Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
Posted in Interviews
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All Roads Shattered is the third book in the All Roads series of dark fiction stories and poems. In the last book you said you wanted to go darker and bring more sci-fi into the story. Did you want to continue that in book three or did you envision a different path?
With All Roads Shattered I wanted to show darkness and variety, perhaps a different type of ending other than just brief character life lessons or moments.
The characters are all superbly created, as usual. Is there anything from your own life that you put into your characters to make them more believable?
Most of the time, no, at least not with this book. I did that with All Roads Home. In All Roads Shattered I wanted my characters to have their own life and story. Put my “empathic feet” into make believe shoes.
I enjoyed all the stories in the collection, as they all inspired some reflection afterward. Is there a story that didn’t make it into the collection?
If anything, a poem might get put to the side to be reworked but that’s about it.
Do you find that you write stories that challenge you as a writer, or stories that are easy for you to write?
I write what I feel or imagine, so it’s not difficult. I never mind a challenge if it inspires mournful beauty or captivating contemplation.
ALL ROADS SHATTERED, the third book of Lisa Diaz Meyer’s All Roads Collection contains two short story sagas, five multi-genre, dark fiction short stories and twelve macabre poems. Other books in this dark fiction collection are ALL ROADS HOME and ALL ROADS DESTINED.
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When Mavin Cedarstrom heads to the Svalbard Seed Vault for another day on the job, he can’t possibly imagine the turn his life is about to take. His former life gathering seeds as an assistant to his favorite professor pales in comparison to the life he leads working in the exclusive and formidable vault housing samples of every seed variety in the world. Mavin’s job helping to protect and preserve the future of the planet’s primary food source leads him on a journey like no other when he awakens to find himself in what he soon learns is the future–the distant future.
Right out of the gate, Mark Daniel Seiler introduces readers to an intriguing set of circumstances. He wastes no time in keeping his audience guessing as to both time and place. The opening pages of River’s Child reveal a scene with an amalgamation of characters with varied backgrounds. It isn’t until Mavin reaches the vault itself that the reader is treated to the splendors of technological advancements. Seiler springs this futuristic setting on his readers in a wonderful contrast with the opening bar scene.
Reading River’s Child is akin to reading three different books, but it works well. Mavin’s time working in the vault and the tragedy that befalls him when he reports to work that fateful fall day are a far cry from the way he is found and worlds apart from the scene that greets him when he is pulled from beneath Earth’s surface. Once he and his rescuer/guide, Simone Kita, make the year-long trek to civilization, the story takes on a completely different feel which somehow also makes sense. To say that Mavin has taken a step into the past would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to say he is almost light years in the future upon being pulled from the remains of the vault. Seiler presents for readers a picture of an Earth recreated after its destruction and, somehow, simultaneously archaic and advanced.
Seiler’s choice to make males subservient and females revered in the new world is both refreshing and entertaining. Simone, a strong woman in many ways, teaches Mavin the proper way to show respect and how to remain demure in his foreign surroundings. The author has pulled from multiple cultures to create the portrait of a lesser sex in this futuristic world which blends ancient customs with the discovery and mastery of unique and highly developed talents. Simone’s amazing ability to control space and time is superhero-like and takes the reader as much by surprise as it does Mavin the first time she tries to discreetly display it.
Seiler offers readers a picture of what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world that is different from any I have read. He takes readers on a journey that begins and ends with the soul survivor of a catastrophic event and allows them to watch as he struggles to find his place among those who now inhabit Earth. Seiler peppers his writing with the perfect amount of suspense and humor as he weaves this unforgettable tale.
Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1947003399
Posted in Book Reviews
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Joshua Landeros is at it again with a sequel to his prequel series with Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Julissa Marconi is ready to take on the ultimate villain, Chancellor Venloran. All that stands between the United Nation Republic and Mexico is the rebels, who seek to resist the tyrannical influence of the more powerful country. This struggle will not end cleanly as Venloran deploys his cyborg soldiers, which leaves Julissa questioning if she can really stop this assault. She may have to become what she fights.
And once again Landeros hits it out of the park with this novel and there is a maturing of his prose in a way that should greatly satisfy his readers. Poison centers around the conflict, or rather, Expansion, that the United Nation Republic is forcing upon Mexico. There is a resonance here with the current events of immigration and Mexico with the US, which does not make this seem like an accident on Landeros’ part. The engagement not only of the struggle of soldiers, but of entire populaces, bumps up the stakes of what has been up until now, a waltz down memory lane to contextualize his main Reverence series.
This installment breathes new air into the series and gives the prequel series more weight going forward. In some ways the look at the national conflict tends to make the conflict become too political and the characters are lost in the back and forth, but it eventually re-centers and the story becomes an intimate tale about identity and duty.
The style of Landeros is largely unchanged aside from his deeper engagement with thematic elements helping his subtle prose along. Robert Heinlein would be proud as would Atwood with his struggle to both dignify the society he has created, and draw parallels from our world to the world of Reverence. For the science fiction reader, there may be more thriller, political drama than one is used to, but we can always count on Landeros to bring the fight to us.
In the grander scheme of his series and world building, Posion begins to show the end game that will follow, since the Expansion is only a piece to Venloran’s ongoing long game. We all know the players who are involved at this point and it’s really just seeing it all unravel. Truly, a pulse-pounding thrilling read.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07BNTQRTJ
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All Roads Destined is a collection of stories from fantasy to science fiction with links back to your first collection. What was the inspiration for this collection of stories?
As for the Outposts, I wanted to continue on since I’d left it as a cliffhanger in All Roads Home. I then felt I wanted to bring more loneliness and some addiction awareness into the equation as these subjects, real or imagined, can be sad and frightful.
I felt that this book was a bit darker than the last collection. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?
I did want to go darker, bring more science fiction in but based off subjects that make people uncomfortable. Again the addiction issue, some odd poetry. As you said in your review, the short story The Crone was your favorite. It was also mine, too. And I love when something like that can just come upon me, the imagery and the way I want it to be read.
You also included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. What was your favorite poem from the collection and how did you pick which poems made it into this collection?
The poems or fragments I write in between or even during a WIP. My favorites in this book were Clocks and The Water Globe, both having to do with the passage of time.
What is your process like for writing short stories? Does it differ from longer novels?
There’s a certain pace with short stories that I prefer. I may be inspired to write a longer novel one day, just not yet.
Destiny is what we bring to the world where the roads are stained with tears and blood, and paved in eternal stone. In Part One, the continuation of The Outpost Trilogy shifts from post apocalyptic to science fiction. Part Two, The Enduring contains five dark fiction short stories. Part Three, The Fragments include fifteen poems of urgent struggle and destination. New York author, Lisa Diaz Meyer relates to the odd, macabre & funereal. ALL ROADS DESTINED is the second of her ALL ROADS trilogy.
Posted in Interviews
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Interflow of Things is a highly realistic vision of the future where an A.I. seeks to segregate people. What served as your inspiration while writing this fascinating novel?
Well I guess the inspiration for the segregation is the idea that through A.I. society will become simpler, and the crowd will accept this and embrace this as something good. Dividing society in leaders, hardworkers, creative and relatively useless people is of course rather coldhearted and narrow-minded, but let’s not forget that a lot of people use these kind of phrases already, it’s in fact quite human to do this unfortunately. I guess A.I. has the danger of strengthening prejudices as we see in several examples already used, like f.e. a law system implemented.
I think you did a fantastic job creating an A.I. in immersive detail. What kind of research did you do ensure you portrayed the traits of A.I. accurately?
The writing of the A.I. chapters was intuitive, but I did study From Bacteria to Bach and back from Daniel Dennett and used it her and there. Furthermore I have read passages of On intelligence from Jeff Hawkins, How to create a mind from Ray Kurzwell, Superintelligence from Nick Bolstrom, Homo Deus from Yuval Noah Harari, Cosa Nostra, A History Of The Sicilian Mafia from John Dickie and lately the book Life 3.0 from Max Tegmark. This last book, I plan to use a bit more in part three of the cyclus.
I felt that this book was an ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” we are experiencing now. What is one common misconception you find that many people have about A.I.?
I don’t really know, I guess people slowly will get used to more A.I. without thinking about it that much mainly, or even without realizing its implications. The idea that A.I. might become conscious is something that is quite hard to comprehend, personally I have to use my imagination and read books like Max Tegmark his Life 3.0 or Daniel Dennett and then see it might indeed be possible. In Life 3.0 a number of scenario’s have been stated of the possible future, that’s interesting to read and discuss.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
The Game Changer I consider as part zero of a series of novels with the name Amor Mundi. Part 1 is the novel Julia’s memories, I am translating this novel into English at this moment and I am planning to publish it in one piece with Interflow of things, since the two really follow each other like it’s one novel. My plan is to let a professional editor look at this part 1 and 2 novel called ‘Julia’s memories and the interflow of things’ thoroughly, that’s really needed, I know. For the interflow of things I didn’t have the energy to do a good job in translating yet, I am sorry for that. Furthermore, I am working on a third part using Life 3.0 of Max Tegmark as inspiration.
Julia’s memories info:
‘Julia’s memories’, announced as the 1st novel of the AM cycle, contains partly the same characters as the novel The Game Changer. Julia is the daughter of the protagonist: Henk VWS. Julia is also the one who will tilt society, also according to her father Henk, although his insight, his idea of how to achieve that, is not at all like hers. In addition, certain events are now not described by Henk VWS, but from her (2050) perspective.
Back cover text: June 2050. Julia, a celebrated artist, celebrates her 55th birthday. Encouraged by the mayor of Rotterdam she decides to write her memoirs. She wants to try to unravel her passionate past, to understand it better, and hopes that the youth will be able to learn something from this candid quest in her life. Meanwhile, however, during her writing, she receives fragments of another reality, fragments that increase in quantity and intensity, fragments from the here-and-now that distract and influence her memoirs more and more.
Fragment (first page of the book):
In recent weeks I have managed to read my memoirs. I have tried it before, but it was hurting too much, mental pain caused by the realization that you have recorded your memoirs in a dream world and after manipulation by an artificial enemy, since it are creatives among us who – as a sopmer, like a lollipop for a child – are inspired to this senseless activity, to this exercise in selfishness and self-pity, to this form of autobiographical pride, an activity which Jules might have rightly called a disguised form of prostitution. It helps to keep creatives in check, in line, and admittedly, I went along like no other, yes, I firmly believed in the healing power of my memoirs for the youth of Rotterdam (and for myself). Writing memoirs became my life purpose, encouraged by our mayor with the lovely name Peter Cantacuzino, a mayor of whom I now suspect that he has been manipulated by this all dominating forms of intelligence. It is true, moving from an externally imposed compulsion to self-compulsion has reached new dimensions under the A.I. ruler: I guess that with my memoirs our enemy gets gold in his artificial hands! To think that through my outpourings I am offering him new possibilities to optimize his manipulations! Information collection is like a spider web that tightens every movement, it is high time we unravel this tangle! To sketch a complete picture, before we start with the Unmasking, here are my memories as dictated to my PR robot, just before my Awakening (all published at the express request of the major of Rotterdam).
After Julia has awakened, she finds out how the real world is currently functioning. A hyperintelligent computer entity X.yy has duplicated itself and slowly increases its power. The masterplan designed by X.yy provides a coarse segregation of homo sapiens in leaders, hard workers, creatives and relatively useless. All individuals get information on a need-to-know basis via a coloured AI filter.
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A Memory of Solstice by Caleb Chandler opens in the middle of the night in a dark and eerie museum in Washington D.C. James and Billy are the night guards and the night will not be a successful one for them. There are some otherworldly forces at work; intent on retrieving a keystone the museum has in its collection.
This sets the stage for the reader’s introduction to Lincoln, a peculiar workaholic lawyer who lives alone with his three-legged dog, Sadie. All is not what it seems with Lincoln either. A strange man named Wes approaches Lincoln and starts a conversation about biology and genetics and genetic mutations.
Later, Wes approaches Lincoln again to inform him that the company Wes works for has been watching Lincoln for a while. He also tells Lincoln that he knows things about him that make him special. He then proceeds to ask Lincoln if he will help Wes and his company, Xelix, by approaching five more people who are like Lincoln to some degree.
While Lincoln is not happy at this intrusion into his life, he does finally concede and agree to help. He then goes on a journey to collect the others like him: Hannah, a woman who works with flowers and plants: Nathan, a paleontologist: Talon, a police officer: Bennett, a personal trainer for the body and mind: and Micah, a young, petty criminal who has not yet found his way in life.
They all find themselves gathered at Xelix. Nothing is what is seems and things quickly take a turn for the worse. The action really picks up at this point as the reader learns more about each character and different worlds are discovered and explored.
Although the story was a bit hard to understand at times, I think that can be attributed to the fact that there was so much going on. I think the book could benefit from differentiating the characters a bit more. At times, the way they spoke kind of ran together and I had to check to see who was speaking.
With that said, the story was very good. I found myself turning pages quickly to see what might happen next. The action never got boring. Each page brought more surprises and unexpected events. The book kept me entertained. The story felt very ambitious and although the twists occasionally were difficult to follow the author was able to deliver some moments that made me gasp.
I very much enjoyed this book for it’s thought provoking themes and elegant character development. If you like supernatural thrillers, this is the book for you. The story is especially effective when introducing new worlds and unusual characters that were fantastic but still authentic, which reminded me of Jim Butcher’s same ability in the Dresden Files. I was very impressed with the books attention to detail and the way the author painted pictures with words. Get ready for an adventure!
Pages: 503 | ASIN: B07D9WQXKQ
Posted in Four Stars
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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
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant provides a glimpse of what havoc the Devil and his disciples wreak when they come to earth for the End of Days and in search of Emma Plant. Emma, a young Office Manager, notices that things aren’t quite normal in the valley where she lives. Accidents and fatalities are on the rise, and Emma herself is even visited by strange people and creatures that seek to do her harm. She is visited one night by two gnomes who explain the devastation that is taking place and seek to whisk Emma away into the mountains that overlook the valley. Their goal is to hide and protect Emma from the Devil while he wages war against civilization. It is in the mountains that Emma is introduced to more fantastical creatures, such as witches and fairies, and it is also where she begins to make a new life for herself – a life that is a far cry from the one she once knew.
Author Emma Plant adds interesting fantasy elements to her novel by the inclusion of a variety of mythical creatures, such as gnomes, fairies, witches, demons, and other creatures. The novel is entertaining in that each type of fantasy creature has its own magical powers that are displayed throughout the novel. For example, Ben and Ella, the gnomes that help protect Emma have the ability to shrink larger items in order to be able to carry them easily. Another interesting element of the novel is that, apart from the demons, these characters work harmoniously together. Abela, the witch, provides guidance and protection to Emma, the fairies provide powers and protection to the gnomes, and so on and so forth. These magical characters add a creative depth to the novel.
However, I felt that there was a lack of detail and explanation in the novel. I did not understand why demons are inhabiting earth and wreaking havoc. More importantly, I did not understand what the Devil wanted with Emma. What exactly makes her the center of his attention? I think that there wasn’t enough explanation given to fully develop the events. I felt like there was an overabundance of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. So, I felt I was reading long sections of text rather than an organic delivery of information while the story is unfolding. But with this story being part of a trilogy, I feel much more comfortable knowing that there is two more books on the horizon that will dig deeper into this world and it’s characters.
I felt like the climax was not as climactic as it could have been. Emma spends nearly two years hiding in the mountains. During that time, she reunites with a former flame and they have a family together. Much has happened to her as a person, but it’s a small detail in what, I felt, was the overall point of the novel. Towards the end of the story, Emma is hiding out in Abela’s house when the Devil decides to unleash his wrath on the valley that was her previous home. I expected that the Devil would eventually make his way up to Abela’s home and try to take Emma away. But I expected a battle between the Devil, Emma, and her protectors up in the mountains; however, the devastation doesn’t make its way to the mountains and stays contained within the valley. I felt that there was no real climax or resolution that is reached by the end of the novel. Ultimately, I felt like this novel lacked character development that makes me invest in the characters. For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant is a fascinating fantasy story with many opportunities for a surreal story that plays off of biblical legend.
Pages: 251 | ASIN: B01L0FLHY6
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In the distant future, religion is against the law, and the Earth is a war-torn world ruled by an insane United Nations. All military forces are put on high alert when an ex-bishop of the outlawed “Catholic Church” decides to steal an artifact called “The Shroud of Turin” to help save the Earth from herself. He claims to have the power to use the cloth to help bring about “The Second Coming” – but what’s even more terrifying: he might just do it!
Posted in book trailer
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