Book Review: The Hive by John Otte

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Zain is on the run to save her baby

A pregnant cyborg and a teenage boy fight against intergalactic governments to protect the unborn in this novel from Christy award winner John Otte.

Why is Zain pregnant? She belongs to the Hive, a collective of cyborgs who choose to live apart from the rest of human society. At times, the Hive rent out some of their females to produce tailor-made children for paying couples. But Zain is an engineer, not a breeder. When she finds herself separated from the Hive, she decides to find the person who she thinks ordered the baby. Surely they’ll help her find her way home.

Matthew “Scorn” Nelson has spent the better part of his teenage years cracking computer systems, causing mischief and havoc wherever he can. But the night of his greatest triumph turned into a painful memory, one he wants to erase. But that night was also his first step on a road to faith. When Zain arrives on his doorstep, Scorn is horrified. What’s he supposed to do with a pregnant teenage cyborg?

Unfortunately, he’ll have to answer that question on the run. Zain’s people want to reclaim her and terminate her pregnancy. And both the Ministrix and the Praesidium, two intergalactic governments in a constant state of cold war, want Zain’s baby for their own reasons. Will their enemies run them down? Or will Zain find a new Hive for both her and her child?

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The Hive turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read this year. When I saw that the main characters were teenagers, I wondered if the book would be geared more for the YA crowd. Instead, I found a story that has a definite broad appeal. Especially with the mature topics discussed, it reads like an adult sci-fi/action/adventure novel. I was pleasantly surprised.

Even if someone was not usually a sci-fi fan, I think they would enjoy this book thoroughly. The technical jargon wasn’t too much, the world it is set in not too difficult to understand, and the governing bodies especially were easily relatable to the real world, the church specifically. There were some interesting parallels drawn.

Though it is technically a sequel, one doesn’t have to read Numb before reading The Hive. It is a stand alone novel.

The characters were well developed, and I found myself easily drawn into their world. While Zain and Scorn definitely learn some lessons on their journey, it doesn’t come off as preachy or unbelievable.

It made me want to read more, so I’m hoping for a sequel! I’ve added Numb to my reading list as well.

I would recommend The Hive without hesitation. I actually think it would be a great first sci-fi/space opera read for someone. It stays firmly within the genre without being too heavy handed.

Overall, a great read. I can’t wait for more from John! Preorder your copy today!

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Interview with author John Otte

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Today, we have a special guest on Guts on the Page. Author John Otte’s latest novel, ‘The Hive’, releases on the 16th and I am happy to be part of the blog tour.

In the midst of his crazy busy life, John took the time to answer a few questions for us and give a little insider information. So, without further ado, I give you John Otte!

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HI, John. Thanks for sharing with us today. Would you care to tell us a little about your world?

Well, it’s roughly spherical, although the forces of its spin and gravity and all that tend to make it bulge at the equator, which is 12,742 kilometers around, and…

Oh, wait, you mean my little corner of the world, don’t you? My bad.

It’s okay, I walked into that one!

I like to say that I’m a pastor, husband, father, author, and geek, although not necessarily in that order. It’s hard to sum a person’s life up in just a few titles. But those five do a pretty good job of talking about the things I do and what I am. Balancing all of those isn’t easy, so I’m getting more and more adept at metaphorical juggling.

I think most of us can identify with juggling, especially writers!

I’ve heard that your latest novel, The Hive, is a sequel of sorts to Numb. Can you tell us how you came up with this story world and its characters?

Well, the story world itself came first. Many years ago, I published my first short story in an online magazine called “Dragons, Knights, and Angels”. Shortly after they accepted my story, they ran a contest where they challenged people to write a short story that used all three elements from their title, and they specifically said they wanted sci-fi authors to come up with stories as well.

So, I came up with a story called “The Dragon’s Heart”, but as I wrote it, I realized that the story was big enough to be a novel. I tried to write it as part of my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project. The story fizzled after I reached 50,000 words, but one of the things that emerged were these two intergalactic governments, the Ministrix and Praesidium.

Shortly thereafter, the characters for “Numb” popped into my head and I went from there. And when that was published, I kind of asked myself “What would happen next?” I think. To be completely honest, I don’t remember where I got the idea for “The Hive”. Kind of weird in hindsight, but there you go.

I don’t think it’s strange at all. Often, stories take on lives of their own and we as writers simply follow along.

The Hive is, I feel, a fabulous example of what science fiction should be, complete with tech speak and intriguing inventions. What kind of research went into writing something like that?

I hat to admit this, but very little. I mean, I would look stuff up to make sure that I had a veneer of plausibility to it, but I like to think that what I write is more “space opera” than hard science fiction. So, as long as the technobabble is consistent, I think it works.

Well, whichever way you went about it, this story definitely works!

Are you planning on writing more books from this story and making it a trilogy or series?

I actually am working on a new book that would continue a story thread that’s woven through the first two books. And hopefully, this new book would be the first in a trilogy that would cause a lot of chaos for both the Ministrix and the Praesidium.

Ooh, can’t wait to read that!

What do you hope the reader will take away from The Hive? Was it written strictly for entertainment, or did you have a clear message in mind?

A little from column A, a little from column B. I can’t say much about my original message. It’s definitely in there, but if I talk abut what it is, it’ll give away the ending. Let’s say that by the end of the last page, I think people will understand what part of the story is about. But as I was working on this story, I realized that there was second message that was emerging about what the role of the Church is in the world. I tried to draw a parallel between The Hive and certain segments of Christian society.

I like that. It speaks to the strength of the message, I think, if it is so tightly interwoven that it would be a spoiler to mention it. To have that solid connection to the real world is also vital, even in speculative fiction.

One random question before we get back to the serious stuff. Coke or Pepsi and why? Any flavors?

Coke. Cokecokecokecokecoke! Did I mention Coke? I’m the guy that, when I’m at a restaurant and ask for Coke and the server asks, “Is Pepsi okay?” my immediate reaction is “No.”

I knew there was a reason I liked you. Kindred spirits!

Christian Speculative fiction has been getting more attention lately, not only fro the Christian fiction market, but the general market as well. Yet, Christian spec fic still lags well behind mainstream Christian fiction titles in sales. Why do you think that is, and do you have any ideas of your own about how we can go about reaching a larger market?

Oi, that’s a good question. I think part of it is market inertia. For a long time, speculative fiction just didn’t sell well in the Christian market. That created a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: there isn’t that much spec fic out there because it doesn’t sell well, so it doesn’t sell well since there’s so little out there. That trend is changing (I hope), but we still have a long way to go.

The best way to continue the change, I think, is to do our best to support the speculative stories that are out there. Buy the books, talk them up on social media, recommend them to friends, that sort of thing. There’s no magic bullet; it’s just matter of getting the word out.

Oi, good answer. I couldn’t agree more.

What do you think stories like The Hive, and other spec fic titles, have to offer that other genres don’t?

Oh, boy, another really good question. Every genre of Christian fiction can bring something to the table in illustrating what our faith is all about. And speculative fiction can certainly do that as well. For one thing, it can help illustrate the realities of spiritual warfare in a vivid and engaging way. It also reflects our Creator’s own heart, since He allows His creation to be creators in their own right as well. Speculative fiction creates unique and amazing worlds for people to explore and enjoy.

I couldn’t have said that better. And as an author of supernatural stories with a high focus on spiritual warfare, I would agree that the visualization of such things in spec fic can be more in depth and descriptive.

What made you decide to write Speculative fiction, instead of, say, westerns or thrillers?

It’s just a matter of writing what I enjoy. I love reading speculative fiction, so it’s only natural that I gravitate toward that genre when it comes to writing. I can’t imagine writing anything else. Well, I take that back. I have tried writing mysteries and even an ill-advised Biblical fiction book. But I think I’ll stick with speculative fiction.

I agree, it’s definitely a love for the genre with me as well.

Finally, I have a question I ask everyone I interview. What is your favorite verse or favorite quote? Or both if you wish.

Oooo, never ask a pastor if he has a favorite verse! I actually have a top ten list. If I had to pick just one, though, it’d probably be Romans 8:28-29. But my favorite non-Biblical quote is actually something I saw on a bumper sticker once: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”. I normally don’t try to base my theology off a bumper sticker, but in my experience, that is most certainly true.

John, I’d like to thank you again for taking the time to hang out with me here today. I’ve enjoyed the conversation!

If you’d like to see more from John, find him on his website at:  http://johnwotte.com

 Facebook at : http://Facebook.com/authorjohnwotte

And Twitter: @JohnWOtte

Q & A with Thomas Locke

It’s Anything Can Happen Thursday!

 I have a treat for you. Today on Guts on the Page, we have a question and answer session with Thomas Locke, author of Trial Run!

There are several links with additional content, so be sure and check it all out. Enjoy!

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Thomas Locke is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.

His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Thomas at http://tlocke.com.

 

Q&A with Thomas Locke, author of the techno-thriller, TRIAL RUN

Q&A With Thomas Locke, author of Trial Run

Q: What reader did you have in mind when you were writing Trial Run?

Thomas Locke: I suspect there are a lot of readers out there like me, who love mainstream fiction in principle, but are dismayed by how dark it is becoming.

I love to read. I am happiest with a good book in my hands. And most of my purchases are mainstream fiction. Too often, however, I find myself skipping over bits that are just plain not necessary for a good story.

I wrote Trial Run for readers like me. Passionate about story, yearning for the thrill of a great tale, hoping for something that uplifts as well as ignites.

Here’s a video trailer for Trial Run, hot off the press:

https://youtu.be/FS9Vr2Nfc4Q

Q: In Trial Run, you introduce several seemingly unrelated threads at the beginning of the story. By the end of the story, those threads have become woven together in an intricate tapestry. What’s your thought process behind this writing strategy?

Thomas Locke: This concept can best be summed up by the phrase you often hear a Hollywood producer say: “Where is the cut?”

By this, the producer means, what can you leave out of the script so that the audience must figure things out for themselves?

Instead of spoon-feeding the audience every item required to move to the climax, things are left unsaid. This sense of vacuum draws the audience into the action, and hurries them forward to the story’s close.

Q: Several settings in Trial Run (Santa Barbara, CA, the Italian/Swiss border site) depict real places. How do you select these real-life settings for your stories, and do you alter details of these places to suit your stories?

Thomas Locke: The core element of my placing a story is research. And the core element in my research is emotion. For many people, the ‘take’ that I finally use in the story does not jibe with what they like to see as valid for a particular setting, especially when that place is close to their heart and I have used a more negative perspective. But the facts have been carefully studied.

An example from Trial Run is Santa Barbara. For a lot of people who know and love California, this is their absolute favorite place in the SoCal region. And for good reason. It is a lovely town, one my wife and I really enjoy visiting.

For this story, I was granted an insider’s view into the University of California at Santa Barbara, or UCSB. And from the perspective of many students enrolled there, UCSB is filled with hyper-inflated SoCal egos.

The contrast I found between the students with money (and in SoCal, when I say they had money, I really mean they had money) and those who don’t is as sharp as anywhere I have ever been. The student who formed my core source and guide was on a scholarship. He was there to study. He was, to say the least, in a minority.

Everything I described about the school, the bicycle traffic and the events on the beach and the housing, are based on observation. But the perspective was based upon the humorous bafflement with which this student viewed many of his fellow classmates.

I personally love this aspect of building a story. The research at this emotional level grants me the opportunity to see the world through another person’s eyes and heart. Being trusted with this, time and again, is part of the miracle process that happens every time I start a new tale.

Q: I’ve heard there’s a free ebook prequel to Trial Run. How can I get a copy?

Double Edge, an ebook prequel to TRIAL RUN, by Thomas Locke

Thomas Locke: As I was writing the opening scenes of Trial Run, I found myself continually asking questions about what happened before that door opened and before the party started. I began sketching a sort of parallel story, laying out ideas that formed the story-before-the-story.

“Double Edge” is the result.

The publishers liked the short story prequel so much that they have asked me to write a complete novel based upon these concepts. This novel will form either book three or book four in the series.

You’ll find links on my website http://tlocke.com/fault-lines/ for downloading your free copy of “Double Edge” from your favorite online bookseller.

Q: Trial Run is book 1 in the three-volume Fault Lines series. Please give us a preview of what to expect in book 2.

Thomas Locke: This is a timely question, as I completed the first draft of book 2 on June 8. The working title is Flash Point.

In many respects, Flash Point is a true hybrid. By this I mean that the core themes are the same as in Trial Run. But everything is also very different. I had two key questions in mind when I started book two: How far can I take this? How much can I risk?

This whole concept of controlled out-of-body experiences opens up a completely new vista. I had to develop a new story framework for Trial Run, and everywhere I looked I found myself asking the same questions:

  • Where does this take mankind?
  • If this could actually happen, where do we go?
  • Who are we as people?
  • How would this remake us?

These questions are first asked in Flash Point. Where we go from here depends mostly upon you, the reader.

So let’s dance!

Get to know Thomas Locke at these online outlets:

Website: http://tlocke.com/

Subscribe to Thomas’s e-newsletter and blog: http://eepurl.com/5cnH5

Receive Thomas’s latest blog posts via your feed reader: http://tlocke.com/blog/feed/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tlockebooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/thomas_locke

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tlockebooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tlockebooks/

Trial Run

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While an injury and the holiday interfered with my regular Monday post, I have something exciting for today!

I recently read Trial Run by Thomas Locke.  I was riveted! I have posted my Goodreads review below, and thrown in a couple other fun things to boot. While not a Christian book, it is clean. If you don’t care for technical jargon, it may not be the book for you.  But if you like thrillers, you will love this story. It brings up the idea of a whole new type of warfare. A frightening one.

Read on and enjoy!

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Review of Trial Run

I received a copy of Trial Run in exchange for an honest review. Trial Run is a techno-thriller, and one of the few I’ve read that truly lives up to the name. While there is a lot of technical jargon, the author explained it in a way that I felt I had a general idea of the concepts, which is really all that is required to understand the story. Though, I must admit, there were times that I may have wandered over some of the scientific description a bit. If you don’t enjoy such jargon, parts of the story may seem tedious to you.

When I first started Trial Run, I was curious how the myriad of characters would blend together. It didn’t take long to find out. This story wound the players together in a way that was believable and realistic, despite the extraordinary nature of the concepts and happenings. Each character was fully developed with a distinct voice and presence. Some I loathed, some I loved, which was the intent. Of course, I have my favorites, (Charlie and Elene). Though Trial Run is plot driven, I felt that all of the characters played their roles beautifully, which is rare in a plot driven story.

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The further I got into this book, the more I loved it. Trial Run was like a rolling wave that didn’t just plow you over, but swept you up in its wake, taking you exactly where it wanted you to go. You have no choice but to hang on for the ride. As the plot folded the characters together and weaved each bit and piece to slowly reveal answers, I was unable to put it down. I had to see what came next.

All in all, a very solid and entertaining book. It may not be a light and easy beach read, but it is exactly what it is intended to be. A thriller. A story that requires you to give a little as well. Trial Run is the kind of immersive read that I enjoy.

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Check it out for free!

Free sample of Trial Run by Thomas Locke

Trailer for Trial Run

Link for the thrilling prequel, Double Edge

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Free eBook short: “Double Edge,” the explosive prequel to TRIAL RUN http://tlocke.com/fault-lines/

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Citzens of the Realm

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A fantastical tale of the strange, wondrous, and imaginative people of Realm Makers

Arrival: Day One

When I first happened upon the current village of this nomadic, creative tribe, I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect. Though I had travelled many miles to find them, I grew anxious. My hands were clammy, and my heart beat a spastic rhythm from its new location in my stomach. I feared that territorial disagreements may erupt. Many tribes do not take kindly to interlopers. I steeled my resolve, prepared to hold my ground and fight for my place among them.

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My trepidation was somewhat quieted upon encountering two familiar faces. Much to my delight, they greeted me with open arms. While they may have frightened those who did not understand their culture, these kind and lovely females radiated a kindred spirit to me.

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Upon securing a place to reside for my stay, I met those who would be sharing my dwelling. They too were welcoming, and I recognized them immediately as those I would call friend and sister. As our stay continued our bond grew, creating a sense of family. Albeit a sarcastic, teasing, and loud one.

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As the evening continued, I was ushered into the main gathering area to meet with the rest of the clan. Again, the maniacal lightning bugs in my belly began their dance. This insane ballet only gained fervor when I realized I would be meeting some of the guardians of the group. People I had long admired and held in high regard. But as we chatted, I discovered that they were most gracious and humorous, and saw no rank among their people. Each person present was treated as though they were on equal footing, no matter battle experience or age. This was a delightful surprise.

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Acclimation: Day Two

The following morning, my training commenced. I was regaled with stories of adventure, and instructed on how to create my own. To embrace the calling, talent, and dreams given to me by the Great Author, and use them to spread His message in an engaging, thought-provoking manner. The instruction was unparalleled. It was as if every member of this community wanted to see me succeed in my quest, and were willing to give of themselves to see that I did so.

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In between training sessions, I was able to meet the rest of the clan. I discovered that I had much in common with these people. More so than with any other group I had come into contact with. Each tribal member was kind, warm, and welcoming. They absorbed me into their family as if I had always been one of them. The way they folded me into their ranks was heartwarming. I will feel forever connected to these special people, and always grateful for their kinship.

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To close out this first day of instruction and fellowship, a party was thrown. Everyone came dressed in their native apparel. It was fascinating! The odd nature of the clothing may have been off-putting to some, but I found myself enjoying the variety and joining in with gusto.

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Animation: Day Three

The final day of my visit with this amazing people was bittersweet. We received yet more invaluable instruction, enjoyed our last moments of camaraderie until the gathering reconvened next year, and were treated to a wonderfully motivating call to action. We were told to Go! To be bold, and remember that we could do whatever was required.

We were sent out into the world to use what we had learned to further this precious realm of ours. My heart filled to bursting and my mind reeled with possibilities. I had entered this camp a frightened, solitary warrior. I didn’t know if those I yearned to glean knowledge from and battle alongside would accept me into their elite and wonderfully weird band of soldiers. I left as a member of a mighty army. Fully outfitted with the weapons I would require to conquer for the realm, and the support and kinship of brothers and sisters as dedicated to this cause as I.

Now, I leave you with a few words from masters of our craft.

 May we STOP doubting, GO forth boldly, and be prepared when our Father says “your turn”!

May we always be on guard and never assume, as our enemy will be more likely to show up in a bonnet than with fangs!

May we remember that our genre of the odd and magical, like no other, reflects the creativity of the Great Author!

And may we always remember we can do whatever it takes, because Robert Liparulo said we could!

 Long live the Realm Makers, weavers of fantastical tales and messengers of the Word!