“Missing Links: In Search of Human Origins” by John Reader (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Missing Links

Missing Links was first published in 1981 and caused quite a sensation then with its findings and information, providing an in-depth and chronological coverage of our ancestry spanning millions of years.  In this new edition, John Reader has essentially written a whole new book, building on the old edition, updating and providing even more information to make Missing Links so very new and fascinating.  John Reader’s work as a writer and photographer for more than fifty years, crossing the globe in his coverage, has led to his appointment as an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London.

The key to this new edition of Missing Links is that it is not just a book of anthropology and archaeology, but also covers the genres of history and biography.  The chapter titles run the gamut of our ancestral species, from Neanderthals to Java Man to Piltdown Man to Peking Man; from Australopithecus africanus to Homo habilis to Ardipithecus ramidus.  Reader doesn’t simply tell the full story of a particular ancestor, but also provides the latest evidence and science on it, as well as giving the biography of when the first bones of said ancestor were discovered, who was behind the discovery, and how it all happened.  Each chapter is its own complete and enriching tale.

Originally written on January 24, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Missing Links from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers” is now FREE, and Here’s Why

My ebook, Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, a collection of short stories, is now available for free through Smashwords. (I’m working on getting it listed for free on Amazon too.)  So just click on the Smashwords link or the cover above to be taken to the site and you can get the book completely free in the ebook version of your choice (just about every version you could want is available).  It’s a collection of ten of my short stories, as well as two sneak peaks at two of my novels which I’ll be publishing later this year.  And here’s what bestselling author Richard Doetsch had to say about Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers: “With an imagination that knows no bounds, Alex Telander has crafted an amazing genre spanning collection that kept me turning pages till dawn.”

Now, as to why I’ve decided to start offering my book for free, well, it kind of started earlier this week when I was enjoying Rachel Gardner’s posts on How to Make a Living as a Writer, and the importance of getting your work and writing out there to people to read.  It’s the only way people are going to start enjoying and knowing your work.  I knew when I first published Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, I wasn’t doing it for the profit, which was why I listed it at $0.99 to begin with, and now I’ve decided to just offer it for free.  I will also be doing the same with my second collection of short stories coming out some time in April, In That Quiet Earth.  And this is because I’m also going to be publishing two novels later this year: a young adult fantasy, Kyra: The First Book of Enchantus and a thriller novel, Nothing is an Accident.  I’m very proud of these two novels and want readers to enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them, and to do that people have to know what my writing is like and decide whether it’s something they like.  The only way to do that to begin with is to offer some of my work for free so lots of people can read it.  I’ll also be working on an update for my website to list the stories for free too, so readers can read them individually if they choose.  Though I’d personally rather get the ebook, since that cover is so beautiful.

And there you have my reasoning.  I think it makes sense.  So go ahead and download my ebook and check it out, let me know what you think, and if you like it, you can look forward to more of my work coming out later this year.  And feel free to spread the word and talk about it with friends; steer them towards the site or just send them a copy of the ebook.

“The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman (Thomas Dunne, 2007)

The World Without Us

Alan Weisman’s introspective book, The World Without Us, which became a bestseller, seems clear when one sees and reads what’s on the front cover.  Yes, it’s a book about the concept of what the world would be like if humanity suddenly disappeared, and how long it would take to recover from the severe imprint we’ve made upon it.  But the book is also much more, as Weisman analyzes why we have had this effect on the planet, and to what extent it has reached.

After a prelude to why Weisman wanted to write this book, the first chapter discusses Weisman’s journey to the Puszcza Białowieska, a primeval forest located deep within Poland, where life has remained the same for millennia.  It is a powerful example of the way the world once was, when humanity hadn’t exacted its harsh footprint upon it.  It serves as an introductory signal to the message Weisman is broadcasting in The World Without Us.

The various TV documentaries that were made after the success of this book reveal the “world without us” in chronological order, advancing through years, decades and centuries to show the changes, and in this way the subject matter is dramatic and simplified.  But the truth is far more complicated, which explains why this book is over three hundred pages long, and not less than fifty.  Weisman tells his story, travelling to many places around the world, where he starts with its history and the toll people have had upon it, why it has happened that way, and how this imprint is getting worse.  Then humanity miraculously disappears, and Weisman begins the other part of this tale after this unique event, and how it will eventually return back to its once pristine form.

Weisman also travels to other locations around that world that have seen little human impression, such as Kingman Reef and the Palmyra Atoll, as well as looking in depth at the Chernobyl site and how nature and wildlife have claimed it back,as well as some of its former inhabitants returning to their former homes.  He discusses the Mayan civilization, going into detail with its history and dispelling the common misconceptions as to why it collapsed, explaining the more likely reasons.  He performs a detailed study on New York City, revealing everything the city government has to do keep nature at bay from sinking its biological claws into this artificial settlement.  Then humanity disappears again and Weisman waxes on nature’s reclamation of this place, as it once was in the early days of the Dutch colony.

Towards the end, Weisman comes back to his message, being more overt about it as he wonders on where the future might be headed, as humanity continues to cut away at this planet, widening and worsening a wound that may one day be unable to heal.  He talks of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, and what effect population limitation would have, if say families would limit themselves to just one child.  With the hard fact that a million people are born every four days, it’s a sobering contemplation, as readers now know what the world would do without us, but more important readers get to comprehend what is happening to the world right now with us on it.

Originally written on March 17, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The World Without Us from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book Report: Book News for the Week of March 25th on Forces of Geek

A Collection of Rare Interviews 
Onlinecolleege.org has unearthed a rare collection of interviews from authors who are notorious for not granting many interviews and providing insight into their creative processes.  The collection includes some recent interviews from the likes of Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Don Delilo, to some true rarities like H. G. Welles, Orson Welles, J. D. Salinger and Daphne du Maurier.

Lit Videos 
Reddit is one of the most visited sites on the entire internet, as many come to find topical pieces and news and what everyone else is interested in.  And now there’s another reason for book lovers and readers to drop by, with the addition of a new section: Lit Videos, featuring videos on anything to do with books and authors.  And in true Reddit style, you literally don’t know what you’re going to find.

Bestselling Kindle Author of All Time 
It’s been known as the “Million Club,” where a certain number of authors (which is now growing) are members because they have sold over a million Kindle ebooks.  Then there are those who have far surpassed it, but only one earns the special title of “Bestselling Kindle Author of All Time.”  Unsurprisingly with the success of the Hunger Games trilogy and now with the movie release, Suzanne Collins has now earned this elite tag.

A New Project From Philip Pullman 
Fans of Philip Pullman, the bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, will be delighted to hear that he has a new project which will be released in Britain in September and in November in the US.  He is adapting fifty of his favorite Brothers Grimm fairytales, aiming for a “clear as water” version.


The Most Inspirational Thing For a Writer I’ve Ever Heard: Writing Excuses Season 5 Episode 27: Perseverance

Every writer, whether published or aspiring, has had that low moment in their writing where they’ve mentally and emotionally hit rock bottom, and have felt like quitting and never writing another creative word again; just giving up; some may have had it happen to them on multiple occasions.  Often, during those low moments, you need something to pick you back up and get you back writing away at the keyboard again, seeing life and hope in your work.  There are numerous books that can help, various public speakers . . . But honestly, I just think you need to listen to one fifteen-minute episode of Writing Excuses to make you realize your talent and love for writing and to get you back into the typing seat.

If you’re not familiar with it, Writing Excuses is a great and entertaining podcast to help aspiring writers, with each episode around fifteen minutes long, featuring the talented minds of bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells, and popular web-cartoonist, Howard Tayler, on a particular topic about writing.  In Season Six, author Mary Robinette Kowal joined the casters.

The episode of Writing Excuses in question is from Season Five, Episode 27, entitled “Perseverance.”  The episode features a guest appearance from New York Times bestselling author Sherilyn Kenyon, know for her very popular paranormal romance series.  The subject of the episode was actually suggested by Kenyon, and its highpoint is when she tells of her driving battle to first get published, which involved countless rejections until the point when she admitted she would never do it again for her own good, and then stole a postage stamp off her husband (which they could barely afford), and it was with that query that she got her her first publishing contract.  She also tells the story of how in the mid-nineties publishers stopped accepting and publishing paranormal romance, and all of a sudden she had no career and her family was poor once more, until she climbed her way back up to become the bestselling sensation she is today.

Sanderson also shares his low-point story, which was after he continued to receive nothing but rejection for his twelfth novel until he was almost ready to give up, and then three months later got a publishing contract.  Dan Wells’ story is a little different, as it happened after he’d published his first novel, but it hadn’t done as well as he’d expected, compared to other bestselling authors like his good friend, Sanderson, but he soon realized that his was what he loved to do and nothing was going to be make him stop.

Ultimately it comes down to this: even when you have so many other things like jobs and family and social lives happening constantly day-to-day for you, if you’re still making that time to write because it’s something you love to do and will always be doing no matter what happens, then you’re a writer.  There’s nothing else to it.

And for when you’re feeling a little down about your work and wondering if it’s all worth it, or whether you should bother writing anymore because nothing’s really happening with it; give this episode a listen, it’s always available online (or you can download it and have it ready for these particular situations), and you’ll find yourself inspired and excited about your ability and typing away at your keyboard in no time.

And in case you missed it in the post, here’s the direct link to the episode.

“Lone Survivors: How We Came to the Only Humans on Earth” by Chris Stringer (Times Books, 2012)

Lone Survivors

One might say that Chris Stringer has had the ideal career that he dreamed of achieving when, at the age of eighteen, he switched his major from medicine to anthropology and was accepted in the PhD program at Bristol University to study Neanderthals.  Shortly after graduating he received a job offer at the Paleontology Department at the Natural History Museum in London, where he is still a researcher, and is now one of the world’s foremost paleoanthropologists.

Lone Survivors is the ideal book for any would-be fan of anthropology, wanting to get the latest news and discoveries on our ancient ancestors, as well as the perfect text for one either taking an anthropology course or perhaps contemplating switching majors, much as Stringer did.  The book is an easy read in that Stringer’s voice is conversational and pleasant, he breaks everything down to its base parts, and shows complex matters in a clear light.  He has introductory chapters dedicated to the various methods of archaeology used in studying fossils, as well as dating them.  Stringer also skillfully provides constant hints of matters he will be later discussing to entice and keep the reader hooked.  By the end of the book the reader will feel well educated and well versed on our ancestors, as well as up to date on the latest findings in the world of anthropology.

Originally written on February 3, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Lone Survivors from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Penultimate Truth” by Philip K. Dick (Mariner, 2011)

Penultimate Truth

The Penultimate Truth, newly released in the wonderful new edition from Mariner Books, is a perfect example of Philip K. Dick at his best: a future story that immediately draws the reader in with its complexity and interest, as well as taking its characters to interesting and unexpected places.  Like most of his books, it’s a short one that leaves the reader contemplating on what they’ve just read and what it might mean for his or her life and world.

It is the future and a devastating world war of epic proportions has taken place and most of humanity now lives deep beneath the ground in massive bunkers which is all the world that these people know.  To them the battle still wages above, and they continue about their daily lives, manufacturing weapons and making supplies to send up above, while eking out a pitiful existence in this regimented and hopeless society.  That is until Nick St. James, president of one of these “anthills,” makes the decision and digs himself to the surface to get help to his people.  It is there that he discovers a shocking reality he never could’ve predicted.

The Penultimate Truth has a great message to it at the end, which may not be completely clear, but unavoidably asks questions of our own society and where we might be headed in the future.  Given that Dick was writing this in 1964, it is an astonishing revelation and foresight that many have come to expect from this master of science fiction.

Originally written on March 14, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Penultimate Truth from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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BOOK REPORT: Book News for the Week of March 19th on Forces of Geek

Book Report

Ernest Cline at Wondercon
Bestselling author of the “nerd crack” book Ready Player One and screenwriter for the cult hit Fanboys, Ernest Cline, was at Wondercon this past weekend and was interviewed by Bleeding Cool where he talked about his movie and his book, as well as what else he has in the works.

Joe Hill at Wondercon
Joe Hill, bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns (and who also happens to be Stephen King’s son), was also at Wondercon this past weekend where he talked about his comic book series Lock & Key, as well as his two next books, NOS4A2 and The Fireman, as well as about some other things.

Walter Dean Meyers is Ambassador to Young People
Walter Dean Meyers, the young adult author of Monster and many other books has been chosen to hold the recently created position by the Library of Congress as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, with the goal of raising awareness of the importance to literature to teens.  In this video he talks with CBS at the position.

Digital Downloads From Marvel
In a smart move that may be the first step in the ever changing book industry, Marvel will now be offering a digital download edition with each purchase of the physical comic.