Monday, September 22, 2014

Alex's Underrated Treasures Blogfest - Dragon's Egg and Starquake

 
Brought to you by the Ninja Captain:
 
 




Alex J. Cavanaugh says:

'Everyone has a favorite movie or band that no one else has ever heard about. For whatever reason, they remain undiscovered and underrated. Post about your favorite unknown – one or all four – dealer’s choice!  MOVIE – BAND/ARTIST – TV SHOW – BOOK

Hop through the linky list and have fun!'

***

I chose a science fiction novel(s) by Robert L. Forward, Dragon's Egg and its companion story Starquake, an story about the fast life of Cheelas, creatures on a neutron star, and the humans who discover the intelligent life. Published in 1980 by Del Rey Books, Ballantine Books, N.Y. This is hard science fiction, and a bit different from contemporary fast paced space operas.


Dragon's Egg:

Intelligent life is found on a neutron star, a extremely dense entity which humans cannot land upon. The creatures live a hundred years in one hour of human time. A Cheela evolves from savagery to science in a span of days, with the help of astronauts orbiting high above Dragon's Egg. These humans become observers, then teachers, then friends.

Starquake:

A monstrous quake rocks Dragon's Egg, destroying many Cheelas. A few survivors fight for their lives. The humans, so high above the neutron star must decide whether to let this alien race risk extinction or try to help and perhaps die in the attempt.


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Dr. Robert L. Forward, is a science fiction novelist, science-fact writer and consulting scientist. In 1987, Forward left Hughes Aircraft Company Research Labs, in order to become a writer and aerospace consultant. Between 1983 to the present, he contracted to work for the Department of Defense (US) and NASA on a project to discover breakthroughs in space power and propulsion. 


Dragon's Egg
1980


Starquake
1985




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The copy I have includes both stories: Dragon's Egg and Starquake. Published in 1980 by Del Rey Books , Ballantine Books, N.Y.



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Just so all you dragon lovers know: There are no dragons in this novel, the constellation in question is shaped like a dragon, with the neutron star acting as the egg. To access the linky list, go to Alex's Blog.

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 Have you read anything by Robert L. Forward?  Do you prefer something lighter than hard science fiction?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by and hope you enjoy the bloghop!

***

References:

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com / Alex J. Cavanaughhttp://insecurewriterssupportgroup.com ISWG, a writers support group

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Stars Bleed at Midnight and A Bear with No Clue!

What's happened in the Human World, if 'The Stars Bleed at Midnight'? Read the follow-up to Death in the House of Life to find outRoland Yeomans has two new books out for your reading pleasure.


In 19th century Egypt. . .intrigue in the desert





“It is only through mystery and madness that the soul is revealed.” Samuel McCord
 
In Roland's words, we find the inspiration behind the story:

We forget that the true monsters are us.

Ever since LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, I have been fascinated by the mysterious desert and the cold-blooded machinations of pompous politicians.  KHARTOUM only intensified my fascination.

My childhood LEAGUE OF FIVE and I stayed up all Saturday night watching ancient black-and-white movies.  We yelled at Flash Gordon to ditch Dale and take up with the evil Princess Ardala.  We scratched our heads over Terry who never fell for the seductive Dragon Lady.

I swore if I ever wrote a book, I would have my hero marry the Dragon Lady. And so Sam McCord is married to the ancient, eternally young Meilori Shinseen to whom ancient Egyptians and Aztecs offered screaming sacrifices.

As a youngster, I was absorbed in Egyptian mythology and the scoffed at theories of Erich von Daniken in CHARIOTS OF THE GODS. I read and re-read AYESHA: SHE by H. Rider Haggard.  I made my Alan Quartermain a cursed Texas Ranger whose belief in the redemptive power of love keeps him married to a being once called Sekhmet.


Sekhmet, Egyptian Goddess
 

I thought of how human nature would remain in long-lived revenants (my vampires, like those of THE STRAIN, are quite different from the clichéd versions.)  They would be driven by all too human lusts of ambition, greed, and vengeance.

I pitted an undead Abigail Adams as the dubious champion of the American revenants against Empress Theodora ruler of Europe’s and Asia’s revenants.  I showed how their basic natures kept them at odds even when it was to their advantage to work together.

Samuel McCord said of this: “I wonder how much harm we do to ourselves and our world simply by getting out of bed in the morning and being ourselves?”

At the heart of this, I put a resurrected mummy child, the actual Princess Shert Nebti, whose body was filled with a pestilence that once released would drag the world into a new Dark Age as did the Black Death.

I mixed these elements against the backdrop of British arrogance, the Egyptian struggle for independence, the fanaticism of Muslim zealots, and the greed of the landed aristocracy.  The seeds of today’s headlines were sown in the Egypt of 1895.

I let all the heartache, misunderstood humanity, and mortal and immortal ambition be seen by the reader through the eyes of a thoughtful, haunted man of honor in a world where compassion is seen as weakness.

Always fascinated by Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Nikola Tesla, Ada Byron (daughter of Lord Byron), and Winston Churchill, I had them be my hero’s companions on a cursed expedition searching for Pharaoh Tutankhamun. (Or 'Pharaoh Two Tons of Almonds' as Mark Twain insists on calling him.)

In the desert wastes of Egypt lurk things older than Man that hum with mystery … and hunger. 

Join Samuel McCord, his deadly wife, and his bickering companions on this doomed expedition.  See what really causes dogs to howl in the darkness and cats to yowl after midnight.  Read THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT.  But should you hear long nails scratching at your back door … do not open it!

***

And now, for a detour to a different realm:

"D.G. has suggested I mention my first children's book, HIBBS, THE CUB WITH NO CLUE in MISCHIEF IS AFOOT. Hibbs endorsed that idea, too. Francene Lockett, the narrator for my soon-to-be-released audio book, BRING ME THE HEAD OF McCORD, suggested I write a children's book with Hibbs as the central character. 




 Francene said I fascinated her with the fun but wise tale of the young cub she read for the audio book. Hibbs, modest as always, thought that was a great idea as well. So I wrote HIBBS, THE CUB WITH NO CLUE -- a series of tales that mingles Lakota legends with Celtic mythology. Anything can happen in Hibbs' strange valley. He can fish for catfish ... and catch a dragon, or I should say the dragon catches Hibbs.
 

The Forrest Gump of mystical bear cubs, Hibbs, runs into leprechauns, Asgardian squirrels, insane unicorns, satyrs, and is mentored by the dreaded Turquoise Woman. I wrote the tales in the style of the Lakota storyteller: They do not begin with "Long Ago" or "Once Upon A Time." What happens in those tales is not measured in hours or by time. 
 
 
A place can be "a hundred sleeps away" or "a thousand paces away." They often begin with "Hibbs was in search of berries" as if the tale had just happened or was happening right then. And such is the stuff of magic, that well might be the case!

 
The tales are in no certain order so that a parent or grandparent can pick up the book and read any chapter to their child just before sleep without worrying about continuity. For those out there who just must have continuity, the last 3 tales are loosely linked so that they can be read ... say for a car trip or when a child is ill in bed.

Hibbs hopes you enjoy his short book. It is tiny but anyone who has shared her bed with a mosquito understands the power of small things!" 

***

Order or get more information on these two books at
Roland's Blog. Visiting his blog will reveal to you how many other titles he has available, many of which I've reviewed. I'm a fan of the writing and of the characters, especially Sam McCord. I'll be reviewing The Stars Bleed at Midnight as soon as I'm finished reading it. (DG)


Have you read any of Roland Yeoman's books? Do you have a favorite character? AND Do you know a child who might like to read about a curious little bear with no clue?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and you will get a response from the author, Roland, or me. Thanks for dropping by!


***

References:


http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.ca/ Roland Yeomans' Blog

http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2010/11/leauge-of-five.html The post on 'The League of Five', a young reading group.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

PARIS - Unique Galleries at the Louvre

 In a building that started life as a palace, much of the grandeur remains, making it a perfect place to showcase art.


A Louvre Gallery with overhanging Balcony by DG Hudson


In the old days (1800s), artists crowded the Louvre galleries to study art. They brought their easels and were observed by the visitors along with the masterpieces they studied. This is a long tradition in art schools and art studios. Go and study the masters, students are told. Students can still be seen performing this ritual.


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Watch for the Crowds

One reason not to see the Louvre Museum in a large tour group is shown below. You can't get close enough to appreciate the art or get photographs. These crowds of anywhere from 25-50 clog the space around the art. We waited until the throngs passed on, and fortunately, the Louvre isn't as crowded in late September. There are maps, so you can't get lost. Discovering the Louvre and its treasures can be an adventure.

Winged Victory, the Nike of Samothrace, Louvre Museum, Paris by DG Hudson


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Esthetically Pleasing

Light, space and design define this example of one gallery with paintings of various sizes on the walls. The fantastic Raft of the Medusa is the large painting on the left side. The variety in canvas measurements varies from wall size to small size. Don't try to rush through, or you may get a case of art overload. . .



A long and lush Louvre gallery; Raft of the Medusa on the left, by DG Hudson


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Gilt embellishment

In several of the galleries, the ceilings are decorated with gilt plasterwork and inlaid paintings so don't forget to look up.





Louvre Museum Gallery with Gilt Ceiling by DG Hudson
 


***

If you haven't been to the Louvre, do you ever hope to see it? (Art museums don't appeal to everyone.) Have you enjoyed this glimpse into the palace? (It's a welcoming place.)

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by!

***

References:

The Nike of Samothrace (winged Victory), marble, circa 190 BC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Raft_of_the_Medusa - Details of the painting The Raft of the Medusa, based on a real life event

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louvre_Palace The Louvre Palace history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louvre  - Louvre Museum

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Taking Chances, WEP - In a Little Café

This month's entry for Write, Edit, Publish (WEP) continues the story of Madeleine, an American in Paris looking for a life of her own. Part 2 is the new addition.


A Street in Montmartre, Paris, by DG Hudson



A Stairway in Paris,  - Summary Part 1

Anything can happen in Paris. . .as Madeleine discovered when she met a man in an unlikely place in her new apartment building.


Dusk turned into dark by the time Madeleine finished unpacking and began to feel hunger pains. She remembered the name of the sidewalk café that Gaston mentioned, and went looking for it. After passing the Hotel de Ville, she found the restaurant, glowing with warmth in the night. Madeleine searched the faces among the waiters but she didn't see him. A little disappointed, she placed her order with another waiter. As she sipped her wine and water, she watched the changing parade of people walking by the tables. Then she heard Gaston's voice.

"Madeleine, you found the 'Bistro Marguerite'! I was asked to serve this table. Now, I see it is you, my new friend. The food here is très bon."

"It smells wonderful. I had to find a place to eat and I wanted to thank you for helping me pull my luggage up the stairs." She inhaled the aroma of the French Cod dish he brought to her table.

Gaston offered Madeleine a free dessert and coffee in an attempt to delay her. Then, he suggested that he walk back with her. 

"I could wait, I might get lost."

"Exactly. I'll bring the dessert."

The lights dimmed behind them as they left the restaurant, hand in hand. Walking slowly and stopping to admire this or that, they took an hour to cover a ten minute walk.

To read the full Part 1, click here.

***


In a Little Café

Part 2

The next time Madeleine saw Gaston, he was escorting a female friend down the narrow stairs to the lobby. She waited at the bottom to let them pass. He looked around his escort and nodded to Madeleine with a little smile. Her previous thoughts of him from the café seemed to evaporate. It had been a week or more since then without a word.

"Bonjour," he said.
His female friend appeared several years younger than Gaston.
She looked at Madeleine for a moment with the flitting curiosity of a cat, as they descended the narrow stairs.


"Bonjour." Madeleine saw his little smile, as if they shared a secret.


Well, that was strange. I'm not sure what to think of this guy.

Another week passed before she saw Gaston again. She was leaving her apartment, when someone called her name.

"Madeleine, wait a moment. "

"Bonjour, Gaston, I'm sorry but I'm on my way out."

"I see. How about if we plan to meet somewhere?"

"Oui, but name someplace I can find."


"Meet me at Le Voltaire. It's within sight of Notre Dame. It's cozy and has green awnings. It's a beautiful old restaurant."







 
"Did Voltaire actually eat there?"

"The plaque on the building says he lived in the building. How convenient to have the kitchen below one's home."

 During the meal, Gaston revealed that his father had sent a letter asking him to come home for a while, as his mother was ailing.

"Just when I am starting to get a life on my own, Papa wants me to come back. Is that not unfair? I know I must go. It is my mother and I am their only help. It just interrupts a lot of things."

"Is it for a long time?"



Le Voltaire Restaurant, Paris, by DG Hudson


"Je ne sais pas. I don't plan to stay there very long, non, but I must help my father get my mother in care. That girl you saw me with about a week ago? She's a cousin who was visiting in Paris and stopped by to tell me how sick my mother was."

"Is it very bad?"

"They don't expect a recovery. She had a stroke."

"I'm so sorry, Gaston. Will you come back to Paris?"

"Mais certainement! Would you write me and let me know how it goes for you?"
 
"Of course, I can practice my French and you can practice your English."

"It is done, then. We shall have dinner at Bistro Marguerite before I go, and I won't be working. If we had more time, I would have asked you to come back with me and meet my family. But with ma mere ill, it is not the right time."

"Non."

They sat in silence for a few minutes lost in their own thoughts. Madeleine didn't ask why he wanted her to meet his family. She didn't want commitments, not now. A few years later, when she walked by the old apartment house, memories of what might have been surfaced. She wrote one letter to Gaston, but never heard from him again.

'There was once a chance I didn’t take.'  I wish him well. . .

*****
Do you think you missed any chances along the way? Are there many you might want to revisit? Or do you let the past stay in the past?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond.

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WRITE, EDIT, PUBLISH . . .
WEP



A Monthly Challenge, Host: Denise Covey



Would you like to challenge yourself? Try Write...Edit...Publish! aka WEP
Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. I've also met fellow bloggers with the same penchant for responding to Denise's challenges. WEP can help you practice short writing.


Write…Edit…Publish! welcomes you to submit any of the following – flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction or playscripts to a word count of 1,000 words – artwork and photographs accompanied by your written inspiration in creating your work/s.

Next Challenge: September - Changing Faces

Denise Covey - WEP in detail

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Je ne sais pas = I don't know

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Monday, August 4, 2014

PARIS OutTakes and Jessica's White Lady

OutTakes are photographs which highlight lesser known spots or viewpoints. The camera preserves the image.


Near Les Halles
The former market area

View of residences and the top of the Carousel at Les Halles, Paris. Reflections show in the glass-faced building in the center.


Les Halles area in Paris, by DG Hudson


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A Bridge over The Seine

Close-up detail of a Pont (bridge) over the Seine River, Paris. The stairs in the middle background descend from street level and are in front of the wall.



The Seine River and bridge detail, Paris, by DG Hudson


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Les Cars Rouges Hop-on Hop-off tour bus


Les Cars Rouges tour buses, Paris, by DG Hudson


The top level of Les Cars Rouges is a great vantage point to get photos you can't get from the ground. Passes are available for a variety of days and very reasonable. We didn't use the metro, on the advice of a fellow traveler from Paris.

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AND NOW, for something completely different . . .News from Jessica Bell on her upcoming WHITE LADY release in October:

Do you like to read psychological thrillers? Well, Jessica Bell's giving away her latest release, WHITE LADY, for FREE, to every single person who signs up to the "Two Lies and a Truth" Blog Tour (taking place October 1 - 31). It's hassle-free. All you have to do is post what she sends you to your blog (or Facebook page) and Bob's your uncle. She will also be giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader of your blog. More details and sign up form here: http://goo.gl/0EsZLo
 


Here is the book trailer (music written and produced by the author herself): http://goo.gl/BeYPXV

Here is a tweet:
Join
@MsBessieBell's "Two Lies & a Truth" blog tour & get her new novel, WHITE LADY, 4 free! http://goo.gl/0EsZLo #thriller #chicknoir

***

Do you like outtakes? Interested in Jessica's latest fiction novel? What are you doing with your summer?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond.  I'm slow blogging for August, due to time restraints.  Thanks to all the fellow bloggers who have shown support for my hubs. Every little bit helps. He has made several advances in the last week, but I have learned all nurses are definitely not created equal. 

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WEP - A Picture Worth 1000 words: Infinity and Nuit Blanche

The WEP July Challenge
An image or a picture can trigger memories, beliefs and imagination. Here are my offerings.


INFINITY

Fort Jefferson
A prison
Soldiers and Civilians
The Dry Tortugas


The Archways of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Fla., by DG Hudson


In our lives, there are many doors, some open to joy or insight, some to sadness, pain or loss. Life takes no notice of who you are or what your plans may be. Infinity shown as openings or archways can also represent hope that perhaps the next opening will lead to better times.  The road continues whether we fall by the wayside or not. Sometimes there is a choice at the fork in the road and at other times, we are at the behest of Fate.


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Nuit Blanche

Paris, France
It's a City Party
Exploring culture in the streets
The traffic is a parade.
So many bright lights=White Night


Nuit Blanche on the Rue de Rivoli, Paris, by Green Eye, prop. DG Hudson


Nuit Blanche (White Night) is an arts festival or city party which provides 'after hours'  free access to various forms of culture. Film, visual art and performing arts are staged at outside venues and certain galleries and locations. The Nuit Blanche is celebrated in the first week of October in Paris.

This image was captured from the fourth floor of a residential apartment building on the Rue de Rivoli.

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Previous post A to Z Blog Challenge 2012: N = Nuit Blanche, Paris
http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/04/n-nuit-blanche-paris-to-z-blog.html

***

Have you ever heard the term Nuit Blanche? Have you heard of the Dry Tortugas or Garden Key? Do you find it easy to be inspired by an image?

Please leave a comment to let me know you dropped by and I'll respond.
I apologize for the brevity of my entry to this month's challenge, fiction was not an option.

***

Write, Edit, Publish!

Would you like to challenge yourself? Try Write...Edit...Publish! aka WEP
Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. WEP can help you practice short writing. It's a good way to start story ideas.


Write…Edit…Publish! welcomes you to submit any of the following – flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction or playscripts to a word count of 1,000 words – artwork and photographs accompanied by your written inspiration in creating your work/s.


***
Don't forget to visit the other posts on the July signup.

Next Challenge: August - Taking Chances
 
Owner/Originator: Denise Covey at her website.
 
***

References

Photographs by DG Hudson and Green Eye.

Wiki on Fort Jefferson
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Jefferson,_Florida

Link to info Wiki on Nuit Blanche
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuit_Blanche


Denise Covey's WEP information
http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.ca/

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ROBOT Uprisings - A Book Review


AI - Artificial Intelligence. Can they be trusted? What if they don't follow the Three Laws of Robotics* or any other Human imposed code of conduct?





ROBOT UPRISINGS


Including authors Cory Doctorow, Hugh Howey, Jeff Abbott, Ernest Cline, John McCarthy, and more, Robot Uprisings contains new stories based on a common theme. Open your awareness to the possibilities and the dangers that we imagine if we share our world with an entity that is manufactured, not born. Seventeen stories of which I've highlighted six authors. This is another library find; I can't refuse a book with 'robots' in the title.


A Sampling:

Cory Doctorow - Epoch

A system wide rollover is due, like Y2K, and everyone is making preparations to ride out the time, including the robots.

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Hugh Howey - Executable

Beware the reprogrammable computerized items in your home, like that little Roomba. And the fridge, the microwave. . .

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Ernest Cline - The Omnibot Incident

What if you got your own robot for Christmas? And it was better than anything you had imagined? Be cautious. When something seems better than it is, there might be a reason. . .

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John McCarthy - The Robot and the Baby

Delightful jab at future tech and privacy/freedom issues. This was fun to read, as it incorporated the media element in the future, and how little actual privacy we may have. Babies - robots don't do baby care, until now.

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Seanan McGuire - We are all Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War

A story parents should read, about a Pied Piper of the future. Educational robots - can learn as well as teach. Beware.

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Jeff Abbott - Human Intelligence

After the takeover, they wanted to understand humans. Why? To become more like us or to better break us? Someone had resisted them. They, the conquering robots, want to know why and how?

***

The Theme: What you can do, we can do better OR come the robot revolution. . .


Robot Uprisings, Vintage Books, Vintage Original Series, Edited by Daniel H. Wilson, and John Joseph Adams, Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014. Daniel writes robotic-themed novels, one of which has been slated for film by Steven Spielberg. John Joseph Adams is the editor of digital magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare, and other interesting projects.

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Would you like your own robot? Are you worried about Artificial Intelligence taking over? Have you read any of these authors I've mentioned? Or heard of them?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for visiting. I'll respond!

***

References

* I. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics

Robots with Brains
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/roboticexplorers/f_robotics.html

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