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Showing posts from January, 2017

Review: Suri Five

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Suri Five by Jacob Whaler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was contacted by the author and asked to review this novel.

Suri Five addresses Artificial Intelligence, a topic that I thoroughly enjoy, and it happens to be a major theme in the novel I just recently finished writing. The author uses the idea of making a digital copy of a human brain in order to obtain true duplication of human intelligence. The model for the AI is based on a teenage girl, Suri, who excels in a virtual reality world known as The Game.

I found Suri Five to be a curious style of virtual-reality based story-telling that lends itself well to fantastic flights of the imagination. The story got off to a bit of a slow start, with the author falling into the sci-fi author's trap of too much world-building via exposition while the character is in the midst of an action scene. Despite the rough start, Suri Five is an engaging read with well-developed characters who draw the reader into a Matrix-like virtual reality world…

Author Media Kit

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Thanks to my very good friend, Linda Greer, for helping me with some really good photos yesterday. We met at the Unitarian Fellowship in Huntington, WV and then proceeded to Huntington's Ritter Park.

Thanks to her efforts, I was able to get my Media Kit put together. Below are just a few examples of her hard work to make me look even somewhat professional. :)

A Tragedy Remembered

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I remember watching the Challenger Tragedy unfold thirty-one years ago while sitting in class at Ivydale Elementary School. We visited the Challenger Memorial while on a school trip to Washington, D.C. It was the first large-scale tragedy I remember witnessing, and it had a profound effect on the younger me. The novel I recently completed, entitled "Humanity First," is set in the year 2125 and features an asteroid mining ship named Challenger. Her Captain, Owen Hudson, is a descendant of one of the Challenger astronauts.
Without realizing the date, I sent query letters to a few literary agents yesterday and early this morning. The dedication reads: This book is dedicated to all of humanity, to every man, woman, and child who rises above the challenges of life on a daily basis.
Specifically, this book is meant to be a celebration of the men and women of NASA. It is their courage and commitment to the advancement of the human race that has taken us this far, though this is stil…

Review: Caliban's War

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Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another amazing novel by James S.A. Corey! Caliban's War is an action packed adventure taking place in the beautifully sculpted world assembled in Leviathan Wakes by author team Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, writing as James S.A. Corey. Despite the recurring theme of hunting for a missing girl, the novel takes the reader on a thrilling ride ranging from Earth and Mars to the outer reaches of the asteroid Belt as Holden and his crew, along with several new players that include high-level government officials and a badass Martian Marine, come to terms with the growing menace of the protomolecule revealed in Leviathan Wakes. Caliban's War is an excellent read that I would recommend to all science fiction lovers.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Ready Player One

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ready Player One is a geek's paradise, plain and simple. From the Dungeons and Dragons references and 80's classic movies to the Atari gaming platform, this novel takes the reader on a fun ride through the virtual reality of the futuristic gaming platform of OASIS. The game's designer, Halliday, was a social recluse who refused to step out of his teenage years in the 1980's and live in the present. This obsession with 80's pop culture and the gaming industry lead to his construction of the greatest gamer easter egg hunt in the future history of gaming. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as well as Armada. Highly Recommended!

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Review: Zoe's Tale

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Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since I have not read any of the other "Old Man's War" books, this was my first introduction to them. I enjoy the author's writing style, which makes the characters jump right off the page at you. It would appear that both John Perry and Jane Sagan are main characters of the previous books and their adopted daughter, Zoe, makes quite a name for herself in this novel. I enjoyed the growth of the main character as she grows into her own person and faces the unique challenges before her in Zoe's Tale.

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Review: Crash Wagon

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Crash Wagon by Jason Eric Pryor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found Crash Wagon to be a fun little read, primarily due to my love of Firefly. The novel draws from some Firefly elements without being too obvious about it and makes for a short yet fun escape into the Scifi Western genre. The characters could have been more fleshed out, but the length of the story didn't really allow too much more than what we got. All in all, I recommend it as a fun get-away read.

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Review: Battle Cruiser

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Battle Cruiser by B.V. Larson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm giving Battle Cruiser three stars because of what it could have been. I liked the gist of the plot but the execution was offputting. I found the stiff, formal, Victorian dialogue out of place for a futuristic Earth, but I suppose it's possible after a reformation as offsetting as something like a Carrington Event. The sticking point is the recovery timeline.  If the Carrington Event were as severe as portrayed, the redevelopment of advanced technologies (rejuvenation drugs, personal forcefields, and spaceflight itself) would indicate an incredibly steep developmental curve with an unreal amount of progress achieved in a short amount of time.

I found the characters thin and the love interest contrived in such a way as to be entirely unrealistic. The only character I really found interesting enough to care about was the Beta Female, Zye. Regardless of the thin characters and sometimes inexplicable criticism/outright obstr…

Afterhours Junkfood

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Afterhours Junkfood
by Royce Sears The lights went out as the last employee left the grocery store. Long moments passed before anything happened, then the Pringles cans shifted and hopped off their shelves.
“Ahh, it feels good to stretch. I thought they’d never leave.” The bags of Fritos leapt from their shelves to join the Pringles cans. “Yep, sure does feel good, though I don’t see how you can stretch much in that can,” they snickered. “Oh, look, the cheap chips decided to join us. You’re just half-full bags of air. What would you know?” “Hey guys, relax, chill out… Why’s everything always gotta be so intense ‘round here anyway? We’re all just potato chips of one kind or another,” the bags of Cheetos chimed in. “Speak fer yerselves, we ain’t no salty chips,” the bottles of Mountain Dew called from their perch high upon the shelves, “just pure mountain goodness right here.” “Yeah, but the Pringles have always thought they were better than us, just because they come in a can and the…

Frontiers of the Heart

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Frontiers of the Heart Royce Sears
The platform bobbed up and down with the rise and swell of the ocean as I stared at the cable rising into the heavens like some fantastic rope trick one might see a flutist with a wicker basket perform. I craned my neck back all the way and stared straight into the wispy pink clouds of the evening sky, even though I knew I could not see the end of it. As thick as my waist, and constructed from some of the strongest materials known to man, it stretched miles and miles into the heavens above. It had been christened the Arthur C. Clarke Space Elevator.
Lowering my gaze to the trolley that rode upon that cable, I studied the equipment that had been strapped or chained to the back of the transport ship which would ferry us, myself and forty-nine other passengers, from the elevator platform to Frontier Station. We were to be among the first true settlers to make their new home on the mostly finished station orbiting in the skies above Earth. The personnel…

Sit Down to Stand Up

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The idea for this story came from a friend during a New Years Eve Party. When she said something about this, I immediately asked her if I could use the idea.

Sit Down to Stand Up By Royce Sears The grocery store clerk handed me the receipt for my purchase and, as usual, I folded it up and stuck it in my purse without a thought. There weren’t many items at the end of the checkout
counter, but the young bagger certainly took his time. He stared at me while placing my items in the flimsy plastic bags. Yes, I was wearing a short skirt and a slightly revealing blouse, but that didn’t give him the right to brazenly stare at me like I was a piece of meat or inspect me like a piece of meat in the display case at the back of the store.  It bothered me, but it’s sad to say that I was accustomed to it. Being a reasonably attractive twenty-eight-year-old woman, I tend to draw the seemingly ravenous stares of young men and older men alike. To the younger men, I’m the ‘hot milf,’ and the older me…

All the world's a stage? Not anymore

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The great William Shakespeare is quoted in "As You Like It,"
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;"
Maybe in Shakespeare's day the world was a stage, but today it has become a sports arena, but only the wealthy and the powerful men and women are players. We live in a world obsessed with winning and losing, as evidenced by the illustrious 'commander-in-chief' set to take office in just a few short days. To quote a recent comment from my social media feed:
"Up until Trump actually won...the entire country, including myself, due mostly to a liberal, ineffective media, thought that Hillary was a "shoo-in." Once this did NOT happen, all levels of crazy ensued! Everyone needs to "buck-up, buttercup" and deal with it. All of us lose! In fact, in life, we all lose way more than we win. The view only changes in "first" place. The rest of us are usually viewing the backside of at least one person!  :) …

Review: The Vampire Lestat

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The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Vampire Lestat is easily one of my all-time favorite books. Anne Rice's characters are richly developed, complex, and loveable in their own ways. We get inside Lestat's head in the Vampire Lestat, seeing things from his point of view that Louis could never see in Interview with a Vampire because of his limited worldview.

Lestat's irreverent nature, his cavalier attitude, and his charming personality entrance the reader from book to book and keep the reader coming back for more.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: The Crystal Shard

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The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first discovered The Crystal Shard in High School. I borrowed it from the school library and instantly fell in love with Drizzt and his magical companion. That was the beginning of my love of Robert Salvatore's work. Since that fateful day back in the 1990's, I have read and re-read all of the Drizzt Do'Urden novels on a fairly regular basis. I will forever recommend The Crystal Shard, and indeed, anything by Robert Salvatore to readers of all ages and interests.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Brave New World

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely an interesting read, although somewhat difficult due to some odd jumping around i.e. paragraph to paragraph, sometimes sentence to sentence--without much clarity at times. Brave New World provides a good social commentary on religious views, society, and the overall human condition despite the obviously dated nature of the work.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: The Mote in God's Eye

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The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book!

The Mote in God's Eye is an exciting, thought-provoking read that leads the reader on a wild adventure into a first contact situation with an alien species, which is interesting because the inhabitants of Niven's universe have never encountered a truly alien intelligence before.

I found that I connected well with Niven's characters and identified with many of them, which was a nice change considering I didn't like his award-winning "Ring World" very much.

I highly recommend The Mote in God's Eye to Science Fiction lovers of any caliber.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: American Gods

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Few novels strike one in such a way as to leave a lasting impression upon one's everyday existence. American Gods is one of those few, in my opinion. The narrative leads the reader through the vast maze of life in America via a series of fantastic adventures along the highways and byways that, in many ways, define much of the American experience. American Gods provides a unique insight into American culture while spinning a tale filled with mystery, suspense, and twisted God-like humor that is worthy of the Gods themselves.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Inferno

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Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another great novel by Dan Brown!
Inferno is a captivating read that carries the reader on another whirlwind Robert Langdon adventure through the iconography and symbology of the past, present, and future of humanity. I really enjoyed the complexity of the villain and his plot in this novel. I have often heard the strength of the author's villain determines the strength of the tale, and Brown's villain in Inferno makes for a superb, captivating, and rich tale that a reader has difficulty putting down.

Royce Sears
www.roycesears.com

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Review: Exodus

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Exodus by Andreas Christensen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Exodus is an interesting "hard" science fiction novel published in 2013 that portrays a political climate which I found eerily analogous to the current political landscape in the United States. I found the novel fairly straight forward and predictable but it kept my interest nonetheless--if for nothing more than to see where this author wanted to steer Earth's destruction.

Exodus is what I would consider a plot driven novel due to a lack of interesting characters and an overall lack of character development. Despite the lack of character development, I found the story interesting enough to keep the pages turning.


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Review: Seeing Red

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Seeing Red by Patty Jansen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seeing Red is a complex and engaging novel that categorically falls into SciFi but could just as easily have been a political science thriller. The author's use of culture and language, particularly the focus on pronouns, to create her world is very well done-- and the reason for the four stars.

I would classify this novel as plot-driven fiction due to the lack of distinct character voices, but the plot is thick enough to keep the reader turning pages. This first-person narrative novel draws the reader in via the mystery and suspense surrounding an inexperienced ambassador to an alien organization who has a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Delegate Cory Wilson must try to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and an unstable Earth government while dealing with conflicts ranging from personal problems with his fiance to professional problems betwixt alien organizations.

I will admit I had some trouble really getti…

Update: Intriguing Fast Radio Bursts from Deep Space

Source Article by Christopher Crockett

"'Now with the first proven distance, we can see how remote and how bright the source must be,” Sarah Burke-Spolaor, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University, said January 4 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.'"

In a previous blog post I discussed these mysterious Fast Radio Bursts coming from approximately three billion light years away. More information recently became available about these radio bursts. The host galaxy has been identified and a constant glow of radio waves emanates from this tiny galaxy, but for roughly five milliseconds, the burst outshined all the stars in the host galaxy. Do we know what this is? No, but new information suggests the source may be near a supermassive black hole. Researchers will be analyzing the repeated bursts for some kind of rhythm, but at first appearances, these bursts seem to be random in nature.

Whether this is some natural phenomenon or not, it is something that …

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

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Artificial Intelligence: The Apex Technology of the Information Age

Sharing this in relation to my work in progress; working title "Humanity First." 
Heath Terry, shown in the attached video, is lead analyst for the Internet sector in  Global Investment Research and is deputy business unit leader of the Technology, Media and Telecom business unit in Americas Equity Research.
"People are giving machines problems and the machines learn how to solve them on their own," Terry says in the video. This is a path we are already on thanks to our fascination with data. (No, not the android on Star Trek: The Next Generation--sorry @Brentspiner )
Data and data mining drive corporate business decisions on a global scale and this will only continue to increase as more and more computing processing power is directed at finding ways to put this data mining to use. As Artificial Intelligence grows beyond Siri, Alexa, Cortana, or any of the other AI facsimiles available with today&#…

International Astronomical Union Clarifies Star Names

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As of November 2016, some of our more star names have officially changed thanks to the International Astronomical Union. This has been an ongoing project to clarify many names which Formalhaut, which is currently known by around thirty different names and/or spellings.
vary from region to region and assign a formal designation to stars with many names. The most prominent change is a star that many may recognize Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri is part of a trinary system consisting of what used to be known as Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and Alpha Centauri C. Alpha Centauri A has been redesignated to its more ancient name, Rigil Kentaurus while Alpha Centauri C will keep its name of Proxima Centauri. Another less well-known example is the star

What does this mean for the average person? Not much really since the names of stars aren't really a topic of conversation for most people, but for those of us who pay attention to such things or write about such things, it's a litt…

A New Year has Begun

As they say, a new year has begun, and with it comes all the challenges, joys, and sorrows of the past year.  Many of us wake up this morning with new year's resolutions to do better than we did last year, to challenge ourselves in new ways, and to make this year a better one that the last, but we face a new and unpredictable future on the horizon. Well, every new year is new and unpredictable you say, but this year holds many changes that I think are going to surprise a great many of us.

On January 20, 2017, we stand to bring a new leader into the office of President of the United States. This new leader, a thin-skinned and volatile man with no experience in government, has already proven himself to be wildly unpredictable. His cabinet picks have more net wealth than one-third of the American population. He has selected people to fill these positions that also have no experience in government and many have, in the past, taken completely opposing stances to the jobs they have been…