All happy about my new Kobo Touch, I went and downloaded a couple of short stories for free at Smashwords.
Richard L. Sanders: Betraying Nexus — Jason is a mind bender of Nexus, a global, secret organisation that prevents crime by changing the intentions of potential criminals with them non the wiser. Jason has just brought down a former friend and colleague gone rogue; now he is to be promoted. When he discovers why Nexus works at all, his loyalty falters.
The story has an interesting setup and a good conflict. It may have worked even better in a longer format, I think; as it is, the amount of progress made feels too much for the timeframe. If you liked the movie Minority Report, you like this story.
David Sartof: Gloria — Oliver finds himself inside a remote cabin deep in the woods. He holds a bloody axe, standing above another man tied to a chair. He is going to kill this man, just like he just killed his own wife. Oliver just does not know why.
Fascinating short story! The amount of twists the author put in with so few words is amazing.
Mark Aragona: Vector — An alien race carefully investigates earth. Suddenly, one of their scout parties ends up in the middle of a beginning zombie apocalypse. What happened? Is there still a way to settle on earth in a peaceful way, maybe even help humanity survive?
Interesting idea and good writing, but the twist came too soon; the ending seemed more like an afterthought. Reversing the answers to “what” and “why” would have worked better. There is potential for much more in this one!
I have never really read short fiction before but I know see that it has its appeals. Maybe I will go back for more, but first I have to read some free classics and gratis novels.
Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie continues right from where The Blade Itself left off; in this book, the story starts rolling. While all characters converged in Adua during the prequel, they now scatter in almost all directions. Collem West travels aide to Lord Marshal Burr, the army’s commander-in-chief, into the north; Bethod has finally moved his armies into Angland and forced the Union to fight back. They lead mostly untried lads, the only experienced troops under the command of two generals who put their rivalry before military sense. As if that was not bad enough, pampered Crown Prince Ladisla tags along, his mind set to harvest glory for himself.
Inquisitor Glotka heads in the opposite direction; he has reveiced a delicate mission from the head of Inquisition himself: He is to return to the country of his downfall. The city of Dagoska, won from the Gurkish during the last war, threatens to fall to its old master. Glotka is to make sure the city holds no matter what and solve his predecessor’s mysterious disappearance while he is at it.
The rest of the cast including Logen and Jezal is dragged to the far west by suspicious magus Bayaz. Their goal is to obtain a powerful magical relic with which to fight Bayaz’ former colleague Kalul who draws the strings behind the Gurkish war effort. Not exactly role-models and trusting traveling companions, the party has to meet more than one challenge on their trip, a fair number of them between the members themselves. Read more »
Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself is the fist book in his acclaimed series The First Law. Tree main point of view characters stand out from the impressive cast: Logen Ninefingers,
infamous warrior from the North, Sand dan Glotka, prodigy swordsman turned crippled torturer and Jezal dan Luthar, complacent army officer training for the yearly fencing contest.
Logen barely survives a vicious attack by a pack of Shanka, barely sentient and ever hungry creatures from another age. Certain that his mates are dead he moves south. He gets tangled in the schemes of ancient First Magus Bayaz who has special plans for the barbarian, including using his muscle and special fighting talents on their trip south to the city of Adua, capital of the Union.
Glotka used to be the army’s rising star in his time. Then he was captured by the Gurkish Emperor and broken during two years of brutal torture. When he returned home both his spirit and his body are disfigured beyond repair. His friends have abandoned him since so he has joined the Inquisition where he can put his cruel experience to use. His superior Arch Lector Sult uses the bitter cripple to advance his very own schemes for power, all too sure that Glotka will always get the desired answers out of prisoners unlucky enough to end up in his chair.
Noble son Jezal dan Luthar spends his time drinking, gambling and admiring himself. He regards his training with legendary swordsman Varuz as general nuisance if not torture and wonders whether the prospect of the honors he can achieve by winning the Contest is really worth the trouble. Only when he meets his friend’s unconventional sister does he start reflecting what he does and thinks and applying himself. Read more »
I have posted about Stackexchange before. Helpful folks on various sites have solved many a problem I have had since then. I have posted a bunch of answers which—hopefully—helped out others in return. To say the least, I am convinced of the StackExchange model and am continually amazed at its effectiveness.
The wealth of knowledge saved on the StackExchange network has become so extensive that if you google for programming or LaTeX related problem almost certainly a question on Stackoverflow or tex.SE comes up. If not, asking there is often faster than searching the webs and/or trying around. Especially on tex.SE you can expect great answers in a matter of hours.
Now an exciting thing has happened: A proposal for a computer science site has reached commitment phase! That means that a number of people have to vote for the site in order to move it to a beta phase after which it will be a full-fledged member of the network. The new site is to complement Stackoverflow and its derivates on one and cstheory.SE on the other side, filling the massive gap in between. I am very excited about this; if the community on cs.SE can be only half as good as on some other sites we are about to create the best resource for computer science students, researchers and users the web has seen so far.
But we are not there yet! First we have to have enough people commit to using the new site, then we need a successful beta. If you want this to happen, head over to area51, commit and be part of the community from the start!
Mysterious aliens that enslave humans in order to power their odd technology attack backwater world Bakura. Because the Imperial Navy is busy reforming after the disaster over Endor, the Rebellion decides to help. Literally one day after his battle with Vader and the Emperor, Luke is to commandeer a rescue force with Leia, Han and Chewbacca tagging along. They arrive at Bakura just in time to fend of the latest alien attack and are confronted with natives who are less than eager to accept help from declared traitors.
If you accept the premise of a vile species that wants to conquer the galaxy and happens to begin with it just now, the general plot is enjoyable. Our main characters deal with the effects of the latest battle and revelations; in particular, Luke still has yet to find his place as a Jedi while Leia has to come to terms with Vader being her father. Other than that, The Truce at Bakura is a truly average book. Fans will want to read it as the depicted events are mentioned later.