Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is One Day by David Nicholls. This book came out in 2009 and lasts 448 pages. I find a lot of books when they are being made into movies (I worked at a movie theater for years). This one is no exception. I saw a movie trailer and was interested and therefore went and read the book. I enjoyed the movie, but of course liked the book better. There are few movies that I tend to think are better than the book, but there are some. This movie stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess and the screenplay was written by David Nicholls himself.

This book has many mixed reviews and I feel it would be irresponsible of me not to give you a fair warning about this one. The book is a little depressing, but I think it does several good things that many might see as simply terrible. One of the main characters, Dexter, is kind of a dick. The other, Emma, is not entirely likable either. (This really makes you want to read it, right?) Hear me out. These characters aren’t great people and they don’t get treated terribly well either. They do, however, represent a more realistic portrayal of life than most fictional stories do. They don’t end up living the exact lives they dreamed. They don’t immediately notice their flaws (if at all).  It is a story about youthful aspiration and compromises made throughout adulthood. The book spans 20 years and these two weave in and out of each other’s lives. They have good days and bad, but they are always drawn back.

Another aspect that drew me to the book was the structure. Each chapter effectively tells each character’s story for that year. Some years, the two characters don’t interact with each other at all. I wouldn’t consider this book a love story. Nor should you expect it to be even though love and relationships do occur throughout. It focuses on loneliness and how we find our way in this strange world of ours.

Yes, this book does come with a warning, and I don’t think everyone will enjoy it. I do think it has the ability to resonate with people, which is why I am recommending it.

Happy Reading.

I’m Getting Married Today

Hello everyone,

I know it’s been a minute since I’ve written anything that wasn’t a story or book recommendation, but I wanted to share a few things before I disappear for the next week.

I am getting married today. After four and a half years of dating the person I knew I would spend the rest of my life with from day one, we are finally making things official. Food, drink, and fun will be had. And cake too, plenty of cake. While we are all having fun here, I hope you have some fun as well wherever you are. Have a drink for me if you like. Beer or coffee or whatever. Or have some cake, or a pastry. Or do whatever your heart desires. It’s moments like these, which I am experiencing right now, that remind us that life is more than just working and stressing and raging against the current of the world. It is about fellowship and good times. These moments come too few and I hope that you are living your best life. Visiting friends and enjoying the moments without even thinking about the time.

Tonight, for me, I will be surrounded by friends and family while we all drink and dance and sit around talking. We will be celebrating and having fun. And I will be sending these good vibes out into the world and I hope some of them find you.

If anyone is worried about not having a story or book recommendation for the next week (I’m not foolish enough to believe anyone anxiously awaits these), fear not for I have prepared a few things ahead of time. That’s right, I have written a story and prepared a recommendation. Things will proceed as usual. Book recommendations on Sundays and stories on Thursdays. I even added a little micro fiction for this next week as well.

I’ll probably check-in from time to time (from my phone while in the car or something) so I won’t be completely absent, but I will be fairly silent on social media.

Anyway, I know I’ve said this earlier, but I will try to post more non-story/book posts going forward.

Next time you see a post on here though, it will be from a married man. As always, thanks for reading. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. Until next time…

Ryan

Designed to Pursue

Androids have lived side-by-side with humans for nearly six centuries. Olivia was an Omnis Lacrima model. Officially registered as OL-174. She was supposedly the first generation to have suppressed emotional output. She and over five-hundred others were created and employed by the Kourou Constabulary. In the four-hundred years since her construction, humanity spread across the galaxy exploring and settling new planets. These events set a precedent for an interplanetary cooperative, which unified all peoples, flesh and fabricated alike, under one galactic law thus eliminating the need for independent law enforcement.

Olivia worked as an enforcer for the Cooperative of Interplanetary Alliances, commonly called the Cooperative, for two-hundred years before retiring to a planet located in the Perseus Arm called Fryst. Its frozen landscapes resulted in few human colonies. Criminals often thought it was a good place to hide, which is why Olivia set up shop as a bounty hunter. It was an easy way to make a living. Her mechanical body could withstand the extreme temperatures. The only trouble she had was finding parts should she need a replacement, but she kept a stockroom full of anything she might need.

She was sitting at the small table, her left hand disassembled, when a call came in. She tapped the screen and a man’s face filled it. He had a short beard, tan skin, and a scar across his forehead. The notes informed her that this man, Kayden, was last seen pursued by authorities near Hestus and may have fled to Fryst. The bounty was sixty-thousand credits. The kicker was that he needed to be captured alive.

“Not bad,” Olivia muttered, “What did you do to deserve such attention?”

She scrolled through the information. There wasn’t much that stated why he was such a desired target. A few major thefts, but nothing to warrant such a bounty. Olivia wondered what the Cooperative was keeping to itself, but then decided it didn’t matter. They would pay her the full sixty once she turned him in.

She reassembled her left hand and tested its responsiveness by gripping a baton. The middle finger was still not closing tightly, but it would do for now. She grabbed her thick coat and set off toward town to see if she could find any news about a newcomer with a scar on his forehead.


Three hours at the local tavern proved beneficial. Humans always seemed to lose control of their tongues with alcohol. A few guided questions and subtle head turns prompted a local merchant to recall having seen Kayden in his shop just yesterday. Olivia started visiting each hotel in the area beginning with the least amiable. Her third stop proved fruitful.

She walked in and approached the ragged man behind the front desk.

“Hi,” she said.

“A room will be two-hundred credits a day,” he replied.

She smiled and tapped on her communicator. She pulled up the picture of Kayden. “Have you seen this man?”

The ragged man looked at the picture. Olivia knew Kayden had at least stopped by if he wasn’t upstairs at that moment. It was a tell she picked up easily. A slight widening of the eyes.

“Never seen him. Two-hundred a day. Want a room?”

“Would you tell me where he is for five-hundred?”

She knew this type. He would tell her anything for the right price. He looked her over as if his mind wasn’t already made up.

“Let’s see the credits first.”

She pulled out five chips and laid them across the counter. The ragged man reached for them, but Olivia shield the chips with her hand.

“They’re yours once you tell me where he is.”

“He’s out.” The man’s eyes kept searching through her fingers for the credits.

“So he has a room here?”

“Yeah,” he said, nodding up the stairs while his eyes remained fixed, “Three fifteen.”

He reached for her hand, but she leaned in to stop him. “Last question. Where is he now?”

“Don’t know. He’s got the room through the week.”

She smiled and lifted her hand from the counter. The man nabbed the credits and examined them while Olivia walked upstairs to wait for her mark.


After several hours, she heard the key slid across the reader outside. The door slid open and a few moments later the lights came on to reveal Kayden exactly as he looked in the photo except for a larger beard. As soon as he noticed her sitting in the corner, he bolted.

But she was faster. Before he made it to the stairs, she had a strong grip around the back of his neck.

“Kayden. So nice to see you,” she said.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“I don’t want anything from you, but the Cooperative does. So much that they are going to pay me sixty-thousand creds as soon as I hand you over.”

“I can pay you more than that.”

She looked at their surroundings. “I doubt that. Even if you could, I don’t accept stolen creds.”

She walked him down the stairs and out the front door. The entire time she had him lifted six inches from the floor. As they made it into the street, her hand became unresponsive and she dropped him onto the snow-covered street.

He ran while she examined her left hand. The motor functions had failed. It simply hung limp before her. She sighed as she thought of the repairs it would need.

Then she looked up to see Kayden a few hundred meters down the street. A grinned spread across her perfect synthetic lips. She liked a good chase. She crouched, then launched herself in his direction. She could max out at eighty miles-per-hour in good conditions. She took it easy in the snow. Kayden was still burdened with his heavy coat and humans could never run well in the snow.

She caught up to him in a few seconds and kicked the lower part of his right leg. His bones cracked upon impact and he went down screaming. With her right hand, she lifted him and tossed his soft body over her left shoulder. She made her way to the only Cooperative station in town. The entire walk there, she weighed the pros and cons of which parts she would need to fix or replace her left hand. Sixty-thousand credits would be more than enough to buy her the finest parts.

Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is Armada by Ernest Cline. This is Cline’s second book and came out in 2015. His first, Ready Player One, came out in 2011, was hugely successful, and was turned into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, which was released earlier this year and was a blast. The movie did change a few things up but it was true to the overall story. Of course, the book was a bit better.

Armada is not as intricate as Ready Player One and it doesn’t have as many pop-culture references, but it is a fun ride nonetheless. It still has a small tie to videogames but it centers around an alien invasion. For lack of a better explanation, think of Armada as a vague cross between Ender’s Game and Independence Day.

The title is the name of the game in the book that Zack Lightman plays with his friends. Unbeknownst to him and pretty much everyone else on the planet, the popular videogame is actually a training/scouting program for a military branch tasked with preventing an also unknown but impending alien invasion. That is probably all I should tell you so as not to spoil anything.

If you liked Cline’s first book, you will enjoy his second. If you haven’t read either of his books, I suggest you read Armada first. Both are fun in their own quirky, science fiction ways. Fun fact, both of Ernest Cline’s books have audio versions narrated by Wil Wheaton.

Happy Reading

Weary Years

Jackson Reed sat on his front porch with a bottle of beer in one hand. The air was a little sticky but the weather was nice as the sun retreated behind the hills. The light was fading slowly. Slow enough that the eyes could adjust with it. Jackson had just completed his fourteen-hour shift. His jeans were caked with dirt, plaster, dust, and more dirt. He’d stripped off his shirt and let his sweat dry in the evening breeze.

Sixty-seven days. Jackson had finished sixty-seven fourteen hour shifts in a row. Tomorrow would be number sixty-eight. He’d fallen into the routine of coming home, grabbing a beer, and sitting on the porch until the sunlight disappeared. Then he would crawl inside, rise off in the shower, and go to bed. His wife, Claire, had let him keep the habit because she knew he needed the time to unwind. He worked hard. He was a high school drop-out that worked various construction jobs throughout the city. He was grateful for what work he could get. He just hated that all his work could afford was a small, rundown two-bedroom house barely big enough for his family. Claire stayed home because childcare cost more than what she would make at a full-time job. He started picking up secondary shifts to change things.

Claire would stay up with the kids until it was their time for bed, then she would tip-toe in and curl up beside him. She tried not to wake him, but he never slept deeply regardless of how exhausted he felt. Every night, after he let her settle into bed, he would turn over and wrap his arms around her. Then he would sleep the handful of hours he could before 4am came around and he would wake to the sound of his phone buzzing on the wooden dresser. He’d crawl out of bed and get ready for work. Before he left, he’d kiss Claire gently on the cheek, then sneak a glance at his kids. They would be sprawled across the two twin beds that nearly filled their room. He’d quietly shut their door and head out.


A year passed and his routine never budged except for two small changes. Claire began greeting him at the door with his two beers, and she would join him the twenty minutes it took her to drink her tea. At first they didn’t say much, but after a few weeks they began talking openly. Usually Claire would give Jackson updates about what was happening with the kids. Reminders about events coming up that she hoped he could attend. If he could get time away from work.

“Next week is Hayden’s birthday,” she said. She waited for his reply. He gave none. “It would be nice if you could stop by,” she continued.

“When is it?” he asked.

“Six.”

“I’ll try my best. We’re starting a new build tomorrow out past ninth street.”

“It’d mean a lot to him if you showed up when all of his friends are around.”

She went inside. Jackson finished his second beer and turned in. The next day he spent his half-hour lunch looking at a nearby sporting store where he picked out a used glove. He left work early at six forty-five, hit the tail-end of rush hour, and made it home at seven-thirty. His two beers were waiting for him on the porch.

A note on the door read: Took the boys out for ice-cream. Jackson sat down and cracked open a beer. He finished both and waited until his eyelids became too heavy to fight.


Two more years passed. Claire would only join him occasionally. When she would, she bugged him to go to Hayden or Kyle’s ball game. After several attempts he finally made one. He caught the final two inning of Hayden’s game and was able to see Hayden bat one time.


Another year passes. The talks on the porch are less frequent and are mostly fights. Doubt creeps in as Jackson realizes their situation hasn’t changed in the three years he’s been working without a single day off. The only break he gets is a shorter, eight-hour shift, on Sundays.

All he ever wanted was to move Claire and the boys into a real house, but unexpected expenses keep cutting that dream out from under him. First they needed a new air conditioner unit. Then a hot-water heater. Then his truck was totaled. Hayden got braces. Kyle would need them in a few years.

That year, Jackson took the overnight shifts. The pay was better and he only worked twelve hours a day. He would come home at six in the morning, sit on the porch, and drink two beers. Claire would join him with her coffee. He would wait until the boys went to school, then he would clean up and head to bed.

He would wake up to find Claire cooking dinner and the boys watching something on the television. He would join them and ask them about their day. Sometimes he’d even go outside to play catch with them as the sun retreated behind the hills. Then he would go to work.


Ten years pass and Jackson no longer recognizes his reflection. His body has grown used to the constant exhaustion. He is only thirty-four years old, but his weathered skin makes him appear at least a decade older. Hayden is about to start his first year at the local college. They still live in the same run-down house, and Jackson sits outside on the porch every morning at six. His wife Claire would join him from time to time with her coffee.

One day, after the boys had left, he looked over and caught her staring at him. She had a silly grin on her face.

Normally he would have simply asked What?, but he surprised himself when he said, “I wish I could see myself through your eyes.”

“If you did, most of the time you would see an annoying ass.” She sat back and grinned.

“But…you’d also see someone who is more than a husband, or a father. You’d see a man who gives everything he has for the people he loves, and he keeps trying to give more when he has nothing left in the tank. I’m afraid he’ll give everything away until there is nothing left of him. You don’t know how often all we wanted was for you to be here with us.”

He started to say something but she cut him off.

“I know you Jackson. I know every little thought in your head. You’re thinking right now ‘But someone had to work, to pay the bills, to provide‘ and you’d be right. You’ve done all those things and continue to do them. And the boys know how hard you work. They understand now why you were gone so much when they were younger. That’s why they still appreciate what little time they get with you. They look up to you. Even though Hayden is going to move out next week, he’ll come home often, and I know it will be to see you more than to see me. It’s true. You’re their dad.”

Claire stood up. “Now, when you finish that beer, come find me in the bedroom.” She went inside the small house and left a trail of clothing leading to their room.

Jackson sat on the porch and took a sip of his beer. As Claire was talking, the constant exhaustion had dissipated into something else, and he found himself tearing up. He knew she could see it, and he knew she left before he lost control of it. He let the tears flow once he was alone. He made no sound as they dripped onto his dirt covered jeans.

Then he composed himself, finished his beer, and went inside to enjoy some time with his wife.