Every week I check what’s new in SFR, and I see a lot of cover images featuring shirtless dudes, usually with no heads and sometimes with altered skin (say, tiger-striped, circuit-boarded, or purple). I read some of these books. I enjoy them. I’m happy other people enjoy them. But there are other things I want from SFR, too.
The SFRB posted an article about the new shared-world series called Obsidian Rim. Far-future space adventure romance. To say I’m excited would be a tame statement. It ticks my following boxes:
Available at all retailers
A medium dose of science, so it’s not space fantasy
Character-driven story with relationships
Explore new society experiences
Things that don’t tick these boxes are cool with me, but there’s already plenty of that to read in SFR. This series sports a whole bunch of factors I like together that I don’t see done often.
So far, three books are out:
I believe in what this series is doing and want to support it as best I can. Ideally there will be reviews and giveaways to come. I think there are something like twenty books in the pipeline for 2019? I’m looking forward to that!
Winter (in the northern hemisphere) holidays are coming up: whatever you do or don’t celebrate, you may get some time off to relax. When I have a chunk of time, I love to binge-read a series. Here are some romance and science fiction series I recommend for this holiday season if you haven’t already read them. All of them are complete.
Historical romance series set in Victorian England. Features intelligent, complicated characters I can’t forget. Favorite character: Violet Waterfield in The Countess Conspiracy. Some would call her difficult. I find her amazing.
I’ve made it clear that I adore Anna Hackett’s books. Lots of action, monsters, treasures, and other discoveries make the lives of the protagonists very interesting. Favorite character: Nera Darc from Return to Dark Earth. Quiet, deadly, and kinder than she lets on.
Hackett also made a small box set to start you off on the series.
Paranormal historical romance. Callihan presents non-traditional supernatural creatures in a way that always kept me guessing. Watching the characters fall in love was mesmerizing. Favorite character: Hollis Evernight of, well, Evernight. I sympathized with her specific communication struggles.
Feel like some action-packed science fiction with romantic elements that will remind you of Mass Effect? Go read the Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach. Since there’s only one protagonist, I won’t pick a favorite character, but Devi’s voice is engrossing and I was always rooting for her.
The year isn’t even over yet, but so far I’ve found more wonderful music that inspires me and keeps me forging ahead in life.
Seventh Wonder – Tiara
Lovers of prog metal, rejoice! Seventh Wonder are back. Science fiction story, virtuosic passages, non-standard time signatures, amazing vocals…it’s fantastic either because there aren’t any surprises or in spite of it. If you like outer space, apocalypse scenarios, or fantastic vocals, you’re in for a treat.
Between the Buried and Me – Automata I and II
Between the Buried and Me are a different kind of prog metal than anyone else I can think of. They use swing elements. Or anything they can think of. It feels like the kitchen sink, but it also just works. This year they released two parts of Automata and it’s way too big to fit into my head.
Kobra and the Lotus – Prevail II
Just plain good fun heavy metal. Sing along and rock along. Kobra and the Lotus make music that makes me happy and ready to take on tasks I don’t want to.
Amaranthe – Helix
Warning: video contains blood. Like a lady in a tub full of it, and then she vamps. A lot. Pun possibly intended.
Poppy metal with dubstep in it. There isn’t anything I find deep in Amaranthe‘s music, but it’s good schlocky fun. Good music for programming when I’ve already had my caffeine for the day.
Some humans can’t work with music on. I find it difficult to work without! Maybe someday I’ll write music again.
I whine about there being many books and little time quite a lot. But it’s also true that there’s a ton of wonderful music (okay, mostly metal) I listen to every year. This year brought me some anticipated progressive metal releases and some pleasant surprises.
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Okay, to me this album sounded like a second pressing of Haven– which is my favorite Kamelot album, but I didn’t feel like I learned anything new in The Shadow Theory. The compression in the production is a bit much. But there’s amazing guitar work, synths, and the vocals are fantastic. Add in the cool science fiction story and it’s worth a listen if you’re already a Kamelot fan.
Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura
I discovered the band this year, and they already have a special place in my heart. The frontman is my grandmother’s congressperson. Weird and awesome, right? Chthonic show the world the tumultuous 20th century history on the island of Taiwan and that the struggle for democracy is something recent and special. This album makes me hopeful for the future. Also, the music. It doesn’t quite sound like any other band. Worth a listen for anyone interested in traditional Taiwanese music or any kind of metal. Also deserves some distinction for the lone woman in the band not being the singer.
Light the Torch – Revival
Howard Jones got eaten by stress and diabetes. Being a vocalist has its own perils because of all the touring, and that the instrument is so delicate. So in the past six years, Jones has apparently gotten control of his blood sugar and is back with Light the Torch. Revival is their third effort (this band was previously known as Devil You Know and changed its name when it changed some personnel). I enjoyed the elements of metalcore, prog, catchy choruses, and of course Jones’s amazing big voice.
Angra – Omni
Angra offer something other power metal bands generally don’t: awesome South American folk elements. Bittencourt and co.’s latest offering holds together better than most of their other albums. The band tries a little of everything while still making a cohesive listen.
A week and a half ago I discussed my manuscript with my friend N. N is a literary agent who does nonfiction. She also does editing for her agency. However, she reads hundreds of novels every year, mostly genre ones. She was curious about my second draft because she’d heard me kvetching about my novel for two years, so I gave it to her and hoped she wouldn’t vomit.
N had a lot of encouraging feedback and advised me to submit a later version of the manuscript to agents, though we still don’t know whether this manuscript is romance or science fiction. Right now, I’m leaning towards social science fiction because a lot of the plot explores societal issues. The novel wouldn’t work without the love story, but the manuscript doesn’t always have that in focus. We were trying to figure out comps, and N said Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which surprised me a lot. I don’t have cool transit modes or branding or conceptions of cyberspace. I guess both books are about the strangeness of capitalism, though.
N and John detected a lot of the same weaknesses in my manuscript. The ones they agree on make sense to me and are going to need some work. There were some things they didn’t agree on (some content on one scene, the length of another), which I found more interesting and less likely that I’d revise. I have a to-do list of things to fix, but I’m not entirely sure what the best way is to fix two of them. I also have a lot of prose to fix. Time to roll up my…I don’t have sleeves, it’s summer!
I’m also in the middle of a cross-country move, so my environment is chaos. I’m hoping to get settled in without too much more incident.