I was reading a wikipedia entry on a book I virtually wore out as a teen (Gordon R Dickson’s Dorsai book Tactics of Mistake) and wishing I hadn’t misplaced my copy. (yeah, the electronic replacement copy is priced at least four times what I paid for the paperback that is missing)

As I read the entry I realized that I used the novel’s core concept in a fanfic I started writing three years ago. Are the Dorsai that different than the Fett clones? How long do concepts ferment in your mind before they come out to play?


Garnets to Opals, Necklace of Gems

What, then should a collection of gemmed necklaces be? A pirate’s treasure, of course.

cover of Necklace of Gems short story collection

Dig among within the treasure chest for the prettiest gems…

Another milestone! I’ve published my first dead tree book of fiction. This is a collection of my short fiction from 2015. I finished five collections, and themed each collection on gems for the cover art: garnet, amber, lapis, citrine, and opal. Don’t we all like something that’s shiny or sparkly? I always wanted to make the entire year available as one collection. A handful of stories at a time was not enough when I was having book binges before I wrote. I had a couple of requests for paperback editions of the earlier collections, but they’re much too short to be worth the physical copy overhead. This time you have the choice of ebook or paperback.

This paperback and ebook editions include all the stories in the five necklace collections, plus two extras. One was part of an invitational Advent project, and the other was specifically written to be a bonus for the 2015 collection. That makes thirty-seven tales of fantasy and science fiction in the Necklace of Gems collection. All are short, but some are part of a larger story, like the SF Curiosity Station.

And now it’s time to pick a new theme for my fiction collections for 2016, so I’ll try to make a good one…

And if you want to give my fic a try or don’t want to wait for the next omnibus, the smaller collections should do:

Earlier Collections:

Necklace of  Opals collection

Necklace of opals…

Necklace of Citrine collection cover

Necklace of Citrine

Necklaced of Lapis SF/F short stories

Necklace of Lapis

Necklace of Amber short story collection

Necklace of Amber

Necklace of Garnet short story collection

Necklace of Garnet

It’s Been Quiet Because…

I’ve been working on finishing my third collection of short fiction. I’m proud of this one, as it includes some tales I’m particularly fond of. One has been kicking around in revision all year.  This time I’ve included more fantasy that is a little darker, and my next collection will have more SF.

SF/F short story collection cover

Necklace of Lapis collection

Edge of Change and Ruin

Sometimes the world turns a little darker than before, leaving a hunter chasing dread hounds through the night, through blood and death and places never seen. A young woman discovers that some tyrants are more benevolent than others that provide pretty ribbons. A dark fey flees the slaughter of her family, but she lacks the magical power of her people for her vengeance.

In these tales, lofty plans do not always lead to wealth and world power, they may only lead to ruin.




Earlier collections:

Necklace of Amber short story collection

Necklace of Amber

Necklace of Garnet short story collection

Necklace of Garnet

It Reminds Me of a Book I Once Read…

The Moon Maze Game, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes, Tor paperback, 2012.

Writing a review like this is unpleasant, but then again so was reading the book. I kept hoping it would focus and thrill. As a fourth entry in the Dream Park series, it rates much like the fourth entry of the Indiana Jones movies. It had a few cool ideas and brief appearance of a familiar face, but it was far weaker than the original three stories. There were many poor aspects of the tale, but it just reminds this reader of stories I haven’t even reread in ten years, and I remember Alex, Tony, and Mary-em far better than anyone in the MMG a week later.

  • For the first, the cover is static and none of the people or props are anything but generic SF future. The most recent cover for Dream Park even features a white dragon, a bit out of place for a south Pacific setting. Better covers give some kind of hook into character, setting, or an action scene to draw you into the story. This cover looks like some kind of train station and no characters are particularly identifiable. One great character has a mobility pod for her handicaps and a major role in several major sections, but wasn’t on the cover. There were some very tense places, scenes that could have caught attention on a cover without spoiling the plot. Instead we get a station that says nothing about the conflict or events of the story.
    Good Dream Park Covers, with action and setting:

    Dream Park


    Barsoom Project

    With these two covers, we want to know what happens next, that’s the most important part of storytelling. The swordswoman with the men hunkering down, gives a different view from the usual cover.
    Now, I know the authors have little to no influence over the covers, unless they are selfpubbed.



  • But the cover is one of the best hooks for a new reader, but this third cover could be almost any future SF.
    Moon Maze Game

    Moon Maze Game

    The story has people of multiple ethnic, gender, ableism and what is on the cover? Just whites. The only hint of the game setting is the railing and the lamp, even though the game setting is supposed to be immersive. The cover fails on every level. Now many covers fail, but that is not a good sign.

  • Now the biggest problem is plot, all the other problems are a consequences of errors there. Like the other Dream park stories, the world-building before we get to the game is dense, but the rest of the story feels rushed and sketchy. Subplots and characters introduced are dropped and the IFGS game become nearly irrelevant to the terrorist-kidnappers plot. The GM shows more personality in flashbacks and there seems to be no Loremasters. A grudge is a chimera. A strongly implied subplot of Lunar freedom, ala Moon is a Harsh Mistress, is really wasted space that is meaningless, when almost all conflict once the game starts is related to the kidnappers. (who are only threats because of their ruthlessness and not their competence) The vanity celebrities in the story fizzle instead of adding tension or sympathy. Since characters’ goals and actions are what grab the readers’ sympathy, fear, and thrill, putting too much emphasis on world building makes a boring story. The story felt like it was only to fill in events between Dream Park and much later books in that universe. The Moon Maze Game is so ruined by the political kidnapping, that there is no setting, no immersion.
    You never get much feel for the game layer of the plot and most personal plots are staked through the heart too. The three overlapping levels of story never coalesce, unlike the earlier books.
  • The book is simply too short to do justice to all the characters and plots introduced. There were some good scenes and a very few decent characters, but reading it was like reading a detailed outline instead of a dramatic epic. The most promising characters were only in brief sequences, and several central characters never quite came to life. The game becomes so much window dressing that there is almost no awe and wonder, no immersion, no tension to solve the game as the players get extra help so they can escape the criminals. One subplot ends in a thud after not being mentioned for a couple hundred pages.

Now my review went on rather longer than I expected. If you want a kidnapping/escape story, it’s okay, but this is not really a Dream Park Novel. Read the other three: Dream Park, California Voodoo Game, and Barsoom Project. Read this one only if you want to meet Alex Griffin’s daughter in law (her sparse subplot could have carried the story better than the kidnapping).

Series relative reviews:
Dream Park 9.5 of 10
California Voodoo Game 9.0
Barsoom Project 8.5
Moon Maze Game 6.7

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