War In Flesh teaser #WarInFlesh #InTheFlesh

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

Work on the sequel to In The Flesh is moving along. Yes it is slow going. I’m not one of those authors who can just crank out hundreds of pages without a thought. In point of fact I’m realizing that my creative process takes a lot of thought and a lot of processing. I have to think the whole thing though before I can begin to write it. I have ideas and then need to play with them to see how they fit into the narrative. Sometimes they don’t and then I have to, in the words of Stephen King, “kill my darlings.” I also have my bs detector set to 11 apparently, so a lot of things I like don’t fit well into the story line and I have to set them aside. I will share the following teaser of a part of a chapter that I’ve written for War In Flesh for your enjoyment but I make no promises that it will survive the multiple editing passes in this books future.

Nevertheless, please enjoy:

War In Flesh

Copyrighted material, all rights reserved

Thousands of miles north of Antarctica, beyond the shining jewel of Ce Acatl, just inland from the coast of the long narrow island that is all that’s left of what was once the northern continent a battered, almost broken antenna picked up the weak signal. Ancient relays came reluctantly to life and deep below the surface lights began to flicker as emergency batteries sacrificed what little power they had left.

On the surface a mere handful out of dozens of hidden hatches opened through the debris that buried them. Up through the hatches solar collector arrays slowly surfaced. It took days for them to collect enough power to begin the power up sequence in deeply buried scientific research stations.
Subterranean bunkers long buried by the movement of earth and nearly flooded by raising water tables slowly revealed themselves to sporadic lighting. Sump pumps groaned and kicked on draining stagnant water where it stood in deep pools on the floors of the lowest levels. The scent of mold filled the dead air.

Slowly, one by one in the high tech labs computers came online, waking from their sleep state as the power came back up. They had been kept alive in a low power state since the cataclysm so long ago. Fans started to move and with them slow air currents began to swirl through the underground complex of labs and offices. Vats filled with nutrients far past their best by dates began to grow bodies, following centuries old routines.

Some of the cylindrical vats failed to come online. In a sub-basement some of the computers shorted out, falling to a combination of moisture and nibbling rodents that had encroached over the long years. Others powered up and began growing things even before the injectors inserted the organic material intended to be grown in them. Somehow their sterile interiors had been breached by microorganisms during their long dormancy.

The laboratories were climate stable by virtue of being so far beneath the surface. In such a protected place the denizens of caves made their home, just as they would any natural cave system. Bats found their way into the upper level. Mountains of guano became nourishment for cockroaches and other crawling things. Heavy, sealed bulkhead doors kept larger things out of the lower levels but were little barrier to microorganisms.

Weeks passed while the sump pumps and fans worked. Often they had to shut down to conserve what little power the solar collectors could provide. Every system in the buried complex was designed to protect the computers first, even the electrical system. With the emergency batteries dead and not enough power coming from the arrays to recharge them, if that were even still possible, the other systems regularly idled so that what power there was could be diverted to the computers.

Eventually the pumps got the floors dry and the fans refreshed the air, opening vents to the surface when what humidity and moisture sensors that remained permitted.

In the cloning vats things grew.

This is but a snippet, gentle reader, that I hope you enjoy. I have all of the ideas in place now and just need to see how they will hang together. Things always change as I write them and what I envision when I start out is rarely what the final tale is. Characters will do what they will and I am often just telling their story they way they would have me tell it. K.

Jeremy Webster of F5 Reviews In The Flesh for The Geek Girl Project

Check out this review of my novel by Jeremy Webster, who reviews movies for F5 and books for The Geek Girl Project. Here’s an excerpt:

Much the way Stephen King’s The Gunslinger told a dark fantasy tale by dressing it up in spaghetti western characters, costumes, and settings, much of Zolnoski’s science fiction debut comes in a shell of adventure fantasy, particularly in early, action-heavy setpieces involving a long, arduous escape from enemy armies and pursuing predators dense in a seemingly endless forest region, and late in as the novel’s protagonists set to sea in a steampunk-style sailing vessel to contend with sea monsters on their way to their fabled destination.

But to assume the work to rest on something as mundane as rescuing the girl or saving the world from the latest watered down wannabe Sauron or Morgoth is not what Zolnoski had in mind. A reader and fan of classics of the science fiction genre for most of her life, Zolnoski carefully weaves in plot elements involving issues such as sociology, relative ethicality and morality, ecological stewardship, and even innate species memory.

As Zolnoski approaches the novel’s climax and conclusion, the work begins to take on thematic elements of it being merely a tiny, but crucial, moment in many such moments leading to these events throughout history, many of which were either pre-ordained to occur or optimized on a statistical plausibility of occurring. Such is the sort of storytelling arc conceptualization we saw with Asimov’s Seldon crisis concept throughout his Foundation series, and the millennia-long genetic breeding programs eventually resulting in Paul Atriedes in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Zolnoski works with the conceptual brain food of the classics, while delivering it in a package of epic fantasy adventure.

Zolnoski’s prose is largely fluid and easily accessible and her characters are interesting and relatable. They tend to be somewhat archetypal of their various specialties in interest in skill, but this is hardly a detraction to the proceedings as the novel itself justifies why they function in this way. A strange way to relate this notion, I know, but readers will know exactly what I mean when they experience the novel themselves.

Check out the whole review at The Geek Girl Project.

Also the novel is available through iTunes as well as Amazon. Best way to find it on iTunes is to type in: Zolnoski.

Oblivion: Well Played Tom Cruise, Well Played #Oblivion #TomCruise

Oblivion Movie Poster

Oblivion Movie Poster

Oblivion Movie Poster

Oblivion

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt and Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko

Seriously, I’m about to decide that any movie Tom Cruise is in is worth watching at least once. I don’t know if he’s insane or not. I’m not qualified to make that kind of assessment. All I know is that if he is, he’s living proof that there is a fine line between insanity and genius because that man can act. He also either has a genius agent, or he can really pick movies.

I’ve read a lot of science fiction. In fact some of my favorite novels and short stories are from the golden age of science fiction. So I figured out what both of the major plot twists were in Oblivion long before they were revealed. That being said, Oblivion was so well done that I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers because Oblivion is really a movie that’s best when the surprises are surprising. It’s well written though, well acted. Everything was fully believable. The clues make sense and are subtle so the viewer isn’t beaten over the head with them. Like the best science fiction, it treats the audience like they are intelligent. Few things make me dislike a movie more than being treated like an idiot and I appreciate that Oblivion did not fall into that trap.

The CGI is spectacular and like everything about this movie, subtle. Everything hangs together and makes sense. We are spoiled, these days, by the quality and prevalence of CGI. In science fiction movies it seems that CGI is often used gratuitiously in an attempt to foist an ‘epic’ sense upon a story that really isn’t epic. Oblivion doesn’t fall into that trap either. It’s breathtaking but not over the top. The panoramic scenery doesn’t get in the way of the story. Now that could be due to the strength of Tom Cruise’s acting but I think it is more due to the good sense of the editors in showing restraint.

Oblivion explores questions of who we are and what makes us who we are. It tackles the hard questions and perhaps raises a mirror to our cynicism (or at least my cynicism although I’m almost positive the writers very deliberately played upon our collective cynicism). Oblivion is a very human story, as are the best of all stories but science fiction in particular explores who we are as human beings and individuals and what it means to be who we are. Unlike more poorly done films and sometimes novels, Oblivion is neither clunky, nor crass in the way it explores philosophy. Rather it does so with an ease that seems effortless when in fact it is the entire crux of the story.

That is the hallmark of a good story. It makes us think about the philosophical and global. Good stories can lead us gently to question what it means to be human. Oblivion does all of this in an intelligent and entertaining way.

And by entertaining, I mean this is an action movie too. There are gun battles, crashes, chases, even high speed chases and explosions, including a couple of nukings (I kid you not, two nuclear devices were detonated that I counted). So your thirst for excitement, gentle reader, will be well slaked. There are also two love stories, one of true love and one bittersweet. Again our humanity, the best and perhaps less than best that we are, is acted out with such skill and sensitivity that I felt for each character. I empathized with each character; every actor and actress did a fantastic job in their roles.

The final scene, my goodness the final scene was classic science fiction. There is nothing I can say about it that won’t give away too much. So no spoilers, I’m afraid. Oblivion is an excellent and thought provoking movie. I do believe I may add this to my DVD collection. K.

Cloud Atlas: A Soulless Movie Searching For A Heart

Cloud Atlas Promotional Poster

Cloud Atlas Promotional Poster

Cloud Atlas Promotional Poster

Cloud Atlas
Starring: Tom Hanks
Starring: Halle Berry
Director: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lanna Wachowski

I’ve been meaning to watch Cloud Atlas since it hit the theaters last year. I like Tom Hanks and I also really like Halle Berry. As with many movies I’d like to see I missed it on the big screen and had to catch it on DVD. Now, I’m a science fiction fan. The first ever science fiction story I read was Nightfall by Isaac Asimov. The Foundation Trilogy is still one of my favorite series of books. What I’m trying to say, as if my previous articles on the matter aren’t enough, is that I have science fiction cred.

That being established; Cloud Atlas is a movie that gets caught up in itself and fails to find a way out. The science fiction is not strong enough to carry the ugly brutality and soullessness of the movie. It took me a few minutes to figure out what it was all about, due to the, at times, needless iterations within the movie, but at its core Cloud Atlas is a failed combination of a twist on The Matrix and Blade Runner. It is a graphically violent movie with graphic sex although only implied rape. It is an ugly movie with little to redeem itself.

Major Spoilers Ahead: You’ve Been Warned.

Cloud Atlas is a movie that attempts to tackle big ideas. The movie explores what it means to be human from the depths of depravity to the…well that’s the thing. It never makes it to the heights of what humankind can achieve on a purely human level. The movie shows, actually kind of wallows in, the brutality that humans commit against one another in every age and at every technological level but it never really shows the good we can achieve. It hints at the possibility, but there is always a selfish reason behind what happens.

The horror of atrocities committed against slaves, women, children, clones and anyone perceived as weak are well and graphically realized as we progress through iterations of people born and interacting time and again. While horror is proudly displayed, there is no real soul in the movie. There is an attempt at viewing all human beings as fully human, even clones. The parallel between clones and slaves is heavy handed but it is drowned in a movie that has a nonlinear timeline and by stories that jump back and forth between people who may or may not ever truly interact in any meaningful way.

The story, I assume they meant for it to become one story, is told through a choppy set of tales about different people who are supposed to be, or at least interact with, two or three main people who exist in some fashion at different times throughout the history of this world. The viewer ends up getting a snippet of one story followed by a snippet of another with different characters, followed by yet another snippet with still more characters. This can be an effective way to tell a story that involves different characters whose lives are woven together to a final conclusion. Cloud Atlas forgot to weave them all together. Just because someone meets the main character in a former life in some minor role does not mean we, the viewer, need to spend 20 disjointed minutes following them just to see that one moment where he hands them their mail. Although I will say that I did appreciate the “Soylent Green is people!” line and it was not lost on me how it pertained to other parts of the movie.

The ending is less than satisfying. There is no catharsis, no moment when everything really comes together to be what the movie hints at. The fabric that is supposed to be woven from the individual threads is never actually knitted together. The threads seem to just continue on their way, independent of each other except that these particular individuals keep being reborn. Sadly that is not enough to realize a fully crafted plot. Cloud Atlas provides things to think about but is far less than satisfying as a story.

The movie suffers from too many ideas and not enough cohesiveness. Nothing is actually tied together in the end. Were the actions in the past able to affect the future? How is that possible since we saw the future concurrently with the pasts and nothing changed? There were also moments in the movie that completely threw the viewer out of the world they were trying to create. I can see why this did poorly at the box office. If I were to make a suggestion, it would be to focus on the two main plots and cut out at least two of the sub-plots. Make the connections between the past, present and future stronger.

While I appreciate a movie that attempts to tackle big ideas and shine a light on the ills of society, Cloud Atlas failed to tell a good story. It told a lot of stories, not one of them was good and the overall violence and ugliness of the movie leaves the viewer dissatisfied. It wasn’t a waste of brain space like Saturday Night Fever and there were a few moments of shining brilliance but it was not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. K.

Golden Age of Science Fiction: Sir Arthur C. Clarke

A Fall of Moondust

A Fall of Moondust

A Fall of Moondust

A lot has been written about Sir Arthur C. Clarke (he was knighted in May of 2000). He wrote 2001 A Space Odyssey, which grew out of his short story The Sentinel. I also read Rendezvous with Rama. Fortunately I did not read those books first. I found everything to do with the Rama mythos and novels boring, over done and just dry as can be. Sacrilege I know but they are just not to my taste. And clearly Sir Arthur C. Clarke loves the idea because he wrote several incarnations of it.

The first novel I read of Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s was A Fall of Moondust. I found it absolutely fascinating. The descriptions of the moondust and its effects on the mechanical apparatus of the vehicles were superb. The characterizations were a bit weak but still, I was young and it was the first of his novels I’d read.

Because I found A Fall of Moondust so much to my liking I went searching for anything else of his I could get my grubby little hands on. I read The City and The Stars and The Deep Range. I loved many of his short stories: The 9 Billion Names of God, A Meeting With Medusa and The Star all captured my imagination and made me think about things.

I recently bought and read Richter 10 by Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Mike McQuay and while there were moments of brilliance, I found it just overwrought with murky characters who were at best disagreeable and at worst completely sociopathic. There were places in that book where I could actually tell what Clarke had written because the style was his style. It was a good idea that got too caught up in intrigue and clever characters that dragged the story down and made it a slog to get through. So much time was spent setting up these awful characters that the ending was anticlimactic. Not enough time was spent on the science fiction part.

What was supposed to be a paradigm shift in the reader’s idea of what it means to be human, of what life and death are, falls flat because very little time is spent in the story even mentioning this very important aspect of the plot. Instead too much time spent on introducing and developing these ugly characters so the reader is left with a bad taste in their mental mouth about characters possibly cheating death, rather than what it means to be human and to be alive.

I, personally, find that I like the earlier, hard science fiction that Clarke wrote. I didn’t and still don’t much care for the later stuff that gave rise to and became 2001. I feel that Clarke’s work is strongest when he is working with the science fiction, the speculative fiction of his stories. He postulated the proper orbits for the communications satellites. The geosynchronous orbit that our modern technological civilization relies on is named after him: It’s called the Clarke belt. This man was and could still be a true visionary.

The City and The Stars

The City and The Stars

This is not to say that he doesn’t have anything to say about things like religion and politics. The short story The Star is very thought provoking. But he shouldn’t let that part of the story run away with the entire work. He is strongest in his craft when he maintains a balance between how deeply he delves into his characters and how clearly he presents the science fiction. K.

Godzilla 2014, Sharknado Sequel and Other Nerdish Movies Coming Up

Official Godzilla 2014 Trailer Screen Capture from godzilla-movie.com

Official Godzilla 2014 Trailer Screen Capture from godzilla-movie.com

Official Godzilla 2014 Trailer Screen Capture from godzilla-movie.com

News about Godzilla coming out of the SDCC is that the new Godzilla has a cobra head. I do wish I could be there this year. Long time Godzilla fans know that the suit gets redesigned for just about every movie and many have their favorites. Personally I think the Final Wars suit is the best with the Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla suit running a close second. That being said this Godzilla, while not a suit, is at least a clear Godzilla; not like the Not Godzilla from the 1998 movie fiasco. Feel free to chime in with your favorite suit in the comments.

With the breathtaking effects on display in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, produced by Legendary films; I have high hopes for Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, which is using the same production company. It should be, given what we’ve seen so far, gorgeous, stunning and everything Godzilla should be as far as visuals.

Things are happening so quickly I simply cannot blog about them fast enough! So far this week in nerd movie news:

Sharknado 2 has been given the green light. This is no surprise since Sharknado, which I reviewed here and had posted also at The Geek Girl Project, was a surprise phenomenon for the SyFy channel. Sharknado was in the top three twitter trends for several days last week. According to the Guardian UK during the peak of the most exciting moments of Sharknado the viewers were clocking over 5000 tweets per minute. Also it seems that SyFy wants your tag suggestions for the sequel, as you can see in the above link. Audience participation like this is sheer genius on the part of their marketing team.

Asylum Films, who is the production company behind most of the SyFy original movies has announced that New York City will be the setting for the sequel. Because what’s more fun than sharks in subways? Plus NYC is where the giant-alligators-in-the-sewers urban legends are centered and it’s the home of C.H.U.D.. It’s smart of SyFy to ride that wave for as long as they can.

Elysium Movie Poster

Elysium Movie Poster

I’ve seen a few trailers for Elysium (in theaters August 9th) and I have to say that I’m not really taken by what I’ve seen so far. The really strange thing about that is that I should love this movie. It’s a great premise, the visuals look stunning and I adore Jodie Foster and Matt Damon. So what’s my deal? I have no idea. Something about it is pushing me away though and I cannot pinpoint just what. I hope you, gentle reader, have a more positive reaction to it because it looks like it should be fantastic.

Gravity Movie Poster

Gravity Movie Poster

Gravity is another science fiction movie I’ve seen a teaser trailer for and that looks like it’s an old school science fiction thriller. To be lost in the endless void, alone, waiting for your oxygen to run out or the heating system to fail? How horrible is that? I love the premise of this movie. I love old school science fiction that doesn’t feel the need to apologize for what it is or throw in idiotic and unnecessary psychopath scenes because the writers understand the strength of the material and trust the audience to get it. This one is dicey though because any movie like this runs the risk of getting bogged down in intrigue, which drives me crazy. Of course I have no idea what this movie is really about since all I’ve seen is the teaser trailer but it looks interesting enough that I’d like to know a bit more. Also, and I know I shouldn’t but, I like Sandra Bullock. K.

News for M31 Publishing and War In Flesh

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

As you may have noticed I’m trying to expand M31 Publishing into a real, and interesting, Blog. I love science fiction, comic books, games of all kinds and a lot of things. I already have my tickets for Pacific Rim–the wait is KILLING me! Tomorrow I’m likely to drink some amazing beer and see The Lone Ranger (I know I shouldn’t want to see it but I kind of do). Thanks to my ties to The Geek Girl Project I’ve got an in with Titan Comics and thanks to Bob Eggleton I’ve discovered In Saturn’s Rings which I will keep track of and update you on. So check out www.M31Publishing.com for updates on all of this and War in Flesh as well as Second Chances and other books I’m working on.

What I’m finding is that people love to read about my garden. That works out well for me because I love to write about it.

I’m still publishing movie reviews on The Geek Girl Project. I’m reviewing the old Godzilla movies as well as doing a monthly series of movies called K.’s Guilty Pleasures. For all those old (and new) budget movies or just blockbusters that didn’t bust the block.

War In Flesh is coming along slowly but very well. I feel the stuff I’ve written since I rebooted it is very good. I’m hoping to get some time this weekend to really get some serious work done on it. I’m having more ideas for Second Chances too and I’m torn between working on War In Flesh and Second Chances. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. In The Flesh is available for your kindle on Amazon. K.

The Latest Pacific Rim Teaser–We Are Barbarians

Ron Perlman is Hannibal Chau in Pacific Rim

Ron Perlman is Hannibal Chau in Pacific Rim

Ron Perlman is Hannibal Chau in Pacific Rim

No that’s not the official title for the latest teaser released about Pacific Rim but it could be. We are barbarians and honestly, if we were ever attacked by a hostile alien force of any extraplanetary origin, be it space or dimension, I can totally see a portion of our population going for something like this:

It’s hysterically well done and I love Ron Perlman. He was fantastic in Hellboy and Beauty and the Beast the television series way back when. This is just genius but also a pointed reminder of just how awful we humans can be.

Any invading alien force would face not only unceasing resistance but at some point we will figure out how to commercialize them and then they are in real trouble. Just ask the Western Black Rhino which was officially declared extinct. Hunted to extinction for its horn and a few other bits and pieces for some of the conditions mentioned in this spoof advert for Pacific Rim.

I love the idea and it indicates that Pacific Rim is true science fiction, because science fiction is about more than just exciting weapons, technology, aliens, monsters or far away and exotic lands. Science Fiction always tells us something about ourselves. At least the best science fiction does and this gives me high hopes for Pacific Rim. Because to be honest, Kaiju and giant mechs was more than enough to get me into a theatre to see it. To find that it is true to the best science fiction has to offer just makes me even more anxious to see it. I have very high hopes for it. K.

New Direction for M31–More SciFi

Andromeda -- NASA-JPL CalTechWell, gentle reader, I think it’s time to shift the main focus of M31 (that’s Messier 31 for those of you wonder how I came up with the name for this site) over to a more science fiction oriented blog. That’s what I enjoy and that’s what I write.

To that end I’m going to be adding content that is more varied rather than focused solely upon my adventures as an author. As you know I’ve been doing movie, comic and graphic novel reviews for The Geek Girl Project. I think it’s time to start posting original content like that here on M31.

Worry not, I will continue to update you on the progress I make on War In Flesh and any news for In The Flesh. What I hope to do is provide you with more varied and interesting content. I’m very excited about this new phase for M31 and I hope you are too gentle reader. K.