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The Newest Reviews/Book Mentions/Spotlights for Sapience!

I’m very happy at how Sapience has continued to get excellent reviews on Amazon and Goodreads! Recently, Sapience also received a lovely review from Shari Sakurai on her blog. My favorite quote:

I think what I loved most about the stories was that as dark as they were, there was very often hope amongst the darkness and the characters had resolve to prevail no matter what difficulties they faced. Each one was beautifully written and are the kinds of tales that will stay with you.

Several blogs and websites have also spotlighted Sapience recently, including on Jennifer' Perkins’ Author Esquire #IndieApril Booklist, A. Woodley’s Random Stuff and Books, Chris Morton’s New Adventures in Sci-fi, and Book of the Day. Thank you to everyone who’s helped get the word out about Sapience!

Also, as a part of OWS CyCon 2019, Sapience will be a part of a rafflecopter giveaway! It’s free to enter, so check it out and you could have the chance to win an Amazon gift card as well as a selection of books from the science fiction writers of the CyCon! For more chances to win, you can subscribe to my newsletter using the form below! Make sure you put OWS CyCon 2019 in the subject!

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Odin Oxthorn Shares Their Greatest SciFi Gadget for OWS CyCon 2019

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Welcome to another fantastic stop in our Greatest Gadgets blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting awesome Scifi tech, and you can find a full list of participating authors and topics for this hop on the OWS Cycon Website. Let’s dive in!

Welcome Odin!

Hi there! Thanks so much for having me!

Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, what is Sleepless Flame about?

Sleepless Flame is a fast-paced mission style cyberpunk thriller featuring a nonbinary protagonist. You follow the exploits of Nara, an alien war criminal that made a new life for herself as a mercenary in the Undercity of Arcadia.

Things get interesting for her when the unconscious body of the heir of the largest Biotech conglomerate lands at her feet. The same company that also has the largest price on her head. Oh what to do?

What can you tell us about the piece of SciFi tech you’re featuring today?

Let me introduce you to the InSpec Araknyd Visualization Assistant. Ranked number 1 in reconnaissance and user experience.

This tiny AI will give you the power of sight from another camera’s eyes! Just switch it on then drop it, and  this ingenious piece of machinery will do the work for you! No more depending on open wireless ports to risky security systems.

The Araknyd will automatically seek out the nearest surveillance device and infiltrate its systems, handing off the device’s visuals directly into your Augmented HUD in YOUR preferred platform. Its eight output connectors are not only its mode of transportation, it is also guaranteed to interface with every type of port on the market! (And some off market too.)

Don’t be cornered on your information gathering excursions without taking one of these with you!

NOTE: InSpec is not held liable for actions that violate trade agreements and local law. The Araknyd is used for in-house corporate surveillance and not to be used to gain access to unauthorized property.

Here is an excerpt from Sleepless Flame describing it in action:

She extracted a tiny mechanical spider from a pocket, turning it on its back to reveal a switch on its abdomen. With a gentle push, the critter twitched to life, flailing its tiny needle-like limbs excitedly as she set it on the ground.

           The critter darted over the floor, racing up to the ceiling with an eager tempest of pointy feet. Consumed by its hunting instinct, the creature accelerated toward its hapless victim, stalking a vigilant surveillance unit monitoring the corridor. The predator encircled the base of the camera, rearing back on its hind legs as it sized up its foe. Having uncovered the device’s weak point, it lunged onto its prey, ramming two of its wiry projections into the base of the camera. After a moment, it let off a victorious chirp, alerting Nara of a successful connection.

           Proud of its achievements, the critter summoned a display into Nara’s screen, showing off the perspective of the conquered camera. As she zoomed in on the screen, she reached her hand out past the elevator door, watching her fingers disappear in a hazy mist of warping light as the bug worked its illusory magic.

Where can people find you on the web?

Thanks for having me! I have a booth over at OWSCyCon where you can check out my work and come chat with me:

https://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/forums/topic/odin-oxthorn-author-booth/

As well as my Books here:

https://www.amazon.com/Odin-Oxthorn/e/B07B546XXR

But you can also follow me around the internet here:

https://www.odinsmusings.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OdinsMusings/

https://twitter.com/OdinsMusings

https://www.youtube.com/user/odinsmusings

https://www.instagram.com/odinsmusings/

Hope to see you there!


For more stops on our World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website. You can also find more great SciFi authors and books on our main Sci Fi event page.

Also, if you’re visiting from OWS CyCon, don’t forget to subscribe to my Lunarian Press newsletter using the Subscribe box below!

Review: Tales from Alternate Earths

In honor of Indy April, I decided to read and review several books by independent authors or small presses. I chose Tales from Alternate Earths form Inklings Press to review because I’d read an enjoyed some of the Leo McBride’s Altered Instinct. Full disclosure: Altered Instinct gave a great review to a story I contributed to Red Sun Magazine.

Once I started reading this, I actually tore through many of the stories pretty quickly. I thought that the theme of the anthology, which was imagining alternative events or outcomes in human history, was quite interesting. That said, like many multi-author anthologies, the styles and interpretations of the authors included were wildly variable. In fact, if I had a criticism, it’s that it was actually too variable. Every time I felt I had a grasp of the events and alternate history in one story, I’d move on to another one that was incredibly different in time period, characters, and theme. Sometimes that worked, as I found the new story as interesting as the one I’d left. Sometimes, not quite so much.

A few stories stood out as particular good. I liked the subtle tension set against the domestic calm of Terri Pray’s “One More Dawn,” and the interesting twists of history in Jessica Holmes’ “September 26th, 1983.” My favorite stories, though, were the last three. I liked Leo McBride’s “The Secret War” because its shell-shocked and traumatized main character really spoke to me, and I enjoyed twist at the end. Daniel Bensen’s “Treasure Fleet” had a richly imagined world and interesting characters. I think more science fiction and fantasy writers should look at 14th century China’s domination of the seas!

But if I had to choose one favorite, I’d have to pick Maria Haskins’ “Tunguska, 1987.” Haskins’ characters had great depth, and her world had some fantastic science fiction elements—the mysterious metal invaders, their incredible powers, and the fact that some people could sense the alterations that time travel produced, all of it made a good story. What’s more, her reveals at the end were as subtle and fascinating as her earlier writing, and left me with as many questions as she’d answered.

A couple of the stories really weren’t to my taste. I felt that while “Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon” had an interesting premise, the story felt like it had too many elements, some of which didn’t feel like they went together. The story had two authors, so I almost wondered if it was a “too many cooks” problem. I didn’t care for “One World,” because honestly it read a little like a conspiracy theory gone amok, and I just couldn’t relate or sympathize with the main character (for most of the story, he seemed more like an observer than a protagonist). “Stargazing on Oxford Street” had an interesting setting and a good premise, but I felt that the main characters didn’t really accomplish anything or do much.

Overall, I felt that Tales from Alternate Earths was a good indie anthology and a good way to discover lots of new sci-fi authors. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in alternate history or science fiction.

Review: Black Swan, White Raven

Black Swan, White Raven is a collection of fairy tales retold by modern fantasy writers. The stories are alternately dazzling, psychological, dark, and powerful. While a few fell flat, several stood out as brilliant re-imaginings of familiar stories.

In particular, I enjoyed Anne Bishop's retelling of Rapunzel, where the heroine learns true wisdom from her suffering. Don Webb's Three Dwarves and 2,000 Maniacs had an energetic and compelling voice, and captured the madcap insanity of magic run amok. Pat Murphy's The True Story turns the story of Snow White completely on its head, and raises some hard questions about why stepmothers are so reviled in stories, while fathers are excused. Likewise, Karen Fowler's The Black Fairy's Curse plays with our expectations about what makes a truly happy ending and a healthy relationship. Yet, perhaps the most eerie and unique story is Bruce Glassco's True Thomas, which seamlessly blends science fiction and fantasy into one of the most compelling versions of faeries I've ever read. This book is worth reading for that story alone.

A few of the stories were disappointing. I didn't care for The Flounder's Kiss--the main character seems likeable enough until the end of the story, when he becomes completely monstrous. It felt like an out of character transformation, and made the story feel uncomfortable and misogynistic. I also didn't care for the The Breadcrumb Trail, a poem included in the stories. It just didn't seem to work for me--it seemed to obvious.
Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales, fantasy, or even science fiction. The stories are so diverse that each one feels new and exciting, even when they're retelling familiar stories. It's fascinating to read so many entirely new perspectives on fairy tales.

Short Stories: Why I Write Them

Over the last few years, I’ve written tons of short stories! I started writing them soon after I had my first child. As a new mother, I found it difficult to get the focused, sustained time and attention I needed to write a full length novel, so instead I started writing something short. I ended up really liking short stories, both to read and to write, because they can pack such an emotional punch in such a quick period of time.

Short stories are also good way for writers to explore different genres or writing styles without committing to an intense project. If you normally write serious, dramatic novels, you could try writing something light-hearted or funny in a short story. I've written short stories about minor characters or aspects of a world I might later use in a novel. That allows me to flesh out these side characters and give them more depth, and it can help with world-building.

It can be tricky with science fiction or fantasy stories because often the worlds we create in speculative fiction are unique to our imaginations. This is why many fantasy writers spend so much time "world-building," or writing about the setting of their stories or novels. For short stories, our world-building needs to be economized as much as possible. We need to suggest the nature of our world in a few words, or else our "short story" quickly swells into a novel with a limited, short-story plot. I handle this by trying to keep the world entirely within one character's perspective. If that character knows little about the nature of magic or a scientific discovery, then I don't give the reader an explanation either. It's often more dramatic and emotional if characters don't completely understand what's happening to them, or how things work. Life is often bewildering.

While writing short stories is a fun challenge, reading them wonderful too! I love many short stories by writers such as Connie Willis and Neil Gaiman. I also like reading multi-author anthologies such as Black Swan, White Raven, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, or the Nebula Awards Showcase books, which have some really excellent science fiction. Books like these can also help you find new authors whose writing and story telling you admire.

Of course, if you enjoy short stories, I hope you’ll read my book, Sapience, as well!