The King of Gems follows an astrophysicist and master King of Gems player who finds aliens trapped in the game. How did the idea for this novel come about?
I have always wanted to write a story that combined my two favorite genres so I’ve been playing around with this idea for a couple of years. A friend of mine is an actual astrophysicist who studies the interactions between galaxies. We were discussing his work one day and the topic of this idea for a new book came up. We tossed around a few ideas using some of the physics behind his work and that spurred me on. At the same time, several coworkers were discussing their latest adventures in a dungeons and dragons game they had played together. I’m not really sure how the two connected in my head, but they did. The result was The King of Gems.
What were some sources that informed the development of the Chandrans aliens?
If you have read any of my previous books, you can probably tell I have a fondness for telling stories with aliens. Part of my job at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science involves talking to guests about other worlds, both within and outside our solar system. In fact, one of the programs I do involves playing a real estate character attempting to sell exoplanet vacation properties to the guests as a way to describe what it is like on those worlds. I love thinking about what environments would support extraterrestrial life and how different cultures might evolve in those environments. My research for my work in this regard helps feed that interest and provides a basis for the different worlds and aliens I invent.
What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?
I like the interaction between HAL and Dr, Kennan. HAL’s snarkiness toward Dr. Kennan was the best way I could devise to have the android show his concern for him, without igniting the professor’s irascible nature to the point of rewriting HAL’s programming. This allowed me to add a bit of humor from time to time that all good stories need. The other piece I had fun with was Dr. Kennan’s complete ignorance and frustrations when dealing with women. I have a personal affinity and sympathy for that due to my own fumbling around with it all during my much younger years.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
At this point, I do not have another novel in mind. Instead, I would like to try my hand at several short stories. The goal of these would be to illustrate or explain some scientific concepts through the eyes of science fiction and fantasy tales. As a retired middle school science teacher, I know how dry and miserable reading textbooks can be. My hope is that teachers could use these stories to help preface a lesson on some scientific topic, or use them as summaries after the fact. If I come up with enough ideas for topics and stories I can put them into an anthology of sorts and try to get that published.
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The King of Gems, by Jim Cronin, is a science fiction/fantasy hybrid that brings together the world of advanced fantasy VR gameplay and aliens from far-off star systems. Set in the distant future, this novel focuses on Dr. Anthony Kennan, an astrophysicist working in isolation on a research base in space.
With only an android named HAL as a companion, Dr. Kennan has maintained his sanity on the research base by advancing to the highest level in a popular fantasy VR game called King of Gems. However, things take a turn when he discovers a fleet of alien species somehow downloaded themselves into the game by accident. Kennan must decide whether he is to help these strange beings or leave them to fend for themselves in this dangerous game.
Jim Cronin certainly knows how to to write deeply thoughtful science fiction while taking contemporary ideas to their extreme. The author knows how to end a chapter as well, leaving readers wanting more and making it very hard to find a good spot to put this book down. The ending to the novel was satisfying as well while still leaving just enough for the possibility of a follow up book in the future.
This is a fast-paced story, especially in the beginning, but that does not necessarily mean it is filled with action. This is a weighty story that plays with some interesting ideas in fun ways. There is a lot going on and it feels like the author wastes no time in getting the information and ideas out so he can tell a very compelling, and expansive, sci-fi story.
I’ve come to appreciate the depth that Jim Cronin novels usually have. This is an adventure story with something to say. I think the reference to Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons in the books blurb is fairly accurate. With cerebral ideas underlying this story, much like Star Trek, combined with the sheer joy you get out of a well played Dungeons and Dragons game come together in this engrossing novel.
The King of Gems is a well paced story that is intellectually invigorating. With rarely a dull moment readers will be pulled into this epic fantasy saga that is equal amounts fun and interesting.
Pages: 320 | ASIN: B09N9NBCRG
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Aeon Rises follows Justin, an average teen, as he stumbles upon otherworldly beings that are trying to kill him. How did you come across this idea and how did it change as you were writing?
I wanted to write a story that would be fun for middle school or high school student to read. A scifi story with characters they could relate to and who they could identify with. Even though I was a secondary teacher for over thirty years, it had been a few years since I retired and I was sure some of the slang and habits of teens had changed some over that time. I enlisted the aid of a class of eighth graders to read portions of the story and give me specific feedback about the teens characters. Their feedback was incredible and guided my writing of those individuals in the story. The changes they suggested made the Justin, Kevin and Myah much more true to today’s teens.
Justin isn’t exactly an average teen, he has an aversion to most electronics. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to Justin’s character development?
Due to his inability to play video games or watch the same shows most others his age took for granted, Justin faced a fair amount of ridicule and bullying from his classmates, except for Kevin. I drew on my own experiences growing up being the brunt of several bullies, but I wanted Justin to rise above it and, though it still hurt, not give in to the abusers. He relied heavily on Kevin to get beyond it all, and then he learned about his abilities and his importance. That made everything else pale in comparison, even though he could not rub it in his tormentor’s faces. Aliens are a secret after all.
The Skutarans see Justin as a threat and want to destroy him. What were some sources of inspiration for you when creating their race?
I watch a lot of scifi movies and read a ton of scifi books as well. I simply took characteristics of evil aliens I have read or seen over the years and blended them into traits of the Skutarans: Arrogance, Hyper Ego, superiority complex, all combined with advanced alien technology. What more could you want in an evil overlord alien?
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have recently been recovering from a major surgery, which has affected my ability to focus on anything for long. It is only in the past few weeks I have been able to start thinking about a new novel. To get back into practice, I am working on a short story about ice miners on Europa, a moon around Jupiter. From there, I have an idea about fusing scifi and fantasy in a story about aliens digitized into a LOTR style movie who are discovered by a fan of the movie and their collaboration to rescue the aliens from the orcs, wizards, etc. and return them home again.
Justin Madrid always considered himself an average nerdy freshman in high school, and an outcast because intense migraines prevent him from playing video games or watching television. Even looking at a phone screen hurts. But when the aliens, disguised as local librarians, started trying to kill him, everything changed. And now it is up to Justin and his cool new power to save the earth from invasion.
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Justin Madrid, in Aeon Rises, is a teenager, unhappy with how he is fitting in with his peers. The problem? He is not fitting in with his peers. He is weird and different than most of the other teens around him. He cannot play video games without getting blinding migraines. He also can’t be on anything electronic. He does have one good friend, Kevin. He spends most of his time trying to get his mom to give him a ride to school instead of making him ride the bus. Oh, and he really wants a smartphone so the other kids will stop making fun of him. Sounds pretty typical, right? Well, the book takes a whole other direction almost immediately.
Jim Cronin creates a different, fun world in this engaging book. Justin soon learns that he is not at all who he thought he was. He also learns that all is not as it appears in his small town. For instance, there are aliens running the library (an idea most kids could probably buy). The Skutarans, led by bad guy Keldon Ankara, at the library immediately see Justin as a threat and the adventure begins. Justin’s uncle, Jonah, knows all of the information that has been kept from Justin. He takes over with Justin and opens up a whole new world for him. With all of the new information, it is now up to Justin to save Earth from the Skutarans.
I enjoyed this book from the first chapter. I was immediately pulled into the story. The main characters are all teenagers, but I don’t think that affects who would enjoy the book. I think I enjoyed it as much as my teens would. Aliens play a huge part in the book. That aspect of it was very entertaining. I enjoyed reading about earthlings through the eyes of the aliens. It is very well written.
Along the way, Justin and his friend Kevin team up with an otherworldly girl named Myah. One of the best parts of the book is the way Justin and Kevin communicate in movie quotes, a fact that drives Myah crazy at first. It all evolves in a fun way though.
I would recommend this book to anyone, adult or child, science fiction lover or not. It was fast-paced and exciting. Despite it being science fiction, it was written in such a way that it almost seemed believable. I found myself reading it without having to suspend my disbelief. I also found myself thinking that the story would make a great movie. I liked the three young characters in the same way I liked the characters in Harry Potter when I first read that book. I highly recommend it.
Pages: 201 | ASIN: B07H5PCSJ4
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In Empyrean two empires are stuck in a struggle for control and suspicion has been raised about Skae’s true motives towards the Brin. How did you approach this book in the Brin series to keep things fresh?
I always had an overall general idea of how I wanted to wrap up the series so there were several hints along the way about the Skae and Gorvin empires. I wanted to follow a single family of Brin over a long span of time so creating individuals across generations was an essential part of the story. As in real life, even close relations have very different personalities so the new generation of characters in each book helped keep everything fresh with new perspectives. As the stories progressed, there were many alterations and details that changed as new inspirations hit, but the overall arc did not change too wildly from my original thoughts.
We delve deeper into the two cultures history and motives in this novel. What were some guiding principles for you as you were creating these empires?
As each book came to life, I strove to add greater depth to the universe the characters lived in. This was partly by design, but also the result of my learning more about how to write such an epic tale. Remember, Hegira was my first ever attempt at writing. Even though this is all happening in a different universe than ours, there still had to be certain laws of physics to follow and all the technologies had to abide by those rules. Some few alterations and extensions to our physical laws helped make it an interesting scifi universe, but straying too far would create too much disbelief. I wanted everything to be based on actual theories of what could be possible, then make it so. (yes, an intentional Picard reference.)
You were able to expertly balance technical jargon with easy prose. How did you strike that balance and was it purposeful?
I spent 35 years in the science classroom trying to explain complex scientific concepts to 7th grade students. I guess I developed a knack for doing this which carried over into my story-telling style.
Will this be the last book in the Brin Chronicles or do you plan to continue this series?
Yes, this is the final book of The Brin Archives. It was surprising to discover how much I would miss all these characters when I was finally done writing their story, but it is time to move on to a new project. Maybe someday, if fame and fortune hits and all my adoring fans demand a fourth novel in the series, then I might revisit all of them again. (it could happen… right?)
In this conclusion to The Brin Archives, Maliche Rocker must risk everything including his family’s reputation and even his life, to uncover the truth about the Skae. For over three hundred years the Brin have believed the Skae to be their benefactors, and the race that rescued them from extinction. But recent revelations by a group of young Kolbri, the offspring of Brin and Kolandi mating, tell a disturbingly different story.
Three Kolbri, including Maliche’s son Jontar, must use their unique abilities to telepathically connect with technology, and discover the truth about the Skae once and for all by undertaking a perilous journey through thousands of years in space and time, unravelling the history hidden from them by Skae. During this expedition, Jontar and his two companions must encounter the Gorvin, hated enemy of the Skae and supposed instigators of the current interstellar war.
What turned the Skae and Gorvin into mortal enemies? What is the true cause of the war responsible for the destruction of hundreds of worlds over thousands of years? Will Maliche and his small group find the truth and avert disaster both at home and across the galaxy? Can his wife, Ryma, hold the Brin government together long enough for Maliche to succeed? Only time will tell.
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In Jim Cronin’s Empyrean, the third book in the Brin series, readers will find the perfect novel to tie the series together. Skae and the Gorvin, two empires find themselves stuck in a struggle for control. During the conflict, suspicion has been raised about Skae’s true motives towards the Brin. The head of the Brin Council, Maliche Rocker decides to go on a journey to uncover the truth and risks everything in the process. The race, the Kolbri, has the ability to interact with technology to travel through time and space to understand what truly went wrong once the Brin race came into existence. Both empires hang in the balance while the characters race to find the truth. What really caused the tension between old allies into mortal enemies?
Though science fiction can be technical, Cronin kept the text easy to understand and interesting. Having new characters and showing the perspectives of the characters the way that Cronin did, allows the reader to stay engaged and interested throughout the story. Cronin has the ability to keep the characters, and the reader, on their toes. The author does a great job showing both perspectives from both empires and keeping the personalities of the characters natural through impressive dialogue. The natural tension between both empires will allow readers to feel for both empires, understanding that they were once allies now enemies.
Occasionally certain terms as and political aspects may be somewhat hard to understand if you haven’t read the first two novels. Yet, I was still able to enjoy the novel and I think it can stand on it’s own. Otherwise, this is a satisfying way to connect to the other two novels. Cronin allows the narrative to flow effortlessly, connecting various intriguing theories together, and building tension throughout, allowing the reader to prepare for the climax. Any reader who has read the series will not be disappointed. Using great concepts, elements of science fiction, descriptive context and strong dialogue supports what is already some great character development. Jim Cronin did a fantastic job bringing his series to a close. I highly recommend you read book one and two in the series for a wildly enjoyable journey!
Pages: 274 | ASIN: B077ZBQWDT
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I was delighted to discover the writing of Jim Cronin in Recusant, the second book of his series, The Brin Archives. This fantasy/adventure/science fiction tale chronicles the journeys of two peoples, the Brin and the Kolandi, through time. The story depicts two different species whose lives and struggles are intertwined over more than a millennium.
Maliche Rocker, descendant of the original “saviors” of the Brin race on their new planet, was a very talented archeologist, and therefore, an embarrassment to his family, as most of the Brin people believed that genetics was the only honorable profession. Maliche came into possession of an article which enabled him to not only glimpse, but to experience the long-forgotten past of their forbearers. The history that subsequently unfolds will shake the very foundations of the Brin and their beliefs.
Many of the occurrences in the story parallel important issues in our world (past and present), such as slavery, greed, lack of tolerance, and abuse of power. A meaningful example of this is in some of the Brin people’s willingness to abuse another race. This corresponds with humans’ tendency to justify the abuse of others that may be different from us by demeaning their worth, and labeling them as undeserving of compassion. Because of this, the tale can strike home with many readers, allowing them to fully engage.
I lost myself in the narrative, as it felt quite real; palpable. I became truly fond of many of the characters, especially Jontar and Maliche. Their spirit, along with their ability to love, trust, and to overcome adversity particularly appealed to me. In addition, I loved the courage and tenacity of Vidad and Neas. I was totally absorbed, and could not put the book down.
The artful approach of the author in interlacing past and present to reveal, bit by bit, the characters’ missions, secrets, fears, and ambitions, is fresh and exciting. Although I enjoyed the creativity of Cronin’s unique approach, I did have to go back and re-read certain sections a couple of times to determine what was actually transpiring (and in which timeline). It is not absolutely necessary to first read Recusant’s predecessor Hegira in order to enjoy this book, however, I feel it would be helpful.
Mr. Cronin has created a reality with this series which will captivate and enthrall readers, young and old, for many years to come. I highly recommend Recusant, and the entire Brin Archives series.
Pages: 269 | ASIN: B01KTVTMNK
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Hegira is beautifully written and addresses a subject that is rarely discussed. Why did you want to write about subjects such as cloning and cryogenics?
I have always been a science geek so all aspects of science fascinates me. After I retired I started thinking about writing a science fiction story and the idea of time travel struck me as something fun to write about. To give a plausible reason for the time travel adventure, and a method for supposedly rescuing an entire planet’s population, I came up with cloning and cryogenically freezing the embryos as the strategy for my main character to save everyone. From there, everything else fell into place and the story was born.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
Hegira is my debut novel. My only previous writing has been for education journals. I had no idea what I was getting into, or how difficult writing could be. I have learned a great deal along the way and am enjoying the new learning experience.
The characters in Hegira are very complex. What is your process for creating such in depth characters?
I have always enjoyed reading stories where the characters, not the technology, are center stage. I wanted my novel to do the same and present my universe with believable inhabitants. To do this, I try to put myself into each character’s mind and experience what they see, feel and do. From there, I use my experience as a teacher who has worked with thousands of students over the years, to imagine how each individual would react to the circumstances they find themselves in. The weird part of this was that when I really got into the heads of my characters, they told me how they would react and what they would do. Any time I tried to force my own ideas, the writing stalled. When I gave myself over to the character, the words flowed smoothly.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
I have just released book 2 of The Brin Archives: Recusant. It is now available on Amazon.com and is already earning great reviews. Currently, I am writing the final book of the series, tentatively titled Empyrean. This book takes up the story not long after Recusant ends and we learn the Skae, the alien beings who played a large role in Hegira, may not be who they claim to be after all. The Brin have reason to believe they may be on the wrong side of an interplanetary war and need to learn the truth of what is going on. To do this, they will be time traveling and secretly spying on both alien races involved in the galactic war to see which side is at fault. I hope to release this novel sometime next summer.
Author Links: GoodReads
His home world is dead; the victim of a supernova, but this does not stop Karm from attempting to save the Brin, his extinct species. Rescued by an alien race from a derelict spacecraft as a vial of DNA, then cloned, Karm must travel back in time, convince a small team of co-conspirators to join him in his quest, and outmaneuver a power hungry monarch and his fanatic brother, leader of The Faith, both absolutely committed to opposing him. All of Karm’s plans rest on the untested and controversial cloning theories of the young geneticist Dr. Jontar Rocker, and the abilities of his bodyguard, personal assistant, and surrogate niece, Maripa. Will their combined efforts be enough to overcome the power of the monarchy and the planet’s most influential religion? Will Karm’s secrets destroy the trust of his companions and ruin his campaign to save the Brin?
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