Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Review: Sourdough; by Robin Sloan


I've always loved people that bridge the gap.

There is an unspoken rivalry between people who use technology, and people who don't. The ones that don't, for whom I have the highest respect, stick to methods that have always served them well in the past. People who embrace technology, for whom I share the most empathy, tend towards finding new ways to do familiar things.

The age of the smart home is about to break, while at the same time, it's reported that more people are buying hardcopy books again, 

In my family, there is a microcosm of this divide. My mother's side of the family is largely geared away from using technology, to the point where I regularly have to show mom how to post a picture on Instagram, while my dad gets all his entertainment from Podcatcher apps and Netflix.

I've always loved people who bridge the gap, keeping one foot in the future, and the other in tradition.

At the top of this list, Robin Sloan. The author of two of my favorite recent books; Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and the new release: Sourdough.

Both books bridge that gap. Penumbra is about a dedicated ebook-reader who takes a job in a Bookstore, and uses emerging Google Technology to solve a secret puzzle that's been woven into the manuscripts across several vintage hardcovers. It's the perfect book for anyone who loves quirky characters and books in every format.

The new release of Sourdough does the same thing, on the issue of food. This book follows a robotics Software Engineer named Lois. In a workplace full of cutting-edge techies that live off artificial Nutrient-Supplements, Lois finds an almost holy sense of nourishment in some well-made sourdough bread; and she inherits the starter for herself. She reinvents her personal life when she discovers a love for the simple act that hasn't really changed in the last five thousand years.

Contrasting this is the work that she does, programming the movements of robotic workers. As yet, nobody has managed to correctly program a robot to crack an egg without demolishing the egg, the kitchen, the counter-top, and several small villages.

Food is one of those things that gets reinvented with every culture, every decade. Too many kids in the western world cannot properly identify a vegetable; and why should they? They've never seen one grow. To them, produce comes, pre-chopped, out of the freezer aisle. In a time when kids can't identify vegetables, and adults are finding it trendy to buy organic, locally grown, pesticide free food.

Robin Sloan bridges the gap between 'soulless tech-heads' like me (I am not, Aunt Lynne!) and 'stone age Luddites' (You are so, Aunt Lynne!), by exploring the natural processes involved in baking bread by hand, describing how the actual process of yeast and dough-rising works, while at the same time taking a look at the most cutting edge advancements in the food industry; and where things might go over the next twenty years. Our literary hero of Lois Clary eventually finds a way to involve the two in a way that's never been done before, in literature, or real life.

All this is done in between quirky characters, relevant nuggets of information and history, and no small amount of humor.

I was inspired to move from baking regular bread to my own Sourdough; based in no small part by some of the things described in this book.

Highly Recommended, Sourdough, by Robin Sloan is now available in stores, and I look forward to whatever comes next.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Available Now On Amazon: The Marie Porter Essay



"We always knew it wasn't over..."


It has been five years since the small country town of Curtis Creek was invaded. The survivors have rebuilt their town, and done their best to move on; trying to forget that Aliens exist. Not all of them have succeeded in letting go, but small towns know how to keep a secret.

Marie Porter thought she had put her past behind her, but she's still haunted by the losses... and by all the questions that went unanswered.

But then a mysterious tip-off brings her home, and sends her on a dangerous mission across the globe, with her best friend Jake Colbert. Before she's done, she'll make new friends, face old enemies and ultimately risk both herself and the entire world; just for a chance to find out the truth.

The thrilling sequel to "The Jake Colbert Testimony" and the second book in the Curtis Creek Series, "The Marie Porter Essay" will keep you guessing right up to the last page.

~~/*\~~

I hadn't really intended to write a Sequel. As I said before; The Jake Colbert Testimony was my way of playing out a lot of the tropes found in YA Sci-Fi, but to write them with an ending that would be far more realistic, compared to a lot of the YA Fiction that i grew up with (And still love, to this day).

But then something happened that I didn't expect: I got feedback. Not from Amazon, but from people I know in real life. People that I know through my family, friends-of-friends; they come up to me and ask about the sci-fi novel I'd written.

Two of them, both easily old enough to be grandmothers, come over, very excited to learn that someone they knew had written a sci-fi. It amazed me. These two women, though I love them both, usually came to me for technical support. I had to talk them through how to work their iPads to buy the story on their kindle apps; but they were both rapt; each demanding paperbacks. After knowing them for almost eight years, I was stunned to learn that between the two of them, there was a collection of 50's black and white 'classic' sci-fi and that 'Blade Runner' was one of their favorite flicks. 

I was surprised, but I shouldn't be. It's not like Geekdom wears a badge; and I've always believed there was a lot more of us out there than most thought. My father was the one that introduced me to Sci-Fi; and it shouldn't come as a shock that his generation has fans. It's just that we don't usually talk about it. Seriously, how many people volunteer a debate about Star Wars vs Babylon 5 with friends of your parents?

So after being asked for a sequel enough times, I sat down and wrote one. Here's to all the fans out there. May you always have people to talk to about your fandoms!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Lighthouse, Now Available On Amazon


In days long past, Lighthouses were built on dangerous coastlines, their Keepers protecting ships at sea. But these are not those days.

Kate is a Lighthouse Keeper. For seven generations, her family has manned the Beacons that keep the great Airships afloat on the Sky-Lines across the Himalayan Mountains.

It's a lonely, isolated life, but she's never wanted a different one. But one day, her Lighthouse is put in jeopardy, and with it, the Airships that follow her Beacon to safety in the unending storms.

For the first time in her life, Kate must venture off the mountain. With the help of her new friends among the crew of the Airship 'Windchaser', Kate is in a race against time, because if she's too late, her home, her friends, and many others will fall from the sky...

'Lighthouse' is a novella length adventure story with a unique setting.


***

I published this one in parts, long ago, and have since revamped it, added several scenes, changed some of the science involved, and created what I feel is a better, well rounded story.

So, for your reading pleasure, in one complete story, the 'Director's Cut' of Lighthouse.