The Last Jedi: A Perspective from a Feminist, Rebel & Writer

This post first appeared on My Sheroes at KMRandallAuthor.com.

***Please note, if you have not seen The Last Jedi yet and are one of the few who have not already read about the whole movie in detailed analysis from the hundreds of articles written in the wake of its debut, then this may contain spoilers.

LeiaFreeWhen it comes to Star Wars, you have a wide fan base, from new generations of movie lovers to old. You have the fans who watched it as children with wide eyes filled with wonder and grew up loving movies. Now, as adults, these hardcore Star Wars fans have expectations that may never be satisfied. I am, of course, addressing the mixed reviews the latest installment, The Last Jedi, received from its rabid fans. No matter how well something is done, when you add to something so beloved as Star Wars many years later, the purists are going to take some issue with something in the universal rules or character development. I get it. I don’t agree with the negativity in this instance, but I get it.

Although I grew up watching the movies, and even remember seeing the Return of the Jedi in the movie theater when I was about four years old (Jabba the Hutt just stands out in my brain), I would not classify myself as a fanatic. I like the movies a lot. But I’m not the one who bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale or collect Star Wars Legos. That’s my husband, who is a Star Wars junkie. He’s not your average fan boy, his inner geek only shines in these moments. So perhaps that is why his love of Star Wars is still intact, and he thought the newest movie was awesome. But like many, his favorite so far of the new ones has been Rogue One. It’s gritty and dark. Blah, that was too sad for me, although inspiring. So on with my review of The Last Jedi.

What I Liked:

•As I’ve said in the past, Star Wars presents strong female characters. The strong character development of Leia was before her time, followed in more contemporary times by Jyn Erso and Rey. These woman have agency, they have character, and they are the heroes in the story. Leia as the resistance leader in The Last Jedi is emblematic of a time when women are rising and leading contemporary rebellions against an administration perceived by many to be deeply corrupt and unjust.

•I absolutely fan-girled over the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. Not in an, I’m totally shipping over them (that’s just too complex a relationship to root for), but the mystery and meaning behind that connection is fascinating. She’s the light in the force, he’s the dark in the force, and despite their mental connection being created by Snoke, they have chemistry and a desire to help the other one find the right side. I’m intrigued to see where their connection takes us in the next movie and whether Kylo Ren can be redeemed. Do they have a deeper connection than we even know yet? I find it thrilling.

•The dual perspectives I didn’t realize I was even watching until it was posed so eloquently in an article I read, was Poe Dameron’s and Admiral Holdo’s. Earlier in the movie, you see through Poe’s eyes, the man who wants to be a hero, who doesn’t run away but takes risks and sometimes without much thought uses violence to try and win the day, and as the audience, you root for him. But then the flip side is revealed when you see Admiral Holdo’s perspective and fully grasp the whole picture. I delight in such writing and the delayed awareness of how brilliant it was.

•Leia’s use of the force was one of my favorite parts. In canon, she’s always been force sensitive. In a dire moment when she’d die otherwise, she’s able to harness her sensitivity and use it to save herself. It’s truly an amazing send-off for the character and symbolic of the strength both Leia and Carrie Fisher have within.

ªAs my brother pointed out, Yoda was messing with Luke just like always. Once he drew this parallel for me, the scene with Luke and Yoda became that much more meaningful and funny. Now everyone, pause for a minute and watch this video:


 What I didn’t like:

•I admit, while I agree wholeheartedly that Rey’s parents being junkers allows her character to illustrate that greatness can come from humble beginnings is really relevant and awesome, I was a little disappointed at the revelation. I have come to embrace it more fully, but I think the hype for two years around who her parents were was the primary reason for this letdown.

•I don’t like when people I like die, so I was a bit peeved that Luke bit the dust in this movie. I get the whole, forging a path for the new generation and letting the old ways die, but come on.

If it it’s not obvious, I give this movie an A+. I think I’ve become a bigger Star Wars fan than I was ever before because I feel like it can be used to inspire those who have decided to become rebels in their own right, who are fighting for the light. I actually had written this review shortly after seeing it, but the page closed on me and I lost it all. So while that was a bummer and it’s taken me an extra week to re-write it, reading some of the smart analysis on the movie has clinched my love for it. Here’s a quote from an article written on Bitter Gertrude by Melissa Hillman that just makes the meaning behind the film that much deeper:

“The nearly all-white, overwhemingly male, privilege-based way of thinking that celebrates war culture and toxic masculinity and that created the First Order has to go, both in the larger world and as it’s internalized in our hearts and minds, and in its place will be something entirely new, created by diverse young people who are walking away from war culture, walking away from toxic masculinity, walking away from systems of privilege … The future is brown, and female, and brilliant, and fierce, does not give even one single fuck about the way things used to be.”

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Wheel of Time Series Coming to a Station Near You!

This is old news…so I probably shouldn’t bring it up. But I just came across this information and just could not help myself! Apparently, Sony has picked up The Wheel of Time series to be made into a TV series, following on the coat tails of Games of Thrones. I just recently read the first book in the series, and while I have 13 more to go, I am truly ecstatic! I really hope that this comes to fruition and doesn’t plummet into the pit of Goonies 2, where we were promised another movie, and then nothing. And yet, they still keep saying it might come, but now who knows in what form, or when?

So let’s hope this really does get made, even if it stinks. I’m excited to see happens.

Read more here: Tor.comSyfy.com, Comingsoon.net.

 

Netflix is watching you…

I panicked when I saw this.  Is Netflix revealing my viewing habits to the world?!

I am one of their subscribers that has in fact watched their new Christmas love story called, A Christmas Prince.

I sighed a big PHEW when I read the rest of the article. I was safe, I’d only watched it once.

So, I’m not one of the crazy viewers Netflix is concerned about. Right?

It’s normal to watch one holiday special after another, isn’t it? As long as I keep watching a different one every night?

::stares off into space dreaming of the Hallmark Channel::

 

The Hematophages – Stephen Kozeniewski

I entered a world these past few days that I have not entered before. My experience with science fiction/horror for years was a child’s memory of “Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal…” Enter center stage, a mini alien tearing open a guy’s stomach from Space Balls.

Yes, I honestly thought this was incredibly disturbing and horrific for years, until I actually saw the real thing. Once. And never again.

So, I was a bit shocked as I began reading this — not just because this is a genre I have worked very hard at pretending does not exist, but also because I felt I was reading something from a completely different author.

Absent was the usual sarcastic humor that twists and spans throughout the story from Kozeniewski. Instead, this was dark. Not dark funny. Just dark, with a hearty side of tentacle porn. It brought images of HR Giger’s artwork to mind.

So, considering this is a genre that gives me nightmares, I will concede that it is quality work. It is dark, disturbing and carnal. I have to say I feel oddly closer to the writer, for no other reason than perhaps there was something raw about this story that I feel exposes a vulnerability? A kink? Or reminds me of someone from my past? I don’t know, maybe all three, but this was an excellent, gruesome creation. And even though I was uncomfortable for the duration, and I am sure that it will haunt me for longer than I care to admit, I accept that it is well-written and a welcome addition to its genre.

If you are in the mood for something tantalizingly inky and skin cripplingly sinister then you found your story. You can pick up a copy on Amazon for $2.99 in Kindle format and $15.99 in paperback.

Synopsis: Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.

Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.

Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.

But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.

OWL Rating:

 

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Stephen Kozeniewski lives in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where, due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s is in German.

CONNECT WITH STEPHEN

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

 

*I received a free copy of each story in exchange for an honest review

Links – Lisa Becker

LinksCoverArtI am no stranger to Lisa Becker novels. She first came onto the chick-lit scene with Click, a fun love story told through email and text messages. It’s refreshing to read books in creative storytelling formats, and she has a flair for romance. She is also one the very first authors I reviewed for, so her books have a special place in my blogging heart. They’re usually witty and fast, quick reads. Links was no different.

Links follows Charlotte Windham, who was your typical geeky student under the radar of the popular, good looking jocks, in high school. As a teenager, she tutored Garrett and his twin brother. But it was cocky Garrett who she had a crush on, a crush she holds onto even 15 years later, well after college and her rise to success as a best-selling novelist (the writer’s dream, eh?)

When she runs into Garrett (hint, it’s called Links because he’s now a pro golfer), the sparks reignite, this time for Garrett as well. Charlotte’s friendship with Garrett’s sister, keeps them reconnected, and as you can imagine, the romance dance goes from there. But Charlotte, who is still holding onto insecurities left over from her school days, doesn’t trust Garrett’s past womanizing ways. And to find out more, you must read the book. But keep reading below for my analysis.

This book was fun. There were some errors throughout, but because it was an ARC edition, I will trust they were removed before publication. While I found the novel a bit formulaic, I honestly enjoyed the build-up of the romance between Charlotte and Garrett and stayed up way too late reading it. When you get a Lisa Becker novel you can always trust you’ll have a fun, romantic build up, a sassy best friend, and a good, entertaining time flying through it.

You can find it on Amazon in Kindle edition for $4.99 or in paperback for $10.99.

—Reviewed by Katrina, founder and sometimes book reviewer. (Sheilah does most of them.)

MY OWL RATING:

Surreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3dSurreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3dSurreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3dSurreal Owl Metallic on the Night 3d

SYNOPSIS

In high school, Charlotte Windham was a typical student going through an awkward phase — glasses and all. She harbored a crush on Garrett Stephens, the teen heartthrob everyone can’t help but fall for during that unfortunate ugly duckling phase of one’s teen years. Flash forward fifteen years later, and Charlotte and Garrett have a second chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant. However, this time around, Charlotte has leveled the playing field. She’s a bestselling novelist and no longer “Glasses,” the humiliating nickname Garrett called her in high school. In short, she’s a catch now and, thanks to corrective eye surgery, it’s not just her eyes that see better…so does her heart! Garrett hasn’t fared poorly either, transforming from teen heartbreaker to adult lothario. A now successful professional golfer, he’s recently suffered a major setback in the form of a possible career-ending injury. With the upper hand, can Charlotte forgive Garrett for his past ways, and for his more recent Don Juan lifestyle? Will she even want to? And, can Garrett change his ways for a second chance with Charlotte, who may just be the perfect fit for him?

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE BOOK
Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series w1486731as optioned for a major motion picture. Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites. As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a rush.” Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

 

 

 

Heartsridge Shifters: Austin (South-One Bears Book 1) – Olivia Arran

So…last night I didn’t feel like doing anything except lying on the couch and checking into a story. I have tons of books waiting to be read, but impulsively I clicked buy on this title. I have a bad thing for shapeshifters. And well, this was a book about hot shapeshifting men. It’s the inner beast thing, I think. You can guess at my mood last night.

I don’t read romance/erotica often, so I was not sure how to compare this story to others. It’s a simple read with much naughtiness. The buildup could have lasted longer and Arran’s use of sweetheart was a bit nauseating. But the naughty parts were executed well and overall I enjoyed the quick read that it was. It was an interesting set, with a shapeshifter community trying to co-exist among annoying and nosy humans.

I appreciated the age of the characters being in their 30’s. I could relate to that and the characters were likeable enough to allow me to cheer for their success.

If you are looking for a light and tantalizing read that might make you feel something down under, then I recommend this story. You can find it on Amazon for 99 cents in Kindle format or $9.99 in paperback.

Synopsis: It’s a new world. Shifters are no longer a secret and they’re ready to fight for their right to live free.

Everything is different.

Six years ago, the Registration Act forced shifters out into the open and the world changed. Towns were created to provide a safe haven for those shifters who chose to follow the law, and those who didn’t were declared rogue.

Heartsridge is one of the few shifter towns in existence, guarded and protected by special teams of bears and wolves. Their job: to protect the right for shifters to live and love, and for the space to run free as nature intended. Because not all humans found the truth easy to accept–that they’re no longer the dominant species. Tourism keeps the town thriving, humans able to visit and stay for a week, but then they have to leave.

It’s the law.

As the Alpha of Bear Team South-One, it’s Austin Ford’s job to secure the perimeter of the town from possible threats and make sure the visiting humans follow the rules. No exceptions, and that includes the beautiful, curvy human woman he finds trespassing in his forest. Defiant and frustratingly stubborn, everything about the gorgeous human calls to the bear inside him. Before he’s even had chance to snarl, she’s got the furry oaf of a bear wrapped around her little finger, leaving the man confused and trying to catch up. But he has his suspicions. He’s pretty sure he’s just met his fated mate.

Unlike the other tourists, Leona Kelly isn’t visiting Heartsridge to snag a shifter. She’s here to find her missing sister. A woman on a mission, she has no interest in shifters, no matter how devastatingly attractive they might be. Or he might be. Austin. The big, burly bear shifter who’d thrown her over his shoulder and hauled her out of the forest. He says he wants to help, but can she trust him? Then a shocking discovery changes everything. Leona no longer wants to leave, but she’s not allowed to stay. Austin is the only one she can turn to for help.

But why is he helping her? And what could he possibly want from a human who doesn’t belong in his world?

**This 53,000 word novel contains naughty language, fully realized love scenes, and big, burly bear shifters who only have eyes for their fated mates. HEA guaranteed.**

OWL Rating:

Deadman’s Tome Monsters Exist – A Collection of Short Stories

by Deadman, Theresa Braun, Wallace Boothill, S.J. Budd , Gary Buller, S.E. Casey, Calvin Demmer, Philip W. Kleaver, Sylvia Mann, William Marchese, John Palisano, Christopher Powers, Leo X. Robertson, M.R. Tapia

I never thought I would be a horror reader. Honestly, just not my usual jam. However, these days I find it appearing more and more in my inbox. That being said, sometimes I find myself actually enjoying the story. One can get extremely creative with horror. There are so many dark corners one can unearth that no one else has dared to put into words. As a result, I find that I am much more critical when evaluating the success of a horror story. I am looking for it to evoke strong emotions in me and to show the originality of the author.

In this collection there were only a few tales that stuck with me that I could remember days afterwards. The first, would be Never Sleep Again by the familiar Calvin Demmer. A mystical murder detective tale that really felt like an episode from the X-Files. I saw what I had been missing from Demmer in this story and was pleasantly surprised. I went back and checked who had written it and I was delighted to notice it was Demmer’s. I think this story really highlighted Demmer’s growth, since it was one of only four stories from this collection that really stood out to me.

The second story I enjoyed was Bitten, by Christopher Powers. Ever since Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark published that story about a spider laying eggs in the skin of someone, I find spider stories super creepy. So they stick with me long after I am done reading. It is actually the only story from this anthology that I have not forgotten any parts about. As a result, I feel the story did what it was intended to do — give me the heebie jeebies. This is amusing to me because I actually don’t mind most spiders in real life. I just don’t like them hanging over me in bed.

Legend Trippers by Theresa Braun also stuck out at me. I like stories about urban legends. It makes reality feel a bit more mysterious. Braun did a good job reinventing the tale.

Lastly, my most favorite tale from this anthology would be Eclipse at Wolf Creek, based on the West Virginia Mothman legend. I really felt connected to the characters and enjoyed the characterization of granny.

A horror novel is never complete unless murder ensues. All four of my favorites were full of death and dismemberment to tickle that little creepster inside you.

If you are interested in checking the stories out, you can find them on Amazon for $4.99 in Kindle format or $9.99 in paperback. I recommend them for a dark snack of fear or intrigue.

Synopsis: From the time we are young, we fear the monster under the bed or in the closet, making it impossible to sleep without a nightlight. Then, we hear stories of Bigfoot, and maybe even the Mothman around campfires. When we are adults, we wonder if there might actually be supernatural creatures lurking in the shadows. Are these tall tales and urban legends only metaphors for what horrific things humanity is capable of—or do monsters exist?

Go to some terrifying places with this cast of authors. You will be dragged into mystifying realities where demonic fairies hide, where devil monkeys lure carnival-goers to their demise, where Goatmen seek to destroy their prey, and where the goddess of death puts out a hit on victims of her choice. These shocking tales will have you biting your nails and locating that childhood nightlight. Because, in the end, we all know monsters do exist.

OWL Rating:   overall rating – though select stories deserve a 4 Owl Rating.

Links: Amazon Kindle, Amazon Paperback, Goodreads

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) – Felicia Day

I hesitate whenever people write memoirs. To me, it sometimes can hint at a bit of arrogance/self-importance. So my hand hovered and stalled not sure if I wanted to embark on this journey. Alas, my curiosity got the better of me and I checked it out of the library. It sat in my bag for weeks, unread and unloved. The pages started to curl and somehow a small stain began to grow on the side.

It was a book I had purchased for the library I work at. So, my guilt was limited regarding the wear the book was taking (while living in my dark and cold bag). I thought it would appeal to the young folks. Being a gamer myself, I knew the footprint Felicia had created for gamers and girls alike. I’ll admit that my desire to buy it, while filled with good intentions for other readers, also harbored a dash of personal interest on my part. What RPG gamer hadn’t seen The Guild by now?

So…months later, I finally unearthed it from my jam packed bag and cracked the spine (yes, I abuse books) at lunch one day…and didn’t want to stop reading. I had to pry my eyes from the page.

I felt a kinship with her story. While I was not home-schooled, the geek reflections and interests from her youth, were 100% me. I had lived a very similar internet lifestyle from the ages of 12-16. My internet days started with Prodigy, where I frequented role-playing chat rooms and had a string of (mostly male) companions. The modem dial tone was the soundtrack of my youth and to this day creates giddy excitement within me. Prodigy was my happy place that I wish still existed, it was here I connected with young and old geeks just like me!  We rolled virtual combative dice ::roll:: and quibbled witty remarks at one another while we shared drinks at various medieval styled virtual bars.

Then from 16+ video games became my obsession. Final Fantasy started the true love and then in college I can without hesitation admit I was addicted to World of Warcraft (WOW). It was completely normal for me to clock 12 hour gaming sessions with online friends and foes. My body would ache from sitting all day and I developed painful carpal tunnel that still plagues me today. I even sucked in family members to embrace the addiction.

To this day, I am still friends and have met many of those people I gamed with when my addiction was at its pique. Felicia’s addiction lasted 2 years, mine lasted more like 10. I still feel the draw every time an expansion is introduced. I have dipped my toes back in every time, but life just does not have enough hours in the day anymore.  Ultimately, I want to play more than just one game the rest of my life. So, I stick to single player RPG’s now more than anything else. They have a beginning and end. There are no real friends in the single world, but I know then I won’t feel the compulsion to make those connections that take up so much time I no longer have to give. I have control over my hours again. And I don’t have to deal with douche teenagers anymore, which is always a plus.

So back to the book because that is the purpose of the post. This is Felicia’s memoir, not mine. It was an excellent read. She writes like she talks. I felt Felicia in the pages. It was honest and hilarious. She comes across as a chatterbox, full of childlike excitement. Endearing and often hilarious, but at times exhausting to be around. I appreciate her role in helping to make gaming more acceptable in the mainstream world. And I appreciate her candor and honesty. This is a great read for those who are familiar with her work or for those who just want to connect with another like minded geek. She’s a lover who grew up when meeting anyone with similar interests was like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow. It was not always normal nor cool to be an internet/gaming geek. Telling people you were a fantasy obsessed individual was something you hid not shared in my universe. So much has changed since those basement playing Prodigy days, both good and bad. I still hesitate to reveal my geeky-ness to people, never knowing who will judge. But thanks to people like Felicia, I feel the judgement less frequently now. More and more, gaming and geeky-ness is becoming embraced by the world and it’s not such a scary place to have passions anymore (as long as you forget about the black stain of Gamergate).

If you are a gamer, a fantasy lover, a geek who was always looking to find a way to fit in, then Felicia will likely speak to you and you will feel a connection to her story. If you are the type of person geeks had to hide from, then I recommend this to help enlighten you. You can find the book on Amazon for $8.80 in paperback, $10.99 in hardcover, and for $11.99 in Kindle format.

Synopsis: From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world… or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons”, Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

OWL Rating:

Connect with Felicia

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

 

 

 

 

Q&A Session with Martin Berman-Gorvine

I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Berman-Gorvine, the author of Monsters of Venus, which is the sequel to Seven Against Mars. This tale is a mix of realism and science fiction for YA readers. I had previously read his stand alone novel Heroes of Earth, a tale of teens who battle the evil empire.

Martin is a seasoned writer, both professionally and personally. He writes intelligent science fiction that weaves in historical events. An interesting combination that is sure to intrigue many young readers.

ALL ABOUT MARTIN

Martin Berman-Gorvine is the author of six science fiction novels: Heroes of Earth (Wildside Press, 2015), Ziona (as Marty Armon, Amazon/CreateSpace, 2014), Save the Dragons! (Wildside Press, 2013), Seven Against Mars (Wildside Press, 2013), 36 (Livingston Press, 2012), and The Severed Wing (as Martin Gidron, Livingston Press, 2002), which received the 2002 Sidewise Award for Alternate History (Long Form) at the International Science Fiction Convention in Toronto in 2003.

His short stories include “Of Cats’ Whiskers and Klutzes,” which is appearing in the forthcoming anthology Brave New Girls, “Palestina,” which was published in Interzone magazine’s May/June 2006 issue, and was a finalist for the Sidewise Award (Short Form), and “The Tallis,” which appeared in Jewish Currents magazine, May 2002.

He is a professional journalist, currently serving as a reporter for the Bureau of National Affairs newsletter Human Resources Report.

His website is www.martinbermangorvine.com, his Facebook page is www.facebook.com/martingorvine, his musings on books, politics and life can be found at http://martianperspective.blogspot.com, and he tweets at @MeshuggeWriter. He lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. with his wife, a teenage son, three orange tabby cats, two shy kittens, and a sort of Muppet dog.

Q&A Session:

1. What was the inspiration for this story?

It started with a horrid bully of teacher I had in junior high school (as we called it back then, in the late Pleistocene). My father, God bless him, is also a teacher, and he has said to me many times he can’t understand why anyone would become a teacher just to be mean to kids. Well, that’s the answer right there–sadists like that enjoy it. And just in case you imagine that teachers like that went extinct when the ice sheets melted, the other day a friend with a daughter in third grade told us her teacher had informed the class that her purpose for the year was to make them cry. I hate bullies and sadists of all kinds and want to show them up for what they are.

2. Many of your stories tie back to the Holocaust. What draws you to always weave it into your novels?

One current cosmological theory is that there is an enormous black hole in the heart of every galaxy that holds it together with its incredible gravity. It’s true that the Holocaust seems to perform something like that function in my fiction. It’s difficult for me to articulate why. Although my family is Eastern European Jewish in origin, all of my great grandparents left the Czarist Russian Empire long before World War I, so I lost no close relatives in the Holocaust. I’ve been married twice, though, and both my wives lost great grandparents in the Holocaust. I was also deeply affected when I read Elie Wiesel’s autobiographical Auschwitz novel Night, when I was fourteen. To me, those events cast a pall over the world that is impossible to escape, and my reaction to what is now going on in America and Europe is that it is all shocking and appalling, yes, but after Auschwitz, nobody has any business being surprised at what mass man is capable of.

In Seven Against Mars, the predecessor novel to Monsters of Venus, the Martian Princess Anya and Rachel Zilber, my teenage Warsaw Ghetto escapee, are condemned to death and led through an enormous jeering mob in the Martian capital city. They cheat death, but that glimpse into the dark heart of humanity… Look, long before the Holocaust our deepest thinkers feared that terrifying potential in mass man. It’s the fundamental reason why the American constitutional framers put all those “checks and balances” in place. I refer you to the near-lynching scene in Huckleberry Finn and the scornful speech by Sherburn, the shotgun-wielding man who refuses to be a victim. (http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/21/the-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn/171/chapter-22/) We must always be vigilant.

3. Why science fiction and dark historical reality? Why that combination?

Science fiction has been haunted from its beginnings by what Kipling called “the gods of the copybook headings.” (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_copybook.htm) Think of the eerie prophecy of what aerial bombing would do to great cities, in H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds. And yet by a paradox that I’m hardly the first to notice, the bright, shiny space fantasy worlds have been overtaken by the tragic historical reality of what humans actually use our space-going technology for. The subject is almost unavoidable.

4. What kind of research did you do for this novel?

Basic planetary facts about Venus I looked up online. For the Aramaic that my “Malchussei” tribe of Venusians speak, I consulted with Naomi Jacobs, a friend I’ve had since college who is a scholar of the ancient Middle East.

5. Your stories seem to be written for a more intellectual reader. Given that your audience is meant to be younger, why did you make this choice?

The adult world grievously underestimates adolescents. I was talking to a teenage friend of my youngest son recently, and I told him that I like writing YA novels that pose real moral quandaries because I think teenagers are able to approach these issues with open minds, much more so than adults who have often stopped thinking about them. He told me that was the first time he had ever heard teenagers described as thoughtful. How sad is that?

6. What is one wacky/unique thing about you as a person/author?

I seem to get some of my best writing done in conditions that others would find very distracting. One favorite, for example, is using my iPad mini on the subway. Even better is screaming kids everywhere! It’s as though peace and quiet are disturbing to me.

7. If you lived in the world you created, who would Martin be? What role would you serve?

I hope I would be the wise sage, guiding the heroes with patience and love through their trials to make the world a better place. My cave in the mountains would be book-lined and climate-controlled, though.

8. What is one story you want to tell, but have yet to?

“The Double,” a series of books about doppelgängers who started life as the same people but then split when their worlds split and and now live parallel lives in parallel versions of Earth. They can physically cross over to the other version of Earth through secret tunnels, changing places with their doppelgänger. Lots of fun complications ensue!

9. What can we expect from you next?

The second book of my four-volume “Days of Ascension” horror novel series, Day of Vengeance, officially debuts November 13. It is already available as an ebook on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Day-Vengeance-Days-Ascension-Book-ebook/dp/B0756S656T/), and I’ve already sent the publisher the complete text of Book 3, Day of Atonement. These books are recommended for age 18 and up.

10. What is one piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger (writer) self?

When you write the first draft a novel, find a way to turn off the inner censor and just let your imagination flow. You’ll have plenty of time on subsequent drafts to cut, revise, and rewrite. Also, if you do research for a book, you don’t have to and in fact shouldn’t cram all the fruits of that research into the novel.

11. Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

 Katie, because she is a loyal friend and fiercely brave in fighting for the people she cares about. Also, she is smart and resourceful and self-educated, which in the final analysis is the only kind of education that really counts.

Monsters of Venus from the Wildside Press website: Life is never dull when you’ve created a new world or two! After restoring Princess Anya to her throne on Mars, Rachel, Katie, and Jack return to Venus to rescue Sonia, Katie’s adopted sister, from the clutches of Da Mayor. With the help of Jack’s brother and his friends, they also fight to free the inhabitants of the oppressed city. But Da Mayor can change the future and even erase Rachel from the world she created! Can Rachel and her friends survive long enough to overcome Da Mayor’s evil plot and save the lives of everyone on Venus? Or is the planet doomed to return to a scorching, sulfur-filled death-trap, killing all who live there? (http://wildsidepress.com/monsters-of-venus-by-martin-berman-gorvine-paperback/) Also, see my website at http://martinbermangorvine.com/literary/mov.html

Synopsis:

Trapped in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942, teenager Rachel Zilber escaped the horror by writing about the adventures of Princess Anya of Mars… and was transported into her own make-believe world, along with Katie, a girl from the future. No sooner did our heroines defeat the dastardly King Ares III of Mars and help the good princess ascend to the Sandstone Throne, an adventure recounted in Seven Against Mars, than they must face an even more dangerous enemy: Da Mayor of Venus “Beppo” Bellissini, a cruel tyrant who has kidnapped Katie’s sister Sonya! Can they save her and avert the insidious threat this sinister new villain poses to the fragile fabric of the reality they have created?

Those jerks from Venus were going to be good and sorry they’d kidnapped Sonya Goldberg-Webb. Sonya herself had told them so, several times an hour, for the past three weeks, ever since they’d grabbed her on the way home from school on Mars and stuffed her in this rocketship. That meant, by rough reckoning, and even allowing time off for sleeping and eating, she had told them so more than three thousand times. But far from getting tired of it, she was enjoying it more and more all the time.

She loved watching the face of the tall kidnapper, the one she called Fatso because he had a slight paunch, bunch up and freeze as if his jaw muscles were developing a cramp from being clamped down so hard and so often, while his nostrils flared out so wide they looked like garden hoses. She loved even more making the short kidnapper, the one she called Spazzo, jump about a mile by reminding him suddenly just how sorry he was going to be, right when he was least expecting it.

The Wild Ways (Gale Women #2) – Tanya Huff

One of my most favorite stories is Summon the Keeper (Keeper Chronicles #1) by Tanya Huff. It is the story that always brings me coming back to Huff.

Not all of her tales excite me, but when she delves into the magical world, she usually strikes right. The Wild Ways, is a continuation of her Gale Women series that deals strictly in magic.

I was happy to dip my toes back into this world and explore another story line that of Charlotte (Charlie) Gale, a musical wild child.

If you are looking for mythical creatures from dragons to selkies, this story will fit the bill.

It took me a couple chapters to feel engaged and connected to Charlie, but eventually her character began to unravel and I found myself growing to like her more as the story evolves. Charlie is a lesbian and I really enjoyed this character depiction choice. Her sexuality played a role in her character development and I felt enhanced her real personality.

Tanya knows how to tell a good story. She is a prolific writer and has written more stories and genres than I can remember over her long career. She is always worth picking up. If you are a dreamer then I think you will enjoy this blend of fantasy and reality. She makes you believe that goblins hide in everyday mines and dragons walk in human skins.

Take a chance on the wild side. You can find the book on Amazon in Kindle format for $7.99, hardcover for $12.99, paperback is only available in used condition, and $19.95 in audio.

Synopsis: Alysha Gale’s cousin Charlotte is a Wild Power, who allies herself with a family of Selkies in a fight against offshore oil drilling. The oil company has hired another of the Gale family’s Wild Powers, the fearsome Auntie Catherine, to steal the Selkies’ sealskins. To defeat her, Charlotte will have to learn what born to be Wild really means in the Gale family….

OWL Rating: