Monthly Archives: August 2007

Beautiful, weird, intriguing photographs

I found a new blog dedicated mostly to strange and great photography, Novak’s blog. This photo is part of the Moments Frozen in Time collection, Novak’s most popular of the blog. Some of them I’m not sure if they’ve been remastered (taking something out of one and plucking it into something else) but, you know, I don’t really care. The pictures are fun, they’ll make you smile, laugh, groan, and you’ll be wide-eyed for some of them.

In some of the people pictures, it makes you think that, if someone followed you with a camera all day, you’d end up looking pretty silly, too. I particularly like the above picture, because I love Robert Servranckx’s Nature Photography and I could imagine something like that happening to him. It takes incredible patience to photograph birds and animals, and I can’t help thinking how long that photographer had been motionless before that beastie was bold enough to come see what that big black thing was about.

There is also the incredible art of Blaž Porenta, a Slovenian graphic artist who’s already won several prizes. Any amateur of Fantasy and SF will appreciate his imagination.

I’ve always admired artists who can create fantastic creatures and world without falling into the clichéed images of fairies and ogres, or medieval-looking people with ruffles at the neck and swords in the hand. We see way too much of those on the covers of Fantasy novels and they become far from intriguing. Oh, yeah, I forgot the dragons, too. Okay, maybe it’s hard to make a dragon look different (they all have, I suppose, some characteristic bodily features in common) but sheesh, enough of those on the covers already. Or maybe has there been too many stories about dragons? Hmmm. Yeah. After a while, it gets old. Very old.

For more incredible photographs and art, click on the “pictures” tag in Novak’s Blog.

Did you like this? Share it:

Jack is coming back: it’s Meter Destiny

md_cover.jpgYes, for all those who are following my adventures, I’ll be relating another one in Meter Destiny, coming out this Fall. Here’s a bit of a tease:

Ambrose peered at me, an amused grin on his face. It was clear that he knew exactly what I was thinking. “Ever hear of the three Fates, Mr. Meter?”
“As in the Greek goddesses who determine and control the length of each person’s life?”
“I’m impressed. Most people don’t know about them.”
“Classical education. My mother hoped I’d become a priest.”
“Ha! It didn’t take, I see.”
“Nothing’s wasted.”
Ambrose nodded. “I knew you were a smart one. I’m gonna need a smart buck if I want to get out of this mess. What else do you know about them?”
“That’s about all I remember.”
“Hmm. Let me expand, then. There’s Clotho, who’s in charge of spinning the thread of life. She calls herself Linda, these days. Lachesis, or Cam, coordinates the measurement of that thread. Atropos has the hardest job. She decides when and where to cut. When to end a life. That’s why they often call her the Crone. Hard to accept getting snuffed by a beautiful woman.”
“Atropos, she has another name, too?”
“Ialysa.”
“Okay. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa. What do the Fates have to do with me?”
“Don’t you get it? That’s what CompuLife is all about, man. Spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of life of humans. Linda, Cam, and Ialysa are in charge of the process.”
“They don’t think they’re goddesses, I hope.”
“Their identities have never been in question. They’ve been the same people for thousands of years.”
I suppressed another sigh and tried to find a gracious way of getting out of there. Maybe reason would work. “How many people are on Earth, these days? Billions. They must be really busy women.”
“Don’t be a smart ass, boy. We use sophisticated tools these days.” His eyes glazed over with nostalgia. “It was real easy in the beginning. Only a few hundred thousand people, the girls could finish the job by lunchtime. They could have leisure activities, rest up. There was laughter around, and a certain ease. Then Linda got ambitious and got a frame spinner, and that meant more people to manage. We had to hire staff. Project management wasn’t her strongpoint. She let the production run 24/7. You can imagine what that did to the workload. With population growth, it soon became apparent that whoever had thought of the trio system hadn’t done any long-term planning. The girls started fighting amongst themselves, Cam and Ialysa went on strike for a while. I tell you, it was a real mess. We got backed up. Population explosion’s not good. Brings out all sorts of problems. So we had to introduce the plague. Had to do that a couple times more, after that. Drastic way to control population, but there you have it. Even then, we’ve never been able to control increases in the same efficient manner. There’s this complicated formula Cam expressed to explain the problem, but I’ll be damned if I understand it.”
I took a large sip of brandy. Even a year ago, I’d have thought either the old man was trying to scam me or he was delusional. Best scenario, someone was playing a joke on me, but I didn’t think so. All I knew was that I wasn’t running out of the room screaming. I wasn’t sure where Javed’s baloney led, but that damned curiosity of mine would kill me one day. “You still haven’t explained how they manage the lives of billions of people.”
Ambrose grunted. “Ever heard of Oracle?”
“The lady of Delphi or the database?”
He threw me a disgusted glance. “Of course the database. We created that. Meaning the Fates, of course. I just run the business side of it.”
“Dropping the name of a well-known database isn’t quite convincing, I’m afraid, even if the name touches on destiny.”
“We’ll visit the data centre once we’re finished here.”
I took another sip of brandy then looked deep into the fire. Now I understood why he’d sent a thug to bring me here at gunpoint. “Okay, let’s say I believe you. What do you want from me?
“Want?” he barked. “What I want is for you to find Ialysa. She’s been kidnapped.”
“Let me think. Ialysa’s the one who cuts the threads, right? Maybe she simply went on strike again.”
“Cheeky bastard. Didn’t you listen to anything I said? You can laugh as much as you want, but this situation is catastrophic. Oh, we can carry on for a while without her, but our system needs constant, minute decisions. Unless you find her and get her back to us, the Earth will continue to fill up, but no one’s gonna die. No one. Ever again. Now, how funny do you find that?”

©2007 M. D. Benoit

Did you like this? Share it:

Cover Art for Meter Destiny

Meter Destiny, the third SF Mystery in the Jack Meter Case Files series will hopefully come out before Christmas. To celebrate its release, Zumaya Otherworlds has decided to change the style of all three covers. Here, as an installment, is the cover of Meter Destiny:

tn MD Cover
As I began to walk to the mouth of the alley, the setting began to change. Gradually, colors leached out until I stood in a black and white world, as if I’d entered a 1940’s movie. The alley was gone and in front of me stood a three-meter-high wrought iron gate that pierced an even higher stone wall. Above the gate, something had been carved on the arch, but it was eroded and illegible. Beyond the gate, I spied a small courtyard that separated another stone wall from the wall I stood next to.

Dried leaves tumbled across the flagstones and whispered as they moved. To the right, brick walls flanked a set of stone stairs leading up. I pushed at the gate; it opened with a groan of hinges in need of industrial-strength oil.
As soon as I stepped into the courtyard, the gate snapped closed behind me. Of course. I didn’t even bother testing if I could open it again. One predictable goddess was enough. This place was either Charlie’s dream or it was another roadblock. If this place was just another snag, I’d use the telecarb.

I climbed the two dozen stairs and stopped at the top. The stairway merged into a path that led into an overgrown garden. Tall, leafless trees soared through a denser kind of trees that looked like pine or cedar, but their trunks were thick and sinuous and branches flattened out at the top like tables. Other trees had fallen everywhere. Dense ivy covered their bark. Further down was another short set of stairs going up to another level.

I followed the path, Fred on my heels. It felt weird to walk in a world that existed only in shades of grey. Even then, I could tell it was fall in this garden from the denuded trees and the pale, dried-out look of the grass. Here and there, copses of younger trees hugged the track then gave way further in to more fallen ivy-covered trunks, to stone structures that looked like mausoleums, or to dried-out patches of knee-high grass. In one of the thickets, a woman stood, one arm hugging a tree, her head leaning on the bark. I stopped, hailed her. She didn’t move.

I entered the woods, skirted brambles and slippery trunks. Several meters away, I was about to call out again when I saw why she hadn’t answered: she was made of stone. I nearly turned back, but something in her face, something familiar, kept me going. When I was close enough, a shiver skittered up my spine and raised the fine hairs on my arms. I knew her. She was the decorator for my new apartment, the one who’d wanted me to choose between two equally ridiculously named colors. Her face had a dreamy look, as if she were thinking about her lover or a box of good cigars. I now knew in what condition I’d find Charlie.

“Shit.”

Destiny. Friendship. Family. Jack Meter hasn’t spent a lot of time on these ideas and has avoided them completely since Annie’s violent death three years before. But the claim of a strange group calling themselves the Fates from Mythology that it is still controlling life on Earth, and the Fates’ allegation that one of them was kidnapped, force him to review where these concepts fit in his life.

As Jack Meter unravels the kidnapping mystery by wading through a series of riddles and lies, and as he realizes his new clients are using him and his friends in a game of their own, he finally understand he must accept his own destiny. But will that understanding come in time his friend’s lives and stop a sociopathic alien from destroying everything Jack knows and believes in?

Check back often to find out when Meter Destiny will be released, and about a great contest that could net you the first two books in the series!

Did you like this? Share it:

US Book sales climb in June2007

According to the American Association of Publishers, book sales have risen in June 2007, Net book sales in June rose 4.3% to $720.6 million and year-to-date sales rose 7.9% to $3.571 billion, according to data compiled from 80 publishers by the Association of American Publishers.
Category winners and losers:

  • Audiobook rose 25.9% to $12.9 million
  • Children’s/YA hardcover rose 22.2% to $42.3 million
  • Religious books rose 19.4% to $37.3 million
  • E-books jumped 13.5% to $2.7 million
  • Adult hardcover rose 11.1% to $106.9 million
  • Professional and scholarly rose 7.4% to $66.1 million
  • Children’s/YA paperback was up 7.1% to $38.4 million
  • Adult paperback rose 0.3% to $107.4 million
  • University press hardcover slipped 2.1% to $4.4 million
  • Adult mass market dropped 4.6% to $71 million
  • University press paperback fell 9.2% to $3.7 million

Thank you to Elizabeth Burton for the summary. Read the AAP’s article forJune 2007

Did you like this? Share it:

Review of Synergy

At MyShelf.com:

Benoit builds characters that are multidimensional and with whom readers can establish a bond, even when those characters aren’t behaving as nobly as we would like. Her science is sound, which is critical for this genre, and the ethical questions she raises are already being debated in medical research circles. But, it is Benoit’s ability to put all of this into plot twisting, fast paced thriller that has her right up there with the big boys like Gregg Hurwitz and Michael Crichton. ©2007 MyShelf.com

Did you like this? Share it: