Monday, 18 February 2013

Guest Post: Sci-fi Author, Doug Strider.

Writing and publishing is not the dog eat dog world you'd think it is. Indie or indie, e-published or paperbound, genre or otherwise, for the most part the 'writing' community stick together - a pack, almost. We have our alphas, our betas, cubs and sires. A pack sticks together, and that's what this post is about.

At present, I have only published fantasy stories, but my second love is Sci-Fi. I stumbled across a Sci-Fi author by chance the other day, and found my god can he spin a good yarn! So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Doug Strider.

Hello, I’m Doug Strider.

There is a part of me that remains 7 years old. The part that absolutely loves sci-fi. Watching spaceships, ray guns, aliens, heroes fighting the good fight on cinema screens and the humble old television. My dad and I engrossed in everything that was going on. Very fond memories right there, sci-fi was something we both shared a love of.

That same 7 year-old also had a fantastic imagination. He was a space captain, he had a nemesis (Ruston, I’ll let you guess what his speciality was), he had a spaceship (rather reminiscent of Thunderbird 2 it turned out) and he was a goddam space hero. That was my first proper creation I believe. I don’t think building vast spaceships from Lego, that constantly fell apart every time I tried to woosh them through the air, counts as much but it was bloody good fun.

Thirteen years later the 7 year-old piped up in my brain and I started writing properly. I wrote a sci-fi novel and the start of many more but that all faded away as my attention was needed elsewhere and it would take around twenty years for the voice to say, “Hey, remember when you were a space captain? That was great.”
Surrounded now by many creative people, especially my writerly partner Jen, I felt comfortable to pursue story telling once more and the 7 year-old me is very happy indeed. So that’s how I came to start writing Space Danger! It has spaceships, ray guns, aliens, heroes fighting the good fight and it’s fantastic fun. I’m loving immersing myself in this universe, it’s giving me a chance to express my imagination, my humour and that there’s life in this tired old brain yet.

Surrounding my rekindled love of writing, I’m still involved a fair few audio projects, another awesome outlet for my creativity. The Bearcast (co-hosting in character), Soldiers of Tangent (co-hosting as myself in an ever expanding spiral of tangents and Grade A fibbing), Dark Fiction Magazine (narrating, herding narrators and producing) and the odd contribution to other projects here and there.

The 7 year-old loves it all but is mostly excited that he gets to be a space captain again. That’s the best bit.
This blog post is brought to you with thanks to D.E.M. Emrys who has let me guest on his site. He writes a cracking tale himself. Currently reading It Began With Ashes in my other genre of choice and I’m really bloody enjoying it.

D. E. M. Emrys. Author. Soldier by day, Soldier by night - Writer in Between. 

Author of Heroic Fantasies:
From Man to Man - Currently FREE from Amazon.
Amazon UK

It Began With Ashes.
Amazon US

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Can There Be TOO MUCH Fantasy?

EDIT: Update as of 20:20hrs (GMT) 17/02/2013 - after feedback, I've only just noticed that the original fantasy authors featured here were all male. This post has been updated to include females. Upon scanning my book shelf, I realised that many of the stories I own are written by male authors. The original observations were in no way meant to intentionally dis-include the female authors of the fantasy genre.

Is the fantasy world over-populated? It’s a valid question and one that keeps raising its ugly head in the current era of ‘Lord of the Authors: The Fellowship of the Fantasy’.

Without battling out the topic of Indie vs Traditional, I want to take a moment and talk about fantasy worlds. A simple blog post can’t cover every single fantasy tome to have ever graced a book shelf (or a digital market place like Amazon, for all you e-publishing gurus), but we can highlight a few.

J.R.R. Tolkien with his elves, and his dwarves, his hobbits with their hairy feet, and his trolls. Ringwraiths, a dark lord, and a powerful artefact that is a curse to all those who bear it.

George R.R. Martin with his thrones, and his games, the squabbles of men, and the treachery, futility and thick-fast plots (oh, and if you’ve watched the tv adaptation, there’s a fair share of boobage, too).

Peter V Brett – demons galore! How ‘man’ (and woman!) can overcome their fears for what they believe is right.

Mark Lawrence explores the moral depravity of a Prince who won’t let anything – or anyone – stand in his way, even if that involves burning the world just to keep warm.

Michael J Sullivan brings bromance to the fold (Webster’s unofficial definition of bromance: bro-mance, a combination of brother and romance, meaning ‘a brotherly romance’ between two males. Often seen sharing large quantities of bruises, beauties, and beatings) with a healthy dose of death-defying escapades and swashbuckling adventures.

John Gwynne breaths fresh life into the folklore and legend side of fantasy, giving Giants, Wyrms and even Angels a gritty new lease with a Nordic/Celtic feel.

Brent Weeks forefronts assassins in one, and mages in another, but above all else they struggle with their own powers for further means.

Brandon Sanderson…magic, need I say more? But then again, his world-building is second to none.

Joe Abercrombie touts more knives than any sane man should ever need, but lucky for us not all of his characters can be deemed sane enough to count or care for that matter. But when all is said and done, it’s down to being what you’re meant to be, and (as he often states by way of infamous barbarian Logen NineFingers) once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than live with the fear of it.

Ursula K Le Guin, if there was a Big Momma of fantasy, UKLG would be her. Her stories are folklore brought to life, magic and mysticism intoned with a rich world building.

Karen Miller strives to break down the old fantasy cliches, using them where she will, but bending and twisting them into something new, pushing 'fantasy' into a more 'fantastical' realm.

Robin Hobb, who's back catalogue boasts more tomes than the knives of Joe Abercrombie's cast - claimed by Orson Scott Card to have 'set the standard for the most serious fantasy novel'.

Helen Lowe, a newcomer to the fold, but with her fresh blood added to the mix the 2012 Gemmell Award winner (Morningstar category) weighs in with a hefty dose of darker, grittier fantasy and a deeper meaning of how we treat each other.

I’ve barely even touched the surface here. I could go on for hours. James Barclay, David Gemmell (big daddy of British heroic-fantasy), Robert E Howard, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Jordan, Tamora Pierce, David Dalglish, Mazarkis Williams, Moses Sirergar III, Ben Galley, Steven Erikson, Christopher Paolini…ok, ok – I’ll stop.

So, fantasy is a busy world(s). But each and every one of them is different. Yes, a lot of them share themes or creatures (elves, dragons, hobbits, dwarves, damsels in distress…hobbits, or other creatures with hairy feet?), but would you really say: ‘No more’! Heck, I’m sure if you asked a lot of these authors they’d admit to being inspired by one another. Of course they would.

Ok, let’s imagine if someone said ‘No more’ to Robert Jordan. Would we have the Peter V Brett’s, and Christopher Paolini’s of today? ‘Put that pen down’ David Gemmell…and voila, no John Gwynne’s or James Barclay. How many would we lose if Robert E. Howard had run out of ink on the first page, and Conan had been lost to an unfinished sentence?

IMAGINE THE CHAOS if someone told J.R.R. Tolkien to shave his hobbit and write a romcom. Think of the children, pray for their futures!

Publishing is an ever changing industry, and fantasy is an ever changing realm of possibilities. If you’re Indie or Traditional, reader or writer…could you really say NO to one last fantasy? And before you start culling dwarves, shaving hobbit feet, or cashing in dragon fangs for the last copy of ’50 Shades of Grey’ from Amazon…just remember:

A Fantasy author isn’t just for Christmas. They’re for life.

(And even then, they’ll think of a way to come back and haunt you from the afterlife – they’re fantasy authors after all).

D. E. M. Emrys. Author. Soldier by day, Soldier by night - Writer in Between. 

Author of Heroic Fantasies:
From Man to Man - Currently FREE from Amazon.
Amazon UK

It Began With Ashes.
Amazon US

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Review: Space Danger! The Deadly Planet of DEATH!

Space Danger! The Deadly Planet of DEATH!
Space Danger! The Deadly Planet of DEATH! by Doug Strider

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Good: Funny, Upbeat, Charming.

The Bad:

The Ugly (Truth): A very BRITISH wit, with a trilling cliffhanger conclusion. Only for the lighthearted reader, don’t be expecting a dramatic space opera with meaning-of-existence consequences.

For Those That Like: Doug Adams, Terry Pratchett.

This book is something a little different. It’s not afraid to be something out of the ordinary. And I like it for that reason.

As the opening story for a Sci-Fi Series, ‘Space Danger – The Deadly Planet of DEATH!’ does what it says on the tin. It starts something – it gets you ready for more. My first impression from the title was that of ‘Ooo, Red Dwarf, in book format?’ I wasn’t far off the mark.

This book made me laugh out loud – and that’s rare. The odd smirk from a story is to be expected, but I was holding my sides at times with this. It’s a short, sharp read and it benefits from this. It’s a punch line delivered at the right time. Any longer and it’d be dragging out a joke.

All in all, a big thumbs up from me. It’s not my usual read, but it certainly brightened up my day!

D. E. M. Emrys. Author. Soldier by day, Soldier by night - Writer in Between. 
Author of Heroic Fantasies:

From Man to Man - Currently FREE from Amazon

View all my reviews