science fiction


Reviews are SO hard to get!

Astronomicon: The Beginning cover 3DI don’t have any figures comparing the rate of reader reviews between genres, but I can report from personal experience that getting readers to write a brief review of science fiction novels isn’t easy. My readers are more than happy to send me an e-mail, write a PM on Wattpad or Twitter etc., but persuading them to write a review (even a few words would do) on Amazon is another matter.

I’ve been preaching the line of “don’t tell me, tell everyone else” for months now, but it’s still not making much headway. I am extremely pleased to be able to report that Astronomicon: The Beginning has received nothing lower than 5-star reviews on Amazon.co.uk since the latter end of 2016 and the same on Amazon.com since July 2017. It looks like that last revamp of the novel really paid off – and it’s still FREE on both sites!

These consistently higher reviews have pushed my rating up to 4.3 stars out of 5. I’m very pleased with that.

My quest for the rest of 2018 is to find new and better ways to encourage my readers to post more reviews on Amazon. If I could just get 5% to post reviews I would more than double my total reviews in a month.

Maybe, when Behemoth is released on Amazon in a couple of month’s time, I should offer free copies to anyone who reviews one of my novels on any of the Amazon sites?

 


Can I finally call myself an Award Winning Author?

A while back, I was nominated to enter a writing competition on Wattpad. I’m not big on entering competitions. Too many times I’ve entered and heard nothing back from then on. This time, as it had been recommended to me, I entered my novel Astronomicon: Icarus and assumed that I would most probably never hear any more.

For the first time ever, I did hear something afterwards. Better still, much better, I was informed that I had actually won the competition. Now it’s not a massive competition and there’s no cash prize, but I am still thrilled to be recognised in any writing competition.

If nothing else, I will feel much more inclined to enter more competitions in future.


A Deadline that won’t be missed

Astronomicon Deadline Christmas offerIt’s been over a year since I published Astronomicon: Deadline on Amazon. Unlike all the other Astronomicon novels, it has performed embarrassingly poorly. Astronomicon #3 Those Left Behind has routinely sold more copies per week than Deadline has sold in total in over a year.

I’m not too upset though. I understand that my books are not all the same and that not everything will work. It would be great to just call it a learning experience but I’m not too sure what I’ve learned from it. Does humour not work in the Astronomicon universe (I don’t think that’s the case)? Was the story not up-to-scratch? Or was it just not as funny as I thought it was (probably likely)?

My problem is that I got very little feedback and what I did get was not too helpful. I suspect that it was a catastrophic failure on my part to successfully advertise its existence. Anyway, whatever the problem, Deadline is no more and is no longer available on Amazon. At some point in the future, I will probably rework it, create a new cover and re-release it, but it is not on my todo list.


What to do when your technology guesses are disproved?

Technology in Astronomicon: The BeginningTechnology is always a pain for writers of hard science fiction. We need it, a lot of it and often it is key to the storyline. Like most hard sci-fi writers I put a lot of time and effort into researching science and technology to make as accurate a guess at the future as I can. Sometimes we get it right but, often, we get it wrong.

Time is our enemy. The more time passes the more science and technology advance, leaving our best, educated guesses in danger of being proved wrong.

I wrote Astronomicon: The Beginning something like 20 years ago and much of the technology I included has held up well. Some things, however, have not. Now, this isn’t usually much of a problem because the vast majority of readers take the age of the book into account. The same goes for movies; who stops watching Blade Runner because it completely missed mobile phones or in 2017 (Blade Runner is set just two years from now) we simply don’t have flying cars?

My situation is a little different and becoming increasingly awkward. I’m in the process (and it’s a LONG process) of rewriting the first novel in the Astronomicon series in a serious attempt to bring it up to my current level of writing an correct the flaws in my technology predictions. Being the first in the series, I can’t just get rid of it or write it off as not worth the effort. It’s how many readers get into my universe and simply must be representative of the other novels.

The Elysian, the main spacecraft in the story, will undergo a complete design change to bring it into sync with the much improved and more realistic version currently used in Behemoth. That will have a significant impact on the book, mostly in terms of descriptions and character navigation. Nothing fatal there. Some of the minor characters will change a little and gain some depth. Again, nothing fatal. Things get awkward with the technology used to communicate with Earth. When I planned the novel over two decades ago, I went for Quantum Entanglement as the medium but now we know that just would not work.

The problem is, there just isn’t any viable way to communicate between stars without being limited by that pesky speed of light restriction. That makes a big chunk of the plot completely impossible. So, when I rewrite the book, do I keep in a chain of events which cannot be justified, maybe by making up some fantasy technology (which is hardly hard sci-fi) or do I rip out the relevant chunks of the story and then attempt to come up with some other idea as a reason for the characters wanting to do what they do? As I write this, neither option seems like a good solution.