Author Archives: Mark Gardner

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior.

Sundered Rock now available

Hello, all! My latest short story is live on Amazon. It’s a 7000-word prequel to Days Until Home. It’s LGBT, and I wanted it out for Pride Month. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, then it’s free. Here’s the description of Sundered Rock:

The only way Adelaide can provide for her family is by doing what she does best: keep a ship’s engine running in the black of space. Sapphire would rather starve together than be separated from her soulmate.

When Adelaide takes a job on the long haul space freighter Sundered Rock against Sapphire’s wishes, can their family survive the separation, or will everything that matters to Sapphire and Adelaide be torn asunder?

Sounds cool, right? It’s enrolled in the StoryTellerUK2018 contest, so getting the word out would be wonderful. You can pick up a paperback of it, but at $9.99, it’s not really a good deal. After the StoryTellerUK2018 contest is over, I’m going to have it in a short story collection like Warmache. Warmache and other storieswill be priced at $14.99, and will include all my novellas and shorts published under my pen name, M. A. Gardner, including the first Brass Automaton, and Nala’s Story.

I’ve decided that once I move through my current supply of novellas, I’m going to stop bringing paperback versions to shows and events. $9.99 is a lot for a 140-page paperback, and if I combine them into a collection, then I’ll sell them for $14.99. So, Payson Book Festival and Fandomania will be the last opportunities to get the old paperbacks.

So, starting in September, Sundered Rock and other storieswill include Body Rentals, Forlorn Hope,Escape, and Paradox. I’m still deciding on if I’m going to keep producing multi-language editions like Escape. I may only have those available in the UK and Europe.


Future Warrior, by Lexi Revellian

When Liam Roth fails to arrive from 2135 – his own time – to collect her for a date, Floss discovers that the timeline has changed. In the now totalitarian future, the rich and successful Roth she knew is a failure with an abysmal Citizen Credit Rank, who works as a barista and struggles to make ends meet. Through him, Floss and Jace meet an amateur dissident group who offer the Time Rats the biggest, best-paid job of their lives: overthrowing the Global Union’s oppressive rule.

I’ve enjoyed the first two Time Ratsbooks, so liking the third was a foregone conclusion. The story is fun and exciting with more time traveling. Everyone likes to read about a ragtag group of rebels overthrowing the totalitarian monolithic government. It’s also fun to see characters we’ve come to know in different situations. Liam Roth as a failure was a great read, because he essentially becomes another character. I spent half the book wanting him to return to the Liam Roth of books one and two, and the other half hoping that this new Liam Roth would soldier on as it were. As usual, the characters are well written, and I hope that Lexi writes more in the universe.

Four out of five stars for Future Warrior, and with all three books in Kindle Unlimited, you should totally check them out.

LexiRevellian

Lexi Revellian enjoys reading intelligent, pacey books with humour, and that’s what she tries to write. She believes it’s a crime to bore the reader. Her day job (using her real name, Lexi Dick) is designing and making jewellery and silver; she has made pieces for Lady Thatcher, the Athenaeum and Her Majesty the Queen.

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http://www.lexirevellian.com/
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Rebirth, by L. Fergus

The God of Evil has forgotten who she is. After defeating the Harbingers, the gods deemed Kita a threat to all existence. Stripped of her memories, she is left to languish in Angelica, a new playground city for the ultra-rich of the United Earth Empire. There, beneath the waves of an oceanic moon, Kita makes her living using her skills as an assassin to protect the pampered elite. But fate is fickle. Trouble is brewing on the frontier: first contact has been made between humanity and an alien race. Humanity has been watching Kita for a decade and knows her history. They also know that even in her diminished state, she is powerful and they want all the weapons they can muster against this new threat. Can the humans convince Kita to fight for them or will she remember who and what she is and escape to the other side?

The story of PL/Kita and her unknown past with hidden talents is nothing new in the world of literature. I’ve read most of L. Fergus’ books on Wattpad, and while Rebirth isn’t the first story in a long series, it is one of the best (Birthright is another solid read.) In a world where literature is accessible to almost anyone, there’s a lot of content out there. You can read many LGBT fantasy stories by many talented authors, and L. Fergus’ prose and attention to detail is top-notch. When some authors go into a lot of description, my brain often gets distracted, and it pulls me out of the narrative. This isn’t the case with Rebirth. There is a lot of description, but it’s presented in such a way that it feels natural reading about Kita and her world.

Rebirth gives us something I think is wonderful: We see how Kita, as PL, sees her world. We share in the wonderment. We share in the confusion. We’ve read her as a powerful God, and now we see her at the other end of the spectrum. In modern society we struggle with classism. We struggle with identity. We struggle with the basic tenants that make us part of society. We witness all these foibles as Kita discovers who she is. We follow her pratfalls as she comes to grips with her mistakes.

One of the important things that Rebirth tells us is identity. In the first chapter, Kita performs a daily ritual to make herself “normal.” She hides her true self out of fear of what society and others think of her. She hurts herself to conform to the ideals of her environment, and in doing so, she loses her identity. This commonality in the LGBT community has gone on for many years, and many wonderful people hide what they offer the world. I think it appropriate that Rebirth be published during pride month.

I enjoyed reading Rebirth, and I was glued to the page as the saying goes. Every book is not without flaws. I found some of Kita’s antics a little immature, but no worse than the antics of a celebrity or a spoiled millionaire. But still sigh-worthy. As a stand-alone, I’d rate Rebirth four and a half stars. As of the writing of this review, the book is available for purchase tomorrow, and I recommend fans of science fantasy check it out – especially since it’s free to read via Kindle Unlimited.

L. Fergus is a Wattpad featured author of science fiction, including The Fallen Angel Saga, which has more than two hundred thousand reads. The books Birthright and Rebirth have won over ten awards, including Best Overall. Like L. Fergus’ main character Kita, L. fosters teenage girls to give them a supportive place to grow up and thrive.

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http://www.FallenAngelKita.com
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Kill the Farm Boy, by Delilah S. Dawson & Kevin Hearne

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told. This is not that fairy tale. There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened. And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell. There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

I absolutely lurved Kill the Farm Boy. I’ve read more Delilah Dawson than Kevin Hearne, but I’ve read and enjoyed them both. The easiest way to describe Kill the Farm Boy is that it is Spaceballs, but in a fantasy setting. Everything that I loved about Spaceballs is everything I love about Kill the Farm Boy. Puns, double entendre, slapstick situational comedy, and a general irreverence to the genre the writing duo parodies. Plus, Dawson and Hearne don’t take themselves seriously. When the authors can laugh at themselves, the reader will too. I can totally imagine Dawson and Hearne at the bar of a hotel after a day at a convention, daring each other to write this story.

If I had to complain about anything, it would be that while the writers are aware of the genre they poke fun at, the tropes are alive and well in this parody. Several plot twists were plainly evident, and if this story had a character that broke the fourth wall, I’d expect them to pop up and declare, “plot twist!” Now that I write this down, I think that a character breaking the fourth wall would’ve been just the ticket. It works for Ferris Bueller and Deadpool, why not an irreverent parody of fantasy. Kevin Smith famously said that he made all his money with phallus and flatulence jokes.

The story obviously parodies The Princess Bride, Shrek, and just about every Dungeons and Dragons campaign ever made. The humor is at times crude, often juvenile, but always there. There’s a reason the tag line is “Once. A pun. A time.” For the same reasons that people enjoy Mel Brooks, Monty Python, and the Three Stooges, they’ll enjoy Kill the Farm Boy. To steal a meme from the Internet, “I don’t always read the punnies, but when I do, it’s to Kill the Farm Boy.” There will be a lot of consternation about the humor, but what did they expect? I’m awarding this story 3.14 stars, because I like pie.

Delilah S. Dawson writes whimsical and dark Fantasy for adults and teens. She is a winner of the RT Book Reviews Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for 2013. Delilah teaches writing classes at LitReactor and wrote the Island of Mesmer world for Storium. Delilah lives with her husband, two small children, a horse, a dog, and two cats in Florida.

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http://www.whimsydark.com/
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Kevin hugs the hell out of trees and loves doggies and pretending that he knows stuff about hockey. He is also fond of comic books, tacos, fresh air, clean energy, and friendly people. He’s been told that his handwriting is really quite lovely.

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http://www.kevinhearne.com/
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Kill the Farm Boy:
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Head On, by John Scalzi

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it. Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field. Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth—and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

It’s a relief to know that people are who you think they are. People often end up disappointed when they meet their heroes or people that they admire. Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to be on a panel with John Scalzi while we were both at Phoenix Comic Fest. I was relieved that Scalzi is as intelligent and perceptive in person as he is with his writing. (I may have even gushed a little about Old Man’s War.)

I think Head On is a better story than Lock In. Since we already knew so much of the world from Lock In, Head On felt like returning to a comfortable series where we knew what to expect. Scalzi continued to play by his rules and we cringed each time a threep was destroyed.

Whereas Lock In leaned more toward sci-fi action/adventure, Head On felt more like a sci-fi mystery. I was on the edge of my seat as they’re wont to say, and I wasn’t sure whodunit until the end of the story. I also appreciated Scalzi’s subtle commentary on professional sports and reality television.

Four stars is my rating. I hope that there is enough interest for Scalzi to keep writing the life and times of Chris Shane and the intriguing world in which he and his colleagues inhabit. I for one would be a ready reader to future installments.

John Scalzi is an American science fiction author and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man’s War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, where he has written on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, writing and politics, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.

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https://whatever.scalzi.com
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2018 Phoenix Comic Fest

I’ve been slacking a little bit lately. There’s an Italian translation of Warmache that needs review and approval along with English audiobooks for Brass Automaton and Days Until Home. I’ll definitely have all those projects completed and ready for sale for my appearances at the Payson Book Festival and Fandomania July 21st and 28th.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know the reason for my slacking: I’ll be at Phoenix Comic Fest (formerly Phoenix Comicon) for Memorial Day weekend! I’ll be with Florida-based celebrity bookstore Bard’s Tower in the lower level exhibitor’s hall just inside the doors to hall six at booth 1566/1568. Here are the other great authors that I’ll be sharing the booth with:

Jody Lynn Nye
Mercedes Lackey
L.E. Modesitt
Melinda Snodgrass
Larry Dixon
Alan Dean Foster
D.J. Butler
Brian Lee Durfee
Christopher Husberg
Kevin Ikenberry
Amity Green
Kuta Marler


 

I’ll be doing a panel on writing accurate military in scifi called “Marching Orders.” It’ll be at 1:30PM on Friday in the north building, room 126C next to the food court and stairwell. Fellow veteran and booth dweller Kevin Ikenberry will be with me on that panel, along with Sylvain Neuvel, John Scalzi, and Melinda Snodgrass.

Like last year, I’ll be at the “Drinks with Authors” event in the North Ballroom Friday at 8pm. This is a Phoenix Comic Fest “Signature Event,” so the entry fee is $10, only adults 18+ will be admitted, and the event supports Kids Need To Read. The photo here is from the 2017 event.

Other than those events, I should pretty much be at the Bard’s Tower booth. I’ll be playing in a couple Magic: the Gathering tournaments on Friday and Saturday. Depending on how well I play, I could be gone a few hours then, plus, I gotta get Peter Clines to sign my hardcovers and visit a few other authors here and there. It’ll be a fun respite from the daily grind, and I’m super stoked to be there.


Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells

It has a dark past—one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

 

I moved Artificial Condition to the top of my reading list after getting the approval email from NetGalley because I absolutely love The Murderbot Diaries. Wells’ writing is superb, and her wit and subtle snark shines in the form of a rogue SecUnit who would probably slay humanity if only it could finish watching the future’s version of Netflix.

In Artificial Condition, we see more of Eden’s world, and the behind-the-scenes politics and machinations that push the story forward. I love that although Eden can totally murder all humans, it’s still afraid of other sentient constructs. She and ART bond over their love of space soap operas, and Eden’s allies increase.

Eden needs allies, because its rouge slaughter of the miners doesn’t hold water, and the truth just may be more criminal than the story. Humans are so much worse than Eden originally thought, and as Eden examines the artificial condition, so too must we examine the human condition.

Artificial Condition is another home run from Martha Wells, and the wait for Rogue Protocol will be a difficult one. Five stars, get it now!

Martha Wells has written many fantasy novels, including The Books of the Raksura series, the Ile-Rien series as well as YA fantasy novels, short stories, media tie-ins, and non-fiction. Her most recent fantasy novels are The Edge of Worlds in 2016 and The Harbors of the Sun in 2017, the final novel in The Books of the Raksura series. She has a new series of SF novellas, The Murderbot Diaries, forthcoming from Tor.com. She was the lead writer for the story team of Magic: the Gathering’s Dominaria expansion in 2018. Her work has appeared on the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Award ballots, and her books have been published in eleven languages.

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