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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Directorate

Longtime blogger friend, and about the only one I have left, Berthold Gambrel https://ruinedchapel.com/ has released an e-book on Kindle. I've always enjoyed his writings and he's graciously expressed his gratitude on his blog concerning my suggestions in his acknowledgments sections.
The Directorate is a plausible science fiction story set in the 23rd century when humanity has expanded to colonies on Luna, Mars and are building a space station connected by a space elevator on the moon Ceres. There is plenty of time between now and then for technology to reach this potential. The conflict between the three planets is also probable as rivalries would naturally exist between the three entities. (I know the moon isn't a planet, but it's easier to describe this way)
The setting is that after an interplanetary war The Directorate was created to preserved the peace and form a central government. A security force  was created comprising members from all three planets. They reason that integrating all the planets soldiers this will ease the tensions brought about by the previous war. There's also a mega corporation that invented most of the technology making space travel and colonization possible that has become the controlling voice in the Directorate.
The protagonist is Lieutenant Gannon from Mars. She is in the guard in what is supposed to be a time of peace, but a faction known as Earth Firsters begin making trouble. They want Planet Rights!
At first there are small terrorist attacks that escalate to an attack on Mars. There are traitors that subvert the security from within, a bumbling bureaucracy slow to respond to an existential threat, a too big to fail corporation controlling the economy, and government, plus a kick ass hero.
The story is plausible because Berthold shows an understanding of human nature, knowledge of corporate greed, as well as engrained fossilized government stupidity.
To make the story work there is a lot of backstory to set the stage, but he breaks this up throughout the story so it's not like reading a history book. Berthold is not breaking new ground on the science as the technology is pre-Star Trek. This makes it more believable. It's fast paced and reaches a satisfying ending.
Now for the teacher in me to give advice. Ruined Chapel, accept it or reject it, but it is offered in the spirit of helping your writing to improve. You've grown over the past few years tremendously and this book is by far the culmination of your hard work on the craft. It will only get better.
Here goes:
1. Your villain and the terrorists. By telling the story from only Gannon's point of view, or that of narrator on the backstory the reader only gets a glimpse of why they are revolting. They're point of view needs to be given throughout the story. By the time the villain tries to recruit Gannon its too late. I think you realized this when you have him voice why he hasn't killed her. His answer is a bit lame. But if when they were on Mars and she was under his orders you switched to him and gave us his thoughts concerning her and wanting her on his side, maybe even a romantic interest he needed to suppress for the mission... Get my drift?
2. If your going to extrapolate from States Rights to Planet Rights you need to tell why they feel the Directorate has wronged them. You could include collusion with Luna and Mars instead of making it just spoiled grapes on the part of Earth. Even have Luna and Mars units in the revolt, which would make the villain's attempt at converting Gannon to the cause more plausible. You don't have to mention the students at this time.
3. The villain's answer to the students was to kill them. He explains what's happening. The theme here is great. By taking away Literature and history the Directorate is trying to make human robots. There's a reason why those two subjects are called the humanities. The all work and no play aspect could be expanded. After the battle on the space station you could have Gannon, knowing what the directorate is doing and wanting to change this in different way than extermination she could expound on how she plans to instill humanity into all the students.
4. By taking the student she's befriended to her home on Mars before reporting to Luna with her report. This is Gannon's first break with discipline and duty. After the surviving students are moved to Luna and her friend has learned more of what it's like to be human instead of programmed science geek, she can be the virus to enlighten the other students. Wow that's a whole new book. I hope I haven't jumped the gun if that's what you're already planning.

I know your baby is out in the world and it's hard to leave it and go on to another project. The beauty of e-publishing is that you can revise and correct if you're so inclined. My suggestions may help with future writings. I want to say again this a is a really really really good book. Well Done.

PS, I've submitted a review on Amazon, but it might not show up. You mentioned me in the book and when one of my reviewers I mentioned in another book his review of Optimus was removed. Amazon is getting picky on reviews.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Some books I found and like

Here's a few authors I've discovered on Kindle that I've liked and recommend to my few remaining readers.
1. Tony Roberts:
A. Best author I've come across since Harlan Ellison. He's continuing the Casca: The Eternal Mercenary series. He puts out one a year and takes about a day to read. His historical settings are accurate and descriptions of battles interesting.
B. His Chronicles of Kastania series, (now up to book 5) is his crown in glory. I don't know how he has a fictional empire with enemies on all sides and traitors within and can make every character from diverse backgrounds unique and come alive. He has a race of witches that I find most intriguing. I dub them sexual amazons. I devour these books and long for the next one. Just as Isaac Asimov used the Roman Empire as the basis for his Foundation series of books. Roberts is recreating and in many cases explaining everything that went on in the Byzantine Empire. An absolute don't miss series of books.
C. Chronicles of Faerowyn series. This one is more like Tolkien. It has light elves and dark elves, humans, trolls, monsters etc. It's now on its third book and immensely enjoyable. The main character is Faerowyn, a half dark elf and human on a quest to find her father trailing his bread crumbs to take over the clan and reclaim the crown of the dark elven kingdom. It sound rather simple, but like all great quest stories the journey is filled with lots of excitement. This is the best pure fantasy series of books I've read in a long long time.
D. Siren Series. So far 2 books, but number three is in the works. This series caught me by surprise. It's so totally different. It's about an actual British rock band and tells their story from inception to the lead singer's collapse and near death. The third book is eagerly anticipated to find out what else happens.
I don't know how he does it, but he's churning out four books a year and all are first rate. I hate to admit it, but though the quality of his Casca books is not an issue, but with nearly 50 books in the entire series and he's written nearly half of them, they all pale in comparison to his other works. It's not the writer just the Casca series is becoming dated.

2. Olan Thorensen: He's come up with a series of books adding elements of Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, James Clavell's Shogun, and Barry Sadler's Casca: The Eternal Mercenary. Which is quite an accomplishment.
The main character is Joseph Colsco, who is on a plane to give a speech on chemical engineering. A vessel from mysterious alien's called watchers collide with his jumbo jet and he's the sole survivor. They patch him up, using nanotechnology, and since he can't go home as he knows too much they maroon him on a planet in another galaxy. The watchers tell him that another alien race have over the centuries relocated humans to this planet so he won't be lonely. The technology on the planet in around the 1700's making his knowledge of technology a useful way of surviving, just so long as he doesn't run afoul of their religion and get burned as a witch.
He placed on an island being invaded by an evil empire from the nearest continent and I don't want to spoil the rest of the story. There are four books so far. They're well written and kept my heart pounding on numerous pages.

3. William D'Arand: If you're into gaming, this may be a good series for you. I'm not much of a gamer other than exercising with Wii.
1. He has an Otherlife series. I've read the first book and it was intriguing. Kind of like Tron, and the holograms of Star Trek series, Runner, the main character, is on long voyage and the crew get trapped in their game. He has no memory and he has to rise in class to get some of them back. He's able to access a portal that gives him his status and then fights various elements to gain points. He's the only officer left on the vessel and his quest is to rise enough in levels to regain the password to control the game and save the ship. I read the first book and am willing to read the others, but they aren't available on KDP for free. A number of authors do this, they tease you with the first book and then expect you to pay for the others. It has to be a super duper great read really waning me to read more before I'll do that, and this series doesn't fit that bill.
2. Super Sales on Super Heroes: This isn't about gaming, but the pup up windows with different abilities is similar. Here abilities are bought with points accumulated in various ways.
The society has super heroes and villains. A super villain has taken over a city and has destroyed most of the heroes. Most vices are legalized and slavery is legal.
The main character is Felix, who has a small ability of being able to change objects. He's managing a fast food restaurant and wants to rise up so he tries to buy something he can change into gold. He buys a near corpse of for super hero. His ability lets him restore the hero to life, and then he goes out and buys more. It gets really interesting when he buys and restores a beastkin that's a werewolf that can transform into numerous incarnations. Fortunately the second book was KDP and it gets even better. Waiting for the third one.