Book Gems on Kobo Writing Life

My hardboiled urban fantasy, The Man Who Crossed Worlds, just got a mention on the latest Kobo Writing Life blog post, courtesy of the brilliant Maria Schneider of Bear Mountain Books.

Check the link if you’re looking for some more fantastic fantasy or mystery reads.

http://kobowritinglife.com/2014/05/23/book-gems/

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Godzilla 2014 – My Thoughts

First up, my thanks to eBookSoda, who are featuring Mayday today. They’re a great little readers’ site like BookBub where they send you ebook recommendations tailored to your taste. www.ebooksoda.com. Check them out if you’re after some cheap books!

Now, onto my thoughts about Godzilla 2014. Minor spoilers ahead!

godzilla posterOh man. It’s been a long time since there was a movie to split the kaiju fanbase like Godzilla 2014. For some people, it was the big budget version of the King of the Monsters they’d always wanted to see. For others, well…

Let me get this out of the way up front. I didn’t dislike Godzilla. It had a lot going for it. I was getting hyped just from the awesome credit sequence at the beginning. We’re treated to a montage of nuclear testing around Bikini Atoll, with the clear implication that they weren’t tests at all. The score is fantastic during this opening, really getting you in the mood for what promises to be a dark, ominous monster movie, a true successor to the original 1954 Gojira.

The first act follows Bryan Cranston’s character as the mystery is built and the tension rises. There’s something out there, something bad, and it’s not clear whether anyone is going to be able to stop it. Bryan Cranston’ acting is amazing as usual. As the mystery builds, it looks like Cranston is going to have to team up with Ken Watanabe’s character, a scientist dedicated to studying creatures like Godzilla, to uncover the truth behind the MUTOs, a pair of monsters from prehistoric times that feed on nuclear energy. I was pumped.

And then at the end of the first act, the movie dies. Bryan Cranston drops out of the story and we’re left following his son, Lieutenant Bland of the US Navy. All Lt Bland wants is to get back to Mrs (Dr) Bland and Little Boy Bland so they can reform their perfect nuclear family. But in the meantime, Lt Bland stumbles around, somehow falling into every military operation that has anything to do with the monsters because apparently no one else in the entire US military knows anything about the nukes they’ve decided to deploy against the MUTOs.

Occasionally the movie flicks back to Ken Watanabe, who it turns out only exists to tearfully deliver lines of exposition and wisdom that aren’t nearly as profound as the movie seems to think they are. Other times, we go to Mrs and Little Boy Bland as they sit there wringing their hands, asking “Where’s Lt Bland? Why isn’t he here yet?”

And it goes on like that for almost the entire second act. An hour where these characters are not developed at all, an hour where we’re expected to care about these characters when the film has done nothing to earn it.

But what about the monsters? So what if the human characters are dull. This is a Godzilla movie, goddamnit! Where does the King come into it? Don’t we get to see the monsters? Don’t we get to see Godzilla duking it out with his foes? Don’t we get to watch buildings topple around the puny humans?

Sure. Sometimes. For a few seconds. Before the camera cuts away to Mrs and Little Boy Bland watching TV. Not just once, but again and again. For most of the movie, it just teases us, giving us a glimpse of the monsters before cutting away again.

And therein lies the movie’s problem. I totally get what they were trying to do. A slow build to a final, massive reveal is a great way to build tension. If it’s done right. If we become invested in the human characters. If we’re not dragged away from the interesting parts to focus on characters who have no character traits except “wife” or “soldier man”.

The original 1954 Gojira did a fantastic job of this. Godzilla only appears for a relatively short period of the film’s total running time. But his shadow hangs over the whole movie. The human characters are actually interesting. Consider Dr Serizawa, a scientist who has developed a weapon that might be Japan’s only defence against Godzilla, but who fears that weapon might be even more devastating than the atomic bomb if the world learns of its existence. That’s a character I can get behind.

And the most frustrating thing is that Godzilla 2014 nearly had that. Bryan Cranston’s character, an obsessive, guilt-ridden truth-searcher, was interesting. He had a clear arc. He had perfectly valid reasons to become involved with the monsters and let us share in both the human drama and the monster action. He should have been the main character. By teaming him up with Watanabe’s character, we could have a couple of truly great actors in truly great roles to make a truly great movie.

But instead, Cranston’s character is tossed aside and barely mentioned again after the first act. All we’re left with is Lt Bland, who along with his military chums manages to achieve almost nothing of value in the entire movie. I’m not kidding about that. We spend all this time following the military as they make dumb decision after dumb decision, none of which have any effect whatsoever on the film’s conclusion. Lieutenant Bland spends most of the second half of the movie trying to clean up the military’s mistakes while they sit around twiddling their thumbs, waiting for Godzilla to show up and save them. Godzilla becomes relegated to little more than a convenient deus ex machina who exists only to beat up the MUTOs at the end.

Even Godzilla seems to know that. After the humans fail to do anything once again, Godzilla finally sighs, drags himself out of the ocean, and solves the problem that the humans were too inept to deal with. But it takes so long to get there that by the time we actually see the monster action in the last ten minutes or so of the film, the movie had nearly lost me. And that’s a shame, because that last action is very good. It’s everything a Godzilla fan could want out of a final battle (as brief as it was). But I don’t know that it’s enough to save the movie.

I know it sounds like I’m being really harsh. But I didn’t hate this movie. I just feel like it was so close to being so much better. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, and more power to them. I’m just disappointed that I wasn’t able to love it as much as I hoped I would.

I sincerely hope the movie does well enough that a sequel is made. I love that kaiju are finally making their way back into the public consciousness of the West. I just hope that they can take a few lessons from Godzilla 2014 and deliver an even better sequel, one that understands what it’s trying to do, one that doesn’t cave to the pressure to have Mr Generic Military Man and his nuclear family as the main characters, one that strives to create characters we can be interested in.

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MAYDAY: A KAIJU THRILLER is now available!

Mayday 3dI’m very excited to announce that my hardboiled/giant monster mashup novel, Mayday: A Kaiju Thriller, is now available! If you’re excited about the new Godzilla movie, this is the book for you. It’s available right now in ebook forms on Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and Smashwords. Barnes and Noble are dragging their feet, but it should be up there within a few days. Now available at Barnes & Noble as well! And if you prefer to read in paper, the paperback is also available on Amazon.

As a special thank you to all you fantastic folks, the ebook version of Mayday is only $0.99/£0.77 (or equivalent) at all of the above outlets for the next week. So get in quick and grab your copy before it goes back to the full price of $4.99.

I’d really appreciate it if you could help me spread the word about Mayday. Tell a friend, write a review, or post a link on Facebook. Anything you could do to help would be fantastic.

You guys are the best. Happy reading, everyone!

 

Get the ebook:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KAOOKVG

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KAOOKVG

Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00KAOOKVG

Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00KAOOKVG

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/mayday-a-kaiju-thriller

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mayday-chris-strange/1119494725?ean=9781497427006&isbn=9781497427006

Apple: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id875714356

Smashwords (all formats): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/437705

 

Get the paperback:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Mayday-Kaiju-Thriller-Chris-Strange/dp/1497427002/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mayday-Kaiju-Thriller-Chris-Strange/dp/1497427002/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mayday-chris-strange/1119494725?ean=9781497427006&isbn=9781497427006

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Mayday-Chris-Strange/9781497427006

 

WE WON THE WAR, BUT CAN WE SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

Nineteen years ago, the Maydays attacked. Five colossal monsters rose from the earth and laid waste to cities around the globe, pushing humanity to the brink of extinction.

Now those monsters are our slaves, fighting each other for our amusement in brutal matches broadcast across the world, courtesy of the Volkov Media Corporation.

A MONSTER LIES DEAD.

Maydays have proven themselves indestructible. So when a Mayday is found dead with no cause and no witnesses, Volkov’s staff detective Jay Escobar is tasked with uncovering the truth before it can cripple the company.

THE MAYDAYS WILL RISE AGAIN.

This is the case that will make Escobar’s career. But the investigation soon spirals wildly out of control. As he races to solve the case before it’s too late, Escobar discovers that the Mayday’s death is only the first step in a plot that will see humanity plunged back into an unwinnable war.

And he’ll be at ground zero when it begins.

MAYDAY is a genre-bending mash-up of hardboiled crime fiction and Japanese kaiju cinema. Sam Spade meets Godzilla in a gripping mystery of monstrous proportions.

Available Now

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MAYDAY: A KAIJU THRILLER is coming May 16th 2014!

Mayday 3d

My giant monster/hardboiled detective mashup novel is about to be released! Get hyped!

For the first week or so, MAYDAY will be heavily discounted–my way of saying thanks to all you awesome folks. If you don’t want to miss the special price, sign up for my New Release Email List and I’ll send you an email as soon as the book is available.

Want a Free Review Copy of MAYDAY?

If you’ve ever reviewed one of my books before, either on your blog, a dedicated review site, Goodreads, or a storefront like Amazon, I’d love to give you a free review e-copy of MAYDAY. Just email me at chrisstrangeauthor@gmail.com and let me know you want a review copy.

If you’ve been meaning to leave a review for one of my books and haven’t gotten around to it, you can post one any time before the end of May and I’ll still be delighted to send you a review copy of MAYDAY. It doesn’t matter whether the review is positive or negative, so just be honest!

 

Now with all that out of the way, here’s the blurb for MAYDAY:

WE WON THE WAR, BUT CAN WE SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

Nineteen years ago, the Maydays attacked. Five colossal monsters rose from the earth and laid waste to cities around the globe, pushing humanity to the brink of extinction.

Now those monsters are our slaves, fighting each other for our amusement in brutal matches broadcast across the world, courtesy of the Volkov Media Corporation.

A MONSTER LIES DEAD.

Maydays have proven themselves indestructible. So when a Mayday is found dead with no cause and no witnesses, Volkov’s staff detective Jay Escobar is tasked with uncovering the truth before it can cripple the company.

THE MAYDAYS WILL RISE AGAIN.

This is the case that will make Escobar’s career. But the investigation soon spirals wildly out of control. As he races to solve the case before it’s too late, Escobar discovers that the Mayday’s death is only the first step in a plot that will see humanity plunged back into an unwinnable war.

And he’ll be at ground zero when it begins.

MAYDAY is a genre-bending mash-up of hardboiled crime fiction and Japanese kaiju cinema. Sam Spade meets Godzilla in a gripping mystery of monstrous proportions.

COMING MAY 16th 2014

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Italian Edition of Don’t Be a Hero

Update time!

It’s all hands on deck here. I’m busy beavering away on various projects, both writing and real-life nonsense. Currently, I’m deep in the first draft of the third Miles Franco urban fantasy novel. Predictably, things aren’t going too well for Miles. But he’s not the only one having a hard time. And that’s all I’m saying on that for now.

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks for the cover reveal of my upcoming giant monster/hardboiled detective mashup novel, MAYDAY. And maybe I’ll see about posting a sneak peak of the first chapter or two as well. I’m really excited about this book. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written. I hope you guys think so too.

Don't Be a Hero: A Superhero NovelBut in the meantime, I’ve got some exciting news to share. I’m very pleased to announce that Italian publishing house La Ponga Edizioni will be publishing the Italian edition of my superhero novel Don’t Be a Hero!

That’s right, folks. Soon you’ll be able to read my scribblings not only in English, but also in one of the languages of love.

Even if you don’t understand Italian, there’s plenty of reasons to pick up a copy when it’s released.  For example: Tell your significant other that it’s a book of Italian love poems and read it aloud to them. They’ll think you’re the most sophisticated son of a gun on the planet.

If it gets you laid, I’m taking the credit.

I’ll be sure to post more information as it comes along.

Until next time, keep being awesome.

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New Story in THUGLIT

THUGLIT Issue 9For all you sick puppies out there, my crime-writing pen name Harry St. John has a nasty little story in the latest issue of THUGLIT. No fantasy or sci-fi here, just bad people doing bad things.

And it’s not just my story. You’ll find seven other depraved stories in there, and all you’ll pay is one measly buck to get the Kindle version or $5.99 for the paperback. Go get it at Amazon!

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Adrift: A Free Short Story For You

Here’s a late Christmas present for you all. I wrote this little sci-fi story a while ago and never did anything with it. It’s not connected to any of my series and it’s not long enough to justify charging any money for. So I figure why not share it with you fantastic folks? Enjoy!

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Adrift

I found Rubica slumped against the entrance to port airlock 302. He still wore a crumpled blue librarian’s uniform, the elbows and knees black with grease. Hell of a place to come. Back in my granddad’s day, a rock the size of my fist had punched a hole in this section’s hull shield. Emergency hatches had sealed the hull to keep it airtight, but the section had been abandoned due to the radiation risk. I’d had to crawl a hundred metres through stale water in a rusted maintenance shaft just to get here.

I didn’t draw my gun. Rubica’s hands were empty, and besides, you work security as long as I have, you get to tell if a man’s a threat. Rubica wasn’t, not anymore. I was already too late. Two hours and eleven minutes late, by the glow of my watch.

The ventilation rattled like Death’s bones as it spat humid air over us. I tasted metal in the back of my throat. The place wasn’t supposed to be lit. Rubica must’ve rigged up the emergency lighting. I fished through my pocket and found a bent packet of cigarettes. The ventilation boys hated cigarettes, reckoned they fouled up the air system, but screw them. I pulled a cigarette out with my lips and offered the pack to Rubica. He looked at me for the first time and shook his head. His skin was traced with deep lines made deeper by the emergency lighting.

“Can you feel it?” His voice reverberated in the cramped space.

“Feel what?”

“Our heading. It’s different. A point-oh-five degree course change.”

“Point-oh-four,” I said. “The engineers managed to correct it some before you vented all the fuel.”

“Point-oh-four.” Rubica breathed deep. “Still enough.”

I sparked a match and lit my cigarette. I watched the flame dwindle slowly down, then tossed the match into a puddle in the corner.

“I have to take you back,” I said.

“In a minute, Gray. Please.”

I blew smoke at the ventilation grate above my head. Let the ventilation boys get pissy about that. “If I don’t bring you back soon, they’ll send someone else. Someone who won’t treat you so well. The XO’s got the crew into a frenzy. Everyone knows we’re adrift by now.”

His eyes crinkled at the corners. “We were always adrift. You and I would never have seen land.”

“Maybe not us, but our children, or our grandchildren. They would’ve made it.” That was why our ancestors made this ship. So their descendants could find a new home among the stars, a place to start again.

“Perhaps.” Rubica lowered his head so the shadows hid his eyes. “We met once before. Back  when the Starfarer extremists tried to destroy the Archive’s servers. Do you remember?”

“I remember.”

“Afterwards, I was tasked with repairing the data from the damaged servers. The restricted servers. I tried to focus on my work, of course, tried not to read the code. But I’m a librarian. Seeking knowledge is what I do.”

I showed him my sneer. It was a good one; I’d been practising. “Save it for the inquiry. It’s time to go.” I reached for him.

“Wait, just wait.” He scrambled back and held up his hand. His voice rose sharply, the first true emotion since I’d cornered him here. “You know there won’t be an inquiry. They won’t ever understand. But I need to explain it to someone. Please, just let me speak.”

I checked my watch again. The course change was irreversible now. I’d been so close, but Rubica knew every system. He’d sealed the doors to the engine rooms, cut off all external controls. When I’d felt that sickening lurch, the whole ship had groaned. It hadn’t changed direction for twenty generations. It had always been fixed on a single point, the planet Vera 3. Our home, one day.

And now we were pointed into the black, into nothing, forever. I supposed we had plenty of time to talk. I leaned against the bulkhead and waited for him to continue.

“Do you have children?” Rubica asked me.

“One. A boy. Just turned twelve. We wanted more, but with the population rise…” I shrugged.

“What’s his training?”

“Security.”

“Just like his father.” Rubica’s eyes crinkled at the corners. “Did you know that over the last three generations there has been a sixteen per cent rise in military and security training?”

I shrugged. Education was all computer-controlled, designed to ensure the correct proportions of children went into the most essential crew positions.

“I discovered that when I was rebuilding the code for the education program,” Rubica said. “The change was pre-programmed. On a timer. Five generations ago, the computer began increasing the militancy of the ship’s population.”

“Yeah? How come?”

Rubica leaned back and closed his eyes. “You know, I think I will have one of those cigarettes.”

I passed him one. He took it and leaned forward as I lit it for him. His eyes flared in the match light.

“How’s your Earth history?” he asked. “The End War.”

That was easy. The warmongering Federation had been gearing up for nuclear annihilation against our people, the Alliance. The world was coming to an end. To ensure the survival of humanity, the Alliance built generation ships like this one and sent them out to colonise new worlds. Everyone on board knew the story.

“I dug through the ship’s historical records.” Rubica said. He leaned forward. “While preparing for nuclear war, like us, the Federation sent out colony ships. Only they did it first. Their space program was far more advanced than ours. They had all the data on possible habitable planets. We could build colony ships, but we didn’t know where to send them. So we followed the Federation ships. Do you understand what that means?”

I rubbed my sleeve across my forehead. Goddamn, it was humid in here. “You think there’s a Federation colony ship ahead of us, also on its way to Vera 3.”

“Not on its way. Already there. Their ship had a small speed advantage over us. They’ve likely been on Vera 3 for fifty relative years by now.”

“So what were we supposed to do when we got there?” I asked.

Rubica’s lips twisted around his cigarette. “Did you know this ship carries three thermonuclear warheads with delivery systems?”

I said nothing.

“Our education programs were designed to ensure that all two hundred thousand of us would be prepared—eager, even—to perform ground assaults by the time we entered orbit around Vera 3,” he said. “The Federation colonists would have no idea of our existence. Not until it was too late. That’s why I had to stop us ever reaching Vera 3. Do you understand?”

I stared at him a few seconds. Then I took a step towards him. “That’s it? You think we deserve to be damned to save a few warmongering Federation colonists? History hasn’t forgotten the Federation’s crimes. Why should their children be allowed to live beneath an open sky while ours are sentenced to an eternity adrift?”

“Whether Earth survived or not, the war is long over. Surely you realise that.”

I flicked my cigarette away and reached for his collar.

“Wait, please.” He twisted out of my grip and backed away.

“Time’s up. They’re waiting for you.”

“You know what I did was right.”

“Do I?” I asked.

“I was the only one who could turn us from this course our ancestors put us on. If you take me to the crew they’ll string me up and take twenty generations’ worth of frustration out on me.”

Something heavy formed in the pit of my stomach. I drew my pistol and let it dangle at my side. Rubica’s eyes went to it. He held his arms towards me.

“Wait,” he said. “Wait. Let me take the airlock. Give me that, at least.”

It took me a moment to understand what he was saying. I licked my lips. He was right about one thing: the crew would make him hurt. I wanted to make him hurt, for what he’d doomed us to. But I couldn’t take hold of him and drag him back. I didn’t understand why, but my body wouldn’t comply.

I stood there for a moment. There was nothing left to say. I handed him my matches and the last cigarette.

He sighed, all the tension going out of him. “Thank you, Gray.” He moved to the airlock’s emergency release and nodded at me.

I turned away and crawled back into the maintenance tunnel. I pulled the hatch closed behind me and spun the lock so it sealed.

The hiss of escaping air came a few minutes later. A rushing sound as everything in the section was sucked into space. Then nothing. It was over in a few seconds.

It was only then I realised Rubica was the luckiest of all of us. For a moment, he got to see the sky over his head.

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