Archive for February, 2019

House Keeping 2/26/2019

Sorry for the radio silence all. I’ve got a million things to do to get a new job and back into school and all that. But I’ve got no more really good places to start. I need to rework my resume and get that checked over. I’m waiting to hear back from FAFSA and see what I can get done there, but I don’t feel like I should apply to the school I want to go to until I have a way to try and secure funding for classes.

And the list goes on.

And the list goes on.

And I make efforts at getting somewhere but feel like I’m dragging my heels waiting for something better to happen. I think I’ll probably feel like that until I’m actually in a job again.

That said though, I did have a really good weekend at the local con. Lots of awesome cosplayers, some really fun panels, and the chance to hang out with my friends for a good amount of time.

Plus, we’re starting a new campaign this coming Friday. It’s a D&D 5 campaign loosely modeled after Dwarf Fortress. So that means that our merry band of misfits is going to be based in one place rather than walking the world as usually happens for us. It also means introducing the game group to the Boatmurdered clan of Dwarves and their special brand of mayhem.

It’ll be a lot of fun and, since I’m not DMing this time, I should be able to take notes and such from my character’s perspective much easier than with the World of Darkness campaign.

And on to the stuff readers are theoretically here for! I’m still working on the editing software thing for the box openings, like most stuff it’s been kind of a non-starter. I think I’m going to use part of tomorrow to work on the reviews for January and February’s Second Star Books boxes and try to have those up over the next couple of weeks. There isn’t going to be anything for the March box, at least, due to current events I had to pause my subscription. I’ll be back to it as soon as is feasible.

Still haven’t finished the book I’m reading for review. Still have those other two reviews partially worked up. Again, that might be a tomorrow thing to work on. A tonight thing if I can get a couple of other things done first.

Also still planning on working on a couple of “And Another Thing” posts. I’ve got one partially roughed out, it just needs finishing and polish. The other I need to do some research for, but I have a frame work.

And that;s about it for now. So, standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here or just want to say hi, feel free to leave a comment or a like. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here, you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. Anything from that is going to be going towards household needs for a little while. Either way, have a great rest of the week!


A Couple of Thoughts

I find myself wanting to talk about a thing that feels like a trope but might have just been specific to one author. I know I’ve seen it from more than just the one guy, but I can’t for the life of me remember how common or not it is. Either way, it’s a great way to annoy me greatly in a single scene.

If it’s not a trope, I really want it to be.

Another thing, I kind of want to revisit a couple of books that I’ve previously reviewed and talk about things that I either hadn’t thought of at the time or that I don’t feel like I gave as much time to as I would have wanted.

That and I also find myself wanting to talk about series and how they work overall once I’ve reviewed all of them. It seems like fun.

House Keeping 2/12/19

So, applying for jobs is seven kinds of a pain. I’m going to need to totally rework my resume, I think, if I want to get anything other than another retail job. All kinds of fun there in any case.

Aside from that, I’m looking at having a review done either tomorrow or Thursday. The last couple of weeks haven’t really been conducive to my reading, but I’m still working on it.

And I’ll have something fun up after the review goes live, so keep an eye out for that.

I’m also still working on figuring out my video editing software, so that box opening and other related stuff is still coming up.

That’s about it for this week. Standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. I feed off positive reinforcement. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

Guest Post: Damien Larkin

I meant to have this up yesterday but then time escaped me badly. Badly. I’ve actually been really excited for this one too, so it’s going to be fun to see what you all think. If you like what you read here, Big Red is available this coming May and you can pre-order it from the author’s website. Big thanks to Mr. Larkin and Dancing Lemur Press. Enjoy!

When I first started writing Big Red, I had the plot clearly worked out. I knew the exact story I wanted to tell. Like most plans, it didn’t work out the way I originally intended. New ideas formed, characters changed, even some of the pivotal scenes adapted to serve a newer story. The original idea involved the soldiers in Big Red being closer to super-human Rambo types. After thinking about it and drawing on my own experiences, I rewrote it from the perspective of an average person, with an ordinary, average life pulled into an extraordinary situation.

When I was seventeen, I joined the Irish Reserve Defence Forces which ranks as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even today, I look back fondly at the camaraderie, life lessons and practical skills I learned. The one thing I remember more than anything though; the monotony.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Redoing foot and weapon drills on a daily basis was part of the role. Still, moving from a sudden burst of excitement (during simulated attacks on “enemy” positions in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains) to something mundane like map reading could wear out even the most enthusiastic of us.

As I rewrote Big Red, I found myself thinking more and more about those days. I wanted to capture what it was like being on the bottom rung, the lowest of the low. Set against the backdrop of a vicious war between the Mars Occupation Force, the human colonists and an aggressive indigenous alien species, the protagonist and the rest of the 2nd Battalion are mere observers at the start. Relegated to guard duty, they watch from the sidelines as the “real” soldiers do the fighting. Many are even grateful for the opportunity to sit the conflict out.

But as events unfold closer to home, average, normal everyday people have to make a choice. Will they rise to the occasion or run away from it?

I drew inspiration for Big Red from Robert A. Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” and Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War. Both are excellent reads with some fascinating points, philosophies and outlooks. I enjoyed them both greatly, but rather than espousing an ideal or political message, I wanted to focus on how the lines between good and evil can very easily be blurred in wartime.

These average, ordinary people become products of their environment. They soak up the prejudices of their fellow soldiers against the colonists, in some cases viewing them as on par with the enemy. In their simulated training environments, they begin to not only learn how to kill their enemy effectively, they learn how to loathe and despise them too.

Without making any judgements, I let the protagonist and his friends tell this story. It was a unique opportunity to explore if doing good can cancel out an evil act and vice versa. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to share this story with (hopefully) plenty more to follow soon.

Big Red cover

Damien Larkin is a full-time stay-at-home father of two loud (but happy) young children. When not tinkering with apps as a side project, you can find him reading everything and anything to do with psychology, history and science fiction. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.

House Keeping 2/6/19

Things have fallen a little bit apart. Nothing I can’t handle at the moment, but it might be a concern later on.

Mostly that means I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like. I kind of stress shut down and just spent the weekend hanging out and working on not as much as I’d have liked the past couple of days. I’m also going to be sorting things out for a little while yet, so I am definitely running behind. Apologies for that.

I should have another guest post up for you all this Friday and I’m still working on figuring out the editing software to post that box opening video for the January Second Star Books box. A review of the contents will follow that, so I’m hoping to have it up sooner rather than later. Or, at least I’m hoping to have it up before the February box gets here.

That’s about it for now. As always, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. Let me know if there’s anything you want to hear more about or if there’s a particular review you liked. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here, massive schedule slip aside, you can always feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In any case, have a great rest of the week!

And I’m back with another guest post for you all. This one’s an excerpt, but I’m going to leave the framing up to the author. It’s actually a really interesting thing that I’m going to have to check out the next time I’m book shopping. Enjoy!

arasmith certainty principle cover

Excerpt from The Arasmith Certainty Principle

Thank you, Lauren, for the invitation to share a bit of my new science fiction adventure, The Arasmith Certainty Principle with your readers.  Like many of the adventure stories that I most like to read, The Arasmith Certainty Principle is about ordinary people coming face to face with extraordinary events.  As the book begins, three young scientists early in their careers are trying to piece together an explanation for a series of unexpected observations.  However, they soon find themselves caught up in the extraordinary implications of their observations and have to choose whether to put their lives and loves at risk to save the world from the disrupted reality that their discovery unleashes.

It’s always hard for an author to get a ‘feel’ for his or her own writing, so, in an effort to measure my own story, I recently played the Marshall McLuhan Page 69 game.  Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian intellectual who supposedly said that if you want to find out what a book is like before you read it, turn to page 69 and read that page.  I was somewhat surprised to find that page 69 (from the print version of The Arasmith Certainty Principle) faithfully captures some of the story’s juxtaposition of ordinary and extraordinary.  Check out the excerpt below and see if you agree!

Page 69 (Print Version)

Susan enjoyed her monthly bowling outing with Cynthia and Mike more than she had for a long time.  Perhaps her frequent and pleasant outings with Jonathan the past couple of weeks had mellowed her.  The kids were absent today, and so she couldn’t hide from Mike by talking to them.  As a consequence, she and Mike even enjoyed a short chat, without much disagreement.

Tonight, Susan found the familiar sights and sounds of the bowling alley particularly enjoyable.  She liked the clattering noise of falling pins and the shouts of patrons elated or disappointed with their bowling.  And she enjoyed the companionship without expectation.

A perfect evening.

Susan watched as Cynthia rose to pick her ball from the return rack, a light-weight purple one.  Cynthia glanced over her shoulder to the horseshoe benches that wrapped around the end of their lane where Susan and Mike sat.  Cynthia’s eyes went first to Susan, a faint smile warming her lips, no doubt pleased that she and Mike were getting along so well.  Susan returned the smile.  When Cynthia’s eyes went to Mike they warmed a bit more, and her smile changed, almost as if to say to Mike, “See, I told you she’d do ok in the end.”

Cynthia stepped to her spot in the lane and began her throw, but another motion caught Susan’s attention, two lanes over, half-way down toward the pins.  At first it was just a hint of moving color, shimmering in the empty lane, a few feet above the polished hardwood.  It flickered like an image from an old, failing film projector, blinking in and out as though not quite sure whether to exist or not.  As she watched, the image began to resolve into something like the shape of a person.

Susan might have wondered if she were seeing things, an hallucination, except she noticed that everyone else was watching too, eyes riveted on the shimmering being now hovering in mid-air.

russ colson author pic

Russ Colson is a scientist, teacher, author, gardener, and grandfather living in northwest Minnesota, far enough from city lights to see the Milky Way and the Aurora Borealis. During the dark northern winters, he teaches planetary science, meteorology, and geology at Minnesota State University Moorhead. In summers, he writes, gardens, and collaborates with undergraduate students on research projects in experimental planetary geochemistry. In 2010, he was selected by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation as US Professor of the Year.

Before coming to Minnesota, he worked at the Johnson Space Center in Texas and at Washington University in St. Louis where, among other things, he studied how a lunar colony might mine oxygen from the local rock. He has published a variety of technical papers, science-fiction stories, and essays on earth science education. His non-fiction science book Learning to Read the Earth and Sky, published by NSTA Press, offers a story-filled exploration of the nature of scientific investigation and how that investigation can be brought into the classroom. His sequel to The Arasmith Certainty Principle, A Light in the Sky, will be coming out in . He is currently working on a new trilogy (The Kilns of Jupiter, A People Joined Asunder, and Ancient and Future Gods) about a self-taught planetary scientist who finds herself caught up in an inter-planetary mystery and war after her best friend tries to blow her up with a car bomb.

You can find his author website here as well as Double Dragon Publishing’s listing for The Arasmith Certainty Principle here.