Saturday, 3 November 2012

Prehistoric Clock - EPIC Awards Finalist 2013

Great news! My steampunk novel Prehistoric Clock is a 2013 EPIC Award finalist in the Best Science Fiction category. This follows my double nomination two years ago, from which I ended up winning for Sunset on Ramree (Best Historical Fiction).

Prehistoric Clock was published in Feb 2012 by Carina Press, and is book one in the Steam Clock Legacy series. Here's the Amazon link.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Movie Review: Looper

Genre: Science Fiction, Action/Thriller, Time Travel
Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo

In the latter half of the 21st Century, time travel is invented but is instantly made illegal. The only practitioners are criminal syndicates who send their victims back through time to be assassinated, where no record of them exists. These murders are carried out by ‘loopers’, hired killers who wait at an appointed place and time, somewhere remote, for their victim to appear. One shot does the trick. Every now and then a looper’s older version is sent back to be terminated—known as “closing a loop”—at which point the young looper is allowed to retire until that fateful day in the future.

Confused? You won’t be once the plot kicks into gear. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a ruthless looper who hesitates when his turn comes to close his own loop by killing his older self (Bruce Willis). A clever game of cat and mouse ensues, with both Joes being hunted by the looper organisation run by Jeff Daniels (on top form). But that’s just the set-up for what becomes a fascinating story chock-full of what-ifs and moral quandries. The action scenes are brilliant, there’s a welcome irreverent streak running through much of the film, and the actors are all very good, especially Emily Blunt playing against type as a foul-mouthed, hobo-phobic mother with a secret.

In my opinion Bruce Willis is well-suited to science fiction. Effortlessly charismatic, he’s also the most down-to-earth of the big action heroes of recent decades, and right away gives these future scenarios a jaded, human quality. Twelve Monkeys, The Fifth Element, Surrogates, and now Looper, writer-director Rian Johnson’s ingenious time travel thriller: each looks to Willis to provide the wounded heart of the story. The same can also be said of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, arguably his two best roles, in which he managed to ground supernatural goings-on with very real, sensitive portrayals.

That’s perhaps the key to Looper’s success. Johnson downplays the futuristic bells and whistles and turns up the human interest. Flying vehicles and hi-tech gizmos are almost throwaway elements in the background, while characters’ flaws and behavioural quirks are always revelant. In short, it’s the kind of science fiction we need more of: smart, exciting, plausible, and populated by real people. How many time travel movies can you say that about?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Who Got it Right? A History of the Future

To celebrate the release of Cyber Sparks, I’ve invited its heroine, Allegra Mondebay, to give you some fascinating insights into the 23rd Century. It took a bottle of Vodka McCormick’s to convince her, but the men in the room (including me) all agree it was worth it. Now, she isn’t much of a history buff, but she does love old movies, especially early science fiction ones, and she once started a college project titled “Who Got it Right? A History of the Future in Science Fiction Cinema.”

RA: Allega, when you say you “started” the project, how far did—

AM: I sort of kind of thought about it in the shower once. The label on the shampoo bottle got me to thinking.

RA: About what?

AM: Hair. Duh. You really need to start paying attention.

RA: Sorry. So…who did get it right? Which movie predictions came true?

AM: Well, Audrey Hepburn had it spot-on when she cut it short. I’ve used that style quite a lot. I was Face of Semprica with that little number, in fact, before I was canned by those evil motherf—

RA: We’re here to talk about science fiction.

AM: Oooh. Sor-ree.

RA: Which movie was most accurate?

AM: Not many of ‘em, to be honest. Those dark and dingy worlds—Blade Runner, for instance—are a pretty good approximation of the inside of my garbage chute, but that’s all. Did they really think the people of Earth would let things get that bad? Wow. Glasses half empty, I guess. A Scanner Darkly—that was a 20th Century book, you know.

RA: And then it was made into a really good animated “rotoscope” film starring Keanu Reeves.

AM: From The Matrix. Another vision of the future that was way, way off base.

RA: You don’t have artificial intelligence in the 23rd Century?

AM: Eew, not to my knowledge, no. I’m pretty sure machines can never have that capability. You can’t create consciousness artificially. Intelligence, yes, but not consciousness. Think about it: of all the species that ever evolved on Earth, only one achieved true self-awareness, and even it can’t pinpoint its own capability. There’s no conscious core. It’s everything or nothing, and it’s infinitely complex. Try writing that as computer code.

RA: Heavy stuff. You studied that in university?

AM: In fifth grade. Right about the time I saw Avatar 17…in 6D.

RA: 6-D??

AM: Oh dear, you are neanderthal, aren’t you. Still wearing those pitiful 3D glasses. Just wait till you get to interact with your favourite movie worlds inside VR. You’ll no longer be passive spectators. It’ll kick your brain functionality up several neural gears. Trust me, Angelina Jolie will make all your dreams come true.

RA: Ahem. You’ve told us which films got it wrong. So who gets the gold star?

AM: Well, it may sound dumb to you guys obsessed with garbage chute futures and whizzy-whizzy lightsabres, but the closest prediction to what really happens, at least in the spirit of what happens, has been around for decades in your time. It’s been laughed at by those that don’t get it. But let me tell you, that guy Rodenberry hit it out of the park.

RA: Khaaaaaaan!!!

AM: You’re funny. And by that I mean funny-looking. But yeah, Star Trek got the optimism of the future right. There’s no money in the Federation, so they got that ass-backwards—to quote The Right Stuff, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers”—but on the whole they got it. Politics, exploration, trying to be tolerant of all species, using technology to better ourselves—and failing most of the time. Just look at what happened to me with the omnipod. But also take a good look at life on board the Enterprise and you’ll see that while those people are all flawed, they’re trying, really trying to make things better for humanity. ISPA (the Interstellar Planetary Administration) is the Federation of my time, and it’s starting to get on its feet again. It’s a struggle. There are no answers, and there’s no utopia either. I don’t think human nature will ever allow that.

But there sure as hell isn’t a dystopia unless the public becomes brain-dead and lets it happen. Remember, that’s on you, not the government, not big business. You, the ordinary people. So drop your garbage chute obsessions and lighten up, for chrissakes. Here, have a salted peanut, Replicant.

RA: Eh? What do you mean, I’m a…

AM: Please. You’ve doodled three unicorns already. Do I have to spell it out for you? Tears in rain and all that.

RA: I think I need a drink.

AM: Damn, is that the time already?
Cyber Sparks Cover Art
Cyber Sparks is available now at Carina Press, and everywhere ebooks are sold.

You can read the first two chapters here

My name is Allegra Mondebay, and this is the story of my last days on Earth…

Unlike my sparsely populated home, on Earth everything and everyone is plugged in. As a blacklisted model who needs to reboot my career, I can no longer resist the ultimate in virtual-reality networking: the omnipod. At first, altering the sights, sounds and scents around me seems harmless. Then I hear the voice.

Do not adjust your headset. You are in danger…

He says I must help him warn the public about the perils of the omnipod. I think he’s just a hacker–until innocent people start dying, and the police want to hold me responsible. Now, I’m on the run in a stolen shuttle, trying to figure out why he needs me. And if I don’t do as he says, he’ll kill the woman I love.

32,000 words

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Cyber Sparks - Read the First Two Chapters

With only ten days to go until the official book launch, I've uploaded the first two chapters of Cyber Sparks onto my website. It's a fairly fast-paced novella, so you'll get a pretty strong grasp of the characters and general thrust of the story from this introduction.

Hope you enjoy!

And here's the blurb for Cyber Sparks (Available now for pre-order from Carina Press; Official Release Date Aug 27):

My name is Allegra Mondebay, and this is the story of my last days on Earth...

Unlike my sparsely populated home, on Earth everything and everyone is plugged in. As a blacklisted model who needs to reboot my career, I can no longer resist the ultimate in virtual-reality networking: the omnipod. At first, altering the sights, sounds and scents around me seems harmless. Then I hear the voice.

Do not adjust your headset. You are in danger...

He says I must help him warn the public about the perils of the omnipod. I think he's just a hacker--until innocent people start dying, and the police want to hold me responsible. Now, I'm on the run in a stolen shuttle, trying to figure out why he needs me. And if I don't do as he says, he'll kill the woman I love.

32,000 words

Cyber Sparks is Book 3 in the Cosmic Sparks series from Carina Press.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Summer Glau in Science Fiction

I've just posted a profile of this sexy actress on the Contact: Infinite Futures blog, focusing on her roles on science fiction TV shows Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Fanboy gushing might be involved, but there's more to it than that, I promise.


Saturday, 30 June 2012

Book Review: Stellarnet Rebel by J.L. Hilton

Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Science Fiction/ Romantic SF
Price: $5.99 (ebook)


Welcome to Asteria, a corporate-owned, deep-space colony populated with refugees, criminals and obsessive online gamers. Genny O'Riordan has shifted in from Earth determined to find a story that will break her blog into the Stellarnet Top 100, and even better--expose the degradation of the colony's denizens.

Duin is an alien--a Glin--a hero of a past revolution against the Glin royal family, yet branded a terrorist. Duin speaks every day in the Asteria market, hoping to spur humans to aid his home world, which has been overtaken by the evil, buglike Tikati.

When Genny and Duin meet, what begins with a blog post becomes a dangerous web of passion and politics as they struggle to survive not only a war but the darker side of humanity...

94,000 words



Ms. Hilton made a huge effort with the worldbuilding in Stellarnet Rebel, and her characters play off it beautifully. The Glin, a semi-aquatic alien refugee race whose plight is given the Stellarnet spotlight by blogger Genny O'Riordan, are a fascinating bunch. Two males in particular, Duin and Belloc, who feature prominently in the story, couldn't be more different from one another if they tried, yet both point to a common underlying strength in this seemingly beaten species. They have unfinished business with their overlord enemies, and perhaps each other. All they need is a helping hand, and someone willing to bring the best out in them.

Genny's a fun, very liberal heroine who lives life by her own heart and her own moral compass. She sees helping the Glin as the right thing to do, and that's that. Her blog becomes a sensation, so presumably most people agree. But there's also a hint of a perverse public obsession with Genny and her alien partners, particularly in regard to the obvious interspecies attraction between them. It's the kind of thing that *would* send our internet of the future into a feeding frenzy.

I liked the romantic touches. They were sweet and tasteful and added a lot to the characters. They never dominated the plot either, which is refreshing to see in a romantic SF story. The action scenes were brisk and imaginative. Much of the humour was of the fish-out-of-water variety--always good--and perhaps the only quibble I had with the Glin language was that many of the words came across as a little juvenile, a la Phantom Menace.

I'd definitely recommend Stellarnet Rebel to SF and romantic SF readers, especially those who like clever worldbuilding, cyber tech, and intriguing human-alien relationships. It's an excellent debut novel.


Stellarnet Rebel is available to purchase anywhere eBooks are sold, and also as an audiobook HERE.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sunset on Ramree: HIstory's Deadliest Crocodile Attack -- 99 Cents on Kindle

Now that I have the rights back to several of my shorter works, I'm going to make most of them available for 99 cents each this summer. Considering the price of an ebook novel averages about 5 dollars, it's only fair that novellas and shorts cost a fraction of that.

So for starters, I've decided to take advantage of Amazon's self-publishing option for the reissue of Sunset on Ramree: History's Deadliest Crocodile Attack, my Award-winning* novelette based on true events during WW2.

I'm happy to report sales have already spiked for Ramree, so the 99 cents option is looking like a good one for these shorter books. Other titles I'm publishing on Kindle include The Eleven Hour Fall trilogy, the Esther May Morrow paranormal collection, and Cafe at the Edge of Outer Space.

*EPIC Winner 2011 - Best Historical Fiction

Saturday, 21 April 2012

New Book Cover: Pyro Canyon

Frauke Spanuth, who created one of my favourite book covers for The Mysterious Lady Law, has delivered another great-looking piece of artwork for my upcoming Military SF novella, Pyro Canyon. It's a terrific interpretation of the look and feel of the story. And those metal eagles--exactly what I had in mind for the Condor Squadron insignia. Beyond impressed with this one!

Pyro Canyon is set for release on June 4 as a standalone eBook and audiobook AND as part of Carina Press's prestigious anniversary anthology, Carina Press Presents: Editor's Choice Volume II. My three fellow authors are Carina favourites Janni Nell (Dance of Flames), Julie Moffett (No Money Down) and Shirley Wells (Dead Calm).

All titles are available for pre-order at Amazon Kindle.

In the meantime, here's the short blurb to introduce Pyro Canyon:

It’s a galaxy-wide red alert…again.

And it’s Corporal Gus Trillion’s job at the Propaganda Office to drum up recruits. But the colonists have heard one too many calls to arm to care. Disabled in battle and on the verge of burn-out, Gus feels pretty apathetic himself—until his reporter friend Lyssa Baltacha stumbles upon top secret satellite footage indicating that the treacherous Sheikers are planning to invade human-occupied space. Now Gus and Lyssa must find a way to galvanize humanity to rise up against the enemy—before it’s too late…

Thursday, 5 April 2012

New Book Release & 2012 Update

Having just returned from a holiday in paradise (St. Lucia) to find several inches of snow waiting, I couldn't help wondering why the hell Great Britain, a country plagued by notoriously foul and fluky weather, was chosen to host this year's Olympics. One need only think of the showers of--and the shower that is--Wimbledon each and every year, in mid-summer no less. For the athletes' sake, surely there's somewhere more temperate to hold this thing, and economically, surely there's somewhere more deserving and in greater need of a financial/publicity boost in this world.

Anyway, the vacation was great--lots of snorkelling, beach reading, kayaking, and general exploring of the island. The highlights were probably a 2-hour kayaking expedition along the coast with my sister, who's even more of a daredevil than me--and a vertiginous cable car journey over the rainforest. Most of the St. Lucians were very friendly, though we did get pestered too often by beach hawkers and beggers, one or two of whom became needlessly aggressive. It didn't spoil the holiday, but I think the authorities need to get a handle on this excessive badgering of tourists. I'll definitely return to St. Lucia at some point.

While I was away, my new SF book, ALIEN VELOCITY, was lauched at Carina Press (March 26). It's actually a re-release of my EPIC Award finalist Charlie Runs Rings Around the Earth, but with several newly revised chapters and a professional polish by my ace editor Deb Nemeth, the story's in better shape than ever. Carina has also agreed to give my SF books a collective series name, as they're all set in the same universe and contain crossover characters and SF elements. COSMIC SPARKS is comprised of four Carina books so far, two of which are forthcoming releases.

In chronological (universe timeline) order, they are:

CYBER SPARKS (August 2012)
PYRO CANYON (June 2012)

Carina Press invited me to write PYRO CANYON for their second anniversary anthology titled CARINA PRESS PRESENTS: EDITOR'S CHOICE VOLUME II, to represent science fiction. It's a tale of redemption in the shadow of interstellar war, and features two legendary space fliers, Cardie and Brink, brough back from retirement to complete unfinished business. Gus Trillion is the wounded propaganda officer who makes it his mission to rouse mankind from its apathy, before it's too late.

Despite the tight writing deadlines, I'm very pleased with the finished story. Sparks in Cosmic Dust fans should enjoy the worldbuilding elements in this one, not to mention an important character who helps Gus on his mission. The other three authors chosen for the collection were Julie Moffett (action adventure/mystery), Shirley Wells (mystery), and Janni Nell (paranormal mystery)--all returning Carina authors, and all terrific storytellers. Can't wait for the collector's edition paperback, as well as the ebook and audiobook versions, which will be on sale as individual titles or in the anthology collection. Once again, Deb Nemeth deserves major kudos for putting the whole thing together.

Those who read and enjoyed PREHISTORIC CLOCK--and thank you for all the positive reviews and feedback--will be pleased to know I'm currently writing the next story in The Steam Clock Legacy. Tentatively titled Moon and Meridian, it will be a bridging story between book one and Subterranean Clock, the direct sequel, and will feature a new steampunk heroine, Meredith McEwan, whose coming-of-age tale really opens up the mystery of the Leviacrum in Victorian London. I did plan it as a novella, but Meredith and her sister are proving too much fun to write, so it'll probably be a novel by the time I'm done.

If all goes well, Moon and Meridian and Subterranean Clock will be wrapped up by the end of 2012, which will pave the way for the long-overdue release of THE RISE OF RED MULQUEEN, book 2.5 in the series, that I submitted for Carina's Christmas steampunk anthology last year and instead received a standalone contract for. Way down the line, then, most likely well into 2013--deep breath--I should have the entire Steam Clock Legacy written, including a final, epic novel that will tie everything together. That's the plan anyway!

Thanks for reading, and as ever feel free to contact me at I do my best to answer each and every email. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a selection of recently-read books (some in St. Lucia) that I can recommend:

THE CITY AND THE STARS by Arthur C. Clarke (Science Fiction)
RULEBREAKER by Cathy Pegau (Science Fiction Romance)
THE FORTUNE OF WAR by Patrick O'Brian (Historical)
DEFYING CONVENTION - Abby Niles (Contemporary Romance)
DUMA KEY - Stephen King (Drama/Horror)
STEAM AND SORCERY - Cindy Spencer Pape (Steampunk Fantasy Romance)
BEYOND THE REEFS - William Travis (Non-Fiction, Travel, Autobiograpical)


Monday, 23 January 2012

Prehistoric Clock - Exclusive Excerpt

Exactly two weeks to go until Prehistoric Clock, the first book in The Steam Clock Legacy series, is launched at Carina Press. The good folks there have put an exclusive excerpt up on Facebook--the first FIVE chapters for free download! Airships, diving bells, grand adventure, phenomenal steampunk science gone awry; check out all this and much more HERE.

Feb 6 is the official release date. Prehistoric Clock will also be available as an audiobook.