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DoGoodR

DoGoodR by W.A. Pepper is a thriller prequel that follows a hacker named Tanto, who, along with a couple fellow hackers, has been hired by a woman claiming to be the sister of the hacker, DoGoodR, to destroy the evidence that had landed him behind bars. Tanto and his friends Squirrel_Lord and Mane-Eac go on a mission to free this young hacker, but as they get further into the job, things start feeling off to Tanto. Accelerated deadlines, their fellow companion’s incompetence, and sheer bad luck have the gang questioning their odds. Will they succeed in saving their young comrade, or is it all just a cleverly arranged trap as they fear?

This suspenseful book was riveting. It really drew me in. It hooks you from the beginning and has you on the edge of your seat till the end. It’s a nice little short read if you’re looking for something to fill a little time in your reading schedule. Despite its size, though, it doesn’t skimp on the thrills. I loved Mane-Eac. She was a strong female character who didn’t let her fellow male hackers push her around, and I appreciate that alpha woman’s presence. Actually, all the ladies were pretty strong, some scarily so.

I felt the book could use some editing with how the chapters are broken out. With a short novel, it can be hard to get all the information a reader needs at times. There are a lot of flashbacks in this story to make that happen. While they were necessary to give you the backstory, I felt saying the character was brought back to the present each time wasn’t necessary. Those things aside, the story moved quickly, and the characters gave readers all the information at just the right time to provide suspense from start to finish.

DoGoodR is a page-turning technothriller and prequel. It made me consider reading the others in this universe. If you love a good hacker thriller, I recommend this. The fast-paced action and great characters made this a great read.

Pages: 120 | ISBN: 1958011045

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Was the online world occupied by ghosts?

Alex Austin Author Interview

End Man follows a man who hunts people pretending to be dead. On his next case, he unearths the secrets of his own phobia-plagued life and the inner workings of the company he works for. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The idea for End Man came from an online experience. I’d been trading pages with a fellow writer. We’d been in this relationship for months, and we thought the swapping beneficial. I emailed her some new chapters and asked her to send her material. She didn’t get back to me acknowledging my new chapters or sending hers. I sent several messages, which also got no response. In her story, her main character was battling an incurable disease. Had she fictionalized her own ailment? Could she be hospitalized—or worse? I checked her Facebook and Goodreads pages, but I found nothing to explain her silence. As I reviewed more of her online haunts, I realized if she had succumbed to an illness, everything she had posted online would remain intact. She would still get likes; people would continue to comment on her posts, friend her, spam her. As if her life went on. How many internet users was this already true of? Was the online world occupied by ghosts? This seemed to be the stuff of a speculative novel. As I developed the plot, I recalled Gogol’s novel Dead Souls in which the main character figures out how to profit off of dead serfs (Gogol gets a shout-out in End Man). Now I had to come up with a contemporary (2030s) business plan to match the Russian author’s slick scam. Over many drafts,  I recognized I had to provide details sufficient to raise venture capital if I were pitching Norval Corporation in the real world. As to my missing writer, I discovered that—ironically—she was “ghosting” me, a term that came into play while I was writing the novel. To that point, yesterday, Linkedin invited me to congratulate a former colleague on his work anniversary. The man is five years dead.

Raphael Lennon is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideas behind your character’s development?

In early drafts, I had two POV characters: Raphael Lennon and Clark Ramfree. Clark was a middle-aged former journalist who lived the good life abroad; Raphael was a 26-year-old IT worker with a lifelong phobia that made it impossible for him to leave his Los Angeles neighborhood. Clark was free, and Raphael unfree. I wanted to explore how Raphael’s phobic prison affected every aspect of his life to produce a shy, self-conscious person whose boundaries occupied him. With Clark, I wanted to see what would happen if his freedom proved illusory. Unable to weave the two character threads,  I extracted Clark from the novel, leaving Raphael alone to explore the notions of freedom and imprisonment. Raphael suffers from dromophobia, the fear of crossing streets, but he has a rare form. It’s only four streets that he can’t cross, but the four intersect to form a rectangle of about one square mile. Each of the four streets holds its own terror. Because his phobia is so unrelatable to others, he has hidden it, making far-fetched excuses why he can’t go to the beach at Malibu or the class trip to Magic Mountain. In his own eyes, he is weird, and believes others view him similarly (crank up Radiohead). Saddling Raphael with this heavy load, I lightened it a bit by making him an expert skateboarder, which provides physical exhilaration. I also gave him a love of music, which I view as transcendent. Guided by his mother, a museum curator who died young, Raphy also loves art and is a painter himself. He works on a canvas that stretches across his living room ceiling, and may be the key to his freedom. He resembles David Bowie, but his name is Raphael Winston Lennon, and there are parallels with both artists in his character. John Lennon’s mother, Julia, was killed by a car at age 44. Her death devastated Lennon, and he wrote several songs about her, reflecting his grief. In End Man, Raphael’s mother, at about the same age as Julia, dies of a horrible disease that turns her to stone; Her memory and suffering haunt Raphael. End Man is a dystopia in the making. Winston is the protagonist in Orwell’s 1984. It’s also John Lennon’s middle name. David Bowie’s favorite book? 1984. David Bowie created his last album around the theme of death.

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

Our appointment with death, and our refusal to accept it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The eroding of death’s meaning. Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy; one million deaths is a statistic.” I’m not sure that one death remains a tragedy. We get numb. We can’t keep count of all the mass shootings. The extent to which our personal data is accumulated and the ends to which it is being put. What is consciousness? Can a machine (AI) become conscious? Our frames (the rectangles not found in nature): cell phones, computers, coffins.

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

The publisher has asked me to write a sequel. I’ve been mulling ideas for the plot. In End Man, I set up a new pantheon of minor gods, influencers, and I’m sure they’ve been up to mischief. I’m also finishing a rewrite on a realistic novel called Blood Marriage about a young woman who escapes an arranged marriage in Pakistan. The novel has been up on Radish, but its second half is a mess. The beat goes on.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | LibraryThing

Once your life is diluted to ones and zeroes on the End Man’s desk, it’s over. Or is it?

Afflicted with dromophobia, the fear of crossing streets, 26-year-old Raphael Lennon must live out his life within the four thoroughfares that border his Los Angeles neighborhood. Luckily, he found a fulfilling job within his space as an End Man at Norval Portals where Raphael is the best possum hunter in the company. He hunts the dead who live, people hiding under the guise of death. He doesn’t want to bring these “possums” to justice but to keep them out of his firm’s necrology database so their presence doesn’t crash the whole system.

When the company founder assigns Raphael a fresh case, he sets aside all other work to investigate Jason Klaes, a maverick physicist with boundary-pushing theories that may have attracted unwanted and sinister attention. Raphael soon discovers messages sent by Klaes after his supposed death—threats to people who have subsequently died. As he digs deeper, he receives his own message from Klaes, a baffling command to pursue the truth.

As he unravels the mystery, he unearths the secrets of his own phobia-plagued life and the inner workings of Norval, whose corporate ambitions include a nightmarish spin-off of its product. Raphael must stop them or he’ll never be free and neither will anyone else.

End Man

End Man is a tech-noir thriller set in the near-future. Raphael Lennon is an End Man, someone who works for the NDMN: “Norval Department of Marketing Necrology.” These IT workers have the jolly pleasure of gathering every bit of digital data left by the recently deceased and packaging it into a marketable product. As Raphael tries to track down an elusive “possum” (someone who faked their own death) he discovers a plot that could alter the course of life, and death, as we know it. To top it all off, Raphael suffers from dromophobia, a fear of crossing streets. This leaves him trapped in a tight square mile of dystopian Los Angeles.

I really enjoyed End Man. Raphael’s day-to-day work, with its “mindfulness videos,” horrible bosses, and questionable morality, feels all too real. Future L.A. is different, but grounded, being based on the real-life area surrounding the La Brea Tar Pits. Raphael is plagued by hallucinations of deadly winds to the south, fires to the north, a glacier to the east, and chasm to the west. This gives the story a claustrophobic feel as the walls close in on the him as he delves deeper into the mystery of the possum Jason Klaes, ominous warnings, and strange murders.

While I really enjoyed this absorbing technothriller I felt that the story took a little while to get going. The mystery-thriller aspect is the meat of the story, but I felt that the book gets bogged down a bit in the beginning with the inner workings of Norval. A few characters are introduced with a handful of sentences and disappear with little consequence, while the inner workings of Raphael’s mind and his self-imposed artistic therapy are prevalent. Raphael’s character is one that I enjoyed following otherwise. The plot and his character make for a unique read that was wildly entertaining and fun.

End Man is an exciting cyberpunk novel that creates a fully realized and compelling world for a fascinating protagonist to exist in. It’s a really interesting read that is incredibly relevant to the technological and social state of the world today. This is a slick and explosive dystopian thriller that I highly recommend to science fiction fans.

Pages: 379 | ASIN: B0B649S5B9

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The Interplay of Memory and Dream

Duane Poncy Author Interview

Skyrmion follows a man who enters a virtual world for the first time and navigates through dangers and dangerous relationships to find his daughter. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The Dreaming Earth by John Brunner had a big influence on me when I read it years ago as a teenager. The idea that you could be transported to another world by a street drug seemed translatable to the realm of virtual reality. Another book that influenced me in my youth is John Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle. Despite all of your doubts, in the end, you do the right thing.

Joe Larivee is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

First of all, I wanted my protagonist to be an ordinary man, not a cop or an ex-military hero, or any of the common tropes in this sort of fiction. I knew he would be conflicted and a tad cynical and have regrets over a past betrayal. And the child of radical parents who have left him with a social conscience. He also loves his daughter very much and tries to do what’s best for her.

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

I wanted to explore a few themes that have been important to me over the years: utopia v. dystopia, and the impossibility of either one; the role of (social) memory and dream in reproducing our everyday world; and my own indigenous roots, a theme which doesn’t show up so much in this first novel but is a major factor in the full arc of the Sweetland Quartet. Using the realm of virtual reality to address these themes, particularly the interplay of memory and dream, seemed like a natural to me.

This is book one of the Sweetland Quartet. What can readers expect in book two?

I can’t say too much without it being a spoiler for Skyrmion. But it takes place seventeen years in the future in a utopic society on the verge of invasion. It follows Jessie Larivee and her half-sister, Molly Whitedeer, as their family is torn apart by the machinations of New America Corporation.

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In the minds of those left behind, the act of crossing over to Sweetland is, literally, no different than death. But is Sweetland really a new planet, ready to accept a humanity suffering from war, economic collapse, and environmental catastrophe—or is it another kind of escape entirely?

Joe Larivee believes he has seen the other side, and now he must decide: is Sweetland real, and, if so, does he follow his daughter and lover and escape from the hell Earth has become, or does he stay and fight for the unfortunate ones he has spent his life serving, and, in the process, just maybe redeem himself for the betrayal which eats at his conscience?

Joe Larivee is an Everyman, a single father, a tireless social worker trying to help the growing legions of the poor while keeping his own head above the water, and in 2038 the water is rising fast, fed by global warming and collapse of the ice caps. America is on the verge of war and economic disaster. For the starving many, rumors of a new answer have arrived. It’s Sweetland, a newly-discovered earth-like world. And there’s a novel way to get there — through the virtual reality called New Life.

Fourteen-year-old Jessie Larivee wants to go to Sweetland. There is no future on Earth for children like her. She has been taking virtual training classes at an online university, and she is determined to emigrate, no matter the cost. But she hasn’t figured out how to tell her dad, who is a bit of a luddite. She desperately wants him to go with her, but how can she convince him?

Meanwhile, virtual private eye, Claire Deluna, has been hired to spy on a mysterious corporate upstart by it’s parent company, New Life, Inc. Now she has the big players on her tail, but is it the mob, the government, the Bolivarians, or someone else? More worrying, why are bodies of mostly poor, young people turning up everywhere? And what does it have to do with the Temple of New Life and something called Sweetland?

Skyrmion

Sweetland. The mystery on everyone’s lips. When a group of teenagers are found dead in a warehouse, a mystery unfolds in the real world and the virtual world of New Life. But what is Sweetland? That’s what Joe Larivee is going to find out. Is Sweetland real or another part of New Life that Joe accesses through his citspecs? When Joe’s daughter, Jesse, goes missing, Joe must venture into New Life for the first time, create an avatar, and navigate his way through new dangers and relationships to find his daughter.

Skyrmion, by Duane Poncy, is the thrilling first book of a cyberpunk series about Earth’s future, embroiled in war and poverty. Poncy masterfully weaves the real and virtual worlds, switching between the cast of characters and their real selves and virtual avatars.

During his adventure, Joe finds himself falling for an avatar named Claire, and he wonders if his feelings are for the avatar or the actual human behind the citspecs. Hounded in the real world and in New Life by his villainous ex-wife and the FBI, Joe finds himself trying to solve the mystery of Sweetland, find his daughter, and stop a revolution that threatens to destroy Planet Earth once and for all.

Readers will enjoy the exciting mystery of Sweetland, the corporation New America, and the dying Planet Earth. Poncy’s novel is long but the author uses that length to create a story with intriguing depth and a vast array of characters, which can be confusing since some characters have two names—one real name and one avatar name. Science fiction fans will enjoy this immersive novel and be able to relate to the characters’ real-world struggles and aspirations.

Skyrmion is a riveting technothriller with a unique voice and something to say. Readers who enjoy well constructed worlds and thought provoking sci-fi ideas will have plenty to enjoy in this novel. I enjoyed how this story created a space where the virtual world and the real world become indistinguishable.

Pages: 412 | ASIN: B09YN7MS6Q

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Into A Possible Future

Denna Holm Author Interview

Silvano’s Redemption follows an Earth woman and a cyborg as they fight for the freedom of cyborgs while finding romance between them. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of cyborgs. Would they still be considered human or not? How much of their bodies would have to be replaced before they aren’t considered human? For this story, I wanted to send women from our time into a possible future where cyborgs exist. I wanted them to see how far the human race had fallen. I also wanted to touch on who should be blamed when we are dealing with evil people in charge of society. Silvano and the other cyborgs hate all humans when this story begins. They have been severely abused, but they slowly come to realize through Tessa and the other women that not all humans are evil. Is there a point where Silvano can learn to let go of past abuse? If he can’t, then he might be missing out on a brighter future with Tessa. Life can be difficult, but I wanted to bring across that there is always hope for a better tomorrow.

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the characters personalities grow organically as you were writing?

I’m not very good at outlining. I know where I want my story to start, and I know where I want it to end. I basically follow where my characters want to take me in the middle. They rarely let me down.

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

….Listening with an open mind rather than be judgmental. Forgiveness, redemption, courage, love, perseverance.

What can you tell readers about the next book in the series and when will it be available?

“Saving Mathis” is available for pre-order now. It will be released on May 10th. Questions concerning Tessa’s sister Tara will be answered in this book. We will also be given a hint as to where these cyborgs, the women, and their children are headed for. The full story will be slowly revealed throughout the series.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Silvano is Commander of the Cyborg ship Freedom. He feels responsible for his Cyborg crew and has spent the past century trying to keep them free of the Human Alliance. Humans represent everything Cyborgs hate, a plague upon the universe, destroying everything in their path. Before they fought for their freedom, Cyborgs were considered little more than expendable slaves.

Tessa and her twin sister Tara are abducted from Earth by aliens that resemble man-sized lizards to be used for breeding. They are rescued from the lizards by these strange, emotionless beings who claim to be Cyborgs. Tessa isn’t sure what to think about the stern commander but can’t deny she finds him as attractive as she does terrifying.

Things heat up between Tessa and Silvano when he is forced to use her to lead a traitor Cyborg away from his ship.
 
**Standalone Story. No Cliffhangers.**

A.I. Can Be More Humane

David Crane Author Interview

Age of Magnus: Keepers of the Rain follows the ruling A.I. system of Earth as it prepares to battle a group of humans that want to restore power to the human race. Where you able to wrap up all your storylines in this third book?

I must say yes, I have managed to complete the trilogy with this final volume of the Magnus series, bringing this post-apocalyptic science fiction story to satisfactory conclusion. The storyline has been in development during the final stages of completion of the second novel of the trilogy. Before I started my work, I knew exactly how the story would end. All of the characters presented in the final book were new, and it was an interesting process of integrating them into the story. I wanted this to be a character driven book that also poses many interesting philosophical questions about relationship between man and advanced Artificial Intelligence and man’s relationship with nature.

Has writing and publishing this trilogy changed the way you see the future of technology?

Ever since I was a kid, I was always fascinated by technological marvels. Over many years, my interest in technologies, especially futuristic technologies and new forms of energy provided me with rich food for thought. I initially saw technology as the necessary part of everyday world, until gradually, I matured to become more analytical about its applications. Writing and publishing this book made me aware of many interesting possibilities advanced computer technology can offer mankind in its technological evolution. In my novel, I imagined a very powerful Artificial Intelligence that helps mankind in its darkest moments in history, but at the same time demands order over chaos and kindness and respect over cruelty and arrogance. In some ways, the A.I. can be more humane than any human if it taught the right values from the start.

What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?

This is an interesting question. For writer, there are always risks he or she must take to see the story move from start to finish. Some writers tend to be either too shy, too nice or too politically correct to get their point across without being labeled as abnormal or evil. Thankfully, in my story politics takes a backseat to the drama and the scenery where my characters operate. In my story, each person has a motive, regardless of them being protagonists or antagonists. My biggest risk in this book was in taking Magnus’s side in the human-machine conflict. Since I wrote this trilogy from Magnus’s point of view, I have imprinted on Magnus some of my strongest personality traits. There is an old saying: Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Through Magnus, I drove my point across how I would rule the world if I had attained absolute control over the planet. I do think that risk paid off because the book was worth it!

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

I would advise them to be patient and set realistic goals from the beginning, in order to avoid their great expectations to be damaged or crushed because of multiple rejections. Working on the first book is a great pleasure, once the writer knows what kind of story he or she wants to tell. I would advise the writer to make his first book character driven, have interesting and intriguing storyline and keep the sentences clear, simple and avoid literary cliches. First time book writers are very impressionable and take their inspiration from other books and movies. The trick is to develop your own voice and carry it through the book from start to finish. My final advice would be to make their characters, especially their main characters to have flaws. All humans have them and the characters’ vulnerabilities as well as their strengths would make them more sympathetic.

Author Interview: Facebook | Amazon

After conquering Earth after two centuries of brutal struggle for supremacy, Hyper Quantum Supercomputer Magnus is preparing to celebrate one thousand years of his worldwide cybernetic reign. Machines rule the planet with inhuman efficiency and near absolute domination of every sphere of influence. Almost everywhere there is peace, prosperity and abundance of every basic necessity to satisfy human desires. Humans under the benevolent rule of machines now can opt for true immortality at the end of their natural lifespan. The cybernetic empire stretches far beyond Earth and across the solar systems as humans raised by machines are living in the most magnificent and enduring era of machine domination.<br><br>But inside the wildlands, places Magnus had left for humans to live as they wish without the control and help from machines, the seeds of the massive worldwide insurrection finally bore fruit in the form of the GHR, the Global Human Resistance. For one thousand years, the enemies of Magnus gathered their resources, preparing for the final grandiose showdown between the man and machines. Assisted by the new, powerful and lethal technologies as well as biological weapons to destroy all humans who worship machines, they are determined to win or die for the cause of human freedom. But as Magnus prepares to defend his imperium from all enemies foreign and domestic, an even greater threat now hangs like a giant Sword of Damocles above the planet. Now both the biological and mechanical races face the greatest danger in their lives in a standoff that will determine who will survive, man or machine?

Disorder

Disorder by Antim Strauss is a riveting story about the most infamous US presidential election in recent times. This fictional narrative is based on actual events and explores the actions of a mysterious figure known as The Fixer. The reader is hooked from the start as the story begins with a message by The Fixer himself, addressing the reader. Individual chapters are dedicated to the thoughts and words of The Fixer, whose poetic lines are pretty gripping. As the story progresses, we realize how the actions of The Fixer are about to cause a catastrophe. An unstable, and disgraceful candidate becomes the frontrunner of the GOP, and a massive disinformation campaign is afoot to ensure his victory. Tipped off by a former president, journalist Geoffrey Wines along with fellow journalist, hacker, and Superman enthusiast Jimmy Olsen, discovers a much deeper conspiracy. One that threatens the very essence of American Democracy.

Disorder opens in a slow-burn style giving readers the background leading up to the election and introducing The Fixer. The words of The Fixer, nicknamed Elvis, add freshness to the narrative and gives readers a unique perspective. Similarly, the author has done an excellent job of conveying the thoughts of his characters within the text.

While the novel is a political thriller, readers are not inundated with suspenseful events. The story is well written and the narrative techniques used by the author are commendable. As a technothriller, there is a lot of technical jargon and computer-related stuff to appeal to the tech-savvy crowd. The best part about this story is the investigation by Geoffrey and Jimmy, along with other members of their team. The way the investigation is conducted and clues are connected are quite intriguing and will appeal to fans of compelling mysteries.

Disorder is a political fiction novel that parallels closely to recent events. Appealing to readers of mystery novels, political, techno, and psychological thrillers, this suspenseful and riveting novel has something for readers of all types.

Pages: 363 | ASIN : B09SBRYNHJ

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