Killjoys, ChatGPT, Dresden Files and Robert Silverberg
The Lampworks Lamplighter SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
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I like to keep in touch with my readers. I get a bare minimum of statistics from my newsletter — how many bounced, maybe how many were opened. There are guides full of how to get better stats from mailings, but I respect your privacy, so I don’t do that. So drop me a line instead and tell me whatever you like. What part of the world do you live in? What’s the best SciFi or Fantasy you’ve read lately? What parts of the newsletter do you like (or not like)?
I just watched the SciFi series Killjoys. I didn’t take notice of it when it first came out, but when I heard it mentioned on a podcast, I watched the series. It’s fast-paced, full of quirky characters, and has an engaging story line and character development. It follows three bounty hunters as they gradually uncover a far-reaching plot against their planetary system. It’s rather light on the science part of science fiction, though. It seems to exist in the Hollywood pocket universe where space is crowded with asteroids and any place is minutes away from any other place. Still, it’s fun to watch. The storyline is filled with both treachery and second chances, as characters are given a chance at redemption. As long as they survive, they may eventually find themselves working together, even if they were previously adversaries. An alien threat brings together unlikely allies from former foes. It’s an optimistic message.
I’ve been playing with ChatGPT, the AI chatbot, to see what it can do. I fed it some prompts such as “Tell me the plot of Storm Front by Jim Butcher.” “Rewrite it as a review.” “Make it shorter.” The system produced decent summaries and reviews, though what’s below is 100% mine (and I think better than what the chatbot can do). Another series I tried was “What is Kendo?” “Describe a Kendo match.” “Narrate that match as if you were a participant.” “Rewrite that match assuming your opponent is going to cheat.” It was up to all of those, including the last, which impressed me. Nothing I would use in a story directly, but it’s an interesting way to generate ideas.
Until next time.
A short story for the holidays in the world of Knots. Escher and Emeline have brought a tree into the house to decorate, and Trefoil the cat must investigate, of course. There’s something not quite right about this tree – they’ve brought trouble into the house along with it. It’s up to Trefoil to guard the house against the mayhem that ensues. If he doesn’t get put outside first.
Free download from StoryOrigin
Monsieur Resche is an art thief. He has crossed a bridge into a quaint town that disappeared from Switzerland four centuries ago. All the magic that our world once had has ended up there. A precisely tied knot, an exactly folded paper, or a cunningly drawn figure can unlock wonders and horrors.
Resche has a mind that lets him excel at this new craft, but that brings him to the notice of powerful mages who play a great game of geomancy with tiles the size of countries. And when he looks for the bridge back to Geneva, it is nowhere to be found.
The Fractalist priest offers aid that may not be what it appears, the Jeweler has intricate schemes, the newspaper editor has taken an interest, the Astromancer had good advice before she was murdered, and Resche’s cat just makes wisecracks.
Knots is a compelling story filled with unexpected characters, plot twists, literal location twists, mystery, and redemption.
Have Kindle Unlimited? Read Knots for free on Amazon!
Find it on amazon
What We‘re Reading
Visit our archive of reviews and recommendations on the Books We Like page of our website. You‘ll find over one hundred recommendations in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Non Fiction.
Harry Dresden is a private investigator and wizard for hire. He is retained by the Chicago PD when they encounter a series of grisly murders with occult connections. Somewhat in the mold of noir detectives, Harry is broke, has transportation problems, has a checkered history with authority both civil and magical, and has relationship issues with the opposite sex.
When Harry tracks down an untutored mage using blood magic to build his power, he finds that his opponent is planning to summon a powerful demon that Harry knows he won’t be able to control. Worse, the mage has gotten a lock of Harry’s hair, marking Harry as the next victim. The police and the mage’s council both think Harry is responsible for the killings and his few friends think he’s crazy. Time is running out.
If you like fast-paced occult mysteries or noir detective stories, give this one a try.
Buy on amazon
Wizard for hire Harry Dresden is so down on his luck (mostly due to his own life choices) that he can’t pay for his next meal let alone make his rent. When his contact in the Chicago PD reluctantly brings him in on a series of murders that happen on the nights of full moons, Harry hopes that he can simultaneously protect the innocent, regain the trust of the police, and improve his cash flow. Nope.
It turns out there are more types of werewolf than anyone knew, and they’re all contenders in the case. Some work for the mob, some for wizards, and some want to keep their pack safe. It all leads to a showdown at the mansion of the wealthiest man in Chicago.
Buy on amazon
This is Silverberg’s transition novel between the schlocky space opera that he wrote early in his career and the voyages of personal discovery on SciFi and Fantasy worlds that marked his later work. It tells the tale of two broken individuals, a spaceman who was experimented on by aliens, and an earthwoman who was experimented on by her own people. Duncan Chalk, a vastly wealthy media mogul, brings them together on a solar system-wide television series, in the hopes that they will destroy each other for the titillation of his audience. Improbably, they begin to heal each other.
The story bogs down a bit in mid-60s pschobabble, and is one Silverberg’s darker tales, but this may be the first novel that accurately forecast trends that didn’t take root until the 90s, such as reality TV. Such prescience is worth a read, especially now that this title is finally available on Kindle.
Buy on amazon
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It is not his ship, or his problem…
…but suddenly Robert McClain finds himself behind the helm controls of the Earth’s Last Hope, blasting off for the Sol System’s most savage race—The Borman Classic. His brother Pete has planned on being the racer in the family, but an accident moments before the qualifying run to the moon takes him out of the running, leaving his little brother to carry on.
Now he finds himself speeding from planet to planet, moon to moon, wrestling against the most dangerous forces in space, and worse—Martian skullduggery. Robert quickly realizes that there is more at stake than a racing championship for Earth. His life, and the life of his crew are on the line.
Buy via StoryOrigin
Eclipsing the Aurora
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When Nigel gets chucked off a dam, he thinks his time is up.
Vivian – an alien from an ancient race that uses Earth’s deep oceans as a retirement home – rescues him and convinces him to join the Consensus.
Now all he has to do is give up his life on Earth.
Buy via StoryOrigin
A desperate scramble for safety leads to a divisive choice.
The NewEarth colony on planet Zormad has been nearly destroyed. Selina Ravencraft has returned to help her fellow humans sort through the remnants of their former home and decide on their next move to protect what’s left of their people.
Buy via StoryOrigin
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