Posts Tagged ‘Free Radicals’


Corrupted Science front cover

We’ve been running a NetGalley promo, and will be changing the available titles shortly. Corrupted Science will be archived this coming Sunday night, August 26, and replaced by another title, so if you review books and are interested in Corrupted Science, it’d be a good idea to sign on with NetGalley now.

We’ll be archiving most of the other currently available e-books a week after that, so again it’d be a good idea to sign up with NetGalley now if any of the following are of interest.

Here’s a brief description of NetGalley followed by a list of currently available titles.

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If you read e-books and even occasionally review them on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc., or your blog (if you have one), you might want to check out NetGalley. Ditto if you work for a library or a bookstore.

NetGalley a service that provides free e-books to those who review at least some of the free books they download, or who work for institutions (bookstores, libraries) that order books. This differs from the unrestricted book-giveaway sites in that while anyone can create a NetGalley reader account, prior to okaying a book download publishers can check to see how many of the books a particular reviewer downloaded he or she reviewed. So, publishers are free to turn down “reviewers” who have downloaded say 20 or 30 books and haven’t reviewed any of them.

But if you like to read e-books and at least occasionally review some of them, or work for a library or a bookstore, it’s great. It couldn’t be easier to sign up for this free service at NetGalley’s web site, and even very short, one- or two-sentence reviews count.

We currently have the following e-books available for download by reviewers:

  • Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science (revised & expanded), by two-time Hugo Award winner John Grant. This brand new book (pub date June 15) covers the historical period from the days of Galileo to the present, and covers a very wide range of topics including fraud by scientists themselves, the vast array of corporate misuse and misrepresentation of science, and the misuse and misrepresentation of science by authoritarian regimes, notably Nazi Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the USA under Trump, with a special focus on climate change denial under Trump.
  • Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber. This cyberpunk thriller deals with an even more overtly repressive near-future America and the struggle against that repression by a multicultural crew of hackers and political activists attempting to wake the USA from its “sleep state.” Sleep State Interrupt received a Compton Crook Award nomination in 2017 for Best First Science Fiction Novel and has received dozens of favorable reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Anarchist Cookbook front coverThe Anarchist Cookbook, by Keith McHenry with Chaz Bufe, introduction by Chris Hedges. Anarchists have talked for decades about producing an anarchist cookbook, a book whose contents accurately reflect its title. A book written by anarchists that delivers recipes for social change, recipes for tasty food, and accurate information about anarchism. There have been several false starts on such a book, but no one has ever published one. Until now.Topics covered include the nature of anarchism, approaches to social and political change—what works and what doesn’t, avoiding entrapment by the FBI, food politics, and vegan recipes and cooking for both large and small groups. Popmatters says that this book “features a lively tone and inspiring argument. . . . [It’s an] affordable and handsomely produced compendium.”
  • Cover for Stage Fright:40 Stars Tell You How You Can Beat America's #1 FearStage Fright: 40 Stars Tell You How They Beat America’s #1 Fear, by Mick Berry and Michael Edelstein, PhD. This groundbreaking book contains 40 interviews with highly accomplished public figures on dealing with stage fright, offering tips from their own experiences in overcoming it. Jason Alexander, Mose Allison, Maya Angelou, David Brenner, Peter Coyote, Olympia Dukakis, Melissa Etheridge, Richard Lewis, Ron Paul, Robin Williams, and 30 others sound off about their trials with stage fright, candidly discussing their fears and insecurities with life in the public eye and ultimately revealing the various paths they followed to overcoming them.
    Stage fright sufferers from all walks of life—whether a high school freshman nervous about an oral presentation or a professional baseball player with the eyes of the world on him—will find consolation by understanding the commonality of their problem, as well as helpful information to finally shed their inhibitions.
  • Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front coverFree Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, by Zeke Teflon. The reviews tell you all you need to know regarding this sci-fi novel about a hard-bitten bar musician exiled to a prison planet filled with religious and political cults:

“Solidly entertaining . . . reminiscent of early Mick Farren.” –Publishers Weekly

“The plot holds the reader’s interest and should appeal to a fairly wide audience.” —Booklist

“[Free Radicals] is among the best future-shock reads in years. . . . Teflon wields a dark sense of humor . . . and is a terrific depicter of violence. . . . [Free Radicals] is the only sci-fi novel I’ve read that captures the gritty existence of a futuristic bar musician . . . [It also] makes great use of border Spanish; . . . If we lived in the ’60s and ’70s when audience-rattling paperbacks like Naked Lunch were cheap, plentiful and available on pharmacy spinner-racks, critics would hail Free Radicals as a masterpiece.” —Tucson Weekly

So, if you review books and any of these titles appeal to you, we’d suggest signing up with NetGalley now, as we’ll be taking down these titles from NetGalley shortly and replacing them with others.

Finally, just a reminder that book reviews are fun to write and that your reviews do matter and can be a tremendous help to both small publishers and to other readers.


Corrupted Science front cover

We’ve been running a NetGalley promo, and just changed some of the available books. Corrupted Science will be down soon, replaced by another title, so if you review books and are interested in Corrupted Science, it’d be a good idea to sign on with NetGalley now.

The titles we archived were The American Heretic’s Dictionary, by Chaz Bufe (the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary); Disbelief 101: A Young Person’s Guide to Atheism, by S.C. Hitchcock; and Nicolas Oakley’s far-future coming of age social/political sci-fi novel The Watcher.

Here’s a brief description of NetGalley followed by a list of currently available titles.

* * *

If you read e-books and even occasionally review them on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc., or your blog (if you have one), you might want to check out NetGalley. It’s a service that provides free e-books to those who review at least some of the free books they download. This differs from the unrestricted book-giveaway sites. While anyone can create a NetGalley reader account, prior to okaying a book download publishers can check to see how many of the books a particular reviewer downloaded he or she reviewed. So, publishers are free to turn down “reviewers” who have downloaded say 20 or 30 books and haven’t reviewed any of them.

But if you like to read e-books and at least occasionally review some of them, it’s great. It couldn’t be easier to sign up for this free service at NetGalley’s web site, and even very short, one- or two-sentence reviews count.

We currently have the following e-books available for download by reviewers:

  • Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science (revised & expanded), by two-time Hugo Award winner John Grant. This brand new book (pub date June 15) covers the historical period from the days of Galileo to the present, and covers a very wide range of topics including fraud by scientists themselves, the vast array of corporate misuse and misrepresentation of science, and the misuse and misrepresentation of science by authoritarian regimes, notably Nazi Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the USA under Trump, with a special focus on climate change denial under Trump.
  • Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber. This cyberpunk thriller deals with an even more overtly repressive near-future America and the struggle against that repression by a multicultural crew of hackers and political activists attempting to wake the USA from its “sleep state.” Sleep State Interrupt received a Compton Crook Award nomination in 2017 for Best First Science Fiction Novel and has received dozens of favorable reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Anarchist Cookbook front coverThe Anarchist Cookbook, by Keith McHenry with Chaz Bufe, introduction by Chris Hedges. Anarchists have talked for decades about producing an anarchist cookbook, a book whose contents accurately reflect its title. A book written by anarchists that delivers recipes for social change, recipes for tasty food, and accurate information about anarchism. There have been several false starts on such a book, but no one has ever published one. Until now.Topics covered include the nature of anarchism, approaches to social and political change—what works and what doesn’t, avoiding entrapment by the FBI, food politics, and vegan recipes and cooking for both large and small groups. Popmatters says that this book “features a lively tone and inspiring argument. . . . [It’s an] affordable and handsomely produced compendium.”
  • Cover for Stage Fright:40 Stars Tell You How You Can Beat America's #1 FearStage Fright: 40 Stars Tell You How They Beat America’s #1 Fear, by Mick Berry and Michael Edelstein, PhD. This groundbreaking book contains 40 interviews with highly accomplished public figures on dealing with stage fright, offering tips from their own experiences in overcoming it. Jason Alexander, Mose Allison, Maya Angelou, David Brenner, Peter Coyote, Olympia Dukakis, Melissa Etheridge, Richard Lewis, Ron Paul, Robin Williams, and 30 others sound off about their trials with stage fright, candidly discussing their fears and insecurities with life in the public eye and ultimately revealing the various paths they followed to overcoming them.
    Stage fright sufferers from all walks of life—whether a high school freshman nervous about an oral presentation or a professional baseball player with the eyes of the world on his bat—will find consolation by understanding the commonality of their problem, as well as helpful information to finally shed their inhibitions.
  • Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front coverFree Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, by Zeke Teflon. The reviews tell you all you need to know regarding this sci-fi novel about a hard-bitten bar musician exiled to a prison planet filled with religious and political cults:

“Solidly entertaining . . . reminiscent of early Mick Farren.” –Publishers Weekly

“The plot holds the reader’s interest and should appeal to a fairly wide audience.” —Booklist

“[Free Radicals] is among the best future-shock reads in years. . . . Teflon wields a dark sense of humor . . . and is a terrific depicter of violence. . . . [Free Radicals] is the only sci-fi novel I’ve read that captures the gritty existence of a futuristic bar musician . . . [It also] makes great use of border Spanish; . . . If we lived in the ’60s and ’70s when audience-rattling paperbacks like Naked Lunch were cheap, plentiful and available on pharmacy spinner-racks, critics would hail Free Radicals as a masterpiece.” —Tucson Weekly

So, if you review books and any of these titles appeal to you, we’d suggest signing up with NetGalley now, as over the coming months we’ll be taking down these titles from NetGalley and replacing them with others.

Finally, just a reminder that book reviews are fun to write and that your reviews do matter and can be a tremendous help to both small publishers and to other readers.


 

Free Radicals front cover

Here are a few comments from reviews of Free Radicals:

“Solidly entertaining . . . reminiscent of early Mick Farren.” —Publishers Weekly Online

“[T]he plot holds the reader’s interest and should appeal to a fairly broad audience.” —Booklist Online

“Among the best future-shock reads in years . . . If we lived in the ’60s and ’70s when audience-rattling paperbacks like Naked Lunch were cheap, plentiful and available on pharmacy spinner-racks, critics would hail Free Radicals as a masterpiece.” —Tucson Weekly

 

Chapter 1

I woke up this mornin’ and I got myself a . . .
Well, you can see where this is going . . .

Kel Turner was snoring, one arm dangling down from the couch toward the remnants of last night’s dinner—nine mostly empty cans of Schlitz Classic Ice and a greasy pizza box, empty but for a cardboard-like wedge missing several bites and resting against one edge of the box. A few roaches were feasting on the half-eaten piece and the hunks of cheese stuck to the bottom of the box.

Kel stirred. He opened one eye. He screamed.

There, on the end of his nose, staring at him, antennas wriggling, sat a large, brown sewer roach. Kel levitated a meter into the air and batted the roach away. He ran to the bathroom and scrubbed his face viciously. Three times.

He filled his his hands with water and emptied them over the top of his head. While smoothing back his hair, he smarted as his hand hit a large knot on the back of his scalp. Where had that come from? He carefully put his fingertips on the knot and winced, feeling what seemed like an inch-long cut. He pulled his hand back in front of his face and looked at his fingers. Flecks of blood. He washed and dried his hands, pulled his hair away from the wound again, put his fingertips on the cut, and put them back before his face. This time there was no blood. But it still hurt.

As he walked out of the bathroom, he bumped his knee on the handle of the vanity door; he gasped and reached down. His knee, no, both of his knees, were rubbed raw. What in hell had he done last night? He turned back to the sink, splashed more water on his face and hair, and muttered, “Jesus Festering Christ.”

There were black bags under his eyes, three days’ worth of stubble, long, grey, greasy strands of hair hanging in front of his face, crow’s feet spreading around his eyes like the cracks in drying mud, and a jello-like pot gut he could hold in both hands and jiggle up and down like a lard-filled beach ball. Once you were off Comp-Med, this shit happened fast. Kel was only a hundred and eighty centimeters tall, but he easily weighed a hundred kilos, and all too much of it wasn’t muscle.

He grunted in disgust, walked back into the room he called home, and started to pick up empty beer cans. To his surprise, the first one, a can of Schlitz Classic, was almost full; and it would be a shame to waste it. He took a sip. Warm, but not totally flat. It would do.
What the hell time was it? He took a hit of warm beer and blinked a gummy eyelid twice, but his readout didn’t come up. Of course not. When would he stop doing that?

His implants had been wiped in the EMP bursts during The Troubles. Then, it had been nukes exploding above the atmosphere, taking out anything with an unshielded chip for hundreds of miles in all directions. Now, any asshole who could build a half-meter parabolic dish, who knew the meaning of “high energy radio frequency,” and who could tell one end of a soldering iron from the other, could construct a HERF gun, point it in any direction, and fry all of the electronics in its beam that weren’t heavily shielded. So no. No inner-ocular displays.

Kel remembered what it had been like after the first EMP bursts: the feeling of loneliness, of being cut off from the rest of humanity. It had taken him weeks to adjust, and some people never had, like the dust addicts infesting the slumped nano buildings just down the street, shuddering, coughing, staring into space at nonexistent displays. The neuro-stim addicts were even worse, not that there were many still around. The EMP bursts had fried the tissue around their pleasure-center ‘trodes, and most who hadn’t been reduced to drooling cretins had committed suicide within weeks: no way to feel pleasure, no reason to live. Even a lot of people with ordinary inductive implants and no brain damage had gone bat-shit crazy; some said the abrupt connectivity cut felt like being struck blind. Today, two decades later, all it meant to Kel was that he’d have to learn the time from his wall screen. But that could wait.

He went to the apartment’s window, pulled up the blinds, wiped some of the grime from the top pane with the side of his hand, smeared it on the back of his pants, and peered out. The window, so old it wasn’t even photosensitive, mercifully faced north, so he was spared the agony of direct sunlight.

At first glance, things looked normal. The huge, 3-D ads floating before the apartments on the opposite side of the street were flashing their usual come-ons, the two most eye-catching ones directly facing Kel’s apartment. In the first, a heavily muscled, flak-jacketed Uncle Sam, hefting an M-99 over one shoulder, swept a pair of night-vision glasses from side to side. Its message was simple: “Report suspicious activities. Only those with something to hide need be afraid.” The ad had repeated this message endlessly for the past four months.

The second ad showed a gleaming starship blasting off and disappearing into a luminous spiral galaxy: “Your future is in the stars. Live the life you deserve!” The flashy emigration board was in stark contrast to its surroundings: dilapidated 20th‑ and early 21st-century buildings—no arching or branching nano-composite structures here, just concrete, steel, glass, and brick rectangular monstrosities interspersed with debris-strewn vacant lots and, still, the slumped remains of some of the early nano buildings that had been sprayed during The Troubles.

Depending on how much of a dose they got, they’d either oozed into gelatinous puddles or slumped into flattened-skull shapes, their windows gaping like deformed eye sockets. The stench from their entombed—or, worse, partially embedded—occupants had been intolerable for weeks after the rioting ended, and even now the only ones who would go into them were dust or spike heads.

Kel stared at the nearest skull-like ruin as a shivering human skeleton crawled out of an “eye” just above ground level and shuffled down the dirty, potholed street. Kel’s gaze followed him as he shambled past shabbily dressed men and women haggling with street vendors amidst the carcasses of graffiti-covered vehicles stranded like beached marine mammals on the street and shattered sidewalk.
As the dust head turned the corner, Kel chuckled when he glanced at the remnants of an airvan buried nose first in the broken glass-strewn corner lot. For perhaps the hundredth time, Kel mused that the driver must have been mighty surprised when his controls and engine went dead. A lot of people in those flying coffins, and on the ground, had died during the EMP bursts. Today, no one in his right mind would even think about getting into one.

Kel shifted his gaze to the right and saw two cops confronting Emmy, a middle-aged, black homeless woman, and an occasional recipient of Kel’s pocket change. One cop pushed her to the ground and began beating her with his club as she pulled her filthy plastic coat over her head. Kel was glad the window was closed so that he couldn’t hear her screams. The other cop pulled out his club and joined in. Kel shuddered as the second cop’s truncheon smashed the hand that covered her face. When the bones in her hand snapped, she reflexively pulled it down, clutching it with her other hand, and the cop connected with her jaw. Her teeth went flying in a spray of red.

The cops stopped. The one who had smashed her face hitched his truncheon back on his belt and stood towering, triumphant over Emmy’s cowering form. Kel saw his mouth start to work and, even though he couldn’t hear him, he was pretty sure, even at a distance of fifty meters, that he could make out the final word, “bitch.” . . . Fucking cops! And not a goddamned thing he could do about it.

The cop who had bashed Emmy’s face reached into his back pocket, looked up at the nearest power pole’s dead surveillance camera, its lens smashed, took something small out of his pocket, and stuffed it into Emmy’s coat. Then he activated his helmet recorder and gestured for his partner to search her. The other cop began roughly pawing the huddled figure, and shortly held up something that Kel couldn’t make out. But he was pretty sure that he knew what it was.

Emmy must have really pissed them off, because this was not the normal drill. Usually, after kicking the shit out of her, they’d drag her ass downtown, book her, and the following day she’d be hauled in front of a judge on a charge of assaulting an officer or resisting arrest. Six months and out. This time, they’d planted a bag of dust or spike on her and would charge her with possession and assaulting an officer.

If they really wanted to fuck with her, they’d bypass the dope charge and accuse her of terrorism. But that would be overkill with Emmy, and they usually reserved that charge for politicals. Whatever the charge, conviction was a foregone conclusion.

Kel exhaled noisily and looked away from Emmy. Thirty meters farther down the sidewalk, sub-teenaged hookers were hustling passersby, paying no attention to the cops, and the cops paying no attention to them. Kel took a long sip of warm beer as he watched a blubbery civ-serv in a rumpled, grey business uni approach the kids, haggle for a few seconds, and then waddle past the cops and Emmy with his hand kneading the butt of a garishly made-up 11-year-old in a see-through red mini. No, there was no reason to worry. Everything was normal.


 

Ender poster(Ender’s Game, 2013, directed by Gavin Hood, starring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon, author of Free Radicals

Let’s just look at the movie as a movie–let’s not compare it to Orson Scott Card‘s 1985 novel of the same name.

The film opens with a quote to the effect that to understand one’s enemy is to love him. That line sounds very much like it was written by someone who has taken one too many acting classes, and actually believes the dictum that in order to play a character you have to love the character. Wrong.

Marlon Brando gave one of the all-time great performances as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Did he love Kowalski? Hardly. Brando despised him, and said as much. He said that all that’s necessary to playing a character is to understand the character, which is not the same as loving the character. Brando’s performance is powerful evidence that he was right.

Going beyond the opening quote, Ender’s Game‘s stated premise is that to combat a race of aggressive ant-like beings, the Formics (as in formic acid), it’s necessary to turn over tactical control of Earth’s combat forces to the most talented of Earth’s children, who have been immersed in video games since birth. That premise was serviceable (barely) three decades ago when Card wrote his novel. Today, after thirty year’s of Moore’s Law increase in computer processing power–with computers expected to surpass the processing power of the human brain within the next two to three decades–it’s not. It’s dated and outright embarrassing.

Other, worse, absurdities abound. Ants the size of elephants? Physiologically impossible. (There are reasons why elephants have massive legs and insects never exceed a few inches in size.) Prolonged interstellar war? No. Accelerate even a very small asteroid to just one percent the speed of light, slam it into a planet, and it’s Game Over. And … But why go on?

Even ignoring its absurdities, Ender’s Game is still a lousy movie. The dialogue is serviceable. The acting is serviceable. The characters cardboard. And the pacing is terrible. The first hour of Ender’s Game consists of little more than standard boot-camp scenes (featuring a blustering d.i.), unusual only in that the “soldiers” are barely pubescent, interspersed with what for all intents and purposes are zero-g paintball sequences. The first hour or so is both slow and boring (the two aren’t synonymous–see Tarkovsky’s Solaris), and then the film proceeds at breakneck speed.

Another problem involves the training regimen depicted in the film’s first hour. It’s ultracompetitive, and those in charge of it tacitly encourage bullying behavior–it’s a regimen designed to produce “leaders” who in all but name are sociopaths. Yet very few of the kids act like sociopaths, including Ender, who shows surprising concern after accidentally injuring a bully who’s been tormenting him. Very few people would show such concern–let alone a young teenager conditioned to be  sociopathic.

One final aspect of the film that adds much to its dreariness is its muted, low-saturation color palette, especially in the first hour. The apparent purpose of this is to provide contrast with the flashy space-battle sequences toward the end of the film–which is evidence that the director knew that the sequences themselves weren’t enough of a payoff.

Ender’s Game is even worse than Oblivion, which in a few spots is so bad it’s good. Ender’s Game is simply bad.

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Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia.

Free Radicals front cover

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Science fiction writers usually understand neither music nor the people who play it. But some utilize musician characters who are often unrecognizable as musicians, and sometimes also use painful song lyrics that don’t fit normal song structures. In contrast, Zeke Teflon, author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, is a musician with decades of experience. Here’s a free mp3 of “Postal,” one of Zeke’s songs, whose lyrics appeared in Free Radicals.

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POSTAL

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Free Radicals front cover