Crossline by Russ Colchamiro: Out along the edges, Always where they burn to be

CrosslineCrossline

by Russ Colchamiro


Kindle Edition, 336 pg.
Crazy 8 Press, 2013
Read: March 18 – 19, 2019

Marcus Powell is a test pilot — not something you think about much anymore, but SF and adventure tales have started with them long enough to strike a classic chord. You’re instantly put into a certain frame of mind — and then when you see he’s on the launching pad, well, it almost guarantees a good time. Since he hits space very early on in the book, you know things are going to get interesting right away.

Because the next thing you know, he’s zipping around the outer parts of our solar system and then he finds himself in a parallel universe on a world that’s remarkably like our own — yet is very different. Thankfully the language — and slang — is largely interchangeable so Powell can get along just fine. But the differences are very striking and could get him in serious trouble/danger.

Back on Earth — as Powell is bouncing around that other planet, we get to meet a pilot from the parallel world that came to Earth. As much as this is Powell’s book, I found this guy a lot more interesting — but we get his story told mostly in summary form, while Powell’s is told to us in much more detail. So you’d expect that he’d be the one that readers get into. Now, I do — Powell’s a great character, and if we didn’t get the other pilot’s story, I’d have been very content to read about him.

While Powell runs around that other planet, trying to figure out how to get home we get to see the societal turmoil that covers the North America-ish place. We meet a wise man who has visions, some dedicated warrior women (and men), an incredibly creative baker, and a disturbed killer. You know, the usual. As Powell aligns himself with one warring faction, he finds himself in a different kind of danger than he’s used to as he tries to find his way home. On Earth, the danger is largely off-screen and the battles take place in the boardroom and the weapons are money and influence. While Powell has to deal with explosives, bullets and knives. Both types of warfare can result in fatalities

On Earth, we also see what goes on with Powell’s wife and daughter as they deal with Powell’s absence. His wife was less than supportive before he launched, and that’s haunting her. His daughter, who shares something in common with the wiseman on that other world, never loses hope. It’s hard to know if that’s because she’s young and naive (5 or so) or if it’s because she knows more than you’d expect. I had more fun reading about Powell’s daughter than I have with pretty much any character this month, she’s simply a delight. The granddaughter of a Native American seer (of sorts), this little girl knows things she shouldn’t anf has a certainty about things she has no business knowing about. She’s the embodiment of precocious, basically. Her mother is a caring and very outspoken teacher, the two of them together make a formidable team.

Everywhere you turn, the motivation driving the characters is family — protecting, avenging, trying ot live a life worthy of them, trying to hold on to, trying to get back to, trying to provide for . . . This is at once an incredibly believable driving force for a character, and incredibly relatable one. It’s a great way to get your reader on the side of every major character. It’s easy to forget the human element in a SF adventure — the advanced science, the fantastic technology, the wormhole creation, etc. can easily become the focus. But Colchamiro doesn’t let that happen, what keeps his characters moving, what keeps them going on — it’s all realatably human.

I’ll admit, I don’t think I got all of the mystical/spiritual/supernatural aspects that Colchamiro brought to the table. I think that’s largely on me, and there are going to be readers who love that part (and I thought it an interesting approach to take_. Similarly, there’s a little plot element makes no sense to me at all. It’s brought up early on when Powell launches that is returned to a couple of times, and then comes back in a pretty serious fashion in the closing pages, and drives the last action scene. It could be cut entirely and make no difference to anything (except the aforementioned action scene would have no justification and would have to be cut — which would be an improvement). There’s no reason for it, it doesn’t help the characters or the plot at all. Maybe it played a decent role in an earlier draft, but not now. Here’s the nice thing about it — it’s so extraneous that you can just ignore it and the story doesn’t suffer at all. I’m being vague here, I know. My point is (or it was supposed to be) is that there are some problematic parts of the book — but there’s enough right going on here that it doesn’t matter.

That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had plenty of fun with it. Colchamiro kept things moving well, he surprised me a couple of times and got me grinning and cheering. I found myself very invested in what happened with both pilots and wanted them to find what they’re looking for. Strong action, strong characters, a compelling take on the multiple worlds idea — and a whole lotta fun throughout. I can’t point to every part of this book that makes it appealing — most of it is in the intangibles. As frustrating as that might be when writing about a book, while reading it? It’s hard to ask for more.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author and Lola’s Book Tours, which I appreciate. The opinions expressed are my own — especially the seventh paragraph.

—–

3.5 Stars

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Lola's Blog Tours

GUEST POST: My Favorite Space Operas (TV shows and Movies) by Russ Colchamiro

Since my novel CROSSLINE falls under the category of ‘space opera,’ the Irresponsible Reader has asked me to rank my top 10 favorite space opera TV shows and movies (I went to 15 – hey! My list!).

Before I dive in, I recognize that some of my entries may not be entirely space ‘opera,’ but, again, it’s my list, and this is how I’m doing it. Second, as expected, there’s a bunch of Star Wars and Star Trek on here.

And finally, my list is about the movies and TV shows I enjoyed the most, regardless of whether they were the technically the ‘best.’

Anyway… here goes*:

THE HOLY GRAILS
For me, the conversation begins and ends with these two movies, which to my space opera-loving eyes, hold up great after all these years. In fact, last summer I got to see Wrath of Kahn on the big screen (my first time seeing it this way since it first came out!), followed by a live Q&A with Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. Absolutely awesome.

  • Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn
  • The Empire Strikes Back

CINEMATIC DELIGHTS
Where I’d rank any of these solely depends on how I’m feeling at the moment, and the mood I’m in (and there are other good movies out there, too), but if I had to pick, these are the ones I go back to time and again. Including the re-releases, I think I saw Star Wars on the big screen at least a dozen times. And Aliens? Whoa. I haven’t seen it in a while, but it’ll forever go down as one of my favorite blow-me-away movies ever.

  • Star Wars
  • Rogue One
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Aliens

TV TALES
As far as TV space opera goes, the BSG remake and The Expanse have a lot in common, in that both have a hardcore military slant. They’re both great, with one my caveat that the final eps of BSG fell far short of its otherwise brilliant run. And The Expanse is still going, so only time will tell if the quality keeps up. The three Star Treks I have here are all great to me, in slightly different ways, accept that the original took a little bit to find its footing, and Next Gen was a semi disaster the first two seasons. And then, of course, Deep Space Nine is basically a carbon copy of Babylon 5 with more seasons and a bigger budget. Still, give me any of these shows, and I’m happy as a clam. And I’m proud to say that my 8-year twins—my ninjas—are starting to watch them, too!

  • Battlestar Galactica (remake)
  • The Expanse
  • Babylon 5
  • Star Trek: Next Generation
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

PURE FUN
These three movies to me all belong in the same general sub-category. They’re all fun (and sometimes darn cheesy!), but ultimately leave me with a smile on my face. Get the popcorn out and let’s have a blast!

  • Flash Gordon
  • Galaxy Quest
  • The Last Starfighter

*Note: I did not include Doctor Who on my list because I haven’t seen enough of it to form an opinion, nor did I include Firefly, only because it didn’t last long enough. And while I recognize that Guardians of the Galaxy is a quality movie, it just isn’t one of my favorites.

Read the novel that was inspired (in part) by this list, Crossline by Russ Colchamiro.

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Lola's Blog Tours

EXCERPT from Crossline by Russ Colchamiro: There’s work to be done

An open-air man, Powell had been to cities. To Houston, and Denver, and San Francisco that one time for his cousin’s bachelor party. But there was something about the city ahead that made him shudder. It reminded him of his few trips to New York, that city that never sleeps. If you could make it there, the saying went, you could make it anywhere, and maybe even if that was true, Powell never understood why anyone would want to make it there, even if they could.

Powell had that rush he would get on the road to the launch pad. The pre-flight butterflies that caused his chest to tighten, his face to go flush, and the taste of adrenaline to coat his mouth, down to his teeth and gums. The difference between now and then was just so very small, but even if for just a few seconds, that intense queasiness would make him question in a shameful, shaky handed way if he knew what the hell he was doing, and consider that maybe he’d be better off hauling ass in the opposite direction and skipping out on the whole damn thing.

But then the intensity of the panic subsided—the urgency of the present snapping him back from his fears of a worst possible future, one that would require him to confront the demon at the gates. He steadied himself, because like his father told him: Nerves only mean you ain’t completely stupid. Get over it, boy. There’s work to be done. The clarity and confidence of his father’s voice resonated more than ever.

Read the rest in Crossline by Russ Colchamiro.

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Lola's Blog Tours

EXCERPT from Crossline by Russ Colchamiro: It was another ship

The warp engines were ready for the first of six return blasts it would take to get him back to Earth, when a blip came across the screen. Powell shifted toward the incoming message, but his short-range sensor interrupted him. Something in the Saturn rings. Video amplification revealed that among a cluster of particles was an odd-shaped fragment, with sharper, more reflective edges than he would expect. But he supposed that after debris crashed around over millions if not billions of years, who knew what was really out there? He looked again. Probably nothing of consequence. Just some lagging hallucination from the multiple warps.

As suspected. Just ice particles swirling around the planet. Billions of frozen blue ice particles floating in space that—

Powell focused his monitor on the third ring layer. Studying it more carefully, his sensors revealed that the particle cluster wasn’t in the Saturn ring, but among it. The fragment wasn’t random, a collection of dust, or some anomalous asteroid fragment.

It was another ship. Looking just like Crossline. And headed his way.

Read the rest in Crossline by Russ Colchamiro.

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Lola's Blog Tours

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Crossline by Russ Colchamiro

I’m happy to welcome the Book Tour for the exciting and otherwordly Crossline by Russ Colchamiro. We’ve got a lot going on today — after this spotlight post, I’ll be posting an excerpt or two, a Guest Post about Colchamiro’s favorite Space Operas, and then I’ll be giving my take on the novel. Phew! That’s a lot of ground to cover over the next couple of hours, but let’s start by taking a look at the book itself — don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for the Giveaway.


Book Details:

Book Title: Crossline by Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera
Release date: March 1, 2013
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 336 pages
Crossline Cover

Book Blurb:

Perfect for fans of Firefly, Flash Gordon, Stargate, and Escape from New York

Hotdog pilot Marcus Powell has been selected to test Taurus Enterprises’ Crossline prototype craft and its newly developed warp thrusters, which, if successful, will revolutionize space travel as we know it.

But during his jaunt across the stars, Powell is forced into a parallel universe — including a parallel Earth — where he finds himself at the center of an epic battle he may have been destined for all along.

Meanwhile, back home, reclusive oil tycoon and Taurus CEO Buddy Rheams Jr. — who sent Powell on that very mission — has a mysterious past and a secret agenda, one that could prevent Powell from ever making it back to his wife and little girl.

From author Russ Colchamiro, Crossline is a psychedelic, action-packed romp across time, space, and dimension that asks the question: once you cross the line, can you ever really go back?

Trailer for Crossline:

About Russ Colchamiro:

Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, 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, Altered States of the Union, TV Gods 2 They Keep Killing Glenn, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.

He is now working on the first novel in a new series featuring his hardboiled private eye Angela Hardwicke, and the first of three collaborative novella projects.

Russ is repped by The Zack Compnay.

For more on and Russ’s books, you can visit www.russcolchamiro.com, follow him on Twitter @AuthorDudeRuss, and ‘like’ his Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor.

Russ Colchamiro’s Social Media:

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

GIVEAWAY

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Crossline. These are the prizes you can win:
– one physical copy of Crossline by Russ Colchamiro (US Only)
– three e-copies of Crossline by Russ Colchamiro (INT)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

(or click this link: )

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate in this tour and the materials (including the book) they provided.

Lola's Blog Tours

Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition by Russ Colchamiro: A Very Strange SF Romp

Finders Keepers: The Definitive EditionFinders Keepers: The Definitive Edition

by Russ Colchamiro
Series: Finders Keepers, #1

Kindle Edition, 310 pg.
Crazy 8 Press, 2018

Read: January 4 – 7, 2019


This is a very strange ride. That might be the most important thing to take away from my experience with this book. Strange is good, strange is unique, strange is the kind of thing you can only read here (well, you can read strange SF in other places, too, but they won’t be this kind of strange).

That doesn’t tell you a lot, though, does it? This is the story of two twenty-something guys (one from the US, one from New Zealand) backpacking their way around Europe. It’s the story of a young woman, an artist trying to escape from something, and her life-changing interactions with those two guys. It’s also the story of a young couple, trying to better their station in life, who might have taken on a job they shouldn’t have — and their tragic blunder in the middle of carrying out that job which just might ruin their lives. There’s also the woman whose ambition and slip-of-judgement that has led to her fall into disrepute and her loyal assistant as they try to stage a comeback. Oh, yeah, and there’s Ira and Howard — a dolphin and a whale — who are basically the sea mammal answer to Cheech and Chong.

Jason’s waiting tables at a small restaurant, putting off getting a teaching job, because he’s just not ready to take that step, when one of his customers inspires him to head to Europe for a while. This was a huge mistake — he’s unprepared for anything, the fact that he’s not robbed blind by the first slightly crooked person he meets in any country is a wonder. He eventually runs into Theo Barnes, who’s only a moderately better traveler. He’s on a quest — the exact nature of which I’ll leave to you — but Ira and Howard gave him some pretty specific directions. Primarily, these two do what backpacking twenty-something males do: the drink a lot, they chase girls, the drink some more, they get lost in Europe, and drink to excess.

I’m going to pass on explaining how the others I mentioned get into the story — there’s a lot of complicated explanation — that makes perfect sense in Colchamiro’s narration, but wouldn’t quite work in my summary. But most of the other people in the book aren’t human — they’re a different form of life who are responsible, in one way or another, for the construction of Galaxies, Star Systems and Planets — most notably, they’re all involved in the creation of our solar system. And all of them have done something horribly wrong (inadvertently or otherwise) and all are in the middle of crazy, elaborate plans to regain their status. Colchamiro tells us about their falls and their various efforts to fix things while we watch Jason and Theo binge drink their way around Europe.

I’m honestly not sure if that paragraph made much sense — I bet if you’ve read the book, it does.

What surprised me about the book wasn’t the strange antics these pairs got into — but that Colchamiro works a lot of heart and some pretty serious emotional arcs into the zaniness. He does so in a way that doesn’t seem forced, it doesn’t seem like he’s taking a break from the outrageous actions to have a heartfelt moment, or anything — but he seamlessly merges personal growth, insight or complex emotions into the same scenes as a talking dolphin or biker gang interrupting a son introducing his girlfriend to his mother.

There was a time back in the 90’s or so where it seemed that not a week could go by without someone on a sit-com ask the clarifying question: “Did you mean funny ‘ha ha,’ for funny ‘peculiar/strange/odd’?” I thought of that frequently while reading this book — and once I abandoned the idea of this book being “funny ‘ha-ha,'” and instead embraced the strange, the absurd, the idiosyncratic peculiarity of Finders Keepers, I enjoyed it a lot more. I’m not saying that there aren’t funny moments, and it’s definitely not a serious work — it’s a fun, goofy, and strange SF adventure, which we need more of. I just don’t think I laughed or chuckled all that much.

That said, do I encourage you to read it? Oh yeah. Am I curious about what the next two installments of this trilogy might bring? Oh yeah. And I fully intend on finding out as soon as I can. I wager if you spend some time with this particular batch of oddballs you’ll be as curious as I am — yet pleased that you spent this much time with them. It’s a great mix of heart, oddball characters, youthful indiscretions, and wisdom that time and suffering can only bring — all in one goofy adventure.

—–

3.5 Stars

My thanks to iREAD Book Tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided, including a copy of the novel.

A Few (more) Quick Questions With…Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro came back for round 2 — and I’m very happy about that. I hope you enjoy this:

Tell us a little about your road to publication.
Finders Keepers is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar of the Universe’s DNA. Very much in the spirit of The Good Place, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

It original published in 2010, and got great notices, including in Publishers Weekly. As part of the launch—it was my debut novel—I landed a national distribution contract, with Finders Keepers on the shelves in 20 or so Barnes & Nobles throughout the U.S.

About a year ago I had a hankering to revisit the guys and see if it stood the test of time. Seeing how I could improve upon the original, I was inspired to write Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition. It’s 15,000 words shorter than the original, with tighter pacing, some new content, and a few characters I reimagined to better match how I always intended them. This new, updated novel is indeed the final version. This is it!

In the Author’s Note you talked about your reasons for this new version of the novel, and how you cut a good deal of the original text. Talk to me about the process of revising — how painful was it to cut anything? What was it like to look back at an almost decade-old work with a critical eye?
It was trippy to go back and look at the manuscript with fresh eyes. Certain scenes were painful to cut because I loved them, as individual scenes, but I needed to serve the story, and keep the pacing as tight and lean as possible. The biggest change, where I had to take a humble, was some of the language. The original version was a bit raunchy, but as the series evolved, and as I evolved as a writer, I accepted that some of the sex comedy elements were distracting from the overall adventure. So I cut virtually every F-bomb, toned down some of the sex elements, and ultimately made it friendlier and more accessible for a wider audience. Consider the original as the Raw & Uncensored Edition, with an ‘R’ rating, whereas The Definitive Edition is ‘PG-13’.
I’m admittedly late to the Finders Keepers party — what kind of feedback have you received from readers who showed up earlier to the trilogy to The Definitive Edition? Anything surprising about the reaction (hopefully positive surprises, but I’ve been online long enough to not know to assume that)?
All of the feedback I’ve gotten is extremely positive. Finders Keepers is a 3-book series— Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza. The Definitive Edition much more closely matches the tone, length, and style of Genius de Milo and Astropalooza, so the entire trilogy feels much more like one cohesive adventure. I’m incredibly happy with the way it turned out.
Last time we talked, we spent some time talking about Finders Keepers when we were supposed to be talking about Angela Hardwicke and the anthology she was in. It’s time for some payback — talk a little about Angela — her tie to these books and her future.
Angela Hardwicke is my hard-boiled private eye, who briefly showed up in Genius de Milo with a much bigger role in Astropalooza. I’ve since written a few short Hardwicke mysteries in Crazy 8 Press anthologies. The biggest news is that I’ve also written the first draft of my first Hardwicke novel. I’ll be doing revisions over the next few months, with plans to publish either this year or in 2020. After that I plan to write Angela Hardwicke mysteries for years to come as an ongoing series. I’m not supposed to pick favorites, but Hardwicke I’ve never had more fun as an author than with Angela Hardwicke.
You’ve said Finders Keepers is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips you took through Europe and New Zealand. What inspired you to turn those adventures into a novel, and then expand it into a trilogy?
I know its cliché that a trip was life-changing, but in my case, it happens to be true. Before I went overseas, I hadn’t traveled much, and since then I’ve been halfway around the world, and made friendships that have endured all these years. Finders Keepers and the sequels are for readers who want to go on a wild cosmic ride that will, I hope, inspire you to think a bit about the meaning of life, your place in it, and the machinations of the Universe. And, of course, leave you with a smile on your face.
Thanks for your time, and I hope that Finders Keepers meets with all kinds of success!