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Friday, September 24, 2010

A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz

[A Star Curiously Singing]

If he fixes the robot, will he break his world?

The back of this wonderful book by Kerry Nietz instantly intrigued me. What about this robot? What is going to happen to his world? How'd the robot break and why not just not fix it? I plowed into the book full force trying to bludgeon my way to answers but I found....well, I'll not give it all away, but I found the book was a diamond in the rough. Make that a polished diamond. 
1)I expected a good plot but somewhat obvious-I found a great plot that continually threw me through a roller-coaster ride of discovery that landed me at the last page and then, and only then, allowed me to take a deep breath and try to relax. 
2)I expected a likable character if somewhat shallow.-What I received was an annoyingly real, lovable, humorous, 3D persona that I could easily imagine meeting in the real world(If we had implants). 
3)This first time novel by Kerry wowed me, I want to read more!!!

Now, a review.....

SandFly is a debugger, level 12 actually. His life as a servant to the Abduls is about to change, forever. It’s a routine night working on the heavy lifts, they break, he fixes them, end of picture. Don’t interact with the other DRs unless you have to. Just get your job done before your master tweaks you. Besides from running into some incompetent 10s it seems he just might get the nanos in the lifter back into regiment and running again. The DR closest to him, HardCandy is an ice wall, also, a female. The first is not surprising, the second, an extreme exception. When some Abduls decide to have their brand of fun with her SandFly is torn between completing his job and leaving or doing something. His options of helping are extremely narrowed by the onboard correction system he has in  his head. Also the controller his master is sure to have in his hands and ever ready to tweak with incase he takes too long. But he does what he thinks is good, though, having an onboard conscience in your brain in the form of an implant makes figuring out if anything but what your master wants is good, very difficult. Carefully not thinking about what he’s doing he uses the lift’s arms as a stabbing device to remotely stalk to the Abduls until they flee leaving HardCandy. His thanks? A  heartfelt “Thank you” and a location.  His visit to the location leaves him more mystified than ever, it is a numbing spot it seems for his implant, or is it more?

His master calls him to go aboard the DarkTrench, a space station and ship that can move through space at a speed boggling even to him. The explanation from the DarkTrench workers simplified? “Backwards to go forwards”. On board the space station, he finds his job is to diagnose a robot that ripped itself apart---highly efficiently. On his quest to find the answers, truth is hard to find, and becomes even more so as his access to the outside is completely removed, no messages in an out. Hee has only the stream to rely on and even his implant seems to be malfunctioning. As time goes on it becomes apparent through encrypted warnings snuck from the ground, that both HardCandy, and his favorite shopkeeper don’t think he’s going to come back. And coincidentally, after finding the implants of the level 15s in a stream proof storage room without their implantes, he doesn’t either.  And fixing the robot didn’t go as planned either, somehow it is completely back to normal, but how, and what did it hear? It’s control chip was absolutely destroyed, so how is it running? They aren’t telling him something!

[Even at this point in the story I was completely clueless as to how it would all turn out, Kerry did an amazing job!]

SandFly’s job suddenly becomes more complex as his stall comment comes back to bite him, bad. “I need another DR to bounce ideas off of, and a chute!” The sleep chute they won’t give, but suddenly, they are willing to send up another DR, HardCandy. Now reduced to trying to keep them both alive as the Abduls realize the robot indeed is fixed and he was stalling.

Scallop decides now is the time to take SandFly out of the picture while retaining HardCandy for his own purposes--- when the robot begins spouting phrases from a forbidden book and speaking of A-A3. Once finished destroying the robot with nanopounders the Abduls turn their attention to him. To keep him from fighting they use the controller on HardCandy and demobilize her, reducing the DR to laying on the floor holding her head.  

As he lays on the operating table and Scallop begins to burrow into his head to rip the implant out of him the robot streams faintly from a trash jettison, A-A3 had a message for him. “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of A-A3 and he will exalt you in due time” As the skull saw burrows into his head the excuses fall away and he realizes, he never looked, never hoped beyond A, but A-A3 is one that stoops. Moreover, he stooped to leave him, SandFly, a message.  Words come rushing to his mind he never learned and he streams “STOP” with a scream.  Instantly the saw stops and freedom begins.

Without tweaking to worry about his only thought is to capture the men onboard the station and confine them, to save HardCandy and live as a freehead. With the help of the onboard robots they over power the ships guards and force them into rooms after debilitating them.  Ship takeover complete his next thought is Scallop, where has the man gone to? A long chase ensues with SandFly avoiding the nanopounder and bringing his bots to bear, in a desperate act Scallop commits suicide by getting sucked into space rather than be captured. The ship is his, with the help of three Abduls he has won, but it’s only just beginning….The superlative stream the robot heard, where did it come from? Who sent it? And who exactly is A-A3?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Evergreen Aviation Museum amazes me once again!

Hey there!

Today was another great day at Evergreen Aviation and Space Museums! I learned some, for me at least, mind blowing information from one of the docents there! His name is Rene, and he is amazing at what he does. I once got a fifty year overview on radar from the man in half an hour, it just blew me away. Well today I was in for another shocker, this time about two different subjects, err....well, mainly two ;) I was learning about our F6F Hellcat built by Grumman, back in the days where private companies too an interest in the war effort. I had a few extra minutes to spare before my Robert, my boss, was going to be back from getting some water so I thought I What can I learn about this plane that won't be on the board, and people will find really interesting? All I had to do was look over to the left of the plane and there was Rene sitting at the docent desk! I knew he'd have something for me, and sure enough he had some incredible facts!!!! I'll just give the two I found most..well, shocking, genius, and awesome:

1) They actually had a mechanism for starting the planes when the batteries were dead, such as when perhaps the carriers generators were down due to a strike on them, or your battery failed. Underneath the nose of the Hellcat there is a little door that says something along the lines of "Cartridge loading". What happens is you take what is really just a twelve gauge shotgun shell filled with black power, shove it into the slot for it and punch a button in the cockpit to ignite it and.....whhhoosh! You have a working engine. In this case the powder is ignited driving the engine around into its' cycle. Something interesting with how that works is, quite a few other planes did the same thing, even the famed: B-52 could use it on their outside engines, once the outside were working they pumped pressurized air into the other engines to get them moving.

2) The Hellcat also used something called water and alcohol injection. Now before you throw up your hands and say, "Hey! There were using bio-fuel back in WW2" I hate to say it, but they didn't. You would use this injection method only in a situation when you needed absolutely max power. There is a little button you press in the cockpit and it inserts a very fine stream of mist,(50/50 Alcohol and water) into the cylinder,  the water multiplies in size as it is instantly vaporized and with the alcohol in the mix it ignites as well causing the water not to dampen the power and simply drive the cylinder heads at an accelerated rate. The extra force generated is hard on the engine long term so the initiation of water and alcohol into the cylinder is only in situations such as taking off from a carrier with a full load, on a Hellcat that'd be one 500 pounder plus standard armament.

That's all for now! I really need to keep talking to that docent :D


Oh, I met someone new today! So if your reading this, "Hi!" Ben!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Planes! More planes! Sparkling planes!!

Today I had the pleasure of going to Evergreen Aviation and Space Museums to volunteers! Like always I had an extraordinaire time, I will share some pictures from the highlights of the trip today.

To start the day off I watched my boss teach one of my fellow volunteers about the P-40 Warhawk we have, Evergreen's P-40 is painted to look like the AVG Flying Tigers group stationed in China. Anyway....Then my boss, the venerable Robert, told me to teach another volunteer with us about the P-40 for forty minutes and have him ready to give a five to ten minute tour on it. Regrettably, even with a docent giving us some stories to tell about it and all the information I gleaned from the awesome tour Robert gave on it, it's not an easy fit for the fellow, and he was only about to squeeze out 3 minutes of tour. I came him some more advice and then we headed back to Robert at the Space Museum, and for myself, lunch!

After having lunch I surveyed the models from the event Evergreen hosted today for the model makers in the Northwest. During this time I met up with another Discovery Ambassador and we were walking back to the front of the Aviation Museum when we were asked by the nice older gentleman if we could let him behind a chain to look at a simulator from the time around 1943, I learned mounds about it!! When the design first came out, well, first of all, it was built by the son of some organ repair folks, when he couldn't afford flight school but wanted to get a feel for flying. It was so good, that in 1938 his first few he sold to Japan and they used them to train fliers. Some of the absolute historical humor of him selling them to Japan got to me there, I was shocked! But at the same time I knew there was no reason yet for him not to.

Anyway....the man was so interesting, and I had such a good time talking to him, pretty soon twenty minutes was up! Then thirty! And then I met his friend also about 70. The man I first started talking to was from Minnesota and had visited many air museums, and since we'd both visited Seattle's we had great fun talking about it! His companion was from Washington, and they both had incredible amounts of aviation knowledge.

Here is a photo of the two gentlemen :)

After having the extreme pleasure of talking to them I got to do something that I considered amazing! Until this point I didn't think the P-38's inside was cleanable, I didn't think they allowed volunteers to clean it, but...Robert said i could! And he let me do it by myself whiles he walked away and did a few things :D
In the P-38!!!
Thankfully, not before I could get him to take a picture, I apologize for the picture quality on the pictures, it is from a seriously OLD camera, but definitely better than nothing!!! I got more humorous questions from patrons as to why/and how i was able to be up there, especially as they couldn't see my badge just my head!

See that smile? That's a plane smile..
                                                     The first picture here ^_^ (I took this one and the next one) has much more glare but you are more easily able to see part of the double fuselage body with the wing.

This picture has a  better angle on the side engine and so you have to imagine the wing ;)

I also sat in a P-40 today...but you know..(smiles) that's old news ;)

I got to do many other things including having more awesome conversations with patrons, but the P-38 and those two gentlemen were my highlight :D


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eric Reinhold, Get in on the action!

Recently I was honored to be able to have an interview with Christian fantasy author Eric Reinhold, and now, newly flourishing film maker! And here *drumroll* it. is.

Me:What is the most recent development on set of Ryan Watter’s and the King’s Sword?
In August, 20% of the film was completed, on-site in Mount Dora, Florida.  The objective was not only to complete this part of the project, but to incorporate it into a 6 min. DVD for potential investors so they could see the direction of the film.  The month of September is being spent fund raising, with the goal of getting everyone back on set in mid October so that filming can be completed in November. 

Me:Do you like overseeing and being a part of a production of your book?
Working with a small film company has been fantastic.  It allows me to be involved at every level with the project.  The most important aspect is that the movie stays true to the book.  After that, I enjoy providing the final say on actors, giving input on music and having the opportunity to play a cameo role as Mr. Watters. 

Me:Do you see any of your other books being produced as well?
I know the goal of Producer, Kerry Fink and Director, Michael Germaine of TYG Studios, is to produce such a high caliber film that its success will have larger studios and investors calling to inquire about filming book 2.  I’ve already let them know that the budget will have to be much larger to take into account the fantasy special effects needed for my second book (smiles).

Me:What is your favorite, and least favorite part of working on set?
My favorite part of being on the set is discussing the scene with the director and then watching it all play out.  It’s amazing to see actors actually performing a scene that I’ve written and feeling like, “this is exactly the way I envisioned it and wrote it.”  It’s also a great deal of fun to interact with the kids playing the roles of Ryann, Liddy, Terell and Drake.  They are very talented and it’s obvious they enjoy working together.  The least favorite is probably the tedious aspect of how long it takes to film each scene, between set up, takes, moving cameras around and more takes.  I could never work in post and try to edit all of the footage they’ve taken.
Me:If you had to name what the main inspiration behind your movie production was, what would it be?
My inspiration is to be part of creating a G-rated, family-friendly film, that parents and grandparents can feel “safe” bringing their 6-12 year olds.  The film will be cinematic and beautiful, while at the same time adventurous, funny, and dramatic.  I want kids to feel as if they could be one of the three main characters on the screen and fully immerse themselves in the idea of ‘what would you do if an angel visited you in the middle of the night?’ 

Me:If you had to name what your biggest motivator for writing is, what would that be?
My biggest motivator is to impact kids by getting them to think about biblical concepts and how the Bible is relevant to their lives. 

Me:I’ve read that local people are being used in some ways for the production, is this true?
Like ‘Facing the Giants,’ ‘Fireproof,’ and ‘Letters to God,’ TYG Studios desire is to use volunteers as much as possible in the filming of the movie.  This accomplishes two things; one, it helps keep costs down and two, it keeps the spirit of focus on the purpose of the movie (as I noted previously in my motivation for writing).

Me:Do you see your film as a groundbreaking moment for Christian fantasy authors pining to get their books “movie-ized” ?
I hope so.  I’ve been told by some friends in Hollywood that the way we are going about filming and producing the movie, won’t work.  The budget is too low, we don’t have a big time producer, this is a first time director, etc.  I believe God works throughout scripture to utilize the small, weak, and unaccomplished to do great things, so that He gets the credit.  My prayer is that the historic aspect of this low-budget Christian fantasy film, will open doors to my friends and fellow authors, who have great, God-honoring stories that would also be impactful on film.

Me:What is your favorite part of using the real Mount Dora?
That readers of my series and eventually viewers of the film can go to the real setting and make it come more alive to them.  Universal Studios had to create a Harry Potter world.  We already have Ryann Watters town in place (smiles).

Me:Did you ever imagine this happening to the book when you wrote it?
Ten years ago when I started writing book 1, I did have fleeting thoughts, “if they make this into a movie someday, the studio won’t have to create a set.  The town is already here.”  Now, it is amazing to go back to some of the same places I walked around while writing a scene and watch the actors going through the same motions.
Me:What can you tell us about the four actors that are playing, Terell, Drake, Liddy and Ryann?
The kids are an amazing collection of very different actors.  Ryann, played by Justin Taubensee, came about very late in the process through an early morning breakfast function in which I “happened” to be placed at the same table (out of at least 50 tables in the room) as Justin’s father.  God definitely directed that encounter as we discussed the project over breakfast and Justin’s father told us about his son’s acting and inquired as to whether he could audition.  Liddy, played by Taylor Boswell, is the oldest and has the most experience of any of the kids and is an amazing actress.  She’s perfect for the role and came to us through previous films in which director, Michael Germaine, was involved.  I wasn’t so sure, initially, about Terell (Myles Jackson) and Drake (Daniel Bell), but they have definitely jelled nicely through the filming.  Myles not only has a lot of the characteristics of my character, Terell, he also has very funny mannerisms, which have added to the movie.  Daniel doesn’t have the same stocky look as the bully I describe in my novel, but he gets so into character that he’s very believable.

Me:Do you have any plans for movie production of Ryan Watter’s and the Shield of Faith
I am so much more knowledgeable about film making after a fast-paced six months, but there is so much more to experience over the next six months as we continue filming King’s Sword and then shift to post-production, musical score, CD, marketing, etc.  I’m going to take all of that in and then see what God does with it.  If God wants the series to take off, then we’ll know the answer to that question this time next year.

Me:If you could tell one thing to an aspiring filmmaker, what would that be?
Don’t listen to other people who tell you that you have to write or film certain things to be “successful.”  Write/film what you have a passion for, reach out to as many people as you can in person and via the internet, be willing to help others, and then be patient and pray.  As Mr. Watters tells Ryann in King’s Sword, “Because God loves us, things often don’t turn out the way we want… they turn out better.”

Me:As a would be author, I have to ask, what tips can you give teens who want to write and write for God?
Hmm… same as above.  The world will tell you that you can’t.  God will use the humble, weak, and faithful to accomplish His purposes.

 Wow! Thanks Mr. Reinhold for that amazing interview! Wasn't that great all? (claps erupt) But that's not it!! Check out the pictures at the bottom of this post, and see some "behind the scenes" videos on his site! Don't forget to check out the movie when it's released, and to buy some books! :D


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Noah Arsenault is hosting another giveaway! He is doing a giveaway of "A star curiously singing" by Kerry Nietz. This book looks amazing!! Check it out on his blog at >_> http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/2010/09/star-curiously-singing-giveaway.html