Strange Matters by Tom Siegfried was a great read. I only have a basic understanding of theoretical physics, so some of it was over my head. ButStrange Matters by Tom Siegfried was a great read. I only have a basic understanding of theoretical physics, so some of it was over my head. But Siegfried did a good job of making it as understandable as possible. And his analogies and wit made it fun.
This non-fiction book outlines what is currently known about physics and cosmology, then dives into what is theorized. And what is theorized is truly bizarre. This exploratory journey takes us into the elusive dark matter and dark energy, superstrings, multiple dimensions, the geometry of space, and so much more.
Whether you're looking to learn more about theoretical physics or are interested in igniting your sci-fi writing creativity (like me), then Strange Matters is an inspiring read....more
GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon was a great help to me in writing my novel. GMC was clear and concise and had great examples. It’sGMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon was a great help to me in writing my novel. GMC was clear and concise and had great examples. It’s the perfect learning tool and resource for any aspiring writer.
I actually started reading this book a year or so ago. Her first two chapters alone gave me five pages of useful handwritten notes. I got so excited after reading them that I stopped to implement what I learned in the novel I was writing.
I continued to read GMC as I continued to write, and it totally changed my story for the better. I went from a wishy-washy commander of a starship who floundered because of a near-career-ending incident to one that was more driven to overcome his near-failure so that he wouldn’t have to return home to a mundane life and to a critical father who had other career plans for him.
The points that most helped me realize I needed to fix my story all revolve around defining character goals, motivations, and the conflicts they will encounter that try to keep them from their goals. A quote from the book says, “Goals should be important enough for the character to act against his own best interest and to endure hardship if necessary. “Important enough” means that there will be unpleasant consequences if the goal is not achieved.” Paraphrasing, it also says that a sense of urgency must be set right away, and that you must push your characters to the wall and force them to take action.
Knowing about goals, motivations, and conflict (GMC) isn’t always enough. Dixon helps by giving examples of the GMCs in well-known movies. She has also designed a wonderful GMC chart that can be used to organize the GMCs of all your primary characters and for each of your scenes.
My only dislike of this book was there were a couple of chapters I felt were superfluous. One was specifically titled “This and That”. Though this chapter may be helpful to others, it was not related to the overall topic of the book. I’m not sure if Dixon added it because she thought it would be helpful or if she felt she needed to add more content to her book.
If you’re a writer and are wondering what you need in order to give your book some umph, read through GMC and take notes. Then put this book on your shelf for later reference. ...more
What if whenever you went to sleep, you woke up to a whole different life in another world? And not just any world, a very different and almostWhat if whenever you went to sleep, you woke up to a whole different life in another world? And not just any world, a very different and almost magical world. But if this really happens, your two lives don’t remember your other self. All that remains are fleeting images. That’s the idea behind Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland.
Chris Redston doesn’t always remember his dreams, but he knows they are dark enough that he wants them to stop. But one day, he wakes in the dream world and remembers his other life. In a desperate attempt to get back to what he believes is his real life, he makes a tragic mistake that threatens to topple the so-called dream world.
Once he realizes the dream world is real too, he works hard to make up for his mistake. It’s not an easy task. Not only does he not know how he’s supposed to make things right, he also doesn’t have anyone who believes in him. He has help, but even his helpers don’t believe in him.
Every time Chris goes to sleep, he wakes up in the other world. He goes back and forth throughout the story. And the bad guy makes trouble for him in both worlds. In the dream world, the bad guy amasses an army and threatens war. In the real world, he has hired hitmen to kill Chris so that he can no longer travel both worlds in the magical way that only he can.
This is an action-packed story that kept me on the edge. The entire plot was well written. Most of the story flowed well. And the climax was out-of-this-world intense. I was never sure if the hero would find a way out of the mess he created. But he did, and it was awesome-with-a-twist.
I loved almost all the characters. The heroes, heroine, and the villains were all well-written and believable. They were three-dimensional people with strengths as well as flaws. I felt what they felt and I sympathized with their plight.
I also loved the setting of the dream world. It had castles, fantastical creatures, nobility, and sword fighting, but it also had a touch of modernism. Imagine a fantasy world with skycars and phaser-type weapons and you have Chris’s dream world.
There are three somewhat minor things I didn’t care for, though. I was confused about the rules for how Chris moved from the real world to the dream world and back. Supposedly if he is touching something in one world while holding a magical stone, that something moves with him to the other world. At one point, it was an entire couch that he was sitting on. Well, if the couch can move with him, why not his bed the next time? Or even the floorboards that he’s standing on? Sometimes his clothes moved with him and sometimes they didn’t. Maybe Weiland explained how the magic worked, but I just wasn’t following.
While most of the characters were well-written, the two hitmen who tried to kill Chris in the real world were not. They had to be the most incompetent hitmen ever. The first blaring mistake they made was in not killing Chris at the very first opportunity. It should have been obvious that Chris had done what the bad buy wanted him to. The hitman should have killed Chris while he slept, but he didn’t. To make the hitman’s incompetence worse, he wasn’t even around when Chris woke back up in the real world, making it super-easy for Chris to escape. The hitmen weren’t even able to kill someone who was practically helpless in the hospital. Just when I thought the role of the hitmen was pointless, they surprised me in the end with an amazing ability to find Chris in a place they shouldn’t have been able to find him.
And finally, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the ending. And that’s because the hero got a happy ending, but the heroine didn’t. Why should he get a happy ending and not her? I saw hints of a sequel to Dreamlander on Weiland’s blog, but I couldn’t find it.
The things I liked about Dreamlander far outweigh the things I didn't like. Dreamlander is definitely worth the read. Weiland is a great writer with a spellbinding imagination. When I dream, this is the world I want to go to....more
When a friend told me how good Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was, I wasn’t sure I believed them. A story about an old man fighting just didn’t captureWhen a friend told me how good Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was, I wasn’t sure I believed them. A story about an old man fighting just didn’t capture my interest. But I took a leap of faith for two reasons. One, my friend has good taste. Two, the novel is labeled as a sci-fi and anything can happen in a sci-fi.
And it did. I was not disappointed. Much of the first half of the book is about an old man, John Perry, who decides to enlist in a galactic war even though he has no idea what he’s getting himself into. It’s compelling because it’s a mystery as to why him and other old people like him are being recruited. And it’s an even further mystery as to why old people would want to enlist.
Just when I thought I had the mystery figured out, something else happened. I practically slapped my forehead and yelled duh! when it was revealed. I should have known, but Scalzi is great at misdirection.
After the reveal, the story picks up into a lot of gruesome action. If you love action, don’t be put off by the story’s initial slowness. It’s all worth it. Trust me. The range of hostile aliens that he fights are interesting and diverse. Most stories have one or two antagonists, but the variety of antagonists here are broad—and that’s okay.
If there’s one thing about this book I had a hard time swallowing, it was how Perry came to be a part of a special forces team. Scalzi tried to set it up by having Perry use tactics that no one else thought of and survive a hostile attack when no one else survived, but it wasn’t enough for me. However, this is just my opinion. And I didn’t feel it ruined the story. I was engrossed in every moment.
The book was so good, I immediately purchased the second one in the series. If you enjoy sci-fi and you want to enlist in a galactic war full of gruesome aliens, then Old Man’s War is for you. Seriously, you won’t be disappointed. ...more