Series Shakedown: Terran Times by Viola Grace

STARBREAKERFor thousands of years, aliens have been coming to Earth, waging war over our most precious resource: easily breed-able human women. They appear in our mythology as shapeshifters, vampires, dragons, demons, angels, fae, merfolk, and any manner of other supernatural creatures.

In the Not Too Distant Future, Star Fleet The Alliance will take steps to protect humanity from continued exploitation. Two thousand Terran Volunteers shall be selected to travel forth into the universe, as ambassadors for our planet, earning Earth a full-fledged induction into Star Fleet The Alliance. These are their stories. 

Today, dear readers, we are in luck, because I just so happened to get my hands on a copy of the first draft of The Terran Volunteer Application. Do you want adventure? To travel the stars? To seek out new life and….dance? Well then look no further!

Congratulations! If you answered "yes" to most of the above, you have been selected as a Terran Volunteer!
Congratulations! If you answered “yes” to most of the above, you have been selected as a Terran Volunteer!

Viola Grace has written somewhere in the realm of 100 short stories detailing the sexcapades of the 2,000 women who completely voluntarily relinquished all their rights to an ineffective and inconsistently-written alien governing body. (Why? Because.)

ScorcherThese women go out into the universe fully aware that at any moment they will be ordered to reproduce, that they will have no say in their breeding partner, and no guaranteed rights to the product of the mandated union (unless it’s female, then they are shuffled off to some alien backwater to live in anonymity).

No form of reproductive choice exists. In the event an unintentional (as in, not ordered by the government) pregnancy occurs, the fetus can be transferred to the father and brought to term through other means without the mother’s knowledge or consent. Of course, such advanced technology cannot be utilized to just have the women make an egg donation and let the government match up compatible cross-breeds in the lab. What kind of crazy talk is this? The contract requires that you pass on your DNA in the most physically, psychologically, and emotionally traumatic way imaginable.

EnthralledIf that’s not repugnant enough for you, the volunteers are constantly subjected to genetic, surgical, psychic, and technological body modifications. These are not conducted for the benefit of the individual, but rather the convenience of their employer and/or breeding partner.

Consent? Hah! Informed consent? LOL! That’s a good one! You humans and your ridiculous conceptions of basic rights and liberties. Why would you want those when you can fly around in space ships, meet aliens, and then be raped in the spaceships by those aliens? (Character motivation? What’s that?)

Do you have a feel for the quivering spineless cookie-cutter series protagonists? The collection of women who have no fucking self-respect or brain power? (They sign the damn contract, and are stunned when it’s enforced. What the fuck did they think would happen?) These are first humans to galavant around the universe.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Viola Grace shares the Jack Harkness view of space exploration (so many species, so little time…). Which means she doesn’t bother with things like plot or world-building to compensate for her pathetic protagonists. Why plot when you can play Terran Times Sex Bingo?

Viola Grace BingoTo be fair, I have no proof she plays Bingo to to write her stories. It could be a dartboard. Or dice.

JailedNotice the high probability of a story consisting of nothing but slavery, forced sex, and forced breeding? That’s because the only over-arching series-long plot is slavery and sex-trafficking. Each and every story will mention how humans are a protected species that can not be enslaved. The irony of making such statements to a person who has enslaved you, roofied you, bought sole rights to your reproductive system, is forcing you to marry him, trapped you on his planet where you have no rights, or plans to do any of this above, is apparently lost every character in the series. (It’s like poachers talking about how much trouble they’ll get into for hunting endangered species while they are selling the fur and meat.)

This is not a science fiction romance series. This is a goddamn rapeathon. A rapeathon where the women all ultimately enjoy and embrace the assault, coercion, force, or deceit.

The author appears to be doing well enough with these mini-monstrosities. She’s set herself up to write another 1,900 of them. That’s 1,900 more women (usually virgins) who have no agency, and yet will “decide” to overlook the sexual assault in favor of bright skin colors, pretty hair, and prehensile cocks.

Some of you may see the decent ratings on goodreads, short length, and think “hmm, this might be a good intro for my friend who loves romance/science fiction, but doesn’t really read science fiction/romance.” Do not make this mistake. I can assure you, there is neither science fiction, nor romance, to be found in The Terran Times/Chronicles of Terra. Just rape and mythological creatures and superheroes called aliens. For reasons.

Escape Rating: F for are you out of your fucking mind?!

*My apologies to Nalini Singh for being so harsh last year. I take it all back. I’ll upgrade you to a C, and read your next book to make it up to you.


Gold Star Girl

I always thought I was a Skyline girl. I still stop by for a three-way whenever I’m in town.

And unless you’re from Cincinnati, you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Or your mind is still rolling around in the gutter.  Not to mention, you are seriously confused about what any of the above might possibly have to do with my usual blog topics.

Emily, a.k.a WilowRaven over at Red House Books, has been hosting the quarterly NetGalley Month Read-a-thons for the past, well, lo these many moons and she has apparently gone whole hog and decided to host a 2012 NetGalley Reading Challenge.

The 2012 NetGalley Reading Challenge has levels. In this particular case, the levels are represented by stars. Blue Star is up to 10 books, Green up to 20, Red up to 30, and Gold, is the 30+ level.

I think I might have already read 10 books from NetGalley. So I am hereby signing up for the Gold Star level.

Even if, back home in Cincy, Gold Star Chili was always the “other guys” to me.

About that “three-way”? Spaghetti, covered with Skyline chili, covered with shredded cheddar cheese. The taste of home.

Do I read romances? Is the sky blue?

I can never resist a happy ending. Or even a “happy for now” ending.

As a friend pointed out, I do review a lot of what he called “bodice rippers” on my blog. Even if not a lot of actual bodices get ripped, because some of them are contemporary romances and as many as I can find are science fiction romances. But my friend was close to correct, at least in the “horseshoes and hand grenades” definition of close. I do read a lot of romance novels. I enjoy them.

I am also aware that I am quite fortunate. A lot of romance novels are available for review on NetGalley. This is what we call a win-win. Except when it comes to writing all the reviews. I read a lot of books, I write a lot of reviews.

Reading Romances, the blog, is running a Reading Romances Challenge that has a signup and a Goodreads group. One of the interesting things about this challenge is that instead of the usual levels, there are specific, well, I guess you would call them tasks, except that’s not quite right.

A task implies that it’s something you wouldn’t want to do. These are more like stretch goals. The idea is to get romance readers to try something a bit out of their romance comfort zones. The January stretch is to either read the first book of a series, read a book by a debut author, read a book by an author that’s new to the reader, OR, read a YA romance OR read an erotic romance. All the “challengee” has to do is pick one of the above.

I chose to read a book by an author that’s new to me. Why? Because I read a lot of books by authors who are new to me. It’s part of my reviewing. I love discovering new “voices”.

And on the Goodreads group side of this equation–I committed to reading 50 romances. Like that’s going to be a problem. I think I’ve got 5 down and 45 to go. Make that 44 and 3/4–I started a new book today, and guess what? It’s a romance!


If I only had a brain

A human brain, that is. But wait–I thought I did have a human brain. I’m confused…

I like the idea of reading challenges, and I think the idea of there being different levels is neat, but sometimes the names of the levels are very confusing. Hence, the brain thing.

There’s a challenge at Workaday Reads that, well, there’s just no way I can refuse. It’s the Ebook Challenge. I publish Ebook Review Central. How can I call myself an ebook advocate and not sign up for the Ebook Challenge?

All I have to do is read and review ebooks. They don’t even have to be ebook-only titles. I just have to have read them in ebook form. I’m just not seeing a problem here. I’m all in on this one.

Except, there’s that level thing. I can’t make myself commit to the highest level, which is level 7. Why? It’s that human brain thing again. Not the number of ebooks, which would be 150. I’ve already read 10 this year, although I haven’t written all the reviews yet. Which means I passed level 2. But level 7 is the Human Brain level, and there we are. Most days, I have my own human brain. While I would like to get another one, I don’t think it works that way, except in science fiction.

So I’m signing up for level 6 (100 ebooks). Server level. I can buy one of those. We might even have one in the garage…

Just for Fun Reading Challenge

This is the last challenge that I signed up for. Because I absolutely, positively couldn’t resist this one.

After all, I started writing book reviews because I love to read, and I wanted to share that love. But one of the things that happened was that I ended up reading a lot of books that I had committed myself to, and not as many books “just because”.

Not that I have not enjoyed the books I’ve picked out to review. Far from it.

After all, I only choose books I think I’m going to like. Occasionally I’m wrong.

Sometimes I’m really, really wrong. (The Windup Girl comes to mind)

Lori at Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book is hosting the Just for Fun Reading Challenge this year on Goodreads. The challenge is really simple. Every month, I get to, not have to, but get to, read one book just for fun. Not because I’ve committed to review it, but just because I want to read it. Just for me.

This doesn’t mean I can’t review it after I’ve read it. I probably will, if only to keep track of what I’ve read. And I’m allowed to count it toward one other challenge. So if I drag something out of the back of beyond (my TBR from hell pile), I can count it for that. But the idea is to read a book I just want to read.

Oh goodie! Just try and stop me.

Kissing my TBR Pile Goodbye

Bookish has a Reading Challenge that is tailor-made for me. Fulfillment may be an issue.

I’m talking about the TBR Pile Challenge. The challenge is to get stuff out of my TBR Pile. Since I keep moving my TBR Pile from house to house, this seemed like a no-brainer to me, at least in the sense of signing up for it. How I’ll actually do on it is anybody’s guess.

I am signing up at the 21-30 book level, which is “A Sweet Kiss”. As in, I’m going to kiss 21+ books in my TBR Pile goodbye. Hopefully more.

Wish we luck on this one. I’m going to need it!


Get Greased: Steampunk Reading Challenge

The goal of the Steampunk Reading Challenge at Dark Faerie Tales is to read 24 steampunk novels in 2012. That’s the “Get Greased” level.

I’m not quite that ambitious. I do love steampunk, but I’m not so sure about devoting 24 of my 400 books this year to it.

There are other levels. Of course there are. The “Gaslight” level of 6 books is too low for me. I’m signing up for the “Gears” level of 12 books. I might make the 18 book “Gadget” level, but that will depend a lot on what comes up in reviews. There is a level for the truly steampunk obsessed. 30+ books makes you “Steamed”. Indeed.

It also depends on how many of my “books for fun” I get to. Gail Carriger’s Heartless and Timeless are both very definitely steampunk. I didn’t quite get to Heartless in 2011, and Timeless is due in February.

Shooting the Moon: the SFR Reading Challenge

I’m throwing my hat into the ring (or should that be launching my rocket ship?) at the SFR Reading Challenge. The official sign up is here, if you want to climb on board.

There are levels to this challenge. Maybe I should call them orbits.


The earth-bound among us will be signing up to read 5 science fiction romance (SFR) novels in 2012.


The more adventurous plan on reaching earth’s nearest neighbor. 15 SFR novels gets you to the moon.


Venus, can be orbited by those reading 25 SFR novels.


And for those who think really, really big. Jupiter, of course. Big challenge equals big planet.


I’m planning on reaching the moon at the very least. I hope to reach Venus. Jupiter, well, we’ll have to wait and see what this year’s reviews bring.

Bitten by the Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge

I read a lot of paranormal romance. I remember when Anita Blake used to kick more asses than she bit. That was a lot of books ago. But I still keep hoping…

When I read that Bitten by Paranormal Romance would be running a Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge in 2012, I signed up. The challenge is to read 20 paranormal romances. The real challenge is to be certain that they are paranormal, and not urban fantasy. Figuring out which witch is which can sometimes be a classic case of “your mileage may vary”. But if one book doesn’t pass muster, the next one will.

And no YA or novellas need apply.

Still, I’ll be done by the end of February, or March at the latest. I’m in the middle of my first book now.

And speaking of YMMV, I’m not sure about either of the buttons. You be the judge.


Science Fiction Reading Challenge

The 2012 Science Fiction Reader Challenge is hosted by Working for the Mandroid. I love the name of this blog. There are some blogs I’ve discovered with really terrific names, and this is one.  (Confessions of a Toxic Friend is another, but totally different focus)

Back on topic, Working for the Mandroid is running the Science Fiction Reader Challenge this year. Being related to Science Fiction, it is not simply a “read 20 books and you’re done” type challenge. Oh, no.

The geek girl running Working for the Mandroid has very specific science fictional categories I have to read in to fulfill this challenge.  Aren’t you curious?

YA/MG (Young Adult/Middle Grades) Science Fiction
Adult Science Fiction
Hugo Winner
SF Classic (Pre-1950’s)
SF Modern Classic (1951-1992)
Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe
Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster

Thank goodness the Mandroid provides links to references for all of these. I have ideas for some. I even have books already lined up for some. But there are a couple I’m going to have to go hunting for. And for anyone thinking that the Steampunk here and the Steampunk challenge overlap just a teensy bit, the answer is, heck yes! And why not? It’s allowed.