Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for May, 2011

Book Rave: The Cloud Roads

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

The Cloud Roads by Martha WellsThis is a terrific book. I thoroughly enjoyed it–and probably spent too much time reading it during an otherwise rather discouraging week.

The main reason I grabbed a sample for my Kindle is because Kate Elliott tweeted how much she liked the story world (again proving the power of word-of-mouth!). If I’d been on my own, I don’t know if I would have picked it up. Honestly, the cover doesn’t do much for me, and I’m fairly meh about the title–but the story’s what counts and the story is enthralling.

The protagonist is named Moon, and he’s a being who can shift between groundling form (basically human) and a rather fierce and dangerous winged being. The Cloud Roads is a fantasy. There is no time spent on trying to concoct an explanation for how or why this is possible. It’s simply magic–and this level of non-explanation works absolutely perfectly in the context of the story.

Moon is an outsider, belonging nowhere, but desperately wanting to belong, though unwilling to admit it. His adventures within an utterly fascinating and incredibly diverse and detailed story world are simply enthralling.

The Cloud Roads is the first book I read after finishing Bob Meyer’s fascinating civil war epic Duty, Honor, Country. I started three or four other books in between, but none caught my interest until The Cloud Roads, and then I was hooked from the first page. It’s not that anything truly compelling happened on page one, it’s just that Martha Wells has such a lively style of writing that I knew right away I was in for a good read. I’ve already grabbed a sample of another one of her books.

It’s the Relationships

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign was famous for the campaign staff’s irreverent slogan, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” I’m getting very close to posting the writer’s corollary above my desk: “It’s the Relationships, Stupid.”

This was brought home to me in what might sound like an odd way: my son recently introduced me to Riddick, the Vin Diesel character originated in the movie Pitch Black and reprised in The Chronicles of Riddick.

Pitch Black is a classic monster movie. It uses the typical plot skeleton of a diverse group of characters brought together by a disaster who have to learn to work together as they get picked off, one by one. Sounds cliché, but it was very well done. The characters, each with their own skills and quirks, were quickly building relationships–caring about each other, or fighting with each other, but definitely working on those human connections. The biggest driving force of the internal plot was the dual question of whether the outcast/criminal Riddick would be accepted by the group, and whether he would in turn accept a responsibility for helping the group. I enjoyed this movie a lot.

The Chronicles of Riddick was more problematical. This movie looks great. Think of an anime performed with live action characters–that’s what it looked and sounded like to me. Clearly a lot more money was spent on this movie than on Pitch Black. But about two-thirds of the way through I started wondering why I wasn’t emotionally involved in the story, and for me the quick answer was that the relationships were transient or entirely missing. In this movie Riddick is most often entirely on his own. Other characters come and go—way too many characters, honestly—without any real work done on the push and pull of relationships that matter. Yes, in the last third or so of the movie Riddick reconnects with a character from Pitch Black, but it felt like too little, too late, with too much hostility anyway.

I really like Vin Diesel on-screen and I think both movies are worth watching, but for me, Pitch Black is the better of the two.

In recent years I’ve dealt with some problems in my own writing, and what I’ve learned from it is that it’s not only a matter of having meaningful relationships between your characters, but also having tension and questions in those relationships. Will they get together? Will they have a falling out? Will a third party upset the balance? Will jealousy cause things to blow apart?

A story needs more than great adventure. It needs risk-filled human relationships to ignite the reader’s emotions.

Goodreads Book Giveaway:
Skye Object 3270a

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Another book giveaway. If you know any middle-schoolers with a taste for adventure in their reading, have them check out Skye Object 3270a.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Skye Object 3270a by Linda Nagata

Skye Object 3270a

by Linda Nagata

Giveaway ends June 15, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

The book is available from these vendors:

Ebook: USA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Print Edition:
Barnes & Noble
Powell’s Books

Goodreads Book Giveaway:
The Dread Hammer

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

I’ve set up a book giveaway, offering five print copies of The Dread Hammer. Enter to win! Spread the word!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Dread Hammer by Trey Shiels

The Dread Hammer

by Trey Shiels

Giveaway ends June 17, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Or buy the ebook for only $2.99 through May: USA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

The Dread Hammer-Print Version

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

I recovered from my facepalm moment and submitted corrected files for the print version of The Dread Hammer, my newest novel, written under my pen name, Trey Shiels.

The new proof took longer than expected, arriving on Friday, literally as we were getting into the car to race to the airport. I went over it while on the plane, and it looked good, so I approved it on Saturday. It should be working its way into the system at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, possibly Powell’s, and more. I’ll post when I know it’s available to order.

Mauna Kea Summit

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

This is where I was today:

That photo was taken outside the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, looking toward the actual summit of the mountain, which is at the top of the background cinder cone, at 13,796-feet. We (husband & I) walked over there a few minutes after this photo was taken. It took about five minutes to “summit.”

We drove to the top purely as a tourist endeavor, but this was something I had wanted to do for years, so it was exciting.

Somehow we managed to pick a perfect morning for our adventure. Volcanic smog had been thick for the previous few days, but a lot of it blew out to sea early in the day, leaving the air clear. It was also surprisingly warm, even though there was still snow on the ground.

Here’s a shot looking past the twin domes of the very famous WM Keck Observatory, back towards my home of Maui (the dark, cloud-wreathed mountain on the horizon).

Here’s a link to the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy’s page on the summit observatories.

European Ebook Buyers

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I’ve titled this post “European” only because those are the book buyers I’ve actually corresponded with, but it’s for everybody outside Amazon’s major markets of the USA, Canada, UK, and lately Germany.

Here’s the situation: if you live on the European continent and you want to buy a book from Amazon, you get directed to the USA website, where a hefty fee is added to the price of the book. For my latest book, The Dread Hammer, the price goes up from $2.99 to $5.74–a 90% mark up. This hardly seems fair.

If any of you reading this are from other parts of the world, please let me know if the same situation applies.

I’m told this mark up doesn’t happen on Smashwords, but I haven’t put most of my books on Smashwords because of formatting issues.

So I’m very pleased to announce that early this summer, very likely at the end of June, my books will be available through a writers cooperative called Book View Cafe. If you buy through BVC, then no matter where you live you’ll be charged the same price, and the books will be available in multiple formats–and will be properly formatted!

I’ll be blogging more on BVC as my launch date gets closer, but in the meantime, please go check out the current offerings from Book View Cafe.

Axis Deer

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Yesterday while jogging early in the morning I was startled by two axis deer crossing the road about twenty yards ahead of me. They’re beautiful creatures, but they’re not native to Hawaii. They were introduced to Maui in 1959, in an ill-conceived effort by the State of Hawaii to promote game hunting.

On the island of Moloka`i, the deer have laid waste to vast tracts of native forest. On Maui they long tended to live in the lowlands, where most of the native forest has already been eliminated, but their population has been steadily increasing and their range expanding.

Once upon a time they were never seen in Kula, where I live. Now, it’s still unusual to actually see them, but they’re around. Just ask any farmer!

Perhaps the state of Hawaii will figure out a solution before the deer get into our remaining native forests, but I don’t think anyone is placing bets on it.

Duty, Honor, Country

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Bob Mayer is a New York Times bestselling author who has “gone indie” with his latest novel Duty, Honor, Country, publishing it through his own company Who Dares Wins Publishing.

It’s a big novel, 175,000 words according to his website. I recently finished reading the Kindle version and found it fascinating.

Here’s the premise: “Who commanded the major battles of the Civil War? —— There were 60 important battles of the War. In 55 of them, graduates commanded on both sides.”

The story starts in 1840 at West Point, when Ulysses S. Grant was a student there. The story is loosely focused around Grant, but there are several other key characters whose lives we follow as the years pass. Both the Mexican War and the acquisition of California are involved, tying together a large piece of American history.

On the negative side, there were too many copy edit errors, especially in the first half of the book. But on the plus side, I looked forward to sitting down with the story every evening–and didn’t find it too long at all!

Comic Books

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Comic books didn’t exist in my home when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies. I don’t remember if the exact reasoning was ever explained to me, but I definitely remember my mom’s sentiment that “smart kids” read books, not comic books–and wanting to be a smart kid, I don’t recall ever arguing about it. (We were free to read whatever sort of books we got our hands on. No one ever seemed to pay any attention to that.)

My own kids were allowed comic books, but they went in the direction of Star Wars and various manga.

As a result I grew up ignorant, and remain ignorant, of what seems to be the most common source of movie fodder these days: Marvel Comics.

For example, I just got back from seeing Thor. I had no idea Thor was a Marvel comic. I thought he was, you know, a Norse god. Right?

Reviewing a list of Marvel-based movies I can’t say I’m a fan. (Exception: I liked the first Men in Black & had no idea it was based on a comic). So anyway, I guess my Mom’s devious plan to get me to not read comics worked all-too-well.