5 Interesting Links for 11-13-2020

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

History (Entertainment)

Video, and now streaming, rental companies may have thought themselves innovators, but an examination of newspaper advertisements from the mid-to-late 1800s suggests an earlier incarnation. The video equivalent in the Victorian Era, a magic lantern, was accessible to the middle class through similar arrangements.

COVID-19 (Health)

Researchers retooled a project originally studying Alzheimer’s to identify COVID-19 in both symptomatic and asymptomatic sufferers through changes in a cough. This evaluation is useful as an early warning system rather than replacing the test, but it would have the advantage of greater accessibility. Any positive would need to be confirmed with a COVID-19 test since the changes might be for another reason. (Via AARP)

COVID-19 Research (Interesting People)

The pandemic has caught everyone’s attention, especially in the medical fields as researchers struggle to find a prevention, cure, or even viable treatments to help those on the front lines. Sometimes, though, progress comes from unlikely places. The 3M Young Scientist Challenge encourages students in 5th to 8th grade to study science, something Anika Chebrolu took to the next level. She found a way to bind a protein on the COVID-19 virus, making the protein unable to function and offering a potential method for stopping the virus.

Innovations (Promoting)

Author Jennifer S. Alderson explains how to promote your books passively through creating a public Google map. Your map can highlight existing places key to your novels and even include snippets or behind-the-scenes notes to intrigue potential readers. Note: The article images appear broken, but the links to her maps still work.

Cultivation (Resilience)

This article looks at the myths surrounding the concept of resilience and how we can cultivate resilience in ourselves as well as seeing it in others. It’s an important reminder both for our own mental health and how we perceive those around us.

How Beer Saved the World 2 edited by Phyllis Irene Radford
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The PV-3 Mutagen by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus

The PV-3 Mutagen by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus Banner

I agreed to review The PV-3 Mutagen because I found the blurb intriguing, and while it didn’t turn out exactly as I’d expected, the novel lives up to its promise.

This story is somewhere between a paladin’s quest and a net runner adventure. The handsome hero Brother Riccardo is out on the Belligra version of a walkabout while Rene Laurent has a fount of knowledge and special talents despite no physical training. I use gaming terms deliberately. The book is peppered with insider jokes and gaming references, but they work within the narrative. For those who recognize their greater context, they add a little extra without disrupting the tale. The same is true for fans of the universe, or so I assume. There are references made to earlier adventures starring the titular character of the first series in the Virasana Empire Universe.

As promised, there are monsters, battles both physical and of wit, and a wonderful friendship developing between these two unlikely fellows. Rene lives for reading while Riccardo isn’t much for it. Riccardo seeks battles to charge headlong into when Rene considers himself ill-equipped for violence. He’s more likely to suffer the blows and let his psionic healing repair his wounds.

More than opposites attract, they are from different worlds, and I don’t mean geography. Fate, or God as Riccardo would say, brings them together when the brother sees Rene under attack and rescues him. What starts out with a curious Rene acting as a native guide to the planet Floor ends up with shared adventures and a bond full of humorous and self-reflecting moments as well as deadly ones. Even better, both rub off on the other in interesting and positive ways. I appreciated how the two of them honestly care for the people they meet. This, and the need to help others, they have in common.

Rene is a compelling narrator, but this caused one clash between my experience of the book and the narration. I can’t tell his age. Riccardo is described as early twenties, but Rene sounds both like a street-smart teen and a twenty something at times, and when he refers to Riccardo as young, he sounds much older. It’s not so much important for the story as a descriptor to help me visualize the character and in how they relate to each other.

The PV-3 Mutagen by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus Cover

While the paladin label covers Riccardo nicely, Rene has more levels between studying for his history doctorate, instinct for mathematics, and his atypical psionic healing. The description of his healing is fascinating, especially since we’re learning new things about it alongside him. It also makes sense for him to be the series lead (this is the first of a new series in the universe), though I hope Riccardo will be part of the next books, too.

The gaming references are not the only aspects to this book with a greater context. Through a complex universe filled with many planets and people, human or otherwise, the novel explores different forms of exploitation, the meaning of freedom, and several other philosophical aspects. Most of these aspects exist on Floor, Rene’s home planet and the setting for this book. Rene is a permanent student of history, the kind of person who never stops learning and contemplating things, but it’s not only his perspective used to highlight the contrasts in available resources and the value of life. Riccardo has seen many places in his time as a roaming priest, which allows him to contrast conditions in the various levels of Floor with what he’s encountered elsewhere.

I enjoyed this aspect of the world building because it made educating me about the rules and cultures governing different places an integral part of the story, as well as using it to show character development. One of the humorous, but not, elements is Riccardo’s ever-growing list of reasons not to stay on Floor. Another strength is the diversity of the characters and places. There was one point where I became concerned at the appearance of bias in a planet’s description. Shortly afterwards, though, something else balances out the negative descriptor with a positive, and one grounded in often-ignored human history. This is what I mean by complex. The book’s universe is not a veneer on our world, but it expands from ours to make pointed statements about the nature of humans both in history and modern times.

Half of why the universe is so interesting comes from the description. While elaborate, I can only remember one instance where I found it too much, and that could easily be just me. Body language is another aspect of the description I appreciated, giving encounters an extra depth that didn’t require the narrative to over explain.

The plot seeding is well done, leading to a couple of ‘don’t go into the basement’ moments for me when I predicted what would happen. This makes events seem more grounded than if they just appeared. I found the plot a little too well laid out at points, though, telling me what they would face before the end of the book. But for the most part, I enjoyed myself too much to care. There’s a difference between knowing what the next obstacle is and knowing how it will come about. The characters they meet along the way, and how they handle each encounter, whether a gang leader, lawyer, or scientist, are what kept me reading.

In case it isn’t clear, I enjoyed this novel and will most likely look up the first set. Though whether a different lead than Rene will connect as well, I don’t know. The relationship between Riccardo and Rene is part of that, with Rene’s cynicism playing off Riccardo’s determination just as his knowledge balances the brother’s ignorance. This gives the reader a bigger picture of the world and events within it. The setup is fascinating enough to support a series even without considering Rene’s position in the mysterious Circle of Thales, and there are a couple of places that may be teasers for future volumes. I look forward to what happens next.

P.S. This Advanced Readers’ Copy was provided to me by the publisher as part of an Other Worlds, Inc. blog tour in return for an honest review.

Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus have a new sci fi/space opera book out, Virasana Empire: Dr. Laurent Book 1: “The PV-3 Mutagen.”

As a history scholar and courier for the secretive Circle of Thales, Rene Laurent is a man of many talents – none of them lending themselves much to a life of adventure.

But when a chance meeting with a young, idealistic Belligra priest drags him into a wild quest to keep a dangerous mutagen off the streets of Floor, his curiosity gets the better of him. Between monsters both human and man-made, he realises that maybe fieldwork is more of his game than he had ever thought possible…

Written by Rainbow-Award-winning authors Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, ‘The PV-3 Mutagen’ is a colourful non-romance sci-fi adventure set in the wildly diverse ‘Virasana Empire’, and the first novel of the ‘Doctor Laurent’ series.

Warnings: Not a romance. Harsh setting, but hopeful.

Amazon US | Amazon CAN | Amazon UK | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Author Bio

We are Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, a couple currently living our happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of our cat.

Both of us are voracious but picky readers, we love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, we write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of our happiness with our readers.

An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of our duo.

An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.

Author Website: http://www.brackhaus.com/
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/people/Osiris-Brackhaus/100011014541510
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/brackhaus
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brackhaus/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6427435.Osiris_Brackhaus
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Osiris-Brackhaus/e/B00IVTRO2E

Brought to you by Other Worlds Ink
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Things That Make Me Smile No. 232: Street Art in Progress

My NaNo progress has not been awesome. I’ve yet to click with the project, or cave and switch to a new one, though I’m pretty sure current events, not the story, are the cause. As such, there is little to say about it. Instead, may you be inspired by many stunning visual arts into creativity of your own.

I’ve shared street art before because I find the creativity and ability to transform a 2D space into the mirage of a 3D vision wonderful. This video, however, not only shows you the end product but takes you through the creation. How these artworks come to be is fascinating, and at times, scary.

Here are my current stats. As you can see, I’m a wee bit in the hole.

DayNew WordsRunning Total
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5 Interesting Links for 11-06-2020

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Worship (Archeology)

Remnants found in a mithraeum from around 1600 years ago in Italy paint an interesting picture of the worship offered the god Mithras as well as others, likely including the Egyptian goddess, Isis.

Tips (Everyday Items)

This article might be a bit long, but the author covers a lot of ground as he explains either the intended but little-known use or an alternate one for everyday items. I found this a fascinating read. While I recognized some of the suggestions, I didn’t know all. See if you can pick up a useful tip or two.

Tattoo Artist (Interesting People)

Fawez Zahmoul turned his love of tattooing into a social revolution in the Arab world of Tunisia. He fought prejudice to open first a tattoo shop then a school, allowing people to act on a love of body art or even reconnect with their African cultures after Islamic suppression. While the art of tattoo survived underground, he works to make it welcome in the light of day.

Cannibalism (Paleontology)

Modern owls rarely eat other owl species, but evidence suggests the giant owl Asio ecuadoriensis, who flew the skies some 40,000 years ago, preferred to feast on smaller owls. This, and other discoveries made in a well-preserved nest, are crucial to understanding the giant owl because finds of ancient bird remains are rare.

Short Stories (Writing Technique)

Deep Magic, a short story market, offers this as one of their articles to assist authors seeking to submit their stories. The article contains solid advice that can help you evaluate and edit your short story to ensure the greatest chance of success whether you release it to the market or traditional publishing.

Seeds Among the Stars: A Science Fiction Adventure
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Shiloh Rising by Fiona Tarr

Shiloh Rising by Fiona Tarr

This is the third installment in The Priestess Chronicles, and thanks to the author’s visit yesterday, I now understand the patterns I was seeing much better. The book reads much like an episodic television show in how the primary cast faces a new challenge each time. While they still fight evil in the form of a relic, this story has only the barest connection with the previous one beyond the main characters. And even there, the group has expanded to include Ophelia from Relic Seeker.

Ariela’s angel guide drops the four of them in Carthage, or right outside of it in Ariela and Ophelia’s case. Culaan and Genevieve appear at the docks, recognized, much to their dismay, by the strong fish scent. They quickly find their footing with a few hiccups. Ariela, however, isn’t given the chance. A man claiming to be from her mother’s order takes charge of her and Ophelia almost from the moment they appear. He takes her right to the remnants of the Order of Shiloh, something that little resembles what her mother had created.

The book starts a little slow as each group tries to figure out why they arrived in these places and what they have come here to do. This didn’t bother me, though. Between Culaan’s grumping about his separation from Ariela and using the provided clues to remember the previous book, I had much to entertain me.

As an example of how the books are different, Culaan and Genevieve’s status, despite a fat purse, is much lower than the avatars of gods they were in Relic Seeker. They must seek employment as mercenaries and without revealing their true strengths. Genevieve is having none of the lust sent in her direction, however, demanding they treat her as the warrior she is. At least not unless she feels the same. Her skills translate well to this time, and soon the siblings find themselves in the King’s personal guard.

Ariela and Ophelia are swept along into her mother’s order. But though the interest in politics offends Ariela, they soon discover that’s not why the angel brought them here. Ophelia fulfills her role when she senses an evil relic. They’re in Carthage during the rule of the Vandals. It’s embroiled in a religious conflict that is as much political as driven by the relic they’re here to claim. Tarr blends what we know of history with plausible fantasy to give us a glimpse of the past in the midst of a dangerous adventure.

While their powers are interesting, and growing, it’s the strength of the characters that draws me into this series. I recall them with the barest of reminders, and they continue to develop. This series started as a young adult (YA) skewing to younger readers beyond quick side mentions. But as Culaan and Ariela’s love matures, I suspect it will become better suited for the older YA crowd. The books appear once a year, though, so the series matures with its readers. It’s worth a mention for binge readers, but I felt no lack of enjoyment in the first book.

I mention the above in part because it is an important theme in the book, or at least Culaan thinks so. They are separated for most of the book, while Ariela’s role involves being considered a potential bride for someone else. This opens the story to many humorous moments, especially in how Genevieve treats her brother’s longings.

Both pairs find assistance in their labors, expanding the cast beyond those out of time and giving us a deeper look into the time period. This is part of why I’m enjoying the series, and why historical retellings appeal to me. Make no mistake. This is fantasy with strong liberties taken to support the story. At the same time, the story feels grounded and some of the events may come from our historical knowledge. They feel so in any case, and I do not know the history of Carthage well enough to dismiss the sensation.

What does The Priestess Chronicles offer its readers? Magic, mayhem, and history all wrapped in one. It’s best to start at the beginning, but if you want to try the series out, each episode is self-contained with a clear, and complete, story arc beyond character development. I have enjoyed my time with this crew so far and plan to stick around.

P.S. I received this Advanced Readers’ Copy from the author in return for an honest review.

P.P.S. The first book, Call of the Druids, is on sale in eBook for November to get you started.

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