Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kerry Nietz interview

Here is a surprise! I have performed my first interview, so here it is!

Kerry Nietz interview

NA: Christian speculative fiction is very scarce these days.
1.) What drew you to write speculative fiction?

KN: Good question! Though I've always been a fan of speculative fiction (science
fiction, fantasy, supernatural thrillers, etc...) I've certainly written
stories in different genres, and never had a moment where I consciously
thought "I'm going to be sci-fi writer, and that's it." So I guess the best
answer is that the story of A Star Curiously Singing demanded I write
speculative fiction, and so I did. I had this idea about a mystery of the
future that required a very specialized man to solve it. Turns out that's a
speculative story.

Really, though, all stories have some element of speculation in them. They
are all big "what ifs?"

NA:  2.) What is unique in A Star Curiously Singing and The Superlative Stream compared to other speculative fiction?

KN: Oh, I hope people will think everything about them unique, but I know that's
not the case. What's most unique about them from a story perspective, it how
they take commonly used science fiction elements and use them in a unique
way. For instance, the subject of mind control has been in science fiction
forever, but the idea of a man who is controlled within a highly-religious
society? Not so much.

From a writing perspective they are unique in a number of ways. The chief
uniqueness is probably the tense they are written in: first-person present.
It is a tense that is almost never used, and in fact, most books on writing
will tell you not to use it. It is a difficult thing to pull off, and since
it is rarely done, most readers aren't used to reading first person present
either. I often have readers tell me that their mind had to switch gears a
bit before they could read my books. Like there was an actual reorienting of
their brain that they were aware of. (I find that idea fascinating, given
the subject matter of my books.) The tense fits my protagonist, Sandfly, and
his world perfectly, though. He lives very much in the moment. Present tense
brings you into that moment.

NA: Where did this story idea come from?

KN: My story ideas generally start as simple images--little flashes of
inspiration, really. The first image I had of A Star Curiously Singing was
of a future man sitting eyeball to eyeball with a robot and trying to,
through conversation, figure out what the bot's problem is. The next image
was of that same robot on a spaceship floor in pieces. After that it was
like "Oh, now that's very interesting. How did that robot get that way?"

Then my focus turned to that future man. At first I thought he was only a
robot psychologist of some sort, but after seeing the broken robot, I
realized he was more like a full service robot technician. Then all my years
of programming and the many books I'd read about world religions and
politics made their presence known. All downhill from there.

NA: Were there any smaller influences that came into the books?

KN: Hmmm…smaller influences. Well my children certainly played a part in the books, in that the question I asked myself while writing them was “What future do you fear for your kids?” That’s probably not a small influence, though. More like a medium to large-sized influence.

NA: Why did you make the religious society Islamic?

KN: I made Sandfly’s world Islamic for two reasons, really. The primary reason is because I’d just read a handful of books that illustrated the very real danger sharia (meaning Islamic) law poses to the freedoms we enjoy in the west. For instance, due to immigration and birthrates, it is quite possible that Europe will be entirely Islamic within only a few generations. That should be alarming to anyone who is concerned about the things we take for granted—like freedom of speech and freedom of religion—because in the countries where sharia rules, those freedoms aren’t allowed. So, in my books, those of the Islamic faith who pursue world domination and sharia law have long since won. They are the status quo.

The other reason I chose a non-Christian culture, and this was more a subconscious thing, was because I wanted to use my books to teach the differences in belief systems and why those differences are important. In today’s modern society we’ve gotten so used to the idea, fomented by the political correctness movement, that all belief systems are essentially the same. It has gotten so bad, in fact, that most Christians either won’t speak up for fear of offending, or don’t speak up because they aren’t informed enough to know the differences between beliefs enough to ascribe value to their own. The defense “I believe this way because it was what I was taught” is not enough. Christianity is not only unique among modern belief systems, it is—dare I say it—better. And true! We need to know why.

NA: Where did you come up with the names in the books, such as Sandfly and HardCandy?

KN: My characters mostly named themselves as they arrived on the scene. Sandfly was the only one I gave any real thought to, and it was only a passing association: “Sand equals silicon, and he’s sort of the fly in the ointment. Okay, Sandfly it is!”

It is interesting to note, however, that many of the names are similar to the kinds of tags you see in forums and gaming sites.

NA: What is the purpose of Sandfly's use of the present tense?

KN: I think I touched on this a bit in one of the earlier questions, but in a word: immediacy. It helps bring the reader right into the mind and actions of Sandfly. Another thing my book does that is unusual from a writing perspective is it breaks the fourth wall, meaning at times Sandfly talks directly to the reader. Why does he do that? I have no idea. He just wanted to, so I let him.

NA: 1.) Which character was the hardest to write?

KN:I don’t know that any one character was particularly hard to write. Most of my characters have roles to play and their personalities grow naturally from those roles. I thought the hardest character to write would be HardCandy, since she’s the principle female character, and I’m not female. Surprisingly, though, I think she came out okay. And that’s good, because in the second book she gets a lot more time. One of the nicest compliments I got from my wife after she read The Superlative Stream was “You wrote the female characters well. Just like they would be.”

NA: 2.) Which character was the easiest to write?

KN: The easiest character to write is Sandfly. We have a lot in common, he and I. I mean, he’s younger and balder, but we share a lot of traits and ideas. We both love sarcasm, high tech stuff, and ultimately—freedom.

NA: If you could be any character in your books, which would it be?

KN: Given their world and society, there really isn’t a specific character I would like to be, except in a few isolated circumstances, mostly near the end of the book. Perhaps one of the astronauts on the trip preceding the beginning of the book? Or maybe the ship itself? Yeah, that’s it. I’d like to be DarkTrench. Or if it has to be a person, maybe GrimJack.

NA: If your books were made into a movie, would you have any preferred actor, director, composer, etc?

KN: I can’t imagine Hollywood ever making a movie of my books. The books themselves are very internal, very inside Sandfly’s head. Lots of stuff happens externally, of course, but without that layer of internal tension the books wouldn’t be near as special. Movies aren’t real good at showing internal stuff, though, nor should they be. Movies are primarily a visual medium. Also, the subject matter of my books would be hard for Hollywood to swallow. They’d need to recast the society as ultra-Christian before they’d be okay with it.

That said, I don’t have any preferred actors for my characters. Preferred directors would be Chris Nolan, Ridley Scott or maybe Steven Spielberg. Preferred composers? John Williams, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer.

NA: Can you tell us one thing about yourself we readers may not know?

KN: I have a motorcycle, a scuba license, and I can bench more than my own weight. How’s that?

NA: Awesome! Do you have a title or cover idea for the next book in the DarkTrench saga that you can share with us?

KN: No title or cover for the next one yet. So far, my working title has been shot down by Jeff, but after he reads the book (some day) he might change his mind. The only thing I can really share at this point is that I’m about 35,000 words in, which is probably a third of the way.

NA: Do you have any other book plans or ideas after the DarkTrench Saga?

KN: Sure I have ideas! Hopefully some of them will be interesting to others. Thankfully my publisher has an affinity for all of his authors and is a great person to bounce ideas off of. I’m hopeful we can come up with something that thrills him then. But for now, one book at a time.

NA: Do you have any advice to those writing or planning to write speculative fiction?

KN: Sure. Study the classic speculative writers and their works. Learn their strengths and weaknesses. And write, write, write. Don’t be afraid if you have a few novels that will never see the light of day. That’s part of it. Also, learn to love editing. Often the most insightful words come out during the editing phase. Writing good novels is like sculpting. It is rarely perfect the first time.


Thank you for the interview, Mr. Nietz! I enjoyed it, and I am sure all the readers do too!

Check out Kerry Nietz's website here.
You can buy his first book, A Star Curiously Singing here.
You can buy his second book, The Superlative Stream here.

The Superlative Stream

 latest booHere is Marcher Lord Press’s summary of Kerry Nietz’s latest book of speculative fiction.

The Superlative Stream by Kerry Nietz: Book CoverSandfly is free of the rules and free of Earth, but now there’s a new mystery to solve.

With his female companion, HardCandy, and a secret ship named DarkTrench, he travels across time and space to find the source and meaning of the transmission that changed his life.

When they arrive in the Betelgeuse system, they discover something the former crew did not¾a planet. On it lives a civilization of humanoids that are technologically advanced, peaceful, and mystifying. Is their meeting an occurrence the Scriptures predicted? HardCandy thinks so. Sandfly is not so sure.

But what he most wants to know is why is he seeing things no one else can.

And where is the song that brought them here¾or its singer? Where is the Superlative Stream?


I have a hard time calling this just a book. It is a masterful tale, woven with a different thread, and in colors mixed in a very unique way. It brings you in with its use of the present tense and futuristic dialogue. It is not just a book, but an enthralling, up-against-your-nose story. Despite the characters’ absence from Earth, Nietz still shows the wrongs of Islamic society through their memories. It also shows the delusion of those living with no purpose but pleasure. Nietz continues to astound me. “Five stars,” I say without hesitation.

Upcoming reviews
  • Vanish by Tim Pawlik
  • Valley of the Shadow by Tim Pawlik

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What in the World is Going On?

Here is Thomas Nelson’s summary of Dr. David Jeremiah’s nonfiction.

The Bible has plenty to say about end times. But until now, there has been no other book that—in straightforward prose that’s easy to understand—gathers ten scriptural prophecies, lays out a chronological checklist, and offers a guideline for sorting it all out. In What in the World is Going On? Dr. David Jeremiah answers the hard questions, including these: How is prophecy playing out in modern Europe? Why does Israel matter? How are oil reserves and Islamic terrorism related? Does the United States play a role in prophecy? How should we live in the end times?

Events unfolding in today’s world are certainly unsettling, but they need not be confusing or frightening. Now you can know the meaning behind what you see in the daily news—and understand what in the world is going on!


This book really helps you prepare for the coming fulfillments of Biblical prophecies. Granted, it is written with a pre-tribulation Rapture viewpoint. It is written clearly; any Christian who reads it will understand what is being said. He includes some visual aids in the book, but not too many to distract. He also is very prolific with scripture references and quotes, ranging from Tim LaHaye and Ernest Shackleton. It not only gives clear facts and leaves some mysteries, but also gives reassurance that God is in control.

My rating: 4 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Upcoming reviews
  • The Superlative Stream by Kerry Nietz
  • Vanish by Tim Pawlik

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lord of the Rings giveaway

Jake at Teenage Writer is giving away a special Lord of the Rings trilogy boxed set! Trust me, this is something special!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Word Reclaimed

http://image3.examiner.com/images/blog/EXID13081/images/The_Word_Reclaimed--Medium.jpgHere is Marcher Lord Press’s summary for Steve Rzasa’s speculative fiction, The Word Reclaimed.

In the far future, the civilized worlds have finally been freed of the curse of religion. Tolerance now rules the five colonies.
    Thanks to the secret police, no one has been bothered by so much as a hymn in two generations-much less a Torah, Koran, or that most dangerous of books, a Bible.
    Baden is a teenager with an attitude. He spends his spare time salvaging wrecks in deep space, claiming for himself whatever the pirates leave behind.
    One day, Baden finds a book. A strange and very old book, preserved carefully against the ravages of deep space. Thinking he’ll become rich if only for the value of the paper, he takes it. He counts himself lucky beyond all imagining.
    Until it begins talking to him.

    Amidst an interstellar war that threatens to overthrow the monarchy and drive great families to oblivion, Baden must evade the secret police and their attempts to get that book.
    Baden never had much use for religion. But it seems one has use of him.


This is a good speculative fiction, considering there are not too many written from a Christian perspective. Rzasa knows his stuff when it comes to describing his complicated space world. However, about 130 pages into the book, he brings in a whole new set and group of characters to consider. This gets a little boring, as you are so used to the previous setting that you want to skip through it. Also, some key of the characters simply drop out of the story right before the new set in shown, and they never reappear.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Consider buying at a bookstore.

Upcoming reviews
  • What in the World is Going On? by Dr. David Jeremiah
  • The Superlative Stream by Kerry Nietz

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zero-G

Zero-G CoverHere is Zondervan’s summary of Alton Gansky’s suspense novel, Zero-G.

Poised to make history, SpaceVentures, Inc. hovers on the brink of launching the first space tourists into flight. The competition escalates as rich customers clamor to pay the exorbitant ticket prices … and it’s about to turn deadly.


Benjamin “Tuck” Tucker’s skill and reputation have thrust SpaceVentures into the forefront in this powerful new space race. A veteran astronaut and reluctant national hero, Tuck accepts the coveted honor-and the risk-of piloting the Legacy on her maiden space voyage.


The danger is far greater than just the perceived risks.


The real threat, a plot far deadlier than anyone could have imagined, is exposed as the Legacy reaches the suborbital regions of space. Suspended seventy miles above Earth, Tuck has no choice but to place his life in God’s hands-a God he has found it hard to trust since a deadly tragedy in space over a year before-as he desperately fights an unknown enemy who will not hesitate to kill again.

    This book is a pretty good read. It has all the elements of a good suspense, with a little bit of science fiction, but it doesn’t quite have that read-till-you-drop intensity. The main character is a true-to-life figure with haunting memories of an accident a year before. Often, pleading prayer is shown more than gratitude.

My rating: 3 stars. Good enough to get at a library; save your money for something else.

Upcoming reviews

  • The Word Reclaimed by Steve Rzasa
  • What in the World is Going On? by Dr. David Jeremiah

The Betrayal

Here is P&R Publishing’s summary of Douglas Bond’s historical fiction:

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/images/themelios-books/34-3/betrayal.jpg    “Privileged Calvin had every reason to pray and revel in God’s kindnesses, but I, that night, looked heavenward with a scowl…
    “’God above, if you are there, you are most unkind to me…. Therefore, will I not serve you, will I not worship you, will I not obey you. Henceforth, I give of myself to those powers that most work against you, against your will and ways, and against you servants.’
    “It was a prayer that invigorated me, made me feel emancipated from divine oppression and injustice, the master of myself and my fortunes, the bold possessor of new freedoms.”


    So begins the private war of one man determined to sell all for a convoluted allegiance, even at the cost of his own soul. Told from the perspective of a sworn lifelong enemy of John Calvin, this fast-paced biographical novel is a tale of envy that escalates to violent intrigue and shameless betrayal.

    Douglas Bond is the master of everything historical in the era of John Calvin. Almost every paragraph has some historical context to it. When reading it, I felt as if I came to know everything even remotely important about John Calvin’s life and ministry. I also enjoyed his attention to detail of cities and architecture. Bond’s approach to this novel is appealing. He doesn’t attempt to get into Calvin’s head and explain his everyday thought process, but rather shows Calvin’s actions through the eyes of an ever-near character. However, he does leave the reader to consider the words of Calvin as recorded by the bystander. This book easily earns five stars!

 Upcoming reviews
  • Zero-G by Alton Gansky
  • The Word Reclaimed by Steve Rzasa

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Jesus You Can't Ignore

    The accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry are packed with truth, and MacArthur uncovers much of its hidden aspects. More importantly, he emphasizes the obvious truth that Jesus opposed the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were Israel’s religious leaders, but they only practiced the letter, and not the spirit, of the law. This book does through a detailed account of Jesus’ ministry and of how he publicly opposed the Sanhedrin’s false teaching.
    This book is very relevant to Christianity all around the world. It exposes the Emergent church and opposes it and those who support it with the truth that Christ condemned its kind of teaching. The book took accounts from all four gospels and was as thorough as a book its size could be. It portrays Christ not to be a merciful, loving God in every situation, but also truthful, just, and full of wrath toward unrepentant sinners. This book opens your eyes to Christ, and how He forces you not to ignore Him, but either repent or oppose.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Upcoming reviews
  • The Betrayal by Douglas Bond
  • Zero-G by Alton Gansky
  • The Word Reclaimed by Steve Rzasa

Friday, July 9, 2010

BookSneeze

This week, I received The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur in the mail. I got this book through Thomas Nelson's blogger review program called BookSneeze. They will send you a free book if you review it and post it on their program website and a retail site. All you need is a blog! I encourage you to try it!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Green

Here is the summary of Green found on Amazon:

As foretold by ancient prophets, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, he gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called...Green.
But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest. Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his Circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying death.
That was then. Now the Circle has lost all hope. And Samuel, Thomas Hunter's cherished son, has turned his back on his father and is aligning dark forces to wage the final war. Thomas is crushed--but determined to rescue the Circle and his son even if he has to cross two worlds to do so.
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs194.snc1/6529_104923168889_93172338889_2011586_2357025_n.jpg
First of all, this review has some minor spoilers. Green is good when it comes to a thrilling allegory/fiction. What I didn’t like about it is that it doesn’t do well in a series. At the beginning, Dekker stated that the book could be read before or after the trilogy. I thought that the book was still confusing, possibly because I had not read the Lost Books. The Lost Books would have been hard to understand if read before the Circle Trilogy. This just puts another confusing circle into the overall tale. Another problem I had with it is that it mix-and-matched Bible stories, such as Abraham’s sacrifice of his son and David’s son Absalom’s rebellion. This book gets three stars from me.

The Oath



Here is the summary of The Oath found on Amazon:

http://image3.examiner.com/images/blog/EXID36418/images/resized_the_Oath.jpg
Under cover of darkness, something evil is at work in Hyde River, an old mining town deep in the mountains. Its latest victim, nature photographer Cliff Benson, was brutally killed while camping -- and his wife Evelyn has been driven nearly mad by what she saw, but she can't remember what it was. The sheriff thinks a rogue bear killed Cliff. But townspeople whisper -- and Cliff's death is just the latest in a long string of bizarre "accidents." Cliff's brother Steve is determined to find out the truth about what's concealed in the old caverns near Hyde River, a mystery that the local folk legends only hint at.

This review contains some spoilers. The Oath was a masterpiece in the sense of the sin metaphor and spiritual things taking physical form. When I first saw the 550-page book, my heart cowered at the thought of reading through the boring introductions to the characters. These thoughts were unnecessary, as Peretti dragged me in from the first page to the last with turns, twists and plunges. The only thing I found that bothered me was that one or two of the book’s scenes was somewhat inappropriate, even though they didn’t describe anything in detail. 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

BBAW is a program that allows you to find more book blogs, and also make yours more known. I found this program with the help of Seth at The Narrowing Road. This site is allowing registration until June 7th, so if you are interested hurry!

I am entering this blog for the Best Written Book Blog award and the Best Spiritual, Inspirational, or Religious Book Blog award, because I review each Christian book I read. To enter, I must post the links to three of my reviews and two other posts of my choice for BBAW to review.

Best Spiritual, Inspirational, or Religious Book Blog Award
Book Reviews
Starfire by Stuart Vaughn Stockton
The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell
Starlighter by Bryan Davis

Other
Giveaway Underway
Tagged!

Best Written Book Blog Award
Book Reviews
Bones of Makaidos by Bryan Davis
A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz
Venom and Song by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper

Other
My First Award!
Reading List

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gifts

While they visited, my Grandparents gave me and my brother many gifts, which we would like to thank them VERY MUCH for!! They bought us a few books: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Subterranean by James Rollins, Nightmare by Robin Parrish, and Scream by Mike Dellosso. (The last two authors are Christian) They also bought me the soundtrack for Shutter Island! (Thank you!) To further amaze us, they bought us lunch at Panera Bread and took us to the movies to watch Toy Story 3! (If you want my review, you can go here: http://upcomingfilmupdates.blogspot.com/2010/07/toy-story-3-review.html) Again, thank you so much!! I guess this is my form of a thank-you letter to you!