Lightning has a strange smell. For me, it’s a combination of burned ozone and chlorine, as if I’ve been transported back to some crowded gym pool in my distant past. There is screaming, raucous and unintelligible, but after a moment I realize it’s just the gulls shrieking in alarm.

“–shelter!” Lynx is yelling. “Move! We need to head for shelter!” She bangs the nose of my kayak with her paddle for emphasis, then turns toward the hill that rises along the northwest side of Summit Lake.

The water is steaming. Thunder heads pelt us with fat, icy raindrops as lightning flashes overhead. I grit my teeth and count while paddling for all I’m worth. One thousand and one, one thousand and– The crash comes before I’ve finished the second beat.

Continue reading “A Meeting With Nature”

Cover of Lost Dogs: Last Fight of the Old Hound by Nils Odlund

Lost Dogs is a different kind of fantasy series. Last Fight of the Old Hound follows Roy von Waldenberger, a prize fighter and therianthrope, and much of the story’s conflict is internal. His inner wolf makes him stronger, faster, tougher– but it also fights for control of his mind in times of duress.

The author’s world building and character development are top notch, and I found Roy’s internal conflict incredibly easy to relate to. I love seeing fantasy used as a way to approach real life conflicts, and the author does a superb job of this. The inner wolf is a terrific metaphor, with its instinct-driven approach to life, boundless strength, and absolute unwillingness to compromise.

This is the story of one man’s struggle to reconcile what’s right by his conscience with what’s right for his loved ones and his future. A prize fighter on the cusp of retirement, he has been given a choice between retaining his reputation as an honest man, and ‘falling’ to a new fighter in exchange for the ability to leave with a healthy retirement bonus and his good standing in the business world intact.

This story is more of an afternoon read than a week-long one, but there’s enough world building, conflict, and action packed into Last Fight of the Old Hound for the reader to feel like they got their money’s worth. A gripping and evocative short read, I highly recommend it!

Lost Dogs: Last Fight of the Old Hound is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble. New to this series? Check out Part I here  and Part II here.

Meet Kedric introduces a new character to the narrative, law enforcement officer Scott Kedric. In Alaska, law enforcement aren’t always the good guys– and Officer Kedric is no exception.

Warning: this episode contains imagery that may be disturbing for veterans and those who have experienced violence at the hands of law enforcement.

Village Public Safety Officer Scott Kedric hated the rain, which made it especially ironic that he was perpetually posted where the weather did little else.

The sedate drizzles of summer had given way to August and September’s storms, and the trailing edge of some big tropical number was hammering the Alaskan coast for all it was worth. Icy rain pelted his face with the ferocity of thrown gravel and trickled in cold rivulets down his collar. Kedric gritted his teeth as he eased the state-issued watercraft around the docks, hunting for a tell-tale flash of bright blue.

A delegation of Resource Management officials had arrived on a private flight that morning, and already one of the city slickers was missing. He’d wandered away from the group’s minder as the delegation toured the waterfront tourist shops.

A former banker from Oregon, Randall Johnson brought investment savvy and a hint of greenie tree-hugger sensibilities to the State’s Board of Resource Management. It was common knowledge that he wasn’t well-liked by the pro-Conlin crowd, and there were plenty of off-duty miners out despite the rain. Resource Management wasn’t particularly well liked by the Alaska Native population, either, so it was anybody’s guess who’d nabbed the guy.

Unfortunately it fell to VPSO Kedric to find the man, or whatever was left of him. Kedric swore under his breath and fervently wished that someone could have offed the greenie in decent weather. Preferably in a village that wasn’t in his jurisdiction.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part III: Meet Kedric”

Blade Runner movie poster

Blade Runner bears about as much resemblance to the book that inspired it as a box of chicken nuggets does to a live chicken, but in this case that’s probably a good thing. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  was a singularly strange story, puzzling on many levels. (If you’re interested, you can check out my review of Electric Sheep here.)

Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a former Blade Runner (aka, police bounty hunter) who’s been forced back into service to hunt down a group of escaped Nexus 6 androids, now referred to as replicants.

The plot and world-building of Electric Sheep has been pared down significantly in some aspects and completely rewritten in others. No mention is made of the massive nuclear war that made most of Earth uninhabitable, although the off-world colonies remain. Replicants, produced to provide slave labor on the colonies, periodically escape and make their way back to Earth.

Continue reading “Review: Blade Runner”

I don’t check my blog’s spam filter very often, so there was a lot of material in there when I peeked into the bin of gibbering nonsense the other day. Whoever said spam bots are utterly useless was not entirely correct– they’re occasionally good for a laugh.

An old post from February of last year, Tackling More Questionable Writing Advice, has been bizarrely and inexplicably popular with the bots. Over the last month they’ve left hundreds of comments on it. (If anyone has any idea why, I’d be happy to hear your theories. What’s the point of spamming a post that’s over a year old?)

Today I’m going to respond to some of the most hilarious, ridiculous, insulting and asinine comments, so that you too can have a laugh at spammers’ expense. (Content warning for blistering comebacks, random humor, and occasional profanity.) 

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble. New to this series? Check out Part I here.

The surf roared against the narrow beach, and an icy rain pelted their faces as the trio stared at each other over the body of the dead visitor in the bright blue parka. Ava was the first to speak.

“I think he must be from out of state. They’re the only ones who wear parkas in August.”

“I recognize this guy,” Danny said. “I saw him getting off the plane that came in this morning. He’s one of the Resource Management guys who came to meet with the ‘Ammas. They were all bundled up like they expected a snow storm.”

“Good riddance,” Cam spat.

“This is bad,” Ava said, chewing her lip. “Think they’re looking for him yet?”

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part II: A Clue”

Congratulations! You survived another week.

Your joy at finally reaching the point where you can get a full night’s sleep is tempered by the realization that the weeks are going by faster and faster, and you’re not getting anywhere. You’re just getting a little more tired and a little farther behind each time. It’s like Tetris: your reward for completing each level is to do it over, but faster and more challenging.

You succeeded at becoming your department’s auditor! How would you like to also teach company-wide classes on a subject of great legal importance to the company’s continued operation? You’ll need to jump from thinking like an auditor to thinking like an instructor. You’re also going to need to write your own curriculum, because it turns out that we don’t really have one. And yes, we expect you to accomplish all that while continuing to perform your current duties.

Wow, you did a really good job on those classes! The training department is highly impressed. How’d you like to do all of the above while training a revolving group of new hires?

Continue reading “Don’t Blink: A Flash Fiction”

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep cover

I finally got around to reading Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And although I had no idea what to expect going in, it was still nothing like what I expected.

Rick Deckard is a police bounty hunter, “retiring” escaped androids that pose a vague threat to Earth’s remaining human population. His world is dull and grey, full of despair and the detritus of human lives long gone. Nuclear war has made much of Earth uninhabitable, causing freak mutations and decimating animal populations. Most humans eligible to immigrate to off-world colonies have done so.

While this premise might sound dark, gritty, thrilling, and potentially action packed, –spoiler– this novel is not.

Continue reading “Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

Dredd 2012 - Judgement is Coming

For the purpose of disambiguation, this review is of Dredd (2012), starring Karl Urban as Judge Dredd and Olivia Thirlby as trainee Judge Anderson.

When Dredd and Anderson respond to a grisly triple homicide in the high rise mega slum of Peach Trees, they have no idea that they’re walking into the heart of a ruthless criminal’s base of operations. Ex-prostitute Ma-Ma (played excellently by Lena Headey) is the kingpin of a cartel that has risen to supremacy through a brutal combination of extreme violence and drug trafficking. The drug in question is Slo-Mo, a substance which slows the user’s perception of reality to 1% normal speed.

I’ll admit I didn’t have high expectations for this film. I’m not a huge fan of Karl Urban, and I had suspicions that Judge Anderson would be, as happens all too often to female action leads, little more than eye candy. The prominent place of Slo-Mo in the trailers gave me flashbacks to the heavy-handed drug propaganda of the 80s and 90s.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong. Dredd surprised the hell out of me. It was really good.

Continue reading “Review: Dredd”

Cover of Redemption of Sisyphus by Eric Michael Craig

In the thrilling conclusion to Eric Michael Craig’s solar system-spanning Shan Takhu Legacy series, the fearless crew of the ice-harvesting research vessel Jakob Waltz, the remnants of the Human Union, and the rebels of Fleet Cartel battle an AI bent on saving the human race from itself by any means necessary.

The AI Odysseus proves to be a Pandora’s box of nasty tricks, and it possesses nothing that could even remotely be called a conscience. Powered by a “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” style of damage control –where the eggs are human lives– Odysseus works to extend its control to the edges of the solar system and eliminate anyone that could possibly be considered a threat to its power.

After all, it’s hard to protect humanity with all these pesky humans standing in its way.

Fortunately, in addition to the motley group of heroes and leaders we’ve come to know and love over the course of this series, there’s also a couple of pro-human AIs, a crew of upgraded humans, and a treasure-trove of mysterious alien technology on the heroes’ side.

Put all of these elements together, and the result is a grimly prophetic thrill ride peppered with seat-of-your-pants skirmishes and dark discoveries. Redemption of Sisyphus is a multi-fronted three-dimensional chess match against a malignant artificial intelligence able to infect almost any automated system, and capable of some deeply chilling meatspace tricks as well. The final installment of this series kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

I don’t review more than the first book of a series very often, and that’s due to the fact that beyond book one it gets successively harder to write a decent review without revealing potential spoilers. Hopefully I’ve managed to walk that fine line between being too generic and revealing too much about the plot for new readers. Whether you love this review or hate it, let me know in the comments.

If it sounds like something you want to read, Redemption of Sisyphus is available in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. New to the series? Start with Legacy of Pandora, and check out my review here.