Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Reviews 50 Finder by Suzanne Palmer

Reviews 50 
Suzanne Palmer 
Space adventure experienced by fully realized Characters meddling in "the affairs of Wizards" (with or without supernatural or magical elements), is another main staple of the science fiction reader which is replicated in the Romance field.

The displaced waif who takes a job as governess for a titled noble, becomes entangled in the situation of the children, defies the father over the problem, falls in love, and attracts the attention of the noble is a staple of Romance.  That is bucking the system.

Both Science Fiction and Romance are genres that cut into the life-arc of a main Character at a time when that Character is a "free radical" -- a molecule with an empty-spot just begging for a bond to form.  Free Radicals, in chemistry, tend to initiate chemical reactions.  In today's Health market, the "free radical" in our bodies is our enemy - not because it's bad, but because it tends to bond and disrupt our chemical balance. 

Science Fiction readers expect writers to know science -- and show no ignorance. 

Suzanne Palmer is a Hugo Award winning writer who wins for a good reason - she delivers a whopping good story driven by Relationships carried on a Plot driven by science.

C. J. Cherryh has shown us how humanity can spread to the stars, even without habitable planets in abundance, by building orbiting space stations, self-contained habitats filled with humans who mine their surroundings for materials and energy.

Suzanne Palmer has set this novel, Finder, (The Finder Chronicles Book 1) ...

https://www.amazon.com/Finder-Suzanne-Palmer-ebook/dp/B07FC7KWLB/   ...amid a cluster of such habitats, cobbled together from junk right alongside real space stations built with class and money.  She built an economy for these people that would make sense to any reader of Heinlein's novels, and expanded the old profession of "Repo Man" to repossess spaceships instead of just cars.

Yes, you can buy a spaceship on credit, and if you don't pay up, your space ship will be gone -- even if you are an arch-criminal running an interstellar empire of trade.  If you don't pay, the ship just turns around and goes home.  Well, it does if you don't disable or reprogram the A.I. that runs it.  If you do that - well, the owner will send Fergus Ferguson to pick it up, and he has the secret password.  That will work, if only he can get close enough.

Not every professional repossessor could or would tackle the job, considering who might be upset.  But Fergus has a deep and wide acquaintance with the criminal enterprises of the galaxy. He's leery but not daunted - and he needs the money.

Things don't go quite as he expects when he arrives among the connected habitats.  The locals are embroiled in some political issues that leave him stranded and at the mercy of -- a woman.

As noted in Reviews 49, Bucking the System
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/12/reviews-49-bucking-system.htmlis what we do, and what we love to read about.   In FINDER, Suzanne Palmer flings Fergus into the arms of the Vahn women - who own and live in one of the habitats in space.  They are all clones and just mind their own business until the system bucks them.  The system will be sorry. Trust me on that.

Fergus starts out thinking he's just a loner by nature. His story is about how he comes to a new opinion on his own nature.  The plot is about how this backwater cluster of human habitats deals with First Contact with apparently hostile Aliens.

Note, this is Book 1 in the Finder Chronicles. Fergus doesn't always repossess items from defaulting purchasers.  He has been s thief and a con artist, and uses those abilities to solve problems.  One problem looming is the new species of Aliens, and there are more adventures in store. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Who Sells Your Phone Number ... And Inaccurate And Defamatory Info About You?

When was the last time you "DuckDucked" your own phone number? (Apologies to Duck Duck Go, but I cannot bring myself to type "goed".)

I was prompted to conduct internet searches of my phone number mid-week, after receiving a number of very early morning phone calls from expectant people in Canada who seemed to think that I'd called them.
Who benefits from that sort of mischief?

Deja vu?

This happened --and I blogged about it-- only a few weeks ago. This time, I got more curious than usual. My phone number is listed on one "Who Called?" type website as "Suspicious" (alas), but so far, there are no complaints from humans.

In no particular order, here's what I discovered:
usaprofilepages.com had my phone number and altogether too much information about me, but in the footer there is a link called "Delete My Identity" and it works.

WhoEasy.com did not make it easy to opt out, and I spent some time poking around on that site but an email to support@whoeasy.com resulted in prompt manual removal.

peoplebyname.com had an online process.  I think. I remember calling one site that tells the world that I cohabit with three impossibly ancient gentlemen with uncommon Biblical names.

findoutwhocalledme.com is a "beenverified" site is highly inaccurate and has probably destroyed a lot of romances judging by all the ladies who write glowing reviews claiming to have discovered that their (probably innocent) lover is married or living a double life.

They claim that they will remove a listing if you email removephonenumber@yeah.net

But they don't. Beenverified claims that it will remove your info. You can call 888-579-5910 and a robot will provide instructions for opting out via beenverified.com/optout. However, this only works if you have one name, and one home.

They will not permit you to delete your info if you have a second home or timeshare.

areacode-Lookup lets you opt out online.

www.callersmart.com is a tricky site and not worth your time. They appear to require you to open an account in order to opt out, and also require you to give them far more information than they already have, which you --by virtue of using their site-- authorize them to use. Moreover, if you are foolish enough to link up using a phone, they will scrape your address book and annoy all your friends.

The solution is to email feedback@callersmart.com and a seemingly live and polite person will manually remove your info.

Spokeo.com has an opt out form on their site.
Then there is zabasearch, intellius, and radaris.

I left radaris alone because they had scraped so much information about my writing career and writing awards (I think scraped from a long-abandoned social media site) that I was overwhelmed with pleasant nostalgia.

As for the phone calls, I cottoned on by the second call, but the Privacy and Cyber Security Update legal blog by the impressive international team at Skadden gave me insights into what's probably behind the international annoyance.  Equifax!

Lexology link

Original link

Impressive cast of experts

Thanks to the sloppy people at Equifax, everyone should search their own names, dates of birth (always provide a memorable fib on social media sites), addresses, phone numbers, passwords (oh dear!!!), email addresses, driver's licenses, and credit card numbers.

Even if you freeze your credit and subscribe to various bank, credit card, and commercial "locking" services, you are not safe from telephone annoyance.

As for piracy, and nothing to do with abuse of telephone numbers, Bookza is back as "Zlibrary" with fake blurb about how they respect creators and intellectual property. If you send them a DMCA notice to support@bookmail.org a robot will reply promptly to assure you that your books have been removed. Here's the kicker, if you revisit the page, it may tell you that the legal owner has removed the link, but they provide would-be book thieves with a link to where the work can be found on a TOR site.

It's almost as bad as the internet search engine that most transparently removed piratical links, only to display them --still negotiable-- on a virtue signalling page of their own.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Caring About Things Is Cool

In 2005, country singer Jo Dee Messina musically proclaimed, "My Give-a-Damn's Busted." (I still wince at typing that phrase outside of fictional dialogue, even though it's been eighty years since Rhett Butler shocked audiences by speaking it in the final scene of GONE WITH THE WIND.) At a point when current events may tempt many of us to embrace that attitude, Kameron Hurley meditates in her latest LOCUS column on the value of caring about people and causes:

The Power of Giving a Damn

She once believed "it wasn’t cool to care too much about things. Caring about something too hard made you vulnerable. Weak." She attributes this feeling partly to "American cinema and storytelling, much of it geared toward portraying the rugged masculine ideal of the loner hero whose dedication is not to individual humans, but to himself. His world was littered with backstabbing femme fatales and best friends who betrayed him, and the worst parts of humanity were always on display. Don’t care too much about things, these loner-hero stories seemed to say; people will let you down, and humans are just a few steps away from destroying themselves."

This description of the American "loner hero" archetype doesn't sound quite plausible to me. Isn't the classic film image of the solitary, wandering hero more often that of a man who stands alone against injustice, eschewing personal ties to move on to the next town when his task in this place is done? That's the paradigm of the lone gunslinger upon which Stephen King models Roland in the Dark Tower saga (with more complex layers, of course). Or do I have a skewed idea of that figure because I haven't viewed more recent media incarnations of him? (Considering the two examples Hurley offers are FIGHT CLUB and AMERICAN PSYCHO—hardly icons of heroism to be emulated, from what I've read about them—she seems to veer away from her stated emphasis on the lone hero.) She recalls, "I was big on apocalypse movies as a kid, because they advanced this libertarian fantasy that each of us was fully equipped to live a long and productive loner life as long as we kept people away from us."

As an adult, she came to realize the "lie of self-sufficiency." Nobody survives, much less thrives, without depending on the social network, physical infrastructure, and material technology provided by the generations that came before us and the people who work to build and maintain those things. When Thoreau retreated to the woods to live by Walden Pond, he took manufactured tools with him. Even a hermit on a deserted island relies on the products of society; Robinson Crusoe couldn't have gotten far without items he salvaged from the shipwreck. (A gruesome short story by Stephen King imagines the probable fate of a man stuck on a barren island with nothing but his clothes and carry-on bag. The protagonist amputates his own limbs and eats them raw, killing the pain with illegal drugs he happens to be transporting.) In more realistic post-apocalyptic fiction than the type Hurley admired in her teens, the people who survive to rebuild society are those who band together for mutual support.

Discovering, "We are all connected," Hurley summarizes, "I’ve found that it’s not weak­ness to care about others, or to care about a cause. The true weakness is when we are too afraid to care about anything at all." As romance writers, we create worlds in which caring is of central importance and love conquers. That seems like a worthwhile message to promote anytime—especially in the grim times.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Reviews 49 - Bucking the System

Reviews 49
Bucking the System
Cry Pilot + Sequel

Defiance squared - no, cubed - is the essential quality of a) a Romance Heroine, and b) a science fiction Hero of any species.

Here's the thing about both Romance and Science Fiction readers. We are very aware of how we differ from the majority, while at the same time feeling close kinship with that majority.

You will find the "me against the system" plot arc in long series (C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner novels, etc) and in stand alone novels, or series kick-off novels.  The Science Fiction Hero is out to change the world, whether he/she knows it or not.

In the Mysteries of Pacing series (part 7 lists previous parts)
https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/11/mysteries-of-pacing-part-7-art-of.htmlwe've looked at "how" a writer can form and mold raw material (the "I've got an idea!" flash of the complete life of a Character) into a linear sequence of Events (plot) and Lessons (story) that tickles the curiosity bump of a specific "majority."

Here is a kickoff novel with long series potential by Joel Dane titled CRY PILOT, with the sequel BURN CYCLE that I haven't read yet.

Book 1

Book 2

The title doesn't seem to make sense.  One "cries" out for a Corpsman when  a soldier is wounded.  But that's not what this "cry" means.

Science Fiction fans love a mystery, so a confusing title has a solid place among science fiction novels -- unlike other genres.

So we have to look closer at this oddly titled novel, and right off we are lured into the mindset of a guy determined to outsmart the system he was born embedded into.  Aha, my kind of novel!

With a carefully light brush, Joel Dane fills in the intricate and complex world building he's done to create the main Character's goal.

Maseo Kaytu is the odd name that also rivets the attention, a main character determined to survive a mission billed by the system as a suicide mission.  Some "Cry Pilots" do survive the flying of these fearsome but old and decrepit weapons platforms.

The current "system" doesn't still know how to build such flying platforms, and just barely knows how to repair them. Resources to do such repairs are scarce, and the enemy they fly against is rapidly destroying these machines.

They are A.I. equipped machines, but will not fly a mission without a human "pilot" (even though the pilot doesn't do much, other than die from G-stress maneuvers.)

The enemy is the Earth itself, seething with bio-engineered, fearsome weapons left over from a doomsday war.  Currently, the cobbled together system of government has fielded a counter-bio-engineered weapon designed to "heal" the whole Earth -- and it has made significant progress.  Humanity is fighting for time.

Into this system, Maseo Kaytu flings his defiance.  He is a criminal with the ambition to earn his way out of the sewer of the system.  But there is a lot going on that he doesn't know about.  Achieving his immediate goals leads him into a wider battle, and embeds him among a team of equally oddball individuals who just might have a chance - if they work together - of being part of the solution, not the problem.

So you see, this is a novel to read for the plot.  But as Maseo's array of acquaintances grows, you will find him focusing on a few women, (one in particular with psi talent) and finding how Relationship is the key ingredient in a winning team effort.

This novel is science fiction in the grand manner, but uses all the modern science you could ask for.  It isn't Romance, but has a nascent love story embedded in the plot.

It is a page turner, and well worth a studious read.  Think hard, and you will find that to make this series a Romance, you only need to start later in Maseo's life, and trim some scenes to make room for more private adventures.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Of Letters, Lies, And Legacies

Among the movies showing free this long, holiday weekend is "Can You Forgive Me?" based on the true story of an author who became a forger of dead celebrities' private letters.

Lee Israel is said to have believed that her forgeries were the best work of her life. The greatest mistake of her life (perhaps apart from misspelling "arse"), may have been in not accepting a bribe.

This is a fascinating read:

On the topic of lies, I was reminded of a song by Greenslade that I have always like very much for a particular line that I probably should not quote, because songs have so few lines that it is easy to infringe the songwriter's copyright by accident.  The line is about untruth in journalism.

I believe this link will take you to "Newsworth" and Greenslade or their estates will be inadequately compensated, but compensated somewhat.

Sequeing to estates and estate planning...legal bloggers Joseph B Doll and Michael J. Kearney, writing for Cole Schotz PC, discuss what happens when a bitcoin investor dies unexpectedly, without making sure his or her or their loved ones have the cyber key and passwords to unlock his/her/their digital property.

Or, for the original:

One can also lose invaluable photographs and other intangible delights if they are locked up in Facebook or Drop Box or a proprietary "cloud".

For Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP,  Joshua Boughton discusses digital assets with a focus on the inheritance dilemmas of British persons.

Harking back to copyright and private letters, legal blogger Ken Moon, writing for AJ Park examines the case for copyright infringement when a newspaper publishes substantial portions of a living celebrity's private and personal letter.

It's all food for thought concerning the enduring value of letters, especially for authors and creators. One might also give some thought to the preservation (or not) of text messages and emails... and unpublished works.

One might also consider leaving instructions in one's Will concerning social media accounts, ancestry-related social media accounts, health and fitness logging accounts.

At least it wasn't Amazon that acquired the ability to track your heart rate and daily steps and swings of the arms via a device that you paid to purchase, not to mention the details you uploaded to the site to record your water consumption by the glass, your dietary choices, your weight and more!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry