Tag Archive: Literature


Deep-seated prejudices exist in all of us to solidify our fear of the unknown. They are the little voices in our heads that cry out when we try to embrace something different. By keeping us comfortable with the status quo, they have kept us alive as a species in ages past. Unfortunately, we don’t really need them anymore in our modern way of life, so now they only drag us down and keep us away from potentially rewarding experiences.

One of the rewarding experiences they may have kept you from is reading science fiction. What is the first thing that runs through your head when you think of scifi books? You probably imagine a lonely nerd surrounded by towers of thick novels trying to escape his pathetic non-life. By some strange magical grace, scifi movies get a pass from this stereotype as proven by box office numbers. Why does the scifi novel get passed up?

Movies are for everyone and books are for nerds, right? Wrong. See, your prejudices are already lying to you. Allow me to address a reason you may not like reading scifi and what you can do to enjoy the genre.

Reason #1: Too much techno-babble


What is ‘techno-babble’?

Turn on any episode from any season or movie of Star Trek and fast forward to the end when they stop speaking English and start making up random physics-sounding words and phrases. That is techno-babble. It is the result of a nerd behind the scenes hammering down on his keyboard and trying desperately to out-nerdify his fellow nerd friends.

Nothing is more satisfying to us nerds than coming up with a plausible sounding explanation for completely imaginary things. What nerds lack in social ability, we make up for a thousandfold in imagination and creativity. Unfortunately, this has resulted in overly complex descriptions about the world within many scifi stories that quickly turns people away. It can be hard to stand under the mind storm of a nerd’s keyboard.

What can you do about it?

Not all stories are riddled with this craziness. Many scifi authors are beginning to see the problem with too much of this running throughout the genre and are changing their ways. You have probably even heard the term ‘speculative fiction’ being thrown around to denote such stories. While I hate the idea of re-branding science fiction to achieve literary equality, I can understand why. But that is another blog entry.

Science fiction is such a vast genre you can be sure to find at least one corner of it to appreciate. Perhaps the best place to begin is with the seminal scifi novel of the 20th century, Dune. Frank Herbert pretty much invented how to tell a scifi story with less ‘sci’ and more ‘fi’. He never once strays off the story to describe in detail how the technology actually works in his world. He just takes you along and lets you discover the world for yourself, much like scifi movies.

So, do some digging around at your local bookstore in the scifi section. You should easily find something that interests you. An easy test for techno-babble is to read the back cover and if you can’t understand at least half of what it says, don’t get it.

Please, don’t judge an entire genre by this one stereotype, read up for yourself. And if all else fails, just skip the techno-babble like the rest of us, because even we nerds hate to be out-nerded.

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I have officially read nearly 100,000 words of the paranormal romance genre after finishing up Mated by the only paranormal romance author I have ever read, Zoe Winters. The journey to get here has been incredibly strange as I have had my brain infused with more emotional instability than I have ever experienced before. Hopefully I can still function as a normal citizen.

I have been hearing lately that digital publishing is getting readers to branch out from their mainstay genres, but I never thought I would be caught up in it myself. The truth is, though, that if Zoe Winters had been traditionally published, I would have missed out on her work because you will never catch me even glancing at the romance section of the bookstore. After branching out into the jacked up fiction that is paranormal romance, I have discovered some pretty good stuff.

Mated is the final chapter in Zoe’s Blood Lust trilogy (which should be coming out in print form soon) and what a final chapter it is.

MatedSummary

So what we have here is another crazy chic, Jane if you remember her from Claimed, who has been pretending to be goth to fit in with the vampire crew. Unfortunately for her, she gets wrapped up with these crazy awesome Furries (or werewolves if you prefer the non-hilarious connotation). The alpha furry, Cole, takes her as payment for one of the vampire’s debts and things get awesome.

He is all like, ‘my furry senses tell me that you are my mate’, and she is all like ‘but I don’t get down that way’. So, he keeps her locked up in the hive with all the rest of the furries. They actually have a nice set up for being a pack of furries without real jobs besides eating defenseless forest animals (they even have a TV). Lucky for them, Cole runs a successful web business to pay the bills.

Did I mention there are demons? Yeah, apparently the furries are in league with the demons. Cain, a demon friend of Cole, tells him that one in his pack is actually killing humans instead of defenseless forest animals. Cole’s hatred of forest animals pushes him to find out who it is and gets himself and Jane wrapped up in an insane plot where they may or may not end up romantically entangled by the end of the story. Stuff goes down and blood is everywhere. Because that is how furries like it.

Review

Once again, Zoe has shocked me with her ability to tell the oldest story in the book (boy meets girl) and actually keep it interesting. I seriously doubt a plain romance novel would keep my attention the way she did (not that I am going to test that out). The Blood Lust story keeps evolving and Mated beautifully continues the tradition.

The wolves’ subculture within Cary Town is just as meticulously crafted as the ones from the first two Blood Lust entries. You will be drawn into it along with Jane and walk with her as she slowly releases her prejudices about the wolves. The interactions among this world and its characters melds seamlessly into the plot with nothing feeling out of place.

It is a difficult job to use legendary creatures and not devolve them into hackneyed archetypes, but Zoe walks that line like a pro. Her tremendous talent to bring them to life will fill you with genuine empathy for their plights as they become more like good friends than fictional people. You will not find boring, flat development here. Zoe only writes with 100% pure 3D characterization.

The plot was good and well thought out. It moved along with good pacing for the most part, but there were a few moments that I felt it begin to stall just a little in the middle. It is really not much to complain about as the encompassing world soaks up the plot’s deficiencies. The build to the final climatic scene was so riveting it had me glued to the screen. The sheer emotion fueling the two main characters’ battle with fated love was written so excellently I began questioning whether or not I have actually ever really been in love before.

Mated is worthy as the final chapter in the Blood Lust trilogy. It is a great read that is ridiculously under-priced for its quality. I am by no means a paranormal romance authority, but I can safely recommend it to anyone who needs something deeper than Twilight to test the genre out.

I give it one out of one wolf bites (because that is all it takes to pierce your heart).

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Apparently I am not man enough to pry myself away from this insane Blood Lust series, so I thought I might as well read the next installment. Judge me if you want, but I am kind of digging this whole paranormal romance thing. On second thought, don’t judge me, just leave me alone so I can wallow in my own manlinesslessness.

At least I am branching out. Women dig that sort of thing right? Perhaps I should attend the nearest paranormal romance convention. I am sure I will find more women there than I would at the nearest sci-fi convention. Who’s the smart one now?

Anyway on with the review of Claimed by Zoe Winters.

Claimed
Summary

So, we start off during the ending of the first novella, Kept, except we are following the perspective of the vampire, Anthony. And let me tell you, if you thought you saw crazy in Kept, you haven’t seen anything until you dive into the hidden world of Cary Town’s vampires. They are all over the map. There are vegetarian vamps, emo vamps, hardcore old-school vamps, and then there’s Anthony.

Anthony is like a goth version of Fonzie that can charm you while simultaneously sucking your blood. After running drunk on the poison he siphoned out of Greta, he goes on a wild rampage and terrifies poor, innocent Charlee (Greta’s former roommate). Her memory gets all jacked up because of this and so Anthony is forced to hide her at his awesome penthouse until after the upcoming vampire tournament where he will vie for absolute control over the vampire coven and become the vampire king for the next century.

Linus, the big, bad vampire that vants to suck your vblood rolls in to town to let Anthony know he isn’t the only one that has a shot at the crown. They have a mini-showdown in which Charlee, of course, gets completely caught up in. Everything gets supremely complicated after that as she and Anthony romantically spar over every little thing they do.

She hates him, but he has to protect her from Linus. Blah, blah, blah….happily ever after. Or is it? I guess you will have to read it to find out.

Review

Overall, I found this next installment to have more depth and meat than the first. The intriguing world of Cary Town is further enriched as the darker, vampire side is explored. The imagination fueling it actually made the story feel more like a fantasy novella than paranormal romance. Zoe certainly knows how to paint a vivid world.

Thankfully that world is inhabited by an expanding list of interesting characters. The two main characters here, Charlee and Anthony, are completely different than those in Kept, but still wield the same amount of power over your mind. Even though their situation nearly mirrors Greta’s and Dayne’s in Kept, they interact in unexpected and exciting ways. Their chemistry is so real, you will wish you had your own vampire to cuddle up with at night.

The story weaving all the events intertwining the characters with the world is so organic that it really blurs the boundary between fantasy and paranormal romance. I never gave the paranormal romance genre much credibility with me being such a sci-fi elitist and all, but Claimed has commanded my respect. It certainly raises the Blood Lust bar of telling a good story that just so happens to involve romance. The quality of the story was never sacrificed to force in romantic elements for the sake of genre.

If you are looking for a good paranormal romance or just need a break from your standard genre, I highly recommend you give Claimed a shot. You won’t regret it. The only feeling you’ll be left with by the end is a craving for more blood…

I give it two out of two vampire fangs! (in the neck if you know what I mean)

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Michael A. Stackpole, original fantasy and Star Wars author, has issued a challenge to everyone who wants to give Michael A. Stackpolefull creative control over to authors. Traditionally, authors have been shackled by big New York publishers with restrictive contracts that dictated how an they could craft their novels. However, with the rise of digital self-publishing, authors can now cut out the middle-man and sell directly to the fans. Stackpole has championed this new method of publishing.

His fantasy novel, Talion: Revenant, was a huge hit when it was first published. In fact, he receives more requests for a sequel than any of his other works. Unfortunately, writing for big publishers and getting them on board is no easy task, so fans were forced to wait for a sequel that never materialized – until now.

He has recently re-released Talion: Revenant in ebook format and has issued a challenge along with it: if he can sell 10,000 copies of the digital format of the book, he will use the profits to write the much-anticipated sequel. Now that is a challenge I can get behind. If all authors seriously considered the opinions of their fans, novels would be so much better.

The idea behind this challenge is a huge step in the right direction. Publishers have no right determining the direction of authors. It should be solely between the author and the fans. We are the ones reading and supporting these artists, so it is only right that we be given the opportunity to connect with them and let them know what we want to read. And the best way to show our support is to buy directly from them via digital self-publishing.

The digital form of this book is indeed self-published by Stackpole, so you are buying directly from the man himself. Get out there and show your support!

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