Tag Archives: Sci-Fi

Spend Sunday with Sakey’s Brilliance

marcusMarcus Sakey seems to have it all going on lately!  He’s built a reputation for solid crime fiction, is the host of Hidden City on the Travel Channel, is a frequent panelist and faculty member at fan and writing conferences, and (I can attest) is super-engaging on Facebook.  And he’s really knocked it out of the park with his latest novel, a genre-bending mash-up of thriller and sci-fi, Brilliance.

Protagonist Nick Cooper is one of the 1%.  Not the 1% of wealthiest Americans, but the 1% of Americans born since 1980 with a special ability – Nick is “brilliant” at instantaneously evaluating what people will do, and getting there before them.  This physical gift makes him especially skilled in physical combat.  Others of the 1% have other gifts.  With the exception of their particular gift, the “brilliants” are normal.

brillianceNot surprisingly, the 99% fear and want to control the 1%.  Surprisingly, Nick’s an agent with the Department of Analysis and Response – the federal agency charged with identifying, finding, and neutralizing those gifted who resist control:  terrorists.  Nick’s so committed that he goes undercover to hunt the uber-terrorist John Smith, leaving behind his wife, his kids, his partner and his colleagues in a desperate bid to simultaneously save the country AND keep his tier-one talented daughter in the family.  (Gifted children are taken away and sent to  a special training academy.)   The stakes are high.

And, of course, complications ensue.  Nick may be gifted, but he’s not all-knowing, and it takes a while for him to recognize  that the DAR is not what it purports to be.   He’s undercover, on the run, with a new love interest.  Terrible things happen and he’s responsible for many of them.   The final scenes are fraught with tension, as Nick must draw upon the strength of his friendship with his former partner to win the day.  Does he win it?  Yes, for now.  But Brilliance is clearly the first book in a planned series.

I’m thinking a movie series as well… the concept is awesome, the first book is packed with great characters and compelling action, and there’s plenty of room for continued conflict.  It’s like Jason Bourne with psychic powers.  Sure enough, Screenrant says Tobey Maguire’s producing and they’re talking James Franco for Nick Cooper.  (I’m not seeing that casting.  Jake Gyllenhal?  Jim Sturgess?)

My recommendation:  get the book and spend Sunday in Sakey’s world.  Want more insight into the book?  Here’s a link to an NPR email interview with the author.

Analyze your writing!

On his blog, Drew passed along news of an interesting web site that he heard about from his friend, Lisa.  On this site, you paste in your own writing, be it fiction, nonfiction, a blog post, whatever!  It runs your text ever-so-speedily through a magical analytical process, and out pops what famous writer you write like.

This is fascinating of course, because it is just like examining your navel except that someone is doing it with you and giving you compliments while doing so.

So I entered the last chapter of my first mystery, Character-Driven.  Ta Da!  I write like Stephen King.  Not bad.  Millions of readers.  Millions of dollars.  I was going for Janet Evanovich, but I’ll take Steve.

Feverish, I enter the first chapter of my new book, In Scene.  Amazing!  I write like David Foster Wallace.  True, he’s dead, but everyone agrees he’s a genius.

But what about my blog?  I paste in the post about how nobody’s commenting on my blog.  That, evidently, is William Gibson.  William Gibson.  Doesn’t he write kind of science-fictiony-suspensy-stuff?  How can I write like him?  I don’t even read him.

I try again.  I paste in the post about going to Selected Shorts in New York City and how star-struck I was to meet Isaiah Sheffer. Yep.  William Gibson again.

In a fit of circularity, I am about to paste THIS VERY BLOG POST in.  Wait for it.

Very good.  It’s Arthur C. Clarke.  Him I know.  I was addicted to Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and even moreso, Robert Heinlein, as a teenager.  Perhaps I should be writing sci-fi.

So then I get tricky.  I find William Gibson’s website.  I click on a link that lets me read an excerpt of  his book Pattern Recognition.*  Who will it say William Gibson writes like?  William Gibson?

Nope.  David Foster Wallace.

My brain is starting to hurt.

*I know, I just realized that this is very spooky – the mystery algorithm picks William Gibson for me and I grab the first excerpt that pops up and the book is Pattern Recognition.  Exactly what the I Write Like website is all about.