April 9, 2011

Three Short Stories that Deliver, Not What If, But What will? – 5 Star Review, Where Has this Author Been?

The Human Condition, Niven buries the reader in three stories that grip from beginning to end.

I just happened to stumble on this book through Facebook. Decided for .99 cents, a download and review were not that expensive. I just have to say, this author needs some more love (marketing, that is).

So may I present:

Twilight Candleflies: 3 Tales of Speculative Fiction

Niven uses three different styles and plots to present the moral dilemmas of our times in depressing future conditions.  What unites these tales are the qualities, or lack of qualities, in the humans coping within their environment.  Let me give you some snippets to ponder:

Last School of Humanities:

Random vs. Order: have the rules changed because a world changed?  One is focused on preservation, survival and hope for the future.  Another is focused on trying to fix a mistake he created. A Loner is delighted to have a world in which he can do anything he wants, and he wants to destroy. Niven presents an effectual, yet troubling read of survival in the worst conditions imaginable, with the biggest stake – the Human Condition.

Niven introduces the world via post-war University scenery. He then effectively introduces the viewpoint of Jana. As the anxiety develops, Niven continues to develop his social commentary through the dialogue of Hero vs. Villain. The reader easily follows and becomes engaged.  Niven does an excellent job of presenting the nuances and subtleties to the quandary of human nature.  "Because if you put two equal forces on a battlefield, chaos and order, who do you think will win?"

This is Not Your Mother’s Earth:

Bill loves women.  And at 18, he’s very good at it. Lexie loves Bill, but knows that as his assistant, she can’t have him.  A love story set in the future, without the love, until it’s time to eat the Licorice. Niven, through a quickie short, questions moral codes for the equality of men and women.

This story reads like a well scripted play from The Twilight Zone. “The twenty by twenty windowless chamber contained the standard items issued to a man of eighteen: queen-sized floor cushion, toilet, set of free weights, and a bookshelf full of the latest bestsellers, novels by Paula Ryton, Julia James, Mary Higgins Clark, and Beverly Moonwater.”  A single building in the future and the New World Government set the stage for a light but metaphorically correct narrative.  The style brings to fore the human condition. "I'm a hero. They all said so. A World Hero."

Five Minutes for the World:

Life is beyond routine and mundane, when your only excitement is the Viewing, and Mate Day every 354 days.  At 40, Gates had accepted this lifestyle, until a mating with Moxy dropped some seeds in his brain.  And after the most dreaded experience on ship happened to Gates – a Bad Viewing, Moxy’s seeds sprouted into that eternal question: Is There More?

“So many beautiful ships, motoring along preplanned skyways, carrying an entire race of people who could no longer set foot on the Earth they had poisoned.” And thus we see the Hindenburg through the eyes of Gates. Gates is very human in this world of mechanics. “And each life aboard the ship sparkled brilliantly at birth, then fizzled as the invariability of existence became an overbearing reality.”  Rich scenes and Gate’s thoughts lead the reader on another path, Niven’s vision of self-discovery.


Character/Plot: 5 stars
Writing Style: 5 Stars
Formatting: 5 Stars

This book rings of professional writing. The language is light, but there are non-graphic adult scenes of both sex and violence, recommend 18+.  Formatting/grammar was near perfection (think I only underlined one sentence). Recommend you download for a weekend read, or add to your Sci-Fi collection.

About the Author:

Scott's been writing in one form or another for over 25 years. His short stories have appeared in various publications, including the literary journal Pembroke Magazine. He was also a finalist in the prestigious L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

When Scott grows up, he hopes to become an astronaut. If that doesn't work out, his fallback dream is to make a living writing.

April 6, 2011

On Book Reviews, Analysis and Critique vs. Controversy

When I dedicated myself to reviewing (it can be fun, watching the stats change on Amazon), I realized I would need to improve in order to compete with the Big Boys.  However, this isn't my first blog - I actually ran a rather successful Poker Blog awhile back - number 5 on the return list in Google Search.

That, of course, was before (or rather during the evolution of) the full Social Media explosion,  Now, in order to present my topics and reviews - I must tweet, I need fans, and one book espouses on the use of You Tube Videos (sorry, I'm just not going there - but many blog owners DO interviews, podcasts, etc.)

Our Medium of data exchange has changed - along with the advent of eBooks and Streaming Wireless Video. And, I'm not opposed to learning new tools which, not only enhance my abilities, but also expose me to avenues of exploration.  In the interim, signing up and learning to Tweet is best not done on the day the site goes down.

My little essay has a purpose, that as a reviewer - gone are the days I would sit with that book, and either read to enjoy the content, or drop it into the archives - well, because - Yuck.  Finding time for pleasure reading, not to mention those streaming HD Movies, has become an arduous task.  And, those pleasure moments must turn off the analysis, critique, and Social Networking required during Review Mode.

Which brings me to the other topic at hand, when I shouldn't review a book?  While my genres and Author selection have widened through the Review Medium, when should a reviewer just say No?  If I can't review a book that elicits a Strong Emotional Response, than HAVE I really separated myself from the Content of the Book, and can I be trusted to give an HONEST review?  Am I giving Honest Reviews to genres I'm Still attached to?

Study of Fair and Impartial reviewing has definitely improved my credentials in regards to my above quandary.  However, one of Today's Free eBooks just begs for an Emotional Response.  It hits close to home for many of us - and I can't find myself stepping back with the emotional and analytical detachment I would need to review, AND  - I also don't see myself downloading for a Pleasure read.

The reviews for this book are not truly impartial and fair, since the comments reflect the emotional responses and political leanings of the reviewers.  As more reviews are added for this recent #19 in the free Kindle eBook category, I envision more comments and controversy amongst the reviewers (especially since 2012 is approaching fast).

So I give you, while its free:

Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind The Global Warming Hoax

Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind The Global Warming Hoax

I personally will not be downloading, nor will I be reviewing.  But by all means, let yourselves be the guides on your own responses, reading pleasure, and books you choose to review.

April 2, 2011

Kindle Accessory Review - Cheap Price, High Quality

I found this via a post in the Kindle Forums, and have since applied the skin.  Must say I am pleasantly surprised.  Check it out for yourself:

Protective Decal Skin Sticker for Amazon Kindle 3 3G (no keys & for 3rd Generation model) case cover kindle3-NOKEY-446

Protective Decal Skin Sticker for Amazon Kindle 3 3G (no keys & for 3rd Generation model) case cover kindle3-NOKEY-446

Wonderful Accessory for Kindle, Matches my Other Accessories, AND My Eyes LOVE the Keys!

I have the Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology in Graphite. I've had it since Dec. 22nd. I really didn't have a key issue, but they were starting to look a little worn. I'd put this skin on my wish list, after seeing it in the Kindle Forums.

I finally decided to buy. I'd already watched the application instructions on the web site, and there are more on You Tube if you like. I didn't buy it to decorate the Kindle, I bought it for those WONDERFUL WHITE KEYS!!! (I have included some pics up top, the best one can do when they have a disorder that causes shaking :-)

I was pleasantly surprised with the speed of shipping. Application was not as simple, due to my eyesight lining the skin with the Kindle under the plastic protector was a bit cloudy. It took about an hour on the back (and the back shows it, but not so much - and it stays in a cover anyway). I didn't realize the front wasn't PERFECTLY aligned, but it is off only by nanos.

The skin is a bit more glossy than pictured, but it doesn't interfere when reading with light. Reading without light is PERFECT. The Keys are now easy to read in all situations, and my colors for all accessories match (everything is either blue or black). The design is just right for us older folks not looking for distraction nor attention. And, even with the front and back on, fits perfect in my Blue mCover® Leather Folio Cover Case for Amazon Kindle 3 (Fits 6" Display, built-in inner pocket).

When its time to purchase another, I might go with the MATTE Decal Skin Sticker for Amazon Kindle 3 3G (no keys & for 3rd Generation model) (Matte Finish) case cover MAT-kindle3-NOKEY-446, but for now - I'm perfectly content with this Nokey Skin.

PS - if you do come into a scratchy situation, such as dropping the kindle on pavement - the Skin will take the scratches for you. BUT, I HIGHLY recommend a Cover/Case besides the skin - can't tell you how many times my cats decided they didn't want to read - and just tossed the Kindle to the floor!!

Original at: Review by Cold In Seattle, "Penny Pinching"