Saturday, January 11, 2020

New Review of The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, Pt.2: Wounded Eagle

http://amzn.to/2rfAaP4
New review by Berthold Gambrel 

This was a tough review to write, because this book is part two of a series, and part one ends on a massive cliffhanger. The majority of part two is therefore about the protagonist, Captain Robbin Nikalishin, dealing with the repercussions of that cliffhanger.

I don’t want to get into the specifics of plot, for fear that people would stumble upon this review without having read part one, and it would be spoiled. Normally, I’m content to give spoiler warnings, but in this case I don’t even want to risk that.

Many of the things I said in my review of part one still apply: The story is still engaging, the characters are still memorable and vivid, the world-building is impeccable, the prose is still crisp, and Capt. Nikalishin is still a brave man who nonetheless can be profoundly irritating in some respects. His stubborn pride remains, although it kind of morphs into something else as he grapples with the consequences of the events at the end of the first book. And his relationship with his mother continues to make me want to grab him by the shoulders and say, “Grow up, you big baby!”

And, as I said in my review of the first book, none of these latter points about the captain’s character should be interpreted as negative comments on the book itself. Quite the contrary. Even more than the first, this book is a character study of Nikalishin, and he is certainly a very interesting, multi-faceted personality.

Again, no spoilers, but one of the central plot elements in Wounded Eagle involves Nikalishin being forced to choose whether to reveal certain information to punish a particularly despicable character, but at the cost that revealing this information will be deeply painful to an innocent third party. Nikalishin’s choice, and the reasoning behind it, are very well thought-out and described, and was satisfying to read, even if I can’t honestly claim I’d have made the same decision.

Read my review of the first one, and if that doesn’t make you want to go out and read this series, I don’t know what will. It’s a sci-fi epic that focuses on human drama, with lots of interesting world-building, as well as some deep philosophical and religious ideas woven into the story, in the form of the “Mythmaker Precepts”—the philosophical pillars at the core of Taylor’s 28th century society.

Now, with all that out of the way, I want to have a word about my favorite character in the series: Prof. Anezka Lara. She’s not actually in this book as much as she is in part one, but when she’s around, she’s a lot of fun. Her gruff, no-nonsense personality reminds me of several academics I’ve known, and frankly, I adore the way she bluntly tells Nikalishin what she thinks. It’s especially nice in this book where—and here I’m straying close to spoiler territory—he’s kind of a big deal, and most people are treating him with kid gloves. Not Lara. She’s never one to mince words.

Again, if you like sci-fi at all, read this series. Even if you don’t like sci-fi, there’s a good chance you’ll be captivated by the narrative Taylor weaves.

Now, I’m off to write some fan-fiction about Prof. Lara and…

JUST KIDDING! That is a joke; don’t worry. But if you want to understand the joke, you should read the series.

See the original review at https://ruinedchapel.com/2020/01/10/book-review-the-man-who-found-birds-among-the-stars-part-two-wounded-eagle-by-lorinda-j-taylor/?fbclid=IwAR0fLG_VkyCC0OFil8Cl0svRE1-MkiTBhgGB90XSWHK-8sHFP1pL_04ZKQY

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Review of Brother Termite, by Patricia Anthony


I've reviewed a very strange book entitled Brother Termite, by Patricia Anthony.
 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DE9CHHS/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0


“We should have been more intelligent than to love the thing we were destroying.”

I have conflicted feelings about this book – in fact, I found it profoundly disturbing – and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to give it three or four stars.  I couldn’t give it five because the plot is annoyingly muddled and hard to follow.  But the book is also very affective, partly because it’s narrated from the aliens’ point of view and the reader can’t help having sympathy for them, so I settled on four stars. 
The story is laid in an alternate reality (I think you know that aliens didn’t really take over Earth during the Eisenhower Presidency) and those aliens are obviously extrapolated from the Gray Aliens of Roswell fame.  These aliens evolved from an extraterrestrial termite-like species, but I doubt the author really studied termites.  I’ve made an extensive study of termites and I can’t believe that evolved intelligent termites would be anything like the creatures in this book.  Apparently the author was fascinated by the hive-mind concept – the inescapable collective consciousness – which I think might be applicable to various species of ants, but less so to termites.  Termites mind their own business and are very peaceable.  They have their castes – workers, soldiers, alates (reproductives) – and each caste behaves according to its genetic imperatives.  They kill only in self-defense, such as against invading ants, when the less powerful termite soldiers sacrifice themselves to satiate the invaders, thus preventing an invasion of the mound and the destruction of the Queen.  And the alates also sacrifice themselves, flying out in great numbers, of which only a very few will successfully breed and form a new colony.  The rest end up as food for every other species in the world, including sometimes humans.  And my opinion is that if such a species developed intelligence and individuality, that would lead to an inner moral sense that is not so different from the human imperative. 
There are many characteristics displayed by the aliens in this book that I take exception to.  They can’t touch each other because that plunges them back into the collective consciousness and they lose their individuality.  Now, terrestrial termites are very tactile – since they are all deaf and only the alates have eyes, they rely on touch, as well as pheromones, for communication.  Pheromones aren’t even mentioned.  These aliens have both hearing and sight, and they seem to be all male (except for the breeding female), so perhaps they evolved from Kings.  (They also seem to have only four limbs and an upright walking stance, and they also breathe and talk like humans, through the mouth.  Insects breathe through spiracles on their abdomen.)
But then there are the “Loving Helpers” – an ironic name for very small, non-intelligent entities who must have evolved from workers and perhaps also from soldiers.  They constantly inhabit the collective consciousness and can’t live apart from one another, and it seems that anything they touch is destroyed.  They absolutely terrify humans.  I can’t imagine any real termite workers (or soldiers) evolving like that. 
As I was reading this book, I kept thinking that if termite-like creatures evolved in this manner, it must have taken a really long evolutionary period like 10s of millions of years.  And lo and behold, near the end of the book it’s stated that these “people” (I don’t recall if a name is ever given to the species) first came above ground 30 million years ago.  So they could have evolved this way, I guess, but I certainly don’t like the results.
 One thing I do like is the impressive descriptive style.  The “Cousins” (as they are known throughout the book) have a great sense of order and anything chaotic unsettles them.  The author uses colors, smells, and configurations (the Cousins especially like fractals) to set up scenes and define emotions and attitudes.  This is done very skillfully and it’s one of the reasons I settled on four stars.
I notice that the Goodreads description mentions that the book is occasionally comical, but I didn’t find one single bit of humor in this whole book.  I recommend Brother Termite only with a warning – prepare to become deeply involved and profoundly unsettled as you read it.

Additional note for my conlanging friends:
In Brother Termite, no attention is given to the communication problem. How did they communicate with Earthers when they first invaded? Everybody speaks perfect English all the time, even among the aliens. There are maybe three words used that would be in the alien language, and don't ask me what they are because I didn't write them down as I read, and finding anything in an ebook is well-nigh impossible. So I found that aspect of the book quite a disappointment.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Great New Review of The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, Part One: Eagle Ascendant

http://amzn.to/2iTNuUd 
The first review that ever commented on a seminal thread in the book - Robbie's relationahip with his mother.

From Berthold Gambrel's blog, https://ruinedchapel.com/2019/10/15/book-review-the-man-who-found-birds-among-the-stars-a-biographical-fiction-part-one-eagle-ascendant-by-lorinda-j-taylor/

This book is a science fiction coming-of-age tale that tells the story of Robbin Haysus Nikalishin, who from an early age dreams of voyaging to the stars. Set in the 2700s, on an Earth that has been remade after a series of catastrophic wars. A new government has arisen, as well as a new set of moral precepts designed to reconcile as well as supersede the core tenets of the old religions.
Additionally, the passage of time has gradually changed the spellings and phrasings of the English language—itself now called “Inge.” So, the United States of America has become Midammerik, India has become Ind, and so on. The spellings are clever—different enough to convey that the world has changed, but similar enough that the reader knows what’s what.
Cleverly, the book is framed as an official biography written to commemorate Nikalishin, but with the twist that the notes at the beginning suggest the officials who commissioned it are less than pleased with how the author has chosen to depict the subject.
Nikalishin’s life is driven by his determination and unrelenting desire to be a spaceship captain. He studies physics from some of the best professors in the world, and also attends a military academy, all in order to prepare himself for the job of starship captain. He and his good friend Kolm MaGilligoody rise swiftly through the ranks, ultimately joining an experimental program known as SkyPiercer.
Nikalishin’s other interests besides space travel include birdwatching and, of course, sex. He has many romantic encounters with various women he meets throughout his remarkable rise to worldwide fame as a daring space explorer. Some of the relationships last, some don’t, but all of them influence him in one way or another. The romance sub-plots are well done and always are both integral to the plot and right for the characters.
Now, make no mistake, while the book has strong characters and a great plot, it’s not simply an epic space opera. That is, it’s not one of these affairs where space travel is taken as an unexplained fact-of-life to be explained by hand-waving. This is a “hard” science fiction book, and there is plenty of in-depth discussion about the quantum physics involved with making interstellar jumps. But it never feels heavy-handed or dry; indeed, the discussions about physics punctuated by Nikalishin arguing with his professors are quite enjoyable.
That’s the thing that dazzled me most: how alive and organic the whole world of the book feels. It would have been so easy to make it the literary equivalent of a video game on rails: Robbin Nikalishin meets character X who gives him Y so he can advance to the next stage and ultimately be a space hero.
But Taylor didn’t take the easy way. She did the hard, meticulous work of world-building and fleshing out all the supporting characters. I’m in awe of how every character, from Nikalishin’s mother to his best friend to his lovers and even down to the ship’s janitor, are fully-realized and well-described. This isn’t a book, it’s a whole universe rendered in prose.
Oh, and I haven’t even touched on how much I love the depiction of religion. Kolm and his family follow a strain of religion clearly descended from Irish Catholicism. They don’t even fully understand some of the meaning of the symbols and terms of the rituals, but they follow them even so, and it brings them spiritual comfort. I loved the way this was handled—neither stridently preachy nor cloyingly condescending; it felt real.
Now we’re at the part of the review where I typically mention typos in indie books. I know from reading Taylor’s blog that she self-edits her books, and that’s typically verboten for indie authors. Do you know how many typos I found in this book?
Two.
That’s right, two typos in the whole thing. I don’t have a word count for this book, but I know Amazon estimates the length at 510 pages. My longest book is 308 pages, and it was about 67,000 words, so approximately 217 words per page. If that’s the same here, that means Taylor wrote about 110,670 words, self-edited, and came out with only two minor errors.
That’s insanely good. In the novel, the characters have to make precise calculations, correct down to like the millionth decimal place, before attempting an interstellar jump, or they risk disaster. Taylor obviously has a knack for care and precision that makes her fit to serve aboard one of her own starships!
If you can’t tell already, I absolutely loved this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Taylor built a fascinating world, populated it with rich, believable characters, and told a brilliantly paced story about them. This is sci-fi at its best.
Now, I want to talk a little bit about something somewhat spoiler-y. It’s not giving away too much, as it concerns something that happens less than a quarter of the way into the book, but it has ramifications for the rest of the story. Feel free to skip this if you want to go in completely unspoiled.
Nikalishin’s parents divorce when he is a young boy after his father physically abuses him and his mother, Sterling. Sterling raises her son on her own, and makes every effort to see that he achieves his dream of becoming a starship captain. 
At some point, in his late teens, Robbin learns that Sterling has been working as an escort for wealthy men in order to pay for her son to attend the schools and take the classes he needs. Robbin is horrified by this revelation, and ever afterward, his relationship with his mother becomes strained. He feels, somehow, that everything he achieves and his relationship with her are irrevocably tainted. They have a falling out, and later a semi-reconciliation, but he can never quite achieve a healthy relationship with her, even when he leaves to risk his life on dangerous space missions.
This made me dislike Robbin. He seemed quite ungrateful towards his mother, after everything she’d done for him. He even, for lack of a better term, slut-shames her at one point, which is ludicrous given that he himself seemingly sleeps with every other woman he meets. (More than one character calls him out on his hypocrisy, but he doesn’t seem to take it to heart.)
In a way, his initial feelings are kind of understandable. We get it, Robbin; you had to think about your mother sleeping with someone, and it grossed you out. But after that moment of revulsion, an adult should realize that parents are just people, and that these are the kinds of situations that happen in life, and then get past it. After all, as Sterling repeatedly tells her son, she did it for him.
Even as a world-renowned heroic starship captain, Robbin Nikalishin really is profoundly childish in many ways. He has extremely limited ability to understand the feelings of women. He’s stunned to discover one of his acquaintances is a lesbian. He doesn’t mind it, per se, he just acts like the concept is completely new to him.
He also has an incredibly bad temper. He is sometimes justified, but even then, he tends to explode in rage at the slightest provocation. Admittedly, the primary antagonist, who does not appear until relatively late in the book, is quite infuriating. But Capt. Nikalishin gets bent out of shape when someone so much as mispronounces his surname. I was rooting for him, but there were still times when I wanted to sock him right in the belly of his beloved military uniform and tell him to grow the hell up.
To be clear, none of this is a complaint about the writing. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s a credit to Taylor that she was able to craft such a complete character, that a reader could both cheer on and simultaneously find extremely irritating. Too many writers make their heroes one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs, or worse, heroes with one painfully obvious flaw tacked-on just to make them Not Perfect. Capt. Nikalishin is a flawed hero, and better still, he’s flawed in the way that real heroic figures often are. Think about the philosopher Carlyle and his so-called “great men,” who often were impulsive, emotional and obsessed with crafting their own image as flawless paragons. Nikalishin is what I suspect a real-life “great man” is like—which is to say, quite maddening to know personally.
And of course, I should stress that this is only part one of the series. The book ends with an absolutely epic cliffhanger, and I’m eagerly looking forward to finding out how things develop from here. 
It’s funny: even though I like writing sci-fi adventures, most of the indie books I’ve reviewed have not been in that genre. I haven’t consciously avoided them; that’s just how it’s worked out. Audrey Driscoll recommended this to me, and I’m so grateful that she did. It was fun to read a book in roughly the same genre as I primarily write—especially one as marvelous as this one. I’m guessing that if you enjoyed my novel The Directorate, you are very likely going to love this book. It’s a brilliantly thought-out and well-executed science-fiction epic. 
As one indie sci-fi author to another: Ms. Taylor, my hat’s off to you. This is a really great novel, and for me, it ranks right up there with the best by the likes of Asimov, Clarke, and the other All-Time Greats of science fiction!


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Review of Cornerstone: The Delving, by K. A. Krisko

Cornerstone: The Delving by [Krisko, K.A.]
https://www.amazon.com/Cornerstone-Delving-K-Krisko-ebook/dp/B01G3UZMUS/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Cornerstone%3A+The+Delving&qid=1555778020&s=gateway&sr=8-1


Here is my 5-star review of K. A. Krisko's book Cornerstone: The Delving (v.2 of the Cornerstone series)

So Rook has finally taken a form outside his cornerstone and his castle, and I wasn’t surprised to see what that form was!  I suspected all along, but that’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to be a spoiler.
Ambiguity rules in the Cornerstone series.  The premise isn’t in doubt: Rook is probably an alien lifeform who was carried to Earth in some kind of space rock and found a home in a piece of granite later used as a cornerstone of a castle.  But is he a force for good or for evil?  He maintains that he wants to make the Earth a better place, but is he trustworthy? Two groups have been fighting over his destruction or preservation for many centuries – the Fell Ken, who support Rook, and the Koen (Knights of Earth Natural) who want to destroy him and keep him from changing the Earth.  So who is right?  The Koen are quite willing to use deadly force to destroy Rook and the Fell Ken, but why should we consider the Fell Ken justified in supporting this foreboding space alien?  They have nothing but his word that he isn’t evil.
Along comes our Wizard-in-training (the Lorecaster), Lorcas Fellken, who is a strangely passive character, who tends to go with the flow and take the simplest path.  If he is ever going to be the kind of powerful, dynamic Wizard who might confront a balrog and cry out, “You shall not pass!” it will be far in the future.
I debated whether to give this second volume 4 stars or 5 stars partly because Lorcas is somewhat disappointing as the character – he doesn’t evolve all that much.  The other reason for a possible 4-star rating is the difficulty of figuring out the configuration of the castle.  I got lost in the castle every time I went into it!  I know change is endemic within the castle structure, but still I never knew where I was.
5 stars won out!  I decided the originality of the concept was more important than niggling details.  I plan to read v. 3 soon.

https://www.amazon.com/Cornerstone-Delving-K-Krisko-ebook/dp/B01G3UZMUS/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Cornerstone%3A+The+Delving&qid=1555778020&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Special Prices!


99-CENT SPECIAL
ON FIVE TERMITEWRITER BOOKS!

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5
THROUGH 
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12

The Termite Queen (a 2-vol. novel)
 v.1: The Speaking of the Dead  http://amzn.to/Imh3kd
v.2: The Wound That Has No Healing  http://amzn.to/LnvhbL

Excerpt from an Amazon review  by Jack A. Urquhart

Though the author modestly characterizes TQ as literary Sci-Fi, the description doesn't begin to capture the full flavor of Taylor's accomplishment. Rather, in TQ V 1 and 2 the author serves up a tome that crosses genres as easily as her intergalactic cast of characters crosses from real time space travel to temporal quantum space travel and back again. In fact, the complete TQ saga is part traditional love story, part epic adventure tale richly seasoned with mythic and religious overtones, as well as copious references to literary classics (each chapter is introduced by a literary epigraph). That said, it is not incidental that Taylor's epic is set in the thirtieth century (2969--2971). Hardcore Sci-fi aficionados will appreciate that Taylor's literary recipe includes science so convincingly researched and/or fabricated as to concoct a perfectly plausible and believable future.
It helps that Taylor's `future' is inhabited by a cast of engaging and believable characters--human and alien.


The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars: A Biographical Fiction
Part One: Eagle Ascendant http://amzn.to/2iTNuUd
Part Two: Wounded Eagle http://amzn.to/2rfAaP4
Part Three: Bird of Prey http://amzn.to/2ytDmt8

Excerpts from an Amazon review of Part One by Colleen Chesebro

The date is October 31, 2729, and Robbie Nikalishin comes roaring into a not so perfect world. As a young boy, his father instills a love of space into his young psyche. Robbie’s most prized possession is a tiny metal airplane  that accompanies him through his life journey. That aircraft stands for his aspiration to become the captain of his own starship. Gifted with the ability to solve elaborate string theory mathematics, Robbie pursues his dream with a determination that propels him to the head of his college classes.
With expert detail and descriptions, the author immerses the reader into Nikalishin’s futuristic world. This first book covers his childhood and his teen years, eventually bringing you to the peak of his flying career.
What I loved most about Robbie’s character was how utterly human he was. From Robbie’s youth onward, I followed his experiences and saw first hand who Robbie the man became. It was a rare opportunity to witness the events that shaped a character’s personality.
Robbie’s personality is multifaceted, and at times, he comes across as self-sabotaging and selfish. Yet, I couldn’t help but like the guy. For all of his brilliance, he possessed an innocence that tugged at my heart. Sometimes he made his life choices so difficult that I couldn’t help remembering myself at a younger age and how I didn’t make all the best decisions either. However, all of that drama only adds to the allure of Captain Robbie Nikalishin.
I won’t kid you… this book ended with a cliffhanger of phenomenal proportions! Robbie’s story left me hungering for more and turning pages at an abnormally fast pace. I stayed up into the wee hours reading to find out happened next. My only hope is that the author, Lorinda Taylor, writes as quickly as I read. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together in the next book in the series.

Remember - each volume is only 99 cents, one week only!





Monday, September 18, 2017

New 5-Star Review of The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, Part Two: Wounded Eagle


http://amzn.to/2iTNuUd
http://amzn.to/2rfAaP4
Colleen Chesebro's Review 
of Part Two of
The Man Who Found Birds
among the Stars

Thanks, Colleen!

At the beginning of the second book in the series, we find our hero, Captain Robbin Nikalishin regaining consciousness aboard the rescue ship Reliable. The untold horrors of the space disaster have left the captain suffering from PTSD, along with an all-encompassing guilt for the death of his best friend, Kolm MaGilligoody.
Psychologically, Robbie is in a bad place. Kolm’s death haunts him day andnight. At times, the pain is so great he doesn’t feel he can go on. The physical damage of the crash has also taken its toll. The captain’s appearance has suffered from the effects of radiation poisoning, along with various bumps and bruises. These physical signs of trauma eventually abate, leaving behind the deep scars of emotional pain that Robbie must learn to embrace.
Captain Nikalishin discovers he has a long road ahead of him when it comes to healing from these psychological wounds. With the help of Dr. Souray, who becomes a surrogate mother to him, there is gradual improvement. The primary issue is that certain things set the captain off and he reverts back to relive the horror in a series of flashbacks. With the upcoming investigation into the crash, Robbie must be able to testify at a hearing and a trial.
While Robbie is undergoing extensive treatment, the issue of Prf. Karlis Eiginsh’s actions come to the forefront of the investigation. Why did he falsify equations to make the jump look safe when in reality it wasn’t? There is an interesting twist to this part of the story when the truth finally comes out that gives the reader a sneak peek into the man the captain is to become. I have to say, I thought it was great storytelling.
The book is long, but such is Robbie’s journey to reconcile who he is and who he has become. The mental trauma he suffered even caused him to question his desire to fly amongst the stars, and whether he could ever cope with the stressors of being a space captain again. Then, there are the unresolved issues Robbie has with his mother. The signs of that first mental damage from long ago always seem to resurface when he tries to have a relationship with a woman. Robbie’s wounds run deep, and to actually heal, he must come to grips with his demons.
I love this series. The writing is clear and concise and draws you into the character-driven plot. Yet, just like in the first book, I still find something poignant and raw about Robbie Nikalishin that makes me want to know more of his story. His character is imperfect, to say the least. I don’t know if he appeals to the mother in me or if I just want him to find peace and love.
Either way, the author has spun a tale filled with high drama and intrigue, healing and pain. I can’t wait to discover what happens next in book three coming soon! Make sure to take a look at the book’s cover art. Lorinda draws and creates her own cover art. 

See the review on Colleen's blog!
And check out her book
The Heart Stone Chronicles:



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Advice to Neophyte Writers: Don't Try This at Home!

       
Cover of Part One
       I'm getting good results after publishing The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, Part One: Eagle Ascendant.  I've already had six reviews, all of them 5 star.  It seems my friend Neil Aplin was right in maintaining it would be a success.  I had my doubts about publishing any of the book, because the entire piece is way longer than any book should ever be.  Neil didn't think so -- he read it in manuscript and he wanted it to be even longer, and it was his enthusiastic support that convinced me to publish the beginning of it.
       Part Two: Wounded Eagle is in the works; I'm revising like mad, trying to shorten it.   Part One is a long book, but at least it covers the first 31.5 years of Capt. Nikalishin's life.  Part Two only covers 2.5 years and it's even longer than Part One.  There will be at least six more parts after that so you see my problem.  The ultimate conclusion isn't even written yet.
       You might be saying, how in the world could you let this happen?  I've written a bit about my writing history before, but now I have new readers and Facebook friends who may not know how my writing came about, so I need to construct an apology, in the sense of a justification.

Sneak peak: cover for
Part Two (tentative)
        I've always been inclined to write long.  In college when the professor would assign a 20-page paper, the other students would be groaning -- how would they ever be able to make it that long?  And I would be wondering how I could keep the paper under 40 pages.
        I started to write fiction after I read Tolkien in 1969, and I had no real thought of publishing at that time. I simply found the act of writing to be tremendous fun.  So I wrote my first endless story. It was somewhat Tolkienesque imaginary-world fantasy and it was my million-word learning process.  It will never be finished and I will never publish it, but in case anyone is interested, my novel Children of the Music was written as a prequel to that long piece.
       From 1983 through 1999 I took a hiatus from writing because of family responsibilities.  Then in January of 2000 I bought my first computer, which made the act of writing infinitely easier.  And I had a sudden surge of literary inspiration, beginning with "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (a novella! Amazing!) and then The Termite Queen and the rest of the termite stories (I've discussed them plenty elsewhere, mostly on my other blog The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head).  I completed the sixth volume of Labors in July of 2003, so you can see that I wrote furiously for those 3.5 years.  By that time I was a little tired of termites and even though I needed one more tale to complete the Quest, I wanted to do something else for a while.  (I did manage to compose the sequel volume for the Ki'shto'ba tales in 2015 while I was on chemo.)
       I should say that during this time I also never contemplated publishing -- I was simply enjoying myself too much.

       And then I got the idea for The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars.  I had invented the Bird People of the planet Krisí’i’aid, along with their language, for The Termite Queen, and I decided it would be interesting to write about the first contact with the Krisí’i’aida, which had occurred a couple of centuries earlier.  How about writing a biography of the spaceship Captain who made the first contact?  This would also give me a chance to develop my future history to an extent greater than I had been able to do in TQ.  I never intended for the piece to be so long or so detailed, but it was one of those stories that just grew like a clump of mushrooms.  And again, with no intent to publish, I paid absolutely no attention to the length. (A really serious mistake -- again I say to beginning writers: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!)   I started writing in November of 2003 and worked on that thing until January of 2011, when it suddenly hit me that I was 70 years old.  If I ever wanted anyone else to read my books, I'd better suspend writing and focus on publishing.  So I began to work up "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder," self-publishing it in November of 2011, and that was followed by The Termite Queen and the Ki'shto'ba series -- and the rest is history, as they say.

       So what was I going to do with all that manuscript for The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars? (By the way, that was not the original title, but I don't seem to have recorded the original title anywhere and unfortunately I can't remember what it was.  Once I thought of MWFB, it seemed perfect and I never looked back.) I decided to publish excerpts from the book on my blog -- those excerpts are still here, on this very blog, but they've been radically altered in the final form of the book.  My friend Neil Aplin was mesmerized by those excerpts and so I agreed to email him longer pieces of the book.  He continued to be crazy about it and finally he convinced me to begin to working over the piece for publication.

      At one point I considered getting a professional editor to shorten it.  I'm sure a professional could do that -- just take shears and whack away.  But then it wouldn't be my book and I think I would have an apoplexy trying to deal with that person no matter how tactful and truly interested they were. Nope, that doesn't work for me.  I'm not concerned with becoming a bestseller, and it costs me nothing but time to self-publish, especially since I do my own covers.  However, I do like for people to read what I write and enjoy and comment on it.  I'll take my chances that the lengthiness may exhaust my readers' patience.

       So I think the world is stuck with something no writer is supposed to do -- an interminable novel cut into many segments, each one too long in itself.  That's why I call them Part One, Part Two, etc.  It suggests a single story rather than a series.  I made that mistake with The Termite Queen.  It was too long for one volume, but it is really all one story, and by designating the halves v.1 and v.2 rather that Pt.1 and Pt.2, I made people think it was a series and too many people have stopped reading after v.1 and so don't get the full effect.  The Ki'shto'ba books really constitute a serial rather than a series, but the volume designations seem to fit OK in their case.

So here are the upcoming volumes in the endless progression of MWFB:
Part One: Eagle Ascendant (already published)
Part Two: Wounded Eagle (being edited)
Part Three: High Feather
Part Four: Survivor
Part Five: Phenix (this is the one that requires drastic cutting -- Fathers and Demons was extracted [and will be cut] from that section)
Part Six: Rare Birds (still experimental)
Part Seven + : ??? not written yet!

       Do you think any reader can survive all that?  Do you think I can live long enough to actually accomplish the required editing?  I had some other books I wanted to write, too. Sounds hopeless! Anyway, I just wanted everyone to know how this all came about and warn them about what might be coming.  I beg your indulgence!  At least you've seemed to enjoy Part One.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll enjoy the other parts just as much!