Tag Archives: science-fiction

Month of March – Sword and Planet Fantasy

I’ve been thinking about what kind of fantasy to try and review, and at the very least blog about, this month and so I’ve decided to do “Sword and Planet” fantasy. I’ve chosen to do this kind because, well, it fits my own genre of fantasy that I write and I just released the cover photo of the second book in the Guardian of the Core series, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. I figured I’d let my blog followers in on the treat as well and get a glimpse of the new cover reveal.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.56.50 PM

Hope you enjoy the cover. We will have plenty of discussion on this topic of Sword and Planet Fantasy within the coming month so stay tuned!!! Also, if you have a particular book you’d like me to read while diving into this genre a little more, please feel free to share it in the comments and I’ll see if I’m able to take a look at it!

– Michael E. Thies

Review – The Imitation Game

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Like I mentioned in previous weeks, I want to review something at the end of each month. Since, technically, this will be the last Sunday of the month, I decided to review something. And although I don’t have a “genre” of the month, like I will be having in the months to follow, I decided to write about a movie that I had previously seen that I feel as though falls under the Science-Fiction category. The movie I am talking about is The Imitation Game by director, Morten Tyldum.

To be honest, I am not usually a fan of historical movies. I don’t know what it is about them, or why, but I just don’t. Anyways, my friend wanted me to go, so I went. And, well, I was thoroughly impressed.

In short, this movie is about all that went on behind the scenes at a British facility called, Bletchley Park. It starts off with the recruitment of Alan Turing and others who need to break the Nazi Germany transition signal device called, Enigma. All of the people recruited are mathematicians and Turing, as discussed in an interview in the movie, is a “prodigy” at math, having published his greatest piece of work by the age of 24.

The device, stolen out of Germany, is much harder than it seems and has different combinations of ways to transmit an encrypted message—in fact, 159 million million possibilities. In the movie Turing builds a machine single-handedly that will try to outwit this Enigma machine because as he says, “Only a machine can beat another machine.” This quote was one of my favorite because it foreshadows this idea of the future of our society with the advancement of technology. But, I digress. One of his greater lines in the movie is “What if a machine can only beat a machine?”

Anyways, they eventually figure it out but cannot act on it all the time because, if they do, then the Germans will have figured out that they cracked Enigma. So, instead, they strategically plan what battles they are going to win so that they win the war. The idea behind that (and in the movie they use D-Day as an example) is very awesome. This idea, however, may be a little bit fictionalized as a great blog post by L.V. Anderson located here, describes the main differences between the movie and what actually happened in real life. These real life events, and what the screenplay was written off of, is based on a book by Andrew Hodges called, Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, “The Imitation Game.” You can locate that book with this link located here.

Anderson does a great job at explaining what is real and what is fictionalized. As she was going through it, sans a point about sandwiches being a major “plot point” in the story, it was really valuable. And although it’s valuable to understand these differences, I think it’s also valuable to understand why the director chose to shoot this movie the way he did. And that, my readers, is about conflict. If you ask any writer the three fundamental rules of writing are: (1) conflict, (2), conflict, (3) conflict. Without conflict there is no tension and thus we can’t really become involved in the characters’ lives and feel for them when they are going through tough times. Most of what is changed in this movie is done to create a more immediate sense of conflict (probably why I thought the movie was so great) or also to evoke a sense of poetic symbolism. An example of the latter is that the machine that Turing builds is called Christopher whereas Anderson mentions it was called Bombe. Is the name really going to change much in terms of the story-sequences? No. But it does change a lot in the story-telling and gives the readers a sense of “payoff” at the end after the “set-up” done in the earlier parts of the chronology in the movie where we learn that a boy Christopher was Alan Turing’s first true love. It is accurate that Turing is homosexual, although it seems as though he was more open about it in real life than how he appears in the movie says Anderson.

Anyways, with all that being said, this was a great movie. I highly recommend seeing it. It got nominated for 8 Oscars which is pretty impressive. The acting was great all around and Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Alan Turing did a great job in character (even though it’s not historically accurate). Kiera Knightly does another fabulous job as Joan Clarke in this movie. Who knows if the actors are going to get Oscars for their roles, but I definitely think they deserve the nominations.

The only thing that bugged me about this movie was the seemingly random ending. The movie itself is split into two different time periods—present day and past. The present day stuff seems all rather contrived and I was much more interested in the past events and working on Christopher to beat the enigma device.

What blows me away is that Alan Turing died at the age of 41 after being on estrogen pills for a year to try and curb his homosexuality. He committed suicide. Just imagine if none of that would have happened and we would have had his mind for another 20 or so years at least. The advancement we would have seen would have been phenomenal. I already believe that his Christopher is paramount in the establishment of the computer we have and use today.

In conclusion, this is 5 out of 5 stars for me. Go see it while you still can in theaters!!! If you’ve seen the movie, I would love to get your take on it. Comment below. Or, if you’ve read the book, it’d be awesome to see what you have to say on this man too!

Michael E. Thies

P.S. If you want to suggest what type of fantasy or science-fiction you want the next month (February) will focus around, please don’t be afraid to mention it in the comments.

An International Review

Hey everyone,

So, more good news. Another review came in this one was from a, Nadia Batista, who lives in Portugal and has read my book. She gave it a ★★★★ 4 Star review on Goodreads. That is awesome on so many different levels. Hopefully it starts picking up some international steam now. That would be fantastic. There is a bunch of things that need to happen before that happens, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

With that being said, here is the link to the actual blog post. http://eu-e-o-bam.blogspot.pt/2013/12/li-ate-pag100-36.html  What I post below is the rough translation of what is posted in the blog post. Keep in mind that I do not speak Portuguese nor does my mom. She was a Spanish teacher for 35+ years and there are similarities between Spanish and Portuguese so that is why I say this is a rough translation. Where she got stumped, we went to Google Translation.

 

1st part – First sentence on Page 100:

-> “If water is blue, why must this one be red?”

2nd part – What does the book deal with:

-> Trials of the Core tells a story of six youngsters who compete amongst one another in order to become Guardian of the Core.

3rd part –   What have I found until now?:

-> You are going to enjoy the book more than one expects. In spite of that at times it reminds me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, this is going to be quite agreeable literature.

4th part – What does the protagonist find?:

-> There is no protagonist in this story. Amongst the six competitors the story is told, not favoring one more than another. Now, how much to like all the characters…that is another story.

5th part – ??? No idea. Couldn’t understand this.

6th part – Are you going to continue reading?

-> Of course.

7th Part – The last sentence of the page:

-> “Everyone else had to travel by foot – but time was no issue for him now.”

 

I was very excited for this review. As a first-time author, not really knowing what to expect going into this whole process, I find it really really interesting that people from other countries are enjoying my books. That makes me feel good on a whole different level. Again, I think a big reason for this is because this book deals with the issue of self-realization which is an issue that is global, and not just in an isolated pocket.

Spread the word about, The Trials of the Core, to your friends. Also, don’t be afraid to check out the website at www.guardianofthecore.com.

Thanks for reading!

A Delayed December Launch :(

Hey everyone,

Alright so this is the saddest thing in the world to announce (at least for me) but I have been promoting my official book launch for December 10th, for forever now it seems. And alas, I do not believe it is going to happen (unless a miracle happens). In truth, I am not sure when it is going to happen anymore. How did this fiasco happen? Well, that, my friends and followers, is what I’m going to explain because I was quite distraught when I read the news.

So, with self publishing, we publishers have a few options to go with to let our books have the chance to be distributed nation-wide. Those options are CreateSpace (CS) or LightningSource (LS). There are probably others, too, but these two are the main players. Anyways, I went with LS because they offer a return policy, unlike CS, which is very important to get your books into bookstores, some bookstores are hesitant not to take books without a return policy because it is a rough economy out there. Also, LS does not put that they are the publisher on their books like CS does.

This July LightningSource split off into LightningSource and IngramSpark (IS). IngramSpark is where they transferred all of their self-published authors, like me! Now, this is fine, I don’t have a problem going with IS. However, I did not take time to read thoroughly the time delay it would take from the time it is submitted on IS to the time it actually gets put up on websites like amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. I though it would be an instantaneous process like LS, however, it is not. With that being said, I just approved everything a week and a half ago. This was all before I knew the fact thtat a new, never before published author like me, can expect up to 4-6 weeks to get out onto Amazon. Now, I have NO IDEA why the heck there is such a lag or delay in this process (it’s electronic after all). But, so far, my book is not up there yet, and I don’t really know when it’s going to be up there. So, if you were planning on buying the book, The Trials of the Core, on Amazon you will not be able to until I find out that it’s up there. When that happens I will let you know.

Anyways, there is my plight. So, maybe it’ll be up on Amazon tomorrow, but I doubt it. But, do not fear, there is still hope! You can order the book from my website, www.guardianofthecore.com and not only will you get the book sooner than what Amazon would deliver, but you will also get a personally autographed book, something that Amazon cannot give you. So, go there, check out the site, and if you feel inclined to buy, then go for it 🙂

For other aspiring authors out there who are reading the blog, keep this new timeline in mind when you are planning your book’s release date. I do not want to see any other authors affected by this like me.

Ender’s Game: From Book to Movie

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Alright, so I am disappointed to admit this but until the movie gained popularity, I had not read Ender’s Game even though it is considered to be a staple in the science-fiction genre. Needless to say, I bought the book on my Kindle and I read it before seeing the movie. I always find it fascinating when books get turned into movies and I think that is really any author’s dream (or nightmare if your book gets murdered as much as Christopher Paolini’s Eragon did). With that being said, this is my review of the book and movie as a conjoined identity.

Compared to the book, the movie falls short. Not even falls short. Falls into an ABYSS. It’s very sad to see such a great book that has a lot of potential to be a great movie, end up not being that great at all. I would have to say it’s the second word book-to-movie translation I have ever seen, behind Eragon (I’m convinced those people didn’t even read the book cause of how awful it was). Anyways, before you start criticizing me for badmouthing the movie, let me get a chance to explain the problematic elements the movie offered.

  1. I thought the movie was too short. I look at the time and it says that it was 114 minutes long, but it did not seem like that for me. I could have sworn it was only around an hour and a half and definitely could have been improved by being increased by at least another half an hour. If this length is correct than this movie suffers from misdirection in defining what is truly important in the storyline. Those are the next points that I will be addressing.
  2. Technically I guess the largest flaw of this movie is the fact that they did not describe the anscible or what it does. They make reference to it but do not make an effort to tell us what it does and simply assume that everyone watching the movie knows what it does. This I would consider the biggest flaw in the movie because it is the crux of the whole ending of the story! For those of you who haven’t read the book, the anscible is a device that allows people to communicate faster than the speed of light. This is the dues ex machina that allows Ender to control the entire star fleet at the end that are universes away. Also, when we find out that it was no simulation that Ender was facing, but the real enemy and the ansicble is the thing that made his directions seems to be in real time, it brings a certain sense of realism to the science-fiction element. With this element not being explained thoroughly we, as viewers, have no clue how this “simulation” ended up being real or how that can even happen without removing ourselves really really far out of the story (suspension of disbelief at its finest).
  3. The battles that made up a majority of the story, end up hardly making up any of this movie. Ender is shown doing one battle in the movie. Then all the sudden he is ready to take on a whole fleet of alien without any more training. That is too contrived. I understand you need to cut things to fit a book into movie form, however, a few more battles would have engaged the audience more and also would have shown Ender’s skills develop as a tactical genius. Plus, it would have created emotional unrest in us as we see all of his friends graduate (although we really know they just graduated to command school to where Ender meets them again). Because of this brevity we don’t get to see the strain it is putting on Ender and therefore cannot really connect with him as a character and so when he is having a hard time going to command school and needs to go home and his sister Valentine talks to him, we don’t really understand why he is so distraught.
  4. One last change that really made me upset is the fact that this “Giant’s Game” that is also a considerable part of the book, is skimmed over. The game is described in great detail but the “End of the World” part is not. What Ender struggles with is this, and he doesn’t struggle with it in the movie. In fact, he solves it the first time. And the “End of the World” that actually ends up being a whole different planet in the book, ends up being on the same planet where the Space Command School is set up. A site where they said they had traveled through all the tunnels and exterminated all of the “buggers” as they are called. Little do they know they missed one bugger and her offspring (which is going to repopulate the race that Ender just genocided). Okay, this may be believable if the fact that the place that they didn’t scope out fully is the one that is located as close to the Command School as possible. How does this one go without being looked at extensively??? Really??? Come on now producers, think that through!!!
  5. And finally just a few pet peeves that annoy me when it comes to translating anything from book to movie or tv show. Why do you need to change names if they are going to be the exact same characters? Granted this didn’t really happen a lot with Ender’s Game but there is a man named “Dab” who I am pretty sure isn’t in the entire book and just thrown in there as a filler character. But, for example, an issue where it becomes more prevalent is when Game of Thrones changed Theon’s sister from Asha to Yara (which I guess would have been too confusing with Bran’s wilding mentor Osha).

Now, as in any review or critique there needs to be some positive elements, right? Yes, that is right and Ender’s Game does have some moments of brilliance here.

  1. I thought the cast was appropriate minus Bonzo who I thought was going to be taller (especially since he’s older) than Ender. Also, I pictured him to be bigger. Was not expecting such a scrawny kid.
  2. I thought the fact that they did not choose to include the internet domination of Ender’s brother and sister is a good thing. I don’t think this really carried the book story any further and it definitely would have caused a drag in the movie if it were allowed to sneak in. That was an excellent choice by the producers.
  3. The graphics and animations were really well done. The buggers were shown very well and I though the “Giant’s Game” that Ender plays in the book was translated very well to the movie screen minus the fact that they didn’t go into enough detail with it.

All in all I would give this book to movie translation a 3/10. The graphics and cast are what got in the three. But not defining the anscible clearly and demonstrating a clear lack in Ender’s training which is probably 75% of the actual book just shows a clear negligence on the part of the producers. I would still have to say that my all-time favorite book to movie translations would have to be the Harry Potter series. The producers and directors did a fantastic job at those, and if my book, The Trials of the Core, ever gets chosen to become a movie someday, those are the people I would want to have it done.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you read the book? Have you seen the movie? Both? How would you compare the two?

Review #5 (More good news!)

Hi everyone!

Alright, I know you are all probably getting tired of me posting the reviews that I get on here, but, I can’t help it, this is my debut novel and the amount of positive feedback that I’ve been getting on it has been phenomenal and something I can’t be thankful enough for. With that being said, this next reviewer, Jay Williams, gave it a 5/5 stars and this is what he had to say:

“A well-written adventure in a fantasy world, this novel quickly engages the reader and keeps you engrossed through the never-ending action and adventure. People and places are always introduced with a brief description that helps to form mental images as the story progresses. I was completely in suspense up to the final selection of the apprentice. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Thoughts and images of the story and its characters stayed with me long after I had finished the book.”

Thanks Jay for your support. And thanks for everyone who has been behind me on this project of mine 100%. I appreciate it and it means a lot to me. December can’t get here fast enough, nor can my book launch party November 6th.

Until the next one!

Writer’s Block Press

 

Review #3

And the positive reviews continue to roll in. Here is what Betsy Harrison said about my novel on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/730582546. Otherwise here it is below!

“The Guardian of The Core is reaching the close to his 200 year term as Guardian and must seek out a replacement. Letters arrive at different places to assemble the best of the best for the competition to see who will be chosen as the apprentice. Prince Hydro, Eirek, Zain, Zakk, Gabrielle, Prince Evber and Cadimar are the contestants for the apprenticeship.

“The trials would sort the strong from the weak. Nothing else matters.” These are the thoughts of Guardian Eska as he finally meets those called to attempt the trials.

Through a series of four trials they will be tested for knowledge, strength, survival and more with only one spectator allowed to witness the trials, Senator Numos. After each trial, some will be dropped while others continue on until only two are left. These two will compete in the final Trial with the winner to become the new apprentice and eventually the new Guardian.

All of the contestants want to win, but at what lengths will they go to to be the final person left? Rivalries and friendships. Which will it be?

Totally unique and very interesting story line, plot, setting, and characters. The author does each person justice by not focusing on just one or two but spreads out the developing plot between them all. This story has me awaiting the next book to see if the characters and story go the way I have developed them to go in my mind.

I gave this book 5 stars. Actually, I’d give 6 if I could.

(I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)”

Thanks Betsy for enjoying the book.

MY FIRST REVIEW!!! :)

Okay so I’ve been sending out galley copies for a while now and I finally got my first review back from one of the readers. I am so excited that I’m posting all of it here! It’s kind of long but I like it all and I am hoping the other reviewers will feel the same way. This is for the book, The Trials of the Core, the first book in the series, Guardian of the Core, which you can like at www.facebook.com/guardianofthecore 🙂 Anyways, here is the review!

“If fans of science-fiction or fantasy are looking for something unique and unconventional, The Trials of the Core blends the two genres in a way that is simple yet elegant.  Michael Thies creates a universe that is sort of a cross between Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.  Written unpretentiously and with clear character voices, this is the first installment of a series that has potential to speak to both young and mature audiences alike.

In a faraway solar system known as Gladonus, twelve distinctive planets – each with its own culture of inhabitants – form an intergalactic kingdom.  Presiding over this collection of nations is Edwyrd Eska, a “Guardian” who protects and rules his republic with stoicism and gumption.  Underneath Eska’s firm exterior, bits of softness shine through as he searches for an Apprentice who will ultimately become his successor.  Six young warriors compete in a series of trials to prove who is worthiest of accompanying Eska during the twilight years of his reign.

Among them is Eirek Mourse, the “everyman” who rises from the mundane life of a pauper to embark upon a journey that leads him to seek out a greater purpose for his existence.  Although Eirek is far from robust in the brawn department, he compensates for it with compassion toward others and brainy resourcefulness.  Unlike the typical hero, Eirek’s path meanders in several unexpected directions as he attempts to reconcile his long-term desires, lack of self-confidence, and abandonment issues in the absence of his uncle and onetime mentor, Angal.  Battling his competitors as well as natural elements, Eirek – who has been unable to cast Power – finds that his inner demons are his greatest adversary as his quest concludes in a surprising manner.

Eirek’s main adversary – as well as a common foe to many of the other characters – is Prince Hydro Paen.  The son of a royal lord on the planet Acquava, Hydro brings an entirely new spin to the concept of the “antihero” as his delusions of grandeur impede the genuine affection he harbors toward his fellow countrymen and his family’s legacy.  As he intends to stop at nothing to seize the reward of becoming Eska’s Apprentice, Hydro loses sight of some of the greatest qualities that a leader should exemplify; yet, he remains a strong contender for the coveted title even as a final showdown ensues.  The prize Hydro eventually captures proves to be alternately filled with both promise and darkness, leading the reader to ponder what it could mean for the future of Gladonus as a whole.

A third finalist in the trials, Zain Berrese, exemplifies some of the deepest character complexities imaginable.  Saddled with guilt for failing to save his former lover, Ava, from death, Zain struggles with his role in the apparent demise of his best friend, Zakk – a fellow gladiator who was also slated to compete in Eska’s trials.  Haunted by visions of the comrade he fears he has killed, Zain finds himself distracted throughout the trials by the sexual wiles of a female warrior, Gabrielle, along with a battle of egos against several of their male rivals.  It’s often tricky to get inside Zain’s head, but that only goes to show how immensely conflicted he remains over what qualities Gladonus will require from its next generation of leadership.

In addition to the seductive and cheeky Gabrielle, numerous secondary characters pepper this saga of Guardian Eska’s grueling competition.  Cain, a suave-yet-cerebral prince who vies with Zain for Gabrielle’s affections; Cadmar, the beefy and often-bullheaded Garian soldier who craves the apprenticeship as a matter of honor; Tundra, a wise but outspoken elder who serves as one of Eska’s closest advisors; and Senator Numos, the portly, seemingly jovial politician who observes the trials with tight lips and keen interest.  Each of these characters has a perspective to share, causing the astute reader to theorize what role they might individually – or collectively – play in later editions of the series.

The author oscillates between fast-moving action and slower moments of rich character development, never truly revealing his hand in terms of which character is destined to come out on top by the end of the trials.  These young competitors display a nice balance of elemental magic, physical strength, and mental prowess to battle the various creatures thrown in their paths as they strive to prove their merit to an enigmatic ruler.  A variety of supernatural creatures come into play throughout Eska’s trials, my personal favorite being the fairy-like Windies.  Other antagonistic species – reminiscent of ogres and centaurs – create life-threatening obstacles that turn our young warriors inside-out to show what they are truly made of.

A common quality linking all of these diverse characters is their perseverance; the six ambitious personalities jockeying for Eska’s favor individually value either wisdom, honor, compassion, power – or some combination thereof.  Their interactions result in a compelling series of alliances, feuds, friendships, and grudges.  One cannot help but anticipate that their future paths may become continuously intertwined even after Eska’s newly-minted Apprentice finally assumes his or her mantle of power.

Michael Thies has created a colorful and action-packed world that taunts the genre-lover into delving beneath the surface of what a character initially appears to be.  While several mysteries embedded within the plot are left dangling, the story concludes with the implication that this battle was only the beginning for Gladonus – and that more ominous, and much more complicated days await its future.

I highly recommend The Trials of the Core as an introduction to a cosmic saga that challenges adventurous readers to leave one’s assumptions and expectations at the door.  This nebulous narrative dares you to pick a side, reinforcing the menace of how no character is safe from confronting an untarnished destiny.”

Thanks for reading and I hope to have plenty more of these to come in the following weeks!