TALES FROM THE TRANSIT SYSTEM now available!

If you like character driven, far future science fiction with a healthy dose of high technology sprinkled into the mix, then head on over to Amazon and pick up Tales from the Transit System, a collection of three short stories. Where else can you find three exciting stories full of interesting characters and cool gadgetry, all for $1.49 (and you can borrow it for free if you’re a Kindle Prime member!).

A brief description of each story is below.

“One Term”
Park Ji-Sung is a quiet, orderly man, who leads a quiet, orderly life on the colony world of Ionius Minor. An engineer who loves solving problems, he feels his only daughter should understand and love order just as much as he.

Decades ago she defied him, leaving their home to start a new life on Earth. Bitter and angry, he had not spoken to her since.

Their long silence is broken when he receives a troubling message from her asking him to visit.

She says she is dying. Reluctantly, he undertakes the journey to Earth to learn why she’s made this incomprehensible decision. Because death, in the future, is not inevitable. It is a choice.

“Spindles”
Keisha Omondi was once a captain in the Commonwealth Defense Force’s Viper Brigade, the most elite fighting unit in human space. But after a rescue mission she commanded went horribly wrong, she was drummed out of the brigade and sent into exile, forced to live on the planet Harmony, a blistering furnace of a world crawling with religious viruses and ruled by aloof, indifferent Families who keep all the high technology for themselves.

She goes about rebuilding her life and lands a job as the security chief at a remote archaeological dig. But this isn’t just any dig: it might be the most illegal location in human space. She gets a perverse thrill keeping it secret from the Commonwealth. It’s her way if sticking it to the people who ripped her out of the only home she’d ever known.

When the archaeologists make a breathtaking discovery, everything Keisha knows suddenly comes into question. Who is she, really? Where do her loyalties lie? And more importantly, does she even have a choice?

“The Merlin Plague”
What if, overnight, a third of the world’s population was granted the ability to work magic?

What if your father, a bitter, abusive alcoholic, could start fires with his mind?

What if terrorists could make air solid, or levitate skyscrapers? Turn water into rock?

What would the world look like?

Would we have a chance to survive?

If you pick this up and read them, please let me know what you think!

Review of Scott Lynch’s RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES

Hell yeah! That’s what I felt like shouting every couple of pages while reading Scott Lynch’s follow-up to his tour-de-force debut novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, which I reviewed here. If you haven’t read the first one yet, skip this review and run out and buy the damned thing right now!

Red Seas picks up a little more than two years after the conclusion of Lies. We find our intrepid and ingenious thieves Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen scheming in the island city of Tal Verrar to rob the Sinspire, the most exclusive gambling house in the world. Cheating in the Sinspire carries a summary death sentence, a rule Locke and Jean flaunt with incredible abandon.

But the Bondmages of Karthain haven’t forgotten what Locke did to one of their own. There are traps, lies, schemes, and deceptions at every turn, and one false move, one misplaced lie, will mean the end for them both.

Oh, and there are pirates and sea battles, too. As I said, hell yeah!

I loved this book. Yes, Lynch writes long, but his books have a narrative velocity behind them that carries this weight easily (if not always elegantly). Lynch has also been criticized in some circles for his use of modern language and idioms in the speech of his characters and for having women in positions of power they wouldn’t “normally” have in a pre-industrial society (Lynch’s world seems to be somewhat equivalent to Europe in the 1700s).

I think those critics are missing the point. The use of modern idioms is deliberate and accomplishes Lynch’s goal of making Locke and Jean highly accessible characters, as well as creating laugh-out-loud dialog exchanges that wouldn’t be possible with a more formal, “period-centric” language. As for the role of women … it’s his damn world and he can do what he wants. Obviously the Sea of Brass civilizations evolved differently from our own. In that world it’s bad luck to sail a ship without a woman on board, preferably as an officer. That tradition evolved from something, even if Lynch doesn’t bother to explain what. Criticizing him for making his world “overly PC” is just a disingenuous argument that I can easily dismiss.

If you read The Lies of Locke Lamora and enjoyed it, you won’t be disappointed with the follow-up. Highly recommended.