Love, Murder & Mayhem by Russ Colchamiro, ed.

Love, Murder & MayhemLove, Murder & Mayhem

by Russ Colchamiro, editor

eARC, 385 pg.
Crazy 8 Press, 2017

Read: June 20 – 21, 2017


This is the strongest collection of stories that I can remember reading in the last few years — 15 stories and only 1 that didn’t work for me (it was fine, I just didn’t think it took advantage of the SF setting). I really would like to post a few paragraphs about each story — but wow, that’s too much to write and/or read. Especially when you can just go buy the book and read them instead. Each of these stories, all some sort of Science Fiction — some space opera-ish, some hard SF, some goofy, some super-hero based — involve the three things mentioned in the title: love, murder and mayhem (all of which can be interestingly defined, but they’re there). Despite knowing this about them, I wasn’t expecting some of the stories to take the turns they did — especially the murder part, which frequently showed up when I wasn’t expecting it (or at the hands of someone I didn’t expect). Check out the Spotlight post I did earlier today for more details.

So let’s focus on a couple of the standouts.

  • A Goon’s Tale by Kelly Meding
    It was clear from the early pages of her MetaWars series that Meding knows how to write super-heroes. This story about the insurance agents that have to clean up after them, as well as Super Villains (and their goons). Nice twists and development of the characters.
  • The Responders by Michael Jan Friedman
    So, what happens when a super-hero team breaks up? What if there’s a Yoko figure who may be at the root of it? I don’t know how many Star Trek novels by Friedman I read back in the 90’s (apparently, it was 2 — he only has 2 listed on his website, I thought the number was higher), it was nice to see that he still has that touch.
  • The Note on the Blue Screen by Mary Fan
    I think it was this story that really clued me into the fact that this book was going to be good all the way through — a story about an android that solves mysteries, has a close connection to a human and pays tribute to A. Conan Doyle’s most famous creation worked better than I thought it would as I started it (or than it sounds as I describe it). I would absolutely read more stories about Sherlock.
  • As Time Goes By by Patrick Thomas This Mortal Coil by Peter David , Kathleen David , and Sean O’Shea
    Simply put, there’s nothing that Peter David can’t write, and his co-authors here do a good job honing that. The super-rich and super-responsible are able to get people to sleep and dream for them to maintains high levels of productivity. Great concept and then building on that by asking, what happens when the person you dream for dreams about a murder?
  • DuckBob: Killer Service by Aaron Rosenberg
    What happens when a souped-up version of Alexa gets absolute power. It’s funny, as well as fun and thought-provoking.
  • I left off my favorite from this list, because I don’t think I could keep things to just a couple of sentences. But all of these stories (well, 14 of 15) have a great hook, some great characterizations and an ending you wouldn’t be able to guess right away. Not a stinker in the batch — I expect that many readers wouldn’t agree with my disappointment with one of the stories, so I’ll go ahead and make that bold claim.

    I frequently lament the length of short stories — not any of these, they are full stories, with well=established characters and worlds — I don’t need any more of them. I wouldn’t mind revisiting some of these characters in similar stories or full novels, but I didn’t object once to the length or depth. Just a really strong anthology.

    Go read this.

    Disclaimer – I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the Book Tour.

    —–

    3.5 Stars

    Love, Murder & Mayhem by Russ Colchamiro, ed. Book Tour

    Welcome to our Book Tour stop for Eating Robots. Along with this blurb about the book, my take on it will be along in an hour or so (the link’ll work when the post goes live).

    Book Details:

    Book Title:  Love, Murder & Mayhem
    Editor: Russ Colchamiro
    Category: Science Fiction, 385 pages
    Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
    Release date: June 18, 2017

    About the Book:

    Love science fiction stories that all include elements of Love, Murder & Mayhem?

    Then welcome to the latest anthology from Crazy 8 Press! This amazing collection from 15 all-star authors will delight you with superheros and supervillains. AIs, off-worlders, and space cruisers. We’ve also got private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travelers, aliens and monsters—and one DuckBob!

    With tales ranging from wild and wacky to dark and gritty to heartbreaking and fun, take the deadly leap with authors Meriah Crawford, Paige Daniels, Peter David, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Lois Spangler, Patrick Thomas, and editor Russ Colchamiro.

    You’ll never look at Love, Murder & Mayhem the same way again—and that’s just the way we like it.

    About the Editor:

    Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Stephen OramFinders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

    Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.

    As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

    Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

    The Data Disruption by Michael R. Underwood

    The Data DisruptionThe Data Disruption

    by Michael R. Underwood
    Series: Genrenauts, #0

    Kindle Edition, 68 pg.
    2017

    Read: May 27, 2017


    It’ll come to no surprise to any of my longer-term readers that I liked this — it’s pretty established that I’m a Genrenauts fan. I dig the characters, the world(s), the type of stories Underwood’s telling — the whole kit and caboodle. This story is no exception — I liked it. This takes place just before Leah is recruited, so the team is functioning very smoothly — no growing pains needed — just King, Shireen and Roman doing their thing like seasoned pros.

    It’s a pretty straight-forward, classic cyberpunk story (yeah, I’m old enough that cyberpunk can be called “classic”) — notorious hacker, D-Source, has gone missing. Which is causing all sorts of problems for the rest of his crew, and (by extension) all of Cyberpunk world as well as ours. So King and his team (minus Mallery, off in Western world) head out to save the day. They’ve worked with D-Source in the past and therefore have an easier time getting an “in” to the story in-progress. What results is a solid heist story with all the cyberpunk bells and whistles.

    Underwood has been modeling this series after TV shows, and wrote this as a “lost pilot” to “serve as an introduction to the series, which I’ll use to invite more people into the worlds of Genrenauts.” Here’s my problem with that — no one watches a lost pilot until the show’s been around for a while, and usually only fans see it. No one sits down to watch “The Cage” (or the two-part version, “The Menagerie”) as an introduction to Star Trek, and for good reason. Similarly, Leah Tang is our point-of-entry character, and to remove her from the equation takes something away from the overall story. Also, there’s something that’s slowly revealed over the course of the first few books that’s just blatantly stated. I just think that works better the way that Underwood originally wrote it.

    Still, Underwood knows what he’s doing, and if he thinks this will work to bring in new readers, I hope he’s right.

    Putting that aside, I’m supposed to be talking about the story, not Underwood’s plans. The story worked really well. It was a little too short for me — but it’s supposed to be short, so I shouldn’t complain. Besides, I almost always complain about short story length — even I’m tired of that. While the story was told in its fullness, I just would’ve liked to see everything fleshed out a little more — also, I wouldn’t mind spending more time with my friends. Fast, fun, with good action — celebrating what makes a cyberpunk story work — and winking at the genre at the same time.

    Still, any time with the ‘Nauts works for me. Good story, decent intro to this series that I can’t stop recommending — and a great price (free). Still, reading this after the sixth book would be my recommendation after starting with The Shootout Solution.

    —–

    3.5 Stars

    Project Mothership by Ash Gray

    Project MothershipProject Mothership

    by Ash Gray
    Series: The Prince of Qorlec, #1

    Kindle Edition, 137 pg.
    2017

    Read: June 6, 2017


    Rose is on her honeymoon when she’s abducted by aliens — who have abducted her for the express purpose of having her carry one of the many eggs of a Queen struggling to keep her subjects safe and fighting to prevent an invasion force from completely conquering her planet. And, yeah, if everything goes bad, it’ll be good to have some descendants of the Queen running around.

    A few years later, a woman comes knocking on the door of Rose and her daughter, Quinn, with the news that the enemy is close — and has been working with the FBI — to take her daughter from her — Rose and Zita fight for their escape through human robotic and alien forces, just trying to get off the planet so that Quinn can claim her rightful place helping her people.

    There’s a sense of fun, despite the dangers, and a great pace with plenty of tense moments throughout this. It was an enjoyable read with some good writing, and I’m pretty curious where it goes from here. It’s not perfect, I have a couple of complaints that I’m afraid will overshadow things — I want to stress: I liked this book, I want to read more — don’t think this post is anything but a recommendation.

    But to start with, other than the weaponry, I’m not so sure I see the difference between Gray’s 2160 and 2016 — it’s a shame that Gray didn’t work harder on that part of the world he built. I’m not saying it needs to be an unrecognizable reality (although it’d be nice), but we should have moved further than just better guns.

    One of my biggest beefs in fiction — TV or books — are central characters telling their closest family and friends lies to protect them. Yes, I’m looking at you particularly CW DC shows. That’s Rose’s impulse move, which is understandable, but why not trust those closest to her with the truth? Particularly her husband, clearly head over heels with her. Why make up a ludicrous story to explain what happened to her rather than risk the truth?

    My last beef was the sex scene — there’s some romantic tension early on that I’m fine with, I thought it worked in the moment. But running for your life, with various enemies on your heels is not the time to take a quick break for a little whoopie. It didn’t need to be as graphic as it was (thankfully brief), but really ill-timed.

    Setting that aside, this was a fun, quick read (I couldn’t believe I was done when I got to the end) that really made me want to go grab the sequel. Ash didn’t create a masterpiece here, but he told an engaging, entertaining story. Which is good enough for me.

    Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post, I appreciate it.

    —–

    3 Stars

    Towel Day ’17: Some of my favorite Adams lines . . .

    There’s a great temptation here for me to go crazy. I’ll refrain from that and just list some of his best lines . . .

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  • Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
  • This must be Thursday. . . I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
  • “You’d better be prepared for the jump into hyperspace. It’s unpleasantly like being drunk.”
    “What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
    “You ask a glass of water.”
    (I’m not sure why, but this has always made me chuckle, if not actually laugh out loud. It’s just never not funny)
  • He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided im with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
  • In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centuari. And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before . . .
  • “Look,” said Arthur, “would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

  • It is a curious fact, and one to which no one knows quite how much importance to attach, that something like 85 percent of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonnyx, or gee-N-N-T’Nix, or jinond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand or more variations on the same phonetic theme. The drinks themselves are not the same, and vary between the Sivolvian “chinanto/mnigs” which is ordinary water served at slightly above room temperature, and the Gagrakackan “tzjin-anthony-ks” which kills cows at a hundred paces; and in fact the one common factor between all of them, beyond the fact that the names sound the same, is that they were all invented and named before the worlds concerned made contact with any other worlds.
  • Life, the Universe, and Everything

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of flying.

    There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying.

    The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

  • (It goes on for quite a while after this — and I love every bit of it.)

  • “One of the interesting things about space,” Arthur heard Slartibartfast saying . . . “is how dull it is?”

    “Dull?” . . .

    “Yes,” said Slartibartfast, “staggeringly dull. Bewilderingly so. You see, there’s so much of it and so little in it.”

  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

  • Of course, one never has the slightest notion what size or shape different species are going to turn out to be, but if you were to take the findings of the latest Mid-Galactic Census report as any kind of accurate guide to statistical averages you would probably guess that the craft would hold about six people, and you would be right.

    You’d probably guessed that anyway. The Census report, like most such surveys, had cost an awful lot of money and told nobody anything they didn’t already know — except that every single person in the Galaxy had 2.4 legs and owned a hyena. Since this was clearly not true the whole thing eventually had to be scrapped.

  • Here was something that Ford felt he could speak about with authority.

    “Life,” he said, “is like a grapefruit.”

    “Er, how so?”

    Well, it’s sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast.”

    “Is there anyone else out there I can talk to?”

  • Arthur had a swordfish steak and said it made him angry. He grabbed a passing waitress by the arm and berated her.

    “Why’s this fish so bloody good?” he demanded, angrily.

    “Please excuse my friend,” said Fenchurch to the startled waitress. “I think he’s having a nice day at last.”

  • Mostly Harmless

  • A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

  • Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.
  • (I’ve often been tempted to get a tattoo of this)

    The Last Chance to See

  • “So what do we do if we get bitten by something deadly?” I asked.

    He looked at me as if I were stupid.

    “You die, of course. That’s what deadly means.”

  • I’ve never understood all this fuss people make about the dawn. I’ve seen a few and they’re never as good as the photographs, which have the additional advantage of being things you can look at when you’re in the right frame of mind, which is usually around lunchtime.
  • I have the instinctive reaction of a Western man when confronted with sublimely incomprehensible. I grab my camera and start to photograph it.
  • And a couple of lines I’ve seen in assorted places, articles, books and whatnot

  • I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
  • A learning experience is one of those things that says, “You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”
  • Towel Day ’17: Do You Know Where Your Towel Is?

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.

    A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

    More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

    Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

    One of my long-delayed goals is to write up a good all-purpose Tribute to Douglas Adams post, and another Towel Day has come without me doing so. Belgium.

    Next year . . . or later.

    Adams is one of those handful of authors that I can’t imagine I’d be the same without having encountered/read/re-read/re-re-re-re-read, and so I do my best to pay a little tribute to him each year, even if it’s just carrying around a towel (I’ve only been able to get one of my sons into Adams, he’s the taller, thinner one in the picture from a couple of years ago below).

    TowelDay.org is the best collection of resources on the day, recently posted this pretty cool video, shot on the ISS by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

    Even better — Here’s an appearance by Douglas Adams himself from the old Letterman show — so glad someone preserved this:

    Love the anecdote (Also, I want this tie.)

    People of the Sun by Jason Parent

    People of the SunPeople of the Sun

    by Jason Parent

    Kindle Edition, 327 pg.
    Sinister Grin Press, 2017

    Read: March 13 – 15, 2017


    This was a refreshing SF adventure with plenty of heart and imagination.

    A handful of brave astronauts take off from the dying planet Symoria with a mission to find something to save their planet– but something goes wrong during the launch, damaging the ship and severely injuring some of the crew. The ship crashes on a nearby planet — Earth, naturally — and things go downhill from there.

    Yeah, a disastrous (and possibly fatal) launch is the best thing that happens to the Symorians. Doesn’t really say a whole lot about this planet, or at least its inhabitants, does it?

    Anyway, they land in New Hampshire to be found by a State Trooper and his friend, a geology professor. Factors in the environment shock the Symorians by helping them to adapt to Earth and human culture in surprising ways. The professor, Connor Gaudreau (the professor) becomes an ambassador of sorts for them.

    To say that their first meeting with the U. S. Military goes poorly is an understatement — the soldiers believe that the Symorians are nerds in cosplay uniforms and makeup. When they won’t take off “the Spock ears,” one solider in particular gets aggressive — striking the non aggressive Symorian commander, Lenyx, repeatedly. While trying to defend himself, Lenyx accidentally kills this soldier, making things worse.

    Thankfully, there’s a sitting President who’s looking to establish her legacy by making a treaty with a new race. What follows is full of betrayal hope, loyalty and avarice. Plus a healthy dose of hope.

    The imagination behind this novel is impressive. Parent shows a lot of creativity in establishing why the aliens might use English expressions and human attitudes. The writing is solid — nothing dazzling, but solid. The characters are well-written, and the plot works well. Yeah, at a certain point, the ending is inevitable and few readers will be surprised at the last 1/3 (or so). But that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means that Parent follows his story through to its logical conclusion — he doesn’t go for some shock twist that has no foundation. He starts at A, then goes to B, C and D on his way to E — without succumbing to the temptation to go for a detour through Q and R.

    An entertaining, quick read with plenty of characters that make you want to read on. Recommended.

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for this post — thanks!

    —–

    3 Stars