Month: January 2015

More Reviews of “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

More reviews of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars.

From Amazon, a random reader says:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent!, January 30, 2015
By A. Shibley (Philadelphia)
Verified Purchase

I bought this Kindle book on a whim after seeing it on Instapundit. It was really a fun read! Too often, independent books like this are poorly edited, clumsily written, and hardly thought out. This is not one of those books. Indeed, I recently read a “big name” series (not Hunger Games) that was objectively less well-written and entertaining. Looking forward to the next one.

Also from Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars
A good read which is hard to put down, January 28, 2015
By John Stephens (Guerneville, CA USA)
Verified Purchase

I really enjoyed this book; I read it on vacation and I didn’t want to stop reading it. There were a couple of sections where the dialog was a bit stilted and it was reminiscent of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon in being somewhat didactic, but that’s just nit-picking – it had engaging characters and the plot moved along quickly. I liked the emerging universe he created and feel that the stage has been well set for a good series. I actually thought Samantha was going to be a government agent but happy to be disappointed 😉

I look forward to book number 2!

Like didactic is a bad thing! And “stilted dialog?” — argh! 😉

Book blogger Christina DeVries (whose native language is Norwegian, so bear that in mind) has a review at Geek Heaven:

4 stars out of 5
This is a science fiction thriller set in the US in the not too distant future. The country is run by a Unity Party, combining the worst of both the Democrats and the Republicans. The Bill of Rights is being ignored and people are being monitored by the government. Terrorist attacks results in more restrictions on people’s freedom and privacy.

The story follows a group of young people who are tired of their countries censor, stagnant economy and no jobs for young educated people. And when one of their favored professors suddenly disappears after being contacted by Homeland Security who suspects that he’s staying in touch with a former student who now runs a rebel group.

These young students discovers a new kind of technology that could ever free mankind or be the ultimate weapon to control or destroy us if it falls into the wrong hands. What are they to do with it? And they have to work fast before Homeland Security arrests them all and get their hands on the technology. Who can they trust? How do they know that they’re not being watched already?


I was very intrigued by the synopsis when I was contacted about this book and it did not disappoint me. It was fast-paced and exciting. The characters were really well made but I would have loved to have gotten to know them a little bit better. In the beginning of the story some of the writing could get a bit too technical for my taste, but it definitely picked up and got easier to follow as the story progressed.

I can’t say that I’ve read anything quite like this before so I went into this with a very open mind and was definitely pleasantly surprised!

I’m really looking forward to seeing where this series goes and I definitely recommend this if you like political thrillers and science fiction.

Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral

Phall-o-meter, Intersex Society of North America

Phall-o-meter, Intersex Society of North America

From the beyond-the-Onion department:

CUNY’s Graduate Center now believes the use of gendered salutations like “Mr.” and “Mrs.” might offend some students. What’s more, administrators think federal non-discrimination law requires the university to prevent its faculty from inadvertently giving offense. Therefore, professors have been instructed to wipe the contentious words from their memories and cease using them in any and all forms of communication.

Full Reason story here.

Some young reviewers of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars think it portrays some unlikely future thought-control state. It’s actually about RIGHT NOW in many universities, which is why it bugs me I can’t get a conventional publisher to look at it in less than a year.

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


Scientific Revolutions and “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

These two reviews illustrate a conflict that anyone writing science fiction needs to deal with.

The primary driver of any good story is the characters and how they handle problems. What makes science fiction different is that these problems will be related to new science and technology; while in fantasy, any magical system with consistent rules will do, in science fiction the technologies should be at least possible, preferably plausible extensions of what is known. That is how science fiction predicted 200% of the innovations of the past decades (we are all still waiting for flying cars, for example!)

There’s a trap here, though. Pop culture is now saturated with science fictional technologies that were once novel ideas: time travel, wormholes, warp drive, runaway nanotechnology, powered armor, etc. Where once a single idea of this kind could make a book exciting, they are now routine. And a whole subgenre of space opera simply transfers naval warfare into space, with a few new features but old stories.

There’s a risk in introducing a truly paradigm-shattering idea: only a small and shrinking market of readers will follow the author into a fictional world that says familiar scientific rules are broken. So in “Red Queen” I have a new technology based on revolutionary new physics that appears to allow violation of some rules all of us educated in physics hold dear, like conservation of energy. Even the fictional developer of the technology has trouble accepting that, even though these violations only happen in very unusual circumstances, and may well be accounted for by as-yet-unknown effects elsewhere in the universe. Which is reminiscent of Einstein’s reaction to quantum entanglement–“this appears to be right but I don’t like it so it must not be the last word.”

This is how it feels when old paradigms are broken by a new theory backed up by experiment: this explains what we have seen better than the old theory, but “it can’t be right, it makes me uncomfortable.” Darwin’s work for biologists, quantum theory for physicists, Copernican heliocentrism for astronomers: all had to wait for a generation of believers in the old theory to die off.

So half your readers will willingly suspend disbelief and follow along, and the other half will stay bound to their reality and have the nagging feeling their hard science fiction story just turned into a fantasy. It’s far less risky, but in the end less interesting, to stick with a known science-fictional technology like hyperspace or warp drive, with a few differentiating features to make it “yours.” The readers are prepped for it. But maybe there is now so much science fiction already written that truly new ideas are hard to come by, and we are left with character and plot as the drivers of interest.

The idea for the physics breakthrough in “Red Queen” is actually thirty years old, coming from long BS sessions with friends at MIT. That there has been little testable progress in string theory and unified field theories since that time is a problem — something is being missed, with dark energy, dark matter, and Mach’s principle all pointing at a failure to see something. The physics in the book is just one way things might go, and the truth when it is found is likely to be similarly surprising.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Classic style Hard Sci-Fi January 26, 2015
By Donald W. Campbell
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A great read in old-style hard science fiction. The social/economic predictions are an easy extrapolation from where we are now. (very short term future) The ‘science’ part of the fiction is; Imagine a cellular automation is the basis and under-pinning of our universe, and the laws of physics represent ‘rules’ of emergent behavior of this automata. (This is a current theory, the author postulates it is true.) Imagine Quantum computers really work. (A 90% probably true, not a long shot)

Now, accepting these two, let us speculate a ‘fiction’. Aforementioned quantum computer is capable of interacting directly with the underlying cellular automata, bypassing the emergent ruleset and subsituting its own. If we accept this ‘fiction’, the remainder of the book is a logical extrapolation of reality as it exists.

(Hopefully this description hasn’t created any real spoilers for future readers.)

4.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent novel, full of interesting plot points, January 25, 2015
By Dave
Verified Purchase

Excellent novel, full of interesting plot points. This novel intrigues. While it’s not plausible, at least by any known science, it is thought-provoking, and that is often the more interesting form of fiction: what if something were possible? What would it imply.

In this novel we are presented with a calamitous terrorist attack and the attendant overreach of various governments. Concomitant with that a group of rogue scientists discover a way to move immediately to another planet via that obvious trope of science fiction, the wormhole.

But, but, but! you say. “Wormholes are fake!” Well, sure, they very well may be. But so what? If you are able to suspend your narrative disbelief and enjoy the plot for what it is, an interesting thought experiment occurs: in a panopticon society, in which your every move is tracked, how do you rebel agains the authority of the state?

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

For more on science fiction and pop culture:

Science Fiction Fandom and SJW Warfare
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
“Game of Thrones” and the Problem of PowerThe Lessons of Walter White
“Blue Valentine”
“Mad Men”
The Morality of Glamour
“Mockingjay” Propaganda Posters
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor

Review by Chris Pavesic of “Red Queen: the Substrate Wars”

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars

Book blogger Chris Pavesic has written a kind review of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars:

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars begins with a quotation from Robert Heinlein’s 1950’s novella, The Man Who Sold the Moon: “There is nothing in this world so permanent as a temporary emergency.” This idea sets the tone of Kinnison’s novel and permeates all of the events within his fictional world.

The novel is set in a not-too-distant future world with events that mirror our own society: Readers will recognize similarities in events like the AIDS epidemic, the creation of agencies like Homeland Security, and how some people use online games like World of Warcraft and other social media to create connections and send messages in “the real world.” The differences between our world and the story world of Red Queen: The Substrate Wars lies in how much personal freedom has been reduced and how far technology has developed. As it states in the book blurb, the technology being created could either save the world or destroy it; the stakes are no longer just personal freedom versus governmental control. The characters are actually fighting their governments for the right for the human race to exist.


It is hard to discuss the novel without giving away huge spoilers. (Of course I have this problem with most of the novels I review!) I really enjoyed the chapters with the ALife Simulations. The narrative of these chapters focused on the evolutionary development of the artificial life forms. It traces them from the very start of their existence, focusing on the entire species rather than one character, and each ALife section relates in some way to the actions taken by the main characters in the novel.

My favorite character in the novel is Professor Walter Wilson. Kinnison creates a very interesting character. Wilson is a homosexual male who grew up in a world that initially did not tolerate this lifestyle, although the level of acceptance evolved, and even flourished, over time. He survived the AIDS epidemic, although his lover did not. Infected, Wilson has to take what he terms a “daily wonder pill” to prevent the progression of the disease. Because of this loss, he never developed another close, romantic relationship. Instead, he threw himself into his work. He flourished in the academic world, even winning a protest against University regulations in the past when a security officer removed a poster with an image of a gun from his office door. Wilson also had a positive impact on his students, who maintained contact with him even after they left the University.

The twist with this character comes with the reduction of personal freedoms in The Red Queen society. At the start of the novel, Wilson has come under fire from the University officials because he commented on a biological difference between the genders. Any statement that points out a difference between people is considered offensive and subject to censure. This, however, is not as simple as it appears on the surface. The censure may be retaliation for the protest he won in the past, it may be an issue because his former students have become leaders in the resistance against The Red Queen governments, or it may have something to do with the ALife simulation project Wilson is running. The University’s actions do encourage Wilson’s former and current students to rally behind him. It is not really a “call to arms;” rather, it is the situation that starts a chain of events and it is fascinating as a reader to watch each domino fall into place.

I did enjoy this novel and look forward to the second book in the trilogy!