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I do a lot of silly things to encourage people to write reviews of my books, but this whole get your name in the next book tactic seems to work the best. You know, aside from cold hard cash, which, by the way, should not be delivered as an Amazon Gift Card unless you want to get 20-30 reviews deleted in a single afternoon. I don’t know why it’s such a struggle to get reviews (even bad ones), especially when the book is selling and plenty of people seem to be reading it. I used to think I could impress upon people the importance of leaving reviews, but no. Bribery is pretty much the only thing that works.

Last time’s winner was Curtis, and since it’ll be a while, here’s a preview of where he ended up in the zero draft:

“Identify yourself,” said Jake.

The man stepped back and looked up.

“Ho there,” he called. “Don’t see many people up this way. What brings you to Challis?”

“Identify yourself!” Jake stepped to the railing and pointed the rifle over it.

The man’s hands went up. “Easy, stranger. My name is Curtis.”

“Curtis what?” asked Jake. “What’s your revision?”

“My revision? What do you take me for, some kind of Lassiter drone?”

“You’re not organic,” said Jake.

“Now that is true. I am not an organic human. But I am a person, just like you.”

“I am a sixth generation Vinestead synthetic,” said Jake. “You’re nothing like me.”

“They’re up to Six now? Interesting.” Curtis stepped back several feet so he wouldn’t have to crane his neck. “Well, Mr. Six. Seeing how you’re hunting organics and I’m not an organic, I don’t see that we have any quarrel.”

Jake considered the offer, shook his head. There weren’t supposed to be any other synthetics. If there were, who did they follow? What was their purpose?

“What are you doing here?” asked Jake.

“We have some monitoring equipment up there,” Curtis replied, gesturing with an outstretched arm. “Helps us keep tabs on who comes and goes in the valley. We picked up a whole mess of activity in Arco day before last, so I came down to make sure everything’s in good working order here.”

“You’re tracking our movements?” His finger trembled on the trigger.

“Yours. Humans. Animals. Anything that moves. Gotta know who’s walking in your backyard, am I right?”

“This isn’t your backyard,” said Jake. “This is Lassiter’s domain.”

That made Curtis chuckle. “Lassiter doesn’t exist in this world, pal. He may reach out to you from VNet, but he can’t walk here. Funny how that works, huh?” He adjusted his jacket. “Look, I’m on a schedule here, so if you’re not gonna come down, I’ll just come back another day. Safe travels, Mr. Six.”

He turned to leave. Jake raised the gun.

“I’m not done with you,” he warned. “This gun will tear you in half.”

Curtis shrugged, didn’t look back. “You’d be doing me a favor. I was never a fan of this sleeve anyhow.”

If you’d like to join Curtis in Hybrid Mechanics, you can buy / review my most recent book, Por Vida, here.

See you in the Vinestead ‘Verse!

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Recent Reviews

Fantastic story-telling! Interesting concept, intricate plot, great characters, fabulous dry humor, and plenty of action. The general idea is a somewhat familiar one in sci-fi, but this was a different, fresh take on the idea of artificial intelligence that I found quite thought-provoking. I really like how this book is tied in to Verastiqui’s previous writings without technically being a sequel- the books take place in the same universe, and there are a few nods to previous books, but I don’t feel it’s necessary to have read the others to understand this one. He gives just enough background detail for a first-time reader to visualize the world- there wasn’t that “recap” section in the beginning I felt like I could skip like in other serial novels. I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Without giving spoilers, one of my favorite things about this author’s writing is that the characters seem real. They are flawed, insightful, altruistic, selfish, and complicated. It’s never immediately obvious who the “good guys” are, because every character has both good and questionable morals. Because the characters are rich and realistic, their actions (or the things that happened to them) were often surprising while still fitting logically with the storyline. I thought the pacing and shifting perspectives were very nicely done in this novel. Several of the sections ended with a cliffhanger. The sections that followed tended to slow the pace a bit to give more backstory, and then quickly got back to the resolution of the previous section. I managed to avoid skimming ahead (as I usually do) to find out “what happened to so-and-so” because each character shift was so interesting. I highly recommend this book- the writing will draw you in, it’s highly entertaining, and the concept is fascinating! Related

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