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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

Perception is reality, but not really! I planned to read several books in parallel during my vacation, but ended up reading straight through this one – just had to see what happened! The desire to mask one’s true self and hide behind a veneer is common to all humanity. Skip forward into the future and see how powerful, high-tech veneers change the world and everyones reality. The veneers are powerful and different, but people are the same – they use veneers to hide, control and to take advantage of others. This story is full of surprises, technology and conflict that drew me in, and is set in a high-tech future that really made me wonder if this kind of world might someday become a reality. Very thought provoking and creative! Be warned – the sex, language and violence definitely makes this an adults-only book.

Bob – Veneer

Great Read (but how the hell do you say the title?) Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Girl falls out of love, so boy makes a digital copy of girl, who turns into a cyber god bent on revenge. Just your typical teenage romance for the digital age, right? Aside from the title (which, seriously, how the hell would you pronounce that?), I really loved this book once I got going with it. The characters are beautifully drawn, if slightly annoying sometimes with their obsessions, and the representation of what life could be like a few years from now is eerie and resonant. The novel gets slightly repetitive in places, with X constantly revisiting and reliving scenes of his time with C, but that seems to be a deliberate choice on the part of the author. With our entire lives available for replay, it’s easy to fall into a loop, living in the past. I also had a slight issue with how quickly everyone falls into obsessive, “I would die for you” love, but they are all teenagers, so I guess it’s not that strange. One thing I did dislike is that one of the main characters, typically represented as a good guy, gets disturbingly rapey at one point. It’s never addressed afterwards, and there are no consequences for him. I know that that’s how things often play out in real life, but I feel like the author could have taken a stronger stance against it. I read this after Veneer, a novel by the same author, and when I realized it partway through my enjoyment of it definitely increased. If possible, I definitely recommend reading Veneer first, even though this comes earlier chronologically.

Jeba – Xronixle
© 2018 Daniel Verastiqui