Read Across Durham Event Seeks Volunteers

Karlene Fyffe Phillips, Manager of Family Literacy and Community Services for Durham County Library, writes to ask for help recruiting volunteers for Read Across Durham, a city-wide event taking place in every 3rd grade classroom: “I need your help as we begin recruiting volunteers for our Read Across Durham event scheduled for March 2. Please share the link with as many folks as possible. We need volunteer readers for every third grade classroom. The details are included in the link.”

The details include: “Volunteers are needed on (Monday) March 2, 2015, 9:00-12:00 p.m. to read to third graders. We will meet at 9:00 a.m. at the DPS Staff Development Center for a mini training and presentation. The address is 2107 Hillandale Road, Durham, NC 27705. Breakfast snack items will be available from 9-9:30.”

Interested volunteers can click on “Sign Up” links at the event’s VolunteerSignup page: https://www.volunteersignup.org/PY9RC

Durham County Library


The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Winter Good Reads Part 1: Science Fiction and High Fantasy Titles

 

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Review of  The Fortress in Orion: Dead Enders Book One (Pyr, Dec 2, 2014) by Mike Resnick

It’s the first volume in his new space opera series set in his Birthright Universe. Cyborgs, aliens, convicts, or war heroes can all make interesting main characters. But what if you make them into an ensemble cast of a space adventure book? Resnick has taken these different character types and made them into a mostly non-military special ops team.

This is old-school space opera with the only military character leading a bunch of civilians. There is plenty of intrigue and some interesting characters that use brains and special skills to do their jobs, not just guns. Three members of the group are women: Snake, Pandora and Circe are all strong characters, but each of them shows strength in a different way. They have very distinct looks, personalities and skill sets. The other two team members are a male human and an alien who looks like a male human, but that is really a visual illusion; his appearance won’t fool electronics or cameras.

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The team has to go to a space station full of aliens to switch an alien military leader with a clone version trained to lead the aliens to peace with humanity. Nothing goes quite according to plan, of course, but we do get a battle and some very impressive fast-talking from the clone.

Your Humble Reviewers really enjoyed this book and greatly appreciated the believable relationships of the women with each other and with the male (or visually male) members of the team including the alien clone. We look forward to more volumes of Dead Enders tales.

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Originator: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel (Pyr, Jan 6, 2015) by Joel Shepherd

This is the sixth volume in his space adventure series. The series is military SF from the viewpoint of a synthetic human but is more about Cassandra’s growth and change as a character than about the big picture plot. The big picture impacts her quite a bit, so you see it, but it is really about how the events impact her life, not about the events themselves. The series has quite a great deal to say about what it means to be human and what makes humans want to be parents, even when they didn’t have parents themselves. It has enough action to satisfy space adventure and special ops fans, but is centered on characters and so should satisfy readers who want more character-driven stories. Read the rest of this entry »


The Exploding Spaceship visits MarsCon 2015

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Review of MarsCon (January 16-18, 2015), Williamsburg, Virginia, Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center

In the southeast US, MarsCon is one of the best-organized science fiction conventions that focuses on writers and writing, and in this, their 25th year, they had the logistics figured out well.

This year saw a bumper crop of good writers attending with David Weber, David B. Coe, Katherine Kurtz, Alethea Kontis, and Steve White all discussing their writing, signing books, and dispensing advice for other writers. With several Baen authors in attendance, they got a visit from the Baen Roadshow as well, so we got to see all the art of upcoming books.

The con hotel and several next to it were full. Parking was at a premium but they did have crew out to try and send you to where there were spaces. We opted to stay offsite and drive elsewhere for dinner and then didn’t return for evening events. The con space was large enough for the crowds but some of the auditorium style rooms with chairs and table were a bit small for some panels (like the Baen Roadshow). The dealer room had many book dealers and several game dealers as well as artists and crafts people. The tables were spaced well on two sides, but the space at the back between the row against the wall and the row opposite was too tight, if you got people looking at one table you blocked the way for people to get by or look at stuff on the opposite table. So it would be best to visit there on Friday before it gets crowded.

Buzz Lightyear in Mark I Space Ranger Powersuit

Steampunk Buzz Lightyear

There were some excellent costumes including those pictured. There were also many Honorverse uniformed fans from different ships, as can be expected when David Weber is at a convention. Your Humble Reviewers really enjoyed the round robin musical session on Sunday. Many conventions only have music at times when people are doing panels, having meals after the panel tracks end, or so late on Saturday that anyone needing to be up on Sunday morning has gone off to bed!

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Beast Boy from Teen Titans

This year most of the science fiction writers and scientists on panels were male and for next year the con chair wants to concentrate on women in STEM careers and women who write science fiction (many of the female guests were fantasy writers). Robot battles with all female teams were also mentioned as a possibility for next year. The female half of the review team has already volunteered for panels and robots for next year. We want next year’s female-focused events to be excellent so the males can’t complain, so all you female science people from the RTP area, volunteer! It’s really only a short drive away and will be fun. This con definitely had an oversupply of males of all ages, so women writers and scientists should volunteer for next year, and bring your younger female friends and relatives with you! Visit www.marscon.net and send email to guests@marscon.net .

 


The Hardest Part: Darin Kennedy on The Mussorgsky Riddle

Charlotte “doctor by day, novelist by night” Darin Kennedy‘s debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is squarely right up my alley. “The Great Gate of Kiev” (part of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) is one of my favorite pieces of Russian symphony, and Kennedy turns the mythopoeity up to “11” combining music, paranormal mystery, and classical mythology in a heady, panpsychic mix. All set in Charlotte — and the infinite mindscapes therein. Here, Kennedy writes about the hard part of discovering the first person present tense voice of psychic Mira Tejedor, as she struggles to unravel the riddle of 13-year-old Anthony Faircloth’s catatonia. In person, in addition to appearances at MystiCon, ConCarolinas, and ConGregate on the regional convention circuit, Kennedy will take part in the Bookmarks Movable Feast – Winston-Salem, NC on Sunday, January 25 from 3 pm to 5 pm.

By Darin Kennedy:

Tom Petty said “The waiting is the hardest part,” and I have to agree with him. The writing process does seem to be fraught with lots of hurry up and wait. Read the rest of this entry »


“Friday” Quick Updates, Thursday Morning Edition: new Piedmont Laureate James Maxey this afternoon, Stephen Hren tonight, MWWA nominations open, and other news and events

Thursday, January 22, 2015: Two events today of interest and some big news to pass along merit a early edition of Friday Quick Updates this week.

First, at 3:30 pm, Chapel Hill Public Library hosts a Meet the Author Tea with newly announced Piedmont Laureate for Speculative Fiction, James Maxey. I’m looking forward to what Maxey does with this fantastic platform this year, as he’ll be tapped for a series of blog posts and appearances throughout the region, throughout the year. (Speaking of Maxey, he has also just unveiled new print and ebook editions of his Dragon Apocalypse series.)

Second, this evening at 7 pm, The Regulator Bookshop hosts Durham author Stephen Hren for a reading from his latest novel, Max’s Hungry Ghost. It’s a recommended Indy Pick and I’m looking forward to a lively talk, as Hren attempts to explain how his non-fiction work (Tales from the Sustainable Underground) intertwines with his speculative fiction. Read the rest of this entry »


The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Our Favorite Anthologies of 2014

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First we have two short story collection volumes by authors we know, Lee Martindale and David Drake. Lee’s volume crosses all genres and David’s is mostly time travel to hunt dinosaurs.

We enjoyed all the stories in Bard’s Road: The Collected Fiction of Lee Martindale (June 1, 2014, HarpHaven), even re-reading those we had read in their original publication.  We bring you highlights of the volume, as its 29-story length makes it impractical to discuss all of them.

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Our favorite has to be “Combat Shopping”, the title of which has now become our code phrase for a frustrating shopping mall trip, particularly during the holiday season. Lee does humorous pieces extremely well and we particularly like her contributions to Esther Friesner’s anthologies. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, December 2014: new books from Ben Elton, Russell Brand, Neil Gaiman, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Brian Baker

From the Other Side, December 2014

By Paul Kincaid

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]

It’s the time of year when publishers (like the rest of us) tend to concentrate on parties, on closing early for the holidays, and on hoping that books published earlier in the year keep providing an income now. So I have, inevitably, less that’s new to talk about this time around.

Christmas is, of course, the time for celebrity books. And science fiction is not, alas, immune from the disease. This year, for example, we have Ben Elton, stand-up comedian and one of the writers of Blackadder, with a time travel novel, Time and Time Again (Bantam). Elton is no stranger to writing novels, this is his 15th, and one or two have played with genre ideas before. In this one, alas, the familiar title leads us into a very familiar plot: someone travels back in time to prevent the First World War by assassinating the Kaiser. It’s mostly a sightseeing tour of Europe immediately before the war, with a distinctly shop-soiled plot tacked on.

Time and Time Again The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales, #1) The Sleeper and the Spindle

Read the rest of this entry »


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