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Dystopian Monthly – The Diamond Age Review

My copy's cover vs. the new edition

My copy’s cover vs. the new edition

Guest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

Over the past few years Neal Stephenson has become one of my favorite authors. His Baroque Cycle Series is pure genius and Anathem and Cryptonomicon are exceptional. Stephenson’s works are difficult to describe or place into any one genre as they borrow from so many different literary elements and do not cleanly rest within any category.

The Diamond Age is no different. Although at first it may come across as a simple futuristic science fiction story set within a stumbling world of sub-cultures, it is actually much more complex. The main character Nell is a poor young girl who has little going for her but a very protective older brother who one day brings her a book he has stolen. But this is not just any book, it was meant as an illustrated primer for one of the wealthiest girl’s in the world.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 10.41.44 PMThe book is supremely special and meant to raise a girl to be an exceptional creature of strength, daring and grace. From the moment the book falls into little Nell’s hands, it initiates a series of events that cannot be predicted and eventually changes this strange world forever.

In a chaotic world ruled by various tribes, nanotechnology has advanced to the point that certain things seem on the verge of magical. The tale itself merges science fiction, fantasy, and even a dark fairy tale. Relying heavily upon Confucian Chinese, Victorian English, and Rebellious American background and culture it manages to skillfully weave these elements together over three continents and several decades.

This story, like all of Stephenson’s, is unpredictable. There are several places in the story where the reader will likely have to go back and reread portions after they say, “Did that really just happen?” It did. Although I have grown used to having to read several chapters of Stephenson’s books before the plot really gets going, I always do it knowing the read is well worth it. The Diamond Age is different. From the very start the story pulls the reader into a strange and dark world where it seems anything is possible.

Alternate Cover Art

Alternate Cover Art

The Diamond Age is filled with subtle yet rich humor, complex plots and descriptions, and imaginative characters. I give it a strong recommendation and would loan you my copy if it wasn’t already in another reader’s hands.

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Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.

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Post-Apocalyptic vs. Dystopian Part II – What Is the Difference?

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 10.57.20 PMGuest Post by Ryan King, Author of the Land of Tomorrow Trilogy

(In Part I of this post series I discussed whether the difference between post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories matters. Arrow back for that.)

What is the difference between the post-apocalyptic and dystopian genres?

I found some interesting blog posts about this particular subject. Although I don’t agree with all their definitions and examples, these are three of the more helpful and well thought out blogs on the subject. The YA Highway admits to using Dystopian because it’s easier to spell although not accurate (and explains). Julie Kagawa, who authored a “dystopian saga” is emphatic about the differences, and author Rachel Tsoumbakos saw others tagging her book variously and wrote a post to clarify and differentiate based on the books relationship to Horror and target audiences (Adult vs. YA).

So, how do I personally think the categories should be defined? Thank you for asking.

Post-Apocalyptic: A story directly after/during an apocalypse. This should not be a thousand years after, but recently. One of the appealing qualities of true post-apocalyptic stories is the fact that the main characters know how bad things are. They lived before the apocalypse and truly grasp all that has been lost. Their horror is our horror.

Dystopian: A story about a reality/future that is not right. As opposed to a post-apocalyptic story, the main characters typically do not know that something is wrong with their world at first. Part of the appeal of the dystopian story is the characters discovery of how things are wrong and possibly a previous better world. Dystopian stories are frequently tied to something in our world/reality taken to an extreme. Sometimes dystopias emerge from a post-apocalyptic world, but enough time has passed that there are few reliable memories of Before.

Are there stories that fall into both categories? Certainly, but they are fairly rare. Margaret Atwood’s Madd Adam Trilogy comes to mind because the first two books are about a fully developed dystopian world that subsequently endures an apocalypse. It is only in the third book that it transitions into a post-apocalyptic tale.

Both of these fiction categories in my opinion are incredibly rich and difficult to do well. Neither category is considered mainstream, but fans of each are loyal and voracious in their reading. Nearly every reader of these categories could give you a list of the favorites and I also have those that I love best as I’m sure you do.

Keep watching for my guest posts here as I write a post-apocalyptic book review and a dystopian book review each month. I will limit these to books I would recommend others read. I’m always interested in discovering good books in each genre and hope to help others in a similar manner.

You can look over the first post-apocalyptic review here. Until later, keep reading my friends.

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Ryan King is a career army officer with multiple combat tours who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels.

 

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Genre Topics

 

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G is for Giveaway – Titanic Giveaway

Kindle Book On Sale for 99 cents--Click photo.

Kindle Book On Sale for 99 cents–Click photo.

This week is the anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, and since my first ever published work was set on that ship I thought it was time to host a giveaway. Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks. You can enter to win one of three Unsinkable Vampire copies, or one of my husband’s audiobooks: No Kinda Life (post-apocalyptic western), The Hanging of Hard Barnes (L.A. Noir historical fiction), or The Last Man (post-apocalyptic journey). Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow the widget for the giveaway, so you’ll have to visit this link.

Why stop with one Giveaway? I thought.

If you like to browse books and possibly win one, visit the “Explore” tab at Goodreads. There is always a long list of books organized by Ending Soon, Most Requested (if you like bad odds), Popular Authors (like David Baldacci, Terry Brooks, and Mary Higgins Clark), and Recently Listed. Browse Goodreads Giveaways here.

Or you could go for the sure thing.

As a publisher, I give away a weekly freebie (short read) that I list here and Tweet here. A dystopian tale called The Protectors by Ryan King is free till Easter,

From the cover of The Protectors,  Dystopian book FREE till Easter. Click here to download.

From the cover of The Protectors, Dystopian book FREE till Easter. Click here to download.

Charles R. King’s military history Discipline and Decline: Collected Essays on Ancient Rome is free till Sunday as well.

Then there are always the Freebies you can access via the Top 100 Bestsellers (Free) on Amazon, or you can do a quick search on Twitter for #FreeBooks.

This way the odds really are “ever in your favor.”

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Kristin King is an author and publisher. She thought G was scheduled and already published, but a couple of kind friends notified her it was not. Thus, G comes after M. 

 

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