I Spy: Spot the Space Marine

Spots the Space Marine is a cute story about an ex-military mom who gets reactivated. She served her country in the reserves, but when the battle against crab-like aliens goes sour, she is shipped to war. The post should have been easy as it lies far from the front line. What could possibly go wrong?

(courtesy of the author)

Spots the Space Marine

Unlike Aphorisms of Kerishdar (which was also written by the capable M.C.A. Hogarth) this is “simply” a delightful romp in a sci-fi novel featuring a female protagonist. I like the way this story plays stereotypes against archetypes. Spots is a tough mother who refuses to let her marines settle for anything less than their best. She does so, however, by reaching out to the battle-hardened troops. I love the contrast between her method and what you’d expect from military leaders.

M.C.A. Hogarth has an updated and edited version of this story available on Amazon, Nook, and Smashwords, but has very graciously given me the ok to direct you to the free version, which is no longer linked to her site. Here’s the link. Enjoy!

One thing that might interest you, oh gentle reader, is that the publication of this story is a story in its own right: the author overcame a trademark infringement claim made by Games Workshop. For those who are unfamiliar with Games Workshop, they produce some of the biggest known names in table top miniatures, including the Warhammer series. Since it’s in the best interest of indie writers that companies become more careful with their copyright claims, I hope that all of you consider getting this book. You won’t be sorry!

Spots does not contain any swearwords but it does have a lot of asterisks showing where swearwords are meant. Personally, I found the constant censoring one of the biggest annoyances of the story, but your mileage may vary. As you can imagine, this story does involve violence, though it never becomes graphic. With a little effort at ignoring the self-censoring, this story is appropriate for all ages.

Aphorisms of Kerishdar: A Review of M. C. A. Hogarth’s Kerishdar Series

Photos of the covers of Aphorisms and Admonishments from Pintrest

Wikipedia has this to say about aphorisms: “In modern usage an aphorism is generally understood to be a concise statement containing a subjective truth or observation cleverly and pithily written.”

I say that the vignettes in this book definitely fit that definition. I consider this story a “must read” because the author (M.C.A Hogarth) shows a keen understanding of the human condition and a spooky ability to present new words that in retrospect you have to wonder why they weren’t words before. If you’re hankering for something meditative that can be digested in small chunks, then this is perfect for you. This is also perfect if you’re looking for a way to expand your mind and think in ways that you might not be used to doing.

The author herself explains that Aphorisms is “sociological science fiction… about society, civilization and the balance between individual and community.”

This is the first book in a three book collection. The entirety of the series and many more of Hogarth’s books can be found at her website, Stardancer.org

The Dark Soil of Worm: A review for Worm, a web serial

Worm

Courtesy of the author.

The following review starts with a repost from a review that I had posted on Web Fiction Guide on June 25, 2012.

I registered on this site (which I’ve been lurking for awhile) just to review this.

Worm is fascinating in a lot of different ways, but let’s cover the basics first.

The basic premise is an aspiring superheroine who can mind-control various creepy crawlies. Taylor, our protagonist, seems to creep a lot of people out, and with good reason. She can be cunning, ruthless, and unyielding (she’s taken a knife wound to the gut once without flinching). She has shown an uncanny ability to expertly capitalize on the slightest weakness. And, of course, her power involves bugs, what else would you expect?

Still, for all of her strong survivor spirit, she has shown a nobility that transcends her infamy. In a world where the “good guys” constantly makes compromises for their own ends or to protect the status quo, it’s very easy to cheer for Taylor.

Worm is also fascinating for having a rich world environment. Wildbow, the author, has so far demonstrated a genius in developing deep characters with unique powers and/or limitations. Other reviewers have written on this better than I could, so I’ll leave it at that.

The best part about the story, in my opinion, is that the author is not afraid of writing himself into a corner story-wise. The story is interesting because you honestly don’t know for sure how even Taylor is going to react, or how she and her gang are going to survive. Wildbow himself has said that he doesn’t always know—yet, he hasn’t missed a single update.

End of content from Web Fiction Guide

At the time of writing, the audience did not know whether or not Taylor would be able to rise above her supervillainess roots. I also tried to make the above review spoiler-free. What follows will not be. In other words:

SPOILERS

Taylor has gained the trust of the gang that she has infiltrated, the aptly named Undersiders. However, she was never able to gain the trust of the superheroes. In a startling twist, she is betrayed by one of them, forcing her to abandon her aspirations as a superhero and to become a real member of the Undersider gang.

Meanwhile, she finds out that one of her heists was bankrolled by her mysterious benefactor as a means to distract the heroes while he kidnaps a young girl with prophetic powers. Taylor becomes haunted by this and resolves to do everything in her power to save the girl. But can one girl with such a weak superpower be able to stand up to the mysterious Coil? Can she even survive the constant onslaught of enemies that threaten her and her people?

Notes: Even though, technically, the story features a sixteen year old as the protagonist, the reader should be advised that this story is not a YA story. The story features gruesome violence, gut-wrenching topics, and swear words. In Brockton Bay, everyone is desperate just to survive and even the heroes are less than pure.

The story is about 900,000 words long so far.