R.I.P. Jeff Carlson

Just heard from his wife Diana Gottfried that writer Jeff Carlson is dead at age 47 from lung cancer. The obituary below is from her.

He was one of those transition authors who started out being published in magazines and by traditional publishers and struck off into his own with self-publishing.

He was a writer of talent and ambition who wrote a variety of stories, and I’ve reviewed several of his works though I have not read any of his Frozen Sky novels.

In my few email exchanges, he was a personable sort sometimes frustrated by the reactions to his work.

Here are the links to his works that I reviewed:

Jeffrey Gustav Carlson

July 20, 1969 – July 17, 2017

Jeff Carlson was born in Mountain View,
California on the same day as the first
manned moon landing and died in Walnut
Creek, California three days before his 48th
birthday. He was strong and fought hard to
survive, but he could not defeat an
extremely virulent cancer.

Given his birthdate and a love of science fiction by his father, mother,
and maternal grandfather, it’s not surprising that Jeff became an avid
reader and successful science fiction author. He had a fabulous mind
and an infinite imagination. He wrote and published 7 novels and a
collection of short stories. His books have been published in 17
languages. Jeff’s prolific career ended too soon. There were so many
more tales to tell…

Jeff’s biggest pride and joy were his two sons. He loved traveling with
his family and enjoyed many outdoor activities, especially snow skiing
and competitive youth soccer as played by his boys.

Jeff is survived by his beloved wife of 17 years, Diana Gottfried, and
their sons John and Ben. He is also survived by his parents, Gus Carlson
and Patti Kelly, and his brother Derek, niece Kylie, and nephew Sam.
Jeff’s other relatives and friends number in the hundreds, his fans in the
many thousands.

His quick wit, exuberant energy, and loving devotion to his family will
be deeply missed.

Remembrances in Jeff’s name may be made to Lung Cancer Alliance,

A Celebration of Jeff’s Life is planned for Saturday, August 12 at 2 PM at
the Danville Community Center, 420 Front Street, Danville, California
94526, (925-314-3400).


For some reason, this review has disappeared from Amazon and was never posted here though I did it within the lifetime of this blog.

Review: Interrupt, Jeff Carlson, 2013.Interrupt

Imagine you are going about your business one day and then you just black out and wake up with no memories of what happened. Maybe you wake up wandering in a strange area or with blood on your hands or in the middle of having sex with a complete stranger.

Such is the premise of Carlson’s novel, fresh with speculations and implications from current science, on what would happen if the sun suddenly manifested its variability with massive electromagnetic pulses which scramble communications and the human brain. Carlson draws from genetic anthropology, geology, physics, SETI, astronomy, and neurology to fuel this modern hard science fiction thriller. And, while the science may be current, the speed and shortness of the novel are refreshingly old-fashioned in their tautness. (For those who have read Carlson’s short story “Interrupt” in his Long Eyes, this is not an expansion but a substantial reworking of the premise of that story.)

The novel centers around three characters:  Emily Flint, researcher on therapies for autistic disorders; Drew Haldane, Navy flier and also operative for ROMEO, an ultra-secret intelligence agency; and Marcus Wolsinger, a radio astronomer tracking variability in the sun’s output. Their loyalties to their communities and families, lovers and friends, institutions and organizations will be tested not only during the collapse of civilization due to the “interrupt” but also by a war between the US and China. Most ominously of all, not everyone is crippled by the intermittent pulses of the interrupt. A select few become murderously efficient in turning on their fellow humans. Or are these killers really human? Continue reading

Long Eyes and Other Stories

An author I’ve looked at before.

This retro review is from December 29, 2012, and the book came from the author via LibraryThing.

Review: Long Eyes and Other Stories, ed. Jeff Carlson, 2012.Long Eyes and Other Stories

If you had a chatty friend who was a good cook and he force fed you a meal, the experience might be like reading this collection. The stories are all competently done even if they’re not all to your taste and you might prefer being served the dishes in a different order, but you still would have a good time.

In fact, I haven’t had this much fun with a book of short stories in a long time, and I’ve read a lot of them lately. The variety Carlson serves up and his chatty story notes remind me of Isaac Asimov and Roger Zelazny story collections. It’s not that the stories are like those two authors in style or theme, but the sheer fun of reading the collection is similar, and all three authors wandered from genre to genre as Carlson goes from mainstream stories to horror to science fiction and even one fantasy.

Maybe Carlson’s “Caninus” brought the Zelazny comparison to mind. It’s a story of vampirism and dogs and reminded me of Zelazny’s “Dayblood” about vampires who feed on vampires. “Pressure”, with its hero who finds himself modified to live unaided below the sea in order to build a turbine generator system, put me in mind of sections of Zelazny’s My Name Is Legion and all those late `60s and `70s underwater science fiction tales (not to mention the alienation of a similar human science project in Frederik Pohl’s Man Plus). Continue reading

Jeff Carlson’s Plague Trilogy

Plague Year

Plague WarPlague ZoneIn honor of Jeff Carlson releasing expanded “author’s cut” editions of his Plague Trilogy, which I enjoyed and reviewed in the last quarter of 2013, here are my retro reviews of the originals.

The covers, incidentally, are from the old editions.

Review: Plague Year, Jeff Carlson, 2007.

Carlson gives us a nanopacalypse like no other. There’s no care-free scavenging. Go below 10,000 feet, and you’re infected by tiny machines (designed to cure cancer) that liquefy your body. But, unlike a lot of post-plague stories, there’s no inevitable doom once you’ve got it. Get back above the “death line” quick enough, and you’ll probably live. But this is no cosy, back to nature story. Not only have billions of humans died. So have most of the mammals and birds. The earth’s ecosystem is messed up big time. Continue reading

Power Games

When Richard Peters offered me a review copy of his novel Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity 1, I was not enthusiastic.

Power GamesThe cover (not the one shown) looked kind of cartoonish. A blurb stating “After years of unchecked extremism, the presidential election is now a high-stakes poker game played out on a bloody table.” did not sound promising. I suspected either an attack on “Tea Party extremism” or, in the manner of some of the self-published survivalist novels I’ve read descriptions of, an attack on the current U.S. administration. No matter how congenial the politics, I expected crude satire or propaganda. The title seemed too cute too.

But it was a story about a Second American Civil War, and I suspect, as the years go by, we will hear more about states contemplating secession from the Union for whatever reason. Having reviewed Adam Connell’s Total Secession, a very different novel set against the background of a soon to be extinct Union, I was curious what Peters did with the idea.

I liked it, a lot, enough to buy the sequel Shock & Awe: Operation Enduring Unity 2 which just shows the wisdom of Peter’s advice to self-published authors: research and define your target reader.

Review: Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity 1 by Richard Peters, 2013.

No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Continue reading