Category Archives: Science Fiction

THE BATTLE FOR HALCYON Wins at the 28th Annual Word Awards

My third book, The Battle for Halcyon, won the 2016 Word Novel Award: Speculative Fiction category. This is a major milestone for me since it is my first award as a novelist. Here are a few pictures from the award ceremony and the award itself.

28th Word Awards - Voice

“Every Writer a Voice” at the Word Awards (Photo by: Stephen Gurie Woo)

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2016 Word Award Certificate and Award

THE BATTLE FOR HALCYON Winner in the Speculative Fiction category (Photo by: Stephen Gurie Woo)


2016 Word Award - Peter

A milestone moment for me (Photo by: Stephen Gurie Woo)



Provoking An Attitude of Gratitude

Reflection on this award really brings me to remember the many friends who have helped to make this possible; this reflection cannot help but provoke an attitude of gratitude. Special thanks to The Word Guild and The Christian Herald for sponsoring The Speculative Fiction Award. Here are a few who have helped me so much with The Battle for Halcyon:

  • My editors Stephanie Paddey and Patricia Paddey. Thank you for improving the manuscript so significantly. It is such an encouragement to a writer to know that one’s editors are not simply professionally improving the grammar and sentence structure of the text, but that they care about the work and want to make it as good as it can be. Thank you.
  • For my beta readers who read the whole manuscript through and made many helpful suggestions. My friend John Greenhorn spent many hours going over every sentence meticulously and helped clarify the fuzzy parts. There were also many others (in alphabetical order—please forgive (and correct) me if I forgot anyone: Mark Jokinen, Darren Kazmaier, Mike Kazmaier, Phil Kazmaier, and Doug Paddey. Thank you.
  • Our monthly writer’s group at Don and Gloria Martin’s house. Thank you for listening to me read a few pages and then helping me to make them better.
  • To my readers who have contacted me end encouraged me with your feedback. Thank you.

Finally, I want to thank my wife Kathy. Her encouragement and support of my writing continue to mean so much to me. Without her partnership none of my novels would have been written.

I am cognisant that the finished novel, after much labour contains many defects and shortcomings. Still the good that I have been able to achieve through my writing has its origin and motivation in the Lord Christ and for that I am thankful and grateful.

Peter’s Presentation and Author Exposition at the CHURCH LIBRARY ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO in Guelph, Ontario

CLAO PictureI was delighted to be invited to participate in the Church Library Association of Ontario (CLAO) in Guelph Ontario through my association with The Word Guild. I was able to display my books, speak to attendees and also present a two minute synopsis on one of my books.

My Two Minute Presentation

My name is Peter Kazmaier and I write adventure fiction targeted primarily at high school- and university-aged males. The book I’m featuring today is called The Halcyon Dislocation. It describes a fictional university in North Carolina that, for the Department of Defence, conducts a large scale research experiment  that goes awry. As a consequence the whole university is transported to a parallel world. The students and the faculty find themselves in a struggle to survive when their whole support structure has disappeared.

Finding enough food, exploring the new world with all of its surprises, and dealing with a university administration that becomes increasingly tyrannical is enough to lead the protagonists into one adventure after another.

So why might a church library be interested in acquiring this book? Most adventure and science fiction is based on a completely secular world view. From the perspective of these books, religion in general and in Christianity in particular have ceased to become societal influences just prior to the start of the story. I wanted to change this formula. I try to be true to the genre, but several of my characters are Christians and as readers we can experience how they react to both the secular university environment and the stress of the university dislocation. It provides a chance to introduce some faith discussions without derailing the plot. These types of faith discussions are a natural part of university life and I hope I have portrayed them in a way that is realistic.

If you are looking for books for your high school and university students that will challenge their thinking but keeping them reading to the final page, I would be delighted to talk to you about it. If you share my interest in Speculative Fiction as a genre, I would enjoy talking about some of our favourite books. Thank you.

My Books

Where to buy Peter’s books:

Peter’s Websites

Local Book Stores

  • Good Books Christian Bookstore, Oakville, on Kerr Street
  • Family Christian Bookstore, Burlington, on Guelph Line

Online

Search for “Peter Kazmaier” at Amazon, Chapters-Indigo, iTunes, Google Play, or at Word Alive.

Specific short-links for your convenience (in alphabetical order)

Review of E. E. (Doc) Smith’s THE SKYLARK OF SPACE

The Skylark of Space (Skylark #1)The Skylark of Space by E.E. “Doc” Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This first entry in E. E. (Doc) Smith’s Skylark series is one of my favourites. It begins with Richard Seaton, a physical chemist, discovering a mysterious new trans-uranic element “X” in some platinum waste, which, under the right conditions, has the ability to transform the mass of copper into pure energy and so gives rise to a new space drive.

In many ways these books are space westerns, with non-stop action. Because it was first published in 1934, it provides a glimpse into how writers and readers thought in those days. Of course there are many things about space, physics, and chemistry that we know now that they did not know then, but even that is interesting to me. The optimism and sheer inventiveness of these books I find delightful. This is a book that I like to read over and over again.

View all my reviews

Another 5 Star Review of THE HALCYON DISLOCATION on Goodreads

THD-2_Front_PageWith permission, I have reproduced a review from Goodreads on The Halcyon Dislocation. It’s always encouraging to find that the hard work has paid off. Here’s the text of the review:

 

An incredible adventure – Glad I wasn’t there for the dislocation.
I try not to give books 5 stars very often (cheapens the value). But I read this and enjoyed every minute. Well-deserving.

Basically a University/Naval station Island… is relocated to a different reality. What appears to be a science experiment gone wrong becomes much darker and deeper than first realized by our valiant band of heroes. And somehow Jesus and truth fits into all this. Go buy your own copy – you can’t have my signed 1st edition. (Is it Peter? Don’t care. I’ll boast anyway.)

I read book 2 first, I thought that would be a creative challenge and insight into Peter’s writing abilities. Indeed this made me totally enjoy the character development and early obstacles (AND Evil escapades) that are being set-up in the beginning of the Halcyon series. In Book 1 We get to know the characters in a less stressful setting. By book 2: Everything is Off the Rails and non-stop action. Similar to Star Wars 2: The Empire Strikes Back, no time for intros – start shooting at stuff.

Now I may have to go and read book 2 again, just for the flow of the story. Maybe i’ll do that when book 3 comes out. Quit stalling Peter – get to work, your fans are close to rioting.
_________________________

Peter gave us a brilliant setting for Christian Apologetics and liberal moral mayhem (those two always go together). Like Eve in the garden we get to see a New society apply a godless lack of morality and spiritual blindness, all in the name of young lusty freedom and Corporate/Political Power. Even though this is Sci-fi, we have a very modern University doing its debaucherous best to erase any Christian virtues and family structures ALL in the name of liberal progress – and thankfully Peter shows us the undeniable results of this secular materialism and free thought: throw out the rules, you throw out the meaning and purpose of Love, Hope, Peace and family values.

And I especially enjoyed the Dalyites. Even in a setting like this we see the uprising of a religious cult. This is endlessly entertaining. Hope this plays out nastily in the 3rd book. I loved seeing our Christian hero “AL” dealing with Atheists on one side, and Fundamental extremist Cults on the other…and monsters of course.

But all is saved by the cute – Badger like: Hansas. Short insightful Warriors of truth. And they make great friends. Can’t get enough of these guys.

5_starsPeter has a huge challenge theologically with this sci-fi scenario. How does Jesus, Sin, and God’s Glory play out in this alternative realm? We’ll see. I have a feeling Peter has a plan to tie it all together. This book appears to be succeeding where Stephen R. Lawheads “The Song Of Albion” failed – Christianity is truthfully laid out and brought to the front of the story. I look forward to even more of this in book 3.

The only thing this book was missing was a long nasty car chase. (but the stories not over yet). Maybe I can get Peter to make a Hansa character in my honor??? A brutally snarky theologian comedian.

Warning: You may learn more about boating than you ever wanted to. I’m a landlover myself. (less)

THE HALCYON CYCLE Listed in the Speculative Faith Library

 Kazmaier_Books_Spec_Faith_CroppedI’m grateful to Speculative Faith Library for recently adding The Halcyon Dislocation and The Battle for Halcyon to their listings. This library also has a number of other books and book series that I have read, enjoyed, and recommend to my Science Fiction and Fantasy readers. If you’re looking for some Science Fiction or Fantasy that has a faith component why not check out Kathy Tyers’ Firebird Trilogy or Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings series.

I would love to hear from you. Why not use the contact form below?

Author Interview of Peter Kazmaier by Andrea Washington

Eastern Feiramar Color 3300 x 2475 (300 dpi)I was graciously invited to an author interview by Andrea Washington. Here is the link.

For your convenience I have also reproduced the questions and answers here. I welcome any questions you might have. Thank you Andrea!

Why do you write?

I love to read Fantasy and Science Fiction. First and foremost then, I write books that I would like to read, but no one else has taken the trouble to write them. Specifically, I like books that are plot-driven and keep me riveted wondering what happens next. But I also like books that ask the Big Questions, as people do in real life. Why are we here? What does it mean to be human? Why should I try to be good?

When did you decide to become a writer, and what was that process like?

For a large fraction of my life, I was a researcher in chemistry and much of my writing appeared in technical journals or as patents. My career as a novelist had a curious start. I was a member of a book club and during one of our sessions I mused how I would love to write a novel. One of my friends said, “Well why don’t you do it?” The gauntlet was thrown down and I had to do something about it. It took me four years of attending writer’s conferences, and writing in my spare time while still holding a full time job before my first book came out, the first edition of the colonization epic The Halcyon Dislocation.

So, what have you written? (Include everything you have published)

As I mentioned I have more than sixty technical publications on chemistry and about 175 US patents, but I’m sure your readers are not that interested in them. In terms of novels I have written three (in the order of publication):

  • The Halcyon Dislocation (two editions)
  • Questioning Your Way to Faith
  • The Battle for Halcyon

The Halcyon Dislocation and The Battle for Halcyon are the first two books of a four part series that I call The Halcyon Cycle. They deal with a science experiment that transports the island University of Halcyon to a parallel world. In the story we experience how various members of the university deal with the trauma of the dislocation and the challenges of surviving in a new world.

Questioning Your Way to Faith is a much shorter book that arose because of requests I received from some of my readers. In terms of a time line, Questioning Your Way to Faith is set before the dislocation and involves two university friends having an extended discussion about whether or not Christian belief is reasonable.

Where can we buy or see them?

My books are available as either e-books or as trade paper backs at most major bookstores and online outlets. In alphabetical order here are some links:

What genre are your books?

My books are Science Fiction that read a bit like Fantasy. I say that because my books have a strong science component and I worry a lot about whether events like the dislocation are feasible. Having said that, once the University of Halcyon is in the new world, technologies begin to fail (because modern technology requires enormous infrastructure) and then one has much more of a Fantasy-style landscape.

Do you do any research for you books?

I try hard to get the details right in my books, so I do quite a bit of research to make sure that the phases of the moon are correct, the fish found off the island of Halcyon are correct for that locale and that events like the dislocation are not unreasonable from a physics perspective.

Are you working on at the minute?

I’m working on the next book in The Halcyon Cycle which I have provisionally called Descent into Abaddon.

Do you mind telling us about it?

Not at all. I listened to a wonderful lecture a few years ago that described how our relatively low atmospheric pressure limited the size of land mammals and also the size of flying birds. My next book is centered on a continent so far below sea level that the high atmospheric pressure removes these constraints.

What is your favorite book that you have written so far and why?

I would probably say The Halcyon Dislocation. I like the Crusonian aspects of being marooned in a new world and all of the discovery that entails.

How often do you write a week?

I write in fits and starts. When one has several books in print, one has many duties. I work better when I work at something for a concentrated period of time.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

No I don’t set pages per day. I like long books, so I aim for more than 100,000 words for my books.

What do you find is the easiest thing about writing?

There’s nothing easy about writing well. Of all the hard things that must be done to produce a good novel, I find imagining new worlds and new inhabitants of those worlds easiest.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I suppose it takes me roughly four years from start to finish to write a book. However that’s highly misleading since I start the next book right after the first draft is complete, so there is a good deal over overlap when I’m writing the first draft of one book and editing the last.

Do you ever get writer’s block and if so do you have any tips on how to get through it?

Writer’s block, in the sense of reaching an impasse in a story is not usually my problem. My problem is sheer laziness. I have many duties to complete and I get caught up in all of these urgent matters and let my writing time slip.

What is your editing process like?

I have friends who have taken a great deal of time as “beta readers” who critique my book and often see blind spots that I as a writer have missed. I always enlist the services of a professional editor to complete the edits. I can’t stress how important it is to find an editor who is not only technically competent, but has a genuine love for your books.

Why self-publishing?

Self-publishing is a very broad term that includes vanity publishing. I prefer the term micro-publishing. By that I mean running a very small publishing business with an emphasis on the quality of the books produced and a severe eye on the costs.

Why self-publish or micro-publish? In my journey, I have seen many writers who spend years producing a novel and then spend years writing to acquisition editor after acquisition editor trying to interest them in their work. Often the writers eventually give up in discouragement without ever having provided their book to the people who really matter—their reading public. [For more on micro-publishing check my blog http://wp.me/p4cZo4-1l .]

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Force yourself to be a “finisher.” Make sure you sell some version of your book to your reading public to get feedback from them.

Where do you see publishing going in the future?

In my role as a research scientist I had a chance to see the Print-On-Demand technology develop. I think this trend will continue and will favor the smaller publisher. Traditional publishing will not disappear but will continue to be under increased cost pressure because of their extensive infrastructure.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

  1. The best books become part of our intellectual scaffolding. Remember as a writer you are an artist first. You want your books to be entertaining, but also to make a difference in your readers’ lives.
  2. Don’t mistake sales as the primary indicator of your success.

[On re-reading this second point, I realized that my brief comment could lead to misunderstanding. Sales as a primary indicator for success can be highly misleading for an author starting out for two reasons. First of all, selling books is an annuity business and so sales build over time. That is to say, you have many upfront costs (Realistically one should charge at least minimum wage for all the time one invests writing and setting up one’s business. Many writers mistakenly think they are getting as bargain if they can find a traditional publisher that will pay them an advance and a royalty. Often these writers haven’t accounted for the enormous time they invested in preparing the manuscript for consideration by the traditional publisher.), but sales only begin once your book lists. However, once your book lists, it stays listed for a long time and generates an annuity stream. Secondly, there may be two reasons why a book doesn’t sell: (1) the book is poorly conceived and written; (2) the author is not well-known and so few readers get as far as even trying the book and so they never find out if it’s good or not. Unless one is well-known for other reasons (e.g. you’re a U.S. President), being unknown will always be an impediment when you start out. To distinguish these two barriers to sales, one needs to get the book into the hands of readers and get feedback.]

What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite books (on an equal footing) are C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I re-read the Narnia books because of the profound spiritual insights that Lewis offers. I re-read The Lord of the Rings because of the sheer beauty of the work. Even though I know the plot almost line for line, I love the beauty of walking through the vale of Ithilien and the terror of the Mines of Moria.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I’m always delighted to hear from my readers. They can contact me by email directly or leave a comment on my blog.

Website: http://www.WolfsburgImprints.com
Blog: http://www.PeterKazmaier.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.kazmaier
Twitter: @PeterKazmaier
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00JB0IWE6
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4136519.Peter_Kazmaier

Check Out This Book Give-Away for My New Book – THE BATTLE FOR HALCYON

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Battle for Halcyon by Peter Kazmaier

The Battle for Halcyon

by Peter Kazmaier

Giveaway ends August 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Review of SHIP OF STORMS by Ken Doggett

Ship Of StormsShip Of Storms by Ken Doggett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ship of Storms recounts the life of Marcus Ramsey-Legend during the brief war of independence between Earth and the Martian colonists. He ultimately encounters The Jupiter Effect, the insanity all who venture beyond Mars to the outer planets encounter. Interspersed with this main narrative is an extended series of flashbacks which fill in the details of Ramsey-Legend’s life.

The book is well-written and the character development is finely-crafted. In comparison to other SF colony independence stories such as R. A. Heinlein’s Red Planet and Between Planets, the plot (for me) moved slowly and had few surprises. I also found the extensive flashbacks broke up the continuity of the narrative.

These comments reflect personal preferences. For those who prefer character development over plot, Ship of Storms may well be a book you would love, enjoy, and rate more highly than three stars.

View all my reviews

A Science Fiction Writer Muses on Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Sentience

Artificial Sentience is a general theme in Science Fiction. Sometimes the computer sentience is friendly as in Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (one of my favorite SF books of all time), other times the artificial sentience is overtly inimical (the artificial intelligence inThe Matrix, Skynet in the Terminator movies), and sometimes it is schizophrenic as the HAL 9000 computer in 2001/2010 Odyssey movies.

I’m currently working on the third book in The Halcyon Cycle which I have tentatively named the Descent into Abaddon. In it one of my lead characters Al Gleeson has a debate with his friend Floyd Linder about Artificial Intelligence. Gleeson makes the following statement:

“There’s no such thing as a smart computer, only smart programmers.”

Turing_Test_version_3

Can C distinguish A from B?

As an author, if I want to construct a realistic debate about this subject, I have to try to argue for both sides as convincingly as I can. One way to counter Al’s statement is to propose the Turing Test (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/turing-test/). In the test for computer intelligence proposed by Alan Turing in 1950  [Turing, A. (1950), “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Mind, 59 (236): 433–460], a human test subject would interact via keyboard (to make life as easy as possible for the machine) with two communicators: a human and a machine. After 5 minutes of communication if the test subject cannot identify the machine with better than 70% accuracy, then the machine is thought to be intelligent.

But think about what would happen if we put this into practice. After each failure (i.e. the human subject recognizes the machine), the programmers would analyze which bit of dialogue tripped up the machine and put in additional code to “give the human answer.” So with enough processing speed and a large enough memory, over time all of these written queries ought to be countered and so the machine should pass the test. But is the machine really intelligent or are the programmers simply very clever?

There may be another problem with this test: the computer may be too smart. If I were the test subject, I would ask the subject to cite a irrational number, say Euler’s Number to 27 decimal places. Any calculator could do it; I would not expect a human subject to do so. I suppose the programmers could code the computer to lie responding it can only cite e to two decimal places, but if it answered truthfully that would give it away. There are probably a large number of such tests, where the computer can provide data of such precision that it “would be busted” in its deception.

What do you think? Is it possible to design a sentient machine?

Thanks for reading,

Peter

Peter Kazmaier is author of  the Science Fiction, The Halcyon Dislocation, available at Amazon.

On Re-reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy

FoundationI enjoy re-reading books. As a rule of thumb, after reading a new book, I’ll go back to revisit one I’ve read before. Recently I had a chance to re-read Isaac Asimov’s classic Science Fiction trilogy Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation.

I have been reading these books since high school. Although the books haven’t changed, I have and so has society around me and this observation is really behind today’s commentary on the series.

In the trilogy, Asimov imagines Homo Sapiens spread throughout the Milky Way galaxy participating in a galaxy-wide empire run by Trantor. This empire has existed for 16,000 years and is thought to last forever. The new science of psychohistory is able to predict the inevitable actions of large groups of people (an interesting metaphor for some theological reconciliations of predestination and free will) and Hari Seldon, the originator of psychohistory, predicts anarchy as the empire inexorably disintegrates. Seldon plans to mitigate the interregnum from 30,000 years of anarchy to 1000 years. That sets the stage for the formation of the Foundation at the fringe of the galaxy. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.

What interested me in this reading was a simple statement that came about in the dialogue between Sermak and Bort who were discussing Salvor Hardin’s (Mayor of Terminus, the Foundation home world) use of a technology-based  religion to control neighboring worlds (Bort and Sermak are dissidents). Bort is asked what kind of religion is it? He says (p95, first Avon printing):

[Sermak] “But what kind of religion is it Bort?”

Bort considered. “Ethically it’s fine. It scarcely varies from the various philosophies of the old Empire. High moral standards and all that. There’s nothing to complain about from that viewpoint. Religion is one of the great civilizing influences of history [italics mine] and in that respect, it’s fulfilling—”

When I read that statement “Religion is one of the great civilizing influences of history” written by Asimov in 1951, I wondered how we as a society have moved from “great civilizing influences of history” to the twenty first century mantra that “religion ruins everything?” After all our history hasn’t changed and the actual facts of church history known today are substantially the same as those Asimov’s considered in 1951.

As I thought about this, I realized our perspective has changed because the reporting on religious history, particularly the history of the Christian Church has changed. In Asimov’s time, as in ours, there were many aspects of the history that were positive, and others that were terrible. What has changed? Where we focus our camera and where we place our microphone as we report on the past has changed.

McRae BookLet me illustrate my analysis with an example from the Prologue of the well-referenced book,  A Book to Die For by William J. McRae.

William Tyndale was burned at the stake (after being strangled) at the age of 42 on October 6, 1536 in Vilvoorde, near Brussels. His crime? Translating the Bible into English so that people could read the scriptures for themselves.

Tyndale’s execution (according to Foxe) was witnessed by the attorney and doctors of Louvain who then moved off to complete their day.

So what’s my point? One’s perspective on this story depends on where you point the camera and hold the microphone. I think in 1951, the camera and the microphone were pointed at William Tyndale, who’s love for freedom and the truth motivated him to risk and lose his life in a translation project that would give others the chance to read the Bible for themselves—an example of religion’s civilizing influence.

What about today? We point the camera and microphone at the religious power brokers—the attorney and the doctors who set up the execution. But that’s the difficulty. History is a mixture of power, politics, noble aspirations, courage, conviction, and tragedy. The message we receive from history depends on where we point the camera and how we use the images. Curiously today, we have a secular perspective that completely dissociates itself from any of these historical actions because they are presumed to be religiously (and not politically) motivated and from our modern perspective, thankfully we’re through our religious phase. The net result is a general villainization of religion in our culture.

An accurate reading of history compels a much more balanced view, a view that does not assume that modern secularists don’t have their own injustices that they foist on their own political and ideological opponents, particularly the religious. History, if we read it properly, will help us to avoid acts of injustice on our part, not just inflict them on a new target group.

To me this is one of the reasons for re-reading older books—it let’s me see the world through the eyes of someone from a different culture than my own, and lets me discover some of the assumptions that make up my own perspective.

Thanks for reading,

Peter