Tag Archives: space

“A Princess of Mars” and John Carter, the Prince of Pulp Sci-Fi

20 Mar

Literally just minutes ago (as of this writing) I finished Edgar Rice Burroughs’s 1912 novel “A Princess of Mars,” and I’m fairly convinced that it’s the best worst early-20th-century science fiction novel ever published. That should be no secret, considering that this book, the first in an 11-part series, was the inspiration for Disney’s recent movie (soon to be a flop), “John Carter.”

See how she cringes? That's how a real Victorian woman cringes.
(Click for the original column in the Crimson White)

Burroughs, an astonishingly prolific writer of the 20th century, gave us, among other iconic characters, Tarzan the jungle man, but you’re not likely to find him on the syllabus of an American literature course. If you’ve seen “John Carter,” that won’t be a big surprise: Burroughs’s writings, many initially published as magazine serials, are as pulpy as they come.

They’re science-fiction penny dreadfuls, dime novels with sensational and poorly-illustrated covers, cheap paperbacks you’d find on the counter at a seedy gas station and all-around the stuff sophisticated college-educated young people such as us would be embarrassed to be caught reading in the 1910s.  And to be perfectly honest, I should be embarrassed now. But, I’m three books in, and there’s no going back.

The story begins with Virginian ex-Confederate John Carter mining for gold in Arizona, running away from angry Apaches and hiding in a creepy cave filled with human skeletons. Admittedly, that doesn’t sound very promising.  But let’s fast-forward a chapter to his mysterious re-location to the planet Barsoom — what we, in our ignorance, call Mars.

Like the movie, “A Princess of Mars” has vicious aliens, epic battles and a giant monster dog named Woola.  But the novel is certainly a product of its time.  Occasionally this leads to questionable racial connotations (red men on the red planet) and cringe-worthy gendered characterizations (“I would rather stay and die with you, my chieftain!” or something). But at other times we find hilarious misunderstandings for the modern reader. For example, the chapter entitled “Lovemaking on Mars” includes nothing more scandalous than John accidentally grazing the bare shoulder of the Helium Princess. Steamy stuff.

Considering the time period and his icky military history, John Carter is a surprisingly sympathetic protagonist. He is, essentially, the classic hero of a Western, and Barsoom does look suspiciously like Arizona. The many times crypto-Victorian princess Dejah Thoris cringes behind him during a battle scene get annoying, I’ll admit, but by the second installment we have a much more active heroine: Thuvia, who protects her own honor quite adeptly by just shooting evildoers with Carter’s revolver.

The science is outdated, the romance is somewhat silly (Helium Princess, really?) and the writing is mannered, but we still read Jane Austen don’t we? We made “Twilight” a major franchise and eagerly await the return of “Game of Thrones” on HBO. I’ll go so far as to add that “Avatar,” with its Noble Savages and white hero, is quite like the John Carter books, and let’s not forget that “Avatar” came 97 years late to great critical acclaim.

“A Princess of Mars” and the rest of the John Carter books aren’t great literature, but even in 1912, they weren’t intended to be. Burroughs’s writing is fast-paced, entertaining, and readable today (not to mention the first three books are 99 cents digitally). If nothing else, they’re fun to make fun of. But I warn you, it’s not hard to get emotionally invested: When I turned the last virtual page on my Kindle, I was still holding my breath for the cliffhanger.

Of course, if you still feel you might be embarrassed reading “A Princess of Mars” and its sequels, just tell your critics that doing it … ironically.

Boba Fett Need Not Apply (review: Space Punk)

6 Jun

I’m not surprised that the denizens of C.E. Lange’s Space Punk universe have a glut of bounty hunters roaming the universe trawling for bad guys.  Science fiction in general has the same problem.

Look guys, we’ve all watched Firefly.  We know that the early years of space colonization are going to be violent and anarchic.  But does that have to mean that every other sf novel on the shelf has to feature a rugged individualist, borderline-alcoholic, womanizing bounty hunter with a ridiculous name?  I  mean, really folks, let’s think outside the box.  And the escapes!  It’s like that annoying person in the RPG who simply will not die.  Your hero is not that lucky.  Take a page from George R.R. Martin or China Mieville and maim your protagonists once in a while.

Easy for me to say, I know–I’m not a fiction writer, probably never will be, and spend my free time picking perfectly respectable fiction apart for kicks and giggles.  But I think I speak for the average reader when I say: if you’re going to write about bounty hunting, try to make it original… somehow.

And somehow, C.E. Lange does just that.  (See, I’m not so mean, am I?)  Zane Abraham has a ridiculous name; he drinks; he womanizes; he’s a stunner of a pilot; and he’s our first-person narrator.  It’s a recipe for obnoxious.  And yet, Lange shies just clear of cliche with a deft touch of characterization: Zane Abraham is a terrible bounty hunter.  He admits it in the first line of the book:

Bounty hunting wasn’t meant for me, but I did it anyway.

If I’m being completely honest, I did not expect to like this book (see above).  Bounty hunting just isn’t for me, but in this case, I liked it anyway.

What can I say–Zane’s failure is kind of endearing.

Our hero (if I can justifiably call him that) is both likable and relatable–half the battle when it comes to getting a reader to stick a novel through, especially when it’s first-person narration and you’ll have that character’s voice echoing in your head for a week or two.  But I don’t mind Zane’s voice.  Our protagonist is variously cynical, sarcastic, bitter and bored, and he too feels the creeping lethargy a tedious book can bring on:

Nothing exciting happened for at least a week. Five of those days I drank way too much beer and the other couple of days were spent recouping from my five day bender. It was during this cool down period that I tried to finish the stupid book Victor had forced me to read. I tried to get myself through the book while I was drinking, but those pages had to be read again once I was sober, and even then it was difficult to follow the translation. About half of the way through, one of the characters became so long-winded that I lost interest in the spoon-fed plot, and it was hard for me to keep the pages turning when there was just so much boring space to look at. That was sarcasm.

But his story is neither long-winded nor spoon-fed.  And his reactions to the action of the novel are sometimes so incongruous as to be absolutely hilarious:

After I pulled out my pistol and shot [her] in the head, I felt pretty good about myself.

Not about the fact that I had taken somebody’s life, but the fact that I was able to function at optimum efficiency during a situation where previously I would have panicked and stood frozen. Other than having a little bit of experience catching small-time crooks, I had never shot anybody in the head. I had fired a couple of shots at people, mostly at their legs, and hit most of them, but I had never outright shot to kill somebody with one shot. It was mostly luck, I can tell you that honestly, but I was glad I had spent so many hours at the range back on Seejen. I knew the guy who ran a shooting depot in town, and most of the time he let me shoot for free, as long as I brought my own ammo.

Like I said: endearing.

Final Verdict:

Space Punk is conventional in plot and structure, but interesting and likable characters save the day.  C.E. Lange’s writing–via Zane Abraham’s narration–is dryly funny with a down-home sort of feel.  There may be a glut of bounty hunters in fiction, but as far as I’m concerned, the top job’s already been filled by Lange’s perpetually astonished anti-hero.  Boba Fett need not apply.

Reading time: Don’t take my incredible ability to get off-schedule as a guide to how long this book will take you.  At 125 pages in print, it’s a fairly short novel.  2 weeks.

Availability: Space Punk can be purchased as an ebook on Amazon for $2.99.  I suggest, as always, trying a sample for Kindle before buying.

You might also like… Pale Boundaries by Scott Cleveland.  It’s the first indie novel I ever reviewed, and it still have a special place in my heart.  From Cleveland, you’ll get the hunted, not the hunter, but there’s something comparable in the writing style.  And that’s a good thing.

The 12th Planet: I (don’t) want to believe

17 May

I realize that I read more science fiction and fantasy than is probably healthy for an individual, but even so, I think I have yet a modicum of intelligence and reason left in my head–which is why I gaped in shock and horror to find a copy of Zecharia Sitchin’s The 12th Planet in the back seat of my father’s car when we went to breakfast this morning.

For those of you who don’t know, The 12th Planet (1977) is the first installation of Sitchin’s “Earth Chronicles,” a seven-part series in which he attempts to prove that we are not alone in the universe:

Basically, all those Old Testament stories people have passed off as myths are really, literally true.  Fear our celestial overlords!  The Nefilim built the pyramids, and they can tear them down too.  (Note that Sitchin has collected indisputable proof.)

Oy vey.

The book has received some attention recently, probably because the final volume of the Earth Chronicles, The End of Days, was released just a few years ago–and what better to do in our last year of existence (or last week, if you expect to be taken up in the Rapture this Saturday) than read the “nonfiction” ravings of a crackpot writer?

I’m sorry, that’s unfair.  Zecharia Sitchin is a reasearcher, of sorts.  He is proficient in multiple ancient languages, Sumerian cuneiform purportedly among them.  He claims that his assertions in The 12th Planet are based on textual analysis of the original texts–the Hebrew OT, the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, those mysterious cuneiform tablets, etc., et al.  Of course, the more *respectable* scientists and academics reject Sitchin’s hypotheses as the work of faulty interpretation of ancient texts and flawed astronomical information.  Personally, I think he simply suffers from an overactive X-Files Mentality.  In other words, he wants to believe.

I don’t.

That back cover blurb alone should be enough to make a reader with the barest amount of sense laugh out loud.  Until she realizes that the book is being sold as nonfiction, and that there are those (including the author) who believe every word.  Then the reading experience just gets sad–and more than a little creepy.

There are a number of problems with The 12th Planet:

1. Not only does Sitchin employ (more than) questionable methodology in fashioning his claims, believing those claims requires us the readers to shunt aside all sorts of scientific explanations of phenomena for which there is actual evidence.  Oh, like human evolution.  Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

“The unanswered question is: Why–why did civilization come about at all?  For, as most scholars now admit in frustration, by all data Man should still be without civilization.  There is no obvious reason that we should be any more civilized than the primitive tribes of the Amazon jungles…

But, we are told, these tribesmen still live as if in the Stone Age because they have been isolated.  But isolated from what?  If they have been living on the same Earth as we, why have they not acquired the same knowledge of sciences and technologies on their own as we supposedly have?”

How about we read this instead, okay?

Astonishing!  I don’t think anyone has ever tried to answer that question before.  Except Jared Diamond.  Ever heard of Guns, Germs, and Steel?  Yeah, it’s that one that won the Pulitzer some years back.  Sorry, Zeke.

I won’t even get into that second part, in which Sitchin seems to imply that scientific knowledge is just chillin’ in the aether somewhere, waiting for some “primitive bushman” to pick it out of the air.  That’s for another paragraph.  What’s truly astonishing is where Sitchin goes from here.

One of the plethora of Discovery Channel conspiracy theory programs will attempt to raise questions about the origins of civilization–did space aliens give us knowledge and sink Atlantis in their rage, or something?  Sitchin says yes, the evolution of human civilization is actually extraterrestrial in origin.  And, he adds, modern man did not really evolve from the primordial ooze.  Male and female the aliens created them, because it would take too long to make apes talk.

That seems to me a total non sequitur, but it’s not like I can read cuneiform.  I bet those evolutionary biologists can’t either–so there!

2.  The second major problem I have with the whole “ancient astronauts” thing goes beyond Sitchin’s book.  My question is: Why is it so hard to believe that humans, with their own minds and their own contemporary technology, could have built the pyramids?  Because it’s always about the pyramids.  “They’re so geometrically perfect,” a Sitchinite might exclaim, “and how could they move those big rocks?”  There are a number of construction method hypotheses, all of them more plausible than the one that requires alien overlords cracking the whip.

Perhaps more disturbingly is the underlying racial prejudices inherent in this argument.  I had a professor of archaeology my freshman year who worked on ancient Mesoamerican cultures.  He seemed to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder when it came to the Mayans.  Why does everyone think the Mayans are so mysterious? he asked, multiple times during the semester.  He was a scientist, and had all sorts of perfectly reasonable (and more than that–empirical) explanations for the mysteries of the Maya.  And yet, the dilettantes of pseudoscience and pseudohistory seemed unable to resist groping for the mystical.

Because, of course, indigenous peoples of non-European origin must be primitive bushmen, right?

If it isn’t apparent by now that I’m intensely annoyed by The 12th Planet, let me be clear:

Zecharia Sitchin’s Earth Chronicles Series ranks among the very worst of pseudoscientific and pseudohistorical “nonfiction.”  It may be some people read books like his for entertainment, or because they have a case of the X-Files, but I for one think something like The 12th Planet cannot go without even this meager rebuttal.  Zecharia Sitchin’s books feed into the worst popular conceptions of ancient civilization, and commit an unforgivable crime: they rape history, underestimating and belittling the fully human people who lived before us.

That’s not okay.  And I sincerely hope my father was reading it as a joke.

Insert Punk Here (coming soon: Space Punk, by C.E. Lange)

30 Apr

Steampunk and cyberpunk get most of the attention these days, but SF author C.E. Lange promises a new subgenre with his novel Space Punk:

“Space Punk: One is space opera, adventure, science fiction, action, violence, vulgarity, and beautiful girls, all wrapped up into 15 chapters. The novel was inspired by an old PC game, early space opera pulp works, and spiced up with some R-rated action. What more could you ask for? This is not hard science fiction, this is space opera. This is Space Punk!”

And from the book description:

Apparently, in the future, we all go the Michael Jackson route--get super pale and lose our noses. Or is that leprosy? I'm sorry, that's uncalled-for.

Zane Abrahm drinks, chases women, has a heart but doesn’t use it, learns fast, and is a hell of a pilot, but he’s a horrible bounty hunter. He does it anyway, it’s the only life he’s ever known, and after three failed attempts to handcuff Victor Motisi, his world gets turned upside down and sent on an alcohol-fueled rampage across the galaxy.

Politician Sydney Metis thinks he’s playing both sides of the field by bringing Victor and a fleet of warships together in battle for his own gain, but no one can figure out who is playing who in this space adventure.

And that’s really not the half of it. Zane’s crazy pill-popping punk ex-girlfriend just found a way back into his life, and just when he fell for another chick. Of all the stupid scenarios that could have changed his life forever, the one that befalls him is a black hole of his own making, pulling him further in with each wrong decision. Guys wish they had the problems Zane Abrahm has. Zane wishes those other guys had them.

Review forthcoming, and until then, here’s Space Punk on Amazon–because, as you know, I don’t plug any other booksellers (Nook owners are so lame).

History of Science Fiction by a Really Meticulous Artist

10 Mar

This may be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen–even if it wipes the table with my rag of a blog.  Ward Shelley must be brilliant, crazy well-read, and a bit of a digital humanist to make this:

Click here for the complete version. Also, someone let me know if this is for sale as a print.

Branching from the Gothic novel’s fine, but personally, I’m not sure that Gormenghast belongs so very close to “Sword and Sorcery” tales.  Anyway, see Flowing Data for more really intense data visualization projects.

Update: This has been the 185th post of the Scattering.  There will be more, soon–it’s Spring Break!  And because I’m kind of ridiculous, I’ll be spending it reading SF.  Up next: The Doom Guardian, by Julie Ann Dawson.

Verdict? SEAMS 16: A New Home, by Eric B. Thomasma

29 Jan

Author Eric B. Thomasma wrote his debut novel in and out of waiting rooms.  He writes as a preface to the Kindle version of the book:

My father was battling cancer at the time and I took him to all of his appointments.  Writing became a means of escaping the depressing circumstances and helped me maintain a positive attitude toward the treatments.  Sadly, my Dad lost his battle before I finished the story, so he was never able to read it, but I like to think he would approve.

With that said, SEAMS16: A New Home is a SF mystery strong enough to stand on its own without preface–Thomasma writes with clear, clean prose and solid storytelling.  His protagonists undergo realistic changes as the novel’s stream of events begins to flow (Charlie from a hopelessly innocent student to a leader in the face of… well, corporate and extraterrestrial danger).

And while Charlie Samplin’s our hero, Thomasma crafts an equally compelling heroine in Susan Samplin, the space station technician’s sharp-witted wife.  If the cover art gives the perception that Susan’s a fragile little woman clinging for safety to her brawny husband, you’re being misled.  One of my greatest pet peeves about science fiction and fantasy is how poorly authors fashion leading ladies: so often they’re either non-existent, or implausibly two-dimensional.  But Susan Samplin can hold her own.

Reading Time: From a college student at the start of a busy new semester, two weeks.

Recommendation: Science fiction has gone mainstream–at least on television.  In the recent past and present we’ve had LOST, Fringe, The Cape, FlashForward, The Event, and V, just to name shows on the major networks.  The best way I can think to describe SEAMS16 is just that: mainstream.  Readers need not fear complicated jargon or subgenre in-jokes (as fun as those can be sometimes).  With stories of space travel, aliens, and creepy corporate entities so popular these days, any one who can read can read this book.

SEAMS16: A New Home is available as an ebook from Amazon for $0.99

Serious Trust Issues (review: SEAMS16: A New Home)

29 Jan

"Trust me, I'm a really shady businessman." (Peter Fleming)

Science fiction as a genre seems to have a wary sort of affection for many-tentacled corporations running the world.  On the small screen that means Fringe’s Massive Dynamic which (spoiler alert!) runs two parallel worlds; The Cape’s ARK, Palm City’s private police force overseen by Thomas Cromwell–er, Peter Fleming; the late great Firefly’s shadowy Blue Sun; of course the Widmore Corporation of LOST, which got a shout-out from 30 Rock this week (something I tried to tell Alec Baldwin look-alike Doug, but couldn’t because his Facebook has inexplicably disappeared); and in real life, Google.

What all this means is that Eric B. Thomasma’s SEAMS16: A New Home provides the reader a bit of dramatic irony when our hero Charlie Samplin goes to work for the Space Equipment Authority–an innocent-enough company with completely harmless employees who just happen to say things like:

“The universe is a huge place and the company has connections… everywhere.”

So maybe I added that ellipsis myself, but seriously–any self-respecting SF reader knows exactly what to expect from the SEA and it’s Maintenance Station #16: sinister plots, shadowy overlords, nefarious goings-on and all sorts of drama.  The reader can see it coming a mile away.

Unfortunately, our hero Mr. Samplin cannot.

Charlie’s like a kid in a candy shop–tapped by a major corporation for a cushy job on a high-class space station.  So what if he’s had a spotty employment record in the past, or isn’t much more than a technician?  The Samplins deserve a break, and Charlie just takes it as a compliment when an innocuous employee comments:

“They’d already checked you out long before they made the offer.  Don’t worry…”

Again, ellipsis mine.  But I think you’re getting the picture.

Of course, this only makes Charlie more endearing in his naivete.  At one point on his first tour of the station, when asked a question, the man literally raises his hand to answer.  He’s a good student (let’s not get into the issue of his mysterious boss being an old professor), but his wife–Susan–is a little less rosy-eyed (as she says, “I have serious trust issues).  Enter the class troublemaker.

Susan Samplin can’t articulate why, but from the moment she steps on-board SEAMS16, she senses something’s wrong.  Their tour guide dissembles, no one knows the name of the Head of Service, and even the pastor admits he called up her on-planet church to, you know, surveil.  Susan’s shrewd, but she’s also in love, and when she realizes how much Charlie wants this job–well, there’s no going back.  It’s to infinity and beyond for the Samplins–or rather, to a shiny space station that seems far too good to be true.  The Samplins run right into the arms of a corporation they depend on for the very air they breathe.

And we all know what to think about SF corporations.

Don’t stone me if this little summary sounds like a series of spoilers strung together.  Technically, I suppose, it is, but you’ll get all this in the first two chapters alone.  Thomasma writes excellent dialogue, and uses it to great effect in the early part of the book to set the stage for the later action.  The Samplins’ station tour is a device for exposition–that’s pretty obvious–and the technical details, stats and background come fast and hot in a dense question-response format.  But this doesn’t mean that this introductory section isn’t engaging in itself: the very questions they ask, and their reactions to shifty-eyed, dark-suited employees tell us a whole lot about our cast that sets the psychological stage far better than a description of trapezoidal rooms and docking bays.

And the story’s right in the line of mainstream science fiction.

SEAMS16: A New Home is available as an ebook from Amazon for $0.99

Now Reading: SEAMS16 A New Home

12 Jan

While I finish up Tag, I’ll be downloading Eric B. Thomasma’s first in a series, SEAMS16: A New Home:

Charlie and Susan Samplin make a new home for themselves on the finest repair depot in space. On the Space Equipment Authority’s Maintenance Station 16, Charlie discovers that he has a natural talent for the station’s favorite pastime, Zeegee, a zero gravity sport. He also finds satisfaction professionally when his skills as a technician are finally allowed to shine. Susan finds life on the station stimulating too, as she makes many new friends, including Station Director Sureenon and his wife, Penny.

But soon, a series of mysterious mishaps occur in seemingly unrelated systems, one of which results in the death of a co-worker.  Charlie suspects the one person he doesn’t get along with, but others disagree. The mishaps stop as mysteriously as they started-for a time-but when an old friend comes aboard they begin again, leading to the discovery of a device that can only be alien technology. But who brought it on board and why? Join Charlie and Susan as they work together with new friends and old to solve the mystery and discover A New Home.

That’s all fine and dandy, but my worry is that Charlie and Susan are going to get sucked out to space if they don’t seal up that airlock.  Space mechanics to the rescue!

Z is for Zealot (review: Rogue Hunter, by Kevis Hendrickson)

29 Dec

Zounds!  In his novel Rogue Hunter: Quest of the Hunter, Kevis Hendrickson takes full advantage of that most-neglected letter of the alphabet when naming his characters: from the heroine, the zaftig bounty hunter Zyra Zanr, to his arch-villains, the sinister crime syndicate Zaragos.  Add some life-long vendettas into the mix and we’ve got a story zappy with zealotry.

[Is it just me, or is the letter Z looking really weird right about now?  Vocab vertigo, or something.]

Alliteration aside (see what I did there?), Hendrickson’s space opera has a lot more going for it than the somewhat cliche, overly-“futuristic” name choices might suggest.  It’s just what Wikipedia tells us a space opera should be:

A subgenre of speculative fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The name has no relation to music, since it is by analogy to soap operas (see below). Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale. Sometimes the term space opera is used in a negative sense, to denote bad quality science fiction, but its meaning can differ, often describing a particular science fiction genre without any value judgment.

I’m no science fiction purist.  I got into a small-scale comment thread debate on a previous review I wrote about just this topic: science fiction versus Science Fiction.  First of all, Plantonic capitalization really doesn’t work for anyone but Emily Dickinson.  Second, who the hell cares?  Hard SF, Soft SF, Social Science Sci-Fi, Speculative fiction, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Slipstream, the “New Weird”–to flash back to my high school mock trial days, it’s a distinction without a difference, Your Honor.  A professor recently called me a “lumper,” rather than a “splitter,” and that’s just fine.  Let’s leave the minute categorizations to Linnaeus, shall we?

With that said, when I use the term “space opera,” I’m in that latter group–denoting a genre, not making a snide remark on quality.  I made a snide remark about Zyra’s name, and about her svelte and zaftic physique defying the laws of gravity (see above), but after the following colon I’ll be completely sincere: Rogue Hunter is a fast read, and an excellent adventure.

Yes, there is some seriously melodramatic melodrama–the beautiful Zyra becomes a bounty hunter to avenge her father’s brutal murder by Zaragos, and then (spoiler alert!) her fiance’s.  But the other defining characteristics of the genre–large-scale conflict, space travel, galaxy-wide conspiracies, alien races, epic battles and epic heroes–can be incredibly entertaining.  And in this case, the quest of our Herculean heroine Zyra Zanr is clearly the focus of the novel.

Far-flung, far-future stories necessitate a glimpse into the technology of our distant descendants (ye gads, I just can’t stop!).  Hard SF devotees won’t like the dearth of technical details in Kevis Hendrickson’s writing, but I’m satisfied with the glimpse I get–especially when the writing is so clever (I guess 52nd century humans don’t recognize the irony in an “Icarus Tech Propulsion Pack,” or the appropriateness of a computer hacker named “Logos”).

The technology involved is creative, but seems so natural as not to need exhaustive explanation.  And the ideas stick with you–I had a “wow, that’s brilliant” moment when Hendrickson introduced the cryo-chamber unit in Zyra’s ship:

As a matter of standard space-faring knowledge, cry-chambers were installed in every cruiser-class starship as a last-means emergency device.  Assuming that all other options had been exhausted to repair a starship, and flight controls or life-support systems were lost, the idea was that the ship’s pilot could activate the cryo-chamber unit, and put herself into suspended animation with the hope that somewhere along the line someone would locate the ship and rescue her, even if it took many years.

It makes perfect sense that, with distances of light years and parsecs separating spacefarers, cryogenics could be a practical tool.  Commonly-used, even.  I just never would have thought of it.

But like I said, Rogue Hunter‘s about the hunter herself: Zyra Zanr, the bounty hunter.  Here’s how she describes herself and her career:

“Bounty hunting’s a fancy way of saying: Look at me, I’m a dysfunctional human being and my life’s a wreck.  Get too close and you’ll be sorry!”

Sad for Zyra, but awesome for us–because a book about a polished, put-together bounty hunter would be no fun at all.

Zyra has some serious inner turmoil going on.  One the one hand, she’s an Alliance Space Marine Academy dropout in the fugitive business for some quick cash.  Bounty hunting’s a purely practical matter.

One the other, she’s fueled by revenge, that most enduring motivator.  Leaving a trail of corpses behind her, Zyra doesn’t make too many friends among the InterGalactic Police–except for space cop deputy Hunter, her ill-fated lover, who knows exactly how messed-up his fiancee is:

“Worse yet, you’ve finally pissed off the IGP… in your defense, I told the other back at the barn that you’re just a damn overly-committed zealot.  A hopelessly desperate, overly-committed zealot, but a zealot no less.”

Love you too, babe!

That sort of complexity makes me think twice about the title–and whether Zyra’s hunting rogues, or the rogue herself.  Dysfunctional and operatic as her life may be, I like Zyra, and I like reading about her.  What else do I need to say?  Oh, right:

Rogue Hunter: Quest of the Hunter is available as an ebook on Amazon for $0.99

This has been the 150th post of the Scattering.  Bully for me.

Now Reading: Rogue Hunter, by Kevis Hendrickson

20 Dec

It’s space opera time.

Next on the to-read list is Kevis Hendrickson’s Rogue Hunter: Quest of the Hunter.  From the book description:

Zyra Zanr is the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. Criminals everywhere cower at her name. During the attempt to capture a notorious fugitive, she stumbles onto a conspiracy to murder the senators of the InterGalactic Alliance. Behind this plot is a clandestine force seeking to destroy not only the InterGalactic Alliance, but mankind as well.

War looms on the horizon as Zyra collides with this deadly force threatening to rock the very foundations of time and space. Zyra’s quest to uncover the mastermind behind this plot will pit her against an evil menace beyond her wildest imagination. Only Zyra can save humanity from an impending holocaust. Victory will mean the salvation of the human race. Failure will mean the end of all that Zyra holds dear. The battle for the future has begun!

I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover (art), but really?  Subtle, Zyra, subtle.  Although, to give the benefit of the doubt–I suppose if she’s out in zero-G, her physiology doesn’t need to conform to the usual laws of nature… right?