Vendor Spotlight: New Shirts for Classic SciFi Fans

If you’re a fan of the classics, be sure to check out Outofprintclothing.com’s new SciFi collection: http://outofprintclothing.com/science-fiction-collection/

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Wrinkle in Time, 1984, and many more – you can get your favorite classic novel cover on t-shirts for men and women.

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Blu-Ray Review: Transcendence

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Transcendence (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)

Synopsis:
In Transcendence, Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should.

Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

Review:
The previews for this film gave away most of the plot, so not much was a surprise. Johnny Depp and the rest of the acting was fantastic, which I expected. But the far-fetched “transcending” of Will was beyond this science fiction fan’s realm of believability. Especially, when he got into nanotechnology and creating a hive of followers. The story also dragged at times for a bit too much reflection and artsy imagery.

The events build to a suspenseful and exciting ending with a bit of a surprise. But a lot is still left unanswered. For a hard science fiction film, there is a lot of introspection and was just too slow-paced for my taste. However, it was unique and a film I’ll not soon forget.

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Own Transcendence on Digital HD now and on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on July 22nd.

Jennifer Estep Interview and Giveaway!

image001 Jennifer Estep joins SciFiChick.com again to talk about her latest Elemental Assassin installment – Poison Promise!

Can you tell us a bit about Poison Promise in your own words?

JE: Poison Promise is the 11th book in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. In this book, my heroine Gin Blanco has to protect someone who witnesses a horrific crime. As always, the book features a lot of magic, action, and adventure. I hope everyone has as much fun reading the book as I did writing it.

How has Gin evolved through the course of the series?

JE: I would say that Gin has opened up a lot more to her friends and family. She is definitely closer to people and has more relationships than she did in Spider’s Bite, the first book in the series. Many times, it’s those relationships and threats to her friends and family that drive Gin to do whatever is necessary to protect the people that she cares about.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most?

JE: Well, the series is told from Gin’s point of view, so I have to say her. LOL. Gin is way smarter, cooler, and tougher than I could ever be, so I always enjoy writing her character.

But Finnegan Lane, Gin’s foster brother, is probably the character that’s the most fun for me to write, just because he’s so shameless, greedy, playful, and over-the-top.

Do you have a favorite super power?

JE: Strength, speed, the ability to create fire, ice, or lightning with your bare hands. There are so many cool superpowers out there. But if I had to pick just one, I’d probably go with teleportation. I think it would be really fun to go anywhere you wanted to in an instant.

How many books are planned for the Elemental Assassin series?

JE: As of right now, I’m contracted for 13 books, so there will be at least one more book in the series after Black Widow, book #12, comes out on Nov. 25. But I hope to write at least a few more books in the series after that. We’ll see what happens.

Now that the Mythos Academy series has ended, are you developing any new YA stories?

JE: I have been working on a new YA series. It’s going to be called the Black Blade series, and it’s about magic, monsters, and mobsters. The first book will be called Cold Burn of Magic, and it’s set to be released in 2015.

Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JE: If folks want more info on my books, they can check out my website at www.jenniferestep.com or follow me on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Happy reading, everyone!

JENNIFER’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/
Blog: http://www.jenniferestep.com/blog/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferEstepAuthor?fref=ts
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep (@Jennifer_Estep)
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/580315.Jennifer_Estep

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Courtesy of Penguin Teen, I have a copy of Poison Promise for two (2) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends August 15. I’ll draw a name on August 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreJennifer Estep Interview and Giveaway!

Tessa Gratton Guest Post and Giveaway!

The Strange MaidCreating a Story Arc for a Series
by Tessa Gratton

There are different kinds of series:
– Those that are big stories broken up into pieces of a whole, where no part stands alone and you need all of them to complete the story. Examples are traditional high fantasy trilogies like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.
– Those composed of single stories that follow after each other, each complete to itself, with reoccurring main characters. Examples are the Die Hard movies or almost any murder mystery series, like the Stephanie Plum Mysteries.
– Those with interconnected stories, where each story stands alone, but there’s an overarching narrative that builds from story to story. Examples are the current Marvel movie franchise or Kristen Cashore’s Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue series.

Each sort will be plotted very differently (aside from the fact that different writers would plot the exact same book differently).

I happen to be a reverse-plotter, in that I plot last when I plot at all. Sometimes I don’t even plot until I’m revising a seat-of-the-pants draft. I reverse-engineer my plot to suit the greater needs or character and theme and world. To me, plot is the most malleable element of a story. World and character matter more to me, and plot comes from the interaction of a character with her world. I can shift plot elements as easy as rewriting 40,000 words. It’s harder for me to entirely rewrite an element of world building or change my character’s intrinsic nature or motivations.

The United States of Asgard falls into the third of the above categories. I wrote The Lost Sun as a stand-alone novel originally. By the time I was finished, I knew I wanted to sell it as a series if possible and write more stories. The world was so big, and I was so excited by the possibilities, I had to write a few more novels set there.

In order to put together my proposal, I needed to choose the sort of series it would be. I knew three things:

1) I did not want to write another book from Soren’s POV because his character arc as a young adult was finished.
2) I DID want him to be an important player in the other books.
3) I love romance trilogies where each book has a complete romance, but you revisit the heroes of the previous novel in every new one.

The world of USAsgard really works on two main plot layers already: the plot involving the teenage protagonists and the plot involving the ancient gods who think decades and centuries in advance. It was relatively easy to break the series down onto the same levels. Each individual book would stand alone with regards to the narrator’s plot and character arc, but the series as a whole would have a meta plot revolving around the goddess Freya, who sees the future and meddles in the affairs of humanity to direct Fate as she sees fit.

Initially I pitched USAsgard as a 5 book series. I knew The Lost Sun was book 1, and I knew exactly who the narrator for book 5 would be and what her conflict was. The series was plotted very much like the Avengers movies: 4 introductory stories with new, (hopefully) compelling and sexy and fun characters, culminating in the 5th book where they all come together to save the country.

Every book was meant to be its own story, but there were elements and Easter eggs, hints and subplots that were quietly building up to the finale. Take those elements out and the story wouldn’t suffer, but with them it creates a complicated, inter-connected series.

In the end, there are only 3 novels in the series, which was my own creative decision. It wasn’t because the series was unwieldy or unsupported, it was because I realized when I began write book 3 that it was time for the character and plot I’d intended for the finale, and I wasn’t desperate to tell the stories in the original books 3 and 4. Or at least not so in love with them that I could dedicate a year of my life (minimally) to them. The things that drew me to those stories were themes and toothy ideas to explore in the series world, and those themes and ideas shifted in my imagination to other projects and other worlds. What I needed the United States of Asgard for was the book 5 story, because it’s about faith and godhood and love and fate: things The Lost Sun and The Strange Maid are also about, but the original books 3 and 4 were not.

Book 5 became book 3, and the middle book – The Strange Maid – is its own meaty, complicated middle. I’ll be publishing 3 novellas in the next year based on some of the lost stories and characters, but I’m very happy with the choices I made.

I’m not a plotter, so although I had a skeletal over-arching plot for my entire series, 80% of it was scrapped by the time I finished writing book 2. Someday when I write an honest-to-god high fantasy trilogy I will be must less laissez-faire about series plotting.

Thanks for having me, especially if you read all the way to the bottom here!

Tessa

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Courtesy of Random House Children’s Books, I have a copy of The Strange Maid for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends August 15. I’ll draw a name on August 16, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Read moreTessa Gratton Guest Post and Giveaway!

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma

herbert blog tour

The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma Excerpt
by Brian Herbert
Reprinted with permission from Tor Books.

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For the environmental health of the American continents, all inhabitants who survived the Corporate War will be relocated onto densely populated human reservations, with the remaining land slated for either collective farms or comprehensive greenforming, returning it to the pristine beauty of nature. As part of his historic Edict 101, our beloved Chairman Rahma Popal has announced, “Anyone who resists will be dealt with severely. He will be recycled.”
—government news flash, March 17, 2043

THE NUCLEAR-POWERED TRUCK flexed its long body around highway turns without slowing, its air whistle keening to ward off wild animals. Inside the passenger dome sat a man and a woman in complementary uniforms—his forest green and hers black, with peace symbols on the lapels. They held hands and gazed out at the sun-mottled trees of autumn, bearing leaves that were a spectacular array of golden-brown hues. This was an old road, bumpy from decay and debris, having fallen into disuse because of the mass exodus of population in the last two decades. It was the year 2063 in the New England Conservancy, and soon there would be no more need for this route.

Ahead of the vehicle and behind it, police cars created a security zone, their strobe lights flashing and fender-mounted weapons glow-ready, while a Greenpol aircraft flew low overhead. For years there had been attacks by disaffected Corporate elements against GSA assets, and the Chairman had ordered extra precautions to secure his valuable equipment and personnel. Greenpol was the special police force he had created, with divisions to stop eco-criminals, prosecute other crimes, and bodyguard his person.

Presently the big armored truck slowed and turned onto the rough, weed-encrusted surface of an abandoned parking lot, where it screeched to a stop. Outriggers shot into position and adjusted for the uneven surface, leveling the great machine mounted on the chassis. The two passengers, both eco-techs, exited the dome and stepped onto a wide turret platform on the vehicle. They secured their stylized, owl-design helmets and dark goggles, then grabbed hold of safety bars. Other crew members rushed to their stations, to operate the complex equipment and monitor the results. They wore black trousers, jackboots, green jackets, and shiny green helmets.

Read moreExcerpt and Giveaway: The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma

Fantasy Book Review: Alias Hook

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Synopsis:
Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game.

Review:
Captain Hook is not just the storybook villain we know. He has a heartbreaking past that led to him being cursed and sent to a neverending fight with the boy Peter Pan. Sentenced to live a violent, ageless life – all as a game to Peter Pan’s whims. Until a grown woman arrives in Neverland and changes everything for Hook.

Hook and Stella have an immediate and powerful connection that quickly leads to romance and love. But Hook doesn’t know how to end the curse and get home. This adult fairy tale retelling is dark, dramatic, and full of magic and adventure. A haunting tale, the story is inspired and passionate that I won’t soon forget.

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