Thar Be Dragons in Them Stars!! Arrr!

It’s been almost a year since my novel Dragons in the Stars was available as a standalone book. Well, it’s back, all reformatted and with a brand-new cover! The artist, Magdalena Almero Nocea, is a European artist. This is the first time I’ve worked with her, and I’m quite pleased with the result. (She’s hard at work right now on a new cover for the sequel, Dragon Rigger.)

This book was something of a departure from the hard SF I had been writing, even from the other Star Rigger novels, which were a little more rubbery than, say, The Infinity Link. For one thing, it had dragons. In space. Dragons that felt very much like fantasy dragons. Except that they appeared in the Flux of hyperspace, and liked to duel with unsuspecting star pilots who ventured too close. (The first mention of them was in Star Rigger’s Way, in an offhand comment in a spaceport bar. They appeared for real in a short story, “Though All the Mountains Lie Between.” And that story became the basis of this novel.)

I was deliberately blending the genres of SF and fantasy, and that presented both writing challenges and marketing challenges. My editor was all for it, but my agent was a little skeptical. They were both right. The final book was one I liked a lot, and would have wanted to read, if I hadn’t written it myself. But marketing it, and especially the sequel, which ventured even further into mythic fantasy territory, was a tougher sell than my other work.

But that was then, and this is now. You don’t have to pay attention to any of that. It’s a story I’m glad to have told, and whether you already own it or are just hearing of it for the first time, I hope it’s one you enjoy.

(By the way, it’s also in ebook as part of Dragon Space: A Star Rigger Omnibus*. If you own that, you don’t need this. Unless you prefer individual books, or just really like that cover.)

*To folks who’ve recently bought Dragon Space: Some typographical issues with the recently revamped edition have come to light. I expect to have a corrected version up by sometime next week.

Another Ebook You Should Read

If you like to laugh, that is. My friend Craig Shaw Gardner recently reissued his Cineverse Cycle in ebook form, and it’s probably my favorite of his funny trilogies. (His humorous fantasy is often compared to that of Terry Pratchett.)

The series starts with Slaves of the Volcano Gods. But honestly, the best title of the bunch (and really, one of the best titles in all of literature) is the third book, Revenge of the Fluffy Bunnies. Slaves is where you start, though, with Roger’s life changing forever with his discovery of the secret decoder ring that unlocks the parallel universes of B-movies! And pits his destiny against that of the grand Plotmaster!

Totally silly, totally fun.

Where All the Ladders Start

If you like private eye novels, and if you like near-future civilization-grinding-down novels, and if you like great characters and witty dialogue and sharp writing, why don’t you check out my friend Richard Bowker’s new book, Where All the Ladders Start. Because it has all that, and more.

I got to read this one in manuscript—actually, in several different drafts—and it’s really good. I understand it’s available now in both ebook and paper. Check it out!

Panglor Is Alive! (Again)

Panglor was my third novel, one I really enjoyed writing, and one that people seem to like a lot now, although in its original paperback publication from Dell it sank like a stone. Maybe tastes change, or maybe the original release was hampered by a pretty awful cover and the fact that Dell was already thinking about getting out of the SF business at the time. Or maybe it just took people a while to recognize my genius. Yeah, that must be it. And it got even geniuser, I’m sure, when I gave it a good, solid edit for its 1996 reissue from Tor.

In any case, it has a bunch of 5-star reviews from readers on Amazon. I like this one: “Truly GREAT!!” posted by “A Customer.” And this: “I hate Sci-Fi, but I love Carver’s novels!” When it was out in its E-reads edition, it was consistently my best-selling book among the E-reads Nine.

All of this is to say that it’s available once again, this time from Starstream Publications, which is to say, from me. As of today, it’s live at Kindle, Kobo, and Smashwords, and should turn up alive again soon at Nook and iTunes. It’ll launch at Book View Café on October 7. [Edit: It’s up in Nook and iTunes now!]

Here’s the new cover, designed for me by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff:

And here’s what the book’s all about:

Wrongly discredited as a space pilot, Panglor Balef is doomed to die in space, if sheer luck doesn’t bring him through. But luck has never been in Panglor’s cards. Bad enough to be coerced into a mission of murder and suicide, he must also contend with Alo—a young woman, stowaway, and impossible companion. Neither of them, nor his empathic ou-ralot, could possibly anticipate the journey through space-time they are about to embark on, through a door to an insane reality from which there is almost certainly no return. It could be the discovery of the millennium, but the only way home is to journey even further into the heart of madness.

The stunning prequel to the famed Star Rigger Universe of Jeffrey A. Carver, Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End and The Chaos Chronicles, yada-yada.

At a low, low, introductory price of $3.99 for this unparalled assemblage of shiny new binary digits!

Good News! Young People Read!

Some of us in the book biz worry too much. For a while now, there’s been gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the supposed graying of our audience—in particular, the perception that fewer young people are picking up science fiction books, and leaving it to the aging generation to appreciate the mind-blowing concepts spun out in our novels.

Actually, that could still be true. While SF is extremely popular in the media, and youths flock like bats to Comicon and the like, SF in book form doesn’t seem to hold the market that it once did. (Always excepting outliers like The Hunger Games.) But—much as I hate to admit it—science fiction isn’t the only kind of book that matters. So, with that in mind, take heart from this story in the Washington Post, regarding a recent study by the Pew Research people: “Millennials were more likely to have read a book last year than older Americans.”

Let’s repeat that, in case you missed it the first time: “Millennials were more likely to have read a book last year than older Americans.”

Not only that, “62 percent of the under-30 set believes there’s a lot of useful, important information that is not on the Internet.” Which is 9% more than the number of older Americans who said that.

Go, Millennials!

Bookbub Promotion on The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1–3!

Starting today, and for one week, The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1–3 (an ebook omnibus edition) will be steeply discounted, down to $1.99! That’s for three complete books—and would be a great price for just one book! Here’s another exclamation mark, for good measure! This is my second promotion through Bookbub, and I’m hoping it does as well as the first.

These three novels are enough to get you well into the Chaos story, starting with Neptune Crossing, and continuing with Strange Attractors and The Infinite Sea. I hate blowing my own horn, so can I let some others do it for me? Here are some honest-to-God quotes from other people:

  • Neptune Crossing – Called one of the best SF novels of the year by Science Fiction Chronicle 
  • Strange Attractors – “An irresistibly readable story line reinforced by fascinating speculative science.” —Booklist 
  • The Infinite Sea – “Another splendid adventure, with intriguing puzzles, first-rate problem-solving, and an impressive array of alien characters, motives, and methods.” —Kirkus Reviews

The Chaos Chronicles — click to biggify

It’s available at Nook, Amazon, Smashwords, and iTunes. It’s now also marked down at Book View Café. And at Kobobooks.

If you haven’t already added this set to your ebook collection, what are you waiting for?

Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

posted in: books, writing 0

Are you hoping to write, but don’t know quite how to get started? Meant to do NaNoWriMo, but the month was gone before you could decide what to write about? Need a little encouragement, or maybe a kick in the butt? Here’s a book that might help. It’s called Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, and is edited by Laurie Lamson.

The reason I know about it is that a copy landed in my mailbox a week or two ago. And the reason that happened is that I contributed a piece to the book and then more or less forgot about it. Well, I’m glad my contributor’s copy came along to jog my memory, because it’s a fascinating book. It’s a collection of exercises that various writers and teachers have found helpful, along with little essays about the exercises, and pointers that might help you along the way. That might sound boring, but it isn’t—not at all. I found myself thumbing through it, and wishing I had a few hours to spend right then and there reading it.

There are about fifty or sixty writers represented, including big names like Harlan Ellison and Piers Anthony, and plenty of seriously notable writers whose names are not as widely known. A few of my fellow Book View Café members are in there (Vonda N. McIntyre, Lois Gresh). One of the alums of my own workshop is in there (Chris Howard). The general topics include Story Development and Plotting; Building Worlds; Heroes, Villains, and Monsters; Communication and Relationships; and much more. I will definitely be using this book as a resource the next time I run a workshop.

If writing is in your bucket list, you might want to check it out. It’s available in both paper and electrons:

and doubtless in many of your local bookstores.

A New Look for Neptune Crossing—and First in a Series at Itunes!

A lot’s been going on since I last wrote. One exciting thing is that I’ve put a new cover on Neptune Crossing, which will join my list at Book View Café next Tuesday. It’s still free everywhere, both as a thank-you to my readers and as a way for new readers to discover my work.

In addition, Neptune Crossing has been selected as part of an iBooks promotion called “Free First in a Series at iTunes.” This is via my Smashwords edition which distributes to the Apple store, so a big thanks to Mark Coker of Smashwords for that. To see all the books being promoted as free first books in a series, go to the iTunes store, click on Books, and browse the front-page banner until you come to it.

Here’s the new cover, designed for me by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, fellow BVC author. In her spare time, she’s now working on a new cover for Strange Attractors.

Neptune Crossing cover

I have to get back to doing my taxes now, but look for another book-related announcement in a few days.

The Untangling of Plot Threads

posted in: books, my books, writing 0

In his latest blog post, Richard Bowker describes how a serene evening beside the fire with the writing group leads to unexpected plot complications. It’s all true; I was there. In fact, I might have been the person whose little comment led to the problem. (Oops.)

The same thing happens to me all the time. In my previous post, I showed you what the manuscript of my new first draft looks like. Picture about a third of the way into that stack of pages. That’s where an important plot event happens. Will have happened, after I rewrite it. The problem is, I was about three quarters of the way through the book before I realized that little detail. (Oops.) That’s going to change a few things, isn’t it?

Yah. Sorry ’bout that (I say to myself). Sometimes I think it’s a wonder these books ever get finished.

Audiobooks I Liked Last Year

In keeping with my tradition of never getting this stuff up at the same time everyone else is doing it, here’s my belated list of books I enjoyed listening to last year—mostly while walking the dog. Jeez, I must spend a lot of my life walking the dog!

  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    I refused to see the movies when it first came out, because I didn’t want to watch kids killing kids. By the time the second movie arrived, I’d heard so much about how great the story was that I watched the first on Netflix—and to my surprise, really liked it. So I listened to audiobook and really liked that, too. 
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller, Jr.
    This is an SF classic that I read decades ago, one of the great post-nuclear-war novels, set mostly in a monastery somewhere in the American Southwest. I gave it a listen on audio, and found it held up very well—perhaps a little long in places, but with more humor than I remembered.  
  • The Gunslinger, by Stephen King
    Years ago, I bought a print of the Michael Whelan painting that was the original book cover (I think) for this book. But I’d never read the book until I decided to give it a try via audiobook. Excellent narration, and a story that did not initially grab me, but had me hooked by the end. 
  • The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, by Herman Wouk
    I don’t know what made me decide to try these very long novels about a Navy family in the lead-up to World War II in the first book, and through the war in the second. Maybe it just seemed like a good deal—a whole lot of hours of listening, for the same price as any other book. Anyway, I was thoroughly engrossed. There were places where it got slow, but overall, I was quite satisfied and moved by the story. 
  • Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
    This is another book I decided to try after enjoying the movie. In this case, the book is quite different from the film, and much more complex in its plot. I liked both, but in different ways. I want to try more by this author, but haven’t decided which to listen to next. 
  • The Mote in God’s Eye, by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven
    Another SF classic, which I’d read years ago on paper. It was a good listen. What surprised me most was how much of it I misremembered. There were scenes I recalled with great clarity from my first reading. The thing is, they either weren’t in the book at all, or were very different. Memory is a tricksy critter. 
  • The Dog Who Knew Too Much, by Spencer Quinn
    This is a private eye novel narrated by the P.I.’s dog Chet. The story is good. The dog viewpoint on it all is great. The author really knows how to get into the dog’s way of seeing things. Very funny. There are more Bernie and Chet mysteries, and I’ve got them in my wishlist for the future. 
  • Failure is Not an Option, by Gene Kranz
    This is for space aficionados only, but if you’re a fan of the space program, you’ll enjoy the inside look at what the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo days were like for the mission control teams at NASA. It presumes you already know the excitement and doesn’t even try to recapture the thrills. But it does make you feel like you were there, trying to work your way through the life-and-death decisions.  

This one I read as an ebook, but I’m listing it because I really liked it:

  • The Red: First Light, by Linda Nagata
    The story of an augmented soldier, this takes us into the world of the near future, where small wars are basically the bread and butter of defense contractors (more so than they are already, I mean). Artificial intelligence has become a necessary adjunct to the working soldier. But exactly where are the AI’s leading? Well thought out, and well told, by a Nebula-winning author. The first of a series. 

Some of these I bought, and some I downloaded from the public library. The options for us as readers just keep growing!

Edit: I forgot to mention the Jack Reacher books, by Lee Child, narrated by Dick Hill. I can’t remember exactly which ones I listened to last year, but most of them are good. Exceptions: A Wanted Man, which was way below par, and One Shot, the basis for the Jack Reacher movie, which I also found below par. Pick another, any other.

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