Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Underdog Manifesto - a downward Odyssey through South Boston

Cheers, commies!
Release day! My latest literary monstrosity is here, Underdog Manifesto, via Crossroad Press. I am going to burn in hell for this one, as it contains trigger upon trigger for everyone, regardless on what side of the political barricades you're on. I thought it would be appropriate to have this novel released right before Thanksgiving. Be thankful you are not Sean McLaine. Special thanks for the talented and handsome cover model Christopher Bopp who depicted the downtrodden Boston Irish protagonist. 

After serving time for nearly killing his student—a crime he maintains he didn't commit—Sean McLaine, a puny drama teacher finds himself broke and friendless on the streets of South Boston at the peak of the Great Recession. His joints have been destroyed by compulsive weightlifting and his mind poisoned by the subtly sadistic prison psychologist.

Salvation comes in the form of an Irish mobster who welcomes Sean into his clan and offers him a chance at a new life. A few plastic surgeries, fake documents, and a sham marriage help the underdog reinvent himself as a philanthropist. His radiant face now fronts one of the largest organ trade enterprises.

To add a finishing touch to his saintly image, he adopts a mentally ill orphan named Casey. Diagnosed with juvenile schizophrenia and believed to be a menace to society, the girl spends most of her days in isolation with no access to electronics. When the flimsy child morphs into a moderately attractive teenager and catches the eye of a film student, Sean's lukewarm paternal affection takes a sinister turn. His inner demons that had been dormant for years become more active, and the weight of his secrets becomes a bit too heavy for his shoulders.

Amidst the political upheavals and school violence of post-election America, the battle for Sean's soul begins. Very soon he discovers that hell has no bottom—you can always sink lower.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Brian Trent's "Ten Thousand Thunders" - a sci-fi take on resurrection and transfiguration

Hello, commies!
Today's gem is Brian Trent's latest sci-fi novel Ten Thousand Thunders, recently released via a new publisher Flame Tree Press. If you appreciate literary sci-fi with references to theology and mythology, this novel is for you!

Having just been killed in a mysterious shuttle explosion, Gethin Bryce is back to uncover what happened. An unusually gifted investigator with the InterPlanetary Council, Gethin is tasked with seeking out the truth behind unexplained anomalies that lie outside IPC control.

His investigation takes him from the luxurious enclaves of Earth’s elite, to the battered Wastelands beyond civilization’s protective thrall. Linking up with an inquiry team from a planet-spanning corporate powerhouse, he also befriends a grim and reluctant outlander who has an important piece of the puzzle—evidence of a sadistic entity which threatens not just civilization, but all life…

My thoughts
Ten Thousand Thunders is a long-awaited novel by Brian Trent, who has already created a solid following of discerning sci-fi fans. His short speculative fiction has been published in some very elite venues. I happen to know (from reading interviews with the author) that he identifies himself as a skeptic and an agnostic. It's somewhat ironic that he incorporates so much Biblical as well as pagan mythological imagery into his writing. The theme of resurrection and transfiguration permeates this fiction. The author also has very high expectations of his readers. He does not dumb down or sugar coat. He expects his readers to have a solid foundation in mythology and classic sci-fi. I saw some reviewers imply that his writing is too dense, complex and a challenge to their attention span. I am not going to argue with that assessment. This particular novel is not a "page turner" in the sense that you skip through the pages between daily tasks. You have to savor his writing in small amounts as if you would sip good red wine. Sometimes you have to pause, go back and reread certain passages. It's not a light read, but it trains and disciplines your brain to appreciate and enjoy this kind of intricate writing. The investment is well worth it.