Grand Finale: Crossing Time


On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Grand Finale for

Crossing in Time

By D.L. Orton

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops, go back and check them out and grab ebook copies of the series on SALE while you can…

Launch – Note from the Author

Love is the most powerful force known to mankind. It wrecks kings, destroys barriers, makes us risk everything for a few stolen moments. . . . And all of this makes for a great story.

Reading for the Stars and MoonWhat are your favorite sci-fi books and movies?

I can never seem to remember book titles, and I struggle to recall all the plot twists, but the good characters stick with you. They teach you, change you, become a part of you. I aspire to that with my own writing.

Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’ – Crossing In Time (Excerpt #1)

The chubby gun trader shifts his weight and looks up at me, one eye squeezed shut. “What sort of rearm you lookin’ to purchase, ma’am?” He’s enthroned on a maroon chintz armchair in front of a burned-out Walmart.

“Handgun,” I say. “Something easy to aim and shoot.”

Hearts & Scribbles – Ask the Characters: How Difficult Is It to Be a Character in D.L. Orton’s Book?

Isabel: There were times when I wasn’t sure I wanted to trust a writer with my life. Still, Ms. Orton cares about the same things I do, and I’m dying to see how things turn out. In the end, I wasn’t keen on some of the scarier scenes (and I’m still sad about all those animals), but the author assures me that everything will work out in the end. Right, Diego?

I Love Books – The Journey Is the Reward

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t take the ones you love for granted. They could disappear at any moment—and time machines are pretty hard to come by. Put your arms around someone you care about and just enjoy the moment. The journey is the reward.

Rockin’ Book Reviews – Review

“This is a steadily progressing story of love gone awry, reconciliation, commitment, sacrifice for love and mankind, and time travel. The novel begins with a “interest-catching Prologue, then quickly begins to formulate the story on a solid foundation, constantly building in momentum until it ends in a solid climax, leaving the reader anxious for the next sequel in the story! It is complete with romance, suspense, adventure and life’s lessons.”

Kindle and Me – Review

“If you like other universes with the same people, nuclear bombs, physics, emergency preparedness, giving up your life for someone you love, dogs, cats, jokes, finding that one special person, biodomes, peeing on a handkerchief with smoke everywhere, and maybe a way to save us all from our mistakes then this might be for you!”

Wishful Endings – Crossing In Time (Excerpt #2)


“Still…” The gun trader waits for me to meet his eyes. “I s’pose I could use some fancy flavorings on my venison.”

I regard the only overweight man in a sea of famine, disgusted with the whole human race and embarrassed by my own full stomach.

Zerina Blossom’s Books – Author Interview

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it purely all imagination?

Who hasn’t looked back at a turning point in his or her life and wondered how things might have played out differently?

I met and fell in love with the man I’m married to when we were twenty-eight, and one of the first trips we took together was to attend the wedding of his best buddy from college. At the reception, I ended up seated next to my husband’s ex-girlfriend! Despite an awkward introduction, she and I hit if off, and we ended up comparing notes. (You should have seen his face when he realized we were talking about him.) At the end of the evening, she said something that stuck with me: I wish I would have met him at a different time in my life.

Celticlady’s Reviews – How Does Time Travel Work in the Between Two Evils Multiverse?

Take a shower curtain, some ants, and a bowling ball.

Start with the shower curtain. It’s a two-dimensional object in a 3-dimensional world. Imagine, now, that you are an ant, walking, talking, and shagging other ants on this thin, flexible membrane (or a “brane” in physics-speak). Layered above and below you are a million other shower curtains, all of them with their own allotment of ants (some of which get paid 78 cents on the dollar due to slight differences in their copulatory organs).

deal sharing aunt – Review

“I enjoy a good time travel and that is what this book is. It has a great romance and a second chance at love. I enjoyed the world the author created and thought that the author did a great job traveling in time.”

Colorimetry – Lost Time (Excerpt #1)

I lie in the greenish half-light, my lungs on fire, panic forcing out any rational thought.

And then I remember where I am—or rather where I should be.

I pound my fists against the translucent coffin lid until I manage to hit the release lever. The top pops open and frigid air rushes in, smelling of damp earth and evergreens.

I gasp for breath, my heart pounding.

The last thing I remember is a panicked voice shouting to abort the mission. Stop the countdown because…

fuonlyknew – Review

“The beginning swiftly pulls you in. The plot deepens and the characters emerge. And as you draw near to the conclusion, you’re gripped in a vise of suspense that brings tears to your eyes, fearing and hoping for what comes last.”

Angels With Attitude Book Reviews – Dead Time (Excerpt #1)

I’m trying to be brave, Mom, but it’s harder than I thought.

All the jeeps and other equipment are gone now, and I count four dingy biosuits slogging toward me through the downpour. I gaze up at the sloped wall of the massive biodome, wishing it didn’t look so… alien.

What would Madders do?

He’d be collecting data, not blubbering like a D-2 who fell off a swing and scraped her knee. Identify the problem, engineer a solution, and Bob’s your uncle.

Bookworm Lisa – Review

“The book involves time travel, an orb with a message, seashells, love, and secret government projects. It is a fascinating book.”

Booklove – Review

“The book, Crossing In Time was a one sit read for me with intriguing and captivating characters, unique, thrilling and original plot and a hooking prose . A perfect read for every Sci-Fi and romance lover.”

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway, if you haven’t already…

Crossing in Time
(Between Two Evils #1)
D.L. Orton
Adult Sci-Fi Romance, Dystopian
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 374 pages
April 7th 2015 by Rocky Mountain Press

A Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Best Sci-Fi Love Story of the Year”

Remember How It Feels to Fall in Love?

Race against the clock through a dystopian nightmare. Climb naked into an untested time machine (carrying only a seashell and a promise). Wake up twenty years younger on a tropical beach, buck naked and mortally wounded, with your heart in your throat.

This is a journey of love, loss, and redemption that will make your pulse gallop and your palms sweat, have you laughing out loud through your tears, and leave you flush with the sublime pleasure of falling in love.

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Tour Schedule

April 17th: Reading for the Stars and Moon, Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’ & Hearts & Scribbles
April 18th: I Love Books
April 19th: Rockin’ Book Reviews
April 20th: Kindle and Me & Wishful Endings
April 21st: Zerina Blossom’s Books
April 23rd: Celticlady’s Reviews
April 24th: deal sharing aunt & Colorimetry
April 25th: fuonlyknew & Angels With Attitude Book Reviews
April 26th: Bookworm Lisa
April 27th: Booklove
April 28th: Grand Finale

Other Books in the Series

Lost Time
(Between Two Evils #2)
D.L. Orton
Adult Sci-Fi Romance, Dystopian
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 222 pages
July 1st 2016 by Rocky Mountain Press

If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?

When a faulty time machine deposits Diego at the top of a pine tree, he knows he’s in the wrong place–but has no idea he’s in the wrong time. Naked and shivering in the chilly mountain air, he attempts to climb down, but slips, whacks his head, and falls into oblivion.

He wakes up inside a darkened room, crippled and disheartened, and must come to grips with the realization that he is marooned in a bleak alternate future. In this universe, what remains of the human race is trapped inside a handful of aging biodomes. With his mission failed, his world destroyed, and the one woman he loves, dead, he can find no reason to go on living.

But Lani, the emotionally scarred doctor who finds him, refuses to let him die, and as Diego heals, their relationship becomes… complicated. He struggles to let go of the past but is unable to get Isabel out of his head–or his heart. Just when it seems he may be able to find some measure of happiness in a world teetering on the edge of extinction…

Another note arrives from the future: Isabel is alive–but not for long…

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Dead Time
(Between Two Evils #3)
D.L. Orton
Adult Sci-Fi Romance, Dystopian
Paperback & ebook, 414 pages
April 15th 2017 by Rocky Mountain Press

If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?

From award-winning author D. L. ORTON comes book three in the Between Two Evils series…

Shannon fights to stay alive inside a rogue biodome and discovers something totally unexpected… Peter. Lani is forced into the role of the reluctant heroine but rediscovers her street-kid mojo and sets out to find everything she’s lost. Diego receives another dirty sock (and a note) from the poorly aimed fireball express: “The window between universes is closing.” If Diego has any hope of getting back to Iz, he must get to the Magic Kingdom and power up the time machine before it’s too late.

What could possibly go wrong?

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About the Author

D.L. ORTON is the BEST-SELLING author of the BETWEEN TWO EVILS book series. She lives in the Rocky Mountains where she and her husband are raising three boys, a golden retriever, two Siberian cats, and an extremely long-lived Triops. In her spare time, she’s building a time machine so that someone can go back and do the laundry.

Ms. Orton is a graduate of Stanford University’s Writers Workshop and a past editor of “Top of the Western Staircase,” a literary publication of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The author has a number of short stories published in traditional and online literary magazines, including Literotica, Melusine, Cosmoetica, The Ranfurly Review, and Catalyst Press.

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Tour Giveaway

– 1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)
– 1 winner will receive the Between Two Evils series, which includes Crossing in Time, Lost Time, and Dead Time (print if US, Kindle copies if international)
– Ends March 28th

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Review: Rogue One

Rogue One needs no introduction, so I won’t make one. This review, however, requires an emphatic spoiler warning. So:

spoilers

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILER ZONE. ABANDON HOPE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE.

Now to the review.

Rogue rogue oneOne is Disney’s first half-step beyond the traditional Star Wars trilogies. It’s a Star Wars story rather than an episode and officially outside the main arc, but it’s so closely bound to A New Hope it’s practically the prologue. If the praise is not too faint, Rogue One is the most epic prologue ever made.

There is an inherent dramatic difficulty in making a movie whose end everyone knows (they get the plans), but the makers acquit themselves well. To some extent, Rogue One is Disney retconning George Lucas. But it’s a creative and convincing retcon, and it brings a level of freshness to the story. The decision to star a new cast of protagonists and a new villain created a wealth of potential because A New Hope doesn’t dictate what happens to them – and the filmmakers mine that potential to its limits.

Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie without a Jedi in sight, and that creates another dramatic challenge. The makers attempt to meet the challenge with the warrior-mystic Chirrut Imwe, who succeeds in sustaining the presence of the Force in the absence of the Jedi. Although evidently not a Jedi, Chirrut exhibits Jedi-like traits – an intriguing idea that goes exactly nowhere, because the movie leaves him unexplored and unexplained. Possibly he belongs to a different Force-order. Possibly he’s a freelancer. Maybe he’s not even Force-sensitive. It’s not in the movie.

If Rogue One fails to take the idea of the Force anywhere new, it does present a whole new view of the Rebel Alliance. The Alliance’s plan to assassinate the Death Star’s intellectual architect raises an intriguing moral dilemma, and if the idea is unsavory, it’s still impossible to regard the intended victim as innocent.

Oddly enough, the Alliance’s assassination plot is more forgivable than its ruthless manipulation of Jyn into aiding the killing of her own father. Indeed, the portrayal of the Alliance is surprisingly dark, with little sense of higher ideals or aspirations to relieve it. Cassian, the principal Rebel character, brutally murders his own informant. The Rebels who ally with Jyn are declared to have done terrible things in their fight against the Empire. The Alliance’s leadership rejects a chance to destroy the Death Star through cowardice and sheer stupidity. The sad truth is that Rogue One goes rogue against the Rebel Alliance.

Rogue One’s primary failing is that it takes too little interest in its own characters. All of them suffer some degree of neglect. Cassian is the most developed of the lot, by virtue of having a cause and experiencing inner conflict, but he’s also a joyless character, consumed by a crusade against the Empire for reasons that are only hinted at. Why the ex-Imperial pilot defected from the Empire is a mystery, as is why he volunteered for the desperate last mission. Similarly, Chirrut and his friend, what’s-his-name – you know who I mean, the one with the fancy gun – intervene once and then just sort of tag along for the rest of the movie.

But no one is more neglected than Jyn, the main protoganist of the film. Rogue One can’t be bothered to invest in her the sort of quiet moments with which other Star Wars movies introduce their heroes – think of Luke playing with his toy ship or looking at the setting suns, or the brief shots of Rey’s handmade pilot doll and wall of marked-off days. It’s not even interested when Jyn makes decisions crucial to the plot. In the first half of the movie, Jyn disavows any interest in fighting the Empire, blames the Rebel cause for her suffering, and likens Cassian to a stormtrooper – indeed, this is the surest sign that she disapproves of the Empire: she compares Rebels to stormtroopers. And then suddenly she’s talking more Rebel than the Rebels and giving rallying speeches against the Empire.

Did she believe those speeches, despite blaming the Rebels for her father’s death so shortly before? Did she believe that the Imperial flag doesn’t bother you if you don’t look up, despite being orphaned by the Imperials? Who knows?

Rogue One is above all an action movie, and as it rushes from one action sequence to another, it seems hardly to care why its characters fight so long as they do. The characters are lost in the parade of explosions and firefights, and I think the meaning is, too.

And then, in the climax, it’s found. It’s ironic that the film waits until the penultimate action sequence to slow down and give the characters their moments, but every second is welcome. The end of Rogue One is fantastic, leading brilliantly into A New Hope and imbuing the fight and the sacrifice with meaning. Tarkin’s final use of the Death Star offends logic, but it also gives the villain’s end a kind of horrifying justice I’ve never seen any other story achieve.

No review of Rogue One would be complete without praising K-2SO and how masterfully he is used for humor, or without noting that every moment of Darth Vader’s presence is pure win. Rogue One’s frenetic pace crowds out too many quiet moments and too much thoughtfulness, and the absence of the Jedi and tarnishing of the Rebellion feel like losses. It doesn’t capture the Star Wars magic, but Rogue One is a skillful sci-fi action movie that possesses its own gleams of greatness.

Prism Tours: Dark Minds

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Welcome to the Release Celebration for

Dark Minds

By Michelle Diener

 

Dark Minds is book three in the Class 5 Series. Michelle is sharing about the Class 5 world today. If you missed Michelle’s release-day message, go read it HERE, if you missed about the rise of the genre, go check that out HERE, and don’t forget to check out the entire series and enter the giveaway below…

Dark Deeds
(Class 5 #3)
by Michelle Diener
Adult Sci-Fi
ebook, 331 Pages
July 22nd 2016

 

The mind is the most powerful weapon of all . . .

 

Imogen Peters knows she’s a pawn. She’s been abducted from Earth, held prisoner, and abducted again. So when she gets a chance at freedom, she takes it with both hands, not realizing that doing so will turn her from pawn to kingmaker.

 

Captain Camlar Kalor expected to meet an Earth woman on his current mission, he just thought he’d be meeting her on Larga Ways, under the protection of his Battle Center colleague. Instead, he and Imogen are thrown together as prisoners in the hold of a Class 5 battleship. When he works out she’s not the woman who sparked his mission, but another abductee, Cam realizes his investigation just got a lot more complicated, and the nations of the United Council just took a step closer to war.

 

Imogen’s out of her depth in this crazy mind game playing out all around her, and she begins to understand her actions will have a massive impact on all the players. But she’s good at mind games. She’s been playing them since she was abducted. Guess they should have left her minding her own business back on Earth…

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Creating the World of the Class 5 Series

 

A few days ago, DARK MINDS, the third and final book in my Class 5 series was released. I have had a lot of readers express disappointment that this is the final book. They love the world and they want to keep exploring it.

 

Nothing is sweeter to me than hearing that the world I’ve created in my head is a place people want to linger. I am working on a new series, though, and hope everyone loves the new one just as much.

 

When I started the Class 5 series, it wasn’t really with a series in mind. The main character in DARK HORSE, the first book in the series, Rose, came to me so strongly, with such a compelling story, I set aside the historical I was working on and jumped right in to write it. It was only near the end of DARK HORSE that I realized there was still a lot of the story left to tell, and the Class 5 series was born.

 

I know the fact that Rose and the world she found herself in was so clear in my head and so vivid in my imagination helped me create such a strong world for the series as a whole. I had invented way more in my head than ended up on the page in DARK HORSE, and that gave me scope to include the greater world of the Class 5 series or explore things I only touched on in DARK HORSE in the other two novels.

 

The part of the universe where my heroines Rose, Fiona and Imogen find themselves is run by a coalition of five races. I only go into detail about the culture of the Grih, the race my human heroines have the most affinity for, but I do lightly touch on aspects of the other four’s cultures. It was fun creating the worlds and customs, the look and feel of the places my heroines are forced to go, and I like to think that while they’re there unwillingly at first, I’ve made the places interesting enough, sometimes even magical, so that they can see good in their new part of the universe, as well as bad.

 

If you are already a fan of the world of the Class 5 series, I hope you love DARK MINDS, and if you haven’t tried the series yet, I hope you’ll consider giving it a go. If action, adventure, and romance appeal, you won’t be sorry you did.

 

— Michelle Diener

 

Other Books in the Series

Dark Deeds (Class 5, #2)Dark Deeds
(Class 5 #2)
by Michelle Diener
Adult Sci-Fi
ebook, 340 Pages
January 4th 2016

 

Far from home . . .

 

Fiona Russell has been snatched from Earth, imprisoned and used as slave labor, but nothing about her abduction makes sense. When she’s rescued by the Grih, she realizes there’s a much bigger game in play than she could ever have imagined, and she’s right in the middle of it.

 

Far from safe . . .

 

Battleship captain Hal Vakeri is chasing down pirates when he stumbles across a woman abducted from Earth. She’s the second one the Grih have found in two months, and her presence is potentially explosive in the Grih’s ongoing negotiations with their enemies, the Tecran. The Tecran and the Grih are on the cusp of war, and Fiona might just tip the balance.

 

Far from done . . .

 

Fiona has had to bide her time while she’s been a prisoner, pretending to be less than she is, but when the chance comes for her to forge her own destiny in this new world she grabs it with both hands. After all, actions speak louder than words.

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Dark HorseDark Horse
(Class 5 #1)
by Michelle Diener
Adult Sci-Fi
ebook, 381 Pages
June 15th 2015

 

Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she’s made a powerful ally–a fellow prisoner with whom she’s formed a strong bond. Sazo’s an artificial intelligence. He’s saved her from captivity and torture, but he’s also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn’t know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he’s not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5’s owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn’t the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he’s going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. Having worked in publishing and IT, she’s now very happy crafting new worlds and interesting characters and wondering which part of the world she can travel to next.

 

Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

When she’s not writing, or driving her kids from activity to activity, you can find her blogging at Magical Musings. or online at Twitter, at Google+ and Facebook.

Release Celebration Giveaway

$25 Amazon eGift Card
Four ebook sets of Dark Horse, Dark Deeds, and Dark Minds
Open internationally
Ends July 31st

If I Were a Starfleet Captain

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would employ a strict policy of avoiding all unusual and/or unexplained phenomena. Temporal rifts, subspace distortions, collapsing stars, expanding black holes, folds in space, a stitch in time – whenever one of these appears, I will order my crew to point the ship 180 degrees away from it and depart at a brisk speed of Warp 5. Due to forward-thinking actions such as this, I anticipate a longer, happier life for myself and all my crew.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would listen very carefully to any advice my first officer has to give. If I am ever wrong, he will be the one to tell me so.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would turn the lights in Ten Forward all the way up. I would also replace unnaturally-colored drinks that appear to be foreign substances with ice cream sundaes. This would help to lift the gloomy atmosphere that too often pervades Ten Forward.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would permanently shut down the holodeck. As I would explain to the crew, the holodeck encourages unhealthy inclinations, anti-social tendencies, denial, and extended unnecessary, pretentious scenes. Additionally, the holodeck will invariably go wrong, not to mention weird, and further encourage disconnection from reality. For the crew’s mental and physical well-being, the holodeck will be replaced by a gym, library, coffee shop, and chapel.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would disassemble the self-destruct mechanism. There is no point.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would not assure obviously hostile persons that I mean them no harm. For one thing, the fact that they are firing on my ship, menacing my officers with a weapon, or commandeering the ship’s computer indicates that they do not care. For another thing, if they do not very shortly cease to fire, menace, or commandeer, I will mean them harm.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would install seat belts at every station on the bridge. I would also install seats for those officers who, for reasons undisclosed, always have to stand up. Their jobs are perfectly sedentary in nature and will, from a sitting position, be performed with equal efficiency, greater happiness, and (due to the new seat belts) increased safety.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would launch an inquiry into what, exactly, replicator food is and where it comes from. Nothing just appears out of nowhere.

If I were a Starfleet captain, and my ship unexpectedly crossed paths with eccentric scientists, superficially harmless wanderers, or mysterious aliens traveling alone, I would immediately order them clapped into the brig and their crafts impounded. They get you every time.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would memorize the Prime Directive so that I can quote it just before disregarding it.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would memorize the following words and phrases: “Red alert;” “Divert power to the shields;” “Compensate;” “Evasive maneuvers pattern [random letter of the Greek alphabet];” “Damage report;” “Launch the torpedoes;” “Fire;” and “Retreat.” This would prepare me to meet any battle situation.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would ban the color red from all uniforms save those worn by the most senior officers. In a related initiative, I would make it a policy to send only prominent deck officers into dangerous or mysterious off-ship situations. They always come back.

If I were a Starfleet captain, and any member of my crew began to exhibit classic and incontrovertible signs of insanity, I would immediately consider that he is suffering some disease unknown to medical science, that he is being tampered with by an alien, that he is an alien, that he recently arrived from another time-space continuum. I will continue to consider all these things even in the face of a total lack of physical, statistical, and anecdotal evidence. Finally, I will even consider that he is actually insane, just in case they try to trick us.

If I were a Starfleet captain, I would lead the safest, happiest, most well-adjusted crew in Starfleet.

Movie Review: Treasure Planet

If there is one thing we can all dream about, it’s finding buried treasure. We could all use the money, of course, and this way it comes with mystery and romance and adventure. What more could we ask for?

Pirates. That would add danger, ratchet the adventure up to a new level, and give us desert islands and the high seas. It would also add a touch of nobility, exalt us beyond mere fortune-seekers to the brave fighters of vicious cutthroats. We are the heroes of our story.

This is the enduring charm of Treasure Island. We all want to have the treasure, and the adventure, and come triumphantly home at the end. Treasure Island has been remembered and retold, made and remade in film after film. When Disney set out to create an animated version of Treasure Island, some fifty years after its live-action version, it needed a twist. It settled on: outer space.

And so Disney gave the world Treasure Planet. The movie may be labeled science fiction, but it can even more accurately be labeled science fantasy. The creators merge Stevenson’s nineteenth-century milieu with sci-fi, and this is most clearly seen in the ship that carries our heroes to the treasure planet. Although it is, in a highly technical sense, a spaceship, it looks like a wooden sailing ship from the nineteenth-century. It even flies like the old ships sailed, to some degree: Its sails are not decorative but entirely functional.

A curiosity about this movie: In outer space, there is no gravity but there is, apparently, atmosphere. After watching the movie, I read a bit about it online, and evidently the characters’ ability to breathe in space is explained by “etherium.” I believe etherium was mentioned in the film, but I did not know what it meant. The sort of viewers who must have breathable outer space justified to them may find this film jarring or inconsistent in its science-fantasy elements. But if you’re game for the ride, it will go smoothly enough.

The makers don’t merely choose a sci-fi setting; they go for broke. Jim Hawkins and his parents are the only humans in the film. In this telling of Treasure Island, Long John Silver is a cyborg – a natural enough leap from the one-legged man. The aliens that fill the background, and sometimes stand prominently in the foreground, are inventive but, with scant exceptions, unattractive. Disney transposes its mandatory Animal Sidekick to sci-fi with tremendous success: Long John’s parrot is, in this version, Morph – a small, playful glob of a pet whose shapeshifting and good-hearted mischief make it second only to Tangled‘s Maximus in Disney’s pantheon of sidekicks. 

Treasure Planet tinkers with the original novel to produce a solid, workmanlike plot. The movie shines far more in characterization. Jim begins the movie as what they call a troubled (read: delinquent) youth. This is not, of course, original, but what matters is that it is convincingly played and gradually becomes important to the story and, finally, meaningful. For this is the heart of his relationship with Long John Silver. Jim began that relationship distrustful, and Silver began it, at best, utilitarian; how quietly it became real, and how much it came to affect them, is a lasting credit to the film. Despite all his original intentions, Long John Silver becomes the father-figure Jim needs, giving him both discipline and encouragement.

This is, of course, the most important relationship in the film. Jim’s other important relationships are with his mother and the doctor (here Dr. Doppler because, you know, sci-fi). All three are either parental or quasi-parental, and Jim doesn’t get a girl to so much as look at. To take a young protagonist and completely sideline romance in favor of such relationships is quietly subversive in a Disney film, and possibly in all films.

Treasure Planet doesn’t quite ignite the magic of Disney’s best; possibly, with its visions of robots and outer space and bizarre aliens, it never really tried. Disney is the undisputed king of pop fairy tales and this film is an outlier. It never broke through to audiences in a way that could inspire successors of any kind. Still, the care and skill of the creators can’t be doubted. Treasure Planet is a creative sci-fi romp, with heart and with humor, and some lovely animation. Recommended.

Review: Dawn of Destiny

Scott Remington is sure that he was meant to fight in the Alien War, to stand in the front lines against the mysterious invaders whose sudden strikes plague the cities of Earth. And fight he will, at the forefront of the war, but it will take him places he never imagined, to a destiny he has not yet perceived.

Dawn of Destiny is the first book of Epic, a series written by Lee Stephen. The novel is strongly sci-fi, taking place on a future Earth. Peace on Earth was finally achieved, only to be followed by war from space, brought by three alien species. Stephen gave these aliens a sense of foreignness, and he made their pets, the necrilids, effectively ghastly. Even better, he made them intriguing, and the mystery surrounding the aliens was one of my favorite elements in the book.

As much as Dawn of Destiny is sci-fi, it struck me as even more a military thriller. All of the characters but one are in the military, and the book is very much centered in that world: the commanding officers, the bunk rooms, the enforced companionship, the battles. There is a fair amount of cursing, though relatively mild (no four-letter words), a few graphic moments.

The style is sparse, fitting the novel’s military-thriller feel. That being given, it still seemed rough at times – perhaps first-book rockiness. (No author avoids it entirely.)

This novel is filled with hints of untold stories – not only the aliens, but also the Nightmen and high political intrigues and a score of secondary characters who definitely have complex pasts, although we never really hear them. The star of the prologue was prominent for a few chapters and then completely dropped. I wished the author had selected a few of these stories and developed them more fully, though I don’t doubt that some will be more deeply explored later in the series.

Dawn of Destiny has a definite religious element, including one vivid moment when new-minted soldiers struggle with the reality of death, but in general it is not as strong as what is labeled Christian fiction. Dawn of Destiny is, above all, a sci-fi military thriller, appealing to devotees of action-adventure and all serious sci-fi fans.


I received a review copy from the author.


The Dawn of Destiny audiobook project is a full adaptation of the first book in the Epic series. It’s not your typical “audiobook,” even though technically that’s what it is. When people hear “audiobook,” there’s a certain type of thing that usually comes to mind. Most likely it’s the thought of someone reading a book to them, occasionally with music playing in the background. This isn’t that.

What you’re going to hear in this project, is more of an audio “experience,” the audio equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. Over thirty voice actors played a role in this. This is ear-splitting sound effects, bombastic music, and characters shouting back and forth in the middle of a war zone. This is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.


Born and raised in Cajun country, Lee Stephen spent his childhood paddling pirogues through the marshes of South Louisiana. When he wasn’t catching bullfrogs or playing with alligators in the bathtub (both true), he was escaping to the world of the imagination, creating worlds in his mind filled with strange creatures and epic journeys. This hasn’t stopped.

Now a resident of Luling, Louisiana, Lee spends time every day delving into the world of Epic, the science-fiction series that has come to define him as a writer and producer. Alongside his wife, Lindsey, their son, Levi, and their dog, Jake, Lee has made it a mission to create a series that is unique in its genre—one unafraid to address the human condition while staying grounded in elements of faith.

In addition to writing, Lee works full-time for the Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness. He has also spent time as a church deacon, guitar hobbyist, and New Orleans Saints season ticket holder. He is a graduate of Louisiana College in Pineville.

Connect with Lee: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Where to buy the book:

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles


Tour Schedule for Dawn of Destiny


Epic Giveaway

Release Announcement: Cards

Cards

An Eternities Novella

Released February 13, 2015

A boy with strange luck, a man with rare knowledge …

The card-dens of the Redzone are desperate places. Men with no money to spare gamble their money in endless games, in squalid rooms thick with smoke and alcohol and lawless recklessness. Cards tempt and betray their players, leaving them with nothing.

Except for Tav. Only Tav never loses, because the cards obey him. But the secret of his strange luck cannot be hidden forever. He plays for diamonds. What will he draw when the truth is revealed?



An Excerpt of
Cards

From the moment Tav walked in, the cards were his. They answered to him, answered the reach of his mind. He sat at the battered little table, not looking at the men hunched over their cards and winnings around him, and he stretched his thoughts toward the deck and willed.

And they came to him. The dealer scattered the cards with precise rapidity, and when he picked his own up from the table, they presented themselves to him: a flush, a straight, four of a kind, king’s draw, pirate’s hand …

Some he threw back, some he folded at first bet, the rest he played to win. And surely, but by no means abruptly, he tripled the money in front of him.

The smoke grew thick in the air, the table splotched and sticky with spilled alcohol, the other players restless—only he ever had a good game, with all the cards struggling toward him. The man to his right shifted most, and began to mutter. When Tav took the pot with a straight flush, the man slapped his cards down so violently the table quivered.

Tav took warning. He always took warning from the bad temper of his fellow players, ever since he’d had to crawl away from a brawl that erupted from too much alcohol and too many losing hands. As the dealer shuffled the deck, Tav aimed a look at the dinged metal door. It invited him, but he would lose this last hand before he left. Losers were rarely followed out into the street.

The dealer flicked the cards to each player. Tav waited until all were dealt, and then scooped up his cards. Two aces and three tens marshaled themselves in his hand, neatly divided into their own kinds.

With a sweep of mutters, the first round of betting emptily passed. Tav, in his turn, flashed the dealer one of his aces, and tossed down the other four cards. The dealer tucked the rejects under the deck, slid four new cards off its top, and moved on.

Tav drew the cards up: an eight, the deck’s last two aces, and a wild jack, joining his held-over ace to create a beautiful four of a kind.

He blinked. The cards often tried to repair the hands he deliberately ruined—somehow he could not withdraw the command as easily as he gave it—but this time they had outdone themselves.

“Five hundred.”

Tav looked up, almost startled, at the slump-shouldered man opposite him. All game he had played with the nervous caginess of a beginner, and this strong bet was unlike him. But for Tav, at least, it worked. Under cover of that bet, he folded.

The man on his left did the same, and the man two down on the right matched the bet. The last player, the man whose darkening mood had inspired Tav’s decision to depart, stared at his cards, rubbing at them with his thumb and forefinger. Then he threw in his creds, and they clattered on the table with a warning ring.

The slump-shouldered man laid down his hand, three kings. The player down the table cursed, but he was dwarfed into tameness when the man right by Tav hurled his cards across the table and surged to his feet. “Skifters!”

The dealer—his eyes, as always, expressionless to the point of bleakness—began to pick up the strewn cards without looking at the angry man looming over him. “I run a fair game, Fallon,” he said.

Fallon narrowed his eyes. “I never lose like this.”

That Tav believed to be true. He slid his chair back a foot or two, and it scraped the scarred floor loudly. But no one looked at him, because the others were also preparing to spring up from the table. The cagey beginner hastily shoveled up his winnings, as if afraid someone was going to take them away.

The dealer glanced at them, and then up at Fallon. “Every player has his unlucky nights. This is one of yours. So go home.”

As if the directive had been aimed at him, Tav began to quietly stuff his money into his pockets.

A hand closed over his wrist like a pincer, and then he was being dragged up from his chair.

To finish this story, buy Cards on Amazon – 99 cents through Valentine’s Day.

To shelve Cards on Goodreads, visit its page.

To request a review copy, e-mail me at info[at]shannonmcdermott.com.

Review: Merlin’s Mirror

The old legends of Europe hold that Arthur, greatest of Britain’s kings, was conceived by the trickery of the wizard Merlin. Merlin himself, the tales go, was demon-born, the son of no man.

But what if both were the sons of no man – the sons, rather, of the Sky Lords, aliens seeking to return to Earth? This is the essential idea of Merlin’s Mirror, a science fantasy novel by Andre Norton. The book takes classic tenets of fantasy and works them into a sci-fi universe, and thus the legend of Arthur is reborn into science fiction. There is no “magic”, properly speaking, in Merlin’s Mirror, just misunderstood technology.

Published forty years ago, Merlin’s Mirror is old school: an omniscient viewpoint combined with a now-extinct brevity. This slim volume covers in 205 pages what modern novelists would need a trilogy to tell, and possibly a longer series. Certainly there would be a sequel book (or series!) in the works – at least if the first sold respectably.

It was oddly refreshing to read the story of Merlin’s entire life in one book – just to see it told in its essentials, without chasing the enticing side trails all modern novels have to run down. But I could also see downside of this style of novel-writing. The novel took Merlin’s ruling motivation (to carry out the mission given him by the Sky Lords) too much for granted; it puzzled me initially.

The brevity hurt Merlin’s characterization in other ways. As a character, he is stained by his manipulative role in Arthur’s conception, showing no reluctance beforehand and little reflection afterwards; the story sweeps on, and Merlin is worse for it. Nor does the novel make it clear, until the very end, that Merlin really cares about anything besides his mission. So although he is in some ways an admirable character, and in other ways pitiable, he is not really likable.

Norton retains much – not all – of the original unpleasantness of Arthur’s conception and of Mordred’s. This, together was Nimue’s (failed) temptation of Merlin, adds a few raw moments to the book. I did not enjoy it, though I realize that as modern standards go – in some respects, even as the original legends go – the book is mild.

Merlin’s Mirror presents the clearest religious view of any novel I have read by Andre Norton. Yet it is still murky. Aside from presenting a more elegant version of the Christ-as-moral-teacher viewpoint – making Him great, yet only one of many who had seen “the Great Light” – the narrative makes little clear. “The Power” – a phrase of which Merlin proved fond – sometimes refers to knowledge or alien technology, and sometimes seems to be religious, and so confuses the story.

The ending was clever in its own way, and almost hopeful; it had a sense of anticipation, at least. But more than anything else, it was sad. The last pages of the book cast doubt on Merlin’s mission, a doubt compounded by the ambiguity of “the Power” and the immoral means once used by Merlin. This is the worst thing: That Merlin, for all his power and dedication, may have been only a tool or victim. He also may not have been, but a confusion sets in near the end of the book, and it’s hard to tell precisely how the author meant certain things to be understood.

With an innovative premise, and even some emotional power (“lonely Merlin” – sniff!), Merlin’s Mirror intrigues but it does not satisfy.

Review: Jupiter Winds

Grey Alexander has precisely two worries: providing for herself and her sister, and not getting caught. They live in lawless independence in the North American Wildlife Preserve, and there’s no telling where or when Mazdaar may catch up with them.

Jupiter Winds is written by C.J. Darlington and published by Mountainview Books. The novel is sci-fi, with a dystopian tinge, taking place in a future of amazing technology and totalitarian government. As is made plain by the title, the story goes beyond Earth to include Jupiter.

The novel’s descriptions of Jupiter have a suitably foreign feel, and the author is effective in creating impressions of places and people. The prose is quick and focused, moving the story along at a good pace.

There are a lot of ideas here, all weaving together: space travel, different planets, human manipulation of various environments, androids, Big Brother. Androids – here called drones – are effectively creepy, and become more so as the book goes on and new revelations are made.

Interestingly, there is no democratic force opposing the totalitarian Mazdaar. Heroes there are, and even some organized opposition, but no one shows any notions of democracy. The only power that counters Mazdaar is an Asian empire called by the name of its rulers, the Yien Dynasty. It is to the author’s credit that she gives a noble cast to the Yien Dynasty, acknowledging the good possible even in such governments.

There was some inconsistency in this book. One character kept oscillating; she took radically different actions at different points in the book, and I didn’t really understand why. As a character, she was hard to get a grip on.

Jupiter Winds is a fast-paced sci-fi adventure, a quick but broad-ranging read. Recommended for those who like adventure and sci-fi.


I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

CSFF Blog Tour: Weird R Us

“I’ve been coming to Montserrat for a few years now. On one early visit I actually arrived and realized I had returned before the last time I was here! From Brother Lazarus’ point of view, we had not yet had the previous visit.” She gave a little laugh. “That was a real mind bender. In the end, I had to go away again because it was all just too weird.” – The Spirit Well, pg. 322

Last week I posted that I was thinking about why Christian speculative fiction is called weird. I also wrote that the question could be somewhat answered by The Spirit Well, and then I said I would hold that thought for the blog tour.

So here goes.

The “weird” label is not wholly imposed on Christian speculative fiction. Some in our crowd would dispute it, but some embrace it. If they embrace it as the American colonists embraced the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, that’s more than I can say.

If you were to browse through a Christian fiction section, the scattered sci-fi / fantasy novels might seem strange amidst all the historical fiction, prairie romance, and mystery novels. If you were a Christian SF fan, you might feel a little strange.

But I think there are reasons that go beyond the Christian market and Christian fiction. The “weird” label is broadly given to speculative fiction; the secular version receives it, too. I grant you, popular acclaim was awarded to fantasy such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and to sci-fi such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Yet …

How often, in popular culture, does the loner or the weirdo have an interest in speculative works? It’s standard for the geek to be a sci-fi fan – even of a mainstream success like Star Wars. If someone says that you’re at the Star Trek convention of life, it’s no compliment.

To give a full explanation of this is beyond my intent. The endless conspiracy theories surrounding Roswell, Area 51, and the Bermuda Triangle probably have something to do with it.

And that leads us to another reason. These strange ideas are the sort of thing you would find in speculative fiction. They’re the sort of thing you do find in speculative fiction. To this day sci-fi writers enthusiastically take up all of those conspiracy theories. When the beliefs of the tinfoil-hat crowd are fodder for your genre, maybe it is a little weird.

The Twilight Zone was weird. The premise of Metamorphosis – a guy gets transmuted into a giant cockroach – is definitely weird. Selling away your shadow or tears or laugh or voice is also on the odd side of things.

Even The Spirit Well – which isn’t weird as the genre goes – is chock-full of experiences any human would consider bizarre. If you or I ever clomped through the Stone Ages, or walked into a canyon in Arizona and found ourselves in Damascus seventy years ago, we would write home about it – unless we were worried about being brought in for examination.

What I’m getting at is this: One of the reasons speculative fiction – Christian and otherwise – is called weird is that it is weird. Not in a pejorative sense, but simply in the sense of being out of the ordinary. Whether we dream of enchanted woods or strange planets, whether it’s Elves or time-travelers or talking animals that we meet in our stories – it’s all different, all outside the bounds of the world we know. And that’s the point, isn’t it?