Just a quick hit to let anyone reading this know that Rembrandt's Angel by Steven M. Moore is out and available from Penmore Press.
I had the pleasure of reading this before it was published and can attest that it's an excellent read. Great characters and a tense situation with a broad plot that runs the principals all over Europe and the British Isles.
It's available in trade paperback and as a Kindle e-book...
Here's the link to the Kindle e-book: Rembrandt's Angel
I finished a couple of very good thrillers recently. First was Steven M. Moore's GAIA AND THE GOLIATHS.
This was the seventh Chen-and-Castilblanco mystery, and it deals with eco-terrorism and murder. It takes the reader from New York to Europe and also involves Moore's Dutch Interpol agent Bastian van Coevorden on that end. It's a well-constructed mystery that presents a balanced picture of the world of environmental activism along with several little nods to what's going on in American politics today (the story is set a short time in the future, I believe). As I've come to expect from Steve Moore, this is a really interesting, thought-provoking read right from the beginning. Chen and Castilblanco are great characters, too.
The second was Steve Richer's THE POPE'S SUICIDE.
Like Richer's THE PRESIDENT KILLED HIS WIFE, this takes an unlikely crime involving a world leader and turns it around this way and that way. There are many layers of intrigue going on here, and I found it to be a can't-put-it-down type of book. When the Pope is found hanging in his shower, suicide is the apparent cause. But of course it can't be that simple, not to mention the complications that a Pope's suicide would cause for the Catholic Church. Detective Donny Beecher is going through a rough time of his own, marriage falling apart and teen daughter rebelling and getting into some things that Dad wouldn't approve of. And he's assigned as the lead detective for the investigation. Solid plotting and writing make this a top notch read. Now I have to go read THE KENNEDY SECRET.
Last, I read CRYSTAL CREEK
by William Malmborg. In this one, a paranormal investigator goes to a small town in Washington State where Bigfoot has been sighted, and a woman has disappeared. Crystal Creek barely exists anymore, but there is still an inn, a police department, a diner, and a newspaper. And everyone left in this little town seems to have a secret of some sort. It's a great premise and a good story. If I have a bit of a problem with it, it's that I didn't care about the characters too much. I don't know why, but they didn't make me feel that they were worth worrying about. Everything about the story is well done, and it's a good, fast read. (As an aside, is it horror? A thriller? Whatever it is, what makes it that
So there you have it -- three good solid books by indie authors. Check them out!
Under "Books I Enjoyed that won't set you back much..."
Steven M. Moore has two of his books (the Mary Jo Melendez books) on sale through this weekend, only via Smashwords. From his website:
Last weekend! The “Mary Jo Melendez Mysteries” are on sale. Mary Jo is inviting you to celebrate with her for leaving Amazon exclusivity and appearing on Smashwords too. She’s an ex-USN Master-at-Arms who manages to get into a lot of trouble as a civilian; she also manages to beat the odds and survive, though. Muddlin’ Through (Smashwords coupon code KY27A) is an international thriller where she works to clear her name and pay back the group that framed her. In the process, she discovers the MECHs, Mechanically Enhanced Cybernetic Humans, and romance as she runs around the U.S., South American, and Europe. Silicon Slummin’…and Just Gettin’ By (Smashwords coupon code VT64E) takes place almost exclusively in the Silicon Valley where she has two government groups pursuing her, one U.S., the other Russian. She also has a stalker on a revenge mission. Both books, normally $2.99, are $0.99 on Smashwords, using the coupon codes, until August 1—lots of entertaining summer reading for $2!
I've read them and I enjoyed both. If you're looking for a couple of good reads for $1.98, give them a look-see.
I've been interested in the Walt Disney Corporation for some time now. The whole history of the company and its genesis and growth to finally become the behemoth it is today fascinates me. I've gone to visit the parks several times as a adult (and parent) and enjoyed it every time, especially Epcot. I read a book called DISNEY WAR by James B. Stewart, and was doing some internet searches when I happened upon a blog called Re-Imagineering, which seems to mostly be a series of short essays about the problems with Disney as it exists today and what could be done to solve some of them. The blog is basically dark today; it hasn't had new content posted in years.
One of the old discussions (about Epcot) was talking about exhibits people would like to see, and what sorts of things they might try to freshen it up, make it less corporate in feel. It was also talking about Tomorrowland and its original optimism about our future. But that discussion shifted to some comments about the science fiction, especially in film, of today. As an avid reader of SF and as an author, the discussion interested me enough to write this blog post about the topic.
It seems that most of today's SF is dystopian, and that most of the film projects outside of stuff like STAR TREK and STAR WARS (not really SF in any classic sense) are very dark visions of the future. They named Blade Runner, Minority Report, AI, and The Matrix. (I'd say that Vanilla Sky, Dark City, and I, Robot are also fairly dystopian, along with stuff like Final Fantasy, Waterworld, all of the Terminators, The Postman, Battlefield Earth, and maybe even The Day After Tomorrow (though the last is not far in the future at all).) There's a bunch more SF films that I haven't seen recently because I just don't have the time to get to the movies or even watch them on TV.
As I think about the SF I've read in the not-too-distant past, first, there isn't a whole lot of it. ALTERED CARBON was a good book but pretty dark. Dan Simmons' HYPERION series and his latest pair, ILIUM and OLYMPOS, are not exactly happy fantasies of the future. I haven't read much else in the field recently, sticking mostly to mysteries with some horror tossed in here and there.
Indie fiction introduces more variety, and more optimism, into its vision. But even there, the story comes from the "negative." I'm thinking of Steven M. Moore's THE CHAOS CHRONICLES and Edward W. Robertson's REBEL STARS series. There's also Hugh Howey's WOOL series, which is pretty darned negative for most of the series, right up until the very end.
As I think about it, my question is, is there a story in a utopian future? Is it a story I want to read about? Novels are about resolving problems. In some ways it seems to me that any story is essentially a mystery. If there is a mystery, there is a problem to be discovered and sorted through. If there are no problems to resolve, if everything is hunky dory, it might make for a nice pretty painting but is there any story? I don't know. I was thinking about something like Asimov's Empire series, and while there is a lot of optimism there with the direction of humanity, when the story takes place, things are not so good. Heinlein's juveniles are more adventure story set in a fairly positively imagined future, but some of his adult works are a lot darker.
I see where they're coming from with respect to Tomorrowland, they don't want pessimism at Disney World, nor does it have a place. But I don't see a story in a future where everyone is happy as clams. Those Morlocks in HG Wells' novel weren't all that happy, and the surface beings couldn't have been thrilled with the status quo either. But THE TIME MACHINE wouldn't make for a very good Disney ride.
New Release Alert!
by Steven M. Moore is now available from Amazon for the extremely reasonable price of $2.99! I hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but I had the honor of being one of the beta readers for this book, and I can tell you that it is really good! Set in Moore's future Chaos Universe, it tells the story of a backwater planet that has developed into a theocracy, with terrible results.
Go get it now!
(And yes, I am still here...)
For those of you who don't know, Steven M. Moore is an "indie" SF/Thriller author who writes in several series (though he's more or less tying them all together, ala Isaac Asimov and all of his various novels). His latest series features a "Dangerous Miss" (I don't know the Spanish off the top of my head), Maria Jose Melendez, also known as Mary Jo. Trouble has seemed to find Mary Jo since she left the navy. She seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But really, she was never exactly in the wrong place at the wrong time -- circumstances conspired to put her in those positions, whether by coincidence or by design. Everything comes from the events of the first book, where Mary Jo has to travel the globe trying to stay one step ahead of numerous government agencies while trying to avenge the death of her sister and brother-in-law. Now there are those who want to find out what she knows and won't allow anyone to get in between their goals.
As usual, Mary Jo ends up in a job that seems to suit her, but ends up drawing trouble to her. She has Russian assassins on her tail, as well as some sort of Feds and...surprise! A stalker! And not just a stalker...a serial killer psychopathic stalker.
Moore's plot is a tightly woven affair which features well drawn characters who grow throughout the book and become stronger and better people due to their interaction with our heroine. The book keeps the right amount of pacing and suspense and even crosses into a bit of my realm, serial killer/horror. (But not too much...nothing really graphic here.) There's even a tinge of romance as Mary Jo and her PI/bodyguard Mario hit it off and a few sparks fly.
In my mind, this book surpassed the first of the Mary Jo Melendez books (titled MUDDLIN' THROUGH). I read it pretty much straight through. One of Moore's better offerings, and that's saying quite a lot, what with the Castilblanco/Chen series and the MIDAS BOMB and SOLDIERS OF GOD.
You can check it out on Amazon here: SILICON SLUMMIN' (And Just Gettin' By)