Since I started writing-or, rather, publishing- I have met lots of cool people, and made some great and lasting friendships. It's also been a journey of self-discovery, and one of the things I have discovered is that I am really, really terrible at writing reviews. I can talk about a book for days, but for whatever reason, putting that to paper is always hard. I generally kind of go "I liked it, you should read it" or "I didn't; don't". So that's what I am going to do here- five books that do indie publishing right. Enjoy.
Augment: Human Services, Phil Elmore: This one was sent to me by Johnny Atomic, who did my cover. He had worked on this one as well, and it took me forever to get around to it, but I wish I hadn't waited. It's clever and different than a lot of the scifi out there. If you like grit and conspiracies, you'll love this.
Augments: They're the plague of the modern world, a deviant class of
cyborg surgery addicts who've been herded into ghettos for the safety of
those still legally human. As tensions in the tech ghetto rise, David
Chalmers, an agent for Human Services, is sent behind the walls on a
routine extraction. What he discovers is a helpless young woman maimed
by unthinkable implant technology... and a murder, for which Chalmers is
Hunted by assassins and wanted by his own government, Chalmers must
peel back the layers of a conspiracy without losing his own humanity to a
back-alley surgeon's knife -- but first, alone and unarmed, he must
survive the tech ghetto itself.
Rings of Anubis, E Catherine Tobler: A steampunk adventure in all the best ways. Adventure stories are always my favorite, and this one is suspenseful and fun. Plays with time travel, exploration of Egypt as well as real-world events (the Paris World Fair is described wonderfully).
Paris, 1889: A time when the world looks to a future of revolutionary
science and extraordinary machines. Archaeologist Eleanor Folley looks
back to Egypt’s ancient mysteries and her mother’s inexplicable,
haunting disappearance. Agent Virgil Mallory, a man with ghosts and
monsters his own, brings evidence of a crime that leads Eleanor into
deepest Egypt again. Dangerous marauders and revelations from beyond the
grave are part and parcel of adventures in the desert, but Eleanor
doesn’t count on crossing paths with the guardian of the
Discovering Aberration, S.C. Barrus: Another steampunk adventure, although a bit more traditional- but that's the idea. Written to the tune of most major steampunk tropes, it doesn't take itself seriously at all and constantly pokes fun at the conventions that populate the world. All the while, it manages to tell a fun treasure-hunting story.
An ancient map stollen. A lost civilization discovered. A terrible secret unleashed.
Thaddeus Lumpen's archaeology career is near collapse, thanks to the
machinations of rivals who would kill to claim a discovery for
themselves. In desperation he turns to Freddy Fitzgerald, a rebellious
writer who still maintains connections from his days as a street
hooligan. For Lumpen to get ahead of his even less scrupulous
competitors he must steal an ancient map and forge a path to an island
where a lost civilization waits to be found. For Freddy, it's a chance
to sell the story of a lifetime.
But nothing is as simple as it appears from halfway across the
world. Old acquaintances become enemies, professional rivalries turn
violent, and a notorious gang lord wants his map back. The island itself
holds dangers that Freddy and Lumpen couldn't have prepared to
face--and horrifying secrets that might be better left buried. Beset by
wild beasts, cutthroat competitors, and dangers darker still, the two
men fight not for glory, but their own survival... before the island
pushes them past the brink of insanity.
Insomnium, Zachary Bonelli: This is the first is a series of great reads, which I always struggle to describe properly. Think Sliders, maybe. But... better. As I've said, I love adventures, and this is an adventure though a series of artfully-crafted alternate universes, with great characters and great stories.
Nel Hanima lives in Seattle of 2089, a citizen of the newly organized
Western Union. Life has stabilized since his childhood, when he lived
with his parents in the Queen Anne community bunker. Government has been
reestablished, and order restored. Famine and disease no longer run
rampant, and the economy has stabilized. But still, the trees and
grasses grow browner. The Sound continues to rise, swallowing up
neighborhood after neighborhood of Nel's youth.
A faint tug drags at Nel day after day. The suspicion that his life is without purpose or meaning or hope grows ever stronger.
One night, he falls asleep in his apartment and awakens in the City
of Nowhere, an impossible conundrum world of inhuman citizens, where
time and space are an illusion and paradoxes run rampant.
As Nel explores the city, he meets Giniip Pana, Rev Merveille, and
Drogl Belgaer, humans from alternate versions of his world's timeline.
Together with his new friends, Nel works to unravel the mysteries of
Nowhere, to learn how he came to be there, and discover not only a way
to return to Seattle, but also the purpose and meaning his life has
Isaac the Fortunate, A. Ka.: This is a fantasy series (The Winter is book one) that doesn't drag on forever or star some kid from a village in the middle of nowhere who is the chosen one, so it gets instant points in my book. Instead, it plays off much better scenarios, consequences and human emotion.
Beltran had humble ambitions—to farm his land, to grow his family, and
to live fruitfully with his wife, Amaranta. The winter of 1553 had
different plans. After a crippling famine, unbearable storms, and a
devastating plague known as the Delirium, the winter had taken
everything dear to him.
Then, through the backhanded kindness of a mysterious traveler and her time-obliterating potion, he got everything back.
His salvation is the beginning of his problems, as he discovers just
how stubborn history can be. Greater forces are at work. The more
Beltran learns about the circumstances, the less he
understands—especially when it comes to the traveler and her inept
husband, Isaac. In their quest to stop the Delirium, she and Isaac won’t
let anything, or anyone, get in the way of their senseless plans.
Beltran fights for his simple life, his love, and his future...
again, and again, and again, even when he finds nobody on his side, not
even his dear Amaranta.
There you go- a few books for your summer TBR pile. I hope you enjoy them!
Dean is the author of 3024AD
and other stories, engineer, and geek about many things. He lives and
writes in the Pacific Northwest. You can listen to him ramble on Twitter and muse on his blog.
2021 Hugo Award Winner: Best Fanzine / 2023 Ignyte Award Finalist: Critics Award
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