Sunday, December 04, 2011

Cinderella's Secret Diary by Ron Vitale

Title: Cinderella's Secret Diary (Book 1: Lost)
Author: Ron Vitale
Genre(s) / Subgenre(s): speculative fiction / dark fantasy/ YA
Copyright: August, 2011
Formats: ebook (Kindle Edition), Paperback

Ron Vitale's novel about Cinderella is a young adult gothic version of the well-known fairy-tale.

At the beginning of the story the main character is a typical naive young girl, to such an extent that she is also a bit irritating at times, but soon she has to learn a bit more about life. Her marriage with the prince is not a very good one, and the queen is a frightening mother-in-law. The kingdom, which turns out to be England during the Napoleonic wars, is in great danger. Cinderella has lessons to learn about people, politics and love, while dark forces are also at work. As she gradually becomes a stronger, more mature and a much more independent woman, the story is also becoming darker and darker.

This is a novel about growing up, and also about magic, adventures, witchcraft and family conflicts.
The book comes with a beautiful cover image which is the work of Jennifer Whitelock, and the novel is the first part of a series.

By mixing the elements of fairy tales, dark fantasy and chick lit, Ron Vitale created a very entertaining book.

The author's website
reviews at Amazon

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Good Contemporary SF: Best of Lightspeed Magazine

I have recently spent some time exploring the archives of Lightspeed Magazine, which is an excellent magazine of speculative fiction and it also includes podcasted stories.
I decided to share my best of list with you. (URLs added. All of this is free content.). Check these out if you still haven't.

These short stories will give you a very nice outlook on contemporary speculative-fiction literature. The selection is completely arbitrary and only reflects my personal taste. I only selected stories that give the reader something different form the classic (hard) sci-fi themes, as I like my sci-fi new and fresh.

These are the best 15 stories that I have found at the Lightspeed website:

- Transcript of Interaction Between Astronaut Mike Scudderman and the OnStar Hands-Free A.I. Crash Advisor by Grady Hendrix
A hilarious story about the sci-fi clichés about landing on alien planets and also about the extiction of humanity. It is worth listening to the audio (12:46 minutes), the actors did a great job with this one.

- I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno by Vylar Kaftan
A love story for space travel and physics fanatics. I haven't seen anything quite like this either.

- Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain by Yoon Ha Lee
A story about a female fighter and a beautifully crafted and magnificent weapon which can change history.

- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A story about a woman who was the subject of an experiment, which is meant to turn young women into fierce fighters.

- Saying the Names by Maggie Clark
This one is about a father and daughter conflict, but it is set in space and there is also encounter with an alien civilisation.

- Sweet Sixteen by Kat Howard
A story about coming of age and female role models.

- Amid the Words of War by Cat Rambo
An alien soldier becomes a refugee and then a sex worker in this story.

- Long Enough and Just So Long by Cat Rambo
Two women meet a 'male' AI/robot which is designed to be a sex robot but prefers freedom.

- No Time Like the Present by Carol Emshwiller
A teenage girl realizes that the neighbours, including her best friend, came from another time.

- Simulacrum by Ken Liu
A very emotional story about family relationships, esp about a father and daughter conflict, worsened by the man's addiction to virtual, artificial persons.

- Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son by Tom Crosshill
A poor boy becomes the subject of a scientific experiment and almost destroys the whole city.

- Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn
A Hugo Award Finalist short story, about issues related to motherhood, and all this is in a sort of post-apocalyptic setting and on a ship (and on sea).

- Ej-Es by Nancy Kress
A story about escapism, madness, cure, charity, colonization and destruction.

- Eliot Wrote by Nancy Kress
Again, a story with questions of personality, about human intelligence, about how the mind of a genius works and what is normal and the importance of all this.

- Jenny’s Sick by David Tallerman
A guy discovers that his girlfriend has developed a strange addiction and leaves her, but regrets this and is willing to help her later. Near-future setting, with unusual illnesses and cures.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Free SF Ebook : Smaller Than Most by Kristine Ong Muslim

Smaller Than Most is a short collection of flash fiction, with some very bizarre and surreal sci-fi and fantasy stories by a very talented author, Kristine Ong Muslim
You can download the ebook from the Smashwords website.

Good Sci-fi Movies: Sleep Dealer (2008)

Sleep Dealer is a fascinating sci-fi movie from Mexico by Alex Rivera.

This is a film about a young man from a tiny village, who after the death of his father, goes to a big city to look for a job, with high hopes, and gets introduced to the a high-tech hell of the city dwellers. This is a world he always wished to know more about, but it's one, where with the use of advanced technologies, man is used to the extremes, man is humiliated and his only value is in making profit for the company.

The basic idea makes you think about the movie Surrogates, but it is somehow more realistic and gives you a much better picture of what uses the technologies that are described in cyberpunk novels could really have. It is not about an insanely comfortable lifestyle which allows you to do everything virtually by connecting to some network with some bodily implants. Since this is a Mexican movie, it is focusing more on the new ways of exploitation. It is about poor Mexicans doing all the work in the rich countries via connecting to the network from the distance.

Apart from the thought-provoking parts of the movie, it also has entertainment value. It is also a mystery story and there is also a touching love story in it.

Sleep Dealer is probably one of the best sci-fi movies of recent years. (Trailer.)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There? by Whoopi Goldberg

Hyperion Books (October, 2010)

Whoopi Goldberg had a lead role in some of the best comedies of the 80s and the early 90s, so when I came across her book Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There? I immediately decided to get a copy.

This is a book of observations about the lack of respect that you can witness every day, with some humor added. She basically wrote a guidebook on what is acceptable behaviour and what is not at a lot of different places. The list includes for expl. cinemas, theatres, buses, trains, airports, airplanes, hotels, restaurants and workplaces.
The book is a bit didactic, sometimes overly didactic, but at times it is also a bit like watching stand up comedy. She is talking mainly about the US, but most of the thoughtless behaviours that she mentions are a part of everyday life at other parts of the world, too.

She notices that sometimes people just simply do not think that their behaviour can be irritating to others, even though there are many who simply do not care if they become a nuisance or not.
She also suggests giving the book as a present to your inconsiderate friends and family members.
We can all agree that for expl it's better to look at the people you are talking to than looking at your blackberry, but sometimes people need a reminder or two, so this can really be a good a advice and it is also good for the sales.

'Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There?' is recommended for both the funny and sad examples that the author collected and also because of her style.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Transformation by Rab Fulton

Title: Transformation
Author: Rab Swannock Fulton
Genre(s) / Subgenre(s): speculative fiction / a love/ghost story

Here is what I wrote when I first reviewed Rab Fulton's book, Transformation, back in 2006.

"When I started to read Transformation, I only knew that it's a ghost story. I did not know what to expect, as there are so many types of ghost stories. Later, I realized this story is very different from those I've read before.
The main character is a young man called Donnacha who moves to Galway after leaving school, and starts to work as a dishwasher. Transformation by Scottish writer Rab Swannock Fulton is the story of a young man's coming of age, getting to know love and perfection then gradually realizing his life is turning into a nightmare.
The story is set in today's Ireland, which is still not entirely different from the Ireland of the legends, the one with beautiful landscapes, and where one can bump into a ghost any time. The story is well-written and the characters are easy to identify with.
Transformation starts as a tale of romance and hope and turns into a tale of grief and monstrosity. Poetic, mysterious and moving."

At that time Transformation only existed as a web novel, published by the Arts Office of the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI, G). Since then Rab Fulton has gained a significant readership, partly due to his serialized young adult fantasy novel, the awards he was given, and also due to his popular story telling performances.
This year the novel Transformation also appeared in paperback, so it was high time for me to post this review again.

About the novel
Rab Fulton on Myspace

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Best SF/F Books I Read Last Year

I've been plannig to write this for quite some time, but have always forgot it somehow. (It will have to be followed by this year's best reads soon…)

So here is my best of list:

 - Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveller’s Wife

A tale of time travel which is also a romance novel, a sort of Wuthering Heights for today's reader.

- Philip K. Dick: Blade Runner
One of the best sci-fi novels I have ever read. It's a shame that so many SF fans who love the movie are too lazy to read the book. I'm trying to advertise it to my friends.

- Susanna Clarke: The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
A collection of fantasy short stories about fairies in Jane Austen's England, with some strong female characters.

- Elizabeth Moon: The Speed of Dark
This is a very intriguing sci-fi novel which is asking questions about the human mind and our concept of intelligence, about tolerance, illness and the meaning of the self.
(It is definitely not for those of you who would like to read about spaceships, guns and things that are blown up.)

- Frederick Pohl: Gateway  

I like science fiction with some psychology in it, and I perfectly understand why this became such a classic. A very imaginative piece, great writing.

- The Machineries of Joy by Ray Bradbury
There is no need to explain this.

- Clifford D. Simak: City
A good old-fashioned sci-fi with interesting ideas, well-drawn characters and with some humor.

- Sergey Lukyanenko: Night Watch

A fascinating urban fantasy for you with all sorts of dangerous creatures. Read it if you have the possibility.

- Wolfgang Jeschke: The Last Day of Creation (Der letzte Tag der Schöpfung)
Another classic about war, soldiers, time-travel and this is also an alternative history piece. It is not very fast paced at the beginning, but later you just cannot put it down.

There were two more novels that I wanted to add to this best of list, but those are by Hungarian writers and surely will not be available in English. (I might write about them later, though.)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Some Good Free Reads: Kazohina - A Classic Spec Fic novel From Hungary

Kazohina by Sandor Szathmari is a classic Hungarian dystopia. It is a bit similar to Huxley's Brave New World, but it was written two years earlier.
Szathmari was mixing SF with satire and the main character is Gulliver who discovers a world that is very stange, sometimes quite mad, but also stangely similar to ours.
You can read the novel online, in English at can also find an article about it in English in Wikipedia.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

A poem of mine has appeared in the 10th Anniversary issue of Aoife's Kiss magazine

Issue 37 of Aoife's Kiss is a double issue and the absolutely awesome cover features Sandy DeLuca's "Lonely Night." 

This is a quarterly magazine of fantasy, science fiction, horror, sword & sorcery, and slipstream, which publishes short stories, poems, illustrations, articles, and reviews. Generally, some very intriguing stuff.

The list of contributors includes:
Greer Woodward: In Search Of Flight
Robert J. Sawyer: Star Light, Star Bright
Tyree Campbell: Starlet
Shelly Li: The Architect Of Apathy
J Alan Erwine: R-Complex
Tim McDaniel: A Little Green
D. Moonfire: Best Of Enemies
Kimberly Richardson: Violin
DoA Worrell: The Fermi Paradox
Ramon Rozas III: Night Of The Sevens
Edward Cox: Ideal Village
Dawn Marshallsay: Sleep-Less Highs
Susan E. Curnow: A Gift Horse
Gale Merrick: The Jeweled Necklace Of Ishtar
Keith P. Graham: Carnival Of Blood
Edward W. Robinson: In The Veins Of Arawn
Sam Kepfield: Azaleas
Barbara A. Barnett: The Deepening
Denny Marshall: The Last Ride
Brock Marie Moore: nature, godhood, and the grave
Marsheila Rockwell: The Apprentice Stitchwitch
Bruce Boston: The Music Of Shapeshifters
Yunsheng Jiang: The Last Scene Of Act I
William R. Ford Jr.: The Last Day Of The Grieving Summer
Natasha King: Children Of All Spheres
Terrie Leigh Relf: The Ambassador From Ariadne IV
Brock Marie Moore: Tumble
Marcie Lynn Tentchoff: There Will Be Tea
Daniel Ausema: Spell
Marge B. Simon & Michael Fosberg: Cat Woman
William R. Ford Jr.: For Empire
Linda Ann Strang: Scheherezade Of The Fully Automatic
J. P. Cashla: The Hound
N. R. Allen: The Lamia
JC Crumpton: Another Year Has Passed And Still I Cannot Fly
Ilona Hegedus: After The Fright
Shelly Bryant: In The Goldilocks Zone
flash fiction
K. S. Hardy: Old Man Winter
KW Taylor: Science Fiction�s Usefulness As A Tool Of Argument
Jacob Edwards: Milestone Or Millstone � Sam Hignett & Eric Frank Russell
Jacob Edwards Review: Thor 

This is quite a list and I'm glad to be on it. Now I'm only waiting for my contributor's copy to arrive. :)
(Btw, "Aoife" is pronounced "EE-fah",  and it is Irish for "Eve.")   

The magazine is published by Samsdot Publishing. Copies of it can be ordered via the SDP Bookstore

Monday, May 09, 2011

Dark Highway by Dan Thomas

Some years ago, I reviewed Dark Highway, a truly entertaining zombie novel, for Novelspot.
It seems to me that zombies are more fashionable nowadays than ever, so it was just the right time for the Kindle edition to come out.
Read my review of this book here.

Publisher: Black Death Books (March 28, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some Good Sci-fi Comedies: AROG and GORA

AROG is the sequel to the hilarious Turkish sci-fi comedy, GORA (2004) which achieved international success, and not quite without a reason.
The first movie includes scenes parodising a great number of Hollywood movies, and the main character is a brave Turkish carpet salesman who saves the world and the attractive princess. (After being kidnapped and taken to a prison ship by some aliens, one of whom impersonated Prince Charles...)

In AROG (2008), the villains return, and send the hero back in time in order to get rid of him, as their leader still wants to get close to the princess, and all this leads to a lot of advetures in prehistoric Earth.
Whereas GORA is a must-see, the second movie is just funny. Nevertheless, it is still recommended.

GORA (Trailer, Wiki, Imdb.)
AROG (Trailer, Wiki, Imdb.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Some Good Free Reads: A funny story by Sheila Crosby

You can read a hilarious short story, Some Day My Prince Will Go at the Daily Science Fiction website. This is a highly unusual fairy tale, which made me laugh out loud again and again.

Sheila Crosby is a British author who lives in the Spanish Canary Islands. You can find links to many of her short stories and poems on her blog.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A poem of mine appeared in Sounds of The Night

The Febr issue of Sounds of The Night is out, with a poem of mine in it. (This is issue 8, and the poem's title is 'Enough is Better Than Too Much').
Sounds of the Night features science fiction and fantasy short stories and poetry, with a tad of romance thrown in.
Based on the list of contributors, it seems to be a nice selection. (I can hardly wait to get my contributor's copy).
Sounds of the Night is published by Samsdot Publishing. Copies of it can be ordered via the Genremall.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some Good Free Reads: While the Waters Nearer Roll by James Dorr

James Dorr has posted a link to another short story, While the Waters Nearer Roll in his blog. It is worth reading. (This story was published in the Oct, 2007 issue of MAGUSZINE.)
He is the author of two collections by Dark Regions Press (Darker Loves; Strange Mistresses) and one novella. (The latter, The Garden, is available from Damnation Books). His stories and poetry have appeared in many magazines around the world. Visit his blog to read some more.

Some Good Free Reads: With A Rose Between Her Teeth by Valerie Collins

With A Rose Between Her Teeth is a funny short story about expats in Spain by Valerie Collins. (Click here to download it.) This story is also included in the Writers Abroad Anthology of Expat Stories.
Valerie Collins is co-author of In The Garlic, an English language guide-book to all things Spanish. Her short stories have recently appeared in two antologies and she is working on a novel.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Poem For Horror Lovers: Trial

This has been one of my most successful poems so far.
It was voted Nr9 in The Preditors & Editors Readers Poll in 2005.


Rightful or unjust?
It's the place of claims
and pleas and lies.
Questions reverberate
on the corridors of the mind.
The hall is crowded
and all want to
get into the court room.

It's the place where I defended
rapists, crooks,
the man-eater
and the vivisector.
But who will defend me,
the most terrible monster of all?

A long row of corpses turn up,
they were all called to testify.

© Ilona Hegedus, May 2005
First Published in Whispers of
Wickedness, June 2005.

This poem also appeared in my (self-published) book of genre poetry,Uneartly Companion in 2005.(It's not on sale anymore.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

You Will Find Some Speculative Poetry Here

I decided to include here some of my previously published poems (SF/F/H).
I was planning to put them onto my website, but then it occurred to me that my blog is also a good place for that. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

River City: A Series of Good Books For Those Who Like Police Stories

Do you like books that include loveable characters, heroism, grandeur, humor and crime?
Dead Even, the latest book in Frank Zafiro's fascinating River City series is now available from Gray Dog Press.

This time it's a short story collection, not a novel.
I reviewed the first novel, Under A Raging Moon some
years ago for Novelspot. (Those of you who do not know the series, can read my review of it here.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Poems

A sci-fi poem of mine will appear in Aoife's Kiss in June, and a fantasy poem will be in Sounds of the Night in Febr.

In the meantime, you can read some of my older poems here:
Clarissa,Ruler,Healer, Ghost Story,(these are from 2004 and 2005.) I will revamp the website soon, and I'll include more poems, too.

New Reviews Coming Soon

I dedided to revive this blog. There will be new blog posts here on books, sf, movies, and sometimes even on tv series and comedy.

You Can Follow Me on Twitter

I started a Twitter account today.