Review: The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

by Steve LeBel

Reviewed by JMD Reid


What if God got a C- in Universe Building 101?

UntitledThis one sentence blurb captured my imagination and I had to buy this book. Steve LeBel has created a unique world were Gods work for the Company building universe for reasons. The reasons don’t matter, what matters is the fascinating why they build their worlds as they try and create new and interesting realities.

Enter Bernie. He’s wasn’t the best student in school. He has some difficulty with ethics (he foolishly believes higher life forms shouldn’t be snuffed out at the whim of their creators). But he is the son of the famed builder, so Ezrah (head of HR), with the urging of his secretary Suzie, decides to gamble on hiring young Bernie, assigning him to Shemal’s department.

Only there’s one problem. Bernie’s childhood rival and bully, Billy, is Shemal’s nephew, and Billy is looking to get payback on Bernie. As Bernie tries to build his first universe and pass his probation period, Billy begins to sabotage him to get Bernie fired.

With the help of his friends Suzy and Lenny, Bernie fights back against Billy’s attacks on his Universe. But unbeknownst to Billy, higher life had formed on his Universe and the inhabitants, led by Alcandor struggle to understand the cataclysm befalling their world.

Steve has created an absolutely interesting world. The Gods exist in a world not unlike ours. They go to school, they have jobs, they get married and have kids. But they also create universes and its fascinating reading about Bernie and Billy’s war as Bernie has to fix every problem Billy causes.

And while there war is going on, he explores how primitive people attempt to explain the events beyond their understanding as Alcandor’s people are afflicted by Billy’s attacks. The characters are great, and Bernie and Suzy have a cute relationship that grows so slowly as the dense Bernie finally realizes Suzy is more than just his friend.

You will not be disappointed by The Universe Builder. You can buy it for $4.99 on Amazon.

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Drawing On Your Own Experiences

When writing, drawing on your own experiences are important. I have been going through my rough draft of Above the Storm, organizing my notes and figuring out what the story needs when I start my rewrites, and I came across the scene where two friends fight and their friendship is ended, and I realized where this scene had come from.

When I was in the seventh grade, I wasn’t very popular. I read a lot and was picked on for being a nerd. Yes, I know, shocking. I had one friend at the time. We had met over the summer between elementary school and Junior High (my school district had K-6 elementary, 7-9 Junior High, and 10-12 High School). His younger brother and my younger brother where in cub scouts together and I was dragged to a meeting. He lived only ten blocks away and we became friends.

Up until the start of my ninth grade, I thought he was my best friend. We hung out must weekends, playing RPGs, D&D, Magic the Gathering, Warhammer. And while I had made other friends by the ninth grade, he was the one I was closest to. And then, out of the blue, he told me that he had never really liked me and he didn’t want to hang out with me anymore.

It was a bitter experience. Two years of friendship turned out to be a lie. After that, I didn’t really see him until my Senior year in High School where we shared a class and pretty much ignored each other. I never knew why he hung out with me so much.

I channeled this relationship into my novel without even realizing it. Writing is such an interesting exercises. You have to reach into your soul, pulling out the pain that’s been heaped on you and putting it down on paper, sharing it for the entire world to read. You dredge events you had hoped to forget, unbottling emotions long buried. I can still feel that hurt, bewildered day.

Experiences shapes you and you can draw on those experiences to shape your characters, to add conflict to their lives. Draw on your life for the colors you use to paint the canvas of your story. So don’t be afraid to dredge the good times and the bad from your life and used them to create something that moves your readers to joy, to sadness, to fear, to anger.

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Rough Draft Finished!

I finished the rough draft on my novel Above the Storm (Book One of The Storm Below) today. One step closer to being published!

photos-of-storms-13The skies above the Storm are a dangerous place. Agerzak pirates hunt for lone ships to plunder, the Empire of Vaarck is forever covetous of the rebellious skylands that have slipped out of its grasp, and the mysterious Stormriders summon massive Cyclones to rise out of the ever-churning Storm Below to attack the small, floating islands. For the Autonomy of Les-Vion, the Navy is their Stormwall, protecting its citizens from all threats above and below the Storm.

On the summer solstice, every citizen of the Autonomy that had turned seventeen are given the Blessing of Riasruo, the Goddess Above, and are entered into the yearly naval draft. All Ary wants is to marry his sweetheart Chaylene and start a life with her in their small, farming village. But life never goes the way anyone plans and the Autonomy needs fresh men and women to defend their skies.

Rushing into marriage to keep from being separated, Ary and Chaylene are taken from their homes to Camp Chubris where the Autonomy trains its new batch of Sailors, Marines, and Scouts. Dealing with the stress of training, their new marriage is strained by the guilt of Ary’s childhood and the temptations of their fellow recruits.

But Ary has a dangerous secret. As a boy, he had witnessed a Cyclone attack on his home skyland and was touched by the Dark Goddess Theisseg’s lightning. This taint poses a threat to the Church of Riasruo and their assassin plot his death for the greater good of the skies above the Storm!

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