Savant By Nik Abnett

Okay, so Savant is the story of Tobe and Metoo, and I don’t really want to say more about the story, simply because I don’t think I can give much of a description of it without giving something away.

Savant is a damn good, slow burn, which unravels as the pages pass. I found it to be a page turner which surprised me at how quickly I read it. I am a slow reader but with Savant I zipped through it at quite a lick for me. I think it was three weeks that I smashed through it with the last half of the book in about a week, which is pretty impressive for me. It really pulls you along and it’s easy to read it in small doses and not loose the momentum of the story.

The pace of the story is impressive, it never feels like it’s speeding up or slowing down but just leads up to the story’s climax very naturally. There’s no real world building in the story, but everything you need to know is revealed as the story progresses, and revealed at the right time to give the answers needed.

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The writing is very beautiful and it was easy to picture what was going on while not having too much detail of the surroundings inserted into the text.

If you want a book that spoon-feeds you everything, or is action packed, then this isn’t the book for you. If you want something that has depth, a little mystery, varied and engaging characters. A storyline that slowly gains pace to it’s climax, then this book is worth checking out.

Enjoying The Writing Again

In the last few weeks I have felt a lot more direction in what I am doing with my writing. After many years me and Owen finally have a first draft of Project Apollo done. We have attempted to get this story off the ground for many years, its got to be at least six, closer to eight if I am honest. It has gone from being a novel to a radio play back to a novel again before we all but abandoned it a few years ago. Then Owen wrote a novella called The Space Watch, yes we announced this would be released on the 1st of January this year. Obviously we didn’t release it, that was for many reasons. Project Apollo was always going to be a comedy, as was The Space Watch(Project Delphi) but we felt that maybe this was why we had never gotten any of our ideas from this universe off of the ground. So we took the decision to make it into a more serious piece of work, with the odd comedic element within it. It’s worked. We now have a universe which has great depth to it where the only restrictions we have is that of our own minds.

I still have a few doubts about the ending on Project Apollo, but that may just be my own lack of confidence. Owen may love it, I’ll find out tomorrow.

 

I am also halfway through writing a short story which I’m quite excited about an I have almost finished a short story that I first wrote two, maybe three years ago. I did an out loud read through of it last night and I found more issues then I thought I was going to but it also served to remind me that it is a good story and once its through a last grammar check its done. Saying that though I am tempted to ask one last person to Beta read it and see what they think.

 

Writing is beginning to feel good again, for a long time it felt like I was severely swimming against the tide. The thought of actually publishing something, whether through submission or through self publishing seemed like an almost impossible achievement but now it actually seems like its within grasp. Maybe not this year but definitely next year.

 

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State Of Play

I just wanted to share an update with how the writing is going at the moment. I’ll admit I’ve barely done much actual writing in the last few weeks but with Tracie(my partner) being in hospital for the best part of three weeks, having a couple of minor health irritations myself (I say irritations because they are very minor but incredibly irritating!) All that has knocked me off my pace a little.

Project Apollo will not have much done on it till early July as that is when me and Owen are sitting down to go through and plot out the ending of the story.

The Residents is still in the planning stages. When me and Chrystalyn (http://thefutureofhope.wordpress.com/) start writing this I think it’s going to be the most prepared that I personally have ever been when it comes to writing something. At the moment I am mainly focusing on two of the main characters backstory’s.

I was going to work on my zombie story for NaNoWriMo but I’ve had an idea about it today which may require a little more thinking time. I’ve always had in mind to write a second story in this series but I had a flash of an idea on what a third story might involve which makes it a trilogy. So I now need to think out how it is going to play out over three books. I know the basics of each story but I need to build them more thoroughly and I’m not sure I will have that done by November.

I think I have enough feedback from one of my short stories which I am going to read through once more myself, and maybe change the title of before I start sending it off for submission.

With Avoiding The Game I have decided to give it one last bash at making it work, but I will have to make a fair few changes to the story so I have all but decided to do a full re-write as it will be easier then trying to fit in what I have in mind.

At the moment I am reading Redshirts by John Scalzi. I am really enjoying it and I’m finding Scalzi’s  style to my liking and the humour in this novel is awesome 🙂 With everything that has happened recently I haven’t been reading much so hopefully this week I’ll get back into the swing of it.

And finally I’d just like to share a couple of links to interesting podcasts that I’ve heard lately. First we have two from The Dead Robots Society; http://deadrobotssociety.com/2013/06/11/episode-276-mid-year-check-in/; http://deadrobotssociety.com/2013/06/18/episode-277-robots-on-inspiration-point/

Next is an episode from the Escape Pod Science Fiction podcast. This is quite a snappy little story that I fell in love with and adored how it ended;  http://escapepod.org/2013/06/06/ep399-my-heart-is-a-quadratic-equation/

And Finally here’s one from the StarShipSofa podcast. The story in this episode is written by Tobias S. Buckell and Karl Schroeder. I am familiar with both writers and I found this story was a great collaboration between two people whose work I enjoy;  http://www.starshipsofa.com/2013/05/21/starshipsofa-no-290-tobias-buckell-and-karl-schroeder/

 

I apologise for loading this post up with links but I believe in spreading the word about all things good and these are all very good. So I hope you check them out and get as much pleasure out of them as I have 🙂

Creating Different Cultures

One of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve been reading/listening to Scott Sigler is how different he makes his cultures from our own. Particularly in Sigler’s Galactic Football League series we see a lot of different aliens, and they are alien. They are not just humans with a little make up on but proper aliens with alien cultures and these vary strongly from humanity. It has even made me realise how little we see of alien cultures in movies like Star Wars (I wonder what the extended fiction of Star Wars is like?). I am going to write a lot of science fiction, a lot, and I need to look at what Sigler is doing, and find other books, TV shows, movies and video games and see how other people build alien cultures.

I also need to look at different human cultures, I’ve got a DVD series about Tribes, The Tribal Eye I think it’s called, which I’ve got to watch. I can’t afford to go around the world and see with my own eyes the various cultural differences but I do have the Internet which will have to do.

Imagination can only go so far and ideas breed, good ideas especially.

Today’s Post 28/02/13

There’s not much to say tonight, I’ve got some more words written down on Project Apollo, again I’m not sure if it will end up in the final cut but it’s going to help no matter what.

I listened again to Joshua Jared Scott’s Sanctuary: Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse. This is a very good story, Mr. Scott has a nice way of putting his stories together and as I mentioned in a previous post he is not scared of writing the brutal truths in a story. I really hope Mr. Scott is working on a follow-up novel to this one.

Another story that I am listening too is A Dancing Bear by David Free. This a story of a college student who gets sucked into a world of terrorist plots, murder and fear. All because he falls for a women. A very good story which makes me feel for the protagonist and I can see how his actions, or lack of them, take them where he ends up.

Once I’ve finished editing Avoiding The Game (yes the title of the story is still going to change) I’m going to have a go through Project Apollo with Owen and get what is written tidied up and expanded, but also get the rest of it planned out so we can get it done!

Tonights Post

I’ve been listening to Scott Sigler’s first book in his Crypt series, called Crew Stories. This basically is a collection of short stories about the future crew of a ship known as the PUV James Keeling, also known as The Crypt. This is a collection that I have listened to before but I had forgotten just how good these stories are and I really enjoyed reliving them again and getting to know the crew once more. This is not a book for the faint of heart! And at the moment is only available in podcast form (Which means free) A lot of the stories here are co-written by some amazing writers including, Mur Lafferty, Paul E. Cooley, Jake Bible and many other excellent writers (Look out for the story  co-written with Greg Crites). Here’s the link to the page on Scott Sigler’s website;

http://scottsigler.com/books/the-crypt-book-one-crew-stories

If you have read my blog for a while you will know I am a big fan of Scott Sigler, he is an amazing writer who I have a lot of time for as he has worked very hard to get to where he is today. He has had a little help along the way and I would love to steal his business partner, A Kovacs who seems to keep Mr. Sigler on track. They are a great team and are producing some great content.

 

I would also like to quickly give a link to this interview on Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing with Kevin J. Anderson. I have not read any of his work yet, I do have the first of The Saga Of Seven Suns book on my shelve, but I love listening to him talking about the art of writing. It’s in two parts so I’ll give you the link to the first part;

http://www.adventuresinscifipublishing.com/2013/02/aisfp-197-kevin-j-anderson-part-1/

 

You can find both podcasts in the iTunes library.

Reading update, I finished Stephen King’s The Gunslinger last night. I was aiming to get it read by the end of the week but the final sixty pages went by in a beat of an eye. As I’ve said before I had no idea what this book was about and I’ve really enjoyed discovering it. I am looking forward to the next book but I am going to read a couple of other books before I delve into book two in the series.

I’ve now started Haywire by Justin R. Macumber.

I have not done any more editing, but I have done some hand written bits for Project Apollo.

Today’s Post

More often than not I never quite know how to start off a blog post, it’s the same as when I’m going to start writing. It does not matter whether I am doing what I am doing now and editing or continuing from where I left a story off, or starting from scratch on a whole new story. That initial lack of knowing where to start costs me maybe twenty minutes some days so I just try to start typing, which is what I did today and you all got this little ramble 😀

Now to what I really would like to talk about briefly today.

I want to give a shout out to two episodes of the amazing StarShipSofa. The first episode featured a short story by Ken Liu which provoked an emotional response from me. Here’s the link.

http://www.starshipsofa.com/2013/02/13/starshipsofa-no-276-ken-liu/

I am a strong believer in that if a story gets that sort of reaction out of me then the writer has done their job and in this case Mr. Liu has done a really good job. I’ve listened to a few of this mans stories which I’ve liked but with this one I will now make a point of looking out for his work. Mr. Liu’s site is below.

http://kenliu.name/

It’s rare that a story gets this reaction from me, or any real emotional reaction. So when I do find something by someone I pay attention. One of my Beta readers has said that one of my stories brought a lump to her throat which is a highlight of my short writing career.

The second episode from The StarShipSofa has a good piece of fiction in it by David D. Levine but it was the conversation on music in video games which made this episode stand out for me. It is a really interesting look at the music in some of the most popular video games over the last twenty years or so.

http://www.starshipsofa.com/2013/02/20/starshipsofa-no-277-david-d-lavine/

I have done a little editing tonight and I’ve just this moment remembered something that I need to note done for tomorrow…..Done.

In my Battlestar Galactica marathon I have just watched the last episode of series two and will start series three sunday or monday, once I’ve found the box set that is.

Now though I am off to crack on with a little more from The Gunslinger by Stephen King 🙂

A Progress Update

I’ve added a few words to the WIP and it is taking a nice shape now, still a little way off completion though. I wanted to add an element to the story which I think could add a lot to it but would require a lot of research but i am going to hold off that and leave it for maybe a second story in this universe. One aspect of this story that I was concerned with was how I have ended it, but now that I have thought the whole story through I am actually very happy with how it ends as it is an ending that I hope will be satisfactory.

I have started a little work on a project I should not be but it’s something that I am doing when I’m not near my laptop so I can get away with it. Saying that I am tempted to use this free time (lunch break at the day job) to plot out a story that is quite well thought out in my head. I’d like to get a rough outline of and see how the lead character will feel.

Stephen King has really hooked me with The Gunslinger. I’d like to find a little more time to get it wrapped up by the end of the month but I’m not going to sacrifice writing time.

I am also doing a Battlestar Galactica Marathon at the moment which I am Loving! I have not seen the end of the last series yet (although I have seen the end of the final episode) and I’m building up to it nicely.

That’s about it for the moment. I am trying to pick up the pace with everything, but I’ve not found the turbo in my brain yet.

Just A Couple Of Quick Bits

Hey guys I just wanted to give a couple of shout outs and mentions.

 

Firstly is J.R. Murdock. I listened to a story he wrote about intergalactic haulage called V&A Shipping. This is one of the random podcasts that I have downloaded from podiobooks.com via iTunes which was a random download. I had not heard of it or Mr. Murdock but the story got me from the first line and kept me listening keenly until the end of the story. It did also tug at my heartstrings which I think is always a good sign. It’s a good sci-fi setting and the story itself is engaging. Well worth a listen. Here is the authors website (best web address ever by the way).

http://ofgnomesanddwarves.com/

 

One quick other shout out is one that I have done before but it has been a while since they have had a mention and they are the good people over at Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing.

http://www.adventuresinscifipublishing.com/

Their website still looks amazing and is full of great content. Even if you do not write science fiction this podcast is a great listen and the website is great, I really need to get there more often than I do.

 

With my WIP, it is progressing slowly as I am expanding on some of the pieces that I have written. Next time I do NaNoWriMo hopefully I’ll be able to put this detail in when I write the first draft. It is getting there though 🙂

Movie Monday: Battle: Los Angeles

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This weeks Movie Monday post is on this movie which is not too far from being what I think could have been a great film, a little like Skyline but this one did work a little better.

***Minor Spoilers***

Simply this is an alien invasion movie that tries to be Black Hawk Down, but with aliens. It starts during the invasion then rewinds to the previous day where we meet Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz who is about to retire but the invasion comes and he is put into a platoon that is not his regular one and he is not well liked within this platoon because he was the sole survivor of an incident where a brother of one of this platoon died. The platoon is commanded by an officer who passed out top of his class, just recently.

They are assigned to go to a police station in the hostile zone and rescue some civilians who had been left there. Along the way they encounter the enemy and engage in a small fire fight. Once at the station they call in a helicopter pickup, but as the helicopter is lifting off with injured Marines (no civilians) It is blown out of the sky by the alien aircraft. Before this point the aliens had not deployed any aerial units. This changes the conflict, giving the invaders an advantage. So the Marines have to get to the safe zone by other means. They are in a hurry because the U.S. Air Force is going to Carpet Bomb that region. So after catching a wounded alien and slicing it up to find the best way to kill it they hot wire a bus and make their way to the freeway. In the process they discover that the aliens are tracking their movements by the radios they are using. Nantz uses this to lure in and blow up one of the alien drones.

Unfortunately they have to abandon the bus and go on foot to somewhere that is safe as they will not make it to the safe zone before the bombing begins. They loose their commanding officer in the process, and the way he dies it looks like Nantz has left him behind so he can survive.

I’ll leave the plot there and let you find out what happens yourselves.

I like the idea of this one. It does not focus on the bigger picture but on the human side of the fight. This for me saves this movie. Whereas Skyline did not make me feel for the characters this one does. Aaron Eckhart’s portrayal of Staff Sergeant Nantz saves this movie. A few of the cast do help but it is Eckhart who I felt for most in this movie. The action is not bad and I like some of the aspect of the aliens and how they are operating.

The story is okay, a little thin in places, annoying in others. What I did find a little annoying is that there are too many clichés in this movie. The experienced Sergeant who is about to retire who is well decorated, but his last mission did not go well. The inexperienced Lieutenant who dies, the aliens who are almost unbeatable. The marines who have a problem with the sergeant and so on. One thing that I felt was a little clumsy was that all the Marines call Nantz Staff Sergeant. Not sarge or Sargeant, but Staff Sergeant. If someone could tell me is this how Marines in the U.S. talk to their N.C.O’s?

That said though I do enjoy watching this movie, The acting is not bad, the directing is not either. The plot is a little simple and direct but I think its acceptable, but It is Eckhart who carries this movie.

Is it worth a watch? Yes. Could it have been better? Yes, but it’s better than a lot of rubbish out there at the moment.