Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

gemini cell

About Gemini Cell

Publication Date: January 27, 2015

Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with an all-new epic adventure in his highly acclaimed Shadow Ops universe—set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel…

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…


About the Author

As a secu­rity con­tractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and mil­i­tary officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber War­fare to Fed­eral Law Enforce­ment. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill.

All that con­flict can wear a guy out. Thank good­ness for fan­tasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dun­geons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing.


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via NetGalley for review.]

Myke Cole is an author that’s been on my watch-list for a few years now. He first caught my attention with his debut, Shadow Ops: Control Point, which immediately garnered the quick pitch of X-Men Meets Black Hawk Down. Color me intrigued. But, for whatever reason, I never got around to reading the damn thing and it has sat in my TBR pile for going on three years. In that time, Cole has completed the Shadow Ops trilogy and is now working on expanding the world he created there.

So, imagine my surprise when I learned about Gemini Cell, the start of a prequel series to the Shadow Ops stuff. I had a perfectly good entry point now, without further adding to the backlog of a series already in progress, that was custom-built for a Cole newbie like myself. And let me tell you, this book is a terrific way to get in on the ground floor of Cole’s expanding story. There’s no learning curve required, and no knowledge needed of his previous works. It is the perfect entry point.

By the time I hit the 30% mark on this book, I was kicking myself for not having experienced any of Cole’s earlier work, because it was just that damn good. And the X-Men comparison? It may be less applicable to this particular story, but I will say fans of other comic book properties like Venom (particularly Rick Rememder’s recent run) or Spawn, with maybe a smidge of Robocop tossed in for good flavor, will be in for treat.

As a military vet, Cole is able to imbue a hearty dose of realism to the ops conducted by the book’s Navy SEALs and the going-ons of the Gemini Cell. But what he really nails are the little things, those deft touches that help this book shine, such as Schweitzer learning how to talk post-mortem. His body is dead, he has no pulse, no need for air, and no way to make his vocal chords vibrate to produce sound, unless he puts an incredible amount of will into it. It’s a terrific and thoughtful aspect that helps enrich the supernatural proceedings.

I also appreciated the stark contrasts between Schweitzer and the jinn he shares his corpse with – these two are polar opposites in everything from ego to combat styles. Cole plays this part of the story straight-up and avoids any worryingly hokey, mismatched buddy-cop hijinks, which would be an enormous disservice to the material. Rather, it’s dark and edgy and appropriately grim. It’s serious, dangerous business and readers who underestimate how well it works could be in for a vicious reprimand.

Gemini Cell was a terrific and brisk read, a real fun page turner. Think Vince Flynn plus a whole lot of magic mixed in and baked in hellfire, and you’ve got the gist of how awesome Myke Cole’s new series is shaping up to be. This book just has so many genre elements that I love, and Cole lovingly blends them together, that it makes for an easy recommendation. I haven’t read any of this author’s past works, but I aim to catch up fast. He’s just earned a new loyal reader in me.

Buy Gemini Cell At Amazon
Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

Cover Reveal: No Way Home

For the past few months, I’ve been working with Lucas Bale and a team of other terrific up-and-coming sci-fi indie authors to produce an anthology. We are expecting it to hit shelves this March, so not too long of a wait, but still miles to go. At long last, though, I can finally share some official bits and pieces, and you get your first look at our final cover.

The art was designed by Jason Gurley, and it is full-on, non-stop bad ass.

Here’s a look, with the blurb below:

No Way Home Kindle

No Way Home.

Stories From Which There is No Escape.

Nothing terrifies us more than being stranded. Helpless, forsaken, cut-off. Locked in a place from which there is no escape, no way to get home.

A soldier trapped in an endless war, dies over and over, only to be awakened each time to fight again – one of the last remaining few seeking to save mankind from extinction.

In rural 70’s England, an RAF radio engineer returns to an abandoned military installation, but begins to suffer hallucinations, shifts in time and memories that are not his own.

A widower, one of ten thousand civilian space explorers, is sent alone to determine his assigned planet’s suitability for human colonisation, but stumbles across a woman who is part of the same program and shouldn’t be there at all.

A depressed woman in a poverty-stricken near-future America, where political apathy has allowed special interests to gain control of the country, takes part in a particularly unpleasant crowd-funding platform, established by the nation’s moneyed elite to engage the masses.

An assassin from the future, sent back in time to murder a woman, is left stranded when he fails in his mission and knows he will soon cease to exist.

These sometimes dark, sometimes heart-warming, but always insightful stories and more are to be found in No Way Home, where eight of the most exciting new voices in speculative fiction explore the mental, physical and even meta-physical boundaries that imprison us when we are lost.

Release date: March 2, 2015

This book will be 99 cents for the first 48 hours of its release, so be sure to mark your calendars and snag it immediately! You might also want to add it to your To Read list on Goodreads.

A few days ago, I hinted that we had one hell of an author contributing a foreword, and now the cat is officially out of the bag. Jennifer Foehner Wells, the awesome author of the ginormous science fiction best-seller Fluency, is helping us kick things off!

This project has been an enormous amount of fun, and I’m really damn excited to bring this one to readers. I think there is a heck of a lot to love in this collection, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading a few of these stories in advance. I’m ridiculously proud to have my short story, REVOLVER, appearing in print alongside the work of a whole bunch of wonderful authors, some of whom are making their big sci-fi debut right here in these pages.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the works of Bale, Wells, J.S. Collyer, S. Elliot Brandis, Harry Manners, S.W. Fairbrother, Nadine Matheson, and Alex Roddie, who’s making his sci-fi debut here under the pen-name A.S. Sinclair.

There will be more news on the release soon, but you might want to sign up for my newsletter, memFeed, for extra goodies as we get closer to our release date. Trust me, it will be well worth it.

And, if I can ask one last thing of you, please share this post far and wide and be sure to tell your friends and neighbors.

Cover Reveal: No Way Home

State of The Blog 2015

So, despite the grandiose title, let’s just consider this a bit of housekeeping.

The blog is now a year old, and come February 21, I will have hit my one-year anniversary as an author. Lest I rest on my laurels, I thought I’d take this time to catch you up a few things.

Here’s the basics, for those new to this site:

You can connect with me not only here, but on plenty of other sites. Take a gander and feel free to add/like/friend/etc.

Facebook

Twitter

Tumbler

Google+

Goodreads

Instagram

All of these links can also be found right up at the very top.

Now, onto the bookish side of things.

In addition to publishing CONVERGENCE and CONSUMPTION last year, I’ve also been dabbling in book reviews, so you’ll find plenty of those here, and expect lots more to come. I’ll be dropping a review for Tim Curran’s latest horror release soon, and have plenty more titles in the queue thanks to NetGalley.

On the novel side of things, I’m prepping EMERGENCE for release and expect to have it out by the summer. This is a sequel to CONVERGENCE, and stuffed to the rafters with action, duplicity, and intrigue. I’m really happy with how it’s shaping up, and can’t wait to get it into reader’s hands! Stay tuned for more on this one soon.

More immediately, you’ll be seeing news soon on the release of an anthology, featuring an all-new short story, REVOLVER, from me. I’m hearing word of a March release for this one, and it includes fresh works from Lucas Bale, S. Elliot Brandis, Harry Manner, J.S. Collyer, Alex Roddie, S.W. Fairbrother, and Nadine Matheson. And, we have one hell of an author pegged for the foreword, but I think I’ll keep that one secret for the time being.

Now, if you would like to get early access to the anthology, as well as my upcoming release, EMERGENCE, sign up for my newsletter. I promise not to spam you, and only give you periodic updates or reminders about new stuff. In exchange, you’ll get free stories, and you’ll get them before anyone else. I’m also planning on offering up a few freebies for subscriber’s only. Join now!

Lastly, to my followers new and old, I just want to say thanks. Thank you for reading these posts, my books, tweets, ramblings, whatever. I hope you’ve been enjoying things, and I expect to have a fair amount of great content throughout 2015. Happy reading!

State of The Blog 2015

2014 Reading Challenge Roundup

Well, there’s one more book-filled year slipping past. And, man, so many good books!

My TBR pile has grown exponentially, and digitally, to boot. I bought a Kindle last year as a Christmas gift to myself and haven’t read an actual physical book since. In fact, I have fully embraced the digital revolution!

jokerI also joined NetGalley, which is an invaluable resource for book bloggers and reviewers. There are just so many titles to pick from at any given moment, and I made a huge amateur mistake by drowning myself with more content than I could possibly read. Going forward, I need to be more selective in my requests and work harder on following through with reviews.

So, a bulk of this year’s reads came from NetGalley, in addition to my own purchases, and a few ARCs I received from some fellow authors, like Lucas Bale, S. Elliot Brandis, J.S. Collyer, Nicholas Sansbury Smith, and Therin Knite. In January, I gave myself the entirely arbitrary goal (and mostly because that was my goal for last year, as well) of plowing through 45 books in the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge. I actually blew past this goal pretty quick, and ended the year with a grand total of 86 reads! For comparison’s sake, you can find my write-up on 2013’s challenge here.

I’m pretty happy with both the quantity and quality of the titles I read, and I began reviewing a fair number of them right here on this site. You can find the complete list of titles I read for the 2014 challenge on Goodreads.

The Stats

24,086 pages read, across 86 books. (For comparison’s sake, in 2013 I read 21,800 pages across 52 books.)

  • 37 Horror
  • 26 Science Fiction
  • 13 Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
  • 10 Non-Fiction

2014ReadsLongest read: 752 pages (Tom Clancy Full Force & Effect by Mark Greaney)

Shortest read: 44 pages (What It Means To Survive by Lucas Bale)

Ratings:

1 star was awarded to only two titles

2 stars – seven titles

3 stars – seven titles

4 stars – 34 titles

5 stars – 36 titles

The Trends

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.33.34 AM Having more than 80 books under my belt doesn’t feel quite as large as it should, and you can gather from the fairly close page counts between 2013 and 2014 that I was reading many more smaller works this year than last. Although I read 36 more titles this year than last, this only netted me an additional page count of 2,286. I was reading a lot more short stories and novellas over the course of 2014, whereas 2013 was nothing but novel-length works.

In fact, 2014 could be dubbed The Year of the Novella for me, as I became more than a bit infatuated with DarkFuse titles, a small independent publisher of dark fiction. In fact, if I had to name a Publisher of the Year, it would go to DarkFuse, hands down. I don’t think I’ve ever read so many consistently good books from a single publishing house ever. They’ve got a terrific stable of authors like Tim Curran, Greg F. Gifune, Jon Bassoff, Michael McBride, William Meikle, and plenty more. Seriously, they’re just terrific.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.33.10 AMIn November, I took part in the blogging community’s Sci-Fi November, run by Oh, The Books and Rinn Reads, so I got to spend a fair amount of time focusing on science fiction novels. I also read a number of sci-fi titles throughout the rest of the year, too, many of them indie works, and many of those from fresh new voices in the indie community.

Looking back over the titles I’ve read, I noticed a large number of books came from either new authors, or authors that were new to me. Lucas Bale, S. Elliot Brandis, Therin Knite, Ethan Reid, GIllian Anderson, David Cronenberg, J.S. Collyer, and S.L. Huang all made their big debuts this year. I also finally got around to reading well-known staples like Chuck Palahniuk, Nick Cutter, Tim Waggoner, Michael McBride, Hugh Howey, Jason Gurley, and Ania Ahlborn, all for the very first time.

I also really enjoyed a great number of the books I read this year, with the overwhelming majority of them getting four or five stars. This repeats a trend from last year, which could be either indicative of me finding, for the most part, the right titles to suit my tastes, or a seriously soft touch in a sometimes arbitrary and uncalculated method of ranking. But, when I like something, I tend to really like it, and a book has to go the extra mile of doing an awful hell of a lot wrong in order to get a one-star.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.31.30 AM2015 Forecast

There were some wonderfully reviewed titles that I just did not have time for in 2014, and I’m hoping to correct this in 2015. I need/want to get around to Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, as well as Andy Weir’s The Martian, Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Fluency, and Kameron Hurley’s Mirror Empire. Each these author’s works were so highly acclaimed that I actually feel like I’ve missed out on something great. Ditto that on the non-fiction book, War of the Whales, by Joshua Horwitz. And the science fiction series, The Expanse, by James SA Corey has been piling up on my shelves, both physically and digitally, yet I never to get to them no matter how many times I resolve to. We’ll see if 2015 is any different, then.

And, of course, there’s all those NetGalley copies I need to get through, too…

While I have absolutely no doubt that new titles will be making their way onto my Kindle, I must make 2015 my year of catching up. As a reviewer, I need to make a lot of headway on my ARCs and get my NetGalley rating up there, which is at a dismal, embarrassing, and frustratingly low, 21% currently. I haven’t earned a score that low since high school pre-calc. Really, though, I only have myself to blame for that one as I bit off way more than I could possibly deal with. On the bright side, however, my Amazon reviewer profile is quite a bit more satisfactory ratings-wise (and, hey! If you liked my reviews, or the reviews of others, go let Amazon know by clicking the “yes” button beneath each review, right next to the “Was this review helpful?” inquiry.).

Last year, I lamented about the lack of attention I paid to non-fiction titles. I did better this year, but not nearly as well as I should have. Between a handful of ARC copies, along with titles that have been in my TBR queue for quite a while already, I hope to correct this deficit throughout the New Year.

So, that’s the game plan for 2015, my year of (trying to) catch up. I also need to be a far less enthusiastic requester of titles on NetGalley, lest I get buried even deeper, and much more judicious in my selections.

I’m setting a reading goal of 50 books for the upcoming year. I think this is an entirely reasonable number, particularly based on my past figures. I’ll likely read more than 50 titles, but I’m not too keen on being beholden to any particularly concrete reading resolutions. My main goal is to simply have fun, and to look forward to another great year of books.


What’s on your horizons for 2015? Any particular successes in 2014, or worthwhile reads that have stuck with you? Sound off below!

2014 Reading Challenge Roundup

2014 Writing In Review

2014 was a fairly productive period for my first year as an author. In late February, I released Convergence, and it’s since been featured as a Kobo Next Read Selection in their Science Fiction & Fantasy category, and was just recently a Book of the Week over at SciFi365.net. I’m pretty proud of this work, and reviewers have been responding favorably. I’ve heard from several readers who have greatly enjoyed it, and that alone has made this indie venture worthwhile. The title itself has raked up 10 reviews at Amazon, with a 4.8 out of 5 star average. On Goodreads, it’s accumulated an average of 4.42 out of 5 stars. It’s also made the Top 100 in Amazon’s Cyberpunk category multiple times since its release in both the US and the UK, which was very, very exciting to see.

My productivity hit its peak over the spring and summer, when I finished the first draft of Emergence and then dove into a short horror story, Consumption. Between those two works, I broke more than 110K in word-count over roughly three months.

Consumption released in October, and is currently standing at a 4.4 out of 5 star average among nine reviewers at Amazon, 4.15 on Goodreads. Again, I’ve been really happy with the reader reactions to this one. I was a bit nervous releasing it, as it’s so very different from Convergence, and is a bit off the wall. Horror is a genre I love, and I plan on dabbling in that end of the writing pool again in the (near?) future. I’ve got a few ideas I’m toying around with, but for the time being I’m heavily involved in my next novel.

And that next novel is, as I mentioned above, Emergence. This sequel to Convergence has been undergoing some serious editing and rewriting throughout the back-half of 2014. I recently received some beta reader feedback, which I think has helped tremendously, and it was great to get yet another set of eyeballs on this work. My content developer had terrific notes and suggestions, as well, and between those two readers I really do think Emergence is going to be one heck of a strong book. I’m hoping a few more betas will chime in soon. The next step is line edits, and I know my editor is going to have some more mighty fine suggestions, and that, in some ways, the work is only really just getting started.

Once those line edits are done, it’ll be onto the proofreading stage, and then art design and formatting. I’m eying a late first quarter or early second quarter release for 2015.

That’s not all, though! With Consumption out, and Emergence close to wrapping up, I was invited to take part in an anthology. There’s been a few kinks to work out on the scheduling for that one, but I have a 10,000 word short story, Revolver, that will be in the mix. Current plans are to have that one out for the spring, and I got an early look at the cover art and some of the story ideas from my fellow contributors. This should be a really great anthology, and I’m looking forward to sharing more details as we get closer to release.

I’m also in the very early stages of sorting out ideas for book three in the DRMR series, which will follow-up on some of the plot developments that occur in Emergence. I’m still a little bit away from hammering out all of the story details, but have settled on some interesting ideas that help expand on some of the conflicts seen in Convergence. I’m about five thousand words in and things are just starting to gel, so lots and lots of work ahead of me on this one.

On the blog side of things, I published 258 posts. These drew in more than 11 thousand views, across close to eight thousand visitors. Not a bad first year for this site (note: posts prior to 2014 were imported from a previous blog). I’m going to hedge my bets and say, conservatively, that between this blog and all the story writing, I probably produced close to 300 thousand words this year.

So, 2014 was busy, and I’m expecting 2015 to be equally productive. Keep an eye out for more news, more reviews, and new releases in the coming New Year.

Now, back to writing…

2014 Writing In Review

Review: Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction

carbide

About Carbide Tipped Pens

Seventeen hard science fiction tales by today’s top authors

Hard science fiction is the literature of change, rigorously examining the impact—both beneficial and dangerous—of science and technology on humanity, the future, and the cosmos. As science advances, expanding our knowledge of the universe, astounding new frontiers in storytelling open up as well.

In Carbide Tipped Pens, over a dozen of today’s most creative imaginations explore these frontiers, carrying on the grand tradition of such legendary masters as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and John W. Campbell, while bringing hard science fiction into the 21st century by extrapolating from the latest scientific developments and discoveries. Ranging from ancient China to the outer reaches of the solar system, this outstanding collection of original stories, written by an international roster of authors, finds wonder, terror, and gripping human drama in topics as diverse as space exploration, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, climate change, alternate history, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, interplanetary war, and even the future of baseball.

From tattoos that treat allergies to hazardous missions to Mars and beyond, from the end of the world to the farthest limits of human invention, Carbide Tipped Pens turns startling new ideas into state-of-the art science fiction.

Includes stories by Ben Bova, Gregory Benford, Robert Reed, Aliette de Bodard, Jack McDevitt, Howard Hendrix, Daniel H. Wilson, and many others!


About the Editors

Ben Bova is a six-time winner of the Hugo Award, a former editor of Analog, and former editorial director of Omni. Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, most recently, Transhuman, New Earth, and New Frontiers. He lives in Florida.

Eric Choi is an aerospace engineer as well as an award-winning author and editor. He has worked on a number of space missions, including the Phoenix Mars Lander and the Canadarm2 on the International Space Station. Choi also co-edited the anthology The Dragon and the Stars with Derwin Mak.


My Thoughts

[I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]

Editors Ben Bova and Eric Choi have collected seventeen short stories from authors across the globe, where the primary focus is on technology. These are stories of hard science fiction, where the scientific concepts provide not only a framework for the plot, but are so integral to the story being told that without such a tech-heavy conceit the story would be impossible to tell.

The anthology opens with The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever by Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse). Here, we are introduced to a theoretical physicist who is so coldly rational and unemotional that he’s very nearly a robot. If it weren’t for his daughter, he’d likely have no humanity to him whatsoever, and she is what pins him to this earth. Far too late, he learns that his theoretical equations showing the existence of pinhole black holes are deadly accurate. While the physicist is cool and methodical, Wilson manages to wring the heartstrings for all their worth in an emotional wallop of a finale. Although the story itself is short, there’s a lot going on here, and serves as a terrific opener to Carbide Tipped Pens.

I was also deeply impressed by Doug Beason’s Thunderwell, which concerns a last-ditch effort to save an otherwise doomed mission to land the first team of human explorers on Mars. We get snippets of action from these intrepid astronauts, but the focus is on the Earth-based scientists’ efforts to beat the odds and launch a care-package stocked rocket into space. There’s a smidge of inspiration from Jules Verne at hand here, and it works very well. The technology at play here is also one we are deeply familiar with, using the physics of projectiles as the main thrust (forgive the pun) behind the narrative.

Liu Cixin delivers The Circle, a story adapted and expanded upon from his novel, The Three Body Problem. Ben Bova’s contribution, Old Timer’s Game, tells a straight-forward story about the future of baseball, as the sport is heavily impacted by medical advances and stem cell research. Habilis, by Howard Hendrix, is an interesting, dialogue-driven meditation on the ‘handedness’ of the universe, with insights in the left-favoring nature of electron orbits to the curves of letters and numbers driven home by a war vet with a prosthetic hand. David DeGraff’s SIREN of Titan was another strong inclusion, focusing on the sudden sentience of a moon rover and some intriguing American politics generated by the Religious Right’s fear of artificial intelligence.

I tend to find anthologies to be a mixed bag. Not every story can satisfy every single reader. For instance, I found Jack McDevitt’s story, The Play’s The Thing, to be interesting yet anticlimactic, and neither Aliette de Bodard’s nor Kate Storey’s efforts did much for me despite being well-written and having authentic feeling settings thanks to the strong world building in each of their works.

Taken as a whole, however, Carbide Tipped Pens is a solid collection of hard science fiction stories from many highly regarded authors in this genre and well worth the read. The stories themselves cover a broad swath of territory, from near-future Earth to far-flung empires of the distant future, where technology and scientific concepts are key. Recommended.

Buy Carbide Tipped Pens At Amazon
Review: Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction

CONVERGENCE is SciFi365’s Book of the Week

Breaking news: CONVERGENCE was chosen as SciFi365’s Book of the Week. I’m absolutely thrilled by this. They write:

Our new book of the week, ‘Convergence’ by Michael Patrick Hicks, is one of those where it’s summary just doesn’t do justice to how good it is. It is truly an excellent Sci Fi novel and a worthy ‘Book of the Week’.

A cyberpunk thrillride…. The conflict between the humanity of the main character, Jonah, and the things he has had to do to survive in this harsh new world makes ‘Convergence’ an absolute pleasure to read.

Again, just sheer delight from me, and many thanks to the SciFi365 team for their support and their kind words.

CONVERGENCE is still on sale, for a limited time, for only 99 cents, so go feed your eReader!

| Kindle | Nook | Kobo |

Also, be sure to check out SciFi365 and sign up for their mailing list. I’ve found lots of great suggestions from their e-mails, and plenty of good deals. You can subscribe right here.

CONVERGENCE is SciFi365’s Book of the Week