Book review: The Facebook Diet by Gemini Adams


The Facebook Diet by Gemini Adams
Release date: January 30, 2013
Publisher: Living Consciously Publishing
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for this review.
Also note that this review is being posted on both Apocalypse Mama and In Case of Survival.
Blurb:

There are now 1 billion people on Facebook. That’s 1 in every 7 people on the planet. And 34% of all users check their account before brushing their teeth or hair in the mornings!  
Everyone can confess to an addictive Facebook habit, whether it’s stalking an ex, faking bathroom breaks to read news, checking-in wherever they go, or art-directing photo’s for the perfect profile pic.
The Facebook Diet (the first in The Unplug Series) takes a tongue-in-cheek look at this love for social media, featuring 50 hilarious cartoons that pinpoint the more idiotic, embarrassing and cringe-worthy behaviors of this modern approach to communication.   It’s the ideal gift for Facebook junkies everywhere. Helping them find light-relief and the ability to laugh at this tech-takeover, which may inspire them to occasionally unplug with a tech-detox.

 
What I liked:

  • The humorous look at the Facebook addiction
  • The illustrations

What I didn’t like:

  • The length (it was awfully short)
  • While it was funny, I have to admit there were parts I didn’t enjoy as much

The review:
So this is a cute little book. It’s a humorous take on people’s addiction to Facebook (which some people doubtless have). There are illustrations for each of the points the author makes; in my opinion, the illustrations are the best part of the book. And really, this book could be about anyone with a tech addiction, be it online gaming, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, or whatever else is out there on the Interwebs.
From my understanding, the point the author is trying to make is not that we’re all addicted and at the mercy of Mark Zuckerberg (that may just be a side effect). Rather, Gemini Adams’ point is that we should all take the time every now and again to just unplug. Turn off the computer. Put the phone down. Go see a movie, watch TV, read a book. Or heck, go talk to that other adult living in your house. You know, the one standing next to you in that picture on your wall — that picture, the big one, the one people say is of you on your wedding day.
I laughed at many of the points because it describes me on a lot of days, albeit with Twitter, not Facebook. (Not gonna lie, Twitter is my mind-crack. Sorry, Mr. Zuckerberg.) However, that being said, some of the humor just didn’t resonate with me. Humor is a very subjective thing, though; while I didn’t find much of the book funny, you might.
In any case, anyone who’s ever used Facebook should give this one a flip-through. The illustrations are great.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Book review: Existence by David Brin

Existence book cover

Existence by David Brin

Release date: June 2012

Publisher: Tor

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Amazon blurb:

Bestselling, award-winning futurist David Brin returns to globe-spanning, high concept SF with Existence. 

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumors fill Earth’s infomesh about an “alien artifact.” 
Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope and selfishness and love and violence. And insatiable curiosity.

Continue reading “Book review: Existence by David Brin”

The zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part 1

Welcome to the apocalypse. You’re a parent. Are you prepared?
Note: I was able to take this class for free because I’m reviewing the class for ICoS.
I’ve written about post-apocalyptic parenting in the past here on ICoS. Being a post-apocalyptic parent is something I think about, albeit a little less often than I think about post-apocalyptic evil space monkeys. (What can I say, I’m really into evil space monkeys. Especially if they’re pirates. But I’m not into them THAT way, so get your mind out of the gutter.)
Of course, most of what I’ve written about is hypothetical. After all, I really have no idea what the world will be like after an apocalypse, so I have even less of an idea of what parenting will be like after said apocalypse. It’s really anybody’s guess. (And I’d imagine some guesses are more interesting than others.)
That being said, there are some things we can prepare for as parents. And really, there are some things we already prepare for. Don’t believe me? Think about it: if you’ve ever traveled for any length of time with young children, you’ve packed, prepared, and thought about at least half a dozen contingencies (possibly related to a kid losing a security blanket, getting bored, or running out of diapers). That type of prepping is, at its root, the same thing as preparing for a disaster. Because I don’t know about you, but if my youngest lost her security blanket, I’d probably be hoping for the apocalypse to come around.
If, however, you don’t think you’re ready for a disaster – apocalyptic or otherwise – but want to be, there are actually classes you can take. (I know, right?) And here in Calgary, there’s a zombie apocalypse parenting class.
I KNOW. I never thought I’d see “zombie apocalypse,” “parenting,” and “class” together in any sort of phrase, but there you go. Not surprisingly, it’s a class that helps you prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Also disasters and big emergencies, but that’s not nearly as important as the zombie apocalypse, right? Exactly. Now I, as a responsible parent (or something like that), jumped at the chance to take this class, because dude, seriously. It’s a zombie apocalypse parenting class. How could I not take it?
It’s a good thing I did, too, because holy chalupas on a paper plate, I am SO NOT PREPARED.
Let’s take a look, shall we? In the opening questionnaire, the first question was, “name five things that you always keep in your diaper bag or car.” I answered based on what’s always rolling around in my van, because I no longer carry a diaper bag (oh thank the gods). So what do I have in my van at any given time? Bottled water, baby wipes (most likely dried out), a stroller, random jackets, and kids’ toys. (I didn’t mention the cheeseburger wrappers, escapee French fries, and the occasional (used) napkin.)
Granted, old French fries might make a good weapon – they’d be hard and crunchy enough to do some damage if I had a whipped it at someone’s head. Note to self: put slingshot in glove box.
And then there was the question about what skills we’d bring to a zombie survival team. Well, crap. Does Google-fu count? No? What about making fun of people? Also no? Well, that means I’m toast. Make sure someone prevents me from snacking on your brains, ok?
On a more serious note, we also discussed how people get their news. After all, in an emergency situation, it’ll be important that people find out what’s going on as soon as humanly possible. Figuring out Little Johnny’s soccer schedule when, say, a tsunami is bearing down on your location is probably not the safest or smartest thing for you to be doing. But if you don’t know what’s happening out there, you’re probably going to prioritize that schedule. Get what I’m saying here?
For fast-developing events, the best source of information is probably Twitter. Love it or hate it, Twitter has a lot of active users, and they share a lot of information. Yes, some of it’s useless, but some of it…isn’t. Of course, there’s also Facebook. Personally, I found out about last year’s Japanese tsunami via Facebook – my brother was updating his status as the earthquake was happening (he was in Tokyo at the time).
Really, social media can be a good source of up to the minute information, especially when it comes to emergencies or disasters. (It’s also a good source of what people had for lunch, but hey, you win some, you lose some.)
All in all, the class was fun, informative, and lighthearted. Well, as lighthearted as you can get when you’re talking about a scenario when the world has just gone to hell around you. But hey, you gotta laugh, otherwise you’ll cry.
I learned quite a bit from the class, and I highly recommend you take it (or one like it, if you’re not in Calgary). Or maybe at some point in the future, Lindsay will consider offering this via webinar for those who aren’t lucky enough to be in Calgary. (Hint, hint?)
I will talk about the class in greater depth in subsequent posts, but I wanted to get the general overview up for you to read. Lindsay and her co-teacher gave us a lot of information – all of it good information – and I wanted to share the basics of it with you. Of course, this doesn’t take away from the class (and I still think you should take it if you can), because I couldn’t get all the information written down. Also, nothing beats the person-to-person interaction that allows you to ask questions and all that fun stuff.
Basically, this means you have to stay tuned over the next couple weeks while I round off the post series!
Thank you again to Lindsay Ross and Babes in Arms in Calgary for allowing me to sit in on this class!
Website: www.babesinarms.ca
Twitter: @babesinarmsshop

Prepare you mind for the apocalypse.

We all know having the proper supplies, tools, and even clothes for the apocalypse is vital. We prepare our bodies with exercise and diet, but how do we prepare our mind? How do we ready ourselves for the predators who will use mental tricks and manipulation to assert their will?
I recently read an article about Pick up Artistry or PUA. It’s a school of thinking and series of behaviors designed to coach men that women aren’t interested in to manipulate, bully, and otherwise deceive their way into bed.
Delightful.
There’s a book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss, about understanding and employing this technique that has a nearly perfect score on amazon with about 720 reviews. Overwhelmingly, these Seven Hundred and Twenty people, likely a vast majority of men found topics like “Selecting a Target” and “Isolating the Target” to be valuable information.
Read the book, not to become this kind of person but to recognize them when they approach you, your friends, your daughter. Explain to your friends and relative what it looks like to be manipulated by a Pick up Artist. Every potential victim needs to not only be confident in their own mind and cues it’s providing but also aware of what might be churning in the mind of that seemingly vulnerable man who needs help on the other side of those buildings.

We all know having the proper supplies, tools, and even clothes for the apocalypse is vital. We prepare our bodies with exercise and diet, but how do we prepare our mind? How do we ready ourselves for the predators who will use mental tricks and manipulation to assert their will?

I recently read an article about Pick up Artistry or PUA. It’s a school of thinking and series of behaviors designed to coach men that women aren’t interested in to manipulate, bully, and otherwise deceive their way into bed.

Delightful.

There’s a book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss, about understanding and employing this technique that has a nearly perfect score on amazon with about 720 reviews. Overwhelmingly, these Seven Hundred and Twenty people, likely a vast majority of men  found topics like “Selecting a Target” and “Isolating the Target” to be valuable information.

Read the book, not to become this kind of person but to recognize them when they approach you, your friends, your daughter. Explain to your friends and relative what it looks like to be manipulated by a Pick up Artist. Every potential victim needs to not only be confident in their own mind and cues it’s providing but also aware of what might be churning in the mind of that seemingly vulnerable man who needs help on the other side of those buildings.

Because for all their placating and explanations of how harmless it is and how when a women “acts like she’s not interested she’s just playing games,” PUA is disturbingly similar to emotional abuse. That special kind of abuse that isolates the victim and makes them question their self worth so that the abuser can swoop in and be the hero in a situation that they caused.

There is nothing at all wrong with going out and trying to get laid. There is nothing at all wrong with using techniques to better “your game.”

The problem arises when the game is more important than the person being played. People who refuse to treat people like people are shitty people.

After spending three days immersed in a Mystery Method Corp (now Love Systems) seminar, Gene Weingarten expressed his uneasiness about “a step by step tutorial for men in how to pick up women, make them comfortable in your presence, and bed them, ideally within seven hours of your first meeting” and wondered aloud, “Is there something inherently wrong with the notion of seduction as a classroom-taught skill, complete with a long hierarchy of ‘lines’ that work, seemingly spontaneous topics of conversation that are anything but spontaneous, tricks for seeming ‘vulnerable’, and tips on how to behave so as to deliver subtle but effective nonverbal inducements to intimacy? [SOURCE]

It is vital that in all our preparations we recognize shitty people from the jump and never give them the upper hand. Recognize when people are playing at our emotions and trying to manipulate our minds by saying something so random and out of the blue that it confuses and thus disarms us[1. Yeah, that’s a technique.].

Read the books your predators are reading so you know if you’re being treated like prey.

A few other books to add to the Prepare Your Mind Reading List:

The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker
In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the US’s leading expert on violent behaviour, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger – before it’s too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including: how to act when approached by a stranger; when you should fear someone close to you; what to do if you are being stalked; how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls; the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person; and more. Learn to spot the danger signals others miss. It might just save your life.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Drawn from 3,000 years of the history of power, this is the definitive guide to help readers achieve for themselves what Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, Louis XIV and Machiavelli learnt the hard way. Law 1: Never outshine the master Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends; learn how to use enemies Law 3: Conceal your intentions Law 4: Always say less than necessary. The text is bold and elegant, laid out in black and red throughout and replete with fables and unique word sculptures. The 48 laws are illustrated through the tactics, triumphs and failures of great figures from the past who have wielded – or been victimised by – power.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials) by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.

If you know of another books that should be added to the Prepare Your Mind Reading List, please let us know in the comments.

Talisman of El by Alecia Stone


The Talisman of El by Alecia Stone
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing
Release date: May 18, 2012
Note: Review copy provided by the publisher
Amazon blurb:

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS A LIE?
One Planet.
Two Worlds.
Population: Human … 7 billion.
Others … unknown.
When 14-year-old Char­lie Blake wakes up sweat­ing and gasp­ing for air in the mid­dle of the night, he knows it is hap­pen­ing again. This time he wit­nesses a bru­tal mur­der. He’s afraid to tell any­one. No one would believe him … because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago – the day before his dad died.
Char­lie doesn’t know why this is hap­pen­ing. He would give any­thing to have an ordi­nary life. The prob­lem: he doesn’t belong in the world he knows as home.
He belongs with the others.

Okay. So. This book. It was different. Not in a bad way, mind you; it was just different.
Charlie Blake, fourteen year old orphan, is sent to yet another potential adoptive family. He’s hopeful, but so many possible adoptions have fallen apart that he’s always thinking he’s going to be sent back. This time he’s sent to live with a single guy named Jacob, whose late wife died in an accident that raised eyebrows throughout the village (she broke her neck). At first Jacob’s the nice quiet type. And then Charlie discovers something hidden in the house and we find out that Jacob is a total psycho nutjob.
I know, right? Just when things were starting to look up. I mean, he makes friends at his new school and discovers a guy who looks like he’s 102 but is really only 27.
Okay, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Continue reading “Talisman of El by Alecia Stone”

PAX 2012 | 3 Reasons FIREFALL is best consumed outside of the game

At PAX Prime 2012 I was able to spend time and have a great conversation with David, a Lead Desiginer at Red 5 Studios. Please understand, nothing bad has ever come from the level of enthusiasm, sincerity and thoughtfulness David showed. Firefall is a game created by people who love games and quality and science fiction and stories and badassary.
I watched the trailer and was slack-jawed in awe of this amazing story and design. These characters were compelling and this story was engaging. I saw designs that surpassed my science fiction, dystopian dreams. I read comics with narrative and dialogue that had me smiling to myself in public because that shit was AMAZING!
Unfortunately, I can’t say all of those loved and amazing things make it into the Firefall game. Firefall the universe and idea are expansive, exciting and brilliant while Firefall the game promises something far different.

At PAX Prime 2012 I was able to spend time and have a great conversation with David, a Lead Desiginer at Red 5 Studios. Please understand, nothing bad has ever come from the level of enthusiasm, sincerity and thoughtfulness David showed. Firefall is a game created by people who love games and quality and science fiction and stories and badassary.
I watched the trailer and was slack-jawed in awe of this amazing story and design. These characters were compelling and this story was engaging. I saw designs that surpassed my science fiction, dystopian dreams. I read comics with narrative and dialogue that had me smiling to myself in public because that shit was AMAZING!
Unfortunately, I can’t say all of those loved and amazing things make it into the Firefall game. Firefall the universe and idea are expansive, exciting and brilliant while Firefall the game promises something far different.

1. Firefall tells us stories in previews and theatrical trailers but we don’t get to experience those stories in the game.

This is not at all to say Firefall does not have a story. This is kind of hard to explain. Firefall as a universe has a great story, an exiting story. But, Firefall as a game… not so much. You don’t play as the people from the ship or even acknowledge them. Eh, you probably curse their names while you spend your days harvesting Crystite to push back The Medling (the poison cloud engulfing the Earth since they crashed their ship).
All this build up is like using The Old Testament to set up The Sims. So there was God and a great flood and serpents and… now we walk around and eat sandwiches.
Please read this set up story for Firefall, maybe if enough people are interested they’ll not only make a manga but also a novels or cartoons or a movie or a campaign mode…

The Arclight was going to be the greatest single leap in the history of technology – a starship that could fold space and turn the eight-year voyage to Alpha Prime colony into a stroll around the block.
Instead, in a vast and tragic dazzle of light, the Arclight broke in half and fell to Earth near Fortaleza, Brazil.
How the anti-technology commentators gloried in that fall! On and on they spoke of Prometheus, of Lucifer, of the Tower of Babel, of the hubris at the heart of Greek tragedy.
The most famous words came from a Brazilian newsman at the scene: “Construímos uma lâmpada de esperança, mas ela é morta, a luz apagada, a esperança quebrada.” (“We created a lamp of hope, but it has died; the light is out, the hope is broken.”)
But we are the people who had already endured the devastation of the Crystite meteor swarm. Three-fourths of humanity was destroyed – but we took the Crystite and turned it into a nearly miraculous source of energy. It was Crystite that took us to the stars in the first place – Crystite, which came from the stars and nearly destroyed us.
The Arclight broke, the Arclight fell, but we are not broken, we will not fall or fail. We will learn why spacetime, instead of folding, tore open; we will revise our plans and build again, and better next time; and we will stay alive long enough to do all this.
The real danger is not the strange and terrible thing that came through that rip in spacetime. The danger is that we might despair and cease to strive. For in that day we would cease to be human, and turn into another batch of dinosaurs, who failed to adapt and so became extinct.
Source

2. Our main characters have disappeared and been replaced with simple class characters with no history or motivation.

As mentioned above, Pilgrim Entwhistle, the star of the manga, Captain Whoever who was piloting the Arclight and chose to crash the ship on Fortaleza even though it’s where his family lives (these are the details you get when people are truly geeked about their game), or this badass chick from the trailer.
You have the ability to build and customize your character but they’re still more tools for you you use than characters for you to play.
There’s a heavy emphasis around eSports but no indication as to who or why you’re fighting. If you’re all trying to rebuild earth and no conflict has been laid out except for the allusion to something that followed the Arclight to Earth. So, what the fuck?
Firefall is not an RPG so this aspect is completely reasonable, your character shouldn’t be a fully fleshed out character. But with writing and world-building like this, I really wish it was and RPG.

3. You farm forever and fight other players in an eSports way but it’s not clear why, given the setting and back story.

Your long-term and short-term goal in this game is to harvest Crystite and build up the Arclight/FTL so you can push back The Melding until Earth is free of it.
SPOILER: This will take forever and there’s pretty much no intention of it being accomplishable… You’re a Forever Farmer and Earth is one giant community garden.
I don’t like longterm goals much less fake one that will only pay off when my grandchildren are on their death beads. Maybe, in real life I’m okay with that as a reason to recycle but in a game? No. I want to know I killed a faction of enemies or held the base until Noble Six could escape.
So you can wander about killing giant spiders on the beach or fighting your friends to the death for sport or harvesting because that’s what you do.

*. I Strongly Recommend Watching Firefall for out-of-game content

The have a manga that is BEAUTIFFULLY illustrated (I want it framed in poster size on my walls) and written by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card.
The Cinematic trailer shows an ability to tell a silent story the way they should be told. It and Blizzard’s Mists of Pandaria trailer were the only two cinematic trailers that truly left an impression with me from PAX.
I’m excited for Firefall because I think people into this style of game will be pleased with what the game has to offer. The Firefall team was passionate proud to show where the game had evolved based on player input and what might just be disruptive innovations in the eSports arena.
I’ve tried the beta and have a few keys to give away if some of our readers are interested in the Firefall closed beta.

Leave a comment with your thoughts about Firefall (more than a single word or two, please) to be eligible for a beta key gift.

The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

No cover image available at this time

The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster

Release date: November 13, 2012

Publisher: Egmont U.S.

Review copy provided by the publisher

(Note: This book was published in the UK as 1.4)

Currently, there is no blurb for the U.S. version of the book, so here is the Amazon blurb for the UK version (but note that some aspects of the book may have changed during editing for the U.S. version):

It’s a brave new world. In the far future, people no longer know what to believe…Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax? Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father – David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world’s crops – made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it’s not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.

YOU GUYS. This book. THIS BOOK. I…have no words. But in a good way. Which is shocking for me, since I can’t recall the last time a book rendered me speechless.

I shall preface the inevitable squeeing by saying that I read this book, beginning to end, in one sitting. I very rarely do that anymore, because, well, I have kids. And every now and again, I like to sleep. So I usually read in short chunks, usually about five minutes at a time.

But this book! Holy godiva, it sucked me in and spat me out on the other side. One minute I was sitting in the rocking chair outside my toddler’s room (part of her bedtime routine), the next it’s three hours later and my Kindle progress bar is saying 100%.

Continue reading “The Future We Left Behind by Mike A. Lancaster”

Broxo by Zack Giallongo

In this wildly entertaining fantasy debut we meet Broxo, the only surviving member of a tribe of barbarians who once occupied a now-desolate mountain. All alone in the world, Broxo spends his time on the mountain hunting and avoiding the man-eating walking dead that periodically drag themselves out of a fetid lake.
 
Everything changes when Zora, a foreign princess, arrives on the mountain seeking Broxo’s lost tribe. Can the two young warriors together defeat the living dead?
 
With accessible and beautiful art, killer fight scenes, and a story that mixes humor, romance, and classic high fantasy, Broxo is a tale you’re sure to enoy.
Broxo [1. provided free by First Second] is a fun, easy read for slightly older children. With just enough romance and horror to keep things interesting, and some absolutely wonderful art, it’s a must-own for anyone who like their children to read.
It uses the standard epic fantasy tropes with a light touch and a knowing attitude, and the message in it seems to prize bravery, familial love and honour, which are all good things. It can be pretty bloody, though, and has some really quite effective moments of horror, so if your children are very sensitive to these things it might be best to read it with them. There are some genuine tear-jerkers within the narrative as well.
I’d have loved this as a child – hell, I loved it as an adult! Well worth grabbing.
[Rating:4/5]
NON-BOOK REVIEW THINGS: If you want to win a copy of This is the New Plan by John Xero, there’s still just enough time. Just pop yourself over to the contest details and enter.

This is the New Plan giveaway


Today the review for John Xero’s book, This is the New Plan, went up (link here). Well, I’m excited to say that John Xero has been generous enough to offer one of our readers a free copy of the book (in e-book form)!
John wrote 33 stories for this book. (Well, 33 that he included in the book. I’m sure the original short list had quite a bit more stories.) Now, it’s your turn to get creative.
To win a copy of This is the New Plan, you will need to write a short piece of fiction. Really short–it only has to be 250 words long (or less). But! Your 250-word piece of creative genius must include the following words: zombie, evil space monkey, diving board, tipi, the Rapture, seventeen, contagion, telepathy, egg, Chevy.
To enter the contest, post your story as a comment. If you have problems posting, email your story to char(@)incaseofsurvival(.)com (but remove the brackets) and I’ll post it for you.
How will the winner be decided? Well, when I stopped editing I decided I was going to stop being the Crusher of Dreams, so I’ll leave this up to a vote. That’s right, people, YOU get to decide the winner of the contest! On voting day, go to the voting day post and leave a comment with your vote for the winning story. (The voting day post will go up on–you guessed it–voting day. Which is Thursday, August 30.) (This paragraph has the words “voting” and “vote” FAR too many times.)
The contest will run until 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on Wednesday, August 29. Voting will run from 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on Thursday, August 30. Any stories posted on Thursday will be immediately disqualified. Winner will be posted on Friday, August 31.
Got that? Good.
Now what are you waiting for? Get writing! And may the best story win!

 

This is the New Plan by John Xero

This the New Plan cover

This is the New Plan by John Xero (available now)

Review copy provided by the author. 

Amazon blurb:

This is the New Plan. Thirty three genre-blending works of fiction. Thirty one flash fictions book-ended by two short stories.

This is the way the world dies. The way it is born. The way it lives and breathes. Our world, other worlds. The past, the present, the never, the future.
Discover endings and beginnings; hope and damnation; angels and demons; stolen futures… Gods, cowboys, zombies, witches, sci-fi samurai, psychopaths, little red men from Mars, and more…
Let me take you on a journey, let me show you wonders.

You may remember John Xero’s brilliant short story, “Ragestorm Requiem,” which was featured here on ICoS last year. If you enjoyed the story, you’ll probably enjoy his new book, This is the New Plan (conveniently available now).

The book is a collection of John Xero’s short stories and flash fiction pieces–33 in all. Which is a few too many for me to review individually, unfortunately–which means, of course, that you’ll have to read the book. (Aw, shucks.)

There is a great variety of stories in the book, and a good chunk of them are post-apocalyptic in nature. All of the stories are well-written, and–in my opinion, anyway–work the way short fiction should: it makes you wonder what happens next, and lets you fill in the blanks.

I’d have to say that my favorite story is still “Ragestorm Requiem,” because it’s so poignant. Maybe it’s because I have kids, and I could empathize with the way the story’s main character does everything possible to let her daughter Molly “fly.” The fact that Molly is actually dead and in an urn makes the story all the more poignant. (While reading the story I kept thinking, “What would I do if the world went to hell and one or both of my daughters died?” And I could see exactly where the character was coming from.)

Of course, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the other stories in this book. I did–I enjoyed all of them. This one just stood out as my favorite.

Not every story is that sad/poignant/melancholy, of course; there are a lot of stories in the book. If poignant isn’t your thing, there’s bound to be something in there that is.

This book is great if you’re looking for short reads–these stories are the right length for a bus or train ride, or if you’ve only got five minutes here and there and don’t have time for a  novel. Overall, I highly recommend this book. I truly enjoyed it–I don’t give out 5 out of 5 scores lightly, but I’m giving it to this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Book link (Amazon)
Xeroverse (author’s blog)