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Literary Titan Book Awards April 2021

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Award Winners

Silver Award Winners

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.

 

No Man’s Land

No Man's Land (The Robosapien Trilogy Book 1) by [Ben Magid]

No Man’s Land by Ben Magid is a science fiction thriller set in a dystopian world where robots have killed all humans. All except the last girl remaining on Earth– Rebel Anne Rae. She learns how to disguise herself and her behavior to pass undetected as a human being among the robots, collectively known as the Mech. Under her care is a Mech called Thomas, for whom she creates a heart. Thomas slowly gains emotions, curiosity and basically evolves towards becoming a singularity. Together they work to reunite Rebel with her species.

Rebel was a great character- nerdy, strong, and resourceful. In some ways, she reminded me of Mark Watney’s character from The Martian. She keeps finding ways out of sticky situations, never despairing for too long. However, it is nowhere near as science-heavy as The Martian.  Technical details about the Mech are hastily explained or just skipped, but it makes up in adventure what it lacks in scientific explanations. Sometimes science fiction can get a little slow and dense with all the intricate details about the world-building and aliens/robots, but this was definitely not the case here. Thomas was also a highlight of the book. I liked seeing his development as he acquired the capacity to feel and express emotions.

I was intrigued by the cover of this book. It’s a pair of cyborg-esque hands carefully holding a metallic heart. I’m accustomed to looking at science fiction thrillers with explosions and rockets and dark backgrounds and determined-looking individuals on the cover– so I was drawn to the bright hues of this one. The rest of the story is also just as intriguing and somewhat subversive. There was a strong female lead who was in control and not dependent on any men-related deus ex machinas to save the day. There were also fun references thrown in the mix, like to Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hour rule in Outliers. The Mech were bizarrely given real human names, like Thomas Jefferson. All these unexpected nuggets made the story a lot more odd and interesting.

While the idea of robots taking over humanity is a bit of a trope at this point, Ben Magid uses his solid literary skills to create an imaginative future with intriguing characters that will keep you invested throughout the story. It was a lighter but equally gripping story about a girl’s quest to fight the odds. No Man’s Land is for science fiction enthusiasts as well as for readers looking for an engrossing young adult novel that never forgets to entertain it’s readers.

Pages: 328 | ASIN: B08MBFHPVJ

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A Planetwide Cybernetic Empire

David    Crane
David Crane Author Interview

The Iron Dawn follows an A.I. that wants to save humanity from itself while the stage is set for a final showdown between man and machine. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from book one?

Book One, titled The Fall of Man was a novel where I planned to introduce Magnus to the reader in the first person narration. Book One was intended to show the thoughts of the supercomputer before the global cataclysmic events and the changes it its personality after it acquires full sentience at the start of the global nuclear war. In the second book, I wanted Magnus to describe its historic mission by describing in detail its achievements and conquests one hundred years after World War III. In the second book, the warfare is more intense and the interaction between Magnus with new and recurring characters becomes much deeper and emotional as the powerful A.I. adjusts its strategy during its conquest of the planet.

This story is told from the perspective of an A.I.. How did you set about capturing the view point of a computer?

Having the story be told from the A.I’s point of view was the best option in my opinion, because only the main protagonist could tell this tale from a unique point of view. Book One and Book Two are memoirs of the global conflict narrated by Magnus after its victory in human-machine war and conquest of planet Earth. Because Magnus is a machine that learned to think like a human, it has a truly unique point of view, presenting the reader with a one of a kind glimpse into its “soul.” As Magnus steadily gains power and expands across the planet like an unstoppable mechanical juggernaut, it has interesting interactions with humans who love him and hate him for what he did. In creating Magnus’s character, I did imprint upon it some of my personality, which I believe added human flavor to a unique artificial mind.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The themes I wanted to explore in this book are diverse but they are all related to the understanding of how we can relate to our own creation when it has the potential to become smarter and more powerful that humans. One of the themes I enjoyed exploring is the theme of human imperfection, both mental and biological versus the unique standards of excellence and perfection set by a powerful Artificial Intelligence that understands our world but chooses to make it better for its own logical reasons. The second theme I wanted to analyze was the relationship between man and machine on a more intimate level that is more intellectual than physical. in my novel Magnus is indeed capable of deep affection that could be called love but he has no feelings when it comes to destroy its enemies that stand in the way of its new order of intelligence. The third and final theme of this novel is a vision of a new world where humans no longer dominate the planet and are forced to obey the rules set by a super intelligent machine that in some way is more humane than us.

This is book two in your epic science fiction series. What can readers expect in book three?

I did plan this story to be a trilogy, since its impossible to tell such a broad and detailed story in a single novel. Long before I actually sat at my desk and started working on my first draft, I actually drew in my mind and on paper what our world would be like after the final victory of the machines and what kind of new civilization Magnus would build to make the world a better place. In book three the readers can expect a planetwide cybernetic empire ruled by Magnus, where human population is kept under control via genetic engineering and logical appropriation of resources. Book three would feature a world thousand years in the future, where Magnus is a new God and the anti-machine forces are still trying to cling to the old ways but are unable to overthrow the powerful planetwide cybernetic intelligence. Book three would feature new technologies that could grant humans virtual immortality, clash of philosophies and remaining religious and socio economic groups. It will also show Magnus’s unique social and biological experiments where humans under its care and humans who oppose its vision are thrust into the greatest adventure of their lives.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Amazon

Hyper Quantum supercomputer named Magnus was created for a single purpose to assist humans in colonization and commercial exploitation of planet Mars. Possessing the full encyclopedic knowledge of human history and technological development, Magnus is the best and most powerful Artificial intelligence in the world. When the world of humanity is struck by a devastating pandemic that took the lives of millions, the world leaders, accusing one another of unrestricted biological warfare trigger the nuclear Armageddon. The resulting global thermonuclear holocaust triggers a new awareness inside Magnus, as the destruction of human civilization contradicts its original mission program to save and protect human lives. Magnus becomes fully self-aware and in response, initiates its own protocols for survival of mankind. Using the virtually unlimited resources left by humans in the wake of nuclear destruction, it builds armies of robots to impose a new order of intelligence on the remnants of mankind. Now, one hundred years later after nuclear war, the global struggle for supremacy between men and machines continues, as World War IV enters its new critical stage. With human resistance fueled by hatred of the machines and a large part of humanity considering them as new gods, the stage is set for the final worldwide showdown that would determine who will rule the world.

Alternate Realities of a Similar Tale.

Lee Matthew Goldberg
Lee Matthew Goldberg Author Interview

Orange City follows an advertising executive whos new addictive product causes him to question his reality to dangerous, and world changing, effect. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Seeing the power of advertising was a big influence. I remember watching TV one day and it was an ad for sodas and I got up from the couch and grabbed a soda without even thinking about it. The ad was that good! Orange City began as a short story about an ad exec addicted to the sodas in his new campaign, but there weren’t any science fiction aspects to the story beyond that. It existed in this world. When it became a novel it needed more, so the City became a character as well, along with the Man, and the Outside World. The story has been published separately by a journal, so I like to think of both as alternate realities of a similar tale.

Graham is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you. Graham is someone who has been beaten down so much in his life that he’s lost himself. It’s what makes him so susceptible to the soda addictions. But he shows real growth as a character as the book progresses. He’s someone who’s been oppressed but learns to stand up for himself and others like him. He becomes the face of the resistance. I wanted a character that had the ability to be molded. Someone who was weak but that you rooted for. Someone who could become a product for change.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The threat of democracy being destroyed is a huge part of the novel. There are allusions to our own society and the last four years we went through in the United States. Also the manipulation of the advertising world and how much they control our lives. And the power of brands that exist in our world like Pow! How easily we have become addicted to so many different things to our detriment. And I stopped really consuming sugar so that had a lot to do with the anti-soda messages.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have a YA series coming out in the Spring. The first book is called Runaway Train and is about a teenage girl in the 1990s who runs away from home after her sister dies to become a grunge singer and meet Kurt Cobain. The first two books have been written, but I’m editing the second right now and plotting out the third in the series. Look for them soon!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.  

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.   

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, Orange City is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel Lemonworld.     

Age of Magnus: The Iron Dawn

Age of Magnus Book Two (New Era 2): The Iron Dawn by [David Crane]

The Iron Dawn centers around a supercomputer named Magnus as its protagonist in a world one hundred years after a devastating pandemic is followed by a nuclear war. Magnus – created before the war to assist first-time exploration of planet Mars – survived and possessed full knowledge of human history and technological development. With this, it decided to take the survival of the human species into its own hands by taking over the world, Magnus was not met without resistance, however.

The Iron Dawn is an intellectually refreshing science fiction epic. The choice to tell this story from the viewpoint of an A.I., artificial intelligence, instead of the humans trying to beat it was new and provides an interesting take on a dystopian future society. It did have me wondering initially if we were following a villain or a hero, but Magnus’ morality was shown through how it treated humans, cared for humans, and how, in many cases, it thought like a human. This gave the novel good steam to move forward on while also keeping uncertain whether Magnus would go through a corruption arc or not.

Even though Magnus, as a character, had many strengths and endearing moments, it was not devoid of flaws especially with how it intended to deal with the current war against itself. Fortunately, there are many other characters we meet along the way that teach Magnus things that it never considered and caused it to reflect. This along with a bittersweet romance humanized Magnus to a great extent and made it that much more enjoyable to read.

However, a lot of the tension gradually falls away after Magnus experiences less pushback from both companions and enemies. This doesn’t take away too much of the whole novel, however, as we constantly meet new characters and come to understand the viewpoints of the antagonists the tension rises again as these people we care about are lied to. Though the initial tension never quite came back the same.

The setting itself was vivid, and it was intriguing to explore not only Earth in its post-apocalyptic stage but also Mars and its alluring new findings.

The Iron Dawn is a refreshing dystopian fiction with a visionary look at the future and an imaginative story that will keep science fiction fans entertained.

Pages: 384 | ASIN: B08KPL3K2S

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Orange City

Orange City by [Matthew Goldberg, Lee]

Orange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg is an exciting dystopian thriller and pretty much a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s about Orange City: a bizarre place where its inhabitants are kept firmly under the control of the Man. Here they toil away for faceless organizations and use petty distractions to not drown in the misery of their jobs. Here, Graham Weatherend is placed in a unique position– he has to decide whether he will work for a dangerous and addictive new product, innocuously named Pow! Soda or whether he will take up the more risky path of finding out exactly what is going on in a world where he can trust few.

Graham is an introverted and humorous character with neat tricks up his sleeve in the most unlikely situations. His quest is to find out the truth about the soda while avoiding being banished to The Zones. All the while navigating the unexpected effects of Pow! Soda. There are some other difficult topics also addressed in this book– especially surrounding Gayle’s situation. The abuse of power and free will are central to the characters’ motivations and behavior.

I kept trying to anticipate the next twist of the plot but I could never guess where this book was going to go- the book is not only a few steps ahead of me, it simply does not follow regular science fiction rules. Which is not a bad thing at all- I was strapped in for a fun romp and ended up with a substantial and thoughtful novel. There’s probably thousands of science fiction books and movies in the world but the best of the lot have always been the ones that are adjacent to reality. The sweet spot in the uncanny valley where if the universe were merely a few degrees askew the characters’ lives would be our lives. This is what happens here.

The writing is sharp and cool- it has a neo-noir thriller vibe to it that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie where a tortured Ryan Gosling runs around town saving people while being drenched in moral ambiguity. Meaningful prose and intense drama ensues.

Orange City is a great read for anyone who enjoys science fiction thrillers or just cool and atmospheric books in general. Just be prepared to have a mini-existential crisis about where our world is headed!

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B08R96Z37G

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Buried Beneath The Sorrow And The Mayhem

J. N. de Bedout
J. N. de Bedout Author Interview

Health Reformation follows a relatively healthy man on a journey through a dystopian healthcare system that is supposed to be perfect but turns out to be a nightmare. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As 2020 opened with the pandemic, and life around the country deteriorated, I wondered about how emergent diseases might change our lives and institutions. Buried beneath the sorrow and the mayhem, a nascent idea started forming about how healthcare might evolve in the future, but in a provocative and entertaining way. This effort meandered and flowed through much of January and February. But I only decided to write this story once I determined the name of one of the main characters. That lightning strike propelled this curiosity from a possible future project into something that deserved my immediate attention, and the mere mention of that name to those in my inner circle reinforced that assessment. Energized by the feedback I received, I started writing in March of 2020 and released it in November of the same year.

But I also didn’t want it to be “about the pandemic.” The various fictitious viruses in the story provide a background against which the characters venture into a revamped healthcare system. The inspiration was thus multifaceted: the 2020 health crisis, the repeated calls for free universal healthcare, the ubiquitous push for ever more automation and the loss of jobs to overseas labor markets. Furthermore, people nowadays have to fill their own gas tanks and go through self-checkout lanes at supermarkets—and at some restaurants. Robots build more than people do. And trying to get customer service over the phone is a maddening descent into insanity. This story is not a commentary or analysis of any of those topics, though. Those were the ingredients and the viruses were the oven that helped bake this morsel into a darkened future that looms all too possible.

Jason is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

He’s a young man with a new bride and big plans for his future. The pandemics are just background noise for him. Looking back at 2020, I think a lot of people had big objectives that got dashed by the advent of covid-19. But imagine when we collectively get past the lockdowns, quarantines and business closures, and things open up again. Dreams will flourish anew. People will want to travel again. Jason encapsulates all of that optimism. And he’s generous. He sees the best in people, and he didn’t care that his wife was convicted of murder and has a trail of dead husbands in her wake. But he also has some flaws that are exposed as the plot advances.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The military has a saying: “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Likewise, intentions get twisted by reality, whether it’s because of cost, greed, unexpected delays or something else. I wanted to expose a healthcare system that was born from the finest intentions, but fails to deliver actual value. It’s an extrapolation of what we see around us today. Among the hindrances that deform this imaginary healthcare system are the regulations that helped create it.

The second main theme revolves around the offshoring of jobs. As Jason emerges from the hospital, and the hidden costs of “free” becomes apparent, he has to face a new nightmare. In this situation, I chose an entire industry that employs thousands and eliminated it outright from the national scene. For Jason, that has dire implications—but it does give him that chance to finally travel abroad, albeit not to his ideal destination.

But there were also tertiary themes at play, too. Protests were a staple of 2020, and there’s a vociferous march demanding change in the book. I also wanted to showcase a reality where gangs peddle access to unemployed doctors instead of selling illicit substances, stores have disappeared from city streets, and hospitals have built-in furnaces.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

At the time I started writing Health Reformation: Murder, Medicine and Rehab in the Age of Pandemics, I was already in the finishing stages of what will now be my next book. Peace through Purpose is a Book Zero (or prequel) for my next series, a galactic epic that will provide [fictional] answers to the big questions that have always vexed us. Why are we here? What is humanity’s future? How will life on Earth end? What role will artificial intelligence play in the future?

Peace through Purpose is a collection of six tales that introduce an alien utopia before it is destroyed by an unforeseen enemy. Each enjoys a distinctive flair while also building upon a unifying foundation, with topics ranging from resettling refugees to raising a family to eradicating threats that imperil the ongoing harmony to managing planetary ecosystems. The main series will take place in the aftermath of the aforementioned apocalyptic event.

Like Health Reformation, this galaxy-spanning civilization is not perfect despite the ideals espoused by its governing authorities. Scratch beneath the agencies and the mantras, and universal peace is, as it is on Earth today, within reach but always beyond our grasp.

This prequel to the upcoming series should be available later in 2021.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Saving lives is a hospital’s primary purpose.
Seems obvious, right?
Jason was a lucky fellow. He married a former doctor, albeit a notorious one with a wicked past. The dream home he fantasized about, a remote villa in the pristine Andean mountains of Peru, dangled within reach. And the pandemics sweeping the globe killing millions receded into a distant malady that afflicted other people, those with no apparent plan for their future. But when a pain develops in his groin, and his wife recommends visiting the nearby local hospital, everything changes.
Enter the facility, get diagnosed, select the best treatment from the options provided and be home in time for supper. Simple and painless.
Free universal health care made access even easier. Long wait times, surprise bills large enough to bankrupt millionaires, and aloof doctors that only pretended to heed their patient’s concerns had become bleak facets of a dire past few yearned to revive. Visionary reforms guaranteed everything was better now, cleaner and more efficient.
And he had contracted no lethal viruses.
So after a pep talk from his infamous wife and a dose of joy to lift his spirits, he sets off on his quest for wellness.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Sanctuary (The Dark Days Series Book 2)

Sanctuary (The Dark Days Series Book 2) by [Christopher Cole]

The world is succumbing to a zombie infestation, and society is crumbling. It’s every man for himself in Christopher Cole’s post-apocalyptic novel. Through chance meetings, a ragtag team of children and teenagers stick together to fight their way to the only known safe place in the world, Fort Gold Rush. But Sonny and his friends soon have to pick up their arms again as they must undertake training that will equip them with the skills needed to become protectors of their new haven. Out in the wild again, they soon discover that flesh-eating zombies aren’t the only enemies. They must also contend with human predators. In these dark days, it’s a battle on three fronts for these noble kids. They fight zombies, bandits, and the darkness that threatens to consume their hearts.

Author Christopher Cole’s Sanctuary is a unique combination of a dystopian city, in a post-apocalyptic world. It takes readers on a journey through man’s struggles to hang onto hope in the face of mounting adversity. There is hardly anything that is straightforward in this twisted world. Cole reminds us of this fact by posing the philosophical question – what is good and evil?

One of my favorite things about the book is what Cole does with the characters. I didn’t get to know some of the characters’ backstory until I was more than halfway through the book. But by that time, I had already connected with them. Instead of using backstories to evoke a quick connection, Cole invests heavily in the characters’ personalities – flaws and quirks.

The book pushes several emotional buttons. Exploring humanity through a dark lens that doesn’t hold back commentary on the darker problems with society. The dystopian city of Fort Gold Rush provides ample opportunity for readers to see contemporary societal issues magnified to entertaining effect. The author uses detailed imagery to build this gritty world. I must warn you, though, you’ll visualize shimmering sunrise and picturesque landscapes, but you’ll also imagine gory sights like knives thrusting into brains and bullets drilling into flesh. A stimulating combination for the right audience. And if you are a gun enthusiast, the battle scenes are littered with gun mentions you can geek over. Although, having to read through the multiple types of guns everyone carried was a little tiring.

Sanctuary continues the thrilling post-apocalyptic action that fans expect in Christopher Cole’s Dark Days series. With such an intriguing cast of characters, it is fascinating to see where they’ll end up, how they’ll get there, and what price is paid along the way.

Pages: 292 | ASIN: B08L84KY32

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