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Book Review: The Autumn Republic

Book Review

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

I feel it’s necessary to comment on bias first.  I wish I could read as much as I once did.  It’s just not feasible.  I do force myself to make sure I read at least one book a year from someone I’d never heard of, but I’m usually reading books I’m looking forward to reading from authors I already like for one reason or another.  I invite any readers of this review to take that into consideration if they so desire.

Last year I voted to nominate McClellan for the John W. Campbell Award.  Of all the new stuff I’ve read in the last few years, his was by far the most expansive, compelling and flat out fun to read.  I believe that this is a new golden age for fantasy, and McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy, is evidence that this age is going to continue for a long time.  I, for one, am grateful.

McClellan has wonderful characters and his world building is fantastic.  I came into this book expecting a bit more to be explained.  My one negative point is that some of the aspects of the world (particularly the magic system) felt rushed.  There was one character (omitted because I hate spoilers) that I wish I had more from.  The character felt a little like Gandalf, showing up at the nick of time.  I didn’t mind as much except when that character stole the hero moment for one of the more compelling main characters.  I feel compelled to mention that this disappointment does nothing to take away from how much I enjoyed this book.

What Autumn Republic does is conclude a great trilogy.  I was happily lost in the world and never wanted to put the book down.  His characters are sympathetic, compelling and memorable, which is all this reader ever asks of a story.  The immersive world and backstory are just bonuses.

The Powder Mage Trilogy is an epic jolt of energy that delivers on its own while simultaneously promising great things from McClellan.  His vision and creativity already have me eagerly awaiting his next project.

JohnCon

John Con ended last night:

It was a great time.  I had a lot of fun.  I have to say the panel was my favorite part.  What was supposed to be an hour-long discussion about getting published became a conversation that lasted well after 1 a.m.  We talked about books, writing, plotting, Brandon Sanderson, magic systems, Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Harry Potter and so much more.  To me, that conversation was the heart of what John Con was about.  It was a chance to sit around and have fun talking about the things I enjoy with like-minded people.  It was a very intimate crowd, but they were all such cool people to meet.  I even tried my hand at a Magic The Gathering draft tournament (I got crushed).  Three days of tabletop games, was just what what this guy needed.  I finished up by selling a few books and saying goodbye to a few new friends.

 

What’s Next:

Next week, I’m at Ukazoo books in Towson.  I’ll be there Sunday, April 19 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  I hope to see you there.

 

What am I up to?

Some of you noticed I just finished my re-read of Caught, which I plan on releasing next year.  The re-reads give me a chance to look at the book objectively and identify any plot-holes.  Now that I’ve done that, I’ll talk to my content editor (hi Ben!) and get started on the second draft.  I tend to like to have a few projects in a few different stages of development, so here’s what else I’ll be working on:

Perception of War outline:  I’m making progress on this already, but now that I’m not taking so much time to read a project, I can get a bit more progress done.  As soon as I get the outline set, I’ll shift my focus to the next item on my to-do list.

New Utopia re-read:  Now that I’ve had some time to step away from what I call the discovery draft, I can take a look at that and start looking for ways to improve what I think will be a very good book.  This is the lowest priority though.

 

I still have a lot of appearances coming up, and I hope to see some of you at one of those events.

V/R
M.L.S. Weech

Audio Book Review

Audiobook Review:  Symbiont by Mira Grant

Symbiont is the second part of the Parasitology.  In Parasite, Grant asked some wonderful questions in a brand of what I consider traditional science fiction.  Symbiont picks up where we leave off, and it’s a quality follow-up to the original if not as good.  I’m not a fan of spoilers, so I’ll leave any of those out.

The power of Grant’s story lies in her confronting readers to define what it is to be a person.  Sal, the book’s main character, is a compelling and readers follow the story through her eyes.  Sal is the true power behind the book.  I think that readers who connect with her will find this engaging.  The down-side is that if you’re not interested in her, it could be hard to connect with others.  That’s not to say I don’t have a list of characters I think are fascinating in this story.  Grant does a fantastic job of using characters to drive the story, but a fist-person narrative has that same weak spot.  But, for my money, characters like Adam have such wonderful potential.  I love how Grant pushes each character in new directions.

I don’t think Symbiont is as compelling or intriguing as the first book in the series, but it does build on the original and provide readers a nice little rope-a-dope plot twist that I found very interesting.  I was glad Grant got a nomination for a hugo last year, and though I also voted for Ancillary Justice (second behind The Wheel of Time), I thought Grant’s work was more than worthy of Hugo consideration.  Symbiont is a solid follow-up that leaves readers eagerly waiting for the next book in the series.

New Online Store!

My new online store has just opened!

You can now order copies of the book directly from me.  To celebrate, I’m offering a sale for the next two days.  Anyone who orders by 12 a.m. Wednesday receives a 15 percent discount on hard-cover books and a 20 percent discount on soft-cover books.

You can click the books link on the side and click on the book, or just click here.

I’ll be happy to autograph any books, just send me an email after you place your order telling me you want your book(s) signed.  Feel free to tell me how you’d like them personalized if you so desire.

I hope to add to this store through the year, but I wanted readers to have one more place to go to buy the book.

V/R

M.L.S. Weech

Book Launch!

The book launch was today!

 

I met a lot of really great people.  I had the privilege of signing a few autographs and talking about all sorts of great stuff.  I talked about Doctor Who, Video Games, Supernatural, Walking Dead, stand-up comedy, the role of women in comic books and, well obviously, my own book.  I also had an amazing conversation with a young artist about chasing dreams and the value of a good education.  Check out my blog to see a few images.  All in all, I was so happy to meet people and talk about the thing I’ve been dreaming of doing my whole life.  I hope to meet even more during my next visit to Twilight Zone Comics on April 1.

 

On that note.  The staff at Twilight Zone Comics was absolutely amazing!  They gave me a wonderful, prime location and a table with room to work.   Even more amazing, they gave me a chance to introduce myself to readers and new people.  We talked a bit about comic book stores.  I was blessed to have a  shop to hang out with growing up.  I’ve said as much on my Facebook page.  I have so many great memories of that place.  (Including the friendship I made with the man who became my brother-in-law.  That same man did the chapter icons for The Journals of Bob Drifter.)  So it’ll be impossible to rival the place with so many happy memories.  The point is, Twilight Zone Comics has that feel.  An owner who loves comics and meeting people.   Customers who want to see cool stuff and read great comics.  I look forward to the next few events I have there.

 

 

Kirkus Review

Kirkus Review

 

I announced that Kirkus Reviews was kind enough to review The Journals of Bob Drifter.  The review is here.

 

I’ll admit I was terrified to read it.  I actually had a friend read it before I did.  I understand as a writer sometimes people aren’t going to like your work.  But I put an extra emphasis on this first review because it was the first.  That being said, I honestly feel this review confirms a lot of what I wanted to do with this book and with my writing.  If I’m never more than a writer readers feel created good characters and an engaging story, I think I can live out my days happily.

 

I feel this is important to remember for me.  A writer’s first review should be something special.  I would feel the same way (and incredibly more devastated) if the review was negative.  I can take this and try to build on it.  I hope I take all the information and use it to grow, but I’m sure glad my first review is one like this.

Maryland Gazette

The Maryland Gazette ran a story on me and my book launch this Saturday.  Here is the link.

 

I was so glad to receive a call from Kathleen Shatt.  She was kind enough to get word out about me and my upcoming book launch.  I’m glad to see word getting out so quickly.

Upcoming Appearances

I’ve gotten together quite the local series of appearances culminating in JohnCon.

First, my book launch is set for March 28.  Flyers are made and things are looking good.  Below are the rest of my appearances.

April 1st 5-8 p.m.  Twilight Zone Comics.

May 1st  Time TBD:  Twilight Zone Comics for Free Comic Book Day.

May 8-10 Egyptian Cinema.  I’ll be in the theater promoting the book.  Here, I won’t be able to sell books, but I’ll be more than happy to put you on my email list, sign an autograph or talk to you about writing.

April 10-12 JohnCon This is by far the coolest thing!  I’ll be selling books and speaking at the convention about my experiences with publishing.  There’s  going to be some great stuff here as I’ve learned a lot with the release of my first book.  I hope that my experience makes the next published author’s life a little easier.

I’m hoping to book a few more appearances as time moves on.  I’m still working on a few things, but these are the ones that have been confirmed.

Looking forward to meeting as many people as I can.  I hope to see you all there!

Deleted Scene

Deleted Scene!

 

Below is a deleted scene from The Journals of Bob Drifter.  It deals with an event that’s mentioned later in the book.  Ultimately, I left it out because I felt it was a bit redundant and only slowed the book’s pace.  But I thought this would serve as a nice excerpt for those coming to the Launch at Twilight Zone Comics or just interested in reading more about Bob.  Please enjoy:

 

 

 

reaped

A Short Acquaintance

September 19, 2007

 

 

I met a nice young man today.  His name was Tom.  I’m good with names.  I’ve recently started to believe that I’m bad at everything else. 

I knew Tom for seven minutes.  For him, they were seven critical minutes.  For me, they were just another seven minutes of my life.  

For that, I feel ashamed.  I shouldn’t, but I do…

*  *  *

Bob had his radio on and was enjoying a song he wasn’t familiar with during his drive to work.  He wore his favorite dark-blue jacket with a black tie.  He’d spent a little more than a week getting a feel for his class, and he intended to begin his instruction in earnest.

The small pickup truck in front of Bob noticed a vacant spot on U.S. Highway 60 and merged right.  The semi speeding down that same lane didn’t see the truck merge soon enough.  Bob looked away as the semi blasted into the side of the truck.  The sheer sound of metal grinding and tires skidding caused Bob to glance at the scene, and he immediately wished he hadn’t.  He caught a glimpse of the truck driver flying through the air.  The guy must not have been wearing a seat belt.

Bob sighed regretfully.  He put the hazard lights of his car on and put it in park.  He got out and rushed to the injured driver.

The semi struck the pickup just in front of Bob’s car and blocked most of the road after the accident.  The 18-wheeler effectively sealed off the road.  Bob worried his car wouldn’t fit around the 18-wheeler once he finished.  A trail of metal and glass began just in front of Bob’s vehicle.  He followed it, and as he did, blood and clumps of what had to be flesh joined the trail.

Bob grimaced, picking up his pace.  There probably wasn’t much time.  He noticed the semi’s grill was smashed, but the rest of the truck was undamaged.  The pickup truck, however, looked as if it had been folded in half, then rolled down the road like a misshaped bowling ball.  It somehow ended right side up.  Bob looked on in horror at the driver who lay on the road between the two vehicles.

*  *  *

Tom Stampson was driving north on Highway 60.  He was a little late for work and the traffic on that particular road was never forgiving.

Just to his right, he noticed the traffic was actually moving.  He signaled to change lanes.  The semi about a mile down the lane didn’t see Tom merging.  Tom didn’t remember to buckle his seat belt in his rush to get to work.  The thought came to him in a panic as he saw the semi through his passenger-side window get larger and larger at a ridiculous speed.

There was a large flash of light and he wasn’t sure what happened.  Everything came to him like pieces to a puzzle.  First, he wondered why he was lying down.  Next, he saw his driver’s side window.  He followed the pattern of shattered glass to a clump of shredded legs.  They didn’t seem right to him.  The pain set in when he realized the mangled limbs were his own.

“I was in an accident,” he said to himself, or was it to the strange man who knelt over him?

“Yes,” the man answered.  He lightly touched Tom on the forehead.

As soon as Tom spoke, the memory of what happened came to him in a flash.  Fear gripped his mind.  He was bleeding profusely.  What happened to all the pain he felt only moments before?  The pain was unbearable only a second ago.  The next thing he knew, he felt right as rain.  If it weren’t for the bits of bone showing through his ruined blue jeans, Tom would have thought he could get up and walk away.

The stranger didn’t look at the other people who approached.  There weren’t many.  Some stared at the man.  Others forced themselves to look at anything but the crushed metal and torn rubber that used to be Tom’s truck.  At least one person picked up his cell phone.  Tom hoped whoever it was meant to dial 911. The strange man in the blue suite was the only one who approached him.  Perhaps he was the only one who could get through the wreckage.

Tom looked at his legs again.  They were twisted as if his left and right leg had decided to switch of their own accord.  The sun gleamed off the shattered glass on the road and gave the blood-smeared pavement a glowing quality

Tom cried out, afraid he was dying.  The man knelt next to him and answered his question as he touched Tom’s forehead a second time.  Tom felt a sudden sensation of warmth.  Did the stranger put a blanket over him?  No.  He could still see his intestines.  Tom felt a bit of panic.  Guts were supposed to stay inside of the body.  He realized he was dying, and someone had to save him.

“Please help me,” Tom begged.

“Don’t worry; I’m here to help,” the man said.  But he didn’t do anything.

Tom felt funny as his eyes closed.  In a fit of panic, he forced his eyes open.  His heart raced, but it still managed to find a new gear when he noticed the stranger was smiling over him.  Tom tried to cry out, but he felt so tired.  He was glad he wasn’t in pain.  That made it seem less horrific, but the man didn’t do anything.  Perhaps when Tom woke up he could ask the stranger why he didn’t help.  In fact, Tom wasn’t quite as afraid as he’d been.  It was like someone covered his fear in a thick, warm blanket.  A small part of his mind, buried deeply, was in a state of panic.  Tom didn’t hear it, and it seemed odd he wasn’t afraid, but maybe he was just too tired.  He needed a bit of rest.  Tom closed his eyes once more and never opened them again.