Tag Archives: Jamie Beckett

Book Review: Just About Armageddon, By Jamie Beckett

The second installment in Jamie Beckett’s sci-fi thriller series, Just About Armageddon, finds our reluctant hero, Randy Tagget, aboard a space platform called the Lifeboat Augusta with a carefully selected crew. Planet Earth, as we know it, is gone, victim of a meteorite the size of Manhattan. This crew has no idea how long it will have to survive in space, but that’s not the only problem Tagget will face.

Beckett originally envisioned this series as something akin to the movie serials of the 1950s (think The Rocketman). In the first installment, To the Lifeboats, Tagget is part of an elite group of specialists (engineers, mathematicians, software developers, doctors, agronomists, pilots) chosen for their ability to rebuilt earth from the catastrophic effects of the meteorite. A total of 379 rockets were launched toward three lifeboats and 317 achieved orbit.

Keisha Miller, pilot of Tagget’s ship, was trained by Governor Raphael Fuentes, who establishes himself as the leader of the Lifeboat Augusta. Fuentes is hardly the benevolent dictator. Tagget and a small band of trusted confidants discover Fuentes has designs on a larger empire in space and won’t hesitate to eliminate whoever stands in his way.

Though Tagget doesn’t know who to trust, he eventually forms a secret team with Miller, software engineer Ashish Shah and air traffic controller Ronnie Tarkasian in a high-stakes plan whose failure would not only doom them, but possibly their entire planet.

Beckett uses his background as an airline pilot to create realistic flight scenarios. Tagget and Miller must figure out a way to stop Fuentes, while protecting their co-conspirators.

In both installments, a major theme is the inability of people to work together, even when facing the destruction of the planet. Perhaps this is Beckett’s commentary on the dysfunctional political climate of Washington DC or the inability of politicians to do anything to stop the environmental damage to our planet. Even in space, politics trumps the collaboration of people of different nations and races to survive.

The cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next installment.

(Full disclosure: CG Blake and Jamie Beckett are longtime friends who met in the 1980s when Beckett was the bass guitar player for Hartford-based band called The Broken Hearts)

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My 2011 Reading List

You’ve read this before. Aspiring fiction writers should read widely across all genres. This will give the novice writer a better understanding of the craft of fiction. I believe new writers cannot improve their own writing unless they read quality fiction. It also gives all writers an appreciation for great literature.

Each year, I set a goal to read 25 books. I try to sprinkle in some non-fiction books in addition to the fiction books I read. Once in a while, I re-read a classic, as I did this year with To Kill a Mockingbird. I also make an effort to read e-books by new authors, as I did this year with Victorine Lieszke’s Not What She Seems and A.D. Bloom’s Bring Me the Head of the Buddha. Full disclosure: Aaron Bloom is a fellow member of the West Hartford CT Fiction Writers’ Group and a very talented writer.

Here is a list of books read this year:

Fiction

The Adults, by Alison Espach

The Red Thread, by Ann Hood

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Burritos and Gasoline, by Jamie Beckett

The Year We Left Home, by Jean Thompson

Faith, by Jennifer Haigh

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Whiskey Sour, by JA Konrath

Not What She Seems, by Victorine Lieszke

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Eagan

Lethal Experiment, by John Locke

Baker Towers, by Jennifer Haigh

Mrs. Kimble, by Jennifer Haigh

Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro

Who Do You Love, by Jean Thompson

The One That I Want, by Allison Winn Scotch

Solar, by Ian McEwan

Bring Me the Head of the Buddha, by A.D. Bloom

Northwest Corner, by John Burnham Schwartz

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan

Innocent, by Scott Turow

In Zanesville, by Jo Ann Beard

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

The Broker, by John Grisham

The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

While I Was Gone, by Sue Miller

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

The Good Mother, by Sue Miller

The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

Non-fiction

Life, by Keith Richards

Decision Points, by George W. Bush

Decoded, by Jay-Z

Professional Development

The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner

Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Mass

Write Away, by Elizabeth George

Later this week, I will reveal my favorite book of 2011.

How many books did you read in 2011? Which one did you enjoy the most and why?

 

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