The Genesis of the Idea by Vyvyan Evans – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a randomly drawn winner a copy of the audiobook. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Genesis of the Idea

The Babel Apocalypse imagines a future in which we stream language directly to neural implants in our heads. Today, we stream anything from movies, to books, to music, to our ‘smart’ devices, and consume that content. Smart devices use streaming signals—data encoded in IP data packets—encoded and distributed via wi-fi internet.

Given my background as a professor of linguistics, a “what if” question occurred to me: What if we also streamed language? And what would the consequences be for us as human beings, if we no longer had to learn it? What would we gain, and more importantly, what would we lose, if language became a commodity, controlled by big tech? Clearly, with recent developments in AI and Chatbots, this is no longer far-fetched.

Language streaming would work, in principle, in the same way as streaming wi-fi devices today. With a ‘language chip’ implanted in our brains, in the not-so-distant future we will be able to ‘stream’ language from internet-in-space on demand, 24/7.

Moreover, based on an individual’s level of subscription to a language streaming provider, they would be able to stream any language they chose, with any level of lexical complexity. This means that someone could, potentially, apply for a job in any country in the world, without needing to be concerned about knowing the local language. Rather, the individual would just draw upon the words and grammar they need, to function in the language, by syncing to a language database, stored on a server in space. And call it up, over the internet, in real time, as they think and talk. It means that everything someone needs to know, to be able to use a language, is streamed over the internet, rather than being stored in someone’s head. Language learning, thus, becomes obsolete.

Science fiction has a long and illustrious habit of predicting the future. In 1940, with his first in the Robot series of stories, Isaac Asimov predicted some of the ethical issues that would arise as artificial intelligence comes to have a more pervasive influence in our daily lives.

Today in the twentieth first century, we are on the brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, sometimes dubbed 4IR. This is where automation and connectivity, via the internet, will dramatically alter the way in which we interact with each other, as well as everything around us, in our increasingly joined-up technological environment. And I predict, in less than one hundred years from now, this new technology will transform many aspects of our daily lives that we currently take for granted, including language itself.

Indeed, in 2015, many of the world’s leading scientists, warned, in an Open Letter and accompanying report, against the new dangers of AI, as a consequence of 4IR. This Open Letter was issued in response to new breakthroughs in AI that, without adequate control, might pose short and long-term existential threats to humans.

But potential dangers come not just from the use of AI, in the sense of, for instance, The Terminator series of movies, in which AI seeks to wage war and destroy the human race. New implantable devices, that will enhance how we as humans can interact with our new tech-landscape, will also give rise to potential dangers. Language is, arguably, the single trait that is the hallmark of what it is to be human. And yet, in the near-future, language-chipped humans, or ‘transhumans’, will have enhanced abilities that bring new opportunities, as well as ethical challenges and even threats.

Language is no longer learned, but streamed to neural implants regulated by lang-laws. Those who can’t afford monthly language streaming services are feral, living on the fringes of society. Big tech corporations control language, the world’s most valuable commodity.

But when a massive cyberattack causes a global language outage, catastrophe looms.

Europol detective Emyr Morgan is assigned to the case. Suspect number one is Professor Ebba Black, the last native speaker of language in the automated world, and leader of the Babel cyberterrorist organization. But Emyr soon learns that in a world of corporate power, where those who control language control everything, all is not as it seems. After all, if the mysterious Ebba Black is to blame, why is the Russian Federation being framed for an outage it claims no responsibility for? And why is Ebba now a target for assassination?

As he and Ebba collide, Emyr faces an existential dilemma between loyalty and betrayal, when everything he once believed in is called into question. To prevent the imminent collapse of civilization and a deadly war between the great federations, he must figure out friend from foe—his life depends on it.

And with the odds stacked against him, he must find a way to stop the Babel Apocalypse.

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It wasn’t her cold beauty that marked out Ebba Black as unique—her chilling looks, as she called them—although her looks invariably made an impression on all who met her. Rather, it was the fact that she was the last nate in the automated world. That made her famous. Undoubtedly she was celebrated for other things too—Ebba Black the Babelist, the heiress, the conspiracy theorist, the charismatic professor. Maybe even the oddity. After all, Ebba was the last speaker of languages that would die with her. With Elias’s passing five years prior, she had no one left to speak them with. And Ebba Black would not marry. Commitment of that sort wasn’t her thing, and she would certainly never have children. You could say she wasn’t the maternal type.

Ebba knew she was unique in other, ineffable ways, too. For one, she listed things to herself, silently, in her head. Reasons to know me. Reasons not to know me. Reasons to hate me, to admire me. But not reasons to love me. Never that. That was forbidden. Ebba never allowed anyone to get that close.

Sometimes Ebba even indulged in one of her trademark waspish grins. To no one in particular, while she mentally scrolled through one list: reasons to kill. The list with the names. Her list of lists. The grin was the only outward sign she was performing a mental stock-take. It wasn’t good to be on that particular list. Ebba Black was neither the forgiving nor the tolerant type.

About the Author Dr. Vyvyan Evans is a native of Chester, England. He holds a PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and is a Professor of Linguistics. He has published numerous acclaimed popular science and technical books on language and linguistics. His popular science essays and articles have appeared in numerous venues including ‘The Guardian’, ‘Psychology Today’, ‘New York Post’, ‘New Scientist’, ‘Newsweek’ and ‘The New Republic’. His award-winning writing focuses, in one way or another, on the nature of language and mind, the impact of technology on language, and the future of communication. His science fiction work explores the status of language and digital communication technology as potential weapons of mass destruction.

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If I’d never heard of me, would I read my book? by Brian H. Roberts – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Brian H. Roberts will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If I’d never heard of me, would I read my book?

Young Me: I see you’re reading Red Planet Lancers by Brian H. Roberts. How do you like it?

Old(er) Me: I like it a lot.

Young Me: What’s the premise?

Old(er) Me: It’s about a future conflict between the US and China. China has a monopoly on rare earth elements. They choked off the supply making it expensive for the US to manufacture anything high tech. An American company, EPSILON, has established a commercial base on Mars to mine rare earth elements, bypassing China’s stranglehold. Complicating things, a Chinese general seized power, declaring himself emperor. He wants to control the Moon and Mars, reestablishing China’s monopoly at America’s expense.

Young Me: Sounds like a plausible scenario. China controls like 85% of rare earth element mines and processing today. The two countries don’t trust each other. An open conflict in the near-future seems possible. So, do the good guys win?

Old(er) Me: I’m only halfway through. But the company has obtained surplus laser-armed flying rovers nicknamed Water Bugs. They created a private militia force to intercept the Mars-bound Chinese flotilla, and tapped the leader of the first mission to Mars as commander. Meanwhile, the civilian Mars colony is preparing to defend itself against the same Colonel who just booted the Americans off the Moon.

Young Me: I’m sold. Where do I get it?

Old(er) Me: Exclusively on But you’d better hurry. The release price of $2.99 is only good through March 15th. List price is $4.99.

Young Me: That’s the ebook, right? I prefer paperbacks. Does it come in that format?

Old(er) Me: It does, for $16.99.

Young Me: I’m on it. Thanks for the tip!

Old(er) Me: You’re welcome. Happy reading.

How far will you go to save a friend?

After sweeping Dallas Gordon and the American base from Earth’s moon, Emperor Zhang Aiguo launches an armada to conquer Ep City and control Mars.

Ruthless Colonel Song Dajing leads his Emperor’s flotilla to defeat EPSILON’s isolated Mars colony. He brings the same armaments he used to defeat Dallas Gordon on the moon, plus a high yield missile to annihilate Ep City and its occupants. The US Space Force, occupied with plans to take back the moon, refuses to intervene.
In a race against time, Dallas Gordon must organize a mercenary squadron and pursue Song before he can deploy his weapons on the defenseless colony. Ep City commander Genady Antonov must prepare his civilian workforce for the coming invasion and plan for the unthinkable should Gordon fail to reach Mars before Song does.

Taught and fast-paced, Red Planet Lancers builds tension until the exciting climax. Once you start this Earth-to-Mars rocket ride, you won’t want to stop. Order your copy today!

Enjoy an Excerpt

Steve sat back in his chair and folded his hands together. “I’m sure if some stranger asked you why it’s important to stop Zhang Aiguo from kicking us off Mars, you could tick off several good reasons:” he tapped his fingers with the index finger of his opposite hand, “the oxides returned to us are the lifeblood of our autonomous vehicle division—frankly of the entire western world’s microchip manufacturing capacity. That manufacturing capacity is vital for our national security, and the fight to contain Emperor Zhang.

“But did you know that I donate ten percent of my personal wealth to a number of causes? This organization,” he lifted the upper half of his tee shirt off his chest for emphasis, “community colleges across the country that serve low-income communities, organizations that build and manage housing for the homeless with comprehensive drug, alcohol and mental health treatment, remedial job training, and follow-up support. … “It’s for these reasons that I seek someone to rescue EPSILON from the peril it now faces. In short, I’m seeking a messiah.”

Dallas waited for the shoe to drop.

“I’ve procured the weapons. Half a dozen Water Bugs and their lasers. Now I need someone to recruit, train and lead the pilots. Dallas, will you lead this squadron?”

Dallas felt like he was being examined under a microscope. Steve’s gaze was unflinching. After what felt like an interminable silence, he blurted out, “Yes. I’ll do it.”

About the Author:In his first life, BRIAN H. ROBERTS worked as a contractor and civil engineer in bustling Seattle. In his spare time he read novels by the greatest names in science fiction: Andy Weir, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and so many others. As he read these authors’ works, he was inspired to write Sci-Fi Thrillers to engage and entertain readers like him.
As with so many of us, life intervened. Raising a family, work, remarriage and finally retirement all placed demands on his time. Desiring a change – and time to write – he and his wife traded big city life for the outdoor adventures of Central Oregon. His writing draws deeply on his lifelong loves of science/technology and adventure sports. The EPSILON Sci-Fi Thrillers is Brian’s first series.

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Descendants of Atlantis by Courtney Davis – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour oganized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Courtney Davis is awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sorcha is a descendant of the Atlantean people, a race of humans who were once the blood slaves of the vampires of Atlantis. She grew up knowing that the vampires were enemies, the werewolves were beasts, and the witches were their friends. When she starts to question the situation her clan has been put into with the witches, a vampire who haunts her erotic dreams comes to the rescue. Samson didn’t grow up in Atlantis and didn’t choose to become a vampire. He hates what he has to do to survive, and can’t imagine ever deserving love. When he finds a Descendant of Atlantis near death and nurses her back to health, he expects her to run at the first opportunity. When she offers him her willing body, he knows he would do anything to keep her, and that means hiding his monstrous side. But you can’t love someone if you’re hiding part of yourself. One look at Samson and Sorcha knows she erased him from her memory on purpose, but why? What could he have done to make her risk such a dangerous spell? With battle on the horizon and Descendants in trouble, will Sorcha’s memories be the end of any chance at Samson’s happiness, or will it lead to a new understanding of what these monsters really are?

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Ian stood in shadow outside the museum where there were too many people for him to risk getting close. He couldn’t tell what was happening inside, but he watched and waited. Did this have to do with Norgis? What had he done in there and why was she here now? Had something been taken? Had Norgis found something that he could use to further whatever plan he had? Norgis with a plan, that didn’t feel right. Ian worried, not for the first time, that Norgis had help, that he was working as someone else’s dumb muscle. That would make him harder to track and take down. Of all the monsters housed in the bowels of Atlantis, Norgis had one of the simplest minds. Easy to control and powerful, but to come up with this on his own was unlikely. Had one of his men helped the monster escape?

Ian had so many questions and it irked him to not be in the know, it was a new experience for him.

The only comfort was that she would not leave without him knowing. It was many hours until sunrise and he doubted she would stay that long; humans were not nocturnal creatures. And when she returned home, he wouldn’t let a locked door keep him from her, that he vowed.

About the Author:Courtney Davis is an author of urban fantasy/paranormal/supernatural fiction with a little romance and humor thrown in. She loves creating worlds and exploring human, and inhuman, interaction. She lives in North Idaho with her husband and children where she teaches and enjoys time spent relaxing in the summer sun and winters by the fire. She has always had an affinity for reading and writing and a goal to make a career of it. There is no greater joy than to know her words took a reader out of reality for a time and into another world.

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Cerys: Valkyrie Earth by Merrin Slade – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Merrin Slade will award a $50 Kobo gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In a world where perfection is demanded of its citizens, one imperfect woman may be the only person who can save humanity.

One thousand years in the future, humans have developed the ability to alter their genes to create a perfect version of themselves, but not all are so fortunate. Cerys Skye is a Wild Type, genetically unaltered and forced to live in the Refuge—a place for Wild Types and the unlucky citizens whose genetic modifications society has deemed as imperfect.

All the fiery tempered young woman knows is how to fight. Using her wits and skills, Cerys must compete in brutal prize fights if she is to bring food to the table for her younger sister. But, she is always aware that the next fight could her last—she must find a way out of this life.

Leaving behind all that she knows, the last place the tempestuous Cerys expects to find herself is joining the United Planet’s Space Force Academy, where she battles prejudice and intolerance in a world run by genetically modified humans.

As the new recruit discovers, not all is as it seems at the Academy with a shadowy cyber-evil seeking to threaten humanity. But, when loyalties are tested and the stakes are high, can Cerys rely on newfound allies and her unshakeable courage to stop the impending catastrophe?

Contains mature themes.

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Cerys shifted her jetpac speed to cruise and the hum of thrusters died away, leaving only whistling wind. Her titanium fight boots, and one hundred meters of searing air hung between her and death.

She floated above the Goliath. Her mouth was as dry as sun-scorched wind. Below, tiny people seethed around the edges of the stadium’s arena like leeches, blood-hungry and thirsting for the show to start. As she drifted lower, the Valkyries, all golden tresses and gleaming breastplates, twirled and swooped, a heavenly distraction. She flicked a salute. Gerry and Hilde swept their swords in flashing arcs. Their jetpacs accelerated beneath the holograms of arched wings as they glided into position.

“On me,” Cerys shouted, hitting the drop signal. She dived for the arena. Wind ripped past her, and adrenaline surged in her blood. She shot through images of exploding stars and the crowd turned to the sky like a bristling savage beast. Its roar pounded her like a fist.

Valkyrie. Valkyrie. Valkyrie.

About the Author: Merrin Slade is a science fiction writer who transports readers to alternate futures and faraway universes.

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Emissary by EB Brooks – Q&A and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $25 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

That would be my childhood friend, Maria. We never went to school together, but we knew each other over the years from academic competitions. By high school, we’d become good friends and worked hard helping each other train to go to the Air Force Academy. In the end, I was accepted; she wasn’t. She went to a ROTC program instead, and ironically stayed in to become an officer where I switched gears midway and ended up going the civilian route after all. But in that first year, she wrote me every week…and I didn’t. Too busy, too stressed. Which I’m sure she was, too, but I didn’t return her kindness and effort. I saw her again once, years later, but then she disappeared. Maria, if you see this, I’m sorry. I failed you as a friend, but I haven’t forgotten the lesson from that failure.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

Well, we already have a ton of cats, so no pumas (forgive the Red vs Blue joke), and my daemon (à la Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials) is an ocelot, though she wouldn’t tolerate being called a pet, haha. My wife probably has a better answer for this, since she manages the animals on the homestead. Something that can dig really well, or help plants grow quickly. A little water dragon would be great for gardens or for watering the ducks and geese. Are there mythical animals that eat CO2 and excrete calm?

How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

Honestly, I don’t worry about it too much, because writing authentically kind of takes care of it for me. For example, I remember reading Ready Player One before publishing Emissary. I’d been worried and stressed that people would see the latter as a knock-off of the former, but the two stories are wildly different, sometimes diametrically opposed in their themes and characters.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

Hmm…the best was probably to always keep the story as the first priority. Everything else follows that, not the other way around. The worst was any of the myriad fashion-chasing tips. Never use said! Always use said! Kill all adverbs! Pack every sentence! Easy to lose sight of what you’re writing, that way. If it sounds right to you, it probably is. Put it down, let it rest for half a year, and I guarantee it’ll all look terrible and you’ll redo it anyway.

Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not per se. The Emissary Quintet is ultimately a story about the human condition and the reunion of spirit with matter to bring the best of each to bear, because that’s the key to making the world better. Characters are facets of me, and some inherited physical traits or hobbies, but none are me. Nor are they anyone else: I remember reassuring my mom that no, Ewan and Tree’s rocky early relationship was not a retelling of my early days with my wife. There are moments taken from my life, like interactions with pets or kids, but always the essence is what comes in, not a play-by-play account.

Two Worlds. One Future.

Ewan O’Meara is no stranger to death: in recent months, he’s found his way to limbo at least once per week, much to his parents’ concern. It’s a necessary price for getting experience to become the greatest adventurer his homeland of Veridor has ever known, but the overbearing Veridian Church has him pinned down, soaking him for the penance gold to unlock his stats each time he respawns. And because the Church’s ancient war put an end to both the godlike Gems and the epic quests they once bestowed, Ewan has no better alternative.

That is, until he encounters a young woman fleeing arrest from the Church’s soldiers. At first glance, Treanna Rothchild needs it: she’s clueless about Veridian life. But she has other skills that defy Ewan’s understanding, and she knows things. Unsettling, seditious things the Church wants kept secret at any cost.

And she’s in Veridor to raise an army, to fight an enemy only she can see.

Risking both life and soul, Ewan follows Treanna where no Veridian has ever been and there is no respawning. But for him to have a chance at making a real difference in the strange, harsh world she reveals to him, he must first come to terms with it. Especially as he and Treanna discover how much it has in common with Veridor—and how much they depend on each other to survive.

New-adult science fiction, wrapped in gaming and fantasy around a hopepunk core, Emissary is an immersive, thought-provoking adventure with a little teen romance and a lot of heart.

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Ewan didn’t know why he did it. He had plenty of reasons. He was angry about getting censured, annoyed with Paul’s warning to keep his head down, and embarrassed by how quickly he’d ignored it. No one took him seriously as an adventurer, much less understood when he asked the big questions.

But, more than anything, looking into those eyes, he simply knew this girl was in trouble, and that he wanted to help her.

She flew past as time resumed its normal flow; Ewan shouted and leaped in front of the Swords to draw their aggro. He called up his menu, winced when he remembered he’d given Kate his armor, then equipped his blades anyway.

An ominous tone sounded in his mind, and a warning flashed across his vision that he now had a bounty, along with a reminder that only Swords were permitted to equip weapons in the cathedral. As if to prove the point, the soldiers slowed as they saw the blades flash into being on his back, but with grim smiles they equipped their own and changed targets.

Ewan spared a quick glance behind him to see the girl vanish down the steps, then turned to face his opponents.

The crowd was whispering excitedly now, but he focused on the Swords, quickly calling on his own basic aura-reading skills to scan them. They were stronger than him, and bigger too, but neither had bothered to bolster their defense beyond their armor, clearly seeing him as an easy mark.

Time to see what agility’s all about, he thought with a nervous chuckle.

About the Author: E.B. Brooks lives in the southeastern USA, where he splits his time between writing, research, and homesteading. He enjoys building fictional worlds, real houses, and landscape models, but he’s most at home with his wife and children, and their many, many pets.

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The World Council by Norm Meech – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Norm Meech will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Ricky Montgomery had just graduated high school in June 1976 and was enjoying life as an 18-year-old teenager. He was hired by the Dawson City Police Force, and after graduating from police college he was assigned to work as an undercover operative in a motorcycle gang.

Ricky, although happy, was struggling living his double life as a cop and biker. Then it happened: during a biker war, Ricky’s life was saved by agents from the World Council (TWC). TWC was created by the world’s leaders to prevent manmade disasters from happening and to liaise with aliens who have been monitoring mankind for hundreds of years. TWC’s mandate, with the assistance of aliens, is to ensure mankind’s continued existence.

TWC is a highly secretive organization, whose agents have the ability to travel through time, to change history, and to take lives to save lives. Ricky becomes a TWC agent and discovers that TWC’s command staff is making unethical decisions, hiding secrets about aliens and trying to reduce the world’s population through biological warfare. Ricky teams up with other agents and tries to save mankind and the world from disaster.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Just as I turned and looked outside, the van’s side door slid open and two masked men with guns opened fire. I yelled to everyone, to get down as I hit the floor. There were shards of broken glass and bullets flying everywhere.

Although the barrage of gunfire only lasted a few minutes, it seemed a lot longer, like time had slowed down. One of the Devils who was packing a gun was able to return fire and the van disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. I looked around and most of the people were starting to get up off the floor. All except for a couple.

Then I realized that Vicky was still on the ground and there was blood pooling beside her. My God, she had been shot! I yelled for someone to call an ambulance and to get me some towels. I got the towels and applied pressure to her midsection. I looked around for help but there wasn’t any. The other waitresses were helping one of the Devil’s members and another waitress who had also been shot. Hammer and the other guys took off knowing that the cops would be showing up soon.

Sure enough, in a matter of minutes ambulances and a ton of cops arrived at the bar. The ambulance attendants started working on Vicky and the cops pushed me off to the side, telling me to stay back, let them do their job. Obviously none of the cops or ambulance people knew we were undercover. I was judged to be a low life biker and my “old lady”, a waitress, was also judged to be the lower part of society. They allowed me to ride in the ambulance with Vicky, only after I gave some uniform cop our names and addresses. They worked on Vicky all the way to the hospital and they told me that she was in critical condition when they wheeled her into surgery.

It suddenly hit me like a truck. It did not matter who I was, a biker or a cop. We are all humans and Vicky did not deserve this. She was only 23 years old and she was a beautiful person. I knew she understood the risks of being a cop, especially an undercover cop, but she was harmless. She had stepped up to the plate, she had warned me, she had my back. Besides saving me, she probably had saved a lot of other people in that bar. I was so emotional and confused; I was holding back tears and I was so full of anger I did not know what to do. Who could I call? It could not get out that she was a cop! I called Christine to tell her what had happened.

About the Author: Norm Meech has been retired for nearly two years, capping a distinguished forty-four-year career in policing. He fondly recalls the camaraderie of work friends forged during his tenure and the unique experiences as a police officer.

While missing aspects of his former profession, Norm keeps himself engaged by maintaining fitness and pursuing various hobbies. Additionally, he channels his creativity into writing, aiming to produce a book annually. His latest work delves into science fiction, inviting readers to ponder questions about the existence of aliens, unidentified flying objects, government involvement in secret conspiracies, the potential for time travel, and the impact of human activities on the planet. Norm hopes readers enjoy the fictional stories he crafts, sparking contemplation and curiosity.

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Winter Blogfest: Tom Riley

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of “Dark Heat.” There are two prizes total, and each one will be given out to an entrant whose comment the authors feel best express the purpose and direction of the Sarah and JanetN books. 

ChatGPT-4 Turbo by Tom Riley

This year we got a big Christmas present in the form of the hot new AI, ChatGPT-4 Turbo. There is every reason to believe that AIs have already passed a social tipping point and major changes to society are now baked in.  

In our stories, strong AIs (technically AGI, Artificial General Intelligence), like JanetN, are well established but still expensive.  They are teamed with a responsible human being, Sarah.  They can appear on any screen but do not have robot bodies, as this would have too high a carbon footprint.

There are people who think they deserve to live and not be turned off on human whims.  There are also people who think they should all be killed off the instant they have lost their usefulness.  This conflict drives a lot of the drama in our stories.

Working in a near future where climate change has hit and hit hard, are Sarah and JanetM, a human/AI research team.

Their boring work for small businesses is disrupted when a friend/ex-lover vanishes; he was always a shady character. A major climate disruption in Southeast Asia has put the world into full food insecurity. There is great social distress over how much of America’s bounty should be committed. A black-market gang has hijacked a grain shipment intended for the devastated area. This action could endanger thousands of faraway people.

Our team thinks this gang is responsible for the disappearance of their friend too. The friend’s family offer to pay our team’s fee even if it is only to give the body a proper burial. The hunt is on.


Tom Riley retired from NASA a few years ago and continued coaching young people in STEM. It soon became clear that we owe our young people a better vision of their future in facing our climate crisis. This led to this series of now 3 books that take on that responsibility.

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RESEARCHING TIPS: Fantasy Writers, Are You Guilty of “Copy-Pasting” Cultures? Here’s the fix. by Z. Lindsey – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Z. Lindsey will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

RESEARCHING TIPS: Fantasy Writers, Are You Guilty of “Copy-Pasting” Cultures? Here’s the fix.

Human culture is complicated. Add elves, orcs, lizardmen, and more to that, and things get very complicated. When you’re writing about fictional cultures, it’s tempting to find a culture you like from the real world and ‘copy-paste’ it into your story.

On Facebook science fiction and fantasy writing groups, I see questions like, “How can I sensitively base my mountain-dwelling dwarven miners off of ancient Mongol culture?” (This question is based on a real post, but I changed details to avoid shaming a specific writer, because this is not about shaming.) As an anthropologist, I know how to address this–but it may not be the answer the writer wants to hear.

Sometimes writers will say that it’s their right to write about anything they want, whether sensitive ears are offended or not. If I want to base my lizardmen on the Aztecs, who’s to stop me? But the issue isn’t some culture war question about who has the right to write about what. If you base your lizardmen on the Aztecs but profoundly fail to understand Mexica culture, those of us who study these things will not be offended. We’ll think you’re dumb. I assume no writer wants that.

So how can you base your dwarven miners off of Mongolian culture without coming off as a dope?

The answer, I’m sorry to say, is you probably can’t. Culture develops very much in response to its environment and its neighbors. That means starting with an existing culture is usually doomed to failure.

Mongol culture as we understand it today began on a plateau. While there are mountains around, that’s not where the ancient Mongols grew up, and Mongols didn’t usually harvest minerals by digging deep into the mountains like we typically imagine dwarves doing. Even today, most mines in Mongolia are open-pit mines, not in the mountains.

So there’s dissonance taking dwarven miners and putting them in Mongolian clothing. Your dwarves can be Mongols, but why would they use yurts, for example? Yurts work best on flat land because of their construction style. In the mountains, you can take advantage of caves for shelter.

If you say, “Fine, they won’t use freaking yurts,” well, home is where activities like cooking take place. Without yurts, you’ll have to reevaluate food culture and how people cook. In the end, what is Mongolian about your dwarves? They look like it? Superficial appearance is a road to racial stereotyping.

The other option is not doing that.

Instead, say, “My dwarves need to be miners for my story, so how did ancient cultures who mined live? What kind of houses did they have? What social patterns were common?”

This research might seem more abstract. You can’t google “Mongolia” and read the Wikipedia article. But I suspect you’re doing more than that already. It’s not a matter of doing more research, but shifting the focus. Focus on how a variety of real-world cultures adapt to environments similar to the ones in your story.

If we want to emulate Mongols, we’d probably have our dwarves make incredible woodcarvings. Mongols were famous for wooden sculptures. But maybe our dwarves don’t have many trees on the high mountains where they work, so they create incredible sculptures out of stone. Maybe they even find wood art to be repulsive. They work with stone all day, so why not? Wood is for the elves!

Focusing on the environment does two things: 1) It lessens the chance of creating stereotypes and unflattering portrayals of real cultures. That’s because your base point is an environment, not a people. And 2) It gives you more freedom, because you’re not bound by the facts of a real culture. You can build elements into your story that you want to, regardless of facts. If your dwarves still look Mongolian after all that reverse-engineering, there’s nothing wrong with that. They’ll look like that for logical reasons, not because you thought Mongols looked cool.

You don’t have to throw away your visions of rugged mountains. But if that’s where you want your story to take place, research how people adapt to the mountains. There are lots of fascinating details, like higher infant mortality rates because of oxygen issues! I recently wrote a story about a young woman who comes down from the mountains while pregnant to ensure her child comes to term … only to find a devastated and apocalyptic world waiting for her.

Rather than picking real-world cultures to emulate in your fantasy (especially when creating monsters), consider researching how people respond to certain environments. A great starting point is The Alternative Introduction to Biological Anthropology, by Jon Marks. And don’t copy-paste!

Some heroes have swords. Essimore Darkenchyl has a pen. But it’s a magic pen.
Some wizards have spellbooks. Essie has Gossen’s Guide to Shipping Law. But it’s a current edition.
Some sailors have . . . experience. Essie has a new diploma and a year-long contract, and her people have won wars with less.
And that’s good, because between stolen weapons, a coup, and a strange disease creeping in around her and the crew, she might need to win a war.
In a world that blends traditional fantasy with the Age of Exploration, Essie knows a pen is mightier than a sword, especially since hers sometimes shoots lightning.

But what she thinks is a routine political dispute turns out to be something much, much more, and she may have finally met the one problem she can’t talk her way out of.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Essie cleared her throat. From her backpack, she removed the letter of service that granted her travel permission to sail on the ship. It was folded neatly into thirds, with a glittering blue wax seal on it.

“Essimore Darkenchyl at your service, sir. I’m your new fully licensed shipping coordinator with Power of the Pen. It’s an honor to be aboard.”

The captain took the letter without opening it, folded it in half with no regard for the beautiful wax seal, folded it messily again, and jammed it into his pocket. The whole time, Essie winced.

“Right-o.” As he smiled, the older man’s cheeks dimpled and his white teeth shined in the sun. “Well, I thought we were leaving without you, but here you are. Good on you. Great. Yeah.” The captain turned to the teenager at his side. “Grab her bag and get her stuff to her room. She can hang out there til dinner.”

As the teenager shouldered her bag and grunted, she and the captain looked at each other, the captain with his beaming smile. Once the teenager left, she said, “Thanks for welcoming me onto your ship.”

“Yeah. Fully licensed, you say?”


“Okay. Have a nice one. See you at dinner.”

“Don’t we need to . . . uh . . . onboard?”

“You’re already on board. You managed that just fine.”

“But . . . signing things. Paperwork. Reviewing the staff log. Staff log, sir!”

The captain’s smile faded, but reappeared so fast she wasn’t sure if she’d seen it go.

“Okay, fine. Let’s talk in my cabin.”

About the Author Zac Lindsey is an anthropologist and a linguist who focuses on the Maya people of Quintana Roo. Since childhood, he’s had a not-so-secret love of weird, silly, and well-structured fantasy. When other people’s parents were reading them picture books, his mom was reading him Terry Brooks. He typically writes hopeful and character-driven fantasy.

Today, he lives in Quintana Roo, Mexico with his wife, daughter, and various stray cats.

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What Thia Taught Me by K. M. Warfield – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. K. M. Warfield will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What Thia Taught Me

My thanks to Long and Short Reviews for hosting me!

One of the main characters in my Heroes of Avoch trilogy is named Thia. One of her biggest obstacles is herself. In ‘Scales and Stingers’, she has zero self-confidence. She’s not had an easy life, and it’s made her practically unable to trust anyone. She can’t take someone at their word; it must be backed up by actions.

She knows she’s good at what she does but refuses to step out of the shadows and be seen. It’s not the best life, but she knows what to expect. She’s not living, though. She’s existing, going through the motions, surviving. But that’s it.

I’ve had some problems. Undiagnosed and ignored PTSD led to depression and anxiety. In writing Thia’s journey, I found myself seeing the trap I fell into with my own life. I was raised to not talk about my achievements, not actually admit to anyone or myself that I could be good at something. I got very good at hiding behind sarcasm (something else Thia tends to do) and dreaming of things I knew I was capable of but terrified of going for them. By having Thia confront that in herself, grow past it, I started to believe I could.

One major step I took recently was realizing that this series is good. Not everyone will agree with me, but I know it matters. To me, to my friends whose characters I stole for the books. And I don’t feel guilty for saying it. I no longer feel the need to add some sort of self-deprecating comment after saying it. It’s okay to embrace what I’ve accomplished with the series, be excited for others to read it.

As Thia grew into her strength and sense of self, she took me along with her. Kicking and screaming at points, but I wasn’t exactly nice to her either. Facing our inner demons are rarely battles won without scars, though. I’m finally letting some of those heal instead of picking at them until they bleed. That’s Thia’s doing.

K. M. Warfield
Author – Heroes of Avoch trilogy

An ancient relic. Two solitary quests. A chance to prove one’s worth.

After an intense battle against the malicious Goddess, Lolc Aon, and freeing the Fallen citizens of Byd Cudd, Jinaari and Thia are presented with new challenges while in the public eye. Even though Thia has been granted nearly unlimited healing power through the God Keroys, many still doubt her because of her Fallen lineage. Jinaari does his best to support her, but his lessons are cut short after his sister is kidnapped.

Faced with life altering obstacles, will Jinaari keep his vow to protect Thia even from afar? Can Thia learn to trust herself and win over the public? Or will it be too late?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Jinaari looked at his friend, “You and Pan kept all three of us alive, brought us back here. That’s plenty.”

Adam shrugged. “I know that’s what you needed us to do. It doesn’t feel like enough, though. You two do all the heavy lifting while we barely make a dent.”

“Stop that,” he stared at the warlock. “I couldn’t have gotten her away from Lolc Aon alone. Not in one piece. You kept that spider from getting her, too.”

“After I led her into the nest in the first place,” he grumbled.

“Hey, I told everyone to check the wall and she ended up falling into a pit because of it. That doesn’t matter. We’re a team. You and Caelynn know what to do so well that I don’t have to tell you. I trust it’s going to happen, and it does. Thia’s learned a lot since she first came to us. She trusts you and me. I don’t worry about anyone else dying because I know she won’t let it happen. She’s too damn stubborn.”

The blonde man nodded. “You’re right.”

“Of course I’m right,” Jinaari said as he sat back. “I’m glad you finally admit it.”

“You’re also arrogant, insufferable, and demanding,” Thia’s voice made him twist in his chair.

Caelynn stood next to her. The blue tint of her skin had faded. It wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t as prevalent as when they’d first come back. The bard’s face was tired, but happy.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

About the Author:Born in the late 1960’s, K. M. has lived most of her live in the Pacific NW. While she’s always been creative, she didn’t turn towards writing until 2008. Writing under the pen name of KateMarie Collins, she released several titles. In 2019, the decision was made to forge a new path with her books. The Heroes of Avoch series, along with a new pen name, is the end result.

When she’s not writing, she loves playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends, watching movies, and cuddling up with her cat. K. M. resides with her family in what she likes to refer to as ‘Seattle Suburbia’.

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What Does It Take to Make a Sci-Fi Author? by A.M. Griffin – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A.M. Griffin will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Hey Party People!

For those who don’t know me, I’m A.M. Griffin, avid reader cosplaying as a sci-fi author. I’m taking over Long and Short Reviews to introduce myself. While I’ve written in multiple genres, sci-fi is my first love. I’ve always been curious about space, aliens and life on different planets. As a young girl, I wrote many short sci-fi stories. Or should I say that I “started” many sci-fi shorts (I don’t think I finished any) (this is a no-judgement zone lol). I published my first sci-fi novel in 2012 and haven’t looked back since. That series, Loving Dangerously, will forever hold a special place in my heart and the first in the series, Dangerously Mine, will forever by my favorite book as it’s the first that I’ve finished to completion.

So, what does it take to make a sci-fi author?

Sci-Fi Author Ingredients:

1 cup Introvert
3 cups Weird
6 cups Overactive Imagination

Mix all the ingredients together and season to taste with a pinch of snark, feisty, sleepiness and addiction to doom scrolling through social media. The bake time would depend on the specific individual.

The Hunter. As the new Game Warden, Xrez Ym’ihla brings patrons from across the galaxy to track prey in a game built to enslave the weak and mate the strong. The business is a long running family legacy and Xrez is determined to succeed as his father had before him. He hadn’t meant to let one human occupy his thoughts, mind, and body.

His lies may come back to haunt him, but if he reveals the truth, he’ll ruin his chance to capture the heart of the one he wants.

The Prey. Esme Valdez had her entire life planned from an early age. As a chemist, her life was average and mundane, just the way she liked it. Until the impossible happened. Never did she imagine being abducted by aliens and forced to participate in a survival of the fittest game called The Hunt. If she survives and makes it to the end, she’ll be freed. If not, she’ll be forced to mate the one who captures her.

Esme is determined to win at all costs, even if it means putting her trust in a sexy alien who taunts her in the most delectable way.

Their love was built on betrayal. Can she trust him with her heart and life?

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Property,” she said, finally finishing her sentence. She didn’t recognize anything. Not a God. Damn. Thing. “We aren’t on my property.” Her voice didn’t sound right on her ears.

“So you didn’t kidnap me and give me this fancy new BDSM collar?” He tugged on something about two inches wide and silver around his neck

Esme fumbled at her neck, finding a collar of her own. It felt like metal, not thick, but seemed sturdy and cold on her skin. Her fingers trembled as she followed around the circumference. There wasn’t a way to unhook it. Her breathing picked up. Her chest heaved.

This was wrong. So very wrong.

The man shrugged. “I mean, if you’re into BDSM, I won’t judge you. But as I said, I’m through with all the weird shit.”

Esme clenched her fists in frustration. Tears welled in her eyes. Her heart felt like it was one beat away from exploding. “Hey, nitwit, this isn’t just about you. I think we’re all in the same boat here. I woke up probably the same time you did and just assumed I was home, because,” a hysterical chuckle left her mouth, “where else would I be on a friggin’ Friday night?”

“Hate to break it to you, but it’s Sunday night. I just played Comerica Park in Detroit.”

Esme frowned and shook her head. “No, I’m positive. The last thing I remember is coming home from work and thinking about binging on Netflix. It’s what I do every Friday night.”

He snorted. “Well, that’s sad.”

“Hey! We all can’t play at Comerica Park.” She exhaled loudly. “What is that anyway and why are you dressed like an over the top rock star?”

She’d heard of Detroit, even visited once when she’d lived in the United States to attend college. Her mom had a distant cousin who’d live near the United States and Canada border, and she’d spent a Christmas with them instead of flying all the way home to Mexico.

The rockstar guy brushed off his pants and straightened his clothes. “It’s called ‘stage presence,’ baby.”

“Oh, my God. Can you guys keep it down? Some of us are trying to sleep,” came a tired voice from a shadowy corner.

Rockstar guy held up his hand and pulled each finger down slowly.

New guy scrambled to his feet. He was a lot bigger than rock star guy and bigger than most men she knew. He had on army fatigues, military boots, and dog tags hanging from his thick neck. He scowled. “Wait. Where the hell am I?”

Rockstar guy smirked and dropped his hands. “And there it is.”

About the Author: A. M. Griffin is a mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She’s a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.

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