Archive for August, 2011

Torment: A Novel of Dark Terror [eBook Review]

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Simone Allyne is the Weird Things eBook reviewer focusing on readily available, affordable Science Fiction and Fantasy. If you have a book you’d like reviewed, please email WeirdThingsMail@Gmail

“Could she murder the others to save the human race? Could she live with that for the rest of her life too?”

I absolutely loved Torment: A Novel of Dark Terror by Jeremy Bishop! Torment was a fast read, a little heavy, but still very enjoyable!  I found myself wrapped up in the story from the very first chapter.   I was convinced that this was going to be a story about an alien invasion, but was pleasantly surprised to watch as it turned into a tale of human survival in a post apocalyptic world.

Small town reporter, Mia Durante, finds herself having brunch with the President of the United States on the day civilization comes to an end.  Survivors of a different sort greet those who lived. What follows leaves Durante and nine other survivors on the run and they find themselves fighting for survival in a world in which only torment remains and where death is the only escape.

What would you do to stay alive?  That is the question that Torment had me pondering.  By pondering I mean I had to ask everyone I came into contact with how far they would be willing to go to stay alive; just to make sure I wasn’t the only person who would be willing to do what Mia Durante does in hopes of surviving or at the very least being able to stay dead

The book also doesn’t explain every tiny detail of how something happened and allows the reader to think more for themselves and invites them to draw their own conclusions.  This is most evident in the question as to what caused the mutation of the human race to begin with.

Torment is a social science fiction novel; meaning it is concerned less with technology and space opera type themes and deals more with sociological speculation about human society and beliefs.  The religious undercurrent helps flesh out the characters and allows you to see their differing opinions of god, and what life really means.

Readers may find the ending unexpected and personally it wasn’t an ending I had hoped for.  That is not to say that it was a bad end to this gripping story, but I wanted so much more for Mia and wanted her to understand that she wasn’t a bad person, no matter what decisions she made.

Despite my hope for a different ending, I really enjoyed reading Torment; it was very easy to visualize what the characters where seeing and going through. And again I enjoyed being able to draw my conclusions about the mutated beings.

[$2.99 on Amazon]

Get Andrew Mayne’s The Grendel’s Shadow For Only .99

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
SPONSORED POST

skitched-20110809-130938.jpg

Gritty science fiction/western comes to life when T.R. Westwood is called to hunt down a mysterious creature murdering villagers on the outskirts of a world technology forgot. Andrew Mayne’s first novella The Grendel’s Shadow has garnered praise from Amazon readers and consistently ranked among the science fiction charts, find out why when you pick it up via the Kindle store for only .99.

When an unknown animal starts killing off settlers on a backwater planet run on coal and steam power, there’s only person who can help stop the slaughter; T.R. Westwood. A distinguished professor of biology and the galaxy’s greatest hunter, he’s the man to go to when the local wildlife needs to be reminded who is the galaxy’s top predator.

In a galaxy filled with millions of worlds, his specialty is evening the odds for the ones with technological restrictions. Rocks and spears or shotguns and canons, he’ll use whatever is allowed to get the job done.

The Grendel’s Shadow is 35,000 word novella mixing elements of post singularity science fiction, steampunk, horror and western.

If you’ve enjoyed Andrew’s other books including Public Enemy Zero or Chronological Man, you will love The Grendel’s Shadow.

Also, pick up The Grendel’s Shadow audiobook as read by Justin Robert Young for only $2.95.

[The Grendel’s Shadow]

SPONSORED POST

The Long, Strange, Repetitive History Of Number Stations

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

We’ve talked about them on the Weird Things podcast and they ended every episode of Weird Things TV, but if you’re curious about the history of number stations (the creepy repetitive voices, transmitted on low power radio that repeat the same codes over and over and over) then here is a great 50 minute lecture about them.

Thank to reader Ben from Norway for passing this along.

[YouTube]

Orange Goo Attacks Alaska Town

Monday, August 8th, 2011

skitched-20110808-130505.jpg

It creeps, silently.

The orange goo off the coast of the remote Alaskan town of Kivalina is a mystery that could turn ugly. Not only do residents have no idea what the substance is, if it turns out to be harmful to the fishing, hunting or agriculture industries it could be dangerous. Towns like Kivalina are nearly 100% self-sufficient since travel can be so hazardous during winter time.

As of now experts can only rule out that the goo is a petroleum based or man-made chemical. The world is also still out on if it’s a sentient race of alien.

[Fox News]

Deadly Intent [eBook Review]

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Simone Allyne is the Weird Things eBook reviewer focusing on readily available, affordable Science Fiction and Fantasy. If you have a book you’d like reviewed, please email WeirdThingsMail@Gmail

“The girl laid her hand on the table, palm up.  Madame Vorchka grasped the delicate fingers.  Dark, vile images assaulted her.  Cold evil wound itself around her spine.  Blood, insatiable longing, dark laughter.  She dropped the hand, pictured it dripping with gore for a moment.”

I enjoyed Laura Eno’s Deadly Intent very much and it was really hard for me to put it down because you can so easily get caught up in the events of the town and it’s people.  You always feel that you need to know what is going to happen to them.

Deadly Intent is a story with emotionally driven characters that are very easy to relate too.  You can’t help but feel for Jonathon and sympathize with his granddaughter Abbie as they both fight for what they hold dear.

In the small idyllic town of Wood Park, California a mysterious virus is causing the ordinarily law abiding citizens to act out their most primal desires.   Add to that an amnesiac stranger with a nasty criminal past and you have Deadly Intent by Laura Eno.

The trouble in Wood Park begins with a torrential down pour accompanied by a lightening storm that wreaks havoc on the town and continues to do so even after the CDC arrives to “help” the town folk of Wood Park.

Jonathon Brier, sheriff of Wood Park, is pushed to his breaking point while trying to figure out what is happening to friends and family.  As you read, you can really feel Jonathon’s stress, sadness, and confusion while he tries to fix the problems in his town.

The only contention I had was that Deadly Intent flipped between perspectives a lot and at times and it wasn’t always clear who’s point of view I was reading from.   But other then that, Deadly Intent is a great read filled with all the trimmings that make Sci-fi such a wonderful genre to read!

[Deadly Intent is available for $2.99 on Amazon]

Don’t Kill Hitler! & 4 Other Helpful Tips To Avoid Time Travel Paradoxes

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Time travel has been a staple of science fiction since its inception.  As early as 1895 HG Wells, arguably the father of modern SciFi, wrote about time travel and its implications in “The Time Machine” .   Now a days we get at least one time travel movie every year, mostly centered around paradoxes.  Paradox is the term physicists use for the illogical effects of a careless time travelers. The most famous is one in which a time traveler kills his ancestor in the past. If this happens there is no logical way for the time traveler to be alive to kill the ancestor.  This is called the Grandfather Paradox.

In modern times, experimenters have observed time reversal in  particles and theorized how to use moving wormholes to build time loops.  Physicists have recently even shown how a time machine can be constructed.  Of course, if such a device is possible, even in the far future, care should be taken to prevent possible universe destroying paradoxes.  The following is a simple guide on how to keep yourself,  and the universe, safe, should you decide to take that vacation to the Precambrian Era.

First of all, the basics.  We don’t really know what kind of time traveling the universe allows.  There has been many scientific papers on the mechanics of possible universes.   Both Science and Fiction have narrowed down the possibilities for us:

Type I: The Back to The Future Universe, in which there is a single timeline that can be altered and produces paradox opportunities galore.

Type II: The Time Cop universe, in which every trip produces a myriad of splinter universes with different colored Statues of Liberty, etc.  JanClaude Van Damme lives in all of them.

Type III: The Doctor Who Universe in which time travel is possible but the universe itself prevents and corrects inconsistencies.  This is the currently  accepted scientific standard but things change often in this field .

Regardless of which universe we inhabit we have a few simple rules that will keep you from fading away and keep  the time space continuum running like a Canton Hegemony built  chronometer:

Get your tips AFTER THE JUMP…
(more…)

Podcast: All Drug Olympics

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Skitched 20110225 175343

Brian wonders if a bizarre method to get high is real or fake when the boys get word of a new FBI directive. Andrew reveals just how cheaply we can get to Mars and how the budgets of several legitimately terrible movies could help us get there. Justin, via his new alter ego Blowfellow, attempts to solve mysterious case in the woods while his sketchy cyborg partner and dirty informant complicate his questioning.

Support the show by purchasing Andrew’s new book The Chronological Man: The Monster In The Mist for only 99¢ at Amazon.com by clicking the image below!

Skitched 20110621 210403

Try out the brand new PODCASTR player, featuring wireless syncing between desktop browsers and iOS devices.

Subscribe to the Weird Things podcast on iTunes
Podcast RSS feed
Episode archive
Download url: http://www.itricks.com/upload/WeirdThings080311.mp3

Listen now

 

Sponsored by:

Nostalgia Bomb Podcast

Guts, Gore & Gadgetz podcast

FDZ Clothing

Picks:

Brian-

Dance With Dragons audiobook

Justin-

Doctor Who

Andrew-

Hunt For Red October

Freakshow [eBook Review]

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Simone Allyne is the Weird Things eBook reviewer focusing on readily available, affordable Science Fiction and Fantasy. If you have a book you’d like reviewed, please email WeirdThingsMail@Gmail

Ever wonder what it is like to be a girl genius running the Interdisciplinary Departmental Investigation Of Technomagic? Freakshow, a short story by Richard E.D. Jones, takes you inside the Interdisciplinary Departmental Investigation Of Technomagic or as it’s more fondly called “The Freakshow.”

The description of the Freakshow lab reminds me of the survival horror game Nocturne in which the main character works for a government organization called Spookhouse that operated like the FBI for all things supernatural.

Freakshow gives you a glimpse into the life of Natalie Harper, girl genius, who runs the Interdisciplinary Departmental Investigation Of Technomagic.  While working insider her lab, we get to see a typical day for Natalie, if it can be called typical when she is asked questions like “Where should I put the head, Dr. Harper?”  But after all she does have a hand for an assistant!

Jones creates a world of horrible wonder with Frankenstein heads in boxes, mysterious eggs, and an otherworldly beautiful man that is hell bent on tempting Natalie to join him and his nefarious ends.

I found Freakshow to be very refreshing because of the strong female lead character, but also found her assistant Vincent was an unexpected and enjoyable twist. Natalie herself is beyond smart, personable and easy to relate too.  This, along with the fantastic world she portrays, makes this short story a good read for the female Sci-fi enthusiasts but is not exclusive to women… so don’t be afraid boys!

One downside to Freakshow is that it had the makings of a full-length novel and could have easily been expanded to a full series, diving into more of Natalie’s adventures while working at Freakshow.  And that is my only point of contention with this story.

If you’re looking for a fast, and I do mean very fast, read and something that is on the lighter side of Science Fiction, but still an amazing story that you should definitely read!

[Freakshow is available on Amazon for .99 cents]

 

Fillipino Dwarves Seek Funds To Build Real Life Shire

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

skitched-20110802-150615.jpg

Being a dwarf in Manila can be a rough life. Many desk jobs have height restrictions, leaving an underclass of little people who find gigs singing, wrestling or stripping for tourist dollars. But one bold pioneer seeks to build a refuge for dwarves like himself, he wants to build a little people only colony…

Being free from this constant abuse, says Doron, is the reason why he and about 30 other dwarves are planning to establish a colony.

An investor has donated 16,000 sq m of land near Manila, though the fields still have to be cleared, the houses built, and the businesses started.

But money is tight, and Doron hopes that local politicians will help with funding and that the colony will one day become a tourist hotspot.

So-called dwarf towns have existed in the past – in Coney Island at the turn of the century and more recently in Kunming, China – but not everyone agrees that they help in the long run.

Doron imagines it to be tourist hot spot playing off the natural fascination many Filipinos have for dwarves. For now though, Doron must continue working his day job as a bartender at a popular dwarf bar The Hobbit House.

[Guardian]

And Now: A Fire-Breathing Robot Pony

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Enough said.

[Geekologie]

In 1970 Chile Attempted To Control Their Entire Economy With An iPhone

Monday, August 1st, 2011
skitched-20110801-134305.jpg

It is the dawning of the computer age and anything is possible. Computations are reduced to milliseconds, data which previously required warehouses and staffs for maintenance can now be stored and sorted with ease and in Santiago, Chile a few very ambitious fellows assumed that these breakthroughs could solve a larger problem.

They were going to take the Chilean economy out of the greedy hands of humans and the capitalist influences that corrupt them.

After Salvador Allende was elected as the first socialist president in the country’s history, he began to nationalize large chucks on the economy including local branches of out-of-state corporations. Many companies that were not nationalized, fled Chile leaving infrastructure (machinery, warehouse space, trucks, employees) behind for the government to take over.

The room you see above was HQ to Cybersyn, a project designed by British research scientist Stafford Beer where telex machines fed raw data into a custom designed program which would in turn create projections and issue guidance on further production and distribution to the newly nationalized factory. It was all controlled in the room pictured above. Boxy, plastic swivel chairs which one could easily picture a subordinate to Admiral Ackbar toiling away in dot the center while glowing panels displaying data ring the walls.

Problem was, by all accounts, it didn’t work. While some declare it to be a forgotten, neglected seed that could have flowered into an egalitarian “socialist internet,” most of the evidence states that not unlike the data display wall mounts (which were non-functioning stage props) the entire project never lived up to its lofty goals.

To put it in perspective, economist Alex Tabarrok points out that the IBM 360 units used in Cybersyn are considerably less powerful than an iPhone.

In this excellent 25-minute video essay about the Cybersyn, authors Jeremiah Axelrod and Greg Borenstein argue that the intentionally futuristic design of the control room was so effective at swaying Allende and his government into believing that the future was now and Cybersyn could be successful that it ultimately doomed the project.

When 1973 came and the military coup by Augusto Pinochet deposed Allende from office, Cybersyn was shuttered and the telex machines mothballed. As for those chairs, the world may never know.

[Wikipedia]

Man Cured Of Hearing His Own Eyeballs Roll

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Stephen Mabbutt was diagnosed with superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS), which is a rare condition where sounds inside the body become very loud.  Aside from hearing his own eyeballs roll in his head, he could hear his own heart beating and chewing food was a deafening experience.  Surgeons were able to repair the condition and the patient is doing fine.

“Eventually I could hear my heart beating and my eyes moving in their sockets. It was really distracting.”

Mr Mabbutt was referred to Martin Burton, a surgeon from the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital who helped establish the Cochrane Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Group. A CT scan found perforations inside the semicircular canals inside Mr Mabbutt’s ear.

He was diagnosed with superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS), a rare condition discovered by American surgeon Lloyd B Minor in 1995, which is thought to only effect one in 500,000 a year in Britain.

The operation to cure the problem involved a 5cm (2in) incision behind the ear, making a channel through the bone to find the “balance organ” and using the patient’s own bone to create a seal around the defect, the BBC said.

[The Telegraph]