5 AMAZING SCI-FI READS – AN UNCONVENTIONAL LISTING

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Ahh, the list of things to read. As varied as fingerprints and as accurate to the total stranger as Steve Harvey announcing a winner of a beauty contest. They are fun to read though, as a book lover will eventually run across one or two books they haven’t read before, books that catch their eye and entice them to read.

Now, this is not an essential read list. There’s no such thing. To claim a book is an essential read is the same as saying, “That’s the best movie ever!”. It’s pure opinion and does not take into account the preferences of generations. For what is considered wonderful writing to an older generation is now considered stilted and out of touch with a younger generation.

For instance, most people who began reading between the ‘50s and ‘80s will refuse to believe that Asimov, Herbert, Niven, Clarke (to name a few) don’t resonate very well with today’s generation. Yet the writing is so drastically different, stilted if books published in the 2000s are the new standard bearers, that people who began reading in the 90s and 00s will look at those authors, from the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction, as boring compared to the authors who have begun publishing during the last twenty or so years.

If you flip the train, the same holds true. The older generation will try out some of the newer books, but for the most part stick to the long dead writers or those authors who began writing back in the ‘60s. The newer generation of authors are just uninteresting to them.

So, essential read lists? An emphatic, NO.

A list of novels with tight writing, gigantic ideas, and ridiculous action? This is for you.

 

FORTUNE’S PAWN

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Fortune’s Pawn is a blend of ideas taken from pop-culture sci-fi movies and books. There is a mysterious ethereal force akin to Star Wars. Mercenaries wear giant suits of armor, with some serving a monarchy, similar to Warhammer 40K. The crew of The Glorious Fool is ragtag, digging up thoughts of Firefly. And there is a type of xenomorph like from Alien.

There is a mysterious ethereal force akin to Star Wars. Mercenaries (warriors) wear giant suits of armor, with some serving a monarchy, similar to Warhammer 40K. The crew of The Glorious Fool is ragtag, digging up thoughts of Firefly. And there is a type of xenomorph like from Alien.

The thing about Fortune’s Pawn isn’t so much about the extraneous parts—the universe is quite interesting—it’s that Rachel Bach has created a main character in Devi Morris who has so much panache and badassery, she will grab you by the throat on page 1 and won’t let go until the last word of the last sentence. And you’ll thank her for it.

Action upon action, hurtling toward conclusion at a breakneck speed, Fortune’s Pawn is the most entertaining book you’ll have read in years.

 

BLINDSIGHT

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Hard sci-fi. A tough sell to the crowds that want more fiction than science in their stories. However, sometimes an author comes along that manages to bridge that gap. Alastair Reynolds comes to mind, and now Peter Watts, both utilizing a mixture of hard sci-fi and outlandish fiction to create something memorable.

Blindsight follows a handpicked crew sent to investigate an alien object transmitting a signal. Standard fare right? Well, throw in a man with half his brain carved out at a young age who can’t feel empathy, a woman literally living with multiple people in her head, a man who may has well be a cyborg, a highly lauded soldier who is now a pacifist, and a vampire from the Pleistocene era resurected to be the ultimate soldier; you now have the makings for one strange story.

This first contact story is so marvelously written that you may be a little bummed at the end of it when you remember not every story is written so great. It is recommended to be read on an ereader with a dictionary downloaded, as the biology terminology is a bit heavy at times.

Blindsight is a first contact story completely unlike any you have ever read before.

 

DARK INTELLIGENCE

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Neal Asher writes like Peter Watts; you want to read every word in every sentence, not skipping so much as a “it” or “the”. In regards to Watts, every word needs to be read as near every sentence is crammed with difficult language, making it easy to get lost. Asher on the other hand, spins such a brilliant tale, you’ll find yourself not speed reading simply so you can savor every morsel of what he dishes up.

Dark Intelligence is that and more.

In what is possibly the finest science fiction novel ever produced, we find ourselves immersed in a story following the machinations of the single most fascinating character in literature: Penny Royal, an evil genie AI. The rest of the cast is as memorable: Thorvald Spear, a resurrected human with a chip on his shoulder; Riss, the snake-like assassin drone; Isobel Satomi, a career criminal who should have been more cautious when speaking to a genie. There is so much greatness crammed into this book, it is a shame not every sci-fi lover has read it.

Next to Hyperion, Dark Intelligence may just be the greatest sci-fi novel ever written.

 

REDSHIRTS

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Enjoy Star Trek? Did you get a kick out of the “third man” during the free fall scene in the Star Trek reboot movie? Hell, do you enjoy reading humorous books? If you can say yes to any of them, do yourself a favor and read Redshirts by John Scalzi.

From an author who has the balls to do stand-up comedy on occasion, the story of a redshirt ensign stationed on a starship that may resemble the USS Enterprise is exactly what you’d think: an absolute riot. The dialogue and description Scalzi creates in Redshirts is not only gut-busting funny, it’s some of the best he’s produced across all his novels.

Redshirts is a great read to start your week, end your week, or just lose yourself in any day of the week.

 

 

ANDROID HUNTERS

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Androids, an existence stricken from record and unofficially public enemy number one for the butchery of an entire world. Android Hunters, genetically enhanced humans with a singular resolve to hunt down and destroy every last android. The most powerful criminal empire in the history of humanity. And an android who wants to be human, who also may be the most powerful weapon ever created.

Characters inspired by mythological heroes, gods, and titans. Technology that follows Clarke’s third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Betrayal. Manipulations. Terrorists.

Android Hunters checks every box a sci-fi fan could want; and then when you blend all of those elements together, and throw in a world of pristine beauty juxtaposed against the brutality of a secret war fought by android hunters against androids, you get a story with a blistering pace that will leave you on the edge of your seat; wanting, wishing, waiting for more.

 

 

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Oh man, I gotta read a book?

READING

Reading [ˈrēdiNG]

NOUN

  1. the action or skill of reading written or printed matter silently or aloud

 

Three years ago when I was still writing ANDROID HUNTERS, a coworker told me something that shocked me so intensely I just sat down—a little bummed truth be told. He said, “I don’t read books, just watch TV. I don’t have enough time to read.”

How was I to respond to that?

  • “I hate you, because my dream relies on people reading.”?
  • “Can you at least buy my book?”?
  • “Uhh, stop watching TV and you’ll have more time to read.”?

I didn’t have a clue how to respond, so I sat down and began responding to emails like he had said nothing. It’s been at least three years since I’ve heard those words, and they still haunt me; so much so that I passively look for research into reading that I can share with a person I will likely never see again.

INCREASE THAT VOCAB OF YOURS

TV relies on imagery and sound to get across most of the points the show is making, in turn exposing you to precious few words. What words are said are catered to the lowest common denominator so everyone can understand.

Why do you need a larger vocabulary when a TV show doesn’t need it? Well a TV show doesn’t need confidence to talk to a supervisor at work. A TV show doesn’t need to sound articulate in a professional setting. So, crack open those books, expose yourself to some new words, and start speaking with new found confidence with articulation that stuns even you.

STOP SPENDING ALL LUNCH BREAK READING THAT TWO PARAGRAPH EMAIL

Without exposing yourself to the written word, automaticity and word recognition speed are greatly delayed. Not recognizing leads to less involvement in reading, which leads to less word recognition, until you’re communicating in grunts and hand gestures. *

*Okay, maybe not grunts, but you won’t have to spend ten minutes reading a two sentence email.

ANALYTICAL SKILLS, YAY!

We all love solving puzzles, being able to spot a pattern someone else can, winning at games. Hooray for competition! How about improving your odds of beating that total stranger/friend/coworker by showing off mad analytical skillz gained by reading.

WRITE BETTER

Do you like writing? Do you want to one day write the next great American novel? Do you just want your emails to not sound like a five year old wrote them? Good luck doing that without reading. A LOT.

DON’T BE THAT PERSON

It’s easier to talk to someone who is empathetic, something everyone learns eventually.

Studies have shown that by broadening your horizon through reading, your mind will open and be more receiving to lives outside your insular one. In other words, you may never have known someone who suffered through cancer, but by reading books with people going through sickness, you will literally increase your empathy for a real person suffering from an illness. And be realistic, at least one time in your life someone will look to you for empathy; do you really want to have to give them the cold shoulder because you don’t understand?

ENTERTAINMENT

Books can be consumed in more areas than watching a TV show. You don’t have to worry about putting away a book on an airplane before departure and landing. A book can be read in an area without cell signal. It doesn’t need to be charged. You don’t need to wait for a company to throw tons of money at a show just so you can see something different, because there’s a never-ending barrage of new and interesting content waiting to increase your vocabulary and make you a better friend.

BEST OF ALL, READING IS FREE

Go into a library (for free), get a library card (for free), and start entertaining yourself without waiting for a computer that has a timer (for free).

 

 

 

 

 

Book of the month and an author interview. A twofer!

ANDROID HUNTERS got picked up as book of the month in a space opera group on Goodreads! Very excited. It means ANDROID HUNTERS gets its own discussion thread.

One person has posted on the thread about how much they love it, but they already read the book. I keep telling myself to cool my horses. That people need more than a couple days to read a book, and then I should see more discussion.

The link is in the first paragraph, and here it is: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17521612-author-interview-with

Visit. Join Goodreads. Join the Space Opera group. Buy my book. And start talking!

Interview over at Indie SciFi Fantasy!

My third author interview is up at Indie SciFi Fantasy (http://interviews.indiescififantasy.com/jonathan-bergeron/).

If you enjoying straying from the heavily marketed mainstream publications for your reading pleasures, I recommend perusing Indie SciFi Fantasy for more than just my interview.

There are a lot of great indie books out there not with one of the Big 5. Maybe the person believes they will be the next Hugh Howey, or maybe they can’t deal with rejection, or maybe they find the traditional publishing process too arcane and want full control.

I don’t know the reason behind everyone who went the indie route. What I do know is that when you wade into the indie waters you’ll find there are treasures for the taking. Like an underwater treasure, the great indie titles won’t leap out of the water and into your hands. Dig a little. You’ll find that shiny gold coin.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY from your friendly Android Hunters!

Hooray for America!

Hooray for America!

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY everyone!

Be safe, read a lot, buy some new books, drink some good drinks, read some new books, and

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.

ANDROID HUNTERS

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Can’t see the story for the words – a warning against personal bias

What is the hardest part about writing a story? Character development? Creating a fictional scenario so real the reader can easily suspend disbelief? Writing a coherent story line?

I would say none of those.

The hardest part for an author, when it comes to writing a story, is getting past our own personal bias. Writing a story, be it a short story, novella, or a full blown novel, is an intensely personal experience. To create a story, the author has to live, at least during the time of writing, in that fake world. We have to see the characters as if they were our friends, acquaintances and enemies. We have to envision the world we create as if it is the world around us.

It is for that reason a bias comes into play.

For an author, the story we create, even those stories that are widely panned, is a living, breathing creation. It is part of who we are when we write it. We get anxious at parts, elated at scenarios, almost depressed at happenings; because of that, we tend to think the story we have created is amazing and wonderful and incredible.

Yes, some stories end abruptly. I have written tens of stories that never got past twenty pages. I couldn’t believe what I was writing with some. Others, I didn’t care about the characters; but for those stories that get into the hundreds of pages…Those stories take on a life of their own, and it’s a life I (and other authors who get to that point) want to believe is amazing and will find a treasured place in the hearts of those who read it.

Therefore, when it comes time to polishing and editing, just to the point it is good enough for a professional editor or agent to look at, we are fighting an uphill battle against a fearsome adversary. That adversary being: personal bias.

We read the book through. Then read it again. Then again. And again. Each time, trying to tell ourselves to be outside the box. Look at it from the perspective of a person who has never heard of any part of the story. To be frank and honest, it is damn near impossible.

It is the multiple readings that cement in our mind the story is wonderful, if only I could add just another scene here, tweak a scene there, it will be wonderful! Thus, we get to the point we can’t see the story for the words.

Talking from personal experience, I recently completed a story I thought was great. I didn’t think it was wonderful and that should have thrown a red flag, but it didn’t, because at over 400 pages I was too invested in the work. I read the book multiple times, each time telling myself another reason why I enjoyed the book.

“It’s fast paced.” “It’s easy to read.” “People don’t like complicated story lines.” “People want simple stories to follow.”

Multiple reasons I gave myself why the book is great, all because of the bias I had towards my work. As I look back on it, I realize I should have threw up my hands and relegated the story to the folder “Stories that will never see the light of day”. Hindsight is 20-20 right?

I actually gave the story to my agent. He couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason why the story didn’t work, it just didn’t. I got all uptight when he told me that. He must be wrong, I told myself, even though he has a penchant for picking stories that sell a lot of books. So I went on Goodreads ready to find some readers for the story and…I couldn’t think up a summary for the book. I have a detailed synopsis, but I couldn’t condense it down to a few paragraphs. I tried for a week, and couldn’t get more than one word written down. It was then I realized my personal bias prevented me from actually seeing what I wrote.

I learned a great lesson from this. If you are writing a story and have to tell yourself multiple reasons for why it is good enough to be published, it is not good enough to be published. A story you believe in, needs no reasons (excuses) for why it’s great. You just know it is.

I felt that way with ANDROID HUNTERS, and I still do. I can honestly say, I have never once told myself a reason for why ANDROID HUNTERS is a great story. I know it is. I know without a doubt it’s a wonderful story and the series is going to be phenomenal. I just know it. I don’t need to tell myself it is because of reasons x,y, and z. I love the universe I have created, the story I have written, and I find it is a joy to write.

So to all of those who are writing their first story. To all those who have written many and are writing a new one:

If you have to give yourself reasons why your work should be published, and find yourself concocting new reasons nearly every day…Well, I guess now is a good time to shelve that story and move onto something else, personal bias be damned.


ANDROID HUNTERS

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Why I wrote Android Hunters

Android Hunters

Available on Kindle, Play Books, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks.

Why write the start of a massive space opera epic? Why not start with an easy to digest lone wolf book that can be finished during a nice day at the beach?

The answers to those are easy; because I fell in love with this story.

True fact: Android Hunters isn’t the first version I wrote of the story.

I whole heartedly blame Kindle recommendations/countdown deals for inflicting more financial wallet pain.

The first version of Android Hunters came about after I finished reading Revelation Space for the third of fourth time. Such a great book. Alastair Reynolds is a sci-fi treasure. The first version of Android Hunters, the first book in The Corli Saga, was rubbish to tell the truth. It read exactly like a person who didn’t take writing seriously, who thought it was easy to put words down on a page. Oh boy, did I learn the hard truth about that in a hurry. Sure it’s easy to put words on a page, anyone can do that, but it’s not so easy to put words on a page in a way that makes people want to read past the second word. However, the idea was there.

This whole story is a blender baby of many sci fi things I like! One part Crazy AI god, a loveable team of special ops characters that reminded me of the early days of Honor Harrington meets Joel Shepherds “Cassandra Kresnov” books. Please note I am extremely bias to cyberpunk, androids and anything Bladerunner infused. So this whole setup was my cup of Joe.

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