Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CONduit Convention Recap

The CONduit 2012 sci-fi/fantasy convention was lots of fun. I wanted to mention the highlights. The best thing about it was seeing all my friends and fans, and many thanks to the organizers and volunteers for putting it on.

Friday:
1:00 PM Writing Point of View
Virginia Smith, Dan Wells, and Mette Ivie Harrison and I had lots of fun with this panel. It was truly a great one and we discussed the various ways of writing point of view. A small war was started as we disagreed on which POV is the most engaging. I say first person, but Ginny says 3rd person limited can be just as effective. I think first person is the hardest to get right, so I choose to write in 3rd person limited. I love that point of view, and it's my favorite to write in. Third person omniscient with lots of "head-hopping" is the KISS OF DEATH for new writers. Don't do it.

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3:00 PM Reading. I read with Dan Wells and it was a great crowd. About 16 people were present to hear me read part of No Tusks, and two scenes from The Secret Empire. It was lots of fun, and Dan Wells is such a great writer and reader. Look for his books. You won't be disappointed.


Saturday:
10:00 Top Contemporary YA Books: The Authors' Perspective
I was able to be on this panel with Guest of Honor, Tamora Pierce. YA Librarian Julie Bartel was the moderator, and Mette Ivie Harrison rounded us out. It was such an honor to be on this panel. I'm a big fan of Tamora Pierce. She is the most well read person I know, and reads so many books all the time. Her Goodreads reviews are vast and so extensive. Friend her there and you'll see.

12:00 What is Steampunk?

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Great panel, and there will be a Steampunk convention July 27 and 28 here in Salt Lake. I'll be there. Find out more here: http://www.saltcitysteamfest.com/

1:30 Book signing with Tamora Pierce.

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Such an honor, and "Tammy" is such a kind, and wonderful person. Her books are great, and I've been a fan for a long time. She writes strong female characters and her readers are so devoted to her.

4:00 The Lord of the Rings Movies +10 years and The Hobbit movie (a discussion)
I was the moderator for this one. All of us are very excited for The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, coming out December 14, 2012.

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6-8 PM Launch Party for The Secret Empire. This was so much fun. It was a celebration for the release of my new book. For entertainment, No Tusks and Mungo the Giant fought to the death. My short story, No Tusks is coming later this year.

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To see the pics from the party, check to this link:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151004493039136.490603.583339135&type=3&l=a4aaf98ddb


Sunday
Lost my voice from all the shouting at the launch party as I MC'd the fight, and also from all the talking I was doing. I just hung out and watched some great panels, hung out with the awesome author Jane Lindskold and her husband Jim, an archaeologist, and then saw Avengers. Life is good.

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Avengers Movie Review

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I just wanted to document for posterity my complete approval of the Avengers movie. I finally saw it on May 26, 2012, thereby redeeming my nerd-credibility. I was busy the previous weeks, but it was time to go and see this movie.

First, the movie was brilliantly written and directed by Joss Whedon. He's the man and I give him most of the credit for the movie being so good. All of the actors did magnificent jobs, especially Robert Downy Jr., as Iron Man/Tony Stark. Robert Downy stole the movie. He had the best lines, and was just so great.

Overall, the movie was clever, funny, and so much fun from start to finish. It has everything you could want, and lived up to the billing big time. I can see why it's made so much money.

My favorite moments: Hulk punching Thor, just for fun. Black Widow's line in the beginning of the movie: "I'm right in the middle of an interrogation!" Pepper and Tony's cute moments. Tony Stark poking Bruce Banner. When Captain America kicked the crap out of the aliens, and the cop then deciding to listen to his orders. Colson shooting Loki just before the end. Stan Lee's cameo, "Superheroes in New York City? Get out of here." Hulk getting his orders: "Hulk, smash!"

Avengers is an awesome movie. If you haven't seen it. Go see it in the theater. It's going to be an awesome DVD rental as well.

Five Stars, Highly Recommended

Paul Genesse
Author of The Iron Dragon Series
Editor of The Crimson Pact Series

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Most Fascinating Trip to Hell . . . Ever

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Review of A Short Stay In Hell by Steven L. Peck

Most Fascinating Trip to Hell . . . Ever

I’ve been to Hell a few times, but this was my most fascinating trip ever. Sure, my trips were through the eyes of characters in books that went there, but I have felt like I was in Hell on numerous occasions. Don’t even think about comparing the Hell of junior high, or any experience anyone on Earth has ever had to Steven L. Peck’s novella, A Short Stay in Hell. This is like no other journey you or I have ever had. Why? Because our existence here on Earth is just the blink of an eye when compared to the span of time that approaches eternity.

The sheer creativity of this novella (29,000 words) boggles the mind in its breadth and scope, and the writing was so thought provoking and gripping both for atheists and believers alike. It’s great fiction and I read this book in about two hours, and literally did not want to put it down. The 104 pages flew by as I read about Soren Johansson, a forty something year old man who died of brain cancer and ended up in a very different place than he was counting on.

He learns rather quickly from the demon he meets at the start that the only true religion is Zoroastrianism, and only those practitioners go to Heaven. Or perhaps that is a lie. Regardless, poor Soren is condemned along with the others that he meets. Each person goes to their own personal Hell, and Soren ends up in The Library, which is based on George Luis Borges story, “The Library of Babel.”  You don’t need to have read the story to understand this book, and I shall not spoil some of the surprises here, but suffice it to say that Soren must accomplish a task that seems utterly impossible if he wishes to ever leave this terrible place where he has been condemned.

This book is so profound that it had me compulsively mulling over the terrifying implications for the past two days. The opening of A Short Stay in Hell is intriguing, but slightly confusing. It’s a frame story, but the rest of the book was very easy to understand and once I finished the last page all told from poor Soren’s point of view, I instantly turned to the first pages and read the whole first chapter again. It was one of those “wow” moments to go back and read them again.

I read a quote about this work from an author I greatly admire and I think it captures the essence of Peck’s novella flawlessly:

“Profound and disturbing, A Short Stay In Hell is a perfect blend of science fiction, theology, and horror. A terrifying meditation on faith, human nature, and the relentless scope of eternity. It will haunt you, fittingly, for a very, very long time.”
—Dan Wells, author of I Am Not a Serial Killer

I loved reading A Short Stay in Hell and it has given me an understanding of the human condition that I never had before. It’s hard for me to fathom how Steven L. Peck packed so much into this slim volume, or how difficult it was to whittle down this story to the razor sharp book that it is. This is no effete literary or philosophical book that distances the reader from the text. It pulls you in, tugs at your heart, makes you question the meaning of life and love, while being utterly captivating, gripping, exciting, mysterious, hopeful, and above all illuminating on the concept of forever.

View the novella on Amazon.com or visit the authors website here.


A Short Stay in Hell is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
—Paul Genesse, Editor of The Crimson Pact anthology series

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Afro-Brazilian Dance, Live Music, Martial Arts fused with FIRE!

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Pegando Fogo (Catching Fire) by the group Samba Fogo


For our 15 year wedding anniversary, Tam and I had dinner at Brio, then went to see an awesome show, Pegando Fogo (Catching Fire) produced by Samba Fogo. You can see it on either Friday May 4 or Saturday May 5 in Salt Lake City at the Rose Wagner Theater on 3rd South downtown. Tickets are a steal at only $20 on Art Tix, link also below.

The Brazilian flavored show is amazing and is about two hours long, (7:30-9:15) with a ten minute intermission. First, there is incredible live music, lots of awesome drumming that gets your pulse pounding, and live singing by a choir led by soloist Carla Jaynes, who has a beautiful voice. The live band, led by composer Mason Aeschbacher, is so great, and Mason was extremely engaging as both a drummer and music director.

The best part of the show, is of course, the dancers and martial artists--more on the martial artists later. First, Lorin Hansen, the artistic director, and one of the lead dancers and fire spinners, was incredible.

The Afro-Brazilian dancing has some modern dance elements, but whereas most modern dance performances leave you gawking in stunned silence, sometimes wondering what's going on, this show leaves you clapping and shouting out encouragement to the dancers. Audience participation is welcome and the show was so interactive, with some singing, clapping, and cheers of appreciation after particularly spectacular moves from the audience.

There is a lot of great dancing and the live music really hits hard. The fire spinning was seriously great. Live fire in an indoor theater is pretty spectacular, and the amazing moves done by Lorin Hansen and the others was spectacular.

Complimenting the dancers, were the martial artists (capoeiristas) led by Mauro Jamaika, a world famous capoeira teacher from Brazil. The men and women performed their dance like capoeira moves, which were so acrobatic and awesome. It seems like they're dancing, but they're really performing kicks, leg sweeps, and amazing flips and moves that can be turned into combat techniques, (or break dance moves). The slaves fooled their masters long ago in Brazil into thinking they were just "dancing." Anyway, the handstands, flips, high kicks, and cool moves left me shouting and clapping for more. Mauro is unbelievable, and his fellow capoeristas (both male and female) were bad ass.

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Mauro Jamaika defies gravity in this show.

Overall, it was all great, and very fun for the whole family, with a Brazilian style carnival ending. The first hour before the intermission is great, but I could tell the performers could kick it up a few notches if they wanted, and the second act did just that, building on what they'd done in act one and blowing the roof off in act two.

Samba Fog, and the show, Pegando Fogo was literally ON FIRE.

Get your ticket here.
$20 per ticket

And visit their official website here: www.sambafogo.com/

Paul Genesse
Author of the Iron Dragon Series, Editor of the Crimson Pact series

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review of Seed by Rob Ziegler

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Review of Seed by Rob Ziegler
(No Spoilers)

Seed is a brilliantly crafted post-ecological apocalypse novel set in the 22nd century where the starving remnants of humanity are dependent on the Satori corporation, which produces the seeds that can withstand the harsh climate that has turned most of North America into a barren wasteland during the summer, and a freezing tundra during the winter. Most of the population has become seasonal migrants, moving from north to south and planting and harvesting crops as the weather allows before having to move on. Everyone, including the small and ineffective U.S. government based in New D.C. (the old D.C. is under water) is dependent upon Satori, who is much more than a corporation who specializes in genetically altered seeds. Satori is interested in genetic engineering and evolving life-forms much more hardy than the human race. Satori itself, based in the ruined city of Denver, is a massive bioengineered dome of fleshy walls and bone pillars, which hides many secrets, which I will not spoil here. The Satori biodome is the most fantastical element in this science fiction novel, and sheer originality of it gave me great respect for Zeigler as a writer, though his greatest strength appears to be writing memorable characters.

The book focuses on three storylines: a Mexican-American teenager nicknamed Brood (real name Carlos) who is a survivor in every sense of the word; Agent Doss, a six foot tall black woman who works for Sec Serv after a distinguished military career in Special Ops; and a matched pair of genetically altered post-humans, Sumedha and Pihadassa, who are the Designers of the seeds produced by the Satori corporation.

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Brood’s storyline is the most bleak and poignant. He and his autistic little brother, Pollo, and their guardian, a grizzled old rogue, Hondo scrape and steal their way across the dustbowl of the Southwest trying not to get killed or starve along the way. Brood’s story is gut wrenching and pulls you inside the horrific world of ecological collapse, and survival of the fittest. I cared so much about what happened to him, and that is the mark of brilliant writing. Brood is a doting brother, a silent killer with a conscience, and young man in love with Rosa Lee, a beautiful Tewa Indian girl he dreams of starting a life with someday. Brood felt like such a real person, and I rooted for him along every step. I’m never going to forget him, and he epitomizes everything that is ruthless and beautiful in human nature.

Agent Doss is my other favorite character. She is tasked with several things in the book, and is trusted with the assignments because she has followed one simple rule for her entire twenty plus year career, first in the military, and then in the Sec Serv, Don’t Fu** Up. She has accomplished every mission for her country during conflicts with Iran, Russia, China—fighting the Chinese in Dubai, and several other places across the globe. She is the perfect soldier, an adrenaline junkie, and a fantastic leader. “Boss Momma,” is what the boys call her, and she inspires those around her to valiant feats of courage and sacrifice. I loved her hard nature and her internal monologues, which showed the many facets of her personality. I kept picturing one of the tough looking black female power forwards in the WNBA when I read her chapters. She was incredibly bad-ass, and I loved it when she wore the powered combat suit, a little like the Mobile Infantry suits in Heinlein’s novel Starship Troopers, and brought the smack down on her opponents. Agent Doss is the leader you would want to follow into battle.

The third storyline is the most hard to fathom, and is quite alien, as it should be. We get to experience the evolved minds of the post-humans, Sumedha and Pihadassa. They are twins, male and female, a matched pair, practically perfect, created by Satori to be the Designers of the seeds and many other genetically altered life-forms, the so called “landraces,” humanoids with the DNA of various predators, or other animals mixed in to make them extremely good at whatever task they were bred for.

The two post-humans' storylines are the most difficult to understand, and are rife with clues about the endgame, but it is easy to be confused about what is going on in their minds, which are so much more complex than any human consciousness. Sumedha and Pihadassa can see the genetic code of anyone they meet, and have great mental powers. These are alien creatures, very far from the human point of view most of us readers are used to.

I found Sumedha’s and Pihadassa’s storyline very fascinating, but at times confusing, but the payoff in the end made it all worth it, and I think if I read the book again, I would get even more out of this thread, and have an even greater respect for Rob Ziegler’s writing skill.

The three threads seem unconnected at first, but Zeigler weaves Brood, Doss, and the twins together expertly, especially at the end. As a writer and editor myself, I analyze craft as I read, and found this book to be incredibly well done in all aspects. The characterization is top-notch, the world building vivid, and the writing style easy to read, simple, and yet powerful, and poignant. I was moved to tears, goose-bumps, laughter, horror, and reverence several times. It was an immersive experience and so entertaining.

The dialogue is the best example I’ve ever seen of how to write realistic dialogue. Most of it is short, punchy, profane (there is a lot of foul language in this book, some in English, and a lot in Spanish). If you don’t understand Spanish, you’ll be okay, but will not comprehend a few phrases here or there, but don’t worry. You can get most of it in context. No holds are barred in this novel, and with all the violence and sex I think Seed is most suitable for older teens and adults. It felt so realistic, and natural, I didn’t have any problem with it.

After reading Seed, I am once again reminded about why I’m so in love with books. I went on such an awesome journey and it made me think a lot more about the pitfalls of genetically engineered foods, (and life-forms), as well as the very real possibility of ecological collapse in the future.

I became obsessed with reading Seed. I could not wait to read more of it, and burned through it, finishing in a short span, two and half days, and when I was not reading, I was thinking about the book and the characters. The story has some excellent twists and is going to stick with me for a long time. I look forward to Zeigler’s next novel with much anticipation.

SEED is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
View it on Amazon.com

Paul Genesse
Author of the Iron Dragon Series and Editor of the Crimson Pact Series