Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Calvin Wolf

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Science Fiction, Political Thriller
Publisher: Ravenswood Publishing
Publication Date: November 25, 2016
Pages: 326
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About the Book

Months after a devastating terrorist attack on the Human Capital Market servers on the University of Wyoming campus, a corrupt administration in Washington is looking to maintain its grip on the future by any means necessary. After a grieving father unleashes powerful forces the president would rather keep hidden, two falsely accused men struggle to find their families and clear their names while being hunted by the full force of the United States government…and two vicious ne’er-do-wells whose grudges run deep. As a desperate White House tries to track down its prized fugitives and keep a discontent public under control, new technology offers wonder and horror in droves. From omnipresent surveillance to secret prisons to trading equity in citizens’ wages on the new stock market, The Singularity is a fast-paced ride into a near future where anything is possible.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a high school social studies teacher and department chair, and I currently teach AP Economics and AP Government to high school seniors.  As a result, I have developed more of an appreciation of economics and politics…and it has definitely affected my writing!  My writing could best be described as political thrillers, though my recent novels have added more sci-fi elements to the mix.  There is always an undercurrent of class struggle and economic policy.  I have been a teacher for six years, and I received a post-baccalaureate teacher certification from Texas Tech after earning bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Political Science, and then an MPA degree, from the University of Wyoming.

I tend to be geographically specific, based on where I have lived and visited.  I grew up in the interesting city of Midland, Texas, which is known for being an oil mecca, a football haven, and the hometown of George W. Bush.  Later, I attended the University of Wyoming and Texas Tech University, and tend to feature those institutions prominently in my writing.  During the summers while I was in college, I worked in New Mexico and regularly include Colfax County, New Mexico in my novels.  I was born in Colorado and spent a lot of time there during college, so that state is also a prime location in my writing.  My family originally hails from Virginia and Pennsylvania, so those states typically receive geographic cameos as well!

I used to be a backpacking guide, so my writing tends to focus on mountains rather than beaches.  I once stood between a mama bear and her cub and lived to tell the tale!

What inspired you to write?

I’ve always been a storyteller.  From an early age, I heard stories and wanted to create my own.  I would think “that could be more realistic,” “that could be more exciting,” or “that could be more…”  I viewed stories as a challenge, and sought to meet those challenges!

What inspired your novel?

I am interested in the potential of nanotechnology, and so The Singularity explores its potential to transform mankind…or destroy it.  What would you do if you were suddenly gifted with amazing speed, strength, memory recall, and inability to be affected by pain?

What is the genre?

The Singularity is a sci-fi political thriller, blending the two genres.  A corrupt government is trying to recollect and control the nanotechnology, which it has dubbed MIST (Microtronic Infrastructural Symbiosis Technology)

What draws you to this genre?

I like politics and imagining how presidents and their cabinets would respond to scary, unexpected threats.  We would like to assume that they have a plan…but what if they don’t?

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I imagine what the next step would be, and go from there.  I write by the seat of my pants, for better or worse.  There is usually a “movie in my mind” of my novel, and I play various scenarios to see what fits most seamlessly.

What inspired your protagonist?

My main protagonist, Hank Hummel, is based pretty closely on myself.  I imagine how I would react to various scenarios, and then embellish a bit!  I like to think of Hank Hummel as an everyman who finds himself forced into harrowing situations.  He wants to do the right thing, but he has his own limitations.

What inspired your antagonist?

I have a due of antagonists.  Adam Pastorius is scary because he is unpredictable, and little about him is known.  He is a former Syrian spy and is primarily motivated by revenge.  He holds grudges against many foes, and is highly able of lethal retaliation.  This character is inspired by America’s general fear of terrorism:  The scariest thing can be never knowing when, where, or why your enemy will strike. 

The second antagonist, Ben, is a former Russian spy who has become thoroughly Americanized.  He is motivated entirely by profit and is loyal to nobody and nothing.  This character is inspired by the cold, impersonal gears of cutthroat capitalism.  He values efficiency over all else and does not care who he must eliminate to meet his goals.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

It’s always hardest for me to write the middle.  I know what the climax should look like, but how do I get there?  I try to make it suspenseful, believable, and intriguing.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I like writing the climax because there’s good dialogue in the final confrontations between protagonist and antagonist.  I prefer to mix serious “tough talk” with a bit of humor.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I’m a part-time writer.  I write novels, and also political editorials for different websites.  When I’m not writing, I’m either teaching at a 6A public high school or helping my wife with her home décor business.  I’m currently trying to learn how to stain various pieces of wood to perfection.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a biography of president Lyndon B. Johnson.  I like to read facts that are stranger than fiction, and then include them in my fiction.  I’ve read the biographies of many American presidents and all the major national leaders during World War II:  FDR, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, and Benito Mussolini.  Talk about interesting characters!

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

My favorite is Stephen King, followed by John Grisham.  Each writer is great at what he does:  King is a master of character development, while Grisham writes tightly-crafted legal thrillers.  I also loved Michael Crichton’s techno-thrillers, as well as Tom Clancy’s blend of military/tech/political thrillers.  Dean Koontz is sometimes hit-or-miss, but he can knock it out of the park like nobody else.  The Singularity was inspired by Koontz’ Midnight, and his novel The City (same title as mine, entirely by coincidence) was perfect until the climax.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

1.)  I Was An NKVD Agent – amazing true-life story that I randomly discovered on a bookshelf at the University of Wyoming library while doing a paper for a Russian history class.

2.)  Midnight – a late-1980s precursor to nanotechnology, written by Dean Koontz.

3.)  Roadwork – how has this amazing Stephen King novel not been made into an Oscar-winner?

4.)  The Running Man – this book was much better than the 1987 movie.  One of the best predictors of the future ever!

5.)  The Catcher in the Rye – a classic, bar none!

What are your future projects, if any?

A standalone psychological thriller set in an American high school during a hostage situation.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

My books are on Smashwords, and I love getting emails from readers at authorcalvinwolf@gmail.com 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

To quote Winston Churchill:  “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”

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Slipspace: Harbinger Book Tour

 
Genre: 
Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publisher: Off The Deep End Multimedia, LLC
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
Pages: 397
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About the Book

A fringe colony world has gone dark, and Captain Cody Amado and the crew of the ISPA’s newest battle cruiser, Mjöllnir, must respond and investigate. No one is prepared for the destruction that awaits them.

Agendas collide as the bonds of duty, loyalty, and family are tested, and the major governments position themselves to prepare for what is to come next. With interstellar tensions rising, the crew of the Mjöllnir race to discover the connection between the colony’s destruction, an alien society so reclusive it has only been rumored about, and an enemy that disappeared a decade prior.

Is this merely an isolated incident, or is this a harbinger of much darker things still to come?

Excerpt

October 13, 2832

06:30

Mjöllnir – Captains Quarters

 

Morning came too soon for the Amados, much to Nira’s chagrin. Together, she and Cody made their way through the endless corridors. With the Mjöllnir just a few minutes out from Artez, the decks were buzzing with activity as the crew prepared for as many contingencies as could be planned.

They exchanged a brief kiss before going their separate ways- Nira towards the Med-deck and Cody to OpCom as Cassie’s voice echoed through the ship’s public address system announcing their pending arrival and setting the ship at condition two. He stepped through the hatch and found the ship’s command center no exception to the activity about the rest of the ship. The traffic on deck paused to give the Captain room to move to his station and log in.

“Give me a sit-rep,” The Captain ordered.

Cassie stepped to the opposite side of the central station. She betrayed no anger or frustration. Any animosity she had towards him lay buried behind as much professionalism she could muster.

“We can’t find an exit aperture. According to navigational charts, we’re well within range of the outer guide-buoys, but there’s no sign of them. We’ve also tried to raise the gate on comms, but no luck.”

“Deploy a replacement buoy,” he spoke to Cassie. “We’ll have to make a blind exit. Hopefully it won’t be in the middle of an engagement.”

He paused and reviewed the data. “Still, best be prepared.”

He stepped away from the console and turned to the deck. “Sound General Quarters! Set condition one throughout the ship!”

The order relayed through the chain of command. The Mjöllnir’s klaxon rang out only seconds later and the already busy decks burst into further action. Two minutes later, Cassie turned from her console.

“All rail positions are manned and armed. Main cannons are charging. ECM is charging and calibrated full negative; frequency coverage at ninety seven percent. Replacement nav-com buoy has been deployed. ETA to Artez…,” she paused to check her watch. “Three minutes.”

“Good work.”

“Captain, we’re close enough to pick up preliminary data,” the navigator reported. “Without the buoy, we’re without detail, but I’m detecting over one hundred separate energy signatures. The data is too obscure to plot an exit trajectory.”

The display in front of Cody updated, a wave of distortion sweeping out from center, erasing old information and leaving new data in its wake.

“There go my hopes of not walking into a fight,” Cody muttered. “Pilot, overshoot the combat area! Tear us an exit to normal space and double back!”

“Aye, Skipper!”

The deck rumbled as the ship tore itself into normal space. Without the aid of a functioning gate, the transition came with far more violence. The ship shuddered and bucked, throwing both Amados off balance, and a few crewmen to the deck. Cody and Melor exchanged looks of tepid relief. He noted that even as an emergency maneuver, one within the ship’s tolerances, the blind exit always carried dangerous risk.

Power transitioned to the Mjöllnir’s sub light engines as the pilots brought her about and proceeded on course at flank speed.

As they approached the edge of the zone, the first signs of debris floated past the ship. The pilot and navigator avoided it with ease but soon found the ship surrounded by hull fragments from broken fighters. This was no surprise as fighter wings always took high casualties.

“ECM to full, activate all fixed weapon positions and roll the Gryphons onto the tarmac,” Cassie ordered.

Cody continued to study the out-of-focus holograms on the central display. The objects still showed as general spheres, indicating the sensor’s inability to obtain a full resolution scan.

“Can we clear up this interference any time soon?” Cassie asked.

In response, Melor turned to a secondary console. “I’m trying, Commander. There are a lot of cross signals out there preventing us from getting a full resolution scan on the area.” She transferred a data module from one console to another. The device whirred to life as she accessed its programming. “However,” she muttered as she worked, “I have a couple of algorithms up my sleeve. I’m bringing them online right…”

At the same time, all screens and displays showing the battle zone refreshed to show its data at full resolution. Melor, Aler, and both Amados looked to the center and watched.

“My God,” Cassie muttered.

No one responded. Everyone’s eyes locked on the displays and the sensor returns. Op-Com fell silent save for the humming of the ship’s engines and the beeping of the computers. No one moved, as they stood locked in a trance of awe and horror. The Mjöllnir’s engines powered down as they arrived at the coordinates. What should have been a fully functional slipgate was little more than a field of burning hulk and slag.

“The station…it’s just gone,” Cassie said, to no one in particular.

After what seemed like an eternity, Melor turned back to her console. “Sensors are detecting no weapon signatures, no power signatures…”

“This isn’t a battle zone,” Cody stated. “It’s a graveyard.”

Where to Buy

Amazon

About the Author

 A fan of Science Fiction from an early age P.C. Haring has always been one of those who looked up at the night sky and wondered “what if…”

P.C. Haring made his debut as a writer and podcast novelist on 01/01/10 with Cybrosis. This production met with a strongly favorable response that propelled it to number four on the Podiobooks.com Top Ten list when it was re-launched there that October. His audio fiction can also be heard in Scott Sigler’s The Crypt: Book 1 — The Crew and in Philippa Ballantine’s Chronicles of the Order anthology. His contribution for Tales from the Archives, co-produced by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris, won him the 2012 Parsec Award for Best Short Story. This momentum propelled P.C. Haring into publishing Cybrosis as well as his latest project, Slipspace: Harbinger independently.

When he isn’t developing new projects for podcast and publication, P.C. Haring works as a corporate accountant in the Chicagoland area and as a husband to his beautiful wife.

Connect with P.C.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Good Reads

 

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Pneuma Series Book Tour & Giveaway


Genre: Science Fiction, Supernatural Romance
Publication Date: November 13, 2015
Pages: 423
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Estelle Caldwell caused a war with her birth.
She didn’t find out until her eighteenth birthday. She was normal, or so she thought. She had regular, divorced parents that she still kept in touch, and a trio of best friends that had a bond so strong, they gave her a meaning to existence.

When her life started to unravel the truth, it started with her grandfather, Larry, giving her a special necklace the night before her birthday. Not only did it start changing her, but it showed her the truth of her past in her dreams that she couldn’t quite grasp, or accept.

pneu·ma
ˈn(y)o͞omə/
noun
the vital spirit, soul, or creative force of a person.
 

Do you know what it feels like to hold fate in your hand?
Was it fate that my whole life got turned upside down?
He was the reason I had to leave.
Making the sacrifice caused my heart to rip in two.
I wanted normalcy. I wanted my life to be my own.
But it’s nothing without the people I love, and it’s for
the people I love that I have to leave.
Fate. Please be kind.
Will he still remember me?
Will our first and last kiss be one and the same?
Please remember.
Please be with me. 

Family is tested.
Memories are everywhere.
Love is one of the biggest reliefs and hurts you can have at the same time.

Where to Buy

Free on Amazon!

“Get her out of here! Now!” Gramps commanded. They didn’t hesitate and pulled my arms the opposite direction and my feet followed as I ran with them. I looked back just as we were about to turn the corner and saw Borin stand tall and push Larry back with his heavy arms. Gramps fell to the ground.
A wave flooded through me. A wave of intense violence.
“NO!” I screamed and quickly turned back, seizing my arms away from their grasps, heading back to help Gramps. I could hear Reed and Kent’s footsteps run back after me. But I didn’t care. I was not about to leave him. He was rubbing his head as Borin stood over him, about to place a hand on him.
“Don’t you touch him!” The voice that came out of my mouth was unrecognizable. I ran to him, holding out my arms to shove him away.
My body felt unfamiliar. My feet lightweight. My arms tingled as I felt a sensation rise to my shoulders, down my forearms, and out my fingertips.
Before I could even touch Borin, he flew away from Gramps’ side and slammed into a garbage receptacle a few feet away, causing a dent with his body.

 
Genre: 
Science Fiction, Supernatural Romance
Publication Date: April 22, 2015
Pages: 392
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Follow Estelle and Reed’s journey in Book Two- Surge.

surge 
/surj/ 
noun 
1. a strong, wavelike, forward movement, rush, or sweep. 
2. a strong, swelling, wavelike volume or body of something.

Confusion.
Jealousy.
Possession.

When I find out our link isn’t complete, we have a whole other journey to discover.
Through pain, sweat, and a full out war between the planets, it is laid, not only on my shoulders, but Reeds as well.
And when I find out who Vega has captured and what he has in store for us, I am going to need everyone’s help in the process.
Can I do what I am fated to do?
Will our love survive?
Or will it be a tornado destroying everything in it’s path?

Where to Buy

Amazon

 
Genre: 
Science Fiction, Supernatural Romance
Publication Date: September 10, 2015
Pages: 355
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camatic
/ka-ma-tik/
noun
A pair of beings who have formed an unbreakable, metaphysical link. They often experience heightened levels of ESP, including telepathy, telekinesis, and remote viewing.


EARTH
 

The first place I called home .
The place I lived .
The place I fell in love . The place my family raised me. The place I formed everlasting bonds.
Can I ignore the ache in my chest when all I see through their eyes is hate and built up hostility ?
When I think I am done with one war, I have another to deal with.
Can I do this?
Will I be brave enough?
Reed gives me strength .
Earth is my home .
I will save it.

Where to Buy

Amazon


I am a Leo. Born August 10, living on the east coast. I self-published my first novel, PNEUMA, November 2014, and it’s hasn’t stopped since.
One of my biggest problems was having too much to read. Now my newfound problem; having too much to write and not enough hands to type it out. Not enough brains to put the stories together fast enough. Not enough tea or coffee to keep me awake 24/7.

So, like every normal person, I have to take it one day at a time.

My cravings for sweets keep me going, any sort of cakes (especially red velvet), pies, cookies, and ice cream.
I have a cat named Bongo-Bongo, who loves to get in my way when I’m trying to work, but is too cute for me to fight him off.
And then I have my family, specifically my husband, who puts up with my endless nights, my tapping of the keyboard, my ridiculous imagination, and yet, he always encourages me to believe in myself and follow my dreams.

Connect with Serena

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Book Tour · Book Tour Wednesday · Contests · Excerpts · Giveaway

Solitude Audiobook Blog Tour

 
Genre: 
Science Fiction
Length: 8 hours, 50 minutes
Narrator: R.C. Bray, Julia Whelan
Publisher: CANDTOR Press
Publication Date: April 3, 2017
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About the Book

Earth’s last man discovers that the last woman is stranded alone aboard the International Space Station. If you like action-packed novels, you’ll love the electrifying action in this apocalyptic thriller.
Can humanity’s last two unite?
Separated by the gulf of space, the last man and woman of the human race struggle against astronomical odds to survive and unite.
Army Aviator Vaughn Singleton is a highly intelligent, lazy man. After a last-ditch effort to reignite his failing military career ends horribly, Vaughn becomes the only human left on Earth.
Stranded alone on the International Space Station, Commander Angela Brown watches an odd wave of light sweep across the planet. Over the next weeks and then months, Angela struggles to contact someone on the surface, but as she fights to survive aboard a deteriorating space station, the commander glimpses the dark underpinnings of humanity’s demise.
After months alone, Vaughn discovers there is another. Racing against time, he must cross a land ravaged by the consequences of humankind’s sudden departure.
Can Vaughn find a path to space and back? Can Angela – the only person with clues to the mystery behind humanity’s disappearance – survive until he does?

Where to Buy

Audible | Amazon

Audio Excerpt
About the Author


Author, world traveler, and combat pilot turned commercial helicopter pilot Dean M. Cole writes from locales as remote as Equatorial Guinea and as romantic as Paris’s Champs-Elysées with his trusty sidekick and beautiful wife, Donna. A combat veteran, he flew Apache Attack Helicopters in the US Army’s First Cavalry Division.

License to kill revoked by the government, he traded in his attack helicopter for one of the transport ilk. When not weaving tales of alien apocalypse and redemption, he spends his days flying terrestrial aliens in IFOs (Identified Flying Objects) known as helicopters. No longer authorized to dispatch aliens he settles for dropping them off at oil rigs around the globe.

On the six months of time off his paying job affords, author, biker, and fellow Sci-Fi geek Dean M. Cole travels with his wife, builds airplanes and custom choppers, and writes his next tale of the apocalypse.

Connect with Dean

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About the Narrator

 From an early age Audie, Earphones, and SOVAS Voice Arts Award-winning audiobook narrator R.C. Bray despised reading. Truly hated it with a passion.

And audiobooks? Even worse. Those were for people too lazy to read (not to be confused with those like himself who didn’t want to read to begin with).

R.C. eventually got older and wiser (he was always good-looking) and eschewing his capricious convictions fell head-over-heels with reading. Not just to learn words like “eschew” and “capricious” so he could use them in a bio line, but because someone was actually going to give him money to do it.

Note: R.C.’s gorgeous wife and three beautiful children begged him not to make this his official bio. Clearly he misunderstood

Connect with R.C.

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About the Narrator

Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and audiobook narrator. She is perhaps most well known for her acting work on ABC’s Once and Again and her award-winning narration of over 200 audiobooks (including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl). Her debut novel is forthcoming.

After a healthy career as a child actor, Whelan attended Middlebury College and Oxford University, graduating with a degree in English and Creative Writing.

Connect with Julia

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Giveaway

$20 Amazon Gift Card 2 Winners
Runs June 14th-July 5th
Open internationally

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Blue’s Prophecy Book Tour & Giveaway


Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: TitleTown Publishing LLC
Publication Date: 
May 15, 2017
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About the Book

Two genetically altered dogs, two different fates. One is Robo, a beloved Great Dane, who is tricked out of the embrace of his human family and then is horribly altered by an evil scientist who rebuilds him with robotic parts, weaponizing the dog for money from the military. But that s not all the scientist does the experiments he conducts leave Robo a genius, almost immortal and with powers beyond explanation. But the horror Robo experiences at the scientist’s hands changes him driving him insane with the sole mission to destroy all humans, especially those who have tortured and hurt dogs.

Meanwhile, a scrappy alley husky sits in a shelter, when she with her blue eyes and tough wolf-like features captures the attention of another group of scientists desperate to stop Robo from his path of destruction. This dog, called Blue, could be the chosen one to fight and defeat Robo. She is also genetically enhanced and left with glowing turquoise eyes before being released to face Robo s vicious dog army. Her mission: save human civilization and the packs of dogs she’s grown to love.

Book Trailer:

Where to Buy:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Unboxes Blue’s Prophecy books:

About the Author:


Emily Ross, 13, is a fifth generation writer and an owner of three dogs, Balta, Buddy and Zoey. Her prose exceeds her years, with Emily starting work on Blue’s Prophecy, a science fiction/fantasy book for pre-teens and teens, when she was 10. Living in Atlanta, Emily is also an animator and a skilled archer, and relaxes by playing the double bass in her middle school orchestra.

Connect with Emily

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Article about the Author on Vox Communications:
http://voxatl.com/teen-novelist-emily-ross-writing-tips/

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50 Books 2017 · 50 Books in a Year · Book Reviews · Free book · Saturday Reviews

The Private Sector by Leigh M. Lane

Saturday Review


Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Publisher: Cerebral Books
Publication Date: April 8, 2016
Format: ePub
Pages: 296 pages
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1

4.75 Stars

4 half stars

2

The world of corporate greed runs rampant after the government’s dissolution has left police, fire, and all other services once handled by the public sector in the hands of privatized businesses and wealthy investors.

With the class divide ever widening, debtor prisons for the lower and middle classes overflowing, disease ravaging the country, and resources running dry, the streets have become a battleground for those who would fight against the elite’s corrupt system, against a world spiraling into ruin, against the devastating impact of a society ruled by The Private Sector.

my-review

I received this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Wow, this was such a terrifying read. Not in the sense that it had jump scares or the like, but in the impact that this society could easily become our future.

Just take a moment and imagine a society where greed and corruption run rampant. Where medical costs and illness will cost you everything you hold dear. Where public services like the police or fire department have become privatized and vie for your money. Imagine a world where education is privatized and what education is open to the public doesn’t guarantee you much of a future. And the careers of today are literally a dying art. Imagine a world where naturally conceived and born children are incredibly rare. That people would prefer to have a child that is completely genetically perfect.

If we continue on this path, I’m sure that will become our reality.

For me, the end of this novel was the hardest. One of the main characters, Dianne Irwin, suffers two of the most horrible experiences ever and it bothered me that she was just expected to move on. And she pretty much does.
I don’t want to ruin the end of the story, but it stuck with me. It was a reminder of the world as it was, no matter what happened.

Thrilling read for sure. I definitely recommend this.

where-to-buy

Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound | Alibris

 

3


In addition to writing dark speculative fiction for over twenty-five years, I’ve sung lead and backup vocals for bands ranging from classic rock to the blues, dabbled in fine arts, worked in retail management, and accrued a moderate level of expertise in animal care and behavior. I have a BA in English and graduated from UNLV Magna Cum Laude. I currently live in the dusty outskirts of Sin City with my husband, an editor and educator, and one very spoiled cat.

Leigh M. Lane | Facebook| Twitter | LinkedIn | Pinterest

50 Books 2017 · 50 Books in a Year · Book in exchange for honest review · Book Reviews · Saturday Reviews

Vacui Magia: Stories by L.S. Johnson

Saturday Review

 
Genre: 
Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Short Stories
Publisher: Traversing Z Press
Date of Release: March 1, 2016
Pages: 220 pages
Format: ePub format
Links: Good Reads

1

4.75 Stars

4 Stars

2

L.S. Johnson delivers a provocative and original short story collection that ingeniously blends myth and nightmare. Whether it concerns the efforts of an infertile witch to construct a golem-baby, or a daughter’s quest to understand a father’s guilt and a mother’s supernatural infidelities, or a woman’s violent association with a group of possibly imaginary but nonetheless dangerous little men, each story in this remarkable collection demonstrates the limitless capacity of intelligent speculative fiction to enthrall, inspire, and amaze.

my-review

I received this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Vacui Magia is a novel filled with dark fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories. They’re not meant to just terrify but to shock you, make you think and intrigue you.

These stories had awesome world building. The separate stories were either contemporary settings or historical settings. Each of story was entirely unique and neither one crossed over into each other. The characters were complex and interesting.

While none of these stories had gratuitous gore that many people relate to horror movies and stories, it still had that horror element. Horror can be more than just disgust, it is shock and fear as well. Some of these stories were definitely shocking.

Little Men with Knives featured a cafeteria lady who was unhappy in her life setting. She listened to her neighbours fight at night and fed these gnome like creatures. By day, it dragged on. She learned the gnomes would help her around the house if she fed them right. Eventually she learned they could do more than clean a house.
For me, this definitely hit the nail on the head for the concept of the fey folk Brownies or Hobs. If you feed them clotted cream and other goodies, they will help out around the house. Ignore them and they create mischief.

The titled story Vacui Magia plays heavily with magic. A lonely woman who wishes she had had children. She consults her grimoire and makes the decision to do forbidden magic and create herself a golem. This is a unique point of view as it is in the second-person voice. Rare to see.
I found this fascinating, especially the quote where a witch should know her heart as intimately as her hands or face. It definitely touches in that idea that the study of magic is a whole being idea. This was one of my favourite tales from the book.

The Pursuit of the Whole is Called Love is about gender switching aliens who explore the human nature of sex, marriage, and oneself.
For me, this was a bit too weird. I honestly couldn’t get into it. However, I wouldn’t say that this was a bad story. It just didn’t mesh as well for me.

Germinant is about a young girl who disobeys her mother and ends up suffering the consequences of her disobedience. It’s a rather surreal way of seeing oneself suffering consequences. This one was also a little too strange for me. I didn’t really understand it or understand the time frame the story was placed in.

Vendemiare had to be my all time favourite. It had a lot of a Twilight Zone-esque feeling to it. The story involves a dying village and vineyard, cursed by the wife of the vineyard owner. It also involves a half-breed demon child and the dreamy yet horrifying state that the child and the voice of the story’s mother. I absolutely adored the concept and the story was well written. You felt like you were there along with Arianne as she tries to rescue her half sibling.

This is How You Lose Yourself is the shortest story. It’s almost more of a poem. It definitely dances with the darker side of these stories.

Clotho sits more in the mythological side of this story. Many may not know but Clotho is the youngest of the Three Fates who are responsible for spinning the threads of fate. This tale speaks of the progression the sister’s go through, but in a different lighting.
This was another of my favourite stories. I’m especially interested in mythological tales.

Julie spoke of a woman who was turned to prostitution by her aunt and her lover. A sad tale, for the times. She is the muse for a writer (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)  and listens to everyone praise him while she struggles to say that he stole her life story. She exacts revenge on him eventually and pays the ultimate price for it.

So this anthology of short stories had some great tales and some weird tales; but what I dislike doesn’t necessarily mean anyone else won’t like it. I especially enjoyed that all the protagonists were female, with the exception of the story involving the aliens.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good Weird Fiction tale.

where-to-buy

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L.S. Johnson lives in Northern California. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Long Hidden, Fae, Lackington’s, Strange Tales V, and other venues. Currently she’s working on a fantasy trilogy set in 18th century Europe.

 

 

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