Reblog: A review and discussion of ‘Revolver’ by Michael Patrick Hicks

Many thanks to Tommy Muncie for this insightful and gracious review of REVOLVER! Some choice snippets follow, but please give it a read in full over at the link below.

What makes it so brilliant is that it stirs emotions in the reader that mirror the way emotions are stirred by the media within the story itself: a strong reaction and a response are what’s desired.

‘Revolver’ is a brave, powerful piece of writing that says ‘let’s not dress things up or put thin veils on the idea, let’s just shout about it and make it read like it’s a gun pointed in the reader’s face.’ It’s unapologetic, visceral, and the kind of story that would probably have sent the Clean Reader app into cyber meltdown. Give it a read if you like your stories to take you to the edge of your seat.

Source: A review and discussion of ‘Revolver’ by Michael Patrick Hicks.

REVOLVER is available now for purchase on the Amazon Kindle, or free to read to members of Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners Lending Library. You can check it out by clicking here.

Reblog: A review and discussion of ‘Revolver’ by Michael Patrick Hicks

REVOLVER is Now Available! And CONSUMPTION Gets A New Look!

Revolver eBookAbout Revolver

The “stunning and harrowing” short story, originally published in the anthology No Way Home, is now available as a standalone release and features an all-new foreword written by award-winning science fiction author, Lucas Bale.

Cara Stone is a broken woman: penniless, homeless, and hopeless. When given the chance to appear on television, she jumps at the opportunity to win a minimum of $5,000 for her family.

The state-run, crowdfunded series, Revolver, has been established by the nation’s moneyed elite to combat the increasing plight of class warfare.

There’s never been a Revolver contestant quite like Cara before. The corporate states of America are hungry for blood, and she promises to deliver.


Earlier this year, I was a part of the No Way Home anthology curated by award-winning science fiction author, Lucas Bale. My contribution was this short story, Revolver. It’s gained a small bit of notoriety for being somewhat controversial, and it’s rattled a few cages here and there.

Now, for the first time, it’s available as a stand alone release.

Some reviewers have loved the heck out of this story, setting it as my personal best at the time of its publication, with another calling it “stunning and harrowing.” Author David Wailing called it “A classic example of social science fiction” that “takes the ‘shocking’ gold medal.” One reviewer wrote that it was “the most overtly political and also one of the most enjoyable” in the No Way Home anthology.

Revolver has also been called, by some readers, “Horrid leftwing drivel.” Another “found “Revolver” so nauseatingly Politically Correct that had this book been physical instead of electronic, I would have physically flung it across the room.”

This is a fairly political story, and it draws on a lot of issues affecting (some might even say infecting) current American politics. A number of readers on the right-side of the political spectrum have found little to enjoy here, so fair warning.

This story is not meant to comfort, nor is it meant to be an easy read. It is also not the least bit subtle, as more than a few readers have mentioned. Revolver was written mostly in a fit of anger. It’s not subtle and it is not meant to be subtle. It’s meant to be disruptive and challenging to the status quo. As such, depending on your political predilections or how well tempered you are toward heavy-handed narratives, it might not necessarily be the type of dystopian science fiction you are looking for.

But, in general, based of feedback I have received, this story may not be for you if you are the type of reader that believes Fox News is the best example of exemplary American journalism, or that Donald Trump is the ideal statesman and deserving of the presidency, or that the War on Women is non-existent. In which case, I encourage you to save your 99c, and maybe we’ll meet up later in a different work at a different time. No harm, no foul.

However, if you’re willing to brave what one reviewer called the “emotional rollercoaster” that follows, then welcome and happy reading to you.

You can find Revolver right now on Amazon.

For those that are interested, the cover was designed by Adam Hall, who runs Around The Pages. Go check out his work and those wonderful authors he’s been representing!

Adam also put a fresh coat of paint on the cover for my horror story Consumption. Check it out!

Consumption-eBook

REVOLVER is Now Available! And CONSUMPTION Gets A New Look!

Review: Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

zero_HR_2About Zer0es

An exhilarating thrill-ride through the underbelly of cyber espionage in the vein of David Ignatius’s The Director and the television series Leverage, CSI: Cyber, and Person of Interest, which follows five iconoclastic hackers who are coerced into serving the U.S. government.

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed—and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X-Files and the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, Zer0es explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.


About the Author

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter and game designer. He’s the author of many published novels, including but not limited to: Blackbirds, The Blue Blazes, and the YA Heartland series. He is co-writer of the short film Pandemic and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. Wendig has contributed over two million words to the game industry. He is also well known for his profane-yet-practical advice to writers, which he dispenses at his blog, terribleminds.com, and through several popular e-books, including The Kick-Ass Writer, published by Writers Digest. He currently lives in the forests of Pennsyltucky with wife, tiny human, and red dog.


My Thoughts

In short, I don’t give a damn what NY Daily News says, Zer0es is a sheer f-ing blast and might very well be my favorite novel of the year. Although, I do reserve the right to change this opinion after I finish reading Chuck Wendig’s next novel, Star Wars: Aftermath, due out in about two weeks, in which Mr. Wendig gets to play around in the SW universe. And that, my friends, could very well be the book of the decade century. But, for now, let us discuss Zer0es.

In case you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan of Mr. Wendig, and whenever his new titles release I make it a point to read/devour them immediately. I love his Miriam Black books, and The Harvest Trilogy, and am looking forward to meeting up with Mookie Pearl again one of these days, preferably with a plate of charcuterie between us. All of this is to say that I might be a bit biased, but I do honestly feel that Zer0es earns each of the five stars I’m giving it.

Also worth noting is that I have very little real-world knowledge of computers, programming, or hacking. Or really how much of anything technologically works beyond the knowledge required to start, shut off, or play video games or watch movies. I care little for the inner workings of these things, and most computer talk bores the hell out of me. I’m probably the last person you want to call for IT help, in other words.

So, is Zer0es technically sound and accurate? I don’t have a flipping clue. And I don’t care if it is or not. Because what it is is a rock-solid bit of entertainment filled with techno-thriller whizz-bang shenanigans, a terrific amount of wit, and a healthy dose of science-fiction. As far as Wendig’s skill in plumbing the dark shadow world of hackers goes, it’s good enough for me to escape into and provides enough plausible scary horrors to sink my teeth into. The more fantastical realms that these characters find themselves in as things progress are fun and makes for an action-packed, rapid-fire read — and frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a great big cinematic summer blockbuster set to prose, and it freaking rocks, man.

To his credit, Wendig casts as our lead, Chance, a guy who is basically a phony. His hacking skills are nill, and he’s caught up in a scheme far larger than his limited abilities can cope with. A real underdog, this guy, and it gives me, as a reader, the chance to enjoy the experience alongside him. He’s not some uber computer god who can algo his way out of any awful situation. In fact, he gets his ass handed to him more often than not. The real hackers he’s surrounded by are the real deal – there’s the troll Reagan who gets off on internet shaming her victims and possess snark to spare, DeAndre the credit card scammer, Earthman, who’s basically an old-school BBS-version of Edward Snowden, and Aleena, a hacker intent on bringing true democracy to Syria. Each of them are recruited by an FBI agent named Hollis Copper, Mr. Government himself, to become white hat (good guy) hackers in exchange for not spending at least a decade-plus in prison for their various crimes.

Each of these characters have their own quirks, personalities, politics, and culture to bring to the table. Some are fighting for social justice, others for government accountability, and some just for laughs. There’s elements of the hacking group Anonymous, coupled with the Arab Spring, fighting back against rape culture and the grotesqueness of the Stubenville events. (Even a bit of obsession with Greek mythology when it comes to the central antagonist, which is just darn cool.) In short, this is a cast of well-defined characters with different skill sets, abilities, and goals. Together, they’re a total band of misfits with little in common and even less of a reason to become friends. They spend a lot of time sniping at each other and arguing, yet they somehow mesh well together as each are put through their paces and become a unified team, made stronger by their differences and disparities.

Ultimately, I have very, very few quibbles about Zer0es. I found it to be a complete thrill-ride from start to finish, with little in the way of lag. And kudos to Wendig for taking a topic as dry as coding and hacking and transforming into something that’s as equally exhilarating as the violence and mayhem surrounding these characters and their antagonists (which is pretty damn exhilarating, by the way). Now, bring on the 0nes!

Buy Zer0es At Amazon
Review: Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

In Which Author Anthony Vicino Interviews Me.

I promised the other day to be a little more timely in my self-promotion and stumbled across the posting of this interview conducted by author Anthony Vicino. I’ve gotten to know Anthony a bit thanks to Facebook and Twitter, and he was gracious enough to read and review Convergence, alongside Ted Cross’s cyberpunk title, Immortality Games. (Ahem: Ted’s book just so happens to be on sale for 99c right now!) So, when he approached me about doing an interview for his site I said yes, and we spent a couple days going back and forth over e-mail. Our conversation is now online and ready for consumption.

Anthony is the author of Time Heist, which has a terrific premise and is in my TBR pile (if you ever saw my TBR pile you’d understand, and perhaps even commiserate as to, why I have not yet read this one. Readers are digging it though, and I encourage you to pick up a copy ASAP!). Coming out soon is book 2, Mind Breach, the cover for which was recently unveiled and looks FREAKING AWESOME.

But rather than rest solely on his authorial laurels, Anthony has also become a writer for the Hugo Award winning website SF Signal. Definitely check out his first article for them, Where Are All The People of Color in Sci-Fi/Fantasy?, and if you’re brave enough to endure the comments you’ll find a mixture of rational discussion as well as posts that will make you weep for humanity.

So, onto our interview then. Just follow the link below!

Michael Patrick Hicks Interview.

In Which Author Anthony Vicino Interviews Me.

Author Stories Appearance

hicks-coverI’m dreadfully late in blogging about this, but I was lucky enough to appear on Hank Garner’s Author Stories Podcast a few weeks ago. Just skip past that Andy Weir guy on episode 50 and you’ll find me a few slots below, so go give it a listen.

Or, if you’d rather bypass the archives for now and go directly to me, that’s fine too. Follow this link here.

I’ve done a couple other (written) interviews in the meantime, and those should be going live relatively soonish. I will try to be more timely in sharing those links whenever they appear. I’m also hoping to unveil some snazzy cover art for a few upcoming releases, staggered of course, since the release dates are bit over the map. But, please do keep an eye out!

Author Stories Appearance

Great Martian War

This video popped up in my Facebook feed this morning, and it’s just too damn cool not to share.

Using archival footage from World War I and a heady dose of CGI, the film’s creators have developed a sweet little bit of alt history.

[Aside: If you’re in the mood for more alt history, check out Samuel Peralta’s latest anthology, Alt.History 101 (Alt.Chronicles), an awesome new companion series to his line of Future Chronicles anthos.]

All right, on with the show!

Great Martian War

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready-Player-One-cover-by-Ernest-ClineAbout Ready Player One

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.


About the Author

ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

For more information, please visit ernestcline.com


My Thoughts

Given all the hoopla, the insistence of several of my peers telling me, more than once, that I had to read this book, and the outpouring of fan-boy geekery surrounding the release of Armada, I thought it a good time to finally check out Ernest Cline’s debut, Ready Player One. I’m only four years late, which isn’t too bad all things considered.

However, that’s four year of praise, hype, and build-up, which can be a rather significant hurdle to cross. I’m pleased to say that, for the most part, I enjoyed Cline’s work here quite a bit. There’s a few small caveats that I’ll get to shortly, but this is a book that I largely enjoyed.

Ready Player One is infused with 1980s pop culture – I suspect that how well you are versed in the minutiae of 8-bit video games, John Hughes movies, Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons lore, and so very, very many more things of the like will play a critical role in how much you enjoy this book. This is a complete festival of nostalgia, and if you scratch your head wondering “What the heck is Starlog” or completely miss the importance of why our main character, Wade (aka Parzival), stands outside his love interest’s moon base holding a boom box over his head and blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” then you’ve got a fair amount of homework ahead of you.

But, you might protest, this book is supposed to be near-future sci-fi! And it is. You see, the story basically revolves a contest in which players compete in a massive, multiplayer gaming arena, called OASIS, to inherit the wealth of James Halliday. Halliday, the developer of OASIS, has not only left behind a massive pile of billions of dollars but is a total 1980s devotee. His career in game development was sparked by Atari, and he’s an enormous fan of movies like Ladyhawke and War Games (more 1980s history for you study, if needed).

The real-world setting is a dystopian mess. The world has been decimated by climate change, and Wade lives with his nasty aunt in the stacks. I really dug the idea of the stacks, which sees high-rise towers made out of motor homes for the poor and disenfranchised to live in. The corporate entity IOI is chasing after Halliday’s loot, and Wade and his top-scoring friends quickly becomes enemy number one.

I liked the 80s nostalgia and really enjoyed the trips down memory lane, even if, at times, it felt more like Cline was writing off a list of 80s references to incorporate. Some of them work, while others are mentioned just for the sake of it. I briefly wondered at the importance of Ecto-88, a souped up DeLorean modeled after the iconic time traveling car from Back To The Future with Ghostbuster and Knight Rider adds-on to accentuate it even further, which popped up ever so briefly being completely forgotten. We’re told how incredible this car is, how worried Parzival is that it could be stolen, and why he, thus, protects it with all kinds of crazy magic spells. And then it just disappears entirely. For a very brief moment, this is Parzival’s in-game hero car, but ultimately one of little consequence or importance as it’s really just Cline inserting more of himself into the narrative (go Google Ecto-88 and you’ll see). More interesting to me was his spaceship Vonnegut, a Firefly-class vessel (not a 1980s icon by any stretch of the imagination, but one that we’ll let slide, because Firefly) piloted by none other than Max Headroom! That one got my geek flag f-f-flying high.

Where Ready Player One stumbled a bit, for me, was in its depictions of life outside the immersive video game OASIS. Like Ecto-88 we get glimmers and flashes of interesting ideas, but not any that are suitably fleshed out nor explored as deeply as they should be. I wanted to know more about the run-down, awful world that Wade perpetually escapes from. I was genuinely curious about his self-image and why OASIS was his ultimate escape. Again, we get small tickles of insight, but they only ever barely scratch the surface. There are some truly deep and fascinating waters of the psyche to explore, and I wanted to know more about our narrator and the real-world, as opposed to the virtual-worlds, that he inhabits.

That aside, it’s rather difficult not to just simply enjoy the ride. Ready Player One is fun, even if it’s not quite as deep as it could be. It’s terrific brain candy and an enjoyable reminder of all those fun 80s games and gimmicks. For those who missed the 80s, your mileage may vary and you might even be asking yourself “Where’s the beef?” while not even understanding that reference at all. For the rest of us who remember Lloyd Dobler, cereal box surprises, Galaga arcade machines, phone phreaks, Ultraman, and Big Trouble In Little China with sincere fondness, this one’s for you.

Buy Ready Play One At Amazon

rpo_animated_paperback_cover

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline