Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Study of Stone Land Sharks

April 1, 2013
Look closely at the list of endangered species. Focus on animals. You’ll notice numerous toads, frogs, birds, lizards, and all other sorts of creatures. I did notice that neither the Loch Ness Monster nor Bigfoot (not the yeti or sasquatch, but the real true Bigfoot) are not on the list. So I assume they’re doing well in nature and are not at risk of going extinct. However, there is a particular creature that I know should be on the list and isn’t, the Stone Land Shark, or Terrae caetus, as I’ve decided to classify them. As their discoverer, I have chosen the genus and species to literally define the creature. Of course, the scientific community finds great humor in my assertion that the Stone Land Shark, or SLS, be recognized as anything more than a fanciful creature created by a deluded mind. So what if I don’t have a lot of fancy degrees or a research grant from some upscale society? I know what I saw.

April 15, 2013
I am attempting to raise money to investigate the pod—is that what you call a group of sharks? I’ll have to look it up—of SLSs I first saw three years ago. For now, I will not be disclosing the location of this pod—seriously, is that the right word or not?—that I encountered in 2010. Getting the money for this is not easy, but I already have managed to gather over $12.00.
Most of that was from a $20.00 bill I found in the street, but I was hungry and stopped for a burger. I consider it an investment in my mental health. Most likely, on this endeavor to locate the pod—Okay, I’m looking that up right now. Hang on a minute.

April 17, 2013
Wow, so I completely got distracted by looking up what you call a group of sharks and forgot to close out my last entry into this journal. Sometimes I really hate having a smartphone. By the way, the term “pod” is acceptable, but I prefer the term “shiver”. A shiver of sharks. How cool is that? Anyway, the fund is up to $15.89 now.

April 25, 2013

May 19, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 30, 2013
$2,828.01! I’m not kidding! Some anonymous donor sent me a real check (not a scam, I’m dead serious!) for $2,800.00! I’m going to Nebraska the Undisclosed Location in two weeks to seek out the shiver of SLSs again. Man, that whole shiver thing sounds so cool! I’m going back, baby!

July 15, 2013
Arrived at the Undisclosed Location in search of the SLS shiver. You know, even the people here think I’m crazy, but I’ll show them all. I’m going to find the SLS shiver and bring back proof, and then the creature will be put on the endangered species list like they’re supposed to be. I just want to protect them. That’s all.

July 19, 2013
Wow, it’s really easy to go through money really fast. I need to lay off the steak and switch to burgers.

July 25, 2013
No shiver yet. Cutting back on burgers. One a meal is enough.

August 1, 2013
How the hell am I almost out of money already? Surely I didn’t spend all that much on gas and hamburgers!

August 2, 2013
Still no sign of the shiver. I’m starting to get discouraged. I need a steak.

August 4, 2013
I’m down to the last $50.00 of my research budget. My anonymous donor is not going to be pleased with my lack of results. I may have to fake some results. Crap, I shouldn’t have written that. Why do I write all this in ink?!

August 5, 2013
I wrote a letter today and sent it to the return address for my anonymous donor. I have copied it below:
To my Anonymous Donor,
Success! I have located the SLS shiver! There are only three to my eyes, but the rippling of the ground suggests there are more beneath the surface that refuse to expose themselves to the air. I approached the shiver with caution this morning, selecting the medium-sized of the three exposed fins. The creature did not retreat at my approach, nor did its companions—shiver-mates?—attack. Either they do not see me as a threat, or they are not afraid of humans. Either way, I have located them and am prepared to begin a collection of data regarding them. Send money.

August 8, 2013
To my Anonymous Donor,
In order to better distinguish between the three SLSs in this shiver, I have given them names. As I have yet to determine if they are genderless or not, and I don’t know how to distinguish between male and female SLSs anyway, I have chosen to simply call them A, C, and D, in order from smallest to largest. I didn’t want to name one “B” just because that seems stupid and predictable. Besides, my name starts with B. No matter how cool the SLSs are, I’m not sharing my first initial with one.
Send money.

August 12, 2013
To my Anonymous Donor,
Thank you for the additional $500.00 for the research fund. With this money, I have discovered four ways in which an SLS can consume meat, specifically steak. They are listed below:
1.      Sucking it underneath the ground. At this point, I assume it is eaten through the mouth.
2.      Smashing it to a pulp with their massive back fin until it is absorbed through the skin.
3.      Eating it when I’m not looking. I assume the head surfaced and the steak was eaten through the mouth.
4.      Through a communication system we have developed, offering the steak to me as a peace offering. Unwilling to risk offending them, I promptly accepted the offer, grilled it with salt and pepper, and ate it next to C.
They like steak. Steak is expensive. Send money.

August 13, 2013
To my Anonymous Donor,
C and I seem to have developed a good relationship. I suspect that like many creatures, SLSs are split between male and female. I suspect C is a the female of the shiver and that A and D are males. Without any means to tell for certain, I am hesitant to give them proper names.
Out of steak. Send money.

August 17, 2013
My anonymous donor hasn’t responded to my last few letters, and I assume he or she has lost interest in the research. This is not good. I don’t have any money left to get back home, and I think the shiver is turning on me now that I no longer have the means to bring them several steaks a day. I have begun to fear for my life.

August 19, 2013
Still no response and no funds from my anonymous donor. Sending one final letter in an attempt to continue the research.
To my Anonymous Donor,
Out of steak. Growing depressed and afraid. Scared to sleep at night for fear the SLS shiver will attack and eat me in lieu of steak. Need gas to escape.
Send money.

August 25, 2013
To my Anonymous Donor,
There has been a remarkable transformation in the shiver of SLSs here. Through some miracle, or perhaps a natural part of their life cycle, the Stone Land Sharks have ceased to resemble stone and appear to have actually become stone! I have included a picture so you can better understand the vast size of the creatures. Of course, all you can see are the great back fins of the creatures, as they appear to have made the change while still submerged. I have never actually managed to catch a glimpse of their faces, as they always surface when I’m not looking.
I consider this venture completed at this time and do intend to return at intervals to inspect the progress of the now-stone SLSs. Gas needed to return home to compile report. Please provide.

September 2, 2013
To my Anonymous Donor,
I’m still stuck here. Please send gas money.

September 8, 2013
To my AD,
Still stranded here. Need money!

September 13, 2013
Money, please!

September 15, 2013
Well, my AD hasn’t responded to anything for some time now. I’m out of money, out of food, out of gas, and in the middle of nowhere. I’m done for. Might as well level with myself and write my final confession in this journal. Anyone who has read these notes is probably very curious about what I have to say. Well, here’s my final confession:

I’m a closet vegetarian.
 A note on this story. I'm not really sure what state of mind I was in while writing this. I know for a fact I was NOT drunk. I think I was just slightly insane. If you want proof that I'm messed up in the head... well, just go read the story again.

Special thanks to Katahrina Bordet of the Every Photo Tells podcast for letting me use this picture on the story. The photo is her property and is used with permission. Something tell me she's going to give me a big wtf when she reads what her photo inspired.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scott Sigler month Book Review #3 and #4: Infected and Contagious

Guys, Pandemic is going to be released in just a few days, so I figured I'd go ahead and give you my last two reviews of the month this weekend, in preparation for the release. So this is going to be a long post, but there's a reason for it.

These two reviews, for Infected and Contagious, are reviews for the first two books in the trilogy that is culminating in Pandemic. I apologize for any spoilers you might detect. I try to be sensitive to the fact that not everyone loves spoilers like I do. I'm weird, I know, liking to know what happens if I can get someone to tell me.  But if you want to avoid the risks of learning something you don't want to know, maybe just skip to the "My Thought" or "Would I Recommend This Book" sections of the reviews.

So we're wrapping Scott Sigler month out with these reviews... unless I decide to write a post about when I go to the release event in Nashville on the 25th. We'll see what happens. Anyway, here are your reviews.

Infected by Scott Sigler

There is some weird crap going down in Ann Arbor. People keep calling a radio station about a conspiracy. Something about triangles. That word has become a hot button with government call screening, bringing the attention of the CIA to anyone who mentions “triangles” and “killing” in close proximity. Perry Dawsey doesn’t know it yet, but he’s recently become the host of seven spores that will grow into the triangles. They want him to build something. But will he do what they tell him to do? Or will the government get to him first?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Perry Dawsey is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds of angry ex-linebacker. He knows all too well that if he doesn’t control his quick temper, people get hurt. Through constant focus, he has locked his violent past away in the deep dungeons of his mind.
The infection changes everything.

Strange microscopic parasites tap into Perry’s bloodstream like tiny little vampires. They start as bright orange blisters, but soon take the shape of triangular growths just beneath his skin. The “Triangles,” as Perry calls them, try to control their host by manipulating hormone levels and flooding his body with neurotransmitters — imbalances of which cause paranoia, schizophrenia and excessive aggression. As Perry begins a desperate battle to cut the Triangles out of his body before it’s too late, his self-control dissolves into raging, murderous madness.

This could happen at any time, to anyone, anywhere. That it’s set in Michigan is of no consequence. The triangles could be anywhere. It’s unbelievable how twisted humanity is, and how completely true to life this is. It’s a testament to Sigler’s understanding of human nature that he can pull this sort of thing off, manipulating not only his characters, but his readers to the extent he does. I can’t imagine that my reactions are that different from any other reader. If you’re looking for a conspiracy to believe in, why not the triangles?

There were several times that I couldn’t help but think, sarcastically, “Well, that wasn’t creepy at all.” That’s sort of the point of this, though. Sigler pulls off creepy and disturbing so well that you can’t help but wonder what goes in his head. I think of Sigler, and I just wonder how many people he has tied up in his basement. He takes you to the deepest, darkest pits of human nature, and then he grabs your wrist and pulls you across the line into inhumanity while he does the Lindy Hop in front of you. There is a significant thrill factor to this book, one that I couldn’t get enough of. So often I was urging Perry not to do something while subconsciously egging him on. And at the same time, I was cringing at the thought of doing that myself while waiting to see the wordcraft part of it, how Sigler would portray it. He delivers on every account. This goes for both the wordsmithing— the craft of the book itself— and the audio production of the book. Honestly, I can’t imagine just reading this. The audio was such an experience. I got chills more than once. I usually listen to my iPod at work, and I was getting disturbed while doing my job. Sigler made me surreptitiously glance around, fearing that others could hear the creepiness I was listening to, or the shouts of the characters, the heat of the moment. That alone added another level of disturbing to the book.

My Thoughts
I think a lot of my comments in the Style section of this review kind of get the point across regarding how I feel about this book. I loved it, hands down. The separate threads of plot, from Perry to Dew to Margaret, tie together well in the end. Each separate arc has its draws, and there are settings and scenes that you see from different points of view, adding an extra dimension to the events and settings. There is such reality hiding underneath the words, and the characters are such real people that it’s terribly easy to imagine all this really happening anywhere at anytime. And that just gives Infected another point on the disturbing scale. This book, from the onset, had me coming back for more, eager to listen to the next episode and very upset when I had to stop. As I mentioned, I listened to this through, not an ebook or dead tree book. Sigler does a phenomenal job of voicing his characters, or making the narration feel more like a visual representation than just words describing actions and settings. There is a great deal of skill and thought that was poured into this novel, and it shows. Hands down, this was an amazing story filled with real characters.

Would I Recommend This Book?

Oh, HELL yes. If you don’t mind adult stuff and some serious creepiness, lots of blood and violence, and a hoard of other badness, then yes, listen to or read this book. On the 5-star scale, I give this a bloody, slightly mutilated 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Contagious by Scott Sigler

"Scary" Perry Dawsey recovered from his encounter with the triangles. That doesn't mean he's unscarred. Now, he's working with the very people he was paranoid about when he was infected, trying to track down other triangle hosts to prevent any other gates from opening. He's the only one who can hear the triangles and track down the hosts, after all. But things are changing from when he was infected. Now, there's a new strain of the infection. And it is spreading.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Across America, a mysterious pathogen transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence.
Standing against this unimaginable threat is a small group, assembled under the strictest secrecy. Their best weapon is hulking former football star Perry Dawsey, left psychologically shattered by his own struggles with this terrible enemy, who possesses an unexplainable ability to locate the disease’s hosts. Violent and unpredictable, Perry is both the nation’s best hope and a terrifying liability. Hardened CIA veteran Dew Phillips must somehow forge a connection with him if they’re going to stand a chance against this maddeningly adaptable opponent. Alongside them is Margaret Montoya, a brilliant epidemiologist who fights for a cure even as she reels under the weight of endless horrors.
These three and their team have kept humanity in the game, but that’s not good enough anymore, not when the disease turns contagious, triggering a fast countdown to Armageddon. Meanwhile, other enemies join the battle, and a new threat — one that comes from a most unexpected source — may ultimately prove the most dangerous of all.

Like in Infected, this could be happening right now. Biological warfare is completely within the realm of human capability, and who's to say there aren't alien forces with their sights set on destroying us and taking our planet for their own? The science and technology Sigler has permeated this story with is current, accurate, and that detail of research and possibility makes this thriller all the more terrifying. I know I said this in my review for Infected and already once in this review, but it amazes me how realistic all this is. This could really happen.

I can't get over Sigler's style and content. His writing style is so crisp and clear that it's almost like you're not reading (or in my case, listening to) a book at all. Since I listened to this book in podcast form, I got the benefit of some great audio production, vocal effects, and of course, the voices of different characters. There is great value to listening to Sigler's work like this, actually. Since he's the one that does the reading, he has a deep understanding of the characters and the writing itself to get it across just the right way. He's a pleasure to listen to. I suppose I should actually read something of his just so I have a baseline of comparison. But after listening to three of his books, Ancestor, Infected, and Contagious, (okay, I've listened to four now since I first wrote this review) I'm seriously wanting to explore much more of the Sigler-verse.

My Thoughts
Normally, I don't let things get under my skin (forgive the pun). The only reason I got upset at the Red Wedding episode of the Game of Thrones show on HBO was because my best friend is a mother and it really disturbed her. I'm able to separate myself from things like this most of the time. After listening to both Infected and Contagious, I won't say I was disturbed, really, but any time I had an itch, it bugged me. In a thrilling way, like it's supposed to. Nothing is trivial here, nothing done for shock factor. It's all done for the thrill, to get your blood pumping, your heart racing, and your mind wondering what's going to happen next. Sigler generates genuine WTF moments regularly, but they don't get boring or old, and they're certainly not predictable.

I also have to say again how amazed I am at Sigler's understanding of human nature. From six-year-old kids to grizzled Vietnam veterans to mid-20's football players, he's got people and their characteristics and behaviors down. I would say he's got it down to a science, but I've talked about science enough at this point. I just wanted to rave about how realistic these characters and situations are, and how much these books need to be made into movies.

Would I Recommend This Book?

Holy crap yes. He has completely done justice to this sequel of Infected, and he set the bar pretty high with Infected. I have nothing but awe for Sigler's work here. I give it a spit-swapping 4.5 out of 5 stars.

For more on the author, visit

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Scott Sigler Month- Book Review 2- Earthcore

Earthcore by Scott Sigler


Through sheer luck, Sonny McGuiness learns about an unclaimed silver spring in the mountains of Utah. The sample he takes in for testing proves to be platinum, the find of a lifetime. The mining conglomerate EarthCore wants in on the action and will pay anything to get control of the mine. But the find turns out to be much more than they or the top specialists had expected. There’s much more down there than platinum, and the other things they find down there might just kill all of them. The Earthcore employees, their scientists, the two professors who have negotiated their way onto the site, and even the former NSA agent who’s spying on them might not find their way to daylight again.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft. EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure.
But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting … and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out firsthand why this treasure has never been unearthed.

Oh, crap there’s something dangerous hiding underneath Utah! Like Sigler’s other works, I could see all this mess in Earthcore really happening. These are real places, and son of a gun, I’m never going to Utah now because I’m afraid of what’s up there. Nah, not really, but it’s a good ride. Considering the advancements of technology in mining, it’s not a stretch of the imagination at all that this could happen. And, what was a little surprising to me was that, according to the Q&A episode of the podcast (yes, I listened this is in audio format) Sigler mentions that he actually finished writing Earthcore in 1999. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the things he came up with have actually been created if they weren’t already. Seriously, this is some cutting-edge stuff. Sigler admitted that some of his gadgets and stuff (like the Koolsuits, for example) had to be modified to work in media rather than be 100% factual. I noticed a few things myself that wouldn’t be REALLY possible to work the way he said, but I really didn’t care. I was more than happy to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the story.


Believe it or not, Earthcore actually lacked a lot of the shock and creepiness factor I’m used to getting with Sigler. Oh, it had its moments, but this novel seemed to me more about survival than about death, if that makes sense at all. People did get hurt, and they got hurt bad, but I think there was just some of the more detailed gruesome descriptions that were missing here that could have made Earthcore more potent. It’s not disappointing in the least. In fact, some of what’s left to the imagination is highly satisfying. Perhaps the problem was just that my own brain wasn’t as gruesome filling in the holes.

My Thoughts

I wasn’t entirely sure where Earthcore was going to end up. I mean, other than underground of course, but I was wondering exactly what it was we were going to find in the mine after the teasing prologue. I had my guesses, and one of them turned out to be sort of right, but it wasn’t the guess I had banked on. I’m not going to spoil it here, but there’s something down there that both surprised me and made me go, “Yeah, I guessed that right,” at the same time. Make your guesses, and you’ll probably have something right. Just not all of it. I liked that about Earthcore.

True to Sigler’s style, there’s language and violence in this book, but this wasn’t quite as much as some of the other books I’ve listened to of his. Don’t get me wrong—there’s blood, and lots of it—but it didn’t seem quite as graphic as I’m used to from him. I don’t know if that’s because Earthcore is an earlier work and he just was whetting his appetite for blood or if Sigler just wasn’t quite as versed in splashing the red stuff around yet, but it didn’t bother me.

Would I Recommend This Book? Well, considering this is Scott Sigler month on the blog, and I have yet to not like something of his, I’m going to go with YES. This one actually struck me as more tame than the others, but it is still a very good, very intriguing read. I give Earthcore a solid, shining 3.5 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January is Scott Sigler Month! Book Review 1- Ancestor

Happy 2014, everyone! I want to apologize again for my absence toward the end of 2013. I got whammed with what the doctor termed "a hellacious cold" that was bordering on bronchitis the week before Christmas, and it whupped my butt through the end of the year. I'm still not 100% recovered, but I'm getting close.

Some great things are planned for 2014, and I'm starting with something a little out of the ordinary. You actually won't be getting a writing article post from me this month. Instead, you're getting a plethora of book reviews in honor of one particular author. Mid-2013, I discovered the works of one Scott Sigler, NY Times Bestselling author of some seriously kickass stories. I was lucky enough to come along after he'd already built a nice backlist of works, a backlist that I am steadily working through. I won't lie; I've gotten addicted to Sigler's works. Well, a trilogy of his has the final book (Pandemic) releasing on January 21, so I've decided to honor Sigler's badassery by dedicating January to him. I've got a few reviews of his stuff, and they're all going to be up on the blog this month so I can try and convert some of you to reading or listening to his stuff. Today, you get the first of these reviews. I give you the review for Ancestor by Scott Sigler.


  Ancestor by Scott Sigler


The donor list for organ transplants cannot meet the demand for organs. Scientists are trying to find ways to grow and harvest organs by growing them in herd animals. But when they manage to create a pre-human herd animal that can safely provide the organs, an “ancestor”, it’s about as far from being a herd animal as you can get.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Every five minutes, a transplant candidate dies while waiting for a compatible heart, a liver, a kidney. Imagine a technology that could provide those life-saving transplant organs for a nominal fee … and imagine what a company would do to monopolize that technology.
On a remote island in the Canadian Arctic, PJ Colding leads a group of geneticists who have discovered this holy grail of medicine. By reverse-engineering thousands of animal genomes, Colding’s team has dialed back the evolutionary clock and re-created the progenitor of all mammals. The method? Illegal. The result? A computer-engineered living creature, an animal whose organs can be implanted in any person, with no chance of transplant rejection.
There’s just one problem: these ancestors are not the docile herd animals that Colding’s team envisioned. Instead, the work has given birth to something big, something evil … something very, very hungry.
As creators become prey in an ultimate battle for survival, Colding and the woman he loves must fight to survive — even as government agents close in to shut the project down, and the deep-pocketed company backing this research reveals its own cold-blooded agenda.


The number of available organs to those who need them is extremely unbalanced. This is a real problem today, and Sigler has made an exciting thriller out of one possible solution. He displays complete truth in the passion of those behind such a project, going to any length to keep the experiments alive, making it happen at all odds and worse, at any cost. Tons of research had to have gone into this novel, and it’s easy to believe it could happen or is happening even this moment.


This book is extremely realistic and is told in a way that makes it completely believable. The characters are real, with their strengths and their faults, the same as any person. You see their hobbies, their chemistry with other characters (or lack thereof), and their emotions. Sigler’s characters aren’t afraid to hide their dislike or even hatred for their peers, coworkers, or forced companions. Those that trust one another do so implicitly, because it was deserved, and you can tell exactly how that trust was earned. 

I listened to Ancestor through, and it was read by the author himself. He did a fantastic job. Being the author does, of course, give him a deeper understanding of the characters, and he didn’t do a completely straight read. His Chinese scientist character not only had a female voice, but an accent to go along with it. His German accent was so-so but didn’t detract from the performance. It was still easy enough to tell which character was speaking. His Upper Peninsula characters were fabulous! In all, he did about six or seven accents and even more different voices. I’m not talking like Hank Azaria on The Simpsons doing a dozen or more voices in an episode and being unable to tell that they’re all him. It was possible to tell that each of the voices was actually Sigler. But here’s the thing: I didn’t care. It made no difference. Andy was Andy, Magnus and Paul were different, and so on. To a certain extent, he wouldn’t have even needed dialog tags.

A word of caution: since this book is written so realistically, and since there is real terror, real passion, and a gamut of other real strong emotions involved, this book is not intended for the sensitive or the young. There is strong language (tons of it), adult situations (nothing too graphic, but its there) and a full crapload of violence. I’m talking blood, murder, torture, and then more blood. Thanks to the situations Sigler put his characters in, who can really blame them for dropping a few F-bombs?

My Thoughts

What a ride! It’s been a while since I’ve come across a book that had me hating a character as much as I hated one of the characters in this book. Yet that hatred was balanced by how much I loved some of the other characters. Just the population of this novel roused emotional response, and that’s saying nothing of the plot. Genetics is one of the few branches of science that intrigues me, and this plot tickled that interest with a feather the size of a sedan. Problems were set up that I couldn’t wait to see the solutions to, the experiments intriguing, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The length of the recording as a whole was perfect, and each individual episode was the right length for my work commute or lunch break. (Except that I actually listen to it while working and my break times are silence-filled.)

Would I Recommend This Book?

If you don’t mind the mature rating, I would strongly suggest reading or listening to Ancestor. There was so much great stuff going on here, from personal dilemmas to interpersonal conflict, family disagreements, love confusion, and cows with adorable names. I couldn’t believe how happy I was that he named the cows! I would have been happy just reading a medical journal about the project itself, never mind the characters and plot. It was that interesting. This is an amazing work from a spectacular wordsmith. I give it a solid, mooing 4.5 out of 5 stars.

For more on the author, visit