Review: TROPIC OF KANSAS by Christopher Brown (Voyager)

brownc-tropicofkansasusA terrifyingly realistic dystopian novel

The United States of America is no more. Broken into warring territories, its center has become a wasteland DMZ known as “the Tropic of Kansas.” Though this gaping geographic hole has no clear boundaries, everyone knows it’s out there — that once-bountiful part of the heartland, broken by greed and exploitation, where neglect now breeds unrest. Two travelers appear in this arid American wilderness: Sig, the fugitive orphan of political dissidents, and his foster sister Tania, a government investigator whose search for Sig leads her into her own past — and towards an unexpected future.

Sig promised those he loves that he would make it to the revolutionary redoubt of occupied New Orleans. But first he must survive the wild edgelands of a barren mid-America policed by citizen militias and autonomous drones, where one wrong move can mean capture… or death. One step behind, undercover in the underground, is Tania. Her infiltration of clandestine networks made of old technology and new politics soon transforms her into the hunted one, and gives her a shot at being the agent of real change — if she is willing to give up the explosive government secrets she has sworn to protect.

As brother and sister traverse these vast and dangerous badlands, their paths will eventually intersect on the front lines of a revolution whose fuse they are about to light.

As the news is filled with stories of creeping fascism, an increase in the militarization of police forces, and a “fortress America” mentality settling in for those on the right (although, mostly, it’s anyone who voted for Donald Trump), this novel feels frighteningly realistic. It is also very good. Continue reading

Interview with GUY ADAMS

AdamsG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Guy Adams?

There are creatures at the depths of Earth’s oceans that exist alone in the darkness. If they stray too close to the light they explode, their bodies having developed in this isolated, salty world. Instead, they float, thoughts adrift in whatever imaginations they possess. Subsisting on whatever floats their way.

Guy Adams is like that, only with more cats.

I’ve written around forty books, which is, obviously, utterly absurd. They include The Clown Service series from Del Rey UK, Deadbeat from Titan and The Heaven’s Gate trilogy from Solaris. Continue reading

Guest Post: “How to Write a Book a Year, and Work Full Time” by William C. Dietz

dietzwc-authorpicI had always wanted to write a novel, and with luck, publish it. And for some reason I chose age 40 as my deadline. But the years passed and, on the day when I turned 39, I hadn’t written a single page. There were numerous reasons for that not the least of which was the fact that I had a demanding job, a wife, and two children.

What to do? Should I slip the deadline to 50? Give up? Or make the book happen somehow. I chose option three. All you have to do is write one page a day, I reasoned (about 300 words), and you’ll have a rough draft 365 days later! (300 words a day x 365 = 109,500 words.) And guess what? It worked. The book (Galactic Bounty) sold right away. Continue reading

Interview with MARGARET KILLJOY

KilljoyM-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Margaret Killjoy?

I’m an author who comes out of the DIY tradition of zines and has recently been making headway into traditional publishing. I’m recently-out as a transwoman and I’m a longtime anarchist organizer. I’ve spent most of my adult life traveling but just recently decided to hang my hat in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Your new novella, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, will be published by Tor.com in August. It looks rather fascinating: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is the first book in my Danielle Cain series, which follows a group of squatter-punk demon hunters. In the first book, our protagonist heads to a utopian town to figure out what happened to her dead best friend and stumbles upon magic and demons. It’s hard to describe the themes of a book without offering spoilers, but it’s a book about the ways in which we wield power over one another and it’s a book about a traveler trying to find home.

Continue reading

Guest Post: “So You Want To Write Military Science Fiction” by William C. Dietz

dietzwc-authorpicSo you’d like to write a military science fiction series. Good. You came to the right place. I’ve written some, and would be happy to share my secrets, the first of which is to understand the true nature of business that you hope to be part of. No, it isn’t the book business. What you’re planning to do is join the entertainment industry.

In addition to books you’re going to compete with movies, TV, and social media for eyeballs and dollars. Oh, and while you do that, pirates will steal your stuff, fans will give you one-star reviews because “the book costs too much,” and Amazon will offer cheap used copies right next to the new ones. And guess what? You won’t make a cent off them. Continue reading

Excerpt: THE RAINS by Gregg Hurwitz (Tor Teen)

9780765382672_JKTmech.inddToday, we have an excerpt from Gregg Hurwitz‘s first YA novel, The Rains. I’m a fan of Hurwitz’s work — most recenrlt, I really enjoyed the first in his Evan Smoak series, Orphan X, and also his run on Detective Comics (which was a couple years ago, now). Published by Tor Teen, here’s the synopsis for The Rains:

In one terrifying night, the peaceful community of Creek’s Cause turns into a war zone. No one under the age of eighteen is safe. Chance Rain and his older brother, Patrick, have already fended off multiple attacks from infected adults by the time they arrive at the school where other young survivors are hiding. 

Most of the kids they know have been dragged away by once-trusted adults who are now ferocious, inhuman beings. The parasite that transformed them takes hold after people turn eighteen — and Patrick’s birthday is only a few days away. 

Determined to save Patrick’s life and the lives of the remaining kids, the brothers embark on a mission to uncover the truth about the parasites — and what they find is horrifying. Battling an enemy not of this earth, Chance and Patrick become humanity’s only hope for salvation.

Now, on to the excerpt… Continue reading

Mini-Review: THE BURNING LIGHT by Bradley Beaulieu & Rob Ziegler (Tor.com)

BeaulieuZiegler-BurningLightAn interesting post-apocalyptic sci-fi story

Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leavings its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She’ll end the threat or die trying.

A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She’s special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But, Chu is getting close and Zola can’t hide forever.

This was a pretty interesting novella. Set in a dilapidated New York City. There were a few moments when the story’s momentum dipped, but it was for the main a pretty well-paced, engaging story. This is an interesting sci-fi/dystopian story. Continue reading