From the Distant Dark Oughts . . .

Discovered something from the past the other day.  In 2006 I was invited by a friend to submit a story for a horror ezine (no longer active) known as the Late Late Show,  and I submitted “The Shadow in Black” about a man who sees the Grim Reaper and then finds himself being followed by the harbinger of doom for a very specific reason.  Along with the story going on the site, my friend also wanted to do an interview with me, and as the Internet does its best to preserve all things, especially when you think them long gone and forgotten, lo and behold I rediscover something I thought was lost.

And here’s the interview I did for the Late Late Show back in ’06’.

When Authors Go Bad . . .

About a month ago I did a post on a small time Indie author who I’ve been reading — Michael J. Sullivan — achieving the dream of getting a contract with a big book publisher.  Sullivan was the first small, Indie author I reviewed and interviewed, and I was certainly glad to have played a part in helping get his books noticed.

On March 16th, BigAl’s Books and Pals gave a two star review for the self-published ebook The Greek Seaman by Jacqueline Howett, citing some of the big problems with the book were spelling and grammatical errors.  The author then posted a comment, attacking BigAl for his review a few days later.  What follows are hundreds of comments, many from the author attacking just about everyone.

“It’s a rip-roaring ride through words and opinions that will keep you hooked to the very end!”

It’s an important example of what happens when people can’t take criticism, and as authors, criticism is simply a part of the job.  If you can’t take it, then you need to do something else.  Jacqueline Howett couldn’t take it, and now she’s ruined any potential career she could’ve had.

“Wyrd” Progress Report XVII



REASON FOR STOPPING: End of Part III of the book, and finished off Third Interlude.

Wow, what a productive writing session I had yesterday, and most of the words written before noon!  Ended up doing about 2700 words and today did an additional 800 to hit 3571 words so far for the week.  Since my weekly goal of writing is a modest 2500 words, not too bad at all.

The Wyrd manuscript is going to be put on hold for a little.  I was having an issue with working on two books at the same time, where I would switch between each one from week to week, and because one is done in third person and the other is done in first person, I was getting my tenses confused.  I therefore focused on getting to a good stopping point in Wyrd this week, so I would be able to dedicate all my time to White Horse, and get that finished before I would return to Wyrd once more.  I know I’d set my personal goal of hitting the 250-page mark for Wyrd by the end of this year, and even with this delay, I’m still confident that it will happen.

For now, Artorus and his friends, along with some Saxons, are on their way north in longships to face some Picts.  It’s going to be a little while before they get there, but arrive at their destination they will.


“Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation” by Isaac Asimov (Everyman’s Library, 2010)

Foundation Trilogy Everyman Edition

Begun originally as a series of eight short stories that were published in Astounding Magazine between 1942 and 1950, the stories were collected into a trilogy, with the first four in Foundation, published 1951, the fifth and sixth in Foundation and Empire in 1952, and the seventh and eighth in Second Foundation, published in 1953.  While there have been two more trilogies written by Asimov set in this universe, this original “Foundation Trilogy” represents some of his seminal work, as he wrestled with the worlds of science and psychology, planting these in a world encompassing an entire galaxy and taking place over many centuries.

In Foundation readers meet Hari Seldon and are introduced to the world of the Galactic Empire.  With the development of the revolutionary science known as psychohistory, Seldon has calculated that while the Empire has ruled in splendor for the last twelve thousand years, its end is now approaching, leading to a dark ages that will last thirty thousand years.  But Seldon has a plan to cut this tumultuous time short, only it’s going to take decades and centuries of development with the creation of the Foundation.

In Foundation and Empire, the Empire is near its end while there are those who blame the Foundation for this and seek to destroy it.  Then there is the enigmatic character known as The Mule, a mutant who has the ability to read and control people’s emotions.  The final volume in the trilogy, Second Foundation, covers the different people’s unending search for the supposed Second Foundation, and how it all comes down to one teenage girl knowing the answer.

Published for the first in one volume with Everyman’s Library, the trilogy can now be enjoyed as one long story, representing some of Asimov’s greatest work as one of the eminent and most revered science fiction writers in the history of the genre.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on March 2, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Brave New Worlds” edited by John Joseph Adams (Nightshade Books, 2011)

Brave New Worlds

1984 came and went without Big Brother rearing his ugly head in quite the way he did in the book; though one could say things got a little hairy during George W. Bush’s eight years of the Patriot Act and Home land Security, and yet in today’s world can you really say that you are completely free to do as you please without feeling like anybody’s watching you?  Perhaps you see this world in a different light: do you use a disposable phone, screen your calls, use “incognito mode” in all your online browsing, and feel like various agencies within the government are watching you constantly, whether it’s where you’re shopping, what you’re eating, or perhaps what books you’re checking out of the library.  If this is the case, you’re going to want to own a copy of Brave New Worlds, and if it’s not, well, you should read it too, because it’s a really fantastic collection of stories of a dystopian future where freedom is a whispered, secret word, not to be uttered aloud to anyone.

John Joseph Adams, bestselling editor of such great anthologies as Wastelands and The Living Dead does a fantastic job of collecting stories of dystopian worlds, covering just about the entire history of the science fiction genre.  Brave New Worlds starts off with “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson – a story many of us became familiar with in high school and college, but can now be read for sheer enjoyment; to Ursula LeGuin’s unforgettable “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” – a story of a paradise where every day is a joy for its citizens, except for one child locked away in a cell in constant suffering.  Many big name authors make the cut, with the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Orson Scott Card; as well as some more recent bestselling names of the genre, like Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow and Carrie Vaughan.

Some of these dystopian stories are similar, some are completely unique and surprising; all playing on the concept of having our necessary freedoms stripped away from us, leaving us hollow shells; the question is whether we choose to go along blindly and submit, or fight.  Perhaps you’re wondering if there’s a story about a future where young people donate their organs to old people, or looking forward the original short story of Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report”; either way,  Brave New Worlds will be an absolute delight for anyone who enjoys a story about a doomed future.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on March 6, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Deep Future the Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth” by Curt Stager (Thomas Dunne, 2011)

Deep Future

The only people who haven’t come to accept the fact that global warming and climate change is happening are those who are not facing reality, deluding themselves; and while many of us have ideas, thoughts and concepts of what climate change may bring over the next century, Deep Future goes one giant step further for Earth.  Curt Stager is an ecologist, paleoclimatologist and science journalist, who has written for National Geographic and Science magazine.  In Deep Future he goes into detail on what effect climate change will have on our planet not just over the hundred years, but over the next hundred thousand.

Stager makes clear two things early on in the book.  One is that the likelihood of the world falling into an ice age any time soon are pretty much impossible, as the required level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was far exceeded some time ago, regardless of whether the Gulf Stream stalls or not.  The other is that we are now living in a new age, which is coming to be known as the Anthropocene, better known as the Age of Humanity or the Age of Humans.  It is the age in which everything we have done and everything we do has a long-lasting effect on our planet.  Eleven detailed chapters with titles like: “Beyond Global Warming,” “Oceans of Acid,” “The Rising Tide,” and “An Ice-Free Arctic,” Stager doesn’t hold back in giving the grim news of the future of our planet.  The point that he makes clear is that this isn’t going to happen tomorrow; it’s going to take hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of years.  We are also coming towards the end of our fossil fuels, meaning we will eventually not be able to continue heating up the planet any more.  A plateau will be reached in the far future, and then the earth will eventually return to normal in the very distant future.

While many of the devastating effects discussed in Deep Future will not come to fruition for a long time, they are nevertheless fascinating and disturbing to discover, and Stager is sure to keep readers informed of what they can do now to alleviate some of these seemingly inevitable events.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on March 4, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

BookBanter Boon #8: “Twice a Spy” by Keith Thomson

BookBanter Boon


Twice a Spy

On the heels of the incredibly reviewed and now New York Times bestselling (as of 2/27 extended NYT list) Once a Spy (Dilys and Barry Award nominee), Keith Thomson returns with a second breakneck thriller TWICE A SPY (Doubleday; available March 8th) that is both clever, engaging and drives the suspense twice as much as the original.

Picking up where Once a Spy left off, Charlie and Drummond Clark, the father and son duo, along with Charlie’s love interest NSA operative Alice Rutherford, are on the run and hiding out in Switzerland from criminal charges against them in America. Their life takes a turn when Alice is kidnapped while trying to exonerate Charlie and Drummond’s criminal charges.  In order to get her back, Drummond must unlock key information lodged in his failing memory in order locate his cache of secret weapons and turn over the most lethal of the lot.  Simultaneously, they must thwart the terrorists planning to use these weapons while being tracked by a formidable CIA case officer and his team.

With TWICE A SPY, Thomson delivers a riveting and high-suspense thriller that again poses the question: What happens when a former CIA agent can no longer trust his own mind? If you’ve read ONCE A SPY you’ll enjoy TWICE A SPY even more but if you haven’t read Thomson’s debut, TWICE A SPY stands on its own.

To be entered into the competition to win a copy of Twice a Spy by Keith Thomson, simply leave a comment on THIS POST of the BookBanter blog about why you like reading Keith Thomson.

Anyone within the US can enter, and I’ll be accepting entries until March 31st at 11:59PM Pacific Standard Time.

If you have any questions, please email me at

The winner will be announced on April 1st on the BookBanter Boon #5 blog post.

“Plague Year” by Jeff Carlson (Ace, 2007)

Plague Year

In Jeff Carlson’s debut techno-thriller – the first in a trilogy – he pulls out all the stops to hook new readers with a nanotech virus that has wiped out most of the population.  Everyone essentially has the virus, but the key to survival is to be at an elevation of at least ten thousand feet, where the nanobots are inoperative.

High up in the California sierras there are some people eking out their survival, struggling to get by day by day.  In the past they have scrambled below the critical elevation point for necessary food and supplies, but after a short while before they begin to succumb to the virus and must return back above the 10,000-foot mark, their bodies torn up inside.  Going into winter, Cameron Najarro, Albert Sawyers and the rest of the group completely run out of food and have to resort to the unimaginable . . . cannibalism.  Meanwhile, Dr. Ruth Ann Goldman is on the International Space Station with her team and a possible cure for the virus.  They make a successful landing high up in the Colorado Rockies where the remains of the United States government are trying their best to keep the remaining citizens from overthrowing them, as well as plotting world domination with the possible cure to the virus.

In Plague Year you’ll be wondering where the story will be going next, with the unpredictable plot twists and outlandish story line, but Carlson has done his research with the science, technology and survival tactics of the characters, readers will be hooked until the cliffhanger ending.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on March 6, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.