Cleoth and Arkh - Sergio Bertoni

***** Between fantasy and history

As a lover of historical novels set in ancient Egypt I couldn’t resist the temptation to read this book by an Italian author who in this genre stands beside famous authors like Jacq and just like the latter mixes effectively real history with the fantasy shade brought by the ancient Egyptian religion and magic.
Like any novel trying to include most of the life of a person, this is affected by its episodic structure. Various events are narrated; each one ends and leaves room to another one happened in the subsequent period. For this reason after the protagonists successfully face a challenge, you can easily leave the book for a while. But the narration is so good that you end up getting back to it as easily.
The events narrated go from the arrival of Archimedes to Alexandria until his “disappearance” many years later in Syracuse, for which the author offers a very interesting explanation.
The core of the plot, as can be deduced from the title, is his love story with the priestess Cleoth. With delicacy and sensitivity Bertoni writes about this feeling and the events caused by it, embellished with fantasy elements that contribute to give this book a halo of mystery in which everything is really possible.
Beside this is history, the real one, and the tales of the amazing inventions by Archimedes, a genius of his time, which wisely enrich the novel without loading it with information and never creating drops of tension.
In a nutshell, a good book which is worth much more than its ridiculously low price.

Cleoth and Arkh on Amazon.

Colony of Mars

Courtesy of NASA.
Today’s guest on my blog is science fiction author Kate Rauner. In this article she tells us about her fascination for the exploration of the Red Planet, which is the setting of her “Colony of Mars” series.

Mars is in the news these days. We’re learning so much from NASA and the European Union, and other countries are joining with their own missions. India, Japan... Mars will be a multi-cultural planet. But what fascinates me is the number of private organizations joining the race, and the people ready to take a one-way trip.

Obsession with Mars isn’t new. The Mars Society is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. They run simulations of living and working on Mars and you can apply to join a mission.
Some recent entries into the Mars race have a lot of money. Elon Musk is a good example, a billionaire who wants to live and die on Mars. His SpaceX might make it. Then there’s Mars One, a non-profit that seems more aspirational than able, but thousands of everyday people from all over the world applied to take one-way journeys.

Colonizing Mars will be very difficult. There’s a lot to think about. Here’s a problem that never dawned on me: MIT students calculated that, to raise enough food in Martian greenhouses to feed the settlers, gardens would produce dangerously high oxygen levels.

There are a lot of ways Mars can kill you.
Cold and a near-vacuum atmosphere make the surface immediately deadly.
Cosmic and solar radiation require anyone who wants a long life to shield their habitat under meters of regolith - that’s Martian soil, but with no detectable life, calling it soil seems optimistic.

Imagine if traveling millions of kilometers means you hunker in a burrow, living as a subsistence farmer, and only venturing onto the surface by remote control robot.
Technology can protect settlers from everything except the low gravity (which will damage your metabolism and immune system as well as your bones and muscles, but let’s move on) but the biggest challenge is human nature.

Could you live confined in tight quarters with a few other people? For the rest of your life? Results from an experiment at Biosphere 2 make that a dismal prospect, and NASA won’t release all the findings from their confinement studies. Hmm.
Personally, I’m not brave enough to move to Mars. I like my favorite coffee shop too much. That and grocery stores, electricity delivered to my house, and space. Lots and lots of space to roam around under blue skies in warm sunshine.

But creating a first foothold is an intriguing project. I explore the challenges and the delights in a science fiction book about the first twelve settlers. I send diverse settlers, civilians from different cultures and different backgrounds. These are real people, as real as I can imagine them, struggling on the real Mars.
I had to give them technologies we don’t have ready-to-go today, but a story about colonizing Mars might be too short otherwise.
My sci-fi colony has an Artificial Intelligence, and construction robots to harvest air and build habitat space from the Martian regolith. An extensive satellite system monitors space weather, provides communications, and beams power down to the surface. I truly wish we had a power system like this for Earth today.

My settlers encounter real problems and danger follows them from Earth. Mars is a deadly planet and no matter how earthlings plan, unanticipated hazards may doom the colony.
They have different reasons to risk the journey. Emma Winters, a young roboticist, wants to explore in walkabout suits she designed. Her friends want to spread life to the barren planet, study its geology, and climb its vast mountains. A couple Brits just want to play with the robots, the best erector set ever, and a Kiwi wants to pilot ships in orbit. There’s also an orange tabby cat that doesn’t care if he’s on Mars. He’d be a cat anywhere.

But survival takes priority over dreams, because something is terribly wrong in the colony. A strange illness threatens these pioneers, tragic deaths may be no accident, and experts on Earth can’t protect them. With no way back to Earth, they must save themselves or Emma may be one of the last humans on Mars. Because, even in the real-world, the gruesome death of early settlers is bound to spoil our taste for Mars.

Kate Rauner
A science fiction writer, poet, firefighter, and engineer on her way to eccentric old woman

KATE RAUNER writes science fiction novels and science-inspired poetry, and serves as a volunteer firefighter. She’s a retired environmental engineer and worked in America’s nuclear weapons complex, so she’s also a Cold War Warrior. Honestly, as designated by the USA Congress.
A friend tricked her into writing, first by involving her in his own book, then asking her to post on his blog, and finally encouraging her to join NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. Kate says her first story was “not-terrible” so she kept writing.
She lives outside Silver City, New Mexico, where copper mines still anchors the economy, and a budding artist community makes the place a miniature version of an undiscovered Santa Fe. From a ridge-top home on the edge of southwest America’s Gila National Forest, Kate enjoys hiking with her husband, feeding the birds, and indulging her cats, llamas, and dog. Kate says she’s pursuing her life goal, “to become an eccentric old woman.”

View Kate’s videos on You Tube. Visit her blog. Find her books at Amazon and other stores.

Special deal: a Box Set of all five books, value priced, at Amazon and other stores!

The Misunderstood

Today’s guest on my blog is author Rae Stoltenkamp. Her books span the genres of fantasy, science fiction and magical realism. She is also a poet. In this article she talks about her experience teaching to a gifted child and how that influenced some of her books.

Before settling down to writing and self-publishing I used to be a full time teacher in an inner city London school. Regardless of the country you teach in, anyone will tell you this is a challenging environment. Very quickly into my teaching practice I realised I had a knack for communicating with children with Special Needs (SEN as it’s called here in the UK).

Most times when people think of Special Needs they latch onto the idea of a child with learning difficulties. Several times during my 13 year teaching stint I was reminded that while the majority of my students did indeed have these difficulties there were others whose behaviour marked them as SEN when in fact they were highly intelligent. Their lack of engagement with the average classroom content and insular or confrontational attitude masked their talent.

At the very start of my teaching career, an introductory lesson on Of Mice & Men to my SEN class brought a gifted student – let’s call her Andria - to my attention. Andria exhibited many of the traits identified with the gifted:

  • Curiosity – endless questions
  • Ignoring the teacher’s brief for assignments – going off piste and doing her own thing
  • Advanced vocabulary – she regularly used 3 or 4 syllable words in appropriate context
  • Lack of engagement with her peers – often got involved in conversations with support staff and myself while appearing to ignore fellow students
  • Strong emotions – Andria often voiced her opinion on topics in a loud and seemingly abrasive manner
  • Outside the box thinking

When I first understood this was the case with Andria, I confess to feeling intimidated. Andria’s breadth of knowledge on certain subjects was superior to mine. Her general knowledge and vocabulary was outstanding. She understood my subtle jokes which often went over the heads of some support staff and she was certainly not shy about telling me when she thought I had supplied the class with incorrect facts.

To teach Andria I had to take a different approach to the one I was using with the rest of my class. The first thing I did was give her a solo assignment on the Social & Historical background of the novel. Admittedly, I did this at the time as a way to keep her busy at the classroom computer so I could get the rest of the class settled.

10 minutes into the lesson, a quick glance over her shoulder told me she had the matter well in hand. So I decided to add some parameters to see if she could cope with them. I stipulated her research had to be on a Powerpoint presentation of 10 - 15 slides, include images and be in language her other classmates could easily understand. Then I also demanded a bibliography. Chewing on a thumb nail I waited for her reaction. After asking what a bibliography was and listening to my explanation, she then simply got on with the task.

Andria was engaged all lesson. I kept tabs on her and made suggestions as the Powerpoint developed. Looking over her printed slides later that day I realised I was out of my depth. So I headed for the library. Very old school – I know. This was in the days before the internet and search engines were at their peak. An hour later I was very deflated. I didn’t possibly have the skills to teach this child. Everything I read indicated she was in a class of her own.

It took a train and bus commute home to still my doubts. I reminded myself I got into teaching to facilitate, not to quit as soon as I hit my first hurdle. I also called my mother – she was the font of all wisdom. The first thing she told me was that I had to shelve my own intellectual insecurities and focus on Andria and her needs solely. I had to engage with my self-doubt and admit it was likely Andria would ask me questions I couldn’t answer. I would have to tackle this issue and deal with it. I would have to be resourceful in my approach.

Thus Andria led me on a journey of discovery where I began to understand that the gifted can be as neglected as those with learning difficulties. I resolved that this would never ever be the case in my classroom. Andria left my class after the next round of assessment. She moved to a top set. The next academic year the government introduced Mixed Ability teaching. Many more like Andria passed through my classroom before I gave up full time teaching.

I suspect Andria and the other gifted students I met during my teaching career are the reason gifted children often creep into my writing. They feature in both my SciFi novels and in my debut novel Six Dead Men, one of the dead men is a remarkable but ignored artist and another is linguistically gifted but excluded from school because of behaviour deemed aggressive and anti-social.

My latest book – Palindrome - the prequel novella to Six Dead Men is no different. At the heart of the story is an exceptional 12 year old boy called Robert Deed (the detective from Six Dead Men). The setting is Haddington, near Edinburgh – it’s 1975. Here change is a process slowed by tradition and the luxury of a certain distance from the swift progress of the rest of the world. Robert’s 13th birthday approaches. He is a teenager who looks beyond a thing and sees inside it. But this birthday brings more than a coming of age celebration for Robert. He will feel forced to solve the murder of his first crush, battle his grief, re-evaluate his relationship with his parents and exonerate a dear friend.

Palindrome is due for release on 27th July. To celebrate, Six Dead Men is currently available FREE exclusively through Instafreebie for e-readers.

Rae Stoltenkamp
Fantasy, science fiction and magical realism author

RAE STOLTENKAMP was born in South Africa and came to England in 1987 to visit family. She liked the weather so much she stayed. After a writing holiday in Greece she had an epiphany and realised she should be writing on a full time basis. It was probably heat stroke since she hadn’t had sun in a while. She then studied writing at City Lit with the poet Caroline Natzler and is now a self-published writer, blogger and English tutor living in South London. Rae currently works for a local charity (Young Women’s Hub) teaching English and also runs creative writing workshops and after school clubs with Her published work includes poetry in Prole, Fantasy for children, Science Fiction for young adults and Magic Realism for adults. As well as her writing, Rae has a passion for Lindy Hop and Argentine Tango. When she’s not chained to her desk and laptop, you can often see her tripping the light fantastic with her dancing friends.

Additional books by Rae Stoltenkamp include: Where Rainbows Hide, Six Degrees and When Rainbows Cry.

Visit Rae’s website:
You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

New discoveries and new mysteries in “Saranythia Part 2 - The Varton”

The protagonists of the first part of “Saranythia” (sequel to “Amantarra”) return in this second part that leads us into the heart of the story. We had left them while they were slipping, despite themselves, in the middle of a battle between the daemons and the army of the Varton, now in “Saranythia Part 2: The Varton we find them in the hands of the latter, as they begin to discover the link between the planet where the portal led them and Amantarra’s sister, namely Saranythia. At the same time the figure of the “villain” of this story begins to emerge, which is hidden behind the strange name of Uzpanax.
Richard J. Galloway, as always, mixes elements of science fiction and an excellent world building with irony and mystery and, although this part is characterised by less action than the first, it does not fail to intrigue the reader, who soon finds themselves on the last page.
I also found the part in the Ja’liem forest very interesting and I continue to wonder how this part of the novel will be connected exactly with everything else.
I just have to wait for the next episode. In the meantime, I asked Richard to offer my blog’s readers a special insight on this new book, and he decided to let one of his characters, Commander Vartii, talk about himself.

The Commander - in his own words. 
“It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about removing the obstacle and moving onto the next objective. What the obstacle is, whoever it may be, is irrelevant. The same applies to whatever needs to be done to remove the obstacle. If it requires a death, then however regretful that may be, death will be the solution I apply. I’m Commander Vartii, by the way. I command the garrison here at Setergard, a former religious centre at the gateway to the Vale of Olrad. Ah, you’re wondering about what possible lessons life has taught me to make me so cold. You’ll understand that I don’t see this as a problem, others may see it that way, but in my position it’s an advantage. My authority here at Setergard is absolute. It was granted to me by the Saratarian order in the name of our god Saranythia. I was chosen for the role because of the very qualities I’ve just described. I like to believe that I’m fair minded but firm. I certainly don’t have a problem with discipline which I take as confirmation that my approach to command works.  A command that I’ve held for over eighty years, far longer than any other commander before me, and I might add, more successful. As a result, the townsfolk in Olrad refer to the warriors here as The Varton. But, I digress.

Life’s lessons. Well I suppose my journey to the position of commander started early. I must have been around eight years old when I learned that life really isn’t fair, and that the only person who was going look after my interests, was me. As you can see, I’m strong but physically quite small and slight, not really warrior material. When I was a child my stature was a major disadvantage, especially given the rough games we played. It’s around that age that we learn to block our thoughts to others. You can’t win any game if your opponents all know what your next move is. Of course at eight years old the older kids can easily bypass your attempts to block them. Things improve with time, but in these matters, practice does not always make perfect. Now I know what you’re thinking, the ever popular life lesson of older boys picking on me because they could, and that did happen, but there were only five of them, and they didn’t necessarily single me out, they were quite liberal with their attentions. No, the event that set me on the path to commander centred on a songbird.

In the town of Olrad where I grew up, life centred on the worship of Saranythia, and the word of the Red Friars of the Saratarian order was law. Now, long story short, my father had promised to buy me a caged songbird from the market and I’d gone into the house of worship to give thanks to Saranythia. While I was in there I overheard two Friars talking. They mentioned the name Amantarra and I thought it would be a good name for the bird I’d been promised. As I was leaving, one of the Friars asked what I’d been giving thanks for, so I told him and mentioned the name I’d chosen. Now I’d seen anger before, but this was different. His voice was controlled, and physically he didn’t touch me, but his thoughts hit me and knocked me off my feet. He told me that Amantarra was a sacred name known only to the Saratarian order and I should forget I’d heard it. Of course my father refused to buy the bird for me as a punishment for angering the Friar, but that unfair decision wasn’t what changed me. The powerful thoughts the Friar assailed me with caused me to instinctively throw up mental defences that normally take decades to learn. That wasn’t all, I struck out at the Friar with my mind in an attempt to stop the onslaught that threatened to overwhelm me. At that age my attack should have been ineffectual against a trained Friar, but it wasn’t, it worked and I managed to deflect his anger onto my father. The result of that, was no songbird.

It took me years to work out how I’d done it. All members of the Saratarian order, like the warriors I command, carry a blue orb in their abdomens. The orb links us to the power of Saranythia and confirms our commitment to her. As I’d thrown up my defences I sensed the power of the Friar’s orb, and through it I could sense the Friar. Instinctively, and it was pure instinct, what I’d done was to use the link and the orb’s power to deflect the Friar’s attention onto my father. It was the discovery of that ability changed me, because after, I found I could influence anyone. As a result, I never lost another game, or fight, and the three bullies who survived my revenge learnt to avoid me and the fear I could inject into their thoughts. To this day I regret the two deaths, they were after all only a couple of years older than me, still children, but I suppose some people just can’t cope with being shown their own nightmares.”

Raised amid the heavy industry of the north east of England on a diet of Star Trek, Doctor Who and fantasy novels, RICHARD J. GALLOWAY rebelled against his schools assumption that heavy industrial work would be his vocation. Having exhausted the only apparent option, the careers master would despair. “If you don’t want to work in the steelworks, where do you want to work?” His reply was always, “I don’t know.” The industry he finished up in would not materialise for another ten years. No wonder the master struggled. From school, via drawing office and architecture, eventually he found himself working with large computer systems.
Career aside, the thread that bound it all together has been fantasy. He has never lost his fascination with the imagery that a good story invokes. After all it had shown him worlds beyond this one, and possibilities beyond the steelworks. It continues to do so.
Richard still lives in the north east of England with his wife, family, and a large cat called Beano. The heavy industry has shrunk, but Richard’s world of fantasy has grown. He often wonders what advice he would have been given if the careers master had read the occasional bit of science fiction.

Richard’s first novel Amantarra was published in 2013, followed in 2017 and 2018 by the first two parts of its sequel SaranythiaThe Gates of Setergard and The Varton.

Visit Richard online at:
And follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

You can find more about Saranythia in this interview with Richard.

Rising Sun - Michael Crichton

***** Clash of cultures

In general I try to avoid reading Crichton’s books if I have seen the film taken from them. I prefer to leave them for last, when, alas, there won’t be others left. This time, however, I made an exception, also because it’s been so many years since I saw “Rising Sun” at the theatre. I didn’t exactly remember the plot and it was nice to rediscover it in the pages of this novel, even if some details came to my mind as I went on.
I must admit that during the reading I often found myself imagining Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes playing the main characters and it was a great feeling. It was like reliving that film, but in a much more diluted and in-depth way.
The story itself is about the murder of a young high-profile prostitute in a Los Angeles skyscraper belonging to a large Japanese company, which took place at the same time with an important party that involved many famous people (some real ones, who are mentioned by the author, even if they are never seen in a scene). The game of deception, the technological element and the succession of events (the story takes place in two days) full of twists and turns make this novel a fast read, despite its length. But what makes it even more interesting is all that in the film, for obvious reasons of time, could only be mentioned: the technological war between the US and Japan in the 90s. Crichton, mixing reality and fantasy, makes us learn more about Japanese industrial practices and the culture of the rising sun. He does so in particular through the character of Connor, an experienced policeman with a love-hate relationship with Japan, made of understanding and respect for its rules despite this does not correspond to a total acceptance or even approval of the same, who leads the protagonist, Smith, in a difficult case that everyone, for one reason or another, wants to close as soon as possible. This is the death of a woman of “no importance”, as defined by the Japanese characters, but that somehow is able to upset many other lives, perhaps even Smith’s.
What I also found very interesting is the technical aspects concerning the tampering of surveillance videos, even though now, with direct recording on files, it appears obsolete.
Overall, in this novel, as usual, Michael Crichton manages to combine a page-turning plot with valuable insights, able to leave a mark well beyond the time dedicated to reading.

Rising Sun on Amazon.

Gunpowder Moon - David Pedreira

**** Conspiracy on the Moon

Before reading a novel, it’s spontaneous to look at the cover and, based on the image and the possible slogan, get a vague idea of ​​the plot. And it’s nice that at least in part this idea is respected, otherwise there is the risk of running into something that you didn’t want to read at all. Too bad that what the cover of “Gunpowder Moon” suggests has nothing to do with the content of the book. You can see the helmet of a space suit with a hole on the visor, while the suit of another astronaut is visible in the reflection, all in a lunar environment. Furthermore, the slogan refers to an elusive “first murder on the Moon”.
If you expect to “see” (with the eyes of your mind) within the novel the villain shooting off and therefore killing someone in a lunar landscape, you will be disappointed. Someone is actually killed, but nobody shoots them. And the same word “murder” used in the slogan suggests something much more personal than a malicious explosion that causes the death of a character due to exposure to vacuum. For the latter situation the most appropriate word is attack. The fact that behind all this there is a conspiracy whose purpose is to unleash a war in our satellite highlights how the murder is a marginal topic within the novel, to say the least.
The problem with these marketing choices by publishers (and in this case we’re talking about Harper Collins) is that they attract the wrong readers and repel the right ones.
“Gunpowder Moon” is actually a hard science fiction novel with military and political implications, set in a fairly pessimistic (almost post-apocalyptic) future. There is some excellent action scene, like the one that makes up the climax of the novel. The scientific part related to the Moon is quite accurate (with the necessary licences) and interesting, and is well supported by an evocative prose. The author is very good at world building, although I don’t appreciate such a pessimistic view of the future. In addition, the main character, Dechert, is not bad at all, despite some elements that tend to make it slip into a cliché.
But, apart from the completely wrong marketing choices, perhaps the only real problem with this book is the slow pace. You find yourself reading long scenes with long dialogues and reflections of the protagonist, in which something happens only in the last page and then they are interrupted at the end of the chapter (usually consisting of one or maximum two scenes) in order to induce the reader to read the next one (something that I find extremely irritating). In the first half of the book I think I have counted five events in all that carry on the story, and obviously the scenes are many more than five. I was often surprised to realise that I wanted the chapter to end, so that I could stop reading and move on to the other book I was reading in the same period. And this is not a good thing.
There is a slight acceleration in the second part, even if some flashbacks that add nothing to the story or really to the characterisation of the tormented protagonist (I had already understood what type of character he was) managed to break my concentration in reading and to make me decide to stop.
In short, I had the impression of reading a longer book than it actually is.
The climax, however, as I said before, is excellent. The identity of the villain was not difficult to understand, but the author had some great ideas on how to get the main characters out of trouble.
In the epilogue, unfortunately, the pace goes down again and the author once again gives in to the temptation to make use of too many explanations.

What saves everything, including my judgment, is the last page. Obviously I cannot mention anything about it, except that it gives a certain satisfaction.

Gunpowder Moon on Amazon.

Trunk Music - Michael Connelly

***** A perfect ending

After several months, I went back to reading the stories of Harry Bosch born from the pen of Michael Connelly and I did it with the fifth book in the series, which is now more than twenty years old.
This time Bosch has to solve the murder of a film producer who is found dead in the boot of his car. It looks like a typical mob execution, which is precisely called “Hard Music”, like the title of the book, but the reality will be much more complex than what appears obvious at the beginning of the investigation.
As always, Connelly shows us the ambiguous face of police investigations in Los Angeles and, in this case, even in a Las Vegas that seeks to clean up its image from the negative influence of the past domination of the Mob on the city. But there is still a boss that the police cannot wait to eliminate, Joey Marks, and there are links between him and the victim. But the solution to the crime could be elsewhere.
Here and there are a few coincidences, which allow the protagonist to carry on his work and avoid to be killed, but they aren’t so bad.
It was nice to see the Las Vegas of those times in the pages of this novel, the same that I saw with my own eyes a few years before its publication. When Bosch describes the Mirage’s lobby with the white tigers behind the armoured glass and the sharks in the aquarium, I found myself looking at the same things in wonder. This allowed me even more to identify myself with his point of view and to experience the story as if it were real.
Beyond the investigation, however, what I liked most about this book is the return of a character from the past of Bosch who has an important role in the story’s development and especially in the epilogue. Too bad that the personality and the point of view of Bosch himself is preponderant, making the character less three-dimensional than how they appeared in the other book in which they were previously seen. In general, Bosch gives minimal space to the other characters, invades the whole scene, tending to make all the others look like tools enslaved to the plot.
The ending is absolutely perfect, as he himself says, without the usual bitterness or uncertainty that characterised the previous books. In reading it, I thought that the author intended to conclude Bosch’s story here and that only later he decided to go ahead, perhaps at the insistence of his publisher.
For me, if I didn’t already own the next book, I could stop here and be completely satisfied. Certainly, I will wait again several months before continuing with the reading.
I recommend this book to all crime thrillers’ lovers, but to really appreciate it you have to read the previous four, since the heart of these novels is indisputably Bosch, of whom the author each time shows you some new aspect making you experience his evolution through his point of view.

Trunk Music on Amazon.

Other Kingdoms - Richard Matheson

**** Unusual but pleasant

What I like about Matheson is that every time in his books he manages to bring out something original that transcends genres, but at the same time each of them has in common with others a series of elements linked to the style, to the characteristics of the protagonists and to the total unpredictability of the stories, which eschew any cliché.
“Other Kingdoms” is a fable that mixes elements of fantasy, romance and history, and that does not develop or end as you would expect.
Among the elements that made me appreciate this novel is the colloquial and often ironic tone with which the young protagonist narrator addresses the reader. Between the two, there is a sort of complicity fuelled by the curiosity to read which other absurdity the former will invent on the next page.
In addition to this is the historical reconstruction, although limited by the point of view of the protagonist, who manages to take us to the trenches of the First World War and then to a village in England.
And then there are fantasy elements (in this case fairies and witches) that are mixed with reality.
Everything is put together with a narrative in the form of a report, which I had already seen in “Somewhere in Time”. Compared to the latter “Other Kingdoms” is less successful in the scope of the suspension of disbelief. Not even for a moment I forgot that I was reading an invented story, despite the fact that the protagonist repeated that it was all true. Indeed, precisely for this reason. But then I think it was what the author wanted, because he, already in old age, wrote this story in honour of his wife Ruth Ann (from whom the fairy creature Ruthana takes her name), as he says in the dedication. And as such, it must be considered.
I appreciate even more this author precisely because of this decision to write a book that he felt his own, rather than something that would have pleased the public. I only regret that now I will have one less book by him to read.

Other Kingdoms on Amazon.

Stormtrack - James Sutherland

*** A rushed story

Thinking back to the essential points of the plot, I realise that there is potential, yet I cannot say that the book has impressed me.
The plot is indeed linear. The first chapters only serve to present the protagonist, Ross Moran, but nothing important happens until he is sent to a space station and there he is offered a job on another space station called Boreas. Among advanced technologies that clash with others that are antiquated to say the least (the characters travel in Earth orbit, but use a typewriter!), an adventure unfolds in which the events are narrated in a very simplistic fashion. The way technology is presented is superficial and very weak pseudo-scientific explanations are used. It doesn’t seem to be just a matter of style, since the author suddenly becomes much more precise in speaking of meteorology (or at least he gives this feeling to a layman in this topic like me).
The events follow each other in a hurry, in a way that I would define improbable. Even the dialogues, at times, are not very convincing. The whole thing is stuffed with clichés, like the supervillain soldiers who don’t listen to reason, especially if they are women in charge.
I can not even say that I didn’t like the book at all. I liked the protagonist. It was nice to plunge into his mind, and his inner monologues are engaging. There are also some good action scenes. Nevertheless, the general feeling was that of excessive simplicity, as if it were the first version of a story that has not yet been fully developed. What a pity.

Stormtrack on Amazon.

Science fiction, self-publishing, AmazonCrossing and more. Interview on Origin podcast

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Bryan Aiello on his podcast called “Origin: Stories on Creativity and now it is available for you to listen to it.
We had a very nice chat that lasted almost an hour and during which I had the chance to talk about many topics related to my books and my activity as an author.

I must say that it is a rare case of an interview done without any special preparation on my side. I didn’t know what Bryan was going to ask me so it was completely spontaneous and I think this made the interview more interesting. Well, except the times I asked him to repeat because I hadn’t understood. My listening skills in an audio-only conversation in English aren’t so good, because I rarely have the chance to practice, but in the end, it wasn’t such an issue during this interview, which I enjoyed very much.

As I said, the main topic of the interview was related to my books, especially the RedDesert series (notice that there are some minor spoilers), and my approach at writing them, but then we ended up talking about a lot more than this, including my thriller “The Mentor” and my experience (both the good and the bad part of it) with AmazonCrossing, which published this book in English in 2015 (I got my rights back at the end of 2017 and the book will be republished soon). Of course, we also talked about self-publishing, but also about science fiction and the book I’m currently writing. I even mentioned another Italian science fiction author who is quite popular in my country and whose books I really like, even if they have nothing to do with the kind of science fiction I write.

You’ll also notice that I laugh a lot!
Actually I really had fun doing this and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to it as well.

You can listen to the podcast on its website or right here from YouTube.

Once more, thanks to Bryan Aiello for having me on his podcast!