1898: Martian tripods lay waste to Earth’s cities. The world’s armies are unable to stem the tide of destruction. When all hope appears lost, common bacteria kills the alien invaders. From the ashes, the human race uses the technology left behind by the Martians to build new, advanced weapons.
1924: Armed with their own spaceships, tripods, and jet fighters, the nations of the world are ready to take the fight to Mars. George Patton, Erwin Rommel, Charles de Gaulle, and Georgy Zhukov lead their troops in battle across the red planet to end the alien menace once and for all. But the Martians have one last, desperate plan to try, and if successful, it could mean the end for all humanity. – Goodreads
Sci-Fi & Scary gets a lot of science fiction and horror review submissions. That’s awesome! We love supporting indie authors and we have no plans on stopping anytime soon. We even purchase indie author books independently on Amazon on a regular basis. Just because they look good. Hoooooowwwweeevvveeer, there are some things that make us seriously disinclined to accept your book for review (or get it on our own from Amazon). As this Top Ten Tuesday prompt was “Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book” we thought we’d take advantage of it to create a list of our reasons we reject (or consider rejecting) many of the books. This is not limited to indie authors, either! Some of these mistakes have been made by well-known authors and have us groaning.
We aren’t going to name names in this post, and any covers that we use will be quick mock-ups done by us to get the point across. As usual, Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you courtesy of Broke and Bookish.
Why We Won’t Read Your Book
Misspellings on the cover or in the summary on the back. We rarely see this happen on covers but it does happen. We understand not everyone can hire cover designers, so many choose to make their own covers. If you do – good for you. However, for the love of all things tentacled, please make sure you have someone spell check your cover. And have at least two or three people read your summary! This one we see errors in all the time, and it’s a bit amazing, quite frankly. Especially on more well-known books.
Incorrect capitalization. Yes, it happens to the best of us. However, sometimes you only have one chance to catch someone’s attention. So you want to make sure that all aspects of your cover are on point, yes? If you can’t manage to keep with at least a consistent capitalization, we’re not going to waste our time reading the blurb/summary.
Keywords in the title section on Goodreads/Amazon. Right now we’re both at the point where if we see this when we’re looking at your book, we will flat out refuse to get it. This is a stupid practice that needs to stop immediately. Keyword tagging your title is tempting, but just don’t do it.
However, it’s not just in the title section, either. If you shove a bunch of keywords in a row right into where your blurb/summary goes instead of giving a proper summary, or any variation of that, it still doesn’t look good.
Breaking up a story into multiple parts to cash grab. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. Every single one of us can think of series that go past the trilogy stage. But every one of us can also think of cases where it was completely unnecessary, and this often happens with indie authors who will parcel out their story into bite-sized chunks (sometimes larger) and often end them on massive cliffhangers. Sometimes right in the middle of the natural arc of one plotline.
Listing your book under inappropriate genres to get people to read it. If we see this, especially if we see a decidedly adult book in the children’s section, we will report it. Not gonna lie. If it’s obviously mislisted, neither of us have any problem taking the 2 seconds required to let the appropriate people know. It’s just shady marketing. It goes without saying that we’re also never going to pick up your book. That one, or any other one we ever see under your name.
Nothing but praise on the back. Look, we think it’s fantastic that other published authors are willing to sing your book’s praises. Really. It’s awesome. However, that doesn’t bloody tell us what your book is about, does it?! We’ve seen this one happening more and more, especially on some big name writer’s books, and it’s enough to make us facepalm. This trend towards including the summary on super tiny type on the inside of the dust jacket has got to stop. Gah.
A second part to this – praise for *another* book from the same author. We don’t care about the praise Sassy Serpents got if we’re trying to find a summary for Withering Witches. You get us?
The attractive woman in a seductive/sexy pose cover. You know the ones. Your book is about a kick-ass female *insert profession* and … well, sex sells, right? So you slap a picture of an attractive female on the cover, give it a title and all that, and call it done.
For me (LG), sex sells if I’m wanting to read romance or erotica. Then, show me the boobs or the ripply abs or whatever other cliche you want to show me. I’m still going to be more interested in the actual stories within, but at least I’m not going to roll my eyes so hard that they threaten to stick pointing straight up and walk straight by your book.
Not paying attention to the site’s notices for reviewing. Especially when they’re clearly listed on the top of the “Request a Review” form. Y’all… YOU ALL. Seriously. I can’t even… Look, I’m going to take a second to rant about this. When a site has it clearly posted that they’re only accepting certain formats, and people continue to send them requests to review alternate formats, it’s bloody infuriating. I’ve gotten to the point where if I’m feeling nice that day, I might respond denying to review your book. Otherwise, I just ignore it.
It’s clearly posted in the widget on the right sidebar that we’re only accepting audiobooks for the science fiction submissions right now. It’s also stated right at the very top (in bold) on the request a review form. The form that everyone has to fill out to submit their books for review. And yet y’all keep sending me requests to review your mobi copies. No. Nope. Not happening. Nu-uh. You blew it. */end mini-rant from LG*
Okay, that’s not all the reasons why we won’t read your book, but it’s the major ones.
What about you, what stops you from reading certain books?
The Extinction Parade Vol 1: Max Brooks, the best-selling Zombie writer in history, unleashes an all-new horror epic! As humans wage their losing fight versus the hordes of the subdead, a frightening realization sets in with the secretive vampire race: our food is dying off. This is the story of the vampire’s descent into all-out war with the mindless, hungry hordes of the zombie outbreak as humanity tries to survive them all! This collected edition contains the entire first chapter of Extinction Parade (Issues #1-5) and a massive undead cover gallery! – Goodreads
I don’t know about you, but one of the things I don’t have any interest in reading about in comic books is… super-heroes. So, of course, I stayed away from comics/graphic novels for the longest time for a few reasons, but mainly because I thought they were all going to be about superheroes. Turns out, luckily, that’s not true at all! So here are three (one from each genre of SF/F/H) non-superhero comics worth checking out with your kiddos. (Pictures lead to Goodreads.)
Pinky and Stinky by James Kochalka
Pinky and Stinky are fat little piglets, but because they’re cuties that doesn’t mean they’re not brave astronauts. Packed with action, adventure, and little cuties.
Color or B/W: Black and White
Violence: Some violence and threats of violence, but very basic stuff with no blood, etc.
Opinion: At first I didn’t think I was going to like Pinky & Stinky, but it grew on me fairly quickly. Definitely one for younger readers, but adults might have fun reading it out loud with their kids. It’s silly and delightful.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Alabaster Shadows by Matt Gardner and Rashad Doucet
Carter Normandy knows there’s something weird about the neighborhood he and his family move into. Maybe it’s the physics-defying leak in the basement, or the way all the adults seem to look down on kids like they’re scum. With the help of his new friends, Carter discovers a whole other world alongside his seemingly normal community-a world filled with terrifying monsters. A world the adults of the community already know all about. Now it’s up to Carter and his friends to keep these monsters from crossing over into our world, or face the dire consequences!
A gorgeously illustrated mystery perfect for fans of Gravity Falls with just a hint of Lovecraftian horror.
Color or B/W: Color
Violence: Basically none. A small fight with a sea monster that just shows a kid getting wrapped up in a tentacle.
Diversity: Yes, racial.
Opinion: Oh, I loved this one. I could have done a full review on it. (And might in the future.) Beautifully drawn and colored, with an intriguing storyline and interesting characters, Alabaster Shadows is a great pick for middle-grade+ readers.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Princeless by Jeremy Whitley and Mia Goodwin
Still waiting for your prince to come? Tired of spending night after night locked in a secluded tower? Ready for your own adventure? So are we.Princeless is the story of Princess Adrienne, one princess who’s tired of waiting to be rescued. Join Adrienne and her guardian dragon, Sparky, as they begin their own quest in an all-ages action adventure designed specifically for those who are tired of waiting to be rescued… and who are ready to save themselves.
Color or B/W: Color
Violence: Inferred, never witnessed. And typical getting eaten by dragons stuff.
Diversity: Yes, racial.
Opinion: While this probably technically for middle grade+ readers, I would have no problem with (and intend on) reading it with my 8-year-old. Princeless has a sassy, bold main character who is determined to get control of her life and be the hero her sisters need. It’s well-drawn, funny, and well-worth reading.
Rating: 5 out of 5
These were all very entertaining reads for various reasons. I’ll definitely be continuing on with two of the series. I do recommend pre-reading them to see if they’re suitable for your particular child. Alabaster Shadows is the one that has a horror tinge to it, but it’s really just a tinge. If you’re wanting to get your child introduced to the Lovecraft mythos, it would be a great way to ease them into it.
Let me know if there are any non-superhero comics you recommend for kids so I can check them out!
City of Ghosts: On the day the villagers were forced to flee Hensu, not everyone got out alive.
Jackson Stone is touring the abandoned Chinese city when he slips away from the group to spend the night, determined to publish an account of his ghostly experiences there.
Then he meets Yuèhai, a strange, soft-spoken woman who can tell him the city’s secrets—secrets the Chinese government would kill to keep hidden.
As Jackson uncovers the truth about Yuèhai and the ghost city, he’s drawn into a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and murder. He must risk everything to save himself and bring honor back to Yuèhai and her family. – Goodreads
This Top Ten Tuesday, the theme was things that make us instantly want to read a book. There are lots of things that get us in the mood, but we’ve managed to narrow it down for you. (Mostly.) Note that this is a list from both Gracie and I but we’re not saying what belongs to whom. Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you courtesy of Broke and Bookish.
10 Things That Get Us in the Mood (to Read)
Monsters (and I’m talking proper *creatures*, not vampires and werewolves, thank you!)
If you put a Megaladon, a gigantic Squid, or even just some part of a monster like it’s ferociously intent eyeballs on the cover… I’m sold! Gimme. Gimme gimme gimme gimme.
Demons (or Possession)
I may be an atheist, but if you tell me someone’s immortal soul is in danger, and some do-gooder is gonna have to go toe-to-toe with Satan or one of his minions? Let me grab the popcorn and I’m there!
Haunted/Haunting (or Ghosts. Ghosts is a good word too.)
Demons are the ultimate scary, but there’s something deliciously shiver-inducing about a haunted house (or car. Or anything, really.) The creak of a floorboard, the faucets turning on suddenly, a dark figure looming behind you when you look in the mirror. It’s all good. (And by good I mean terrifying, of course.)
Lovecraft / Cthulhu (Coolthulhu!)
If you didn’t expect Lovecraft or Cthulhu to show up on this list, then you obviously don’t know where you’ve ended up. And you might want to back away slowly. Lovecraft’s mythos is legend, Cthulhu is awe-inspiring, and that is all there is to say about that.
I know, I know, I’m a walking cliche, but I love going into a book knowing I can anticipate a good shoot-em-up happening in space. In terms of things that get us in the mood to read, you can’t go wrong with a long, strong phallic symbol getting ready to wreck death and destruction on some alien scum! *cough* Or a cute story about an AI named Bob works for me too.
Yes, right on the heels of talking about phallic symbols, I’m bringing the word hard into it. However, I’m talking about hard science fiction, of course. So if you thought otherwise, well, we should be friends. That’s all there is to that.
Just to prove I’m not a lecherous female (most of the time), we’re back to playing it perfectly innocent. I’m always drawn to collections of short stories whether they’re by the same author or a variety of authors. If it’s an anthology that has the words ‘Haunted’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Lovecraft’, or ‘Cthulhu’ in the title then it’s instant attraction.
Oooh, there’s just something about those words that make me happy. I don’t need it to promise death and destruction upon the world, of course (shut up, Coolthulhu Crew). But a breath-taking thriller starring something that needs to be stopped just in the nick of time, preferably by a smart-aleck anti-hero? Mine mine mine mine mine mine! (FYI, Laptev doesn’t have an anti-hero, but it’s still a bloody good read.)
I love photography, so any time there’s a book with a horror or paranormal bent that involves cameras, I’m going to pick it up. I just have to. There’s not even a question about it. (I might pick it up and put it right back down after reading the back cover, but I am, at least, going to lift it from the shelf and cradle it gently whilst I peruse its prose.)
A Great Cover
Okay, this isn’t a word or anything like that, but it’s true. There have been times when both of us have picked up a book we might normally not even look twice at just because the cover was so eye-catching. There are books I’ve carried home from the bookstore that I never end up reading, but I had to get it just because the cover was so shiny fantastically well-drawn or conceptualized.
Cory Banks, a workaholic researcher, has been focused on one goal his entire life: finding a way to clean up the oceans. Living in India, he genetically engineers a bacterial strain that will degrade plastics. Disaster strikes and the bacteria grow out of control, eating holes in boats, buoys, life jackets, etc. Desperate to stop the bacteria, Cory comes up with a plan to create a virus that will specifically attack them. But to do this he needs the help of a virologist and there’s only one person who is skilled enough to handle this emergency on short notice. Her name is Sarah Spallanzani and she also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Having recently finished her travails in The Laptev Virus, Sarah agrees to take on the problem. But tension mounts when Sarah discovers a second bacterial strain and suspects Cory of sabotage. – Goodreads
Belfry has an afternoon appointment to see the vet and Draculais, uhhh, busy.
Mina is a regular girl who pet-sits to save money for camp. Mina’s father is an accountant who works with monsters and makes house calls to their secret neighborhood, Midnight Villas. On a visit to the Villas, Mina has the sudden idea to offer her pet-sitting service to the monsters. When Dracula calls, she accepts the job even though she knows nothing about cats with wings.
When Belfry escapes, Mina learns that there are many monsters out there. Some are obvious, while others stay hidden. Some are good, but others are very, very bad, and one, in particular, is very unhappy about losing his cat. Join Mina as she races against time and monsters to find Belfry and return Dracula’s Cat!- Goodreads
Monster Pets: Dracula’s Cat Review
Dracula’s Cat, the first book in the Monster Pets series by Gary Buettner, was a fun read. It’s solidly middle-graded, with a heroine who is just starting to realize boys aren’t entirely yucky. Mina is smart, brave, and desperately wants to go to Zoo Camp. If that means she has to babysit pets, so be it. However, babysitting Monster Pets, that might be a little more than she planned for and the hijinks that ensue definitely test her mettle.
At 116 pages long (with a bonus section from the next book), Dracula’s Cat the perfect size for your middle-grade reader to tackle alone. I read it with my eight-year-old over a stretch of four nights. The first night, she begged me for additional chapters after I had planned to stop reading. She was completely wrapped up in the story and thought that Dracula’s cat was just the coolest animal ever. There was appropriate wincing, hissing, and cheering from her as we made our way through the book.
The detail is simple and perfect. The author builds the Monster Villas area just enough to sketch out the area in young reader’s minds without losing them in info-dumps. The dialogue is believable. The pacing is solid, with every bit of the story propelling the plot forward. Buettner’s Monster Pets series is imaginative, quirky, and interesting. He knows how to write a story that easily appeals to young readers.
Really, my only major complaint with Dracula’s Cat was the lack of proofreading. There were a lot of errors in this book. Given that I paid the full price for it at the Ohioana Book Festival, I can’t excuse it as a beta read or ARC copy. Even though it had a great cover and felt high-quality, the sheer amount of errors really ratcheted back my opinion of the book. Anyone reading with an objective eye before this went to the printer should have been able to catch at least most of the errors. (To be fair, it’s not like there was one every page, but my threshold for errors in printed book is 1-3, and there was a lot more than that.)
Overall, though it needs a good go with a red pen, there is potential in Monster Pets: Dracula’s Cat. I can’t say that I’d pay full price for paperbacks for the rest of the series right now, but I’d probably get the kindle version without batting an eyelash.
Title: Dracula’s Cat | Series: Monster Pets #1 | Author: Gary Buettner | Pub. Date: 2014-10-7 | ISBN13: 9781940344164 | Genre: Kids Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Near-drowning | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased | Purchase on Amazon |
This is Sci-Fi is a sampling of science fiction news across the mediums. From movies to books, to real life, and any bits in between that I can think of to list. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s happening, but it should whet your appetite!
This is Sci-Fi’s Quote to Consider
“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
Science Fiction Movies
Sci-Fi Movie Suggestion of the Week:
The Day After Tomorrow: It’s no secret that I love this movie. It’s the perfect movie to put on when you need low-key background stuff without loud jarring music and the whatnot. I’ve fallen asleep watching it probably fifty times by now. However, the reason I’m recommending it as the sci-fi movie suggestion of the week is simple – it’s cli-fi, and cli-fi is increasingly relevant. Four days ago I was wrapping up my little Japanese Maple to keep it from getting frost bitten. Two days later I was outside in shorts, weeding the garden and sweating. That’s all sorts of just wrong. But, hey, climate change isn’t real! (And if you believe that, I got a piece of ocean front property in Ohio you’d love to buy!)
Synopsis: Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.
It’s a simple scene, and until you look at it twice, nothing appears out of the ordinary. Then you notice the vaguely transformer-ish looks to the convoy, and it’s sheer size against the figure in the front.
Burgess Meredith – IMDB Photo
The Sci-Fi Zone: Burgess Meredith
Burgess Meredith was a familiar face on the Twilight Zone. His roles ranged from the put-upon reader who only wants a little time to read, to a man rendered Obsolete by a harsh future and the Devil himself. Besides the Twilight Zone he was no stranger to science-fiction. He was very versatile and it’s easy to see why he would become a regular on Twilight Zone. Below are Burgess Meredith’s Top Science Fiction Appearances (links are all to IMDB.)
These are just a few of his roles. My personal favorite (besides the Twilight Zone episodes, of course) is his voice work on Puff, the Magic Dragon.
Science Fiction Books
The Best ScienceFiction of the Year Vol 2: Night Shade Books is proud to introduce the latest volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a new yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy award–winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers.
The best science fiction scrutinizes our culture and politics, examines the limits of the human condition, and zooms across galaxies at faster-than-light speeds, moving from the very near future to the far-flung worlds of tomorrow in the space of a single sentence. Clarke, publisher and editor in chief of the acclaimed and award-winning magazine Clarkesworld, has selected the short science fiction (and only science fiction) best representing the previous year’s writing, showcasing the talent, variety, and awesome “sensawunda” that the genre has to offer.
Avengers of the Moon: The solar system needs a hero and it’s about to get one in an old-fashioned pulp adventure with modern sensibility.
It was an age of miracles. It was an era of wonder. It was a time of troubles. It was all these things and more . . . except there were no heroes. Naturally, one had to be created.
Curt Newton has spent most of his life hidden from the rest of humankind, being raised by a robot, an android, and the disembodied brain of a renowned scientist. This unlikely trio of guardians has kept his existence a closely guarded secret since the murder of Curt’s parents. Curt’s innate curiosity and nose for trouble inadvertently lead him into a plot to destabilize the Solar Coalition and assassinate the president. There’s only one way to uncover the evil mastermind—Curt must become Captain Future.
With the permission of the Edmond Hamilton estate, Allen Steele revives the exciting adventures of Captain Future.
Proof of Concept: On a desperately overcrowded future Earth, crippled by climate change, the most unlikely hope is better than none. Governments turn to Big Science to provide them with the dreams that will keep the masses compliant. The Needle is one such dream, an installation where the most abstruse theoretical science is being tested: science that might make human travel to a habitable exoplanet distantly feasible.
When the Needle’s director offers her underground Kir Heilsen’s people as a training base, Heilesen is thrilled to be invited to join the team, even though she knows it’s only because her brain is host to an AI called Altair.But Altair knows something he can’t tell. Kir, like all humans, is programmed to ignore future dangers. Between the artificial blocks in his mind, and the blocks evolution has built into his host, how is he going to convince her the sky is falling?
Shadow Run: Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.