Tag: science fiction (page 1 of 6)

Robert J. Sawyer in Conversation with Mark Askwith at BookMarkIt! 2019

Author Robert J Sawyer in conversation with Mark Askwith at BookMarkIt! 2019. Rob talks about television adaptations of his books, dream projects, and provides advice to up and coming writers in this wide ranging, entertaining conversation.

Pat Flewwelling and Mark Askwith in Conversation at BookMarkIt! 2019

Here’s the latest BookMarkIt! 2019 video, featuring Mark talking to author and bookseller Pat Flewwelling. Pat also happens to be one of the organizers of BookMarkIt, but she didn’t get to be interviewed because of that. We left all that kind of decision making up to Mark. Mark read one of Pat’s books and decided he wanted to talk to her, completely unaware that she had anything to do with BookMarkIt, other than attending it.

Anyway, like the others, it’s a great interview between two engaging conversationalists.

Mark Askwith Talks to Ira Nayman at BookMarkit! 2019

Gradually getting the interviews and readings from BookMarkIt! this past May edited and posted. Here’s the latest, with Mark Askwith talking to Ira Nayman, author of the Multiverse series of novels, and editor of Amazing Stories magazine, in a really interesting chat about science fiction, humour, how he got into editing, and much, much more.

Review of a Review

Time now to amuse myself by revisiting the Publishers Weekly review of my novel A Time and a Place.

Generally I don’t react much to reviews. Well, I do write to reviewers from time to time to thank them for taking the time to read A Time and a Place and for writing a review. I will even do this sometimes for less than stellar reviews–hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But I will not engage them or take issue with their reviews, and I’m only commenting on this one from Publishers Weekly, because, well, it amuses me to do so.

And no, in case you’re wondering, I’m not missing an apostrophe when I write “Publishers Weekly.” Apparently they dropped the apostrophe a while back; I don’t know why. Can we take a review seriously from a publication that doesn’t even know how to punctuate its own name properly? Sure we can! Especially if it’s a positive review. 🙂

Now, is drawing attention to a positive review in Publishers Weekly boasting? Of course it is! That is, if bragging about a review of an almost entirely obscure book that’s sold (let’s face it) hardly any copies (compared to say, J.K. Rowling) and written by a completely unknown author can be said to be bragging.

Anyway, onward:

Our anonymous reviewer begins thusly:

“Debut author Mahoney…”

I choose to imagine our reviewer as female. A part of me suspects it’s someone I know. Someone doing me a favour, maybe. A moonlighting friend, say, scoring a few extra bucks writing reviews for Publishers Weekly during her scant precious free time to supplement her meager public broadcasting income.  Why else review a debut novel by a completely unknown author? I have no other evidence to support this conjecture. Whoever it is will carry their secret to the grave.

“…this entertaining, chaotic adventure.”

Whoever the reviewer is, I think I love them. They called my book entertaining! And chaotic isn’t bad, is it? Not if the chaos is entertaining! And who doesn’t like adventure? It seems a very positive review so far.

“…temporal loops where effects come before causes…”

She’s actually read the book. No head scratching on the part of this reviewer. She might even have understood the book better than I did. When I read that line I had to stop and think about it. Yes, effects do come before causes in A Time and a Place. Heck, had anything happened to me while writing A Time and a Place this reviewer could easily have stepped in and finished writing it for me. She understood what she was reading. She could summarize it afterward effectively, pithily. I should have had her write the synopsis and query letter before pitching it to publishers. Could have saved me a lot of time. Maybe got me a better deal.

“Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly)…”

My head almost exploded when I read that. Skillfully! A reviewer for Publishers Weekly thinks my writing exhibits skill! It almost makes me want to write this blog post well. The word “skill” gives me joy. I spent years writing  A Time and a Place trying to get it right, and not just right but exactly right. Can you say validation, anyone? And from someone who obviously knows how to write well themselves because this is one, well, “skillfully” crafted review. And I’m not just saying that because they think I write “skillfully.” Okay, maybe I am. But still.   

Oh, but then there’s that “unsubtly.”

Was that “unsubtly” really necessary? Could we not have just left it at skillfully? Perhaps that was to ensure that I could get my head through doorways in the future. Okay, clearly she’s saying that A Time and a Place wasn’t quite as subtle as it could have been. Noted. I’ll try to do better next time.

“…moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility.”   

That pretty much sums up what I was trying to do. I mean, aside from just trying to get the damned thing written. Here our friendly neighbourhood reviewer conveys the sense that she both understood what I was trying to do and maybe even—dare I say it?—appreciated it.

“Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone…”

Okay, so it’s not perfect. I accept that. I may have been a tad self-indulgent here and there. Perhaps I should have taken out the line about Ridley’s nose that Arleane (the first editor of A Time and a Place) wanted me to cut. You know the one:

Emotion played over Ridley’s face like ripples on the surface of a pond. A pond from which, I might add, his nose protruded like the dorsal fin of a shark.

Again, noted.

Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy.”

The final line of the review. The money line, really—the one I quote when promoting the book. Sporting an Oxford comma, no less. As if we didn’t already accept this reviewer’s credentials.

What did she mean by “messy?” Something to do with the plot, I imagine. I don’t really know.  Who cares?  

Not me.

Not after a review like that.     

Here’s the review in its entirety:


A Time and a Place
Joe Mahoney. Five Rivers Chapmanry, $38.99 trade paper (412p) ISBN 978-1-988274-25-6

Debut author Mahoney sends a mild-mannered fellow on an interdimensional journey in this entertaining, chaotic adventure. Barnabus Wildebear needs to know why his teen nephew and ward, Ridley, is acting so strangely. Unfortunately the cause is an ominous entity, possibly a demon, named Iugurtha. She whisks Ridley away to dimensions unknown while implanting mysterious information in Barnabus’s mind that allows him to (sort of) control portals to other dimensions and times. The odyssey that follows bounces him to other planets, the minds of other people and creatures, temporal loops where effects come before causes, and a war against a merciless enemy seeking to steal the knowledge in his head. He’s accompanied by an increasingly vocal artificial intelligence named Sebastian. Mahoney skillfully (but unsubtly) uses Barnabus’s multilayered adventures to yank readers into moments of comedy, tragedy, horror, and philosophical contemplation of time, free will, and personal responsibility. Despite occasional segments that distract or feel a little overdone, Mahoney’s work is great for those who like their speculative fiction thoughtful, eloquent, and messy. (Oct.)

Audiobook Tour: Nina Munteanu and The Splintered Universe Part Three

Here is Part Three of my feature about Nina Munteanu and her audiobook series The Splintered Universe, narrated by Dawn Harvey, presented in association with Audiobookworm Promotions. 

The Splintered Universe is science fiction, published by Iambik Audio, and consists of three separate audiobooks.

In the third book of the Splintered Universe series, entitled Metaverse, Rhea Hawke travels back to Earth, hoping to convince an eccentric mystic to help her defend humanity from an impending Vos attack – only to find herself trapped in a deception that promises to change her and her two worlds forever.

Here’s an audio excerpt from Metaverse:

And just for fun, here’s a selection of proverbs that Rhea Hawke, the main character in the series, is known for using when confronting a challenging adversary or situation. Proverbs that we all can learn from:

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.” Chinese proverb

“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.” Zen proverb

“The acts of this life are the destiny of the next.” Eastern proverb

“Never cut what can be untied.” Portugese proverb

“A little help is better than a lot of pity.” Celtic proverb

“What a fool does in the end, the wise man does in the beginning. “Italian proverb

“Be careful what you wish for; you’re apt to get it.” Chinese proverb

“She who has been bitten by a snake fears a piece of string.” Persian proverb

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” Persian proverb

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” Egyptian proverb

“Good soyka should be black like the devil, hot like hell, and sweet like a kiss.” Hungarian proverb

“The night hides a world, but reveals a universe.” Persian proverb

“The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer.” French proverb

“If you can’t dance, you’ll say the drumming is poor.” Jamaican proverb

“A cat pent up becomes a lion.” Italian proverb

“It’s not enough to know to ride; you must also know how to fall.” Mexican proverb

“Each of us must sometimes play the fool.” Yiddish proverb

“The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring with you.” Zen proverb

“Beauty without virtue is like a rose without scent.” Swedish proverb

“After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.” Italian proverb

“Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” Indian proverb

That’s the end of this special three part series on author Nina Munteanu and her series Splintered Universe. I trust by now you’ve purchased each book and devoured them all. If not, what are you waiting for? 🙂

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