Complications, spies, and androids

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Congratulations, Ashley, Mona, and Lauryn! They’re the winners of the giveaway of the previous post.

The revision process has been slow. I’m depressed enough that I don’t have the energy and focus to tackle what’s next: the really big problems that span several scenes. I need to do a lot of reordering and cutting, and some new writing. Unfortunately I don’t really have the brain for that right now, since I use it on my day job. I’m under the care of several health professionals and can complete job functions, but that’s my productivity limit.

When I’m not staring at the wall listlessly, I play video games, or if I have the energy, read. Reading is the most difficult of these three to do these days, but I did read a spy novel by John Le Carre. I wanted to see how he conveys complicated plotlines through conversation. He makes the game of who knows what when seem simple, and that’s what I need to do with all my information streams.

As far as video games, I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, but I like what I’ve seen of it: one of my officemates brought his in. He loves the new Zelda game. It requires far better reflexes and reaction time than I have, so I’ll watch John play it when we inevitably obtain it.

John ordered Horizon Zero Dawn, which seems to feature using a bow and arrow against robot dinosaurs. It’s post-apocalyptic and involves AI, so I’m game. We’ll see whether he gets to it before I do, as he recently finished NieR and is working on Advanced Puppy Simulator 2016– I mean The Last Guardian. If you’ve played it you will understand the care and detail that went into simulating a puppy. Who is also a gryphon.

I, meanwhile, am awaiting NieR: Automata, which is at home in my mailbox. I’m a huge fan of the game’s director, who’s also done Drakengard, Drakengard 3, and NieR. The games are unashamedly weird, with the stories being awful in a complicated and compelling way. Anyway, Automata features as your team a bunch of killer robots who have to fight other killer robots for existential reasons. The demo music is fantastic, and there’s a bloody easy mode for people without reflexes.

The director for NieR, Yoko Taro, said something interesting about story writing and a technique that I like using: work backwards. Think of a scene or situation in the story, and figure out what had to happen and what has to be true to make the scene work. The first scene to tackle in any story is the emotional climax, he says. He visualizes it since he works with game scripts. I’m not great at visual details, but writing down what is going on in that moment and why lets me expand and build the story’s spine.

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SFR Galaxy Awards giveaway

Yay! Congratulations to all the SFR Galaxy Award winners!

To celebrate, I’ll send three winners three books each. Since some books are in a series, winners can pick the first book in the series as their prize instead. Winners can choose from the list of paperbacks and ebooks. For more on the books, visit the awards page.

Paperbacks:

  • Shades of Treason by Sandy Williams
  • Prodigal by Jody Wallace
  • Jumper’s Hope by Carol Van Natta
  • Dark of Light by Audrey Sharpe
  • Star Cruise: Outbreak or Hostage to the Stars by Veronica Scott
  • Nobody’s Hero by Bec McMaster
  • Vortex of Crimson by Lise MacTague
  • Pirate by Eve Langlais
  • Gladiator, Hell Squad: Holmes, or Hell Squad: Niko by Anna Hackett
  • The Champion of Barésh by Susan Grant
  • Vellmar the Blade by Fletcher DeLancey
  • The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel
  • One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
  • Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time by Cherie Dimaline, Gwen Benaway, David Robertson, Richard Van Camp, Nathan Adler, Daniel Heath Justice, Darcie Little Badger, and Cleo Keahna

Ebooks:

  • Crash and Burn by Cynthia Sax
  • Through Uncharted Space by Anna Hackett
  • Fools Rush In by Donna S. Frelick
  • Gambit by PJ Dean
  • The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny
  • Warrior Wench by Marie Andreas (Amazon only)
  • Pets in Space anthology by Alexis Glynn Latner, Cara Bristol, Carysa Locke, Laurie A. Green, Lea Kirk, Pauline Baird Jones, S. E. Smith, Susan Grant, and Veronica Scott

Winners will also get their pick of a shorter work:

  • Quickshot by Pippa Jay
  • Clockwork Menagerie by Elliot Cooper

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post letting me know at least one book you’d choose from this list and why. The giveaway will end 5PM Pacific Standard Time on 8 February. Winners can be from anywhere on Earth.

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Magnets: how do they work?

Blog

I’m working on my mental health with a treatment that sound pretty science fiction: HF-rTMS, which stands for high -frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. I spend about twenty minutes sitting in a chair every day with a figure-eight-shaped magnetic coil attached to my head. A series of electric pulses travel from a generator through the coil to my skull in quick succession, then pauses, then repeats. The therapy targets the left prefrontal cortex, which shows reduced resting activity in depressed people. It also contains a lot of motor neurons.

The sound is much like there’s a metal woodpecker inside my skull. The feeling is less painful, but it’s not something I’d do for fun. Often my eyes twitch during the treatment and afterwards I feel extra twitchy and shaky, because my already overstimulated (due to myoclonus-dystonia) motor neurons have also been getting more current.

 

Focal field for TMS positioning
Why magnets? Electromagnets are currently the least painful way to send current to brains.
The side effect is that sometimes I have a headache afterwards, which is common. I’ll take headaches for the chance to make a long-term improvement in my mental health. The neuropsychiatrist told me that about two thirds of patients respond. So far, no positive change in mental health, but I’m only two weeks in, and they see most responses begin in week three or four. As to why exactly it works…well, scientists are still working on that one. Best theory seems to be that evening out an electrical balance alleviates some of what can cause major depressive disorder.

It’s an every-weekday for six weeks treatment, after which there are three more weeks of tapered treatment. If I start responding on week six, I get another few weeks of it. It’s a hassle to get to and from the center- I have to leave work early. I get to spend the time in the chair reading, at least. So far I’ve read N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms, Jeffe Kennedy’s The Mark of the Tala and Lonen’s War, and Joan Vinge’s The Snow Queen. I’ve been too tired to work on my novel, but at least I’ve been filling the creative well with a lot of books.

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Annual SFR Galaxy Awards coming up 31 Jan!

I’m honored to be a judge on the SFR Galaxy Awards again, coming at the end of the month! Awards are often quirky and inclusive. This year, I challenged myself to award authors who I hadn’t last year.

Designed by Kanaxa

To that end, I’ll do a giveaway once the awards are up.

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Book Review: Without a Front – The Warrior’s Challenge by Fletcher DeLancey

Book Review

The time and place

This book picks up right where Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge ends. Read that book first.

The suspension of disbelief

See Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge.

The quick summary

Andira Tal is recovering from an attempt on her life with her new love by her side when the machinations against her finally bear fruit. Her resources are depleted, and she has very little time to counter the threat. Can she get out of this mess with her job, her family, and her life intact?

My squees

DeLancey has given a ton of attention to detail in the world and plot. I felt Alsea as very real and cohesive, and the plot is complex but not difficult to understand. The action scenes are easy to follow, and so are the foreign-to-me celebrations and traditions we see.

The love story has some credible conflict and two incredible women, and the familial and friendship relationships are rich and believable. Andira’s lady shows incredible resolve and strength while remaining human. She grows to assert herself even more in this book, and that makes Andira grow and change for the better in response.

My grumbles

The idea of someone (divine or technological) selecting soul mates for each other doesn’t grab me. As TV Tropes says, your mileage may vary.

Some of the issues highlighted in the first book felt like a distant memory here. I wanted to know the status of the named asylum seekers and troubled veterans, since I’d grown to care about them and I thought they were situations that still needed more addressing. Perhaps that will come up in further books.

Read if you

  • Can handle many twisty plot threads
  • Want many strong characters to sigh over

Skip if you

  • Can’t deal with a little nonhuman biology (think Star Trek aliens)
  • Need a quick, light read
  • Are creeped out by empaths

Final thoughts

I received a review copy, but also borrowed this book from the library for the time it took me to read it. Almost everything gets wrapped up in this novel, after three long books! The couple and memorable secondary characters each get their deserved resolution or at least a break after so many exhausting trials. I’m curious to know what will be next for the world of Alsea- I look forward to reading about the further adventures of several intriguing characters. I’m no television buff, but I believe that these books would translate well to a miniseries. Someone pick up that option!

Resources: Author siteGoodreads / Amazon / Kobo / Ylva Publishing

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