Asimov’s January/February 2019

Another great issue full of many great stories. We get a mix of tales, some humorous, some horrific, featuring aliens, time travel, and space travel.

“How Sere Looked for a Pair of Boots” by Alexander Jablokov takes place in a world filled with many different types of aliens who use each other’s body parts, waste products, moltings, and parasites to trade with each other. Hey, everybody’s got something that someone else wants. Continue reading

Westworld Season 2

I really enjoyed the first season of Westworld, but I was disappointed with the second. Season 1 felt like a complete story by itself. Season 2 doesn’t really add much besides a revenge narrative, which I’ve never cared for. It just felt like violence for the sake of violence. Besides, killing countless robots that can easily come back to life isn’t just boring, it’s also rather pointless. Continue reading

Westworld Season 1

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“Evolution forged the entirety of life on this planet using one tool: the mistake.”

I’ve got to admit the premise of Westworld is hard to swallow. Why go to all the trouble of creating hundreds of realistic robots that need to be constantly cleaned, repaired, cured of infections, and given amnesia, when creating a Virtual Reality version of Westworld would be so much safer and cheaper? Continue reading

Incredibles 2

I didn’t care for the first Incredibles movie. Its repeated central message is “If everyone is special than no one is.” In the world of The Incredibles, some people are born naturally superior to others and equality is bad because it takes privilege away from those who were born into it. So I wasn’t looking forward to watching Incredibles 2. But I’ve got a kid, so I knew it was inevitable. I turned out being pleasantly surprised. Continue reading

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

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The Mormon Steampunk anthology Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel is now available on Amazon. I have a story in it called “The Miracle of the Gulls” based on the true story of Olive Oatman (although, as this is a steampunk story featuring mechanical men and zeppelins, I’m obviously using “based on a true story” in the loosest possible sense.)

I read Olive Oatman’s 1857 biography for research and included a lot of the old-fashioned words I found there which hopefully makes the story stand out a bit. I’ve got to say I loved working with editor John M. Olsen. His suggestions certainly improved the story overall.

Here’s a little blurb to give you an idea what the story’s about:

Swarms of mechanical locusts descend on Deseret, destroying farms in the process. Thomas Durant, the man who is building the new railroad, is only too happy to buy up these now worthless patches of land when a mysterious figure named Olive Oatman arrives in town, fresh off the zeppelin. She’s searching for her long lost brother, but where has she been for the last five years? Why does she keep her face covered? What other secrets is she hiding? Will she be the one who can finally stop the locusts?

And here’s the table of contents:

Goat in the Machine  – Scott William Taylor
A Reckoning in the Night – Angie Taylor
Rachel’s Prayer – Megan Rupp
Sisters Sorenson and the Mechanical Man – Scott E. Tarbet
The Shop of the Clockwork Master – Finlay Lofthouse
Blackhand – Christopher Baxter
An Incident at Oak Creek – Bryce Moore
The Miracle of the Gulls – D. J. Moore
Solids Don’t Evaporate – Mindie Erb
Many Hands – Heidi Wessman Kneale
By Ailad’s Bootstraps – Kurt F. Kammeyer
Painted Ghosts – Kim May
Dame Ginny McLaserbeam and the Dastardly Duke – Judith and Michael Collings
I haven’t read it yet (except for my own story, of course), but the story I’m most looking forward to based on the title alone is “Dame Ginny McLaserbeam and the Dastardly Duke” by Judith and Michael Collings. If I’m not mistaken, the titular character, Dame Ginny McLaserbeam, made an appearance in Michaelbrent Collings’ book The Longest Con.
This anthology should be a lot of fun. Be sure to check it out.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

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When I first cracked open this book and saw it contained words such as Teixcalaanlitzlim, I thought it would be a lot of work to get through. But once I dove in, it wasn’t that difficult. Sure, there are a few alien words here and there, but not so many that it becomes a chore. Just the right amount to add spice. Plus, there’s a pronunciation guide in back in case you’re wondering how these words are supposed to sound. (This book focuses a lot on linguistics and the differences between languages.) Continue reading

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By The Taliban

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“It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day. My feeling was nobody can stop death; it doesn’t matter if it comes from a Talib or cancer. So I should do whatever I want to do.”

Malala Yousafzai was raised in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, often called the Switzerland of the East since rich people from around the world used to go on holiday there. Almost anywhere you go in Swat, you’ll find the remains of old Buddhist temples. Malala relates the ancient history of the area as if it were her own family history. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

New Year’s has long been my favorite holiday. I like that you don’t have to stress out about trying to buy the perfect present as with Christmas or the other present-based holidays throughout the year. You don’t have to make awkward small talk with distant relatives like on Thanksgiving. Halloween is fun, but worring about trying to get the right costume is still stressful.

No, with New Year’s, you don’t have to do anything. Just celebrate in your own way and stay up until midnight if you want. It’s like a reward we all get for making it through the stressful holidays. And unlike the Fourth of July, you get the next day off to sleep in, so you’re not punished for staying up to watch fireworks by having to wake up early for work the next day.

I also like the feeling that we can all get a fresh start in the new year. It’s a good feeling. I guess making resolutions can be stressful, but those are optional. I didn’t make any this year.

On Christmas Eve this year, I received a rejection letter for a story I put a lot of work into and wrote specifically for one specific magazine. (Editors, don’t do this. Please wait until the day after Christmas to send out rejection letters.) It put a damper on the whole holiday. But on New Year’s this year? I got two acceptances! See. A much better holiday.

One of my stories was accepted by the recently resurrected Gallows Hill Magazine. In fact, I have the honor of being the first author to be featured on their new Fiction Fridays segment with my flash fiction horror story Three Views of a Dentist. Just looking at the picture they picked to accompany it gives me the creeps. Check it out and give it a like if you think it’s worthy.

I’ll tell you more about the other story that was accepted in a future post.

Anyway, Happy New Year’s!

The Voynich Manuscript

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The Voynich Manuscript has remained a mystery for centuries. First off, it’s written in an unknown script by an unknown author. It might be a hitherto unknown language, a cipher, or just plain nonsense. It features images of unknown plants, possible star charts featuring zodiac-like imagery, and pictures of naked women bathing in pools connected by tubes which may be balneological (relating to healing baths). Several pages are missing from it. Continue reading