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In Search of ... the WORST in sci-fi POD samplers!

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Showing 126-150 of 170 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2010, 12:15:43 AM PDT
M. Helsdon says:

"When I was reading on the subject I found a source that said the orbit was estimated at 80,000 years. One said it was unknown. One said it was uncertain if Proxima Centauri was even a part of the Alpha Centauri solar system and suggested that it could even leave orbit after a few million years."

The most recent analysis I am aware of (2006) suggests that Proxima Centauri is part of the Alpha Centauri A/B system and that 'Proxima [is] currently located near the apastron position of its orbit.'


If this analysis is correct, then Proxima is at or near its most distant from A/B. The entire paper can be found here:


There is still uncertainty as to whether Proxima is in orbit about Alpha Centauri A/B, but if it is, then its orbital period is quite long.

I wouldn't worry too much about the period; Avatar has a gas giant in the A/B system and latest findings suggest that is very unlikely; rocky planets could form in the A/B systems, but their orbits may only be stable for around 250 million years, and then only if in orbits of less than 2 AU from the parent star.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2010, 12:03:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 12, 2010, 5:15:10 PM PDT
Thanks Ronald,

I redid my ad copy. You were right about that. I suppose I could use a good editor. Interested?

My point about the physical forces thing was that, telepathy (if such a thing were possible) would be related to the mind, not the brain. What is the mind anyway? Is it the sum of all the electrical impulses surging through our nervous system at any moment? Or is it something else? A soul. See, I believe that man is more than just some biochemical machine--the product of evolution. I believe that in man exists the image of his creator and that we are endowed with a mind, will, and emotions--a soul; and this soul or consciousness exists independently of the physical vehicle (our body) that transports it around a physical world. In my story, I speculate that if there were a way for two minds to communicate with each other, that time and space would have no bearing on their ability to do so, since the mind, not a physical object, is not constrained by physical forces (such as the speed of light).

Then how does a physical force like a radio wave affect the mind, a nonphysical entity? I think of it as software, or programming--instructions. I can't explain all of the nuts-and-bolts of it, but we do it in everyday life. We tell a child, "it's hot--don't touch" and the physical soundwaves of our voice enter his auditory canal, hit the eardrum, vibrate a few tiny bones, and convert into electrical impulses inside his brain. Those impulses are then somehow comprehended by the mind, felt by the emotions, and acted upon by the will. The alien signal signal is like a set of instructions to the brain at an unconscious level, like programming, that opens a channel (pure speculation--it's just a story, okay?) that allows telepathic communication. The idea is that telepathic ability is already there; it's just that no one knows how to access it or put it to use. So, that is a giant leap in the story; but can one prove that it is impossible? Again, it's just speculation. It's just a story. Totally made up.

No problem about the "astrology" thing. I understand. I really do, trust me. I still can't figure out what I meant instead of "entourage." Excursion? Quest? Expedition? Adventure? Crap! I hate words! If only I could telepath my thoughts.

Thank you for the scientific data.


Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2010, 2:15:59 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
"I suppose I could use a good editor. Interested?"

Well, Dennis, unfortunately with my current position I can't get into anything like that at the moment, but since you seem to be determined to make a career of your writing, maybe sometime down the road? :)

Thanks for taking the time to explain where you're coming from; I rather suspected as much from your first response when you mentioned transcendence in connection with the telepathy. That's rather the opposite of my own very materialistic worldview, unfortunately, and another reason for why I probably wouldn't enjoy reading this particular book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2010, 6:52:19 AM PDT
To each his own, brotha. Thanks for your input regardless!


Posted on Jul 15, 2010, 1:42:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 15, 2010, 1:46:05 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
You are most welcome. :)


Prison Earth - Not Guilty as Charged

Sounds like it ends up being kinda-sorta like The Matrix with criminal aliens living among us. I found the sample available here on Amazon QUITE painful, but hey, Y'ALL's mileage may very well vary.

From the blurb: "...different alien species fight for the key to the ultimate power of the universe and the very existence of all known life."

It's a big universe (unless you're reading that book by that lovely tanned gentlemen which has the whole thing inside an urn) and in this book it seems to be teeming with oodles of alien critters. ULTIMATE power. ALL known life.


To be clear (and, again, this refers only to the Amazon sample): with this one it's more the uninspired & uninspiring ideas and their presentation than the actual writing. (Beware the JarJarBinksese, my son!) And the author uses a cliché of storytelling that viewers of TV shows like Medium will recognize with a groan. ("Oh. It was all just a....")

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2010, 2:01:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 15, 2010, 2:01:58 PM PDT
Spork says:
You just made me laugh Mr. Rogers, ugh I can't stand Charles Stross' books! "Atrocity Archives" made me want to pull my eyeballs out, and I'm the kind of tech geek that got all the references! Oi.

This thread is great too, the OP's choice of Antimatter was hilarious. I tried to read two pages of it and I couldn't.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2010, 7:51:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 15, 2010, 7:52:48 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Hi, Spork. Your post made me go back and have a look. Like an accident rubbernecker who turns around and drives by a second time. Discovered an interesting fact...


Comrade: Supreme Progression

Notice something familiar?

"This is the story of Antimatter/Comrade/..., a story of achieving true infinity."

Wull heck yeah, if Richard keeps republishing it under different titles long enough!

(Note that the length increased from 348 to 362 pages over five months. I suspect that a majority of that may have been commas...)

(Britton, are you still watching?)

Posted on Jul 15, 2010, 9:35:37 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Oh. My.

I just discovered Isabela Morales wonderful "Wanted: New SF to review" thread.

Died. Gone to Heaven. :D

(This will take a while to sort through, including crosschecking to make sure there are no repeats. Please don't mistakenly assume silence means I'm curled up in a fetal position!)

Posted on Jul 21, 2010, 4:47:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2010, 7:00:19 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
I've got, like, 20 items bookmarked now from Isabela's thread... and I haven't even looked at the 9 newest comments. Before turning to any of those, however, I'd first like to dispose of a series of lovely but seriously underrated books by a dear friend here on the forums. (The first book has already been mentioned here, back on page 4.)

The Last Voyage Of The Cassiopeia: A Novel Of Adventure And The Human Condition (Volume 2)

Opening paragraph, from the sample here on Amazon (p.5):

It's a cold, bleak day with some sun in the metropolitan sprawl of the midwestern plain. Another great symphony of societal maintenance comes to an end on the western rim of the great, grey urban sprawl linking the former sites of Kansas City, Chicago, Wichita, Detroit and all their lesser tributaries. Therein lies a vast, unrestrained panorama of bluestem grass, barren plains and distant hilltops virtually untouched by post-holocaust progress. On this outer rim, one lone man surveys the visual testament to nature's bounty and barrenness as it sits majestically to the west of the sprawl. He watched the sunset play prismatic tricks with the Wakarusa River Valley terrain.

THIS, friends, is the STUFF! :D

(Have to run now, but will back in a jiff to continue.)

Edit: OK, I'm back. What can we say about this? How about... SPRAWL? Spreading out in an ungainly or awkward way. Like this first paragraph. But despite the verdant verbosity, the reader is drawn into the moment with the steady pulse of the verb tense used, present (is), present (comes), present (lies), present (surveys), building to the sudden crescendo of... an inexplicable past! He watched? WTF?

Sometimes BAD is purely by accident, a happy happenstance helped into existence by the hapless talent-free. But other times (and oh, those are the times I love!), it flows with such mastery that you have to wonder if it's intentional. Which have we here? Still too early to tell...

Golden and russet hues linger on the reflective surfaces of the artificial and natural topographies of the demographic confluence now know as Mid-Megalopolis. It isn't an uncommon sight, this kind of odd, comparative beauty, but it's in stark contrast to the urbanization the man is subjected to daily.

It's weird how this plays in the mind; the words appear to mean something, you feel like something is being said, and yet, like the skimpy dabs of food at an overpriced French restaurant, it leaves you strangely dissatisfied. Hungry for something, you plunge into the next course. I mean, paragraph:

The individual is an authorized navigator and sometime commander for the Unilateral Federation of Nations Interplanetary Missions Organization and grand vistas are routine for him in his line of work. He isn't so jaded that things he sees on his job and his own good life don't compliment each other and provide incentives to continue.

I am but a teacher of English and Linguistics to non-native speakers and mangled texts are routine for me in my line of work. I don't need any incentives to continue: I do this for FUN. Hang on, now, the next two paragraphs are pure ecstasy:

He's been part of the UFN/IMO for ten years, a somewhat spiritual man who doesn't impress his views upon others unless encouraged. His sense of the universe has been enhanced profoundly by the one hundred and fifty two missions he's been on, some of these missions by their very nature have been mind-expanding and awe-inspiring.

Doesn't impress his views upon others unless encouraged. Does that even make sense? I must confess: beats me! But one thing is clear: that last sentence is a run-on and needs a semicolon instead of a comma!

The man's name is Oswald Nineveh, a handsome, puckish man who looks nothing like his name, one that he always thought was rather clerical sounding, and his day is just starting. Beside him was the beautiful styled machine he uses daily.

Now there's a monicker to write home about! But what follows begs the question: What does an Oswald look like? And shouldn't anyone be glad not to resemble an ancient Assyrian capital? But what's truly tasty here is, again, the playful (dare I suggest puckish?) play of tenses! Oh what a mishmash is this!

Wouldn't that sound much better as "...his name, one that he has always thought rather clerical sounding"? But once again, why does the paragraph end with the verb in the past?!

I'll stop here for now, because the man strikes up a conversation with his tawny beast of a vehicle that is simply indescribable. Awe-inspiring doesn't even begin to cover it.

The sample continues to page 10 and I would love to tell tell tell you all more about it, but author Turner already has that job well in hand.

Posted on Jul 22, 2010, 10:18:41 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
(Interesting: 2 out of 3 people thus far have voted down the previous post. But no one jumps in to point out where I've mistaken good or passable writing for bad? Why is that?)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2010, 10:35:05 AM PDT
Spork says:
Well I just gave you a "yes" vote... sometimes the "no" voters are just haters, don't let them get you down.

Posted on Jul 22, 2010, 10:50:32 AM PDT
D. Hawk says:
Verb tense does draw attention for all of the reasons you've brought up. I personally think the point of view should be changed if the protagonist's description and background are going to be portrayed vaguely. Maybe this is the author's intent so not to gave away key plot elements linked to the protagonist's background, but to me, third-person omniscient doesn't suit that intent. In my opinion, first person POV would work much better, as it supports a rationale for being vague regarding the protagonist.

Posted on Jul 22, 2010, 10:40:57 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Thanks, Spork & D. Hawk for the comments! (Good lord, I sound like "Madame Salon Hostess"! :o )

That's an interesting idea about switching to the first-person POV, but I wonder how well this author could handle it; wouldn't we end up with the same tell-tell-tell exposition, only with the pronouns changed to project the guilty? ;)

Posted on Jul 23, 2010, 3:26:20 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Continuing on to what I believe is the second book of the above series (the numbering in the titles is a bit suss).

Almagest (Volume 1)

For me, it's always a bad sign when a book of fiction begins with an introduction. Especially one that witters on for three pages...

This is a book that was inevitable. "The Last Voyage of the Cassiopeia" [w?]as a story that simply could not be contained in one book. Sure, I could have written a novel containing 500 pgs., but my mission was to entertain, cajole, do exposition, not bore to death, (or at least a deep sleep.)

I was always told that the only inevitabilities are death and taxes, but I suppose these days that a case could indeed be made for appending bad books. The editing/proofing seems to be a bit spottier in this one ("as a story"="was a story"? And given that "pages" is only five letters, what is really gained by abbreviating it "pgs."?). Without actually reading this book or its predecessor, it's impossible to say whether the author fulfilled the first two items on his mission statement list, but he's got the exposition down pat. As for not boring his readers (made plural simply for stylistic convenience here) or rendering them comatose, I rather suspect that I would be too irritated (or amused?) in the reading to become either bored or drowsy.

I won't belabor the remainder of the author's introduction; it's here in all its tedious glory in the preview sample. But do allow me to draw your attention to these lines from the end of the second paragraph:

I am proud to say, with the modesty brought about by innate decorum [sic], that the excitement, that the humor and adventure of the first novel is expanded upon in this follow-up.

Behold the man.

When you finally get to the beginning of the narrative, what do you suppose you will find waiting for you? That's RIGHT! Recap!

It had been months since there had been any hostilities between MarsShield and EarthCon. Veeyar 9 didn't know what to make of it. Did Kessel's inadvertent destruction of the fortress do it? Was EarthCon really ready to call the longest protracted war in history quits? Or were they just waiting for MarsShield to stumble out of complacency? If the war was finally over, it seemed anticlimactic that the source of MarsShield's security leaks had finally been cornered by the major suspect, Lt. Carl Von Appian. Sashi Kumar Vishnapur was still taking good natured ridicule to this very day for making such a major gaffe, especially after a career of faultless leads and detective work. He had been sure it was Von Appian, but an investigation of Isadore Cavendish and his father established that they had had no military connections beside those of Toro himself, absolving Mr. Von Appian completely. Sashi formally apologized to his discredited suspect, but confided to Kessel and Diedre that he would still keep an eye on him, for he still found his behavior suspicious. Kes and Diedre asked why and Sashi said that it was just something to keep him busy, and he would be using Von Appian as a study of suspicious natures that could be misconstrued.

Wow. That's just the first paragraph and already I'm feeling shellshocked. Is this what good military scifi is like? If so, and you enjoy that, there's four and a half more pages of it to savor before you get to the first (distracting) line of dialog...

But let's jump back a page, to page 9 of the sample here. The last paragraph begins: "It was the year of our lord 3698." OK. So it's nearly 1,700 years in the future. I find it strangely comforting that people will still be using expressions like "Whiz Kid" then.

The sample is there for everyone to see. I think it's pretty bad, but that's just my opinion and maybe I'm biased. What do you think?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2010, 6:36:53 AM PDT
R. Larkin says:
Ronald, I may not sleep tonight for fear of the 'reactive conglomerate of evolving heuristic algorithms birthed from a sentient mind that went mad eons ago.'

And what are 'radical biomedical advancements?' Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for polysyllabism.

Great find!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2010, 2:35:34 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Rather than "finds", most (but not all) of these have been obnoxiously flogged here by their authors.

If I have time later in the day, I'm going to have a look at Daniel Quiles Pagan's NetherWorld (Volume 1). :)

Posted on Sep 30, 2010, 12:43:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 30, 2010, 1:21:44 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
ATTENTION A-MART SHOPPERS! We have a "Poo-Lite" special in Aisle FxWK0QNW07Z4M7 RIGHT NOW!

Deep Salvage

C. B. Davis, come on DOWN!

Let's start with the product description here on Amazon:

"There is a motto the salvage teams of N&D salvage corp. live by 'When crap gets heavy, Count on your family'. One team finds out the true nature of the cold, black, ocean of space and how unpredictable its nature can be when they are volunteered to test a new freighter. While orbiting Saturn the team is caught in a meteorite shower and all hell breaks loose leaving them with fading hopes of rescue as their situation gets worse by the minute."

NOTE The daring Use of odd capitalizatioN. And bold, almost, unpredictable, appearance of commas! But nothing prepares you for a *meteorite* shower IN ORBIT! (Meteorite: a meteor that survives its passage through the earth's atmosphere such that part of it strikes the ground.) I feel for the imperiled team, but more for the reader in a similar situation as this thing promises to get worse by the minute as well!

To find out more, though, you have to go to Scribd:


Where after a LONG load time (I'm on ISDN here at home; YMMV) you find out that...

"Pages 5-28 are not included in this preview.
Click here to buy the full document."

Mmm... not so fast! Starting from the first full paragraph of page 28...

Nirianna pauses for a second and closes her beautiful blue, digitized, eyes. Everyone on the command deck turns and looks at each other confused, thinking "what the hell's she doin? Fallin asleep?" Nirianna opens her eyes then resumes her explanation and assumptions of what's going on.

"Professor Jenkins. According to blueprint specifications, section one bravo is only sixty-two feet high. Is this information correct?"

Nirianna asks, leaving Jenkins dumbfounded by a question she should already know the answer to. The A.I. techs and engineers, including Jenkins, had integrated every dictionary, mathematics, science, literature and repair manual for all the freighters, large and small. "But why would she sequester an answer she already poses?" Jenkins asked himself before answering the inquiry.

"Yes. That is correct, but why would you ask a question that you already know the answer to?"

Jenkins asks while Nirianna listens to his answer and question then Nirianna vanished, being replaced with a still image. The image is a snapshot from a video of her forward section and zoomed in on her underbelly but the point-of-view is from the space dock camera.

Well. That almost has me speechless. This is another of those instances when I've read something and thought, "Dayum-nation, I KNOW I can write better than THAT!"

Were I so inclined. ;)

This is kinda like the feeling immortalized in that line at the end of that song about the guy who happens on a nekkid chick on the beach. "Honey... put your clothes back on." C.B., seriously, go grab the Help Wanted section and rethink your life choices.

No, really seriously this time, I'm offended that someone has the gall to EXPECT people to PAY for such crap. I don't know WHO told you you can write, C.B., but I certainly wouldn't trust them in the future.


[Edit: OK, that's kinda harsh, huh? I must be getting old and softer... C.B., check out my hopefully more constructive newest comment over in your thread.]

Posted on Sep 30, 2010, 7:23:53 PM PDT
Icefire says:
Although this isn't a POD title it reads like a lot of the PODs out there. I was a fan of Stargate SG-1 when it was still on the air. But the Stargate SG-1 novel: Sacrifice Moon by Julie Fortune reads nothing like the SG-1 legacy we all love. This book's genre should be classified as horror and the plot is just a small part of the horror. Some parts are interesting but then it goes way over in redundant boring fight scenes that make you feel like your in a b slasher movie. I am glad to see that that author has never published again for Stargate novels. Anything but an enjoyable read.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2010, 8:03:58 PM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Thanks, Icefire. I had a look at the paperback sample, and stopped when Carter was described as having "brainiac tendencies" in O'Neill's stream of consciousness.

Stargate SG-1: Sacrifice Moon (There's also a Kindle version!)


This is the kind of book that reminds me why I don't read media tie-ins. (I think I've read maybe four or five in the last thirty years.)

Posted on Feb 5, 2011, 7:05:11 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
My new hero:


Because a kinder, gentler world is the sort of ecological niche that fosters the survival of the feckless.

Posted on Feb 5, 2011, 9:58:34 PM PST
All right, Ronald. Mea culpa for the "Indie authors: don't edit" forum. At the time, we were coming off authonomy. Everytime I found an author with a voice, someone who could actually write, the "I know what publishers want crowd" would dig in. It was a cri du coeur. I still maintain that, as an author, if you will not defend your voice, who will? I do not defend those who will not/cannot proofread. If your native language isn't English, you probably shouldn't be writing a book in it (Yes, I know you think you're fluent because you were born and raised here... And I don't mean immigrants.)
As an aside, will someone explain to me why so many authors who know exactly what publishers want, go unpublished?
May I conjecture that you have not found our efforts laughable (or perhaps you have not looked?)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2011, 3:07:35 AM PST
Ronald Craig says:
Hi, Luther. Yeah... that was a wild thread, huh? Oh well, that was then, this is now. ;)

"As an aside, will someone explain to me why so many authors who know exactly what publishers want, go unpublished?"

I'm just speculating (wink), but I think luck plays a really big part in it. At least, that's the only explanation I can come up with for some of the real hacks out there that get published by traditional means, when there are so many unpublished or lesser known authors who write much better.

I only laugh at people who are so clueless that they don't realize how bad what they've written is, or who are so convinced of their own talent that they ignore or rationalize away all criticism. (A particular favorite are the ones who tell you HOW LONG they worked on something, implying that effort is more important than result. This isn't Little League, and you don't get a ribbon for just trying.)

I haven't looked at your sample because I haven't overcome my inertia and bought a Kindle or downloaded the reader for Mac (office machine's processor is too old to run it, and I've just been too lazy to bring a copy home to install on this MacBook). Based on what I've read of your comments here, I would not expect there to be any grammar or mechanical problems with the writing, or any "stupid science" problems. I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry about me showing up unexpectedly some morning on your figurative/cyber doorstep like a storm-bedraggled berserker. ;)

Posted on Feb 6, 2011, 7:18:14 AM PST
There would be tea and cookies ...

No pressure intended. I believe you stated earlier that you are not that fond of military scifi. (The male half of the team says however that your life will be forever bereft of a transcendent experience ...)
I think he's channeling Marilyn.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2011, 6:14:38 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
It probably would have been more accurate to say that I simply have read that much of it. Then again, we usually read more of what we like... LOL.

Monroe, you mean? ;)

Posted on Mar 31, 2011, 1:25:53 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
Since I'm getting ready to leave the office, where I do my "loser fake professor" thang, I'll just bump this with an announcement of things to come:

Next fish up on the chopping block:

Strander (Volume 1) by MISTER Charles D Hartik (Author).

This one's tasty. Stay tuned! :)
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