Cover of Legacy of Pandora: Shan Takhu Legacy: Book One by Eric Michael Craig

Set in a future where Earth has become all but uninhabitable and human colonization has extended throughout the inner Solar System, Legacy of Pandora follows two separate storylines. Out in the cold dark of the Neptune L-4 Trojan Cluster, the ice harvesting research vessel Jakob Waltz is about to run into serious trouble. Back home in the governing Council of the Human Union, FleetCartel Chancellor Katryna Roja is just beginning to uncover a twisted web of corruption, resource theft, and murder.

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Thrill Kings: The Gray Walls by Rik Ty cover

In The Grey Walls, our heroes battle an interdimensional intruder like nothing they’ve ever seen before. Having taken over an office tower, the creature seems to be slowly absorbing its hapless victims– which include Nonstop, Krork, and all of the office workers, as well as a multitude of nightmarish creatures from other dimensions.

The result is an office tower filled with a maze of constantly-shifting gray walls– walls which bear still-living impressions of the creature’s meals.

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I discovered a ton of new favorite authors this year!

Those who know me know that I enjoy a wide range of genres. I’m intrigued by writing that’s unique: new concepts, subversions of expectations, genre blending. Interestingly enough, most of the books that fit my preferences this year came from independent authors.

This list covers a range of genres. Comparing most of these books to each other would be impossible, so they’re organized alphabetically by title instead of numerically. If you’d like to read more, each heading links to my review of that book.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2018.

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Tales from Alternative Earths 2 cover

The haunting and all-too-believable tale of the first woman cosmonaut to reach space. A Handmaid’s Tale-esque account of a present day where witch trials never went out of style. An alternate past where Hitler was diverted from the course that eventually saw him rise to power and orchestrate the largest genocide in recorded history. An alternate history where an Andalusian polymath invented the glider and gave birth to a future utterly unlike that which we know today.

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Cyberpunk Is Evolving

I recently stumbled across an article that sums up what some people have been noticing for a while: cyberpunk is becoming increasingly distorted by its transition into the cultural mainstream.

Cyberpunk was sci-fi for those who saw the power of the computer, its mounting ability to overtake everything personal (attention, time, privacy), and were bracing for impact. It was speculative fiction for everyone wary of the growing influence of massive corporations and ready to be leaders in the technological rebellion.
To reflect this, cyberpunk’s protagonists—the personalities that would become the face of the genre—were uniformly disobedient.

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Some changes are coming to this site, including a redesigned Books page and some back end optimizations. Little should change for you, the visiting reader, but this is a heads up that you may see a little mess while upgrades take place behind the scenes.

I’ll still cover the same subjects I do now, and the website will still have the same components. The overall look and layout of the site shouldn’t change much either. If you spot anything that shouldn’t be there or that seems broken, kindly leave a comment or use the contact form to drop me a note.

While these updates were going to take place gradually inbetween scheduled posts, the recent rollout of WordPress 5.0 has led several important site components to go belly up and/or randomly attack each other. I spent a lot of time on these issues this weekend, and unfortunately fixing them superseded putting up this weekend’s post. I apologize for any disappointment that may cause.

In the meantime, thanks for hanging around. Your support and readership is always appreciated!

Cover of Dial D for Deadman by Barry J Hutchison

Dial D for Deadman is a superbly executed hybrid: part noir detective novel, part paranormal mystery, part comedy. The action takes place on a popular interstellar crossroads called Parloo, in the gritty, downtrodden surface city known to its inhabitants as Down Here.

Our hero is Dan Deadman, deceased detective at large. Between ne’er-do-wells opening portals to the Malwhere, interdimensional amnesiacs, and a missing-persons case with an exceptionally gory twist, Dan quickly finds himself up to his eyeballs in trouble.

At times like this, he’d give his left nut to be a real detective. If he still had nuts.

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Southwest Flight 1380

On April 17th, 2018, as Southwest Flight 1380 flew over Pennsylvania, a fan blade shattered in one of the Boeing 737’s engines. The resulting uncontained engine failure flung shrapnel into the aircraft’s fuselage, destroying a window and claiming the life of passenger Jennifer Riordan.

Jet engines on commercial aircraft are built to contain malfunctions within the engine casing, as pieces from the engine can exit at a high rate of speed. An uncontained failure is one in which the shrapnel escapes the engine housing.

The faulty fan blade was produced by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and France’s Safran S.A. This manufacturer had been under increased scrutiny since Southwest Flight 3472 suffered a similar uncontained engine failure over Florida in 2016.

In the case of Flight 3472, metal shrapnel also sliced into the fuselage and breached the protection barrier. With pressure escaping from the cabin, oxygen masks dropped and the pilots were forced to bring the aircraft into a descent so that passengers could breathe. The front edge of the jet’s wing, horizontal tail stabilizer, and winglet were also damaged.

At this point you may be asking why this tragedy was allowed to happen after the FAA, the manufacturer, and the airline all knew there was a problem. The answer is as ugly as you’d think.

Continue reading “Safety vs Profit: The Pursuit of a Fatter Bottom Line Claims Another Life”

Editor dictionary definition

Last week I explained why editing is essential to the publishing process and how to go about snagging your very own helpful editor. This week I’m going to explain some money-saving shortcuts you can take to reach a professional, polished final product without breaking the bank.

While you should never forgo professional editing entirely, there are plenty of things you can do to produce a cleaner manuscript that will require less professional help.

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Editor dictionary definition

Continuing from last week’s post, where I talked about the reason some writers are wary of editors, this week I’m going to explain how to find an editor of your own. (Or editors, if that’s how you roll.)

Editing is an essential part of preparing your work for publication, whether you write short stories, novellas, or full length novels. No matter how strong your-self editing game is, a manuscript can always benefit from a second, trained set of eyes.

Here’s why.

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