Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft

Heads up SF lovers!  This is an interesting collection of free SF short stories.

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft. You can find it on Amazon – Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft


This a heavy hitters collection of SF writers:

Future Visions features contributions from:

Elizabeth Bear
Greg Bear
David Brin
Nancy Kress
Ann Leckie
Jack McDevitt
Seanan McGuire
Robert J. Sawyer

…along with a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, plus original illustrations by Joey Camacho.

Book Review: Ghostly Mind Frak

A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay.


This is one chilling book. Tremblay structures the book in such a way that you are led to believe the expected climax of the book is one that will haunt you but what does haunt and linger with you after reading the last page is something else entirely.
Fifteen years after her older sister Marjorie Barrett was believed to be possessed, twenty-three year old Meredith – Merry – Barrett recounts those events to a writer chronicling those events. Most of the events are recalled from a then eight year old Merry’s perspective making her the unreliable narrator of the story. With her religious father out of work and her mother unable to earn enough to prevent the loss of their home, Marjorie’s medical bills force the Barrett’s to make a tough decision. They reluctantly accept a lucrative offer to have a TV crew come in and air a reality show chronicling Marjorie’s fall into madness and eventual exorcism.
This is one lean and mean scary book.

2013 – The Year Of The King Clan

This entry is sparked by a wonderful interview, where the logistics of getting all these very busy members of the King family in the same location must been immense, that appeared recently in the New York Times Weekend Magazine.

You can find it here – Stephen King’s Family Business

2013 may very well represent the apex of the Stephen King Writing Clan in terms of output.

By the time this year ends we will have had:

1) Stephen King:    Joyland
2) Owen King:       Double Feature
3) Joe Hill:             N0S4A2
4) Stephen King:    Dr. Sleep

and by extension of being Owen King’s wife:

5) Kelly Braffet:     Save Yourself

Will this alignment of releases in the same year ever occur again within one family?  Hard to say.  We know S. King has two more books nearing completion – Mr. Mercedes and Revival.  His output the last few years has been amazing!  Can the kids keep up?

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With the imminent release of Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining – Dr. Sleep, I decided to reread The Shining since it had been over 20 years since I had read it least.  Partly because I want to reread some of King’s earlier books because it has been 20 plus years for a lot of those books.  And partly because the impact that Kubrick’s adaptation of the book has had within pop culture is so pervasive- how events played out in his movie versus the book have become blurred. Writer & King expert, Bev Vincent, made this observation and I agree with him.

And I am very glad I reread this book.

The Shining by Stephen King

Well I’m all set for Dr. Sleep.

It’s been over twenty years since I last read this book and as good I thought it was since then, it’s even more powerful than I remember.  No doubt because in the twenty intervening years I have become a family man and father myself. My focus on this story has shifted from the horror elements to the characters.

Twenty years ago the visceral thrills that the Outlook Hotel gave have been dulled due to the ever expanding boundaries of what horror books/movies etc have shown and told us.

What stands out more in The Shining are the ghosts we carry around inside of us.  These ghosts have the potential to be far more damaging and/or terrifying than anything a possessed hotel can throw at us.

The Cover Version of The Shining I First Saw And Still My Preferred Version

Jack and Wendy Torrance are damaged goods trying to cast off the ghosts of their parents.  Jack fails and with Wendy it is unclear how she fares moving forward from the end of the book.

And Danny?  Ah, poor Danny.  With his gift, or curse, of The Shining – the weight of his ghosts is ever so much heavier.  Will his ability ultimately help him conquer his demons or will he crash even harder than his father?

Come Sept 24 with the release of Dr. Sleep, answers should be forthcoming.

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Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

One feels guilty when you read in a day, a story a writer put a lot of work into. But it is also sign of a great book and Kelly Braffet has pulled off a particularly difficult feat.  She created a very sad world with characters beaten down by events out of their control. Yet Braffert writes the characters in a way that makes you empathize with them.  You may empathize with certain characters over others and that’s perfectly fine. There are enough characters in the story that more than a couple of them will probably get their hooks into you.

The subtext of the unquenchable human thirst for the hope of being a better person flitters on the edges of every page. The only caveat is the characters end up where you think they will. The surprise is the price they have pay to get there.

Dresden Debts

Finished the 7th book in the Dresden series – Dead Beat.  Seeds laid in the previous book come to the forefront right away in this book.

The mystery of the sigil burned into the palm of Dresden’s burned hand is craftily revealed and with it comes the promise of greater power in a time when Harry needs it the most badly.  Halloween Eve is coming and with it the bad guys – this time necromancers – are up to evil on such a scale that war on the Wizard Council is but part of a feint for a more devious plan.

Balanced against all of this and the lure of greater power is the certainty that if Harry goes down that path he will lose himself to fallen angel Lasciel.  She is also known as the Seducer, the Webweaver and the Temptress.

Harry’s little dog is not so little anymore and guards his master well.  A new character, Butters – a timid one man polka playing band – is a techie that ends up becoming much more of a fighter than even Harry thought he could be.  

Handled far more slowly and carefully is the relationship between Harry and Murphy.  She takes off with the mercenary Kincaid from the last book; reading between the lines in an attempt to get some form of reaction out of Harry.  Even though she is absent from most of the book, all of Harry’s actions are predicated on protecting Murphy.  During the course of the story Harry is forced by his half-brother to confront his feelings about Murphy even though nothing is resolved when the two of them meet at the end of the book.

But I can’t wait to see Murphy’s reaction when she finds out she was the reason Dresden took all the risks he did in this story.  If she does find out that is.  My money is on her finding out.

Really enjoying the character arc and growth for Harry.  His power has grown substantially from the first book and so too have the choices Harry has to make.  And the price he has to pay.


This Friday we are heading to Lake Louise out in the Rockies for the weekend.  It’s a four hour drive from home and I was hoping by the end of March that the worst of winter was behind us.  But it’s been the second coming of winter with snow falling on consecutive days and more in the forecast.  

This could be an interesting trip.

I Swear By Jupiter’s Cock!

I’ve been reading my first Ramsey Campbell book – Creatures Of The Pool – and after hearing so much praise for him my initial impressions are decidely mixed.  I’m a third of the way into the book and an overwhelming majority of it has been a history and geography lesson of Liverpool.  I’m a big believer in setting but this is going overboard. At this point, very little has been revealed about any of the characters and beyond the story noting how damp everything is, very little of the story itself has yet to be revealed.   I’m probably making a fool of myself at this point with my initial reaction given Campbell’s reputation.  Or maybe I just chose the wrong book to start with.

On the flip side, when I want a fun and quick read I find myself turning to Jim Butcher’s – Dresden Files series.  The book series came to my attention after the short lived TV series. Butcher writes the Dresden books in engagingly dry manner that harkens back to those old hard boiled detective noir style stories and has mixed it with wizardry, magic, and the supernatural.  Harry Dresden is a very sympathetic character who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and never seems to get a break.  Harry has a great sense of humor which leavens up the grist mill of obstacles and tribulations Butcher puts his poor protagonist through.

If the title of this post rings a bell for you then chances are you too are a viewer of the StarZ series – Spartacus.  The show is in its last season and has followed the story of Spartacus’s capture into Roman slavery, his rise in the gladiatorial arena, and the Slave Revolt he has led against the Romans.  In the final season, which is four episodes in, Julius Caesar himself has been summoned to deal with the ever growing rebellion.


After a first season shaky start in the first four episodes – exacerbated by the show’s signature battle scenes that are very reminiscent of the 300 movie’s slomo bloodfests – the series has crafted a complex and intricately plotted story that constantly presents characters with life and death decisions from which very few walk away alive.  The body count is high and favored characters fall with a degree of regularity that tops that of The Walking Dead.  The difference between Spartacus and The Walking Dead is that with Spartacus, character deaths consistently illicit emotional responses from both sides of the spectrum depending on where your character loyalties lie.

This is a very adult show.  Blood, limbs, heads – cloven whole or in half, and gore flow freely.  So does wine and bodily fluids.  Spartacus is an equal opportunity show – full female and male nudity, yes including that of the frontal variety – are often on display in all the possible configurations and gender pairings possible.  These were violent times and Spartacus captures it all whether it be in the arena, on the battleground, or behind closed doors of a master’s estate. 

Further props have to be given to the cast who undergo a rigorous physical regime to maintain and project the musculature of warriors.  These actors, in very physical roles, then must master many weapon types with swords the most common choice.  The physical aspects of the show are then married with modern technology to create battle scenes that, for my money, surpass most things seen on the much more lauded Game of Thrones.  Another show which I enjoy watching.

Spartacus is a great show that deserves far more acclaim than it has garnered to date.  This is a harsh, gritty world where the characters live and die hard. Check it out. Highly recommended.


On a writing front I put together a piece of micro fiction and sent it off today.  The deadline is mid-March so it was great to get that one under my belt. Especially since it is my first dribble of fiction writing in ages.