eBook Review: the Plagiarist

Hugh Howey, the author of the Wool series that I love and reviewed a few months ago, is a master of creating interesting realities.

Howey's The Plagiarist is the tale of a college professor who moonlights prospecting virtual worlds for great works of art and literature. The moral quandaries, his love life and general lack of mental health all blend to tell an engrossing tale.

As usual Howey's work is hard to put down. If you enjoyed Wool, be sure to read the Plagiarist.

Hugh Howey's the Plagiarist

eBook Review: From Hither to Yon

Why aren't we suffering under a flood of time-travelling tourists? What will happen if I meet my own grandfather? In From Hither to Yon author and humorist Rich Cohen shares with us his research on the wheres, whys and whens of time travel.

Providing examples of Einstein's theory of relativity at work today (why satellite clocks run faster than ground based ones), Cohen documents a number of different views about the possibility, inevitability and futility of time travel. This very short romp through topics like string theory, wormholes and light will make you think.

While not a DIY handbook for construction of my own T.A.R.D.I.S. this was certainly worth the quick read.

Rich Cohen's From Hither to Yon

eBook Review: Don't Eat Cat

Zombies that aren't even really dead! Jess Walter's Don't Eat Cat is a new (to me) and creative take on the coming zimbo epidemic.

Set in not-to-far-in-the-future Seattle, Walters paints a picture of a broken America. People frustrated by reproduction laws, intelligence testing that dictates the course of their lives, and Starbucks playing a lead role in US economy can apparently turn to zombie-ism as an escape! Through the abuse of a club drug they become quasi-functional zombies and forget all their cares; a pseudo-suicide that society seems desperate to accept.

A super fast read for lovers of zombie lit.

Jess Walter's Don't Eat Cat

eBook Review: Old Soul

Joseph Wurtenbaugh's Old Soul is a fantastic Kindle Single. I tore through this short story, unwilling to put it down.

A tale of survival, change and perhaps the source of that eerie deja-vu that plagues you; Wurtenbaugh tells the story of That-Which-Had-Been. We follow a microbiological organism as it journeys from its dying host to another, and another, seeking a new home.

I can't recommend Old Soul highly enough. For .99 this is a do not miss Kindle Single!

Joseph Wurtenbaugh's Old Soul

Rudy Rucker's Collected Essays

The incomparable Rudy Rucker's just posted an ebook collecting his essays called (what else), Collected Essays. There's a Kindle edition, or you can buy directly from him without DRM. What a table of contents, too:

Collected Essays includes the nonfiction pieces from Rucker's two earlier collections, Transreal! (1991) and Seek! (1999). And many newer essays have been added as well. This comprehensive collection weighs in at twice the length of an ordinary book, with sixty essays and numerous illustrations. The essays fall into seven parts: (1) "The Art of Writing." Manifestos and talks about writing science-fiction. (2) "Silicon Valley." Cool scenes Rucker witnessed as he rode the Silicon Valley computer wave for over twenty years, starting in 1986. (3) "Weird Screens." Graphical programs that have obsessed Rucker—cellular automata, artificial life, fractals, space curves, and virtual reality. (4) "Futurology." Playful raps and speculations about the coming times. (5) "The Philosophy of Computation." Digital immortality, artificial intelligence, and the birth of a universal mind. (6) "Personal Stories." Tall tales and reminscences of strange times. (7) "Mentors." Appreciations of the great minds and wild freaks who led Rucker along his path: Kurt Gödel, Martin Gardner, Robert Scheckley, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ivan Stang and Stephen Wolfram.

Collected Essays

eBook review: Tough Without a Gun

In a break from the typical sci-fi/fantasy based Kindle Singles, I just read a biography of one of my all-time media favorites, Humphrey Bogart.

Stefan Kanfer's Tough Without a Gun is a fairly detailed analysis of what makes Bogie so iconic. If you believe the AFI, Bogart is the greatest American film star of all time. Yes, his acting was rather monotone and his ability to play outside a rather narrow band of characters was slim. But Bogart represents an America that many of us are nostalgic for, hence his staying power.

I found the story of Bogart's youth and his struggle to achieve his fame to be rather amazing. I'd never known that he was so lost -- the directionless son of a wealthy family. Poor little rich kid. Acting was really a trade he fell into, via family friendships and a lack of marketable skills.

I think I'll put on my trench coat, fedora, and go wander around Manhattan.

Stefan Kanfer's Tough Without a Gun

eBook Review: Child of Fire

Sorry to have disappeared; work got a hold of me and I spent a week living on planes. It did give me time to read a lot of Kindle Singles...

I really enjoyed Harry Connolly's Child of Fire: a Twenty Palaces Novel -- it is a witty and fast-paced urban fantasy in the genre of 'Whoa! I've got magical powers!'

Ray Lilly is a convict an ultra-mysterious secret society called Twenty Palaces springs from jail to investigate some no-goodery going down in the Pacific Northwest! His boss Annalise is pretty tough and has a penchant for raw meat; seeing as Ray doesn't know much about the Twenty Palaces society and she doesn't seem to want to tell him much, a mystery unfolds.

I'm actually back on a plane later today and looking forward to reading Game of Cages, Connolly's second in the series. Warning, however, the price goes up to $4.99 from .99 once you're addicted (as I am.)

Harry Connolly's Child of Fire: a Twenty Palaces Novel

eBook Review: Downtown Owl

Chuck Klosterman's Downtown Owl is no cheap .99 Kindle Single. It cost $12 but looked so interesting I couldn't pass.

Downtown Owl is a story about life in the tiny town of Owl, North Dakota. We watch the several characters' lives unfold -- a high school teacher who has just moved to town, a HS kid who doesn't quite fit in, former football heroes, and folks who've lived their entire lives in Owl without ever leaving.

They live and they learn. Klosterman's characters are very engaging and by the end of the novel I found myself caring about what happened to them.

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

eBook Review: Ex-Heroes

Talk about crazy eBook genres -- I started with Zombie novels; survive the apocalypse, rebuild society after the apocalypse, zombie break-outs through history -- you name it we got it. Then I was reading super-hero fiction that was surprisingly similar to the teen-angst magical powers; just replace the dark and brooding black outfits with capes and cowls. One totally mind-bending jumble of genres, however, is Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.

Meet a whole bunch of super-heroes! Think they were useful before the zombie apocalypse? They seem to be the only thing standing between humanity and a really bad ending. We meet and learn the backstory of 5 or 6 varied heroes with great names like "Zzzap!" He has the power to make electricity! Very useful when the zimbos have shut down your generator. Anyways this LA-based group of heroes gathers a bunch of survivors at Paramount Studios and sets up a society. They fight off Zombies, LA Gangs, former LA Gangs turned Zombie and other heroes turned zombie.

This one is fun. I laughed out loud at how ridiculous the genre could get -- but the story telling is great and I was entertained.

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Tom Marcinkco's wonderful sf, free for Kindles

My friend and oft-times workshop mate Tom Marcinko, a very talented writer and critiquer, has just put seven of his previously published sf stories into the Kindle store for what he calls "the amazingly low price of absolutely nothing." He's getting back to work on new fiction after a long hiatus, and this is his way of marking the occasion. How can you resist a free sf collection with a story in it called "The Nixon Wrangler's Tale"?

An ardent missionary beams to another galaxy--but finds his convictions and personality altered in transmission.

A bounty hunter pursues a replicant from out of history. This is not called termination. It is called “impeachment.”

Aliens invade a globally depressed Earth with a sinister weapon: A new line of curiously addictive consumer products.

Superheroes must control their powers. Or a shadowy government agency will do it for them.

Plus the Second Coming, with a special guest appearance by the Patron Saint of Television.

Welcome to seven adventures in space, time, and from under the floorboards.

These stories were previously published in Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, Rosebud, Science Fiction Age, and other respected venues.

Tom is the person who introduced me to Mystery Science Theater 3000, and is a very happy mutant indeed.

Astronauts and Heretics

James Patrick Kelly's free Xmas edition of Strangeways

Hugo, Locus, and Nebula award winning science fiction author James Patrick Kelly is giving away the Xmas edition of his excellent ezine Strangeways. I have been enjoying his stories of time travel, space exploration, and more every month, and I thought I would share. Will Christmas survive the apocalypse? If you were uploaded into a computer, in what sense would you still be you? And how will you cope with your deceased but digitally-preserved family members when they gather on December 25th, 2061? Here are links to his Dropbox account. Download the one you want or drop him an email and he'll send you a copy for free.

Direct download: Mobi, ePub

(Thanks, John!)

Norway's world-beating ebook stupidity

Espen sez, "Yesterday, the Norwegian book industry introduced a scheme where they would sell electronic books on little plastic cards, to be inserted in proprietary readers - an astonishingly stupid idea even by their standards. Here is my riff on that idea - and a solution to the 'books as status signals' conundrum."

My novella Chicken Little as a stand-alone ebook

40K, an Italian publisher, have brought out a standalone ebook version of my novella Chicken Little, publishing it simultaneously in English and Italian with some lovely illustrations. They're starting it off at a low price (which will go up on Nov 16): $0.99 in the Kindle store; £0.86 in the UK Kindle store; €0.99 in the German Kindle store; and €0.99 for the Italian edition in Bookrepublic (use discount code 7ATE9).

Cory Doctorow's novella 'Chicken Little' does an excellent job of updating and commenting on some of the themes that informed Pohl & Kornbluth's classic novel ‘The Space Merchants'. Doctorow's updated high-tech take on Pohl's take on Jonathan Swift's 'struldbrugs,' creatures who have immortality but not eternal youth, continuing to age through their extended lives, is particularly ingenious. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one show up on an award ballot next year." -Gardner Dozois, Locus Magazine

"Chicken Little" also appears in my CC-licensed short story collection With a Little Help and was reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Eighth Annual Collection.

Lewis Shiner's new suspense novel DARK TANGOS as a free download; the action-packed, ugly history of Argentina

Lewis Shiner (one of my favorite writers!) sez, "My latest suspense novel, DARK TANGOS, is now available as a free PDF download from my Fiction Liberation Front website. The starred review from BOOKLIST said, 'Delivers its grim story line with artistic mastery....Short and precise, the novel uses the elegance of tango to radiate sensuality throughout. This is an absorbing and surprisingly action-packed tale based in the ugly truths of Argentina's history.'"

The book is also available as an article of commerce, should you be moved to financially support Mr Shiner's outstanding efforts.

Dark Tangos (free PDF)

Dark Tangos (Amazon)

(Thanks, Lewis!)

Clockwork Fagin, free YA steampunk story

My short story Clockwork Fagin, which will appear in the forthcoming YA anthology Steampunk! is available from today as a free file for Kindle, Nook, and other ebook platforms. The whole anthology comes out on Oct 11.