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|Saturday, February 13th, 2016|
|Book Review: Fast Track To Glory by Tomasz Chrusciel
Fast Track To Glory
Publisher: Agato House, January 2016
by Wesley Britton
This review was first posted at BookPleasures.com:http://goo.gl/jh01Ak
One of my favorite delights when reading through a new thriller is running into original surprises and unexpected twists and turns. While it takes a few chapters to begin all that, Tomasz Chrusciel did take me places I didn’t expect to go with plot twists I didn’t see coming in Fast Track to Glory.
In the opening chapters, I wondered if I was experiencing a clone of the Covert One or Sigma Force books where agents are on the hunt for some ancient artifact that has the power to change the world, and not for the better. The set-up certainly looked like a conspiracy was at play when three European officials summoned professor Nina Monte to verify the age of a tablet found in a galley sunk at sea in the 15th century. But, in short order, the alleged conspirators disappear and are replaced by explorer Lammert van der Venn and his deadly quest to learn the tablet’s secrets. It’s his possible connection with a possible homicide that prompts happy-go-lucky Italian hotel manager, Alessandro Pini, to investigate the circumstances of his friend’s death and becomes a fly in van der Venn’s ointment.
From that point forward, Fast Track to Glory joins the tradition seen in the film versions of The 39 Steps, Three Days of the Condor, and The Bourne Identity. By that I mean we have an unlikely pair of very opposite types, in this case Monte and Pini, thrown together in a relentless chase from a villain who wants both a translation of the secrets of the tablet and to eliminate those who know too much. From Italy to Austria and across India, the learned professor and the more earthy Pini come closer and closer together while escaping the close calls of their pursuer.
I admit, it takes some time to learn just what that tablet is all about. For most of the story, it seems like it includes mystical incantations that would provide spiritual enlightenment, not any corrupting power over others. But, what would a mystery be if we knew what the end game would involve? Without question, this is a book full of vivid, rich, and believable descriptions, especially in the chapters set in India on trains and in crowded city streets. There’s no lack of character development which sometimes crosses the line into interesting, if off-track, digression.
It’s hard to quibble with an unlikely romance that unfolds in a fast-paced chase set in exotic locations that are detailed in a finely woven, intricate international tapestry. Gratefully, Fast Track to Glory doesn’t fulfil the expectations portrayed at the outset, but instead travels a lesser followed road.
|Review: Left For Dead by Peter Vollmer
Left for Dead
• Publisher: Acorn Books; 1.0 edition (February 2, 2016)
• ASIN: B01BFZYGFShttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BFZYGFS
by Wesley Britton
First posted at BookPleasures.com:http://goo.gl/xIHHmb
While I might not have been precisely the first reviewer to discover the books of Peter Borchard a.k.a. Peter Vollmer, I must have been among the early birds. I was delighted to review his first two thrillers, Diamonds are but Stone (2011) and Relentless Pursuit (2013). For both, I noted Borchard was very much in the mold of fellow South African writer Geoffrey Jenkins in both style and substance. This connection was even more overt when Borchard/Vollmer was commissioned to update Jenkins’ character, Commander Geoffrey Peace, in last year’s Per Fine Ounce, a book designed to be a reworking of a Jenkins James Bond continuation novel that was never published.
Again using the Vollmer pen name, the author returns with his own original characters in Left for Dead, and I’m again reminded of Geoffrey Jenkins for several reasons. First, his story is set on the Skeleton coast of South Africa in the same time period as Jenkins debut novel, 1959’s A Twist of Sand. Second, many of Jenkins’ stories were sea adventures, and much of Left for Dead takes place on fishing trawlers with occasional encounters with a Russian ship. Most importantly, Geoffrey Jenkins was not primarily a spy novelist despite his friendship with Ian Fleming. Instead, his canon includes some 16 adventures that only sporadically involved espionage.
Likewise, Vollmer’s yarns are equally varied in their settings and plots. For example, despite the placement of Russian gun runners on the South African coast, Left for Dead is much more a character-based adventure with young Arnold Schonbrunn surprised to learn his late uncle has bequeathed him the family fishing business. Equally surprised is the uncle’s stepson, Bruce McAllister, who believes the business should have been given to him. From that point forward, Bruce sets out to get the business by hook or deadly crook even as his sister, Jocelyn, is attracted to Schonbrunn.
Vollmer really excels with his rich, vivid descriptions that clearly establish the day-to-day life of South African fisherman. For the first half of the book, there’s little plot as Schonbrunn learns about his new life and the crew of his ship. The second half centers on Bruce McAllister’s plot to kill Schonbrunn in the jungle, and here’s where the action picks up.
The strength of the book is Vollmer taking readers to a time and place few know anything about. Vollmer is extremely believable down to the most minute of details. The duel between McAllister and Schonbrunn is also well spun out including the very surprising conclusion. Left for Dead is not an action-packed thrill ride, but rather a slow burning personal drama occurring in a setting many will find far from familiar grounds.
|Sunday, December 6th, 2015|
|Book Review: Zombie Tetherball by Terry Taylor Hobbs
Zombie Tetherball Kindle Edition
Terry Taylor Hobbs
Publisher: Terry Taylor Hobbs; 1 edition (August 27, 2015)
This review by Wes Britton first appeared at BookPleasures.com at:http://goo.gl/BmupxH
To begin, I must confess I’ve never been a zombie fan. I haven’t watched any zombie films or TV shows or played any of the games. I’ve only read one previous zombie novel, and that was a Walking Dead tie-in I read to have the opportunity to interview someone associated with the TV series for an online radio show I used to co-host. Prepping for that interview, I learned there’s not much to say about zombies themselves. It’s the human characters that are interesting as they cope with the mindless, relentless threats to their humanity and individuality. I forget who said this first, but zombies can be seen as metaphors for our real-world worries about pressures to conform to society’s “norms” or represent our resentment against those who have power over our lives.
Still, I was intrigued by the title, Zombie Tetherball. What could that mean? I suspected a sense of humor was involved. Well, not so much. The story opens when Liz, a resident of the very ordinary town of Copper Creek, suddenly meets neighbors who seem to have gone crazy. Trying to find help, she’s rescued by the band of Alan, Matt, Justin, and Keiko who tell Liz all power in the area is out and that “biters” are trying to kill everyone. The group all go to a local elementary school for shelter and it becomes their fortress for most of the book.
In that fortress, we see a group somewhat secure in their calm, quiet comradery trying to find simple ways to occupy their long hours. Many times, I thought I was experiencing an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits as those classic shows offered similar stories of strangers forced to come together in ordinary settings surrounded by extraordinary challenges. I came to wonder if author Hobbs saw that school as her own metaphor. After all, most of her chapter titles are school related—“School Supplies,” “First Bell,” “Home Schooling,” “Hall Pass,” and the names of many classes all students take. No doubt, tetherball must also be symbolic of something. Some of the group enjoys the sport as a way of passing the time, but Hobbs must have something larger in mind. My suspicion is that a tetherball has a limited reach because it’s tied to a central pole, and perhaps Hobbs is saying the group is likewise constrained in their self-imposed confinement.
Along the way, we come to know the characters both by watching their interactions with each other and the occasional memories they share about their previous lives. Naturally, their relationships change as time goes by. Those who didn’t think much of other members when they first came together will come to forge friendships. Liz and Justin have an unlikely romance, something they admit probably wouldn’t have happened in normal circumstances. Of course, this time of seclusion must come to an end as the zombies outside finally find ways to break into the school and the group thinks they have discovered a plan to end the scourge. The tether must be broken.
Zombie Tetherball is a well-written, fast-paced yarn that should appeal even to those not enamored with the zombie apocalypse. Instead, we meet five very sympathetic folks who each have their own depths and strengths. It’s an ideal YA book, even if some of the trapped students in Cooper Creek elementary are parents and not young heroes. I’m glad I met them in their school of life, even if I’m equally glad I wasn’t a member of their class myself.
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|Book Review: Horizon by Tabitha Lord
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Date publish: December 2015
This review was written by Wesley Britton for BookPleasures.com on Dec. 4, 2015
Horizon is being publicized as a hybrid of romance, science fiction, and survival novels. I can’t figure out why. I don’t know what exactly characterizes a romance novel, but I presume a convoluted love story is the main thing. Well, sci fi has no lack of convoluted love stories. Likewise, there’s never been a shortage of survival sagas in SF. So what’s the hybrid? Depending on how you feel about three or four very short sex scenes, I think the publisher might be missing a bet by not promoting the novel as YA. After all, the straight-forward story is told very simply without complexity or denseness.
The romance begins when Commander Derek Markham crash lands on an alien planet where he’s saved by Caeli Crys, an empath with healing powers. While he recuperates, Derek learns Caeli is hiding in a cave after her people were nearly exterminated by a warring civilization. While her people have special mental abilities and wanted to keep their world shielded from potential space invaders, Marcus, the dictator of the other inhabitants, fears those abilities and wants very much to open his planet to outside worlds. He captured Caeli and other survivors of his vicious invasion and she joined a resistance movement of those opposed to Marcus’s rule and tactics. When Marcus learned of this, Caeli was forced to flee and that’s when she rescues Derek. This is likely the section author Lord considers “survival.” True enough, much of part one of Horizon isn’t especially SF as the aliens don’t seem very alien. Even the character names are suspiciously earthy like John, Sam, or Daniel.
In Part Two, the setting switches to Derek’s milieu, namely his spaceship, Horizon. There, Caeli puts her healing abilities to good use as a space battle devastates the ship and Derek leads a mission to another planet besieged by mercenaries and a hostile race. Caeli joins his team and unhappily uses mental probes to defeat both an assassination and invasion. All along, the romance between Derek and Caeli thrives, and there’s nothing convoluted about it.
Horizon is a comparatively light read with many likeable characters. There aren’t many twists and turns so the story progresses with easily overcome bumps in the road for Derek, Caeli, and their protégées. In addition, Horizon doesn’t have the layers and layers of plots and sub-plots so characteristic of many contemporary SF epics. Naturally, the closing passages are full of clues as to what to expect in the certain sequel, including a threat to Caeli’s home world. Odds are, there will be many readers eager to find out what happens next, no matter how you label the story.
This review first appeared at:http://goo.gl/PntUUn
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|Thursday, December 3rd, 2015|
|Review: Zero Hour, Shifting Power by David Berko
Zero Hour, Shifting Power (Before the End series, Book 1)
Publish date: August 28, 2015
Reviewed for BookPleasures.com by Wesley Britton.
While Zero Hour is billed as a science fiction/ political thriller, the sci fi elements are far less pronounced than the political message David Berko makes very overt from the first page on. It’s sci fi in the same mold as Tom Clancy’s Net Force series in the sense the story is earthbound, set in the not-so-distant future, and there’s advanced technology in the mix. Another unavoidable similarity to Clancey is Berko’s conservatism. In his future world of 2041, it’s progressive socialism, academic liberals, and political correctness that led to America’s second Civil War resulting in the U.S. fragmenting into six independent entities.
In Book one of Berko’s Before the End series, these fiendish socialists are controlled by a long-standing and extremely powerful shadow government called Scorpion. It’s opposed by President Alexander Toporvsky, the free-market leader of the Free Republic of North America consisting of Alaska, Hawaii, with a hoped for alliance with Texas. It’s the Free Republic where patriotic stalwarts work to restore Constitutional principles and a stronger reliance on the Bible as both sides of the war see what’s coming in terms of the End Times.
Zero Hour is different from most dystopian novels as we don’t spend time with those suffering from the catastrophe of 2041, but rather with billionaires on golf courses, in a souped-up Area 51, and in the company of the power brokers plotting their moves and counter-moves. In fact, there’s no evidence anyone is living in unpleasant circumstances other than the select few who become Scorpion targets. In The first half of the book, Berko largely establishes his often dispensable characters while revealing the dastardly scope of Scorpion. The second half, again in the mold of Clancy, is the fast-paced covert operations of Scorpion kidnap and killer squads stirring up the country while the Free Republic tries to figure out how to react.
In his Foreword, Berko tells us the Before the End series was inspired by the direction he fears the U.S. is taking, that his books are to inform as well as entertain, and that he’s a “watchman on the wall.” It’s rather disconcerting to read a very unsubtle yarn casting anyone on the left of Berko’s ideals as out-and-out evil. At least he admits he’s not predicting the future. Judging from the epilogue, book two is going to expand the scope of his geopolitics with a prominent role for Israel and an attempt to Christianize the Jews. Is that an alien spacecraft in the final two paragraphs?
So reader appreciation will likely depend on your responses to Berko’s stated agenda, but if you can look past the ideology, Zero Hour might quench your taste for a high-octane thrill ride centered on a deadly conspiracy that might be setting the stage for the Second Coming.
This review was first published at BookPleasures.com:http://goo.gl/CldC3f
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|Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015|
|Buck Rogers, Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, science fiction
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A TV Companion
• Publisher: BearManor Media (November 27, 2015)
• ISBN-10: 1593931719
• ISBN-13: 978-1593931711http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1593931719?keywords=buck%20rogers%20patrick&qid=1448892333&ref_=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2&s=books&sr=1-1
Reviewed for BookPleasures.com by Wesley Britton
In the wake of the 1977 success of Star Wars, TV producer Glen A. Larson latched on to the idea of launching two Sci Fi series clearly modeled on the cinematic galaxy far, far away. One was the semi-serious Loren Green vehicle, Battlestar: Ponderosa, er, Galactica. The other was the far more tongue-in-cheek Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Now, media historian Patrick Jankiewicz offers the first in-depth exploration of Buck Rogers, and it’s a treat for those who fondly remember the two year run of the cult classic.
Right off the bat, Jankiewicz let me know I wasn’t the only viewer to have seen the show as wonderfully sexy, notably for the alluring eye-candy of Erin Gray as Colonel Wilma Derring and the well-liked Pamela Hensley as Princess Ardala of the planet Draconia, not to mention so many leggy guest stars. Jankiewicz quickly admits sexy ladies held much of the drawing power for Buck Rogers which was why he invited Gray to write the foreword to his book and not the lead actor, Gil Gerard. In that introduction, Gray says she’s very aware of how male viewers responded to her character (especially the costumes) but asserts many women saw Col. Deering as a trend-setter for women hoping for leadership positions in the 1980s. Perhaps so—I had no idea the series had that much of a social impact.
But, of course, Gerard was the star of the show, playing the astronaut who is cryogenically frozen for 500 years before returning to an earth after a nuclear apocalypse. While there’s considerable praise lavished on pretty much everyone involved with the first year of the show in the many interviews with the cast and crew, Gerard is the only one to earn mild criticism from other participants. In particular, he lashed out at scriptwriters he felt were injecting too much humor in his lines. He didn’t like the idea of Gray getting equal billing in the show’s titles. Well, he played a rather two-dimensional character requiring little acting skills, something of a cross between Han Solo and James Bond. Still, his co-workers noted his good nature and professionalism throughout a series he wasn’t sure he wanted to do, even if he created, sort of, his own fighting style dubbed “Buck-Fu.” One legacy for Gerard was meeting and becoming friends with future President Bill Clinton who, according to Gray, hit on her at a charity screening of the pilot movie.
Other attractions to the show included Twiki, the little robot with the immortal voice of Mel Blanc saying "biddi-biddi-biddi-biddi" before his one-liners. Equally well-regarded was Dr. Elias Huer, played by Tim O'Connor. His being cut from the 1981 season was seen as one of the reasons the second and last season lost much of the show’s spirit. As with many programs of the era, stories benefited from a high caliber of guest stars such as Joseph Wiseman, Jack Palance, Roddy McDowall, Cesar Romero, Peter Graves, Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, Jamie Lee Curtis, Vera Miles, and especially Buster Crabbe, the actor who had played Buck Rogers in the original movie serials.
By all accounts, while season one was a delight to create, everything eroded when veteran producer Bruce Lansbury was replaced by John Mantley, a producer mainly noted for Westerns, and he even had a Gunsmoke script rewritten for Rogers. Ironically, Lansbury didn’t think much of Rogers and tried to sabotage his last episode by giving it to a director who had no experience whatsoever. The setting was changed to a spaceship called The Searcher where Rogers, Deering, and a cast of new characters left earth which made the show seem a mere imitation of Star Trek. On one hand, they introduced the character of the birdman, Hawk, played by Thom Christopher. On the other, the role of Col. Derring was seriously downgraded and the lower budgets were obvious. After 13 episodes, NBC pulled the plug.
Jankiewicz’s overview is not as exhaustive as many other TV books, providing essentially participant biographies and an episode guide. Noticeably, he never mentions critical reviews or show ratings, which likely would have added a negative pale over his appreciation of Buck Rogers. Clearly, this is a book for fans, especially those who go to conventions to meet and greet the stars who impacted their childhoods. If that’s you, here’s a souvenir of a short-lived exploration of a fanciful future. Biddi-biddi.
This review first appeared at:http://goo.gl/Xz48Wr
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|Sunday, November 29th, 2015|
|Book Review: Saturn Run by John Sanford and Ctein
Saturn Run Hardcover – October 6, 2015
• Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition / First Printing edition (October 6, 2015)
• ISBN-10: 0399176950
• ISBN-13: 978-0399176951http://www.amazon.com/Saturn-Run-John-Sandford/dp/0399176950
Reviewed for BookPleasures.com by Wesley Britton
John Sanford, of course, is a noted author with a well-established fan base and an extensive catalogue, most famously his Prey series. On the other hand, few readers know much about photographer Ctein, apparently the mind behind many of the scientific and technological details in Saturn Run. If Ctein was truly the “technical advisor” to the novel, he more than deserves his co-author status. Without question, few sci fi novels, hard as it might be to believe, come close to being this techy.
Like Caesar’s Gaul, Saturn Run unfolds in three parts. In part one set in 2066, the apparently spoiled rich vet with PTSD, Sandy Darlington, accidently discovers an alien spaceship is hovering around Saturn. In short order, the competing governments of China and the U.S. hastily build their own spaceships to race to the aliens who, presumably, will give the winning country technology that would give them preeminence back on earth. In the early chapters, we’re introduced to many of the characters who will join the crew of the spaceship Richard M. Nixon, a name the authors chose as they thought it funny. There’s Crow the suspicious security chief and John Clover the anthropologist who won’t go unless he can take his cat. There’s Dr. Becca Johansson, the plump engineer who secretly beds Darlington. Captain Naomi Fang-Castro is the very embodiment of what a commander should be who is caught between political pressures and on-ship realities. The alluring Cassandra Fiorella is the reporter who transforms scientific verbiage into layman’s terms for the taxpayers back home while the ship’s crew engages in high-stakes wagering on what date will mark the expected first consummation of a Fiorella/Darlington coupling. For many readers, all this set-up may be the most entertaining section of the book.
The longest stretch is part two, the cruise to Saturn on U.S. spaceship Nixon. Here’s where the lengthy techy sections give the book much of its believability. Readers might well be drawn into the very companionable and calm ride around the solar system. But very little happens dramatically. We do learn tidbits about the voyagers as we go along, and, occasionally, Sanford pops in his trademark humorous dialogue to break up the exposition. But you’re likely to wonder—is anything at all going to happen? Like the crew, is your biggest question when will Fiorella and Darlington get around to doing something neither is interested in doing?
Finally, the Nixon and the Chinese meet the aliens, sort of. Here’s where we get all the action and 99% of the conflict, naturally between the national interests of the earthlings and not a human/alien duel. The trip home is far shorter and far more eventful than getting there. Can governments put aside their single-minded desires for the benefit of all humanity? Was it all worth the trouble? Your call.
Saturn Run opens with a premise with promise and offers no lack of serious science to paint one of the most realistic First Contact novels you’ll ever read, at least until part three. Many of the characters are engaging and likeable. Others seem tossed in the mix for color but add little in the way of driving the plot. In other words, there’s no lack of enticing ingredients in Saturn Run, but the porridge is sometimes too cold, sometimes too hot. Mostly, it’s just lukewarm.
This review first appeared at:http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7803/1/Saturn-Run-Hardcover-Reviewed-By-Dr-Wesley-Britton-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html#.Vlss78LsnIV
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|Review: Counting Down The Rolling Stones: Their 100 Finest Songs by Jim Beviglia
Counting Down The Rolling Stones: Their 100 Finest Songs Hardcover – November 5, 2015
• Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 5, 2015)
• ISBN-10: 1442254467
• ISBN-13: 978-1442254466
Reviewed by Wesley Britton
I can’t avoid admitting that many of my observations regarding Jim Beviglia’s third volume of his Counting Down series are very like what I said about his second book on the 100 best songs of Bruce Springsteen. After all, the formats of these books are pretty much identical and readers are likely to enjoy the same sorts of responses to each.
For example, readers will likely want to match their own Top 100 lists with Beviglia as he rates, from 100 to 1, the songs he considers as the best of The Rolling Stones. Odds are, none of us would make all the same choices. For me, how can Midnight Rambler” come in at a mere 86? “Honky Tonk Women” only 46? Heresy! No mention of the 1994 bluesy single, “Love is Strong”? But when he gets to number twenty and moves up, I have to agree with all his picks, especially as that part of the hit parade is top heavy with songs from the 1960s. Could Number One be anything other than “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”?
For me, the many surprises were songs I either don’t remember or I heard maybe once back in the day. Do you recall “Who’s Driving Your Plane?” from 1973? (Number 81 in Beviglia’s opinion.) Or Number 50, “She Smiled Sweetly” from 1967’s Between the Buttons, an album Beviglia repeatedly notes is an underappreciated mid-60s collection? The Stones, after all, have 50 years of recordings and many didn’t have quite the resonance as their glory years between 1963 and the late ‘70s. Still, Beviglia found nuggets from albums like Bridges to Babylon, Voodoo Lounge, Emotional Rescue, and Undercover. If there’s one album Beviglia clearly didn’t care for, that would be 2005’s A Bigger Bang. Only one track, “Laugh I Nearly Died,” made the Top 100 at Number 40. Other songs from the Stones apparently last studio album were simply listed in the unannotated also-runs of the appendix counting down the songs rated at 101 to 200.
Beviglia, of course, is quite correct to include material from the entire Stones canon, although he admits he’s only including original material and not the many excellent covers the band has recorded over the years. So the rudder from the bottom up are the compositions of Messrs. Jagger and Richards with a mere handful of other collaborators, some credited, most not.
Beyond the obvious inclination to measure our own ideas with Beviglia’s, the real meat of the book is the author’s extremely insightful reasoning for his choices. In addition, even serious Stones fans are likely to learn some history about the composition of the songs, their evolution in the studio, the contexts of their production, and the contributions of all the performers, both the Stones themselves and guest musicians and producers. Biviglia’s research is impressive, although I noted he missed engineer Glyn John’s 2014 Sound Man. That memoir included anecdotes that might have added some insights, such as Keith Richards singing “You Got the Silver” because Johns erased a track he shouldn’t have, Jagger wasn’t around, so Richards filled in. So Keith Richards first lead vocal was the result of an accident.
But Counting Down isn’t intended to be a reference book giving readers the definitive production history of the Stones canon, but rather a critical overview of why so many songs still deserve our appreciation to lesser and greater degrees. Now, Beviglia really has only one place to go. He’s done Dylan, Springsteen, the Stones—who else has 100 songs to rank? Well, The Beatles, of course, especially if you mix in the solo works with the band’s fab career. Who else has that much of a catalogue, at least in rock history? Till then, the Stones are more than worthy of this new exploration, and rock fans who read have a treat to enjoy this year.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Nov. 26, 2015.http://goo.gl/biYiqZ
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|Monday, November 23rd, 2015|
|Review: A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe, an essay Anthology
A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe, an essay Anthology
Edited by Rich Handley and Joseph F. Berenato
• Publisher: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization (November 6, 2015)
• ISBN-10: 1940589061
• ISBN-13: 978-1940589060
For some time now, the Sequart Organization has been releasing high-quality essay anthologies and documentaries dealing with popular culture productions that have a fantasy or sci fi bent. They’ve especially excelled with collections exploring comic book series and artists, Star Trek, Batman on TV and film, and Planet of the Apes.
Now Sequart has released the first of a three book series diving into nearly every aspect of the Star Wars phenomena, A Long Time Ago focusing on the films and TV programs associated with the franchise. It’s a book for serious Star Wars fans, those who are devoted watchers and collectors, but especially those interested in almost scholarly critiques and analyses.
Naturally, an anthology of so many perspectives will be uneven in quality and usefulness, and gratefully the content isn’t a collection of tributes and accolades. Of course, many essays are syntheses of the countless publications that came before. Speaking of the past, the book opens with discussions of two predecessors to Star Wars; Ian Dawe connects George Lucas’s 1971 THX 1138 to Star Wars. Rich Handley deftly compares and contrasts Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz.
Then, Julian Darius explores why Star Wars “broke cinema” not only in terms of transforming summer films into blockbusters relying on merchandising for profits, but also set the stage for films that dropped logic and credible plots to become anti-intellectual special effects fests. Lou Tambone summarizes why many feel The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the original trilogy, and Joe Bongiorno reviews why Return of the Jedi was the result of compromises and concessions diminishing what the film could have been. For me, the most intriguing look into the original films is “The Ecology of Tatooine as the Epicenter of the Star Wars Films” by Matthew Sunrich which proposes that Luke Skywalker’s home planet might also be the world where The Force is centered.
In terms of TV efforts, Steven H. Wilson offers a pointless deconstruction of the pointless 1978 holiday special, and Kevin Dilmore and Jean-François Boivin delve into how Ewoks and droids came to television as childish films and animated series. Then, David Pipgras warmly praises the five plus seasons of The Clone Wars, and Nathan P. Butler reviews the potential of the new Rebels series. Fortunately, all these authors provide detailed plot synopses for those who missed or forgot these broadcasts. Somewhat related to the book’s scope is Alex Newborn’s history of Star Wars rides created for Disney parks, an example of how such collections try to touch all the bases.
Regarding the second trilogy, Joseph F. Berenato revisits his own 1999 review of The Phantom Menace which, strangely, details all the problems he finds in the film but still determines it’s a fine piece of work. Zaki Hasan, Keith DeCandido, and Rocko Jerome also examine the prequels, each providing viable reasons for some of the decisions that shaped them and discuss the could ofs, would ofs, and should ofs that might have improved the stories and characters. Everyone seems to agree the visuals were spot on.
Other essays underline why the Star Wars mythos resonates with the inner child in all of us, but A Long Time Ago was assembled for adults who know the Expanded Universe of George Lucas very well. If that’s you, there are essays here that are illuminating and insightful. For others, some chapters might tempt you to explore projects like The Clone Wars or Rebels. Stay tuned: Sequart’s own trilogy has just begun.
This review originally appeared Mon. Nov. 23 at BookPleasures.com:http://goo.gl/zwNXoH
|Saturday, November 21st, 2015|
|Book Review: The Phoenix Gate by Michael S. Vischi
The Phoenix Gate
Michael S. Vischi
• Publisher: Outskirts Press (May 10, 2015)
• ISBN-10: 1478744537
• ISBN-13: 978-1478744535
Review by Wesley Britton
Had The Phoenix Gate come out in 1969 or thereabouts, I’d have been tempted to label the book psychedelic science fiction. No, no, I don’t mean sex, drugs, and all that.
Well, there’s no lack of graphic sex in The Phoenix Gate. In particular, the main protagonist, Evrikh, has such magnetism that virtually every woman he meets wastes no time in seducing him. Perhaps the strangest of them is Lorelei, an alluring creature that seems to be part soil, part plant, part, well, the stuff of myth. But she’s not the main love interest. Determining just who is takes some time and some sensuous experimentation. Lucky Evrikh.
But what makes me think of mind-altering states are all the mental trips Evrikh endures from beginning to end. He doesn’t understand what he’s experiencing—dreams, visions, memories, time jumps? He doesn’t remember much of his past or who he’s supposed to be. Apparently, he’s on a future earth after an apocalyptic war ruled by a Council opposed by a Resistance of “unfamiliar” humans the Council has banished from the cities. Both sides want something from Evrikh and he’s surrounded by many characters that might be friends, might be spies, might be from his past, might know pieces of the mystery he can’t put together. And the future of humankind, if any, is what’s at stake.
This New Terra is a violent world with no shortage of explosions, vicious fights, brutal deaths, and “unfamiliars” like Evrikh gifted with astonishing powers. Many settings include very bright, flashing lights, humans morphing into transparent beings, humans becoming lightning fast fighters or biological weapons, not to mention powerful time travelers popping in and out. In short, very trippy.
All these elements are woven into a very fast-paced and jagged saga that presents puzzle piece after puzzle piece continually surprising the reader. The Phoenix Gate is not for young readers, and those who join the quest should expect to be challenged by the swirling events as four hundred pages will go by before any resolutions become clear. And then Part Two begins. It’s cerebral sci fi full of the unexpected and you don’t need any recreational chemicals to enjoy the kaleidoscopic ride.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com, Nov. 21, 2015http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7789/1/The-Phoenix-Gate-Reviewed-By-Dr-Wesley-Britton-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html#.VlCMyl7snIV
|Tuesday, November 10th, 2015|
|Review: Chronicles of Zauba'ah by Tosin Coker
Wes Britton’s review of Chronicles of Zauba'ah was originally published at BookPleasures.com at:http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7772/1/--Chronicles-of-Zaubaah-Reviewed-By-Dr-Wesley-Britton-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html#.VkIGqF7snIV
Chronicles of Zauba'ah
• Publisher: N9neformation (9 Nov. 2015)
• ISBN-10: 0993306810
• ISBN-13: 978-0993306815http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chronicles-Zaubaah-Tosin-Coker/dp/0993306810/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1445009570&sr=8-7&keywords=Tosin+Coker
by Wesley Britton
The Chronicles of Zauba’ah is the new prequel to U.K. author Tosin coker’s “quadrilogy” of The Mouths of Babes, Let Sleeping Gods Lie, Heaven’s War: The God Awakened, and 2013 Evolution. Judging from Chronicles, the first novel I’ve read from England’s first female black Sci Fi writer, these books must all be dense, complex, and very challenging reads.
Throughout Chronicles, for example, Coker paints an almost overwhelmingly descriptive canvas of multi-layered alien societies and cultures. She offers beings that can, among other things, communicate telepathically, morph from humanoid bipeds into four-legged spirit forms, and live for centuries. Zauba’ah, in particular, is a warrior-scientist who has to incarnate into different bodies and lifetimes over thousands of millennia. It’s her evolution from adolescent girl to her ascension to an initiate of the N9ne to a planet killing goddess that’s the primary rudder running through the story.
But the plot sometimes seems almost secondary as what’s really going on is the unfolding of an intricately woven multi-verse with an uncommon depth of detail. It’s very impressive to see how Coker juggles so many elements together from the first page on. For example, the various species and sub-species are presented with full backgrounds of their traditions, values, class structures, as well as family and interpersonal relationships, not to mention extremely violent physical, mental, and metaphysical fighting styles. The milieu is full of sensory imagery, and the dialogue benefits from inventive wordplay. I especially liked characters who “overstand” what they learn.
Perhaps the flow is where we can get thrown off. Some sequences have abrupt segues. Long passages of time and seemingly major events can be compressed into a few paragraphs. Sub-plots can seem like very long digressions, but are more likely means to introduce characters that will be important in the books that follow. In fact, the book doesn’t end so much as it just stops as a new “mission” is about to begin. To know what happens next, well, we just have to go on to The Mouths of Babes.
Obviously, there’s a lot of moving parts in Chronicles and the book is not a fast read. Any synopsis is likely to suggest the book is built on familiar SF tropes, but few such novels have as much originality in their presentation and creative scope. Chronicles is for serious readers who seek more than light entertainment in their literature. As Chronicles is designed to set the stage for Coker’s other books, then those of us who haven’t discovered them before have another new epic to travel.
|Sunday, November 8th, 2015|
|Review: Méridien (The Silver Ships Book 3)
Wes Britton’s review of Meridian was first posted at:http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7769/1/Meridien-The-Silver-Ships-Book-3-Kindle-Edition-Reviewed-By-Dr-Wesley-Britton-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html#.Vj4wgl7snIV
Méridien (The Silver Ships Book 3) Edition
S. H. Jucha
• Publisher: S. H. Jucha; 1 edition (November 1, 2015)
• ASIN: B016SDUXCW
Once again, I’m learning the difficulty of reviewing a book that’s part three of a trilogy without having read the previous two volumes. In the case of Meridian, this is especially true as, to mix some metaphors, S. H. Jucha hits the deck running by throwing readers into the deep end of the pool.
So, for at least the first twenty pages or so, readers are likely to flounder trying to understand the setting and characters. Who are the New Terrans and where is the planet they live on? Who are the Miridians and why don’t they get along with the Terrans? What are these Silver Ships everyone worries about? Who are all these people?
But if you stay the course, you’ll pick up clues as to what’s going on and find yourself transported to the future and meet a rich cast of principal and supporting characters. In particular, you’ll meet Admiral Alexander Racine, who was apparently once a ship pilot before he moved up the ranks. In Meridian, Alex is much larger than life. He’s wise, brave, compassionate, a visionary. He makes no missteps and makes bold moves based on his intuition. He can change, challenge, and create governments. He’s knowledgeable about politics, economics, diplomacy, and even terra forming. He commands well-earned loyalty far beyond his wide inner circle of various experts and friends. After all, his business is saving whole populations and rescuing a slave species.
As I went along, the descriptive details and layered circumstances reminded me very much of the novels of Jack McDevitt and Kristine Kathryn Rush. That’s due, in part, to the inter-galactic settings and the complexities of Racine’s various quests. After the first two parts of the novel, in which Racine and company take on the governments of two worlds and unlock the secrets of the Silver Ships, I feared I was wandering into the longest denouement I’ve ever read. I was wrong. Jucha had much more for his hero to accomplish, mainly creating a new hybrid civilization on yet another planet.
Clearly, the readers who’ll be happiest are Jucha fans who read the two earlier Silver Ship outings. New readers like me will find entry into this strange new universe challenging at first but can find the flow with some perseverance. I admit liking the positive tone and the idea the future doesn’t have to be filled with the distopias so many other authors offer describing humanity largely violent and power hungry. That’s not who Alex Racine is nor are the multi-species relationships he builds. These are worlds and characters you’ll be glad you spent time with.
|Friday, November 6th, 2015|
|Review: Anthology I: Eight Sci Fi and Fantasy Short Stories
Wes Britton’s review of Anthology I was originally posted at BookPleasures.com at:http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7767/1/Anthology-I-A-Collection-of-8-Science-Fiction-amp-Fantasy-Stories-Reviewed-By-Dr-Wesley-Britton-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html#.Vj0dVF7snIV
Anthology I: A Collection of 8 Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories
• Publisher: The Novel Fox, LLC (March 15, 2015)
• ASIN: B00URQYF9E
For decades, the outpouring of Sci Fi short stories has rivaled the number of tribbles devouring the grain designated for Sherman’s Planet. There are tons of books of award-winning collections and a plethora of magazines devoted to these stories.
Now, The Novel Fox, a digital-first publishing company, has joined the flood with the first of their projected Anthology collections. Why not? Reading their chosen eight debut yarns, I felt a bit like I was reading the latest issue of Azimov’s or Analog without these magazines’ editorials, commentaries, or articles on true science. Anthology is sci fi and fantasy and nothing but sci fi and fantasy with something for every lover of the many sub-genres contained in these umbrella categories.
Naturally, short stories don’t permit developing intergalactic turf wars or focusing on more than a few characters active in but a few scenes. Here, we meet eight tightly-woven protagonists coping with surprising new worlds. Perhaps the most inventive is Ernesto Pavan’s “A Wand’s Tale,” told from the point of view of a magic wand. Unquestionably, the creepiest is Peter White’s “Subsidence” which should remind readers of that relentless doll that tormented Karen Black in the classic Trilogy of Terror TV movie. The most obvious chapter drawn from a longer work is Shane Halbach’s ““Grant My Powder be Dry and My Aim Be True” with an unexplained beginning and an abrupt end.
Dominic Dulley, Gerri Leen, T.D. Edge, Roti Mehrotra, and Shawn Scarber also offer their perhaps more standard slices of straight-forward SF with everything from prematurely washed-out spaceship pilots to enhanced assassins. It’s easy to see why the editors at Novel Fox chose all these selections to inaugurate their new series. I, for one, look forward to future editions. There are some tribbles we can all use more of.
|Monday, October 12th, 2015|
|On being a Blind Author
Some folks have asked me how my being a blind author has affected the creation of The Blind Alien, the first of The Beta-earth Chronicles. I have two answers.
First, although I often don’t want to admit it, there’s much of me in the character of Malcolm Renbourn, the man drug across the multi-verse to a new world where he’s blinded and trapped on a planet he doesn’t understand. Without question, Malcolm and I share countless day-to-day frustrations dealing with what are ordinary things for sighted people. Of course, his challenges are far more daunting than mine. When I lost my sight, I didn’t have to start from scratch adapting to a puzzling new planet, learning a new language and discovering strange, completely alien cultures. We both have felt like freaks, especially in the early times of learning how to be blind.
In the story, another character makes many observations on how Malcolm will always be limited in his education about how to live on Beta-earth. For example, Bar Tine notes how Malcolm will never understand body language, sizes of large things and places, never able to gauge long distances. In addition, Bar and other narrators describe the reactions of other people to Malcom both as an alien and a blind man. Truth be known, on our planet, many folks can make blind people feel like aliens in real life. Some very odd questions Malcolm hears are based on actual things people have asked me. Do blind people sleep with their eyes open or closed? How do blind men aim into toilets? I was asked whether or not I knew I had a beard. So circumstances readers might find weird were actually taken from my own experiences.
There’s one passage in book two of the Beta-earth Chronicles (hopefully coming in December) that my wife found illuminating. It’s Malcolm describing his new home from his perspective, using his other senses to put readers into the setting. My wife said, for the first time, she really understood how I process things, using sound, smell, and touch to create mental images of what’s around me. So too Malcolm.
Speaking of sound, that sense had much to do with the composition of The Blind Alien. As I listen to every book read aloud to me in one form or another, I listened to every draft of my own book as I went through the countless revisions. This was especially important as I created “Beta speak,” meaning different dialects for all the Betan characters. With luck, these dialects give the books a distinctive tone and flavor. I wanted the Betans to sound different, but wanted to avoid just tossing out new vocabulary. So each of the women narrators have their own rhythms, cadences, and phrasing shaped to meet their backgrounds. The characters are revealed not only by what they say but how they say it. For example, I wanted the more educated women to sound different from those with less schooling. By listening to their descriptions and observations, I was able to tighten their dialogue, pick up the pace, and hopefully breathe life into all of them. In addition, listening to the flow really helped me know where I needed to edit or cut, cut, cut. If a passage didn’t make a story point or help deepen character development, out it went.
So I guess I’d tell all sighted writers to try to find ways to hear your stories. Focusing on the sound can demonstrate what is flowing, what isn’t. If you hear the dialogue, you can tell what sounds real, what sounds contrived. Even on a completely different planet.
|Thursday, September 24th, 2015|
|Review: Star Trek Sex: Analyzing The Most Sexually Charged Episodes Of The Original Series
Star Trek Sex: Analyzing The Most Sexually Charged Episodes Of The Original Series
• Paperback: 134 pages
• Publisher: BearManor Media (September 7, 2015)
• ISBN-10: 1593938624
• ISBN-13: 978-1593938628
Back in the mid-‘70s, I attended a lecture by Gene Roddenberry where he acknowledged some feminists were accusing him of using women as sex objects in Star Trek. He pled guilty, saying he intended to continue using women as sex objects but added, “to be fair, we will continue to use men as sex objects as well. I’ve played one myself. It’s great fun.”
Clearly, sex in Star Trek has been a subject of countless discussions since the original series aired, including a lengthy (and sometimes inaccurate) Wikipedia article touching on elements in all the series and films. Now, Will Stape beams in on sex in the original series although his book could be better titled “Star Trek Sexuality” as physical consummation was rather uncommon onscreen for Kirk, Spock, and the rest back in the day. But sexual aspects were there from the beginning, notably the alluring Susan Oliver as Vira in the pilot, “The Cage,” where Vira repeatedly tries to seduce Captain Pike (Jeffery Hunter) in a number of settings. Thereafter, the classic cast dealt with topics like inter-species breeding, prostitution, the raging hormones of puberty, attempted rape, population control, conflicting gender roles, out-of-control emotions, and many suppressed and not-so-suppressed desires. And that just scratches the surface.
While most of the book is a series of summaries describing the sexual elements Stape perceives in the first episodes, he later abandons the scope implied in his title. For one, his list of the hot babes of the Star Trek universe includes ladies from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Sorry, while some might find spaceships “sexy,” I found the chapter describing the different types of Federation ships seriously off topic. Perhaps I’m the one too limited. When I think sexy, I’m thinking Nichelle Nichols and Grace Lee Whitney in miniskirts, green slave girls, and Mudd’s Women and not the “Defiant” or “Reliant.” Nor latter-day parodies or the Howard Stern show.
Will Stape certainly has Star Trek credentials. For one matter, he wrote for both Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. So his familiarity with the mythos makes his Star Trek Sex an interesting addition to the canon of book-length Star Trek studies. Still, most Trekkies and Trekkers won’t learn much new—there’s really no new ground broken here—but readers might see the original episodes in fresh, and sometimes surprising ways. For example, while many remember the famous Kirk/Uhura kiss, they forget in the same scene Spock and Nurse Chappel are forced to share an inter-species embrace. And I didn’t know that kiss was preceded by one between James T. West (Robert Conrad) and Filipina-American actress Pilar Seurat on an episode of The Wild Wild West. Not a black and white match, of course, but such tidbits make these books worth perusing for unexpected nuggets of what we never knew before.
|Monday, September 21st, 2015|
|A New Interview with Wes Britton at BookPleasures.com!
“A Conversation with Wesley Britton” was originally published 9/21/2015 at BookPleasures.com. http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7692/1/A-Conversation-With-Author-Dr-Wesley-Britton/Page1.html#.VgAkBl7snIV
It is re-posted here with the publisher’s permission.
Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest, Dr. Wesley Britton. Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books, Spy Television (2003), Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film (2005), Onscreen and Undercover: The Ultimate Book of Movie Espionage (2006), and The Encyclopedia of TV Spies (2009) and he has recently published a book of fiction, The Blind Alien.
For sites like BlogCritics.org and BookPleasures.com, Britton has written over 500 music, book, an movie reviews. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio's Dave White Presents for which he contributed celebrity interviews with musicians, authors, actors, and entertainment insiders. The Blind Alien is his first novel, the first of a four-book series.
Dr. Britton earned his doctorate in American Literature at the University of North Texas in 1990. He currently teaches English at Harrisburg Area Community College. He serves on the Board of Directors for Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania. He lives with his one and only wife, Betty, in Harrisburg, PA.
Norm: How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Dr. Britton: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, which accounts for my being an English major and earning my Ph.D. in American literature. I didn’t really get going with published work until grad school when I began pumping out scholarly articles, book reviews, and encyclopedia articles for a ton of publications. For a spell, I got some good responses for my poetry. Seems I keep changing directions in my writing life—a Mark Twain scholar, poet, spy expert, music and book reviewer, and now sci fi novelist.
What keeps me going? What doesn’t? I guess the simple answer is one word—ideas. There are so many things to write about and I seem to have a knack for various types of writing. I must add getting published so often and getting positive feedback keeps the fire burning.
Norm: Why have you been drawn to writing non-fiction about spies and espionage and where and how did you get your sources for the books?
Dr. Britton: Well, Spy Television (2003) was born when I realized there were many books on specific TV series but nothing that covered the entire genre. I thought it was a book that should be written. I already had a shelf-full of TV spy books, but quickly expanded to read up on shows before and after the ‘60s, the heart of the book. My favorite part of the research was connecting with so many experts and aficionados of various programs and made many lifelong friends while drawing on their expertise. Research volumes, the net, and magazines of the past were also helpful, not to mention hunting many hard-to-find DVDs. Such hunts are a huge part of the fun.
Norm: As a follow up, what purpose do you believe these non-fiction books serve and what matters to you about these books?
Dr. Britton: Demonstrating how the trends changed over the years showed not only what authors, producers, and broadcast companies were interested in, but how the public felt about espionage. Early radio shows reflected the deep mistrust people had about spies. Early TV programs showed just how fearful we were of both true and non-existent Communist threats. The ‘60s was the Bond-inspired spy renaissance where we got a lot of “spy-fi” and tongue-in-cheek adventures. The ‘70s were very fanciful and the ‘80s were much more gritty and down-to-earth. These cycles continue to the present day with more cynicism and hard-edged stories most popular now.
This is a rather skimpy summary of four books. Two of them, of course, dealt with books and films. Whether or not they matter to anyone beyond historians and a niche market is for others to say. To be honest, what mattered to me was the sheer pleasure of doing all that research and discovering so many books, films, and shows I knew nothing about.
Norm: What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?
Dr. Britton: That’s easy. To quote my wife, I’m “the man known by many, paid by few.” I take pride in what I’ve written, am grateful for any reputation I’ve earned, but suspect I’ll always rely on my day-job to pay the bills.
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Dr. Britton: Whew, if there’s anything I try to avoid, it’s giving advice to other writers. We can get all the advice we can absorb from all sorts of avenues. But I suspect it all depends on what other writers want to accomplish. Build a reputation for writing short magazine pieces? Publish that one novel many authors feel they need to get out? Actually become a professional writer of either non-fiction or fiction? It all revolves around your goals. As everyone knows, perseverance and patience are essential. I guess I’d add, get off social media and turn the TV off! You can either call yourself a writer while doing other things or write.
Norm: In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?
Dr. Britton: In non-fiction, I try to avoid any tinkering with what actually happened. For me, it was more a matter of not getting bogged down in details that might be interesting to me but don’t contribute to what you’re trying to cover. I suppose that was grad school training; be objective and use supporting evidence to build your case. If you’re reading a “thesis biography” where an author has an agenda, be very careful.
I don’t know how to answer that question in terms of fiction. Of course, all my fiction takes place on another planet . . .
Norm: You have recently published a work of fiction, The Blind Alien, which I believe is Book 1 of your Beta-Earth Chronicles. Could you tell our readers a little about the series and book 1? How did you decide to author the series and what inspired you to write the series?
Dr. Britton: The Beta-earth Chronicles opens when an unhappy history teacher, Dr. Malcolm Renbourn, is captured by a device that drags him to an alternate earth. Blinded in the capture, Malcolm has no idea what has happened to him and cannot comprehend what is going on around him.
As the story progresses, Malcolm has to first learn about being state property in a slave-holding country before escaping to a free land. He learns about the ancient Plague-With-No-Name that kills three out of four male babies their first year. Thus polygamy is the norm and the basis for Betan tribal structure. In addition, Malcolm finds himself the center of scientific interest in whether or not his genetics might contain the cure to the plague.
But that’s just part of the story, to put it mildly. As the series expands, Malcolm’s tribe grows with very strong wives from different cultures forced to endure a number of pressures and battles with powerful political, scientific, and religious forces.
The series began when I asked the question: how would a blind man fare in a world he cannot understand, where people speak a language he doesn’t comprehend, and where customs are completely different from what he knows? I don’t know of any other book that considered these issues or employed some of the narrative techniques I used.
I’ll add one reason I went in this direction is that I’ve spent so long writing about the works of others, or interviewed other creative folks on the radio show, that I wanted to create something that was me. Before, it was all presenting history in one form or another. Now, I’m putting Wesley Britton on the line.
Norm: What purpose do you believe your stories serve and what matters to you about the stories?
Dr. Britton: Without question, my first purpose was to entertain readers. I worked very hard to make the stories fast-moving with surprises on every page. I’m delighted some readers are seeing allegories and insights regarding race, sex, and gender in the first book. It’s a book for intelligent readers.
What matters to me most will be the reactions to the characters. For me, most of them just came to me, creating themselves. Their back-stories and the relationships they share are the heart of everything that assaults the family. If you don’t fall in love with the women in these books, then I’ve failed miserably.
Norm: When writing your Beta-Earth Chronicles, did you have a set plan or is it improvisational?
Dr. Britton: I must admit, I had the full arc of the four books in my mind, the characters formed, and I knew most of the plots and sub-plots before I began setting them down. At first, I thought I was just entertaining myself thinking Beta-earth was just too strange to be written about. Then, I decided to go for it and set out on a decade or so long adventure in writing to try to put form to what was in my head. Develop this, cut this, revise, revise, revise.
As it happens, I have a full fifth book in my head that might get written, depending on how well the first four fare. I have the beginnings of a sixth book if the saga gets that far.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Dr. Britton: While there’s stuff about the books at various websites, the best is my Beta-earth Chronicles website: http://www.drwesleybritton.com
Norm: What is next for Dr. Wesley Britton?
Dr. Britton: If the publisher follows the planned time-table, book two, The Blood of Balnakin, will come out around December. Three months later, book three, When War Returns. Three months after that, book four, The United States of America. As all of these books are already written and in the publisher’s hands, I guess I could take time to write other things while trying to promote the living daylights out of the Beta-earth Chronicles. And, of course, more book reviews as I’m a ridiculously voracious reader.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Dr. Britton: I guess it would be, who are these books going to appeal to?
To answer that, please let me plug in a comment from author Raymond Benson: “The Blind Alien is a story with a highly original concept, fascinating characters, and not-too-subtle but truthful allegories. Don’t let the sci-fi label or alternate Earth setting fool you--this is a compelling and contemporarily relevant story about race, sex, and social classes.”
I wanted to get that note in as many folks are telling me my series should appeal to readers who don’t ordinarily read science fiction. There are few strange gizmos, no lazar guns, no space ships, very little violence at all. One reader told me there’s more sociology and cultural anthropology in the stories than what you often find in sci fi. An alternate earth is mainly the setting for the stories, but what drives them are the hopefully relatable characters. With luck, I’ll be hearing things like, “I don’t usually read science fiction but . . .”
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors
|Monday, September 14th, 2015|
|Wes Britton's The Blind Alien has Arrived!
Hello fellow readers, I’m author Wesley Britton. I’m delighted to share news that BearManor Media has just published my novel, The Blind Alien: The Beta-earth Chronicles, Book One.
The story begins when Dr. Malcolm Renbourn walks into a bank where he’s suddenly captured by a device that drags him to an alternate earth. Blinded in the capture, Malcolm endures months of torturous experiments and has no idea what is happening to him. He doesn’t understand the language he’s hearing. Not surprisingly, he’s a haunted, frightened man.
Ultimately, Malcolm begins to learn about his new planet. At first, he’s considered state property in a country that enslaves all light-skins, including the only alien from Alpha earth. Escaping into a neighboring free country, Malcolm learns even more, especially about the curse of the ancient Plague-With-No-Name that kills three out of four male babies their first year. Thus, polygamy is the norm and the basis for Beta-earth’s tribal structure. Because of this, Beta’s scientists want to imprison Malcolm and his offspring hoping Alpha genes might carry the cure to a curse that defines their world.
I admit being very proud of the characters you’ll meet in The Blind Alien. As the story progresses, Tribe Renbourn forms around five very strong women with very distinct backgrounds, personalities, and abilities. Bar, Lorei, Elsbeth, Joline and Alnenia are exiles and outcasts who never expected to be mothers of a generation always under the hopeful eyes of a desperate planet. You’ll meet Lorei Renbourn, a prophetess of the goddess Olos and Olos is constantly reminding the tribe they have been brought together for a cosmic mission.
You can find more about the series at my website:
Book reviewers can contact the publisher, Ben Ohmart, directly at email@example.com
You can order the e-book directly from BearManor Media at: http://www.bearmanormedia.com/the-blind-alien-the-beta-earth-chronicles-book-one-by-dr-wesley-britton
Or through Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015BX2CII
Dr. Wesley Britton is the author of four non-fiction books, Spy Television (2003), Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film (2005), Onscreen and Undercover: The Ultimate Book of Movie Espionage (2006), and The Encyclopedia of TV Spies (2009). For sites like BlogCritics.org and BookPleasures.com, Britton has written over 500 music, book, an movie reviews. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio's Dave White Presents for which he contributed celebrity interviews with musicians, authors, actors, and entertainment insiders.
Britton earned his doctorate in American Literature at the University of North Texas in 1990. He currently teaches English at Harrisburg Area Community College. He serves on the Board of Directors for Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania. He lives with his one and only wife, Betty, in Harrisburg, PA.
Contact Wes Britton at:
|Friday, August 7th, 2015|
|Celebrate 7 Years of DAVE WHITE PRESENTS on our Final Broadcast! While we were never remotely clos
Celebrate 7 Years of DAVE WHITE PRESENTS on our Final Broadcast!
While we were never remotely close to the same league of folks like Dave Letterman or John Stewart, still a bit of broadcast history comes to an end Tues. Aug 11 on the last broadcast of DAVE WHITE Presents.
For our final show, Dave White and Wes Britton look over our past seven years with a batch of folks who’ve been major contributors to our legacy. Dave talks with Program Director Dan White who discusses the many changes to internet radio that have evolved since he created KSAV. Sandy Grabman stops by to talk about BearManor Media, the publisher who’s provided so many celebrities and authors over the years. Dave reminiscences with Chicago Bill Hansen, who’s not only been Dave’s co-reviewer of so many new DVD releases, but had many uncredited roles as well. Looking to the future, Dave introduces the host of the program that will be replacing DWP.
Of course, Dave and Wes look back over all their interviews and comedy bits that have made DWP true “Variety Entertainment” twice monthly since 2008. You’ll also learn about their future plans, especially Wes’s upcoming science-fiction books, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, coming your way via, where else, BearManor Media. We’ll also try to squeeze in some samples of the comedy that has made DWP so distinctive since the very beginning.
So, for the very last time, The next DAVE WHITE PRESENTS airs Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, then 7:30 Pacific over--
On Wed. Aug. 12 the 90 minute show will be available as a podcast, mp3 download, from itunes, through TEVO and Sticher.com, at our FB page, or on the player at--
Learn about Wes Britton’s Beta-Earth Chronicles at his new website—
|Sunday, July 26th, 2015|
|Smash Flops and Early Supernatural TV on Next DWP!
Smash Flops and Early Supernatural TV on the Next DAVE WHITE PRESENTS!
Academy and Grammy Award winner Richard Sherman is one-half of the songwriting team that wrote more movie tunes than anyone else in history. For example, along with brother Robert, Sherman composed the scores for MARY POPPINS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, THE JUNGLE BOOK, and THE ARISTOCATS. Actor, writer, and magician Milt Larson, most famous for creating THE MAGIC CASTLE, has also been a longtime songwriter. In fact, for over 60 years, Sherman and Larson have collaborated on a ton of comedy and parody songs with topics ranging from the Titanic to Sarah Palin to fracking.
On Tues. July 28, Milt Larson returns to DWP to discuss SMASH FLOPS, a collection of old and new Sherman/Larson comedy classics. With all that experience, you can expect Milt has much to say about the craft of writing comedy music, finding unusual ways to play with headlines, and the stories behind many of the choices you’ll hear on SMASH FLOPS. Yep, we got a few samples for you.
One year before THE TWILIGHT ZONE, the paranormal came to television in the now little known series called ALCOA PRESENTS ONE STEP BEYOND. The big difference between TZ and the three-season OSB was that the ABC anthology series was based on actual experiences of ordinary people. From 1959 to 1961, the 96 episodes of ONE STEP BEYOND were docu-dramas of supernatural events that defied logical explanations. Guests stars included the likes of Warren Beatty, Robert Blake, Charles Bronson, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Lee, Jack Lord, and William Shatner.
Now, the complete OSB is available on DVD, and reviewers Dave White and Chicago Bill Hanson will delve into the delights of ONE STEP BEYOND on DAVE WHITE PRESENTS. Is OSB a neglected classic your entire family will enjoy?
Find out Tues. July 28 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, then 7:30 Pacific over--
You can pre-record the show at Digital Audio Recording (DAR)--http://www.dar.fm/faq.php
On Wed. July 29, the 90 minute show will be available as a podcast, mp3 download, from itunes, through TEVO and Sticher.com, at our FB page, or on the player at--
If you’re into science-fiction, check out Wes Britton’s new website:
|Sunday, July 12th, 2015|
|Mr. North from John Huston, Mitch Ryder on Next Dave White Presents!
Making Movies with John Huston and the Hits with Mitch Ryder on the Next DAVE WHITE PRESENTS!
In the summer of 1987, a group of the screen’s most notable stars gathered in glamorous Newport, Rhode Island to make Mr. North, a charming and unpretentious film about a magical man who turns the town upside-down. They included Anthony Edwards, Anjelica Huston, Lauren Bacall, Harry Dean Stanton, Virginia Madsen, Tammy Grimes, and legendary director John Huston. But just as the cameras turned, Huston fell ill and was replaced by Robert Mitchum. There were daily reports on Huston’s failing health, and the world wondered whether the lion of Hollywood, after surviving so many close calls with death over the years, would finally succumb.
Nat Segaloff was the only journalist—in fact, the only outsider—allowed onto the set and behind the scenes of Mr. North. Over 25 years later, Segaloff tells the full story of how Mr. North came to be in his new book, MR. HUSTON/MR. NORTH: LIFE, DEATH, AND MAKING JOHN HUSTON'S LAST FILM. On Tues. July 14, Nat returns to DAVE WHITE PRESENTS to discuss his book and how so many egos found a way to finish a movie with the worrisome backdrop of Huston’s condition.
Digging into the DWP vaults, we’re also offering an encore broadcast of our Jan. 18, 2012 conversation with Mitch Ryder, best-known as lead singer for the Detroit Wheels. (“Devil With A Blue Dress,” “Sock It To Me.” When Mitch sat down with Wes Britton, the two discussed Ryder’s new record, THE PROMISE, his first album in nearly 30 years. They also dug into Mitch’s memoir, DEVILS AND BLUE DRESSES, one of the most candid autobiographies in rock history.
So summer nostalgia comes your way on the next DAVE WHITE PRESENTS, Tuesday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, then 7:30 Pacific over--
You can pre-record the show at Digital Audio Recording (DAR)--http://www.dar.fm/faq.php
On Wed. July 15, the 90 minute show will be available as a podcast, mp3 download, from itunes, through TEVO and Sticher.com, at our FB page, or on the player at--
Don't forget to friend us at the Dave White Presents Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dave-White-Presents/153177177306