Prelude to Space Robert W. Haseltine Audiobook

Prelude to Space Robert W. Haseltine Audiobook Tags : science fiction short stories science fiction & fantasy short science fiction stories how to write a bo…

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Say Hello for Me Frank W. Coggins Audiobook

Say Hello for Me Frank W. Coggins Audiobook Franklin Coggins (May 22, 1944 – October 30, 1994) was an American professional baseball player. A switch-hitting…

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Guest Post by Sarah Holding

SeaRISE Blog Tour

Author, Sarah Holding

SCI-FI-LONDON is thrilled to be the first stop on a blog tour by children’s author Sarah Holding, author of the SeaBEAN Trilogy. For those that haven’t had the pleasure, the SeaBEAN books are the story of Alice Robertson, a young girl in the year 2018 who finds a mysterious black box on the beach on her 11th birthday. Alice soon discovers it’s called a C-Bean, and its extraordinary powers can transport her anywhere in the world. Together with her five schoolmates – the only children on the recently re-inhabited remote island of St. Kilda – and a stray dog and a garrulous parrot they acquire along the way, Alice finds herself immersed thrilling adventures, from Central Park to the Amazonian rainforest to the back-streets of Hong Kong, as they uncover dangers and subterfuge threatening the world’s eco-systems.

SeaRISE is the thrilling final part of The SeaBEAN Trilogy. Alice and her five classmates are – for reasons they have yet to discover – abducted to 2118 in the C-Bean, their time-travel device, only to find the world is a difficult and alienating place. How will they survive their terrifying ordeal? Who can help them figure out a way to get back to their own time? Will they escape before their captor Commander Hadron catches up with them? Who is he anyway and what’s his connection to the mysterious Dr Foster? Unsettled by the devastation they find everywhere in the future and armed with new knowledge about the C-Bean’s ultimate purpose, Alice and co scour the planet, confronting many challenges in pursuit of answers to their questions. But can they finally figure out a way to restore the Earth’s delicate ecological balance for good?

To celebrate the launch of SeaRISE, we’re happy to host the opening piece in Sarah’s guest-blog tour. Catch it below. 

 

What’s the formula for magical realism?
(Alice in Wonderland x Dr Who x Secret Island)2 = SeaBEAN

SeaRISE book coverOnce regarded as a particular sub-genre of twentieth century South American literature, Dr Matthew Strecher has broadened our notion of magic realism to encompass “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something ‘too strange to believe’“, which is the basic premise for my children’s sci-fi series, The SeaBEAN Trilogy

Alice is living a perfectly ordinary life at the start of SeaBEAN, albeit a little into the future (2018), but when she comes across a bizarre black cube – the C-Bean – her life begins to change. The fact that it changes colour when she touches it (just like the unique black covers of the books themselves), is only the start of something that’s ‘too strange to believe‘. Entering the C-Bean is the moment when my Alice falls down the rabbit hole and finds herself in a kind of wonderland. She comes to realise the C-Bean can transport her and her friends instantaneously to other parts of the world, such as New York, the Amazon or Hong Kong, picking up stray dogs, talking parrots and weird fruit along the way. So it’s surreal without being preposterous, where the C-Bean acts like a kind of T.A.R.D.I.S., however rather than one belonging to someone who’s a seasoned Time Lord like Dr. Who, my Time Lords are the children in the story who don’t even know at first what the C-Bean can do.

But the trilogy needed one more ingredient to produce its sense of magical realism: that ‘highly detailed and realistic‘ setting. Instead of imagining a fantasy place, for SeaBEAN I chose a place that actually exists. In fact it’s the remotest part of the United Kingdom and a World Heritage Site – an archipelago called St. Kilda – which has a long and interesting past to draw upon, despite having been uninhabited since 1930. For example in the sequel, SeaWAR, Alice is accidentally shunted back to the eighteenth century in the C-Bean and meets Lady Grange, who was cruelly imprisoned on St. Kilda. Another time, Alice steps out of the C-Bean to find it’s 1957 and St. Kilda is caught up in the Cold War, both of which really happened on the island. All I had to do was invent a plausible reason for a community to be living there in 2018 (setting up a wave power plant) in order to bring this magical but real place back into circulation for the purposes of my story.

There’s one final tweak to make my recipe for magical realism complete. It is also ‘squared‘ – so what do I mean by implying you also need to multiply the ingredients of the story by themselves? Over the course of the trilogy, Alice sees a lot of change, and by the time we get to the final part of the trilogy, SeaRISE, there have been some disastrous shifts even on her own island. So the underlying message of this adventure story only comes out once when Alice realises she can do something that will make a difference not just in her own life but for everyone on the planet. That’s quite a challenge for an eleven-year-old kid, but one thing’s for sure; with magical realism the stakes are set high, and the story has to deliver.

Sarah Holding, 2014

SeaRISE is the third and final book in Sarah Holding’s SeaBEAN trilogy (Medina). Available to buy online here.

Sarah’s Blog Tour will pit-stop at the following wonderful destinations:  
1st December – SCI-FI-LONDON
2nd December – Sci-Fi Bulletin
3rd December – Fiction Fascination
4th December – Feeling Fictional
5th December – Cherry Mischievous
6th December – The Overflowing Library
7th December – Book Passion for Life
8th December – Bookaholics Book Club
9th December – The Secret Writer
10th December – Addicted to Media
11th December – SeaBEAN Trilogy Official Website

SeaRISE is available from Available from Amazon and directly from Medina Publishing.

You can find Sarah Holding over at Facebook and on Twitter.

Source: SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival – Books

Guest Post by Gavin Deas

Gavin Deas - Empire NovelsSCI-FI-LONDON are thrilled to hear about two very different books coming later this year – EMPIRES: INFILTRATION and EMPIRES: EXTRACTION. Written by Gavin Deas (a cunning pseudonym for the writing team of GAVIN Smith and Stephen DEAS), the two books cover the same period of time from two different viewpoints.

The blurb reads thus:

Two alien races have fought a long and bitter war among the stars. And now their conflict has bought them to our world, and the end of humanity is nigh. We have something they want, something which can’t be found anywhere else in the universe.

Neither side can afford to show their hand too early and attract the attention of their enemies, but their plans are in place and their agents are at work. When two men – a soldier and a policeman – stumble into the alien plots, their investigations will lead them to the aliens and, eventually, to each other. And to war.

Each book works as a standalone thriller, but if you read them both – in either order – you get another side to the story. It’s a remarkable piece of writing from Gavin and Steve, and I hope you’ll check them out, in the meantime we have a guest post from them on the subject of… erm.. neurotransmitters.

A Few Fun Facts About Neurotransmitters

The title of Empires: Extraction was very nearly Serotonin Storm. The neurotransmitter serotonin is (without going into a rather spoiler-ish explanation of why) fairly relevant to the plot of both EMPIRES books. Personally I think all neurotransmitters are fascinating in their chemistry and their effects. Maybe that’s just my inner nerd, but take Serotonin, for example: most widely known to be related to mood regulation, low serotonin levels are associated with depression… but low levels of serotonin are also associated with other forms of obsessive behaviour, including falling in love. Deathstalker scorpions have serotonin in their venom.

I didn’t use Serotonin Storm. I still like it, but it turns out it’s the medical condition of overdosing on serotonin (an excess of serotonin can cause headaches, shivers, hyperthermia, hyper-activity, hallucinations and death, largely down to overheating). I didn’t know that, so I thought I’d share that and a few other facts about neurotransmitters that I happened to stumble across along the way.

What is a neurotransmitter?

Imagine, for a moment if you will, that the brain is an enormous field crowded with irritable UKIP(1)(2) supporters. Or authors, or orang-utans, or whatever works for you. Imagine they are packed pretty tight, but not so tight that they’re pressed up against one another. Every now and then one UKIP supporter pokes another UKIP supporter and whispers something bad about immigrants. This makes the other UKIP supporter slightly more irritable. The more neighbours who whisper bad things about immigrants, the more irritable each UKIP supporter gets, until the only way to blow tension is to whisper something bad about immigrants to his own neighbours. Thus dumbass bullshit is passed through the field. In this immensely ridiculous analogy, irritable UKIP supporters (or authors, or orang-utans, or whatever works for you) are neurons, and the whispers are neurotransmitters, responsible stimulating the next idiot neuron in line. Depending on how you define one, neurotransmitters can be anything from single metallic ions and simple gaseous molecules released by a synapse to vastly more complex molecules. So here are three neurotransmitters you may not have heard of and a daft fact or two about each you can use to annoy your friends.

Norepinephrine

You might have heard of serotonin and dopamine and almost everyone recognises adrenaline. Say hello to norepinephrine, otherwise known as noradrenaline but actually more closely related in structure to dopamine. Norepinephrine is supposed the neurotransmitter of “vigilant concentration.” So basically the neurotransmitter of paying attention.

Histamine

Anti-histamines are mostly known for fighting allergic reactions. The chemical histamine appears throughout the body and is involved in causing tissue inflammation in response to foreign bodies (making capillaries more accessible to white blood cells so they can get around better by giving them all temporary Oyster(3) cards or something like that). Anti-histamines fight inflammation by cancelling/neutralising histamine production and thus limiting the supply of those handy Oyster cards, but histamine is also a neurotransmitter and operates in the brain where it does all sorts of interesting things. For a start histamine regulates sleep. Lots of histamine means lots of being awake and alert. Not to much histamine means feeling sleepy. The body actually stops production of histamine during REM sleep. So that “may-cause drowsiness” warning on some anti-histamine prescriptions(5) is because the drugs are crossing the blood-brain barrier and getting inside your head and messing with stuff. Be aware, too, ladies and gentlemen, that histamine also plays significant role in other things, including libido. A lack of histamine can mean a lack of. . . yes, other things.

Glutamate

The most prevalent neurotransmitter of all, present at over 90% of the synapses in the human brain. That makes glutamate pretty much essential and involved in almost everything that goes on in the brain, but also sort of dull, in that it doesn’t associate with any particular mood or behaviour.  Too much glutamate and your whole brain stops working properly. Too little glutamate and your whole brain stops working properly. But since it’s the most common, it deserves a mention, and here’s why: glutamic acid is a constituent part of any protein and is also one of the five basic tastes your taste bud receptors are tuned to (glutamate is strongly present in cheese and soy sauce). So basically, your most prevalent neurotransmitter is also your most prevalent flavour enhancer: monosodium glutamate. The aliens of Empires may well agree with that. They would certainly appreciate the irony.

  1. For my American friends who have no idea what a UKIP is, please substitute Tea Party supporters. Tea Partiers [2]?
  2. If causal mockery of these glorious institutions of fine, upstanding, empathic and intelligent social conscience[4] causes you difficulty, it may be that Empires isn’t for you.
  3. For those of you who live outside London, an Oyster card is an access card for the public transport system.
  4. Also if you have difficulty with sarcasm.
  5. If it doesn’t have such a warning, that doesn’t mean it’s not an anti-histamine. Some formulations are made in such a way that they can’t cross the blood-brain barrier (don’t ask me how) and so they don’t affect histamine levels in the brain. Oh look, a serious footnote for once.

EMPIRES EXTRACTION and EMPIRES INFILTRATION by Gavin Deas are published in hardback by Gollancz on 20th November, a snip at £12.99

You can find Stephen Deas on Twitter here and Gavin Smith on Twitter here.

Source: SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival – Books

Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 16 PART2 audiobook

Jason Schuyler is a werewolf. He’s also one of Anita Blake’s best friends, and sometimes her lover. And right now he needs her – not to be a vampire hunter, or a federal marshal, or a necromancer,…

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