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Latest review for Jon Puckridge's ON

Blue bleeding down a white cover with ONThe Future is ON by Joel Smith

Goodreads review

I very much enjoyed this book, but it seems to me, (and maybe only me), that you have to read a "quantum-speculative-cyberfi" book differently than you would a traditional, or normal, novel. I'm a huge fan of writers like Hannu Rajaniemi, ("The Quantum Thief"), and everyone else who tries to predict the electronic, cyber and social media future and who tries to translate quantum principles and theories into "sciencey" plot points.

The basic thrust here is that humans are moving from wireless headsets connected to the grID, their current reality of choice, to neural implants that completely tie them in to a hive mentality. (This is what it means to be ON through One Network.) The question is, what will this do to any human sense of past and future, as opposed to the purely now. Additionally, what becomes of reality, individuality, free will, privacy, moral responsibility, and the like. It's a dystopian, (or utopian, depending on your point of view), variation and elaboration on where we are now. The author sweetens, and confuses, the deal with a few other lines.

In addition to humans the world is populated by rooins, who are completely sentient robots with equal civil rights. Since humans are Darwinian, (evolutionary chance), and rooins are Lamarckian, (each new generation acquires improvements made to the prior generation), there is fear that rooins are outpacing humans developmentally. (BTW, they are.)

On top of that, and this may be the bridge-too-far that has lost some readers, all of this is destabilizing the boundaries of space-time and there are disturbances at the quantum level. I like this fluffy goofy pseudo-quantum stuff, but if you don't like playing along then it could easily get old.

We also get a huge cast of characters, and a murder mystery, but that seems to be there so the main characters can go places and do things, and it would probably be a mistake to go into this thinking it's just a futuristic mystery thriller.

What it mostly is, though, is a thought experiment World's Fair. Remember those fairs and expos in the 60's and 70's, (New York, Montreal), that showed us that the future is now? Jetsons cars and color TV and Dick Tracy wristphones? Well, that's sort of what you get a tour of here. Every page, (I mean that almost literally), mentions or includes or describes some odd futuristic electronic, social, communications wrinkle. Almost none of them have anything to do with the story, but when all is said and done they really are the story. As we follow the characters, everything they eat, drink, see, hear, wear, or talk about or talk into, is next-level stuff. It's all wild but plausible. It's the next-gen extension of what we have now. And it's all just a little twisted, or dark, or dehumanizing, or pointless, or meaningless.

So, this author has a firm grasp on the world he sees. He writes, and describes, great main characters and pretty interesting supporting and incidental characters, which helps to put the vision in context. He doesn't miss the little details that sell this sort of world building. Plot and resolution? Not so much. But, as I say, it seems you have to read these novels a bit differently.

So, are you ON?

Links:

http://www.haguepublishing.com/sample/ON.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1973513767

Cover of ON

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'Frontier Resistance' has appeared in the December edition of the San Francisco Book Review - 4 Stars

Cover for December San Francisco Book Review

The following review has just appeared in December's edition of the San Francisco Book Review. If you want to see the original it can be found here.

Title: Frontier Resistance
Author: Leonie Rogers
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Hague Publishing,
Format: eBook
Details: $4.66 US, 183 pages

Reviewer: James Rasmussen

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

The world of Frontier is under siege from the invading, insectoid Garsal. Shanna, her fellow Scouts, and their Starcat companions find themselves in the care of the mysterious Starlyne, beginning to understand the Spark, the set of unusual talents that have been programmed into their genes over humanity’s generations on the planet. Without the technological mastery, lost over time, that brought their ancestors here, the Spark is the one weapon the settlers have that might be able to defeat the Garsal. As Shanna and her companions struggle to master the Spark, the rest of the colonists struggle to trust their alien allies, the Starlyne, even while the Garsal scheme to enslave the planet’s population.

The sequel to Frontier Incursion, Frontier Resistance draws readers further into the world of Frontier. This book can be read without reading the previous one; enough backstory is woven into the opening chapters that even if you haven’t read it yourself, you can smoothly gain an understanding of what is going on. The writing is clear and straightforward, making for an easy read that focuses on the characters and the action. It does a good job of following the development of the characters and their abilities, and carries overall positive themes throughout; it’s a bit lighter than some of the more angst-ridden YA fare on the market. At times it is a little light on detail, and occasional typos and misplaced punctuation might distract the grammatically sensitive, but otherwise the story pushes forward at a good pace through a science-fiction world that calls to mind both David Weber’s Honor Harrington universe, and David Brin’s Uplift books, making for a solid Young Adult read.

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'Isis, Vampires and Ghosts - Oh My!' has appeared in the October edition of the San Francisco Book Review - 4 stars

October cover of San Francisco Book Review

I've included the whole review, but if you want to see the original it can be found here.

Isis, Vampires and Ghosts - Oh My!
By Janis Hill
Hague Publishing, $4.66 US, 183 pages
Format: eBook
Reviewer: Holly Scudero

4 out of 5 stars

Stephanie and her sister Estella have been estranged for years, and Stephanie is, admittedly, not particularly heartbroken to hear of Estella’s death. But upon arriving to the funeral, held in the questionably new-age-y Temple of Isis, Stephanie learns that Estella is not so much dead as undead. And is now the host of an ancient, evil vampire named Branwyre. And Stephanie is the only one who can banish Branwyre and save Estella’s soul. Stephanie quickly finds herself thrown into a world she can hardly believe is real, with ghosts and demons and more. With the aid of Roxanna, the High Priestess of Isis, and the crude ghost of a monk named Trishna, not to mention the undead Estella herself, Stephanie sets out to retrieve Branwyre’s crucible and banish the ghost before he takes permanent possession of Estella’s body.

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Do NetGalley's reviews provide a return on investment

Cost-Benefit scalesTravis Neighbour Ward posted a question on the Independent Publishers of New England google+ page as to whether anyone who used Netgalley to post books before they're published felt it was worth the money? And how many reviews had it generated per book for you on average? NetGalley provides digital review copies to professional readers, including booksellers, librarians, media, bloggers, reviewers and educators. The cost to list a title with them for 6 months is $400, or $300 if you are a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and do it through them. As others might be interested in my response I thought it would be useful to put an edited version of my reply out to a wider audience.

We're using Netgalley for the third time at the moment for Janis Hills' Isis, Vampires and Ghosts - Oh My!. We used IBPA for our second book Shelley Davidow's Lights Over Emerald Creek. While listing with IBPA is cheaper, and it also gets you a mailout which you would have to pay for separately if you don't list with them, the level of information you get about those downloading the book isn't as useful (although IBPA will provide you with detailed information on request). As I am interested in building up our own email list of past reviewers I've reverted to listing seperately.  Continue Reading →

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Swancon 39 Roundup

Arriving home from Swancon 39 my wife asked me how much Cola and sugar I'd had because of how hyper I was - almost, but not quite, bouncing off the walls hyper. So a week after the con finished I can now look back on it and assess how it worked for me. Particularly as this was the first Swancon that I'd actually been on any panels for.

The Guests

Isobelle-Anne-Sally-Jim, Swancons Guests

L-R: Isobelle Carmody, Anne Bishop, Sally Beasley, and Jim Butcher

 

Anne Bishop and Jim Butcher were the international guests of honour. Both very nice people, articulate, with very dissimilar writing styles. I hadn't actually read any of their books, although I had picked up the first in Jim's 'Dresden Files' series when we were in Sydney earlier this year without realising he was the GOH - what can I say, I'm terrible with names. Continue Reading →

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