Empty Pages Writing Club: Recyc

As you might recall back in March I talked about what it means to review writing and why it’s so important. As part of that, I shared that in April I would be the impartial judge in a writing competition for the Empty Pages Writing Club. Everyone submitted up to 30 pages of anonymous text to be read, critiqued, and ranked with their peers. I read these stories and ranked them according to Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Each category was worth up to 5 points meaning a story could earn up to 30 points total. Stories have been read, reviewed, and ranked– and now it’s time to talk about the stories! For my other Empty Pages short story reviews, check out: One Sentence At A Time  Madness of the Midnight 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just a Drive in the Country Title: Recyc          Length: 27 pages          Genre: Science Fiction The winning story only won by the skin of its teeth, honestly. Recyc was the second story I read and I read it four times to ensure that I wasn’t cheating any of the others. In the end, I think it was the protagonist who pushed…

Empty Pages Writing Club: One Sentence At A Time

As you might recall back in March I talked about what it means to review writing and why it’s so important. As part of that, I shared that in April I would be the impartial judge in a writing competition for the Empty Pages Writing Club. Everyone submitted up to 30 pages of anonymous text to be read, critiqued, and ranked with their peers. I read these stories and ranked them according to Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Each category was worth up to 5 points meaning a story could earn up to 30 points total. Stories have been read, reviewed, and ranked– and now it’s time to talk about the stories! For my other Empty Pages short story reviews, check out: Madness of the Midnight 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just a Drive in the Country Recyc Title: One Sentence At A Time          Length: 9 pages          Genre: Science Fiction In all honesty, it’s not particularly surprising that One Sentence At A Time came in the last place. With a title like that and being only 9 pages long (this was the only incomplete story), it might have been a giveaway from the…

1984
Book Review / March 31, 2017

Title: 1984 Author: George Orwell Genre: Speculative Fiction Publisher: Plume Release Date: 2009 Format: Hardback Pages: 294 Source: Library First Published: June 8th, 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four (mostly written 1984) is a 1948 dystopian fiction written by George Orwell about a society ruled by an oligarchical dictatorship. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, and incessant public mind control. Oceania is ruled by a political party called simply The Party. The individual is always subordinated to the state, and it is in part this philosophy which allows the Party to manipulate and control humanity. In the Ministry of Truth, protagonist Winston Smith is a civil servant responsible for perpetuating the Party’s propaganda by revising historical records to render the Party omniscient and always correct, yet his meager existence disillusions him to the point of seeking rebellion against Big Brother.  (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   It’s obvious why 1984 is considered classic literature. Originally published in 1949, Orwell’s story projects a future for post-war England right at the start of the Cold War. A 1950’s atomic war transformed the globe and now is divided into 3 super-countries which control their population through shortages, surveillance, torture,…

Golden Son
Book Review / March 4, 2017

Title: Golden Son Series: Red Rising, #2 Author: Pierce Brown Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Del Rey Release Date: January 6th, 2015 Format: eBook Pages: 430 Source: Owned As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within. A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles…

The Fortress at the End of Time
Book Review / February 27, 2017

Title: The Fortress at the End of Time Author: Joe M. McDermott Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Tor.com Release Date: January 17th, 2017 Format: eBook Pages: 305 Source: Owned In The Fortress at the End of Time, humanity has expanded across the galaxy by use of ansible and clone technology, but an enemy stands in their way—an enemy alien in concept as much as physiology. Ronaldo Aldo is a clone stationed in the back-end of nowhere—a watch station with a glorious military past, but no future. He’s desperate to prove himself worthy of ascension—of having his consciousness broadcast to a newer clone, far away from his current post at the Citadel.   (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   I picked up this book for my Science Fiction/Fantasy book club. I was really excited because I was going to be reading a book within weeks of it being published. I never do that! And yet… I knew within 5 pages that I would likely DNF this book. By the time I reached 38%, I was done. I couldn’t read another word in The Fortress at the End of Time. The premise of the book is simple: The clone of a soldier exists on the other…

Steelheart
Book Review / February 20, 2017

Title: Steelheart Series: The Reckoners, #1 Author: Brandon Sanderson Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers Release Date: September 24th, 2013 Format: eBook Pages: 384 Source: Library   Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will. Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Brandon Sanderson is a powerhouse of science fiction and fantasy writing. He has published over thirty novels in his 41 years of life and continues to write more and more and more. He has announcements for…

Zita the Spacegirl
Book Review / January 18, 2017

Title: Zita the Spacegirl Series: Zita the Spacegirl, #1 Author: Ben Hatke Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: First Second Release Date: February 1st, 2011 Format: Graphic Novel Pages: 192 Source: Library Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye. When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest. Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at.  (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   The curiosity of children is what always leads them to push the big red button. We know you shouldn’t push it. Everyone knows that. But the temptation is so great… Can we really ever help ourselves?…

Dark Matter
Book Review / January 16, 2017

Title: Dark Matter Author: Blake Crouch Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Crown Release Date: July 26th, 2016 Format: Hardcover Pages: 342 Source: Library “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a…

Gemina
Book Review / November 17, 2016

Title: Gemina Series: The Illuminae Files, #2 Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers Release Date: October 18th, 2016 Format: Hardback Pages: 672 Source: Owned Illustrator: Marie Lu Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed. The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion. When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just…

Never Let Me Go
Book Review / October 17, 2016

Title: Never Let Me Go Author: Kazuo Ishiguro Genre: Speculative Fiction Publisher: Vintage Books Release Date: August 31st, 2010 Format: Paperback Pages: 288 Source: Owned First Published: 2005 As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. GoodreadsAmazon   I have never read a book like Never Let Me Go. Why? There is something about well praised literary and speculative fiction that turns me off. I think it’s years of being forced to read these genres in school, never understanding it, and never appreciating it. I tend to drift away because the genres make me feel stupid. If only I could learn from my mistakes. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel…