Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Intelligent life

You may all think that I’m primarily a crime thriller kinda guy, a lot of the book reviews I post here are for crime, crime thrillers and thrillers. My current work in progress is also a crime thriller. So I clearly fit into a very neat little box created out of stacks of James Patterson releases for the month. But I like a lot of genres, I think most readers do, in fact I’d go as far as to say that all readers read more than one genre unless they are still battling with Where’s Waldo.

Needless to say, despite my current work – and several others in the pipeline – being crime thrillers, I have several outlines for stories in other genres. One of my first big ideas – quite literally, as I have a 50 page synopsis and several instalments plotted – was for a sci-fi story. Think Jack Reacher crossed with Jet Li (Did you know Jet Li is a real life hero?) inspired by Heinlein. Anyway, the main character, Caleb, is the last of his kind and is trying to save humans from themselves, whether that be leading a civil war, or deposing dictators at the various human colonies. Of course there have to be aliens in space.

The problem I’ve always had with aliens in books and movies is that they are too much like us. On Star Trek they could even pass for us, as long as they wore a headband.
But it isn’t just that they look so much like us, why would aliens even think of us as awesome? Would humans be actually interesting to aliens? If aliens are watching our broadcasts you could just about guarantee that they don’t consider any of the life on this planet intelligent.

Alien: So you consider your race intelligent?
Human: Why yes.
Alien: Explain Glenn Beck.
Human: Okay, some of us aren’t as…
Alien: And you dig up stored gases to change your atmosphere so that it wrecks your climate.
Human: But we needed fuel for power. We’ve got solutions to that now.
Alien: One word: Politicians.
Human: Please don’t wipe out our planet!

So in my alien research for my novel/s I finally found inspiration. Who better to inspire me than Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins?*

See the rest of the discussion between Dawkins and DeGrasse here.

*Yes Carl Sagan would be inspirational too, but he isn’t in the video.

Getting your terminology right

Sometimes I cringe, sometimes I laugh, because sometimes writers just haven’t done their homework. Speaking as an avid reader (check my Goodreads stats), it often disappoints me when I see mistakes in a book, TV show or movie. In a movie it isn’t really acceptable, they have consultants whose job it is to make sure they don’t mess up. A TV show might have a consultant who will get a call during their lunch break at their real job to confirm details, the consultant isn’t really listening because they know the scene has already been filmed and the writer has just been told to check to get them out of the director’s hair. In the book there is only the author to blame – editors could care less.

Lets not delve into those little facts and descriptions that always garner criticism, lets talk terminology. Is it too much to ask to have writers use the correct terminology for things? Unless your character is meant to be ignorant, a minute on Google (or one of the competitors) should be able to tell you that a passant is the strap on the shoulder of shirts or jackets that epaulettes are attached to and that a chevron is a ‘V’ shaped insignia that is often used to signify rank and may or may not be on the epaulette or the sleeve. This is just to cite one annoying example I have recently run across. Don’t get me started on CSI – the katana is only one of many swords made of folded steel!!

Anyway, I ran across an interesting list that shows how terminology is often misapplied just to cheer everyone up: mostly me.

1. A firefly is not a fly – it is a beetle

2. A prairie dog is not a dog – it is a rodent

Dogs and rodents are slightly different

3. India ink is not from India – it is from China and Egypt

4. A horned toad is not a toad – it is a lizard

5. A lead pencil does not contain lead – it contains graphite

6. A douglas fir is not a fir – it is a pine

7. A silkworm is not a worm – it is a caterpillar

8. A peanut is not a nut – it is a legume

9. A koala bear is not a bear – it is a marsupial

10. An English horn is not English and it isn’t a horn – it is a French alto oboe

11. A guinea pig is not from guinea and it is not a pig – it is a rodent from South America

12. Shortbread is not a bread – it is a thick cookie

13. Dresden China is not from Dresden – it is from Meissen

14. A shooting star is not a star – it is a meteorite

15. A funny bone is not a bone – it is the spot where the ulnar nerve touches the humerus

16. Chop suey is not a native Chinese dish – it was invented by Chinese immigrants in California

17. A bald eagle is not bald – it has flat white feathers on its head and neck when mature, and dark feathers when young

18. A banana tree is not a tree – it is a herb

19. A cucumber is not a vegetable – it is a fruit

20. A jackrabbit is not a rabbit – it is a hare

21. A piece of catgut is not from a cat – it is usually made from sheep intestines

22. A Mexican jumping bean is not a bean – it is a seed with a larva inside

23. A Turkish bath is not Turkish – it is Roman

24. A sweetbread is not a bread – it is the pancreas or thymus gland from a calf or lamb

Being published is not always what you dreamed

Lee Goldberg posted this cartoon on Facebook today; I just had to share it.

Also, if you haven’t read the glorious McGrave, read my review and go buy the book.

Neil Gaiman’s speech to graduates

At my graduation ceremonies we had some bureaucrats being given honorary doctorates for their services to political backroom handshakes. Needless to say, their speeches were less than inspiring. While I’m not a fan of giving away honorary degrees to celebrities, it is good to see they are giving them to some deserving people who can give an inspiring speech to graduates.

Take it away Neil.

Make good art, especially when the zombies take over.

Idiots are getting smarter

Ever had an argument on the internet and realise that the person you are arguing with is putting their gross ignorance on display for others to see? Have you then noticed that far too many people support their ignorance?

This post is dedicated to all the people out there who try to bring science and knowledge to the internet: may all your posts be peer-reviewed.

How publishing works

Book Review: The Increment by Chris Ryan

The IncrementThe Increment by Chris Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second Chris Ryan novel and definitely not my last, good 3.5 star book. Chris and Andy McNab are both authors, both ex-SAS, both drawing upon their experience doing this thriller stuff for real. If I had to pick between the two authors, I’d have to say that I didn’t really want to piss either off. Chris is the better writer, but one thing I’ve noted is that both of their novels have an element of luck involved in the protagonist’s success.

I’m guessing the reason for this is down to experience of combat. I’d love to hear from combat vets and their thoughts on this. I suppose being shot at would feel random as to who doesn’t get hit.

This adventure has Matt Browning finding that no-one ever really quits doing work for the intelligence services. The reason for this not getting a 4 star is that the story is a little cliché and somewhat predictable. Still plenty of plot twists to enjoy.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Blind Eye by Stuart MacBride

Blind Eye (Logan Mcrae, #5)Blind Eye by Stuart MacBride
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first Stuart MacBride novel, as read by Stuart MacBride, with funny voices by Stuart MacBride.

My wife and I had this book on CD for our holiday driving, following the adventures of Logan McRae. My wife felt the story was dragged out a bit too much, I felt that Logan really needed to go postal on his bosses.

This was quite a good novel, but would only really appeal to the crime genre fans. If you don’t like the drama of the investigation *cough* my wife *cough* then this story won’t interest you. If you currently feel like hitting your boss repeatedly over the head with office stationery, then this book will make you even more inclined to do so, as you empathise with the protagonist. If you prefer straight-forward plots, once again, not for you. If you like Scottish accents, you’ll love this book.

View all my reviews

Most read fiction books

Okay, that’s not fair. The Diary of Anne Frank isn’t fiction.

Thought for the day – True Terror

Book Review: Vodka Doesn’t Freeze by Leah Giarratano

Vodka Doesn't Freeze (A Detective Jill Jackson Mystery #1)Vodka Doesn’t Freeze by Leah Giarratano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m really unsure whether to rate this a 4 or a 5. Lets call it 4.5

It was only just over a day ago when I gave up on a book. I found I was putting off reading, a clear sign that the book sucked. So I moved on, moved on and picked up Leah Giarratano’s first novel. This book was just what I needed.

I met Leah at the Perth Writers’ Festival. Aside from being one of the nicest people you will meet, she is also a very good crime writer. Lots of people agree with me, as she is a best-seller here in Australia. She draws on her background in psychology to delve into the dark corners of the Australian underworld. She spoke of this book being a catharsis from her day job and when you read it (yes you will go out and buy it and read it, I’ll wait here) you will notice that in the story.

The first book I read in the Jill Jackson series was the most recent, Watch the World Burn. I can’t wait to read the books I’ve missed in the series. Currently Leah is publishing some young adult books (Disharmony: The Telling, comes out later this month) so Jill may not be having a new crime to solve for a year or so.

View all my reviews

How readers find books

Interesting article that I found a while ago. The study highlights how important it is to have people talking about your book. This is why my book reviews are basically a plug for books I’ve enjoyed reading. Sell it forward.

 

Also, comment if you don’t like the embedded pdf file. This is a little experiment to see if it is worth doing with other things I find.

How to survive a thriller

Have you ever noticed some blatant failings in your thriller characters? Have you ever noticed some handy skills that most people don’t have pop up in your thriller characters? I have compiled a short list, does anyone have additions?

Shoot first
Don’t hesitate, pull that trigger. Bad guys won’t hesitate, so don’t let them get the first shot in.

Carry spare ammunition
You don’t want to run out at the wrong time.

Make sure they’re dead
If they are just wounded they are going to come looking to hurt you.

Keep fit
You are going to spend a lot of time running away from people trying to hurt you.

Be really strong
Have to look good with your shirt off (men) or sexy in skimpy clothes (women). As a bonus you’ll also be able to throw enemies around like rag dolls and other impressive feats of strength.

Make sure you know a hacker, ex-military people, ex-intelligence people and someone reliable in the media
Can’t be taking on the bad-guys all by yourself.

Women need to learn to run in high heels
Preferably without breaking your ankles or neck.

Make sure your family and friends are actually hidden away safely
This means that no-one else knows where they are. It also means that your loved ones don’t just call someone from the hiding place or pop out to grab their favourite meal.

Assume anyone in a business suit is evil
Self explanatory.

Assume anyone with a shaved head is evil
Ditto, unless they are Bruce Willis.

Be prepared for trouble
All of those hours spent practising martial arts and marksmanship will have paid off. Don’t forget to be able to do all those cool car driving stunts.

Learn how to throw a knife
Any knife, at any distance, with lightning reflexes. Anything less and you may not survive.

And of course, you must always remember to not look at explosions.

Book Review: Cut and Run by Matt Hilton

Cut and Run (Joe Hunter, #4)Cut and Run by Matt Hilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading fantasy back to back, I needed a gritty thriller to balance the ledger. Enter Matt Hilton’s Cut and Run.

Yes, Joe Hunter and friends are here to take on the bad-guys. This time someone has hired a professional killer to take out Joe’s former strike team, their families, kill his friends and to frame Joe for their deaths. Pity Joe doesn’t like threats, when most would run, Joe becomes the Hunter (yeah, bad pun, I know).

Matt serves up very consistent thrillers, always enjoyable. Also keep an eye out for Matt’s recent short story compilation – Pulse Pounding Tales – featuring stories from he and Stephen Leather (another very consistent thriller author).

View all my reviews

I just had to share this

Apologies for not having written anything much here in the past few weeks. I’m on holidays and finishing my draft of Overturned Stones. Also hope to make inroads into a rewrite and tidy up some chapters to start submissions.

The negotiation

Have I mentioned I love Inky Girl?

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