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Category: Books

Thanks, Maureen

I just wanted to give a quick thanks to Maureen H for her recent review of Veneer. I tend to look at my books as always increasing in quality, and yet it’s Veneer, my second book, that continues to outsell the others. I don’t know why that is. From the reviews, it seems people really enjoy the concept of augmented reality, while others like the characters themselves. Some people don’t like the book at all, but who has time to think about that?

Maximum Overwrite

So I’m currently reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I watched the movie a few weeks ago and really enjoyed the universe Koontz created, so naturally I wanted to read the book and get all those extra details that are typically left out of movies. And though I’ve enjoyed reading, it doesn’t really feel like there is more story here. I have a guess about why that is.

The Sum of Rewritten Memory

Ah, the Alpha Reader period, that month-long, self-enforced sabbatical from what is sure to be the next great American Science Fiction novel. Is there anything worse than trying to fill the days when all you want to do is continue working? I submit there is not. Sure, my son said his first word and learned how to climb the side of his crib, and sure there are unopened PS4 games on my shelf, and sure my yard needs attention, and sure I could keep this list going forever, but I want to write, dammit. And write I will, even if it’s something I’ve already written.

Prepare Your Cortical Stack

It’s finally here. Netflix’s adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s mind-blowing sci-fi novel Altered Carbon is now live, and though I’ll never forgive Joel Kinnaman for his part in the Robocop Reboot That Shall Never Be Mentioned Again, I can’t wait to binge the entire season this weekend. It’s hard to describe how awesome Altered Carbon is–if you’re into technology, explosions, and some of the l33t-est buzzwords you’ll ever read, this is the story for you.

Time After Time

I’ve really taken a liking to non-linear narratives. When you think of all the ways you can mess with a reader, there’s nothing quite like the confusion you can create by having multiples stories operating on multiple timelines. Did A happen before B? Are they happening at the same time? And then later, when everything becomes clear, the reader is incented to re-read the entire book, because now it has taken on different meaning. Today, I was trying to figure out what had sparked this interest in time-confusion, and I realized it started long ago with movies like Pulp Fiction, but it wasn’t until I read Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines that I was compelled to try it myself.

Recommended Reading: The Introduction to Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer

The introduction to Tropic of Cancer was written by Karl Shapiro, an American poet who died in 2000. At first, I misread and thought the Intro was written by Anais Nin, which is the only reason I read it in the first place. I’d read her work, so I was curious to hear what she thought of Miller. Two pages into the Intro, I sank into a deep depression.

Probability Lines

There are a lot of crazy powers being used left and right in Sergei Lukyanenko’s Watch books, but the one that intrigues me most is when characters “check the probability lines.” The stronger the Other, the further they can look along the lines, and thus reasonably predict how the future is going to play out. Lukyanenko fleshes out the idea in Last Watch, book #4 in the Watch series:

You and I, Arjuna, have lived many lives.

I remember them all, you do not remember.   Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died. I was only nine or ten when I picked up Replay for the first time. In the decades since, I’ve read it over and over again in the hopes of becoming a better writer. It has taught me how to be direct with my language, how to be honest with the motivations and desires of my characters, and most importantly, it showed me (and continues to show me) that stories can be more than just entertainment; they can make your reader feel something. Prior to reading my first big boy book, I was content to devour anything written by Judy Blume, Louis Sachar, and Bruce Coville. If there was a finer book than My Teacher Fried My Brains, I hadn’t read it. I had always been aware of my parents’ bookshelf, but the titles had always seemed so imposing. Shogun, The Satanic Verses, IT. Okay, IT is not that imposing, but still. These books were dense and full of big words I didn’t understand. Replay, though, seemed instantly accessible. I turned to the first page and there it was.   Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died. It might have been the best and worst of times, and the clocks might have been striking thirteen, but I consider Replay’s opening line to be one of the best in literature. There is so much contained in this one little sentence, and it is as tragic as it is mundane. We join the story just as the main character dies. At ten years old, I had yet to read a book where anyone dies, let alone at the very beginning of the story. Replay is the story of a middle-aged guy who dies and wakes up as his 18 year old self with all of his knowledge still intact. He has to relive his life knowing what will happen, not just to himself, but to the world. He tries to avoid the bad moments and recapture the good, but as he finds out, the future isn’t set. Just by having knowledge of it, of thinking he knows how it will go, he changes his replay in ways he couldn’t have imagined. He lives another life, only to die again of another heart attack. Wash, rinse, and replay.   Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died. Whenever I tell someone about Replay, I usually just parrot the synopsis and hope they find it interesting enough to purchase the book. However, to really tell you why this book is my favorite, we have to go beyond the sex, drugs, love, and loss of Jeff’s various replays. You see, on a superficial level, a man counting cards in Vegas or betting on the Preakness is just as entertaining as Peter trying to mail his little brother. There are a lot of books, and a lot of sci-fi, that are just pure entertainment. Just…

Recent Reviews

Lovely Novel by an Author that Shows Great Potential I was lucky enough to have been given a free copy of this book through Goodreads: First Reads, and did not purchase this novel. First off, I will say that I did enjoy this book quite a bit. It was pretty original, and Daniel Verastiqui did a lovely job of creating an intriguing, futuristic setting for the story. The characters were realistic and easy to relate to, which definitely made me wish to read more about them, even after I finished the book. Beautifully written, the story hooked me from the first page and kept me interested until the very end. I’ve read my fair share of sci-fi futuristic novels, though not many of them have pleased me as much as this one did. Daniel Verastiqui certainly has a knack for writing for this genre, and in my opinion, has some much-needed creativity that many other authors lack. For this kind of book to work, and be enjoyable, the author has to both be imaginative and able to bring their thoughts to the pages. Luckily, this author can do both of these things quite well. But, despite the book’s greatness, it also had a few things that require improvement. One of those things is language. The author curses many times over the course of this novel, despite the fact that he really doesn’t have to. This gives some of the writing an immature feel, and was slightly annoying to have to read. Also, Daniel Verastiqui used the words “reconciled” and “veneer” WAY too many times during the course of the book. I understood that they were part of the world he created, but I felt as though he could have swapped them out a few times to seem less redundant. Grammar and spelling was great, and I found only a typo or two in the entire book. The formatting was good, and the author used nice sentence structures that kept the story flowing smoothly. The vocabulary used was irritatingly advanced at times, however, for the most part, it was good. There was little confusion or jumps in the storyline, and the ending was crafted beautifully, which makes me hope that there will be sequel coming soon. Overall, I read the book in record time, and was quite pleased with it. I will certainly be looking into reading more of the author’s books, and will be giving this to a few of my friends for them to read. I would recommend this novel to any fan of futuristic novels or stories involving advanced technology and its consequences. Any fan of Sci-fi and action would probably enjoy this book as much as I have. Veneer is certainly worth reading, and I am happy the author gave me the opportunity to read and review it.

Katie Bearor – Veneer

Honest, well-conceived science fiction. First, I’d like to say that I was worried about Veneer because it’s a self-published title. Perhaps I’m being a bit crass, but I find that most self-published books I’ve attempted to read are poorly written, or have awful (non-existent?) plots, or thin plastic characters. Quite often it’s all of these. Veneer, however, is quite a good book. It could have used a bit of an editor’s red ink but otherwise I found it to be highly entertaining and unpredictable. There were times when I got through a portion of a chapter and thought “Why the heck did that happen? Is the author just filling pages?” but then was surprised to find a real reason, one that relates to the plot or character development. My low expectations were often confounded this way. If I were forced to give an idea of the flavor of this book, I’d say there’s a little of both The Giver and Brave New World, with a tiny splash of The Matrix. The ending was a bit confusing, though that did not diminish my level of post-climax satisfaction (yikes, did I just write that?) If you’re on the fence about this book, give the author a chance. Being self-published is not easy. If you find that you don’t like the book after reading this review, feel free to berate me.

Jared Harper – Veneer
© 2018 Daniel Verastiqui