Tag: Sci-Fi

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, by Meg Elison

22435466Um, no.
Just, no.
I should explain.

We start with a group of schoolboys making handwritten copies of the book of the unnamed midwife. Their teacher is old and pregnant, too old to be pregnant in fact. She tells them the book may cause them to fall sick because the contents are horribly disturbing, but they must perform the task assigned to them. Quite a lot of years have passed since the book was originally written. The boys excitedly start.

That was the prologue and that, honestly, was the most interesting part of this book. I really, really wanted to read more about that school and the era it was set in.

We then move to the actual story. It appears to be our time, give or take a few years. A disease of some kind has struck the population and it has wiped out 98% or so of it. It mainly affects women, more specifically pregnant women. Neither the mothers, nor the children survive this deadly disease. Our narrator, the unnamed midwife, gets affected too, and when she wakes up, she sees she’s the only one in the hospital. She doesn’t know how many days or months have passed. Stepping out of the place, she realizes the world has become very dangerous for women, given that the ratio of male to female is now 10:1, and in a world that’s descended to lawlessness, men have turned savage. In order to protect herself, she dresses up as a man and goes around the country trying to protect the women she finds.

TBOTUM, originally published in 2014, is a winner of the Philip K. Dick award. That aside, there were quite a few things about this book that bothered me. Why did the disease affect women more than men? It is described as an extinction event, so is it some “survival of the fittest” thing? If so, are women unfit to survive? Moving on. Let’s see now, this isn’t an original plot, is it? There have been several post apocalyptic stories – both books and movies – where either one group survives, or one woman survives (thereby battling the savage men) or one man survives (who battles zombies or some such). There are some themes in this book that most definitely should have been explored further. The bit in the prologue being one of them. Alas, the reader doesn’t get much. It’s a shame, really. Each of the chapters starts of with a journal entry written in a horrible font, followed by the story narrated in 3rd person. I would mark this book down for that font alone, to tell you the truth!

And now all of that aside, what bothered me most was the pedestrian language. When I said the prologue was the most interesting part for me, what I meant is, that’s the one part that’s actually written well. It sets an atmosphere: a school (I imagined something like a monastery), a group of boys, books so old that their pages disintegrate if sunlight falls on them, a silver-haired pregnant teacher. The atmosphere this scene set was just superb. You enter the book with the expectations set by the beauty of the prologue. What you get, instead, is writing that makes you believe this was written for teens, by a teen. In fact, had it not been for all the violence and the gore, I would’ve called it post-apocalyptic YA. Talking about the violence itself, it’s presented like it’s merely there for shock value: “Oh the horror! Oh these men! Oh these rapes and these womb trades!” (If this reminds you of Mad Max, then let me tell you, me too, me too!) I don’t feel subjects as these should be utilized for shock value.

I read this book while in bed with a raging fever. At one point I had one of those fever-induced delirious dreams, in which I saw a few scenes from the book. I think I was the unnamed midwife in that dream, though I’m not entirely sure. That was, now that I think about it, kinda fun. Lesson: Fevers make overdone plotlines interesting!

Goodreads | Amazon

Note: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley/47North. My review is honest and unbiased.

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Every Day, by David Levithan

“Where do you want to go?” I ask again. “Tell me, truly, where you’d love to go.”
I don’t initially realize how much hinges on her answer. If she says, Let’s go to the mall, I will disconnect. If she says, Take me back to your house, I will disconnect. If she says, Actually, I don’t want to miss sixth period, I will disconnect. And I should disconnect. I should not be doing this.

But she says, “I want to go to the ocean. I want you to take me to the ocean.”

And I feel myself connecting.”

13262783May I say how much I hate Levithan right now. This man makes me break my book resolutions. And this man not only makes me read books from a genre I dislike (and scoff at), he makes me enjoy them. Worst of all, this man caused a conflict, nay, a war! Just look at this:

Brain: A genderless-bodyless entity that wakes up in a new human body each day. What a premise! This ought to be good.
Heart: Whatever, really.
Brain: Um… This is a love story.
Heart: *indistinct humming*
Brain: OK. Why am I reading this? This is YA. This is romance. Let’s close this and read something else.
Heart: Could you shut. Up. For. One. Minute?
Brain: Beg pardon?
Heart: SHUT UP.
Brain: …

.

Heart: Ohmygod, this is so beautiful, I have tears. I’m crying. This is… awww.
Brain: ???

Heart: *weeps* Oh, A. Oh, Rhiannon.
Brain: Blech. Oh, come on! “It’s the way you looked at me – it couldn’t have been anyone else.” Seriously? That is SO cheesy.
Heart: *sulks* Yeah, okay, just shush.
Brain: !!!

Heart: I have to make a phone call!
Brain: Dontdoanythingstupid!!!
Heart: NO, I really do!
Brain: This is NOT an Adele song!
Heart: Hang yourself, you stupid brain.

Brain: Why aren’t they explaining why A is this smoke entity person thing? Why is this happening? Are there others like this? Can it have feelings? What about the bodies it goes into, why don’t these people notice that entire days from their lives have just gone missing? This makes no sense!
Heart: Really, I couldn’t care less right now.

Brain: OK, that was a weak ending if I ever saw one.
Heart: So what if the ending wasn’t great. It couldn’t have ended any other way.
Brain: I’ll be the judge of that.
Heart: You jealous, emotionless, ROBOT!

*Heart walks off stage, leaving a trail of warm fuzzy feelings behind; brain, feeling useless, dejectedly plops down on a bed*

PS: I have to say though – only Levithan could have pulled this story off. Any other YA author would have turned it into a disaster. Do give it a read for the warm fuzzies. And keep your phone far, far away.

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Release | Rarity from the Hollow, by Robert Eggleton | Summary and Excerpt

1-rarity-front-cover-web-2

Rarity from the Hollow

Blurb

Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.

The second edition is scheduled for release on September 30, 2016.

Genre: Adult Literary Science Fiction

Page Count: 284 pages

Release Date: 8 November 2015 (original); 30 September 2016 (second edition)

Paperback: $20.84; Ebook $7.90

ISBN: Ebook: 1907133062; ISBN-13: 978-1907133060 (original);  Second Edition: ISBN (Print): 978-1-907133-95-4; ISBN (MOBI): 978-1-907133-24-4; ISBN (EPUB): 978-1-907133-64-0

Publisher: Dog Horn Publishing

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”—Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” —Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” —Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting, naughty story of a backwoods girl, who saves the Universe, in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

. “…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” —The Baryon Review

Goodreads | Website | Amazon | Amazon UK | Kindle Dog Horn Publishing | Lulu

About the Author

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Twitter

Excerpt

 

            …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn’s name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won’t she answer me? 

“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.

Nobody responded. The trees weren’t supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

I will always love you guys. 

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.

Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 

Jenny looked to the left of the path.

There ain’t no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 

She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn’t exit and into a blue light that did.

“All right, you mother f**ker!”

“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you’re supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story).”

DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.

“Grrrrr,” emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn’s dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

Stay between them.

“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I’m old enough — like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend — what you call it — my fiancé.”

“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.

“MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

He ain’t got no private parts, not even a little bump.   

“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.

“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”

I will need much more training if I’m ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”

Jenny’s left eye twitched.

DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…

…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There’re a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain’t complained since the shots started — not even with an upset stomach.”

“He’s a doctor?” Jenny asked.

“What’s your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that’s different — even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.

“So?”

Mommy’s right. Maybe I need a different argument.

            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

“What’s that?” Jenny asked.

She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

“Mommy, I’m so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn’t talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain’t had no chance to talk. All I know is that he’s home and I’m sooooo happy.”

“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that’s a good sign. Maybe she’s right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. Id better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition — the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.

They both glared at him.

“Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.

“Okay, Mommy.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.

“I love you too,” DotCom said.

Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile — at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.

Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

Update 13-01-2017: Purchase links and cover.

Book Tour | IA: Initiate” by John Darryl Winston | Summary, Excerpt and Giveaway!

 

Welcome to my tour stop for “IA: Initiate” by John Darryl Winston. This tour runs from March 21 to 25. Please refer the tour page for the full list of bloggers who are participating in this tour.

 

Name: IA: Initiate

Author: John Darryl Winston

Publisher: Purple Ash Press

Release Date: April 19, 2014

Genre: Science Fiction

Buy @ Amazon

 

 

IA: Initiate is origin story and a hero’s journey that follows thirteen-year-old orphan Naz Andersen and his nine-year-old sister, Meri. They live in a present day alternate Detroit/Chicago-like city known as the Exclave where they are surrounded by poverty, gang violence threatens every corner, and drug dealers rule the streets. Naz thinks he is ordinary except that he hears voices, has nightmares, and walks in his sleep.

 

The most important thing in the world to Naz is protecting Meri and getting her out of the Exclave and into the prestigious International Academy. But Naz has a secret, one that he is oblivious to, and only Meri knows. When Naz becomes the target of a notorious street gang he begins to discover the voices in his head, the nightmares, and sleepwalking are actually telekinesis and telepathy at play, a gift from his father of whom he has no memory.

EXCERPT

 

 

Naz watched the two boys as they continued to approach. They were a block away. Why would they be here in this section … today … so early in the morning? If they’re new to this section and on their way to Union High School—a half mile away—they should have been long gone by now. He had seen them only twenty minutes ago two blocks away. Why are they still here? Something’s wrong. It doesn’t feel right.

Ham continued. “I think they call it—”

“Let’s cross here.” Naz began to nudge Ham.

Ham nudged back and said, “Like I was saying, I think they call it lucid dreaming.”

“Enough about dreams. Let’s cross here.”

“Why? Lincoln’s on this side.”

“I know, but …” He didn’t know what else to say to persuade Ham to cross the street. But something was definitely wrong. He could somehow sense the emergence of danger. He could feel it, and he knew now he wasn’t going to be able to get Ham to cross. Ham was no coward. Naz had never seen it for himself, but had heard fromothers in Section 31 that Ham was good in a fight and had the scars, including a nasty one under his right eye, to prove that he had been in wars. Naz had never been in a fight, at least not one that he could remember.Ham now noticed the two boys in front of them and caught on, only he had a different reaction. “Cross for them? This is our section. We ain’t goin’ nowhere.”  Ham’s whole attitude and body language changed, and instead of slowing, he sped up a bit. It was another side of him that Naz had only heard about, but had never seen.

“What are you gonna do?” Naz asked nervously.

“Nothin’. We’re just on our way to school talking about dreams is all, right?”

The boys were now within a half block of each other. “Have you ever had a lucid dream?” Ham asked, as he slowly reached into his back pocket.

“A what?” Naz asked in confusion.

Ham continued the conversation as if nothing had changed. “A lucid dream, you know, when you actually know you’re dreaming.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Naz saw Ham pull a black object out of his back pocket and hold it behind his back. Naz and Ham were now about fifty feet from the two boys. They were even bigger and possibly older than Naz first thought, but that didn’t seem to bother Ham.

“I don’t … I … I don’t think I ever had that dream … before.” Naz struggled to speak not even knowing what he was saying.

When the boys were within thirty feet of each other, Ham said something in Spanish, something that came out very fast that Naz didn’t understand. His hope that it was a peaceful greeting faded when he saw the reflection off a shining blade—a blade from the black object Ham was concealing behind his back. The husky boy in front of Ham said something back in Spanish—something Naz remembered the taller boy saying earlier.

“Únete a nosotros,” said the husky boy.

Then, as if on cue, like something out of a Western, they all stopped about fifteen feet from each other. The two strange boys and Ham were smiling at one another, and Naz hoped that it was because they knew each other. But he was soon certain that wasn’t the case, especially when the taller boy, who was also concealing something behind his back, began to taunt Naz and started moving slowly from facing him to Naz’s side. His voice was unusually gruff, as he was laughing and speaking in Spanish. Naz was confused. Is this a robbery? He didn’t have a whole lot of money. He didn’t understand what this was all about.

Naz said, “No habloespañol.”

It was something he remembered Ham teaching him, but the boy just continued to laugh. The taller boy was obviously trying to angle around and get behind Naz, but with the boy’s every move, Naz turned to face him.Suddenly Ham and the husky boy with the Mohawk pulled their knives and crouched in what looked to Naz like some sort of attack position. They were still smiling and still making verbal exchanges in Spanish.

That’s when it happened. Naz hadn’t heard the voices in almost two months and now they were back.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Darryl Winston is a recording artist, turned educator, turned author. He dates his love of storytelling back to reading the bible with his father and sisters and later when he first saw Superman The Movie as an 11th grader in his high school auditorium. He got the idea for his debut series while piloted a Boys’ Read program as a Detroit Public School teacher. He is the founder of the Adopt an Author program, which has as its mission to create an atmosphere where boys and girls learn to love reading and writing.

He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records, and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Jordan Hill, Gerald Alston, and many others.

He’s a graduate of the Recording Institute of Detroit, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, and Wayne State University. He has his MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and will be graduating, June 2016 with his MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes. He lives in Detroit with daughter, Marquette and plans to buy an African Grey Parrot when he conquers his irrational fear of birds and name him or her Tony or Toni.

GIVEAWAY

John is offering ecopies of IA: Initiate to the 5 winners of the below Rafflecopter.

 Click here to enter!