Thursday, December 29, 2016

Spotlight: Cubeball by Michael Leon (#review #scifi #giveaway @MichaelLeon0433)

Cubeball cover


A naturally gifted ex-national champion and a savant with a computer-like mind compete against the world's best in the 22nd century's most popular sport - CUBEBALL - the chess-like, technology-enhanced, snooker of the future where the world stage is dominated by gambling, drugs and massive audiences.


For billions of fans worldwide, Cubeball is the most thrilling sport available in the twenty second century, a fast-paced, high-stakes game combining skill, strategy and luck. Obsessed viewers spend hours watching broadcast matches and fight for tickets to live contests.

For managers, advertisers, gamblers and criminals, Cubeball is big business. Millions of credits are won or lost in a single competition, but that’s just the beginning. Cubeball champions are the rock stars of the era, worshiped and emulated, and their product endorsements are practically priceless.

For Mickey Allen, however, Cubeball is art and passion, a vocation, almost a religion. Mickey has a rare natural gift for the technologically enhanced, three dimensional descendant of billiards. From his earliest years, he has possessed a near-mystical ability to understand the impossibly complex interaction of forces that control the myriad balls and their trajectories. As the sport becomes increasingly influenced by high technology and by performance-boosting drugs and supplements, Mickey continues to play pure Cubeball, relying on his intuition and inner vision.

Ten years before the start of the novel, Mickey fled to Mars after being forced by his corrupt manager Johnnie to throw a championship match. Now, broke and desperate, he has returned to Earth, and to the only thing he really knows or cares about: Cubeball. He struggles against the insidious influence of his former manager, the chilly disdain of his brilliant sister Riley, and his own tendencies toward alcohol and drug addiction. His goals: to reclaim the championship title, make enough money to clear his debts, and set to rest the ghost of Jules, the woman he’d once loved, whom Johnnie had destroyed.

He finds unlikely allies in Ludwig, an autistic savant who sees the Cubeball plays as visual music, and in his rehab therapist Dr. Harry Vance. However, Johnnie is richer, more powerful and more evil than ever, Riley’s loyalties are not clear, and the new generation of top-rated Cubeball players are ten years younger and sharper than Mickey, but just as hungry. If Mickey loses the championship, he will have lost everything.

I am not generally a fan of sports-themed stories, although science fiction is one of my favorite genres. In addition, the first few chapters made it clear to me that Cubeball is no literary masterpiece. The writing is awkward in some places, and I noticed a number of serious editing errors. Nevertheless, this novel hooked me from the start. It’s written with passion, more than skill. Somehow, the author really made me care about Mickey and his quest to recover his life and his self-respect. I raced through the nearly 300 pages of the novel, eager to see how Mickey fared. After all, this is scifi. Happy endings are not required.

Though I never really managed to visualize how Cubeball is played, Mickey’s talent for the game is vividly portrayed and endlessly fascinating. When Ludwig appears in the tale, he complements Mickey’s physical prowess with his transcendental visions of action and reaction. Both Mickey and Ludwig are underdogs, despised by society. There’s a deep satisfaction in seeing them triumph, especially since it’s not an easy process.

Some aspects of Michael Leon’s portrayal of the twenty second century seem like natural extensions of current societal trends. The mass fervor associated with Cubeball is not that different from today’s sports manias. (The rampant commercialism is equally familiar.) Other features of Leon’s worldfor instance, the drug-drenched virtualities of the Velvet Underground—struck me as more original and surprising. Ultimately, though, I felt that the futuristic background of the novel was not all that important to its goals. Really, the book is about a man following his dream, overcoming both internal and external obstacles to achieve the success that is his birthright. This is a timeless journey.


Jules’ gaze emboldened Mickey to reveal his special gift to her. He strode confidently to the cue-ball and lined up one of the most difficult shots in cubeball. Then with little thought, he cracked the cue-ball with a force that matched the passion he was feeling. The curve on the first line was more pronounced than the programmed line set by the computer.

Mickey had struck the perfect shot. Sam and Riley sat staring at the console, mesmerised by what they had just seen and eager to re-capture its perfection on replay. Only champions could play this way and it was clear to all that Mickey was developing into one.

Fucking incredible,” said Johnnie. His eyes were wide. Filled with awe for Mickey’s skills and expectation with how much he could earn from it.

Mickey didn’t hear his appreciative manager. He didn’t see the small tear that had formed in his kid sister’s admiring eye. His gaze remained on Jules. She brushed her hair back on to her shoulders before resting her slender hands on her hips. Her mouth was wide open, breathing in her excitement for what she had just seen. Then her eyes revealed that there was more to her feelings than that of an adoring fan. Her gaze began to fill with a stirring hunger. Fate was beginning to move into Mickey’s life like an evening moon tide.

About the Author

I worked with national and international organisations as a business analyst in Australia and overseas. I authored many business books analysing the foodservice and food retail industry in Australia, Europe and Asia, as well as agribusiness global trends. I also ran a consultancy business that assisted Australian enterprises to develop new markets in Australia and overseas.

I commenced writing science fiction novels full time in 2009. It was a life-long interest of mine. I have written five novels - all exploring contemporary social issues in future speculative worlds. They are: Shadow Dance; Extinction; Cubeball; Titan Sages and Alive. My novels blend speculative science, new age and poetry. Readers of novels such as Carl Sagan’s Contact would enjoy my novels.


Buy links

Cubeball is only 99 cents during the tour!

Michael will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

December 8: Fangirls Read It First
December 15: Long and Short Reviews
December 29: Beyond Romance
January 5: Magic and Machines

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Mary Preston said...

A great review thank you.

Michael Leon said...

Thank you Beyond Romance for hosting me today and for your insightful review. Thanks also to GoddessFish. Wishing everyone good luck in the giveaway!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Michael!

I really enjoyed the book. The review is up on Amazon and Goodreads, and submitted to B&N.

Hi, Mary... thanks for dropping by!

Karen H said...

Rocky meets Rainman and the Hunger Games? That's quite a setup. Sounds like a good story. Thanks for the review and the excerpt.

Michael Leon said...

Hi Karen! Thanks for dropping by! I hope you find the time to read Cubeball. I'd appreciate your feedback. Good luck with the giveaway!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the excerpt.

Michael Leon said...

Hi Lisa! Thank you and good luck with the giveaway!

Michael Leon said...

Hi Rita! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your support!

Bernie Wallace said...

Congrats on the release. Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Michael Leon said...

Hi Joseph! Thanks and good luck with the giveaway!

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your post! :)

Melinda Campbell said...

Thanks for the awesome excerpt! Loved reading it. Curious to know more about Mickey and his gift! One I will for sure check out.

Michael Leon said...

Hi Victoria! Thanks for your feedback!

Michael Leon said...

Hi Melinda! I appreciate your interest and look forward to hearing your feedback, should you read Cubeball.

Nikolina said...

Thank you for introducing me to this book, it sounds like something I'd really enjoy reading!

Michael Leon said...

Hi Nikolina! I hope you get a chance to read Cubeball. I'd really appreciate your feedback! Good luck with the giveaway!

Enchanting Reviews said...

This sounds like my kind of story!

Michael Leon said...

Hi Amy! Thanks for you feedback! I will look forward to your feedback, should you read it.

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