. This is the third year I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited as an “Attending Professional” to this intimate little gathering of over 80K humans. It’s likely the largest fandom gathering I’ll ever participate in. (I’ve been to a few world cons– but I can’t be sure what the average attendance is at one of those shindigs.)
This year, I was on four panels and a guest on the podcast, Technorama, Comedy4cast & Friends – LIVE!
Panels can be intimidating things, especially if you know the crowds is very likely there to see everyone else on the panel but you. (Especially, if one of your co-panelists is a big name when it comes to military sci-fi.) This was the case for me on the first “official” day of DragonCon for the “Media Military Sci-Fi Panel”. I did my best and hopefully added the valuable insights of an author that’s done not too shabbily in the genre regardless of my lack of actual military experience. No one threw things, at least. 🙂
The remaining panels went by in a blur. We talked about “Handwavium” and its impact on the story, saluted the recent 20th anniversary of Farscape and reflected on the Dragon Awards. The awards are a different creature than in the first 2 years that I was a finalist. For instance, there’s now a reception for the finalists and winners. (I’m bummed that I missed out on this. In 2016 and 2017, when I was a finalist, there was no reception. Or, at least, not one I was invited to.) The competition is steeper and now a larger proportion of my indie cohorts seem to know about it.
Where I once attended DragonCon as a “private citizen”, a large portion of my time was dedicated to hitting panels in the “Writing” track in an effort to absorb helpful insights from industry pros. Every chance encounter with another writer may be an important connection. You never know what may come from it. Plus, I just enjoy helping out other writers and hearing about their journey.
Congrats to all the 2019 Dragon Award finalists! May the odds be ever in your favor.
If you’re going to Dragon Con in steamy Atlanta this year, please be sure to check out my panels. Be sure to say “hi”. Here’s the skinny on my schedule of appearances:
Military Sci-Fi Writers & Creators – Media Edition
Description: A roundtable of Military Science Fiction writers & artists–whether in tie-ins or independent worlds–discuss the genre, trends, real-world accuracy, & working within the complex worlds of Military Sci-Fi.
Time: Fri 05:30 pm Location: Chastain DE – Westin
(Tentative Panelists: David Weber, Van Allen Plexico, Marc Alan Edelheit, Amy J. Murphy, Chris Kennedy)
Handwavium: How Much Is Too Much?
Description: Handwavium or technobabble sounds great but doesn’t always mean anything in real-world terms. Our panelists discuss what goes into good & not-so-good handwavium.
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt
(Tentative Panelists: Robert E. Hampson, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Quincy J Allen, Amy J. Murphy)
Farscape Anniversary Fan Panel
Description: Farscape was a monumental show for its weaving together of intricate stories, compelling characters, practical effects in puppetry, and strong visual storytelling. Come aboard Moya as we look back on 20 years of this fan favorite.
Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Chastain DE – Westin
(Tentative Panelists: Amy J. Murphy, Michael Falkner)
Description: This is a great way to see not one, but two podcasts do their shows live. We also adapt the shows to involve the audience in many of our favorite segments. They become an integral part of the fun.
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: Galleria 6 – Hilton
(Tentative Panelists: Chuck Tomasi, Amy J. Murphy, Dr. Pamela L. Gay)
Meet the Dragon Awards
Description: We are going to have a mix of Award Winners & Finalists from this year & years past. So many good books, so many great authors!
Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Embassy EF – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Amy J. Murphy, Russell Newquist, Christopher Woods, L. Jagi Lamplighter)