For Steam And Country – Now On Kindle Unlimited!

Superversive Press author Jon Del Arroz received a Dragon Award nomination for his debut novel, Star Realms: Rescue Run in the Best Military Science Fictioon or Fantasy category, and as a celebration of that award, we want to make sure to share his writing with as many readers as possible! As of yesterday, For Steam And Country is now available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited, otherwise regularly available via amazon.

Here’s what some incredible authors in the field say about For Steam And Country:

“Witty, charming and downright thrilling!  Del Arroz nails the feel of good old fashioned Steampunkery with wit, aplomb and of course… panache.” – Nick Cole, author of the Dragon Award winner, CTRL ALT Revolt

“FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY is a rousing girl-powered fantasy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed airship adventure!” – Laurie Forest, author of The Black Witch

“An action-packed adventure in the spirit of John Scalzi and J.K. Rowling, this is a real page-turner. The plot moves briskly and the characters pop on every page. This is a lot of fun, for a YA or adult reader, and I can’t wait to read the next adventure of Zaira von Monocle!” – Robyn Bennis, author of The Guns Above

PIck up For Steam And Country on Amazon today!

 

Review: Swan Knight’s Son by John C. Wright

It’s hard to look at John C. Wright’s work without comparing him both to his prior work, and to other heavy writers in the field who have deep prose steeped with mythology. I’ll make a confession that, up until this point, I’ve liked Mr. Wright’s work, but not loved it. My prior experiences include Count To A Trillion and Somewhither. While both are imaginative beyond my wildest dreams, both books I believe suffer at points as Mr. Wright has a habit of getting lost in his own prose and introducing new concepts – beautiful prose to be sure, but prose that sometimes bogs down the storyline and confuses the overall plot. Though there are certainly a number of concepts in Swan Knight’s Son that appear out of left field at points, I feel like this was a much tighter story than the other works of his I read, and there was not a single point where I felt bogged down at all.

I’ve compared Somewhither to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, both books that take us into a dark otherworld that overlaps with our own in some ways, modern combined with the fantasy. In keeping with this comparison, I view The Swan Knight’s Son as Wright’s Stardust, in that it showed us a lighter side of things, combined “being in a real world” with magics and how it all worked, and felt like a much lighter tale suitable for all ages.

It’s also impossible not to evoke imagery of the way C.S. Lewis wrote with this book. The characters calling men “Son of Adam” marks a direct callback, but with the personified animals through the main character’s magic, the way the story ebbs and flows like a classic fantasy, I believe this work actually is up there in feel and quality with the Chronicles of Narnia, high praise but well deserved.

We meet the protagonist named Gil, with the last name Moth (which is partially where the Moth & Cobweb title gets its name) who is having trouble at school, and has a bizarre life that gets set upon an otherworldly adventure. It took me probably three chapters to get into it, as it was disorienting at first, and then the talking to animals threw me a little, but what’s interesting is while I usually get irritated with personified animal concepts, Wright’s versions of dogs and bears and all sorts of beasts felt natural over the course of the book in a way where I accepted the magic.

Gil goes on an adventure, getting kicked out of his home to go find a job, and he stumbles upon the fantasy world at this point. He determines, with a little help from his friends, that his calling is to be a knight. What follows is a coming of age adventure steeped in Christian concepts and history, mixed with mythology and combined with fantasy concepts like elfs and mermaids and all sorts of cool things that develop over the course of the book. I won’t spoil more than that, but it’s a very deep fantasy world with unique takes on all of the familiar concepts. I can’t applaud the worldbuilding aspects of this book enough.

Same with the characters. Gil is supremely a character that you can root for. A young boy who has a mysterious past that gives him a destiny. He has a noble heart, a desire to do what’s right and a strong wrok ethic—really a great role model for a young boy. Ruff, his faithful dog companion is about as wonderful as he gets too, truly a boy’s best friend. You can see classic archetypes and Americana through these characters, as well as the past concepts of chivalry and honor. Gil’s mermaid cousin who we meet later in the book is someone quite easy to fall in love with as well. I wanted more of her in the book and hope that future installments feature her a bit more.

I mentioned issues with pace in Wright’s prior work to this that I read, and there was none of that here. I didn’t want to put this down at any moment in the book. I was gripped the whole time with a desire to know what happens next. All one can ask for in a book.

My other main issue with Somewhither was the way it ended. While this book certainly left Gil’s fate with a question mark, it was oddly a satisfying spot to end the book. He had his hero’s journey and anything that came out of the I’ll call it series set up in the end would have felt like a different story. I’m content there, but I may not be able to hold off on reading the next book.

If there’s one word I could use to describe Swan Knight’s Son, it’s refreshing. Heroes are heroes. Magic and night creatures have evil in them. Morals and doing right give you power. It’s everything that’s been missing from fantasy these last few decades. It was short like a Narnia book, filled with adventure, and one of the most exciting books I’ve read in the last few years.  I rarely give perfect marks to a book, but this hit the spot. If you like hidden fantasy worlds, and youthful adventures, I highly recommend this book.

10/10

Signal Boost: Drown the Cat: The Rebel Author’s Guide to Writing Beyond the Rules

Amazon: Drown The Cat: The Rebel Author’s Guide To Writing Beyond The Rules

Drown the Cat is a complete guide for the fiction writer who wants to develop an individual voice and understand the reasons underlying the so-called rules of writing. Although a few rules really are necessary, the vast majority are either dogma or passing fads. Worse, so much advice like “show don’t tell” and “open with action” is often poorly explained and entirely misunderstood, causing writers no end of problems.

Drawing on fifteen years of writing, critiquing, editing and mentoring experience, Dario Ciriello explodes writing myths, shreds conventional wisdom, and dissects the often misleading advice and diktats shouted at writers by books and blogs, agents and publishers. Drown the Cat gives authors the necessary tools and insights to retake control of their story and make it unique.

Whether your interest lies in novels or screenwriting, Drown the Cat shows you how to tell your story in your voice and place it before your audience, eschewing formulas and cookie-cutter fiction to remain true to your own, exceptional vision while adhering to the few rules that actually matter. Because writing isn’t about prose wonks and industry insiders: it’s about the reader, and most of all it’s about telling a story. Your story.

Drown The Cat hits the points that every new writer should learn in their journey, most importantly encouraging writers to be themselves. It’s very easy to read, and well organized and formatted. There are some standard writing points in there, but this encourages you to stretch your mind more than follow everyone else in the field. You can read some of Dario’s thoughts over on the Hugo-nominated Castalia House blog.

If you don’t know who Dario Ciriello is, it’s a shame. He is one of the best editors in science fiction and fantasy, and very few have heard of him. If you can hire him, do it, you won’t regret it. He’s edited Doug Sharp’s Channel Zilch, which is one of the most unique and innovative science fiction works of our time, as well as Bonnie Randall’s Divinity and the Python, of which is a great work of horror/romance fiction every writer could and should read as a study in how to write characters readers connect with. He’s got his own fiction as well, of which I equally hail. Bottom line is, if you want to improve your fiction fast as a new writer, you should listen to his writing advice.

Jon Del Arroz’s Definitive Top 5 Steampunk Books

It’s #SteampunkMonth in honor of Superversive Press’s first full length novel release, For Steam And Country, which will be available in all of your favorite online retailers on Thursday, June 15th.

As such, it’s time for another of Jon Del Arroz’s Definitive Top 5 lists! One I know a lot of people have been waiting for since #SteampunkMonth began.

The steampunk genre of literature is a pretty small market, not overexposed like many other subgenres of fantasy. There are a few works even in such a small crop that do stand out, and without further ado, here’s the list:

  1. Gail Carriger – Soulless. Ms. Carriger really is almost like the fairy god-mother of steampunk. Everyone seems to know who she is. Everyone loves her vivid descriptions of Victorian England, carriages, high tea times, and of course the beautiful attire worn by the aristocracy of the time. She was one of the first to emerge on the scene and embrace Steampunk, and with Soulless, she brought a book that was anything but, as I found it completely soulful and full of passion. It does feel a lot more like a romance with fantasy elements rather than the other way around, so be aware with that going in, and you’ll enjoy this world of werewolves and vampires that her heroine has been thrust into.

  1. Robyn Bennis – The Guns Above. I started reading this one last week, and it’s already made it into my top five. I’m currently very enthralled with this fantasy world that’s perpetually at war, where the costs of war are shown and realized. The protragonist is grinding through a really tough society, and finds herself in command of an airship after the opening of an intense battle. I can’t speak to the ending yet, but I’m so enthralled this made the list.

  1. Jean Rabe and Martin Greenburg (Editors) – Steampunk’d. Not many top lists of mine will have an anthology in it, but this one does. I really got into steampunk after cosplaying and then reading this book. It’s got a lot of incredible stories, including one of my favorite shorts of all times “Portrait of a Lady with a Monocle” by Jody Lynn Nye. You get a nice breadth of imaginative stories that give a good feel for what Steampunk is.

  1. Cherie Priest –Boneshaker. This is a story set in late 1800s alternate Seattle, where some experiment went drastically wrong and there’s this whole area that’s been walled off, as some gas that came up from the ground when it was being mined turned people into zombie-like creatures. This woman Blair’s husband was held responsible, and her son traverses into the walled off area to try to clear his name. She tries to track her son down and has to deal with all the horrors inside to rescue him. It also has one of my favorite book covers of all time.

  1. Beth Cato – Clockwork Dagger. This was an airship travel adventure like I always wanted. It’s a bit on the lighter side, which I love. There’s secret agents, secret royalties, secret romance and it comes to an epic conclusion. I love Octavia, the main character, and the cool medicine and the religious aspect intertwined with that. Cato made being a healer cool, and made a stellar fantasy universe.

Silver Empire To Relase Declan Finn’s A Pius Man

Before Declan Finn became known as the Dragon Award nominated vampire writer, he wrote a thriller series that’s been described as “The Da Vinci Code — but not heretical.”  The first book in that series is going to be released on July 1 and looks to be quite Superversive.

The description from Silver Empire:

As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope’s latest project is to make Pius XII, “Hitler’s Pope,” a saint. Things haven’t gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Mercenaries, spies, beautiful women, international intrigue and ancient secrets – The Pius Trilogy has it all!

The book is currently available for pre-order directly from the publisher here and will be on Amazon soon.

#SpaceOperaWeek: Five Current Space Operas You Should Be Reading

Yesterday I posted a definitive list of all-time best space operas, but there are some current new ones that provide a fresh take on the genre as well. I’m assuming you’ve already read my Star Realms: Rescue Run, so here’s what I’m excited to be reading lately:

1. The Revelations Cycle Series by Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy. Mechs. Monsters. Aliens. Mercs. This series is pure space opera fun with a really well-detailed world. The first book, Cartwright’s Cavaliers deals with one of the major human merc companies going through a bankruptcy and a young man inheriting the mantle to take it over and make it great again. It’s riveting fun all the way through, and you’ll love the CASPer mech suit action the whole way through. I Haven’t read the second book yet, but it’s on my short list to read soon!

2. Excalibur by Tim Marquitz. When I opened this up I felt like I was living what I wanted out of the Babylon 5 spinoff series Crusade that they never got around to delivering me. We have a somewhat disgraced captain who has been doing special jobs for the Covenant on the side with his band of fun and supremely competent crewmen. His ship is made of stolen alien tech — and those aliens are back in force, but for some reason, the fleet is caught with their pants down. It’s up to him to save the galaxy.

3. The Maxwell Saga by Peter Grant. I just picked up Take The Star Road, the first in a currently five book series. This is a Horatio Alger in space type of story, where we have a man picking up and working on a trading vessel to get experience to go join up with a colony that promises opportunity. A fun read the whole way, and he gets caught up with a Yakuza-type crime syndicate and their ancient legends. I’ve been told we can expect a new book in the series around Christmas.

4. The Darkship Series by Sarah Hoyt. There’s a world out there of genetically modified humans that is just rumor to the denziens of earth.They’re supposed to be terrible people to be eradicated, but our hero learns to love the people of Eden, or should I say a person of Eden, as adventure unfolds and nothing is what it seems. Lots of action and romance in this one. A new installment, Darkship Revenge, just came out a couple weeks ago!

5. A Greater Duty by Yakov Merkin. I just picked this one up, as it came out a couple of days ago, but it promises a lot of cool alien species, epic battles with a Galactic Alliance, and as a member of the #PulpRevolution, I know Yakov will have great instincts for a fun, dynamic story. It’s also edited by Superversive Press’s Ben Zwycky.

Jon Del Arroz’s Definitive Top 5: Space Opera Series

It’s #SpaceOperaWeek and I can think of no better way to launch my first regular Superversive column than to celebrate the genre in which I write and love. I’ll be doing more top fives as they feel appropriate, but as a writer of Space Opera, it makes a lot of sense to launch in celebration of some of my greatest influences. Naturally, these are just my opinions, so I expect outrage, disagreement, fist shaking, and the like at my choices. Just know that you’re wrong. It says definitive in the title, and we all know the internet never lies.

Without further ado, your Space Opera Top Five!

5. The Serrano Legacy – Elizabeth Moon wrote what at first feels like a light romp in the vein of “The Most Dangerous Game.” At the same time she has a compelling background with the Famlias and their political influence over the Fleet that both hampers and helps our heroes at different times. The characters are about the easiest to get attached to in science fiction, and when you get to the third book in the first trilogy – you start to see some really cool sci-fi concepts in a rejuvenation treatment that makes the elderly young again, and its consequences to society. Moon uses the universe as a backdrop for other stories from there, always relating to the Serranos and their influence over the fleet. From a pure fun perspective, this work is some of my favorite.

4. Hyperion Cantos – Dan Simmons shows the depth of imagination that Space Opera can attain. This series mixes literary prowess with Indiana Jones in space style fun. While the later books aren’t as good as the first couple installments, Simmons left his mark on the Space Opera genre and most modern authors riff off of his concepts even if subconsciously.

3. Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy – Tie in fiction is looked down on quite a bit, and I actually will differentiate this from the Star Wars films, as we’re focusing on literary fiction for the purposes of this post. Honestly, this series stands on its own. One doesn’t even have to have seen Star Wars to enjoy the depth of character, the machinations of the supreme strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn, the coming to prominence of Mara Jade, or all of the other wonderful facets of this series. It takes Star Wars and adds real depth and gravitas to the universe. There are very few examples of space opera out there that are finer.

2. Lensman – The original Space Opera by E.E. “Doc” Smith. He wrote this over the course of his life. Two epic alien species the Arisians and The Eddorians toying with the younger races like humanity in order to try to assert their will over the galaxy. These books are short, action packed, and they have a great punch to them. This series has inspired the likes of Star Wars and Babylon 5, and still is some of the most impactful work in the genre to this day.

1. The Vorkosigan Saga – This is a series by multiple Hugo winner Lois McMasterBujold, which debuted in the early 1980s. Originally penned as Star Trek fanfiction, the world was launched with Shards of Honor, a romance story in space about lovers from two worlds with completely different values. Though this is one of the lighter stories in the universe, it grew from there as we next met Miles Vorkosigan, the series’ main protagonist in The Warrior’s Apprentice. It’s got sweeping empires, weird body modifications, a great fleet battle, mercenaries, spies, about everything you’d want out of a book. And while that book shaped my interest in the genre in my youth, the series honestly only gets much better as it goes along. Lois hit on every mark possible in space opera and plays with a number of different story archetypes.
Jon Del Arroz is the author of the Alliance Award nominated and top-10 Amazon bestselling Space Opera, Star Realms: Rescue Run. His second novel, For Steam And Country, is set to be released by Superversive Press this summer. He is considered to be the leading Hispanic voice in Science Fiction, and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. He regularly posts to his popular Science Fiction blog at http://delarroz.com. Twitter: @jondelarroz Gab.ai: @otomo