User Profile

Michael Shotter

Joined 7 months ago

Michael Shotter is a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a lover of science, fiction, and fantasy, his works aim to push beyond the boundaries of traditional genre fiction into new and exciting realms born from literary craftsmanship.

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Michael Shotter's books

To Read

reviewed Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, #2)

Martha Wells: Artificial Condition (2018) 4 stars

It has a dark past - one in which a number of humans were killed. …

Review of 'Artificial condition' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

If you enjoyed "All Systems Red," you'll almost certainly enjoy this as it's a direct follow-up to that story, expanding on the Murderbot character and the surrounding universe in a nicely-executed, quick, and satisfying manner.

Murderbot is a bit sassier and more overtly brash in this one, which at times during the read felt a little forced to me but I ultimately adjusted to the new tone and ended up chalking the change up to a plausible evolution of the character given the events of the first book.

The story is fairly simple and straightforward, which leaves plenty of room for the additional world building and character development that I'd say are the bread and butter of the experience. I particularly enjoyed Murderbot's interactions with ART as they did a lot to check both of those boxes in a fun and novel way.

If you got your fill of Murderbot …

Review of 'Bishop' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

An engaging, at times intense and brutal, supernatural adventure set in the northern wilds of Alaska, "Bishop" is a book not to be missed by fans of action, horror, and clever storytelling. Stories like it have been told before but rarely with such style, gusto, and attention to detail. If you enjoy creature features set in isolated and hostile environs, and the vivid depictions of nature's beauties and perils that tales of exploration and struggles for survival in such a wilderness allow, then pick up a copy of "Bishop" and get to reading. You won't be disappointed.

reviewed All Systems Red by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

Martha Wells: All Systems Red (EBook, 2017, 4 stars

"As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure."

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, …

Review of 'All Systems Red' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A fun, quick sci-fi read.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The idea is simple enough. "Murderbots" are engineered constructs comprised of biological and mechanical components. They're created to kill things and follow orders but are capable of more under certain circumstances, such as those created via a hacked or malfunctioning "governing module." This is the story of one such entity, caught up in an unusual scenario when a "simple planetary survey mission" goes sideways. It's a solid read and works, both as a standalone and as the setup for the "Murderbot Diaries" series it kicks off. Highly recommended for those seeking a fast-paced, charming, and generally-lighthearted (despite a few somewhat-grim moments) introduction to modern science fiction but veterans of the genre will likely find a lot to enjoy as well.

Review of 'Sinister Mix' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This was my first Brian Bowyer book and I feel it's been a great introduction to his work. With a variety of horror sub-genres represented in its various stories, "Sinister Mix" absolutely showcases his adept ability to shift into different narrative gears on a dime without missing a beat, delivering prime examples of the types of stories being told with an impressive range of intensity. At times subtle and nuanced, at times bombastic and arguably unhinged, with all manner of noteworthy points along that spectrum on frequent display, there really is something here for almost any type of reader.

I will say that some of the included narratives didn't fully line up with my personal tastes and preferences but I feel that's to be expected given the sheer number of themes and concepts being explored. Moreover, the quality of the writing and the generally-excellent pacing of the storytelling made it …

Review of 'Snow Shark' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

As advertised, this is a quick read about a shark, the product of a nefarious government experiment, that runs amok at a ski resort after being engineered to thrive in frigid, fresh-water environments, including snow. Obviously, this is a concept that really pushes the boundaries of plausibility right out of the gate and only leans further into the absurd as the story progresses, so sticklers for the "realistic" and "believable" need not apply.

That being said, if you're on board with the premise and looking for a fun, frenetic dose of escapist horror tinged with 80s nostalgia, "Snow Shark" will likely check all the right boxes and push all the right buttons for you.

The only real caveats I'd have in recommending the book are that it is extremely gory and grim. At times those elements are balanced with a bit of humor, or other welcome literary flourishes that keep …

Review of 'Aliens' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Let's start with the good. Overall, I found "Aliens: Vasquez" to be a fairly entertaining and interesting read. As a big, long-term fan of the source material, particularly the first three "Alien" films, I absolutely enjoyed the references to that legacy and the way this book successfully built on that universe in a mostly-convincing and plausible manner. I also appreciated the author's "own voices" representations of various aspects of Latin culture, and the struggles often associated with it, which made for some of the most compelling moments in the book.

Unfortunately, I also ended up coming away from this read a bit unsatisfied by the experience, feeling that several elements of it ultimately came up far short of their full potential. Specifically, I was sorely disappointed by much of the dialogue, which often felt stiff, contrived, and forced to the point of distraction. There were so many instances where characters …

Review of 'Hangman Feeds the Jackal' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A Dark and Gritty Spin on the Classic Western

In a lot of ways, "The Hangman Feeds the Jackal" is a really easy book to recommend. At its core, it's a well-told tale that creatively and effectively toys with some of the most tried-and-true and well-worn elements of the genre while still providing the essence of what makes a good, "classic" western work.

The setting is fully realized and rich with detail, the characters are layered, nuanced, and interesting, and the story is compelling, twisty, and ultimately quite satisfying apart from a few minor quibbles that I didn't find difficult to overlook in the interest of enjoying the ride.

In short, if you're a fan of westerns, horror, and the junctions where psychological and philosophical concepts intersect and blur, "The Hangman Feeds the Jackal" is a book you should absolutely read.

The spider commands it.

Review of 'Scattered Little Pieces' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Flash fiction generally isn't my thing but I do have an appreciation for it and every so often, I'll get the urge to consume such works. For me, this was a solid collection with more than a few noteworthy entries. As one might expect, the tones, subjects, and genres represented are all over the place, which for me was part of the fun as the 100-word micro-stories bounced from one theme and style to another. Some might find those shifts a little jarring, or find themselves a bit sad when some of the better premises are left hanging but that's ultimately just the nature of the beast with a project like this. Overall, I found "Scattered Little Pieces" to be an enjoyable and worthwhile read that I'd certainly recommend to anyone looking for an eclectic and energetic flash-fiction mix.

Review of 'Boondock Butcher' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The literary equivalent of an 80’s slasher film.

Do you like your horror rough and gritty? Are you a fan of delving into the details and minutia of a kill, or a raunchy sex scene, or even a trip to a convenience store for a bottle of sweet tea? If so, have I got a book for you.

In a lot of ways, “Boondock Butcher,” the first standalone novel from veteran serial writer Chuck Buda, feels like reading two screenplays, one for a vintage horror film of the 1980’s and another for a 1990’s psychological or supernatural thriller, that were thrown into the air and zealously combined together as their pages were eagerly gathered up and reassembled. That might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your own personal taste but the end result is a book that frequently shifts between the methodical, building tension of a …

Review of 'A View from My Seat' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

As a very casual baseball fan, I found this book to be quite charming in a variety of ways. I will say up front that it was a bit of a slow burn for me, with the second chapter specifically feeling a bit unfocused and overwrought, particularly after the fairly-strong opening that preceded it. That said, I'd definitely encourage potential readers to stick with this one as it does build a nice, more-consistent momentum from the third chapter onward. From that point, it frequently and pleasantly transitions between accounts of the games in the 2017 Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp minor league baseball season, some often-heartwarming anecdotes from the author's lifelong love affair with the sport, and some engaging, insightful, and at times revealing interviews with members of the aforementioned organization.

I do feel compelled to point out that I did spot a few technical errors, somewhat awkwardly-worded passages, and instances of …

Lol Tolhurst: Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys 4 stars


Review of 'Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Cure fans will almost certainly enjoy this memoir. There are some great anecdotes, particularly from the early days of the band, as well as various, compelling exploits from later years. For non-fans, this is probably more of a three star read as there are some meandering passages, and several instances of repetitive or overstated accounts of particular points and events. Still, I found the overall experience interesting, entertaining, and worthwhile. Another editing pass or two would most-likely have made for a better, smoother, more compact read but I do generally recommend the book as its minor, technical shortcomings don't significantly hinder it.

As a fan of the band for many years, I found Lol's perspectives mostly thoughtful and thought provoking. It seems clear to me that his heart and mind were both in the right place in terms of respectfully and sincerely telling his story, which ultimately elevated the experience …