Author's Bookshelf: Jim Cronin

We're bringing something a bit different to Writing in the Modern Age today. Awhile back, I had an idea for a new feature so I reached out to some author colleagues to see if they'd like to participate. I thought it might be nice to show readers a few books that have inspired authors. You might find it enlightening, and at least be able to answer the age old question, "What the heck do authors read?"



Writers are readers too! Most authors love to collect books for their vast personal libraries. The written word is fascinating to us, and many newer authors as well as those in the past have helped to shape who we are today. 



Without further ado, our guest today is Jim Cronin, a sci-fi author and aficionado of dystopian fiction. Won't it be interesting to hear about a few books that have inspired Jim on his writing and publishing journey? 


Sounds pretty awesome to me. So, take it away, Jim!



1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein




One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.


Jim's Thoughts:


I know, this is sort of cheating on the five books, but they all have to go together as one. This trilogy is the iconic fantasy world epic adventure. Nearly all fantasy worlds developed since Tolkien use many of the same inhabitants and struggles. The struggle of good vs. evil, self-discovery, overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds… this one has it all.
I love this story because it was my awakening into the world of books. While in high school and college, reading became a chore. Everything I read was either a textbook or some assignment with specific objectives and outcomes. There was no joy in reading. That is until I found Tolkien. He sent my mind into a new world of incredible adventures. I have been hooked on books ever since.


2. Foundation by Isaac Asimov



For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun--or fight them and be destroyed.


Jim's Thoughts:


Another series, but I can’t help it. The sheer scope and breadth of the Foundation series is unreal. Generations of people over galactic distances, all interwoven and connected. How someone can imagine, and keep control over such immense time scales and events blows my mind. I have always been a science geek, Asimov turned me into a science fiction geek as well.

3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card



In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.
Ender's Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.


Jim's Thoughts:

A coming of age story of a young boy, tortured by everyone, including his own brother, simply because he has a unique blend of courage, compassion and empathy. I identified with young Ender’s isolation and inner struggles as he overcame the constant barriers thrown at him in his eventual rise to victory, only to learn he is responsible for an unforgivable evil. I think the author captured the mind of an adolescent boy striving to learn who he is and how he related to the universe perfectly.


4. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin



Winner of the Lincoln Prize

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.


Jim's Thoughts:


Now this is how a president is supposed to act. Instead of surrounding himself with 'yes' men, Abraham Lincoln chooses a collection of advisors with wildly different opinions and backgrounds, including some absolutely opposed to his own ideals. Despite the bitter struggles to gain control over him, Lincoln held sway over all of them, forcing each one to rise to new heights. Kearns gives amazing insight into not only Abraham Lincoln the man, but the presidency itself.


5. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond



In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California's Gold Medal.


Jim's Thoughts:


Diamond gives us an entirely new view of world history. This book covers the entire 13,000-year history of the human race. The author provides a fresh and brilliantly written history of how and why various cultures and societies throughout history have flourished and died. I found this one fascinating, and a wonderful blend of science and history.


Thank you, Jim!


And here is a little about Jim's book, Hegira


Book Blurb:


His species became extinct decades before the aliens rescued and cloned him, but he still must do everything he can to save them all. Karm must travel back in time, create the most powerful financial empire ever seen on the planet Dyan’ta and assemble a team of experts who must be kept in the dark about his plans for fear of upsetting the timeline.

Dr. Jontar Rocker is an up and coming geneticist whose untested and controversial theories on cloning become the lynch pin in Karm’s schemes. Maripa, Karm’s petite and beautiful surrogate niece, personal secretary, and deadly bodyguard must learn to trust Karm despite his deceptions and secrets. Can the emerging love between Dr. Rocker and Maripa survive the demons and surprises of their own past, as well as Karm’s impenetrable air of mystery?

Karm and his companions must save the Brin. To do so, they must band together to overcome Brach, the ambitious and obsessed monarch. Determined to take control of Karm's vast industrial empire, Brach joins forces with his conniving brother Pareth, leader of The Faith an ultra-conservative religious order committed to stopping Dr. Rocker and his heretical efforts to develop cloning techniques. Nothing less than survival of their species is at stake.


Here is an excerpt.

Come in, Latonia Base…come in Latonia Base. This is Starship Hegira, repeat, this is Hegira. Come in, Latonia.”
Static crackled from the speaker. The lieutenant, bleeding and dying from the injuries he received during the mutiny trembled feebly as he gripped the microphone. Blood soaked his crest feathers; his talons broken and jagged from the hand-to-hand combat in the spaceship’s passageways. He knew his wounds were fatal, but his duty was clear: to report back to base about the failure of the mission. His body tensed as the next wave of pain shot through him.
“Latonia Base, this is Hegira. Come in. Priority clearance Falcon, Delta. Come in Base. Damn you to hell!” the soldier shouted in desperation. “Somebody answer! Come in, Latonia!” The microphone dropped from his talons, clattering on the control panel before falling to the metal plated floor. The lieutenant slumped back into the chair, pressing a blood soaked rag to his shoulder. Staring out the view port he watched the star-filled blackness and wondered at the cruel turn fate had taken over the past few days.
Genre: Time Travel/Science Fiction/Dystopian


What People Are Saying About Hegira:

Reader’s Favorite 5 Stars:

-        “…Hegira is a very well-written story that combines so many complex layers that I was thinking about it for days after I finished reading it.” - Renee Taylor

-        “Hegira is an incredible scientific world that Jim Cronin wrote eloquently. It is full of danger and adventure, as well as suspense and scientific discoveries that will blow your mind.” - JJ Phillips


This is an intriguing and suspenseful read with some good twists. It is an intelligent piece of science fiction with excellent development of the characters. There is even room for some romance.
Highly recommended!” - Bill

"Great book! Twists in plot were well thought out & timed perfectly - just when you thought you knew where you were going, a twist comes into play…” by Clare Bruno

“Mr. Cronin writes on several levels successfully: from the detailed lives of a myriad of characters to the larger economic & political powers at play in a full world, complex and dangerous. And that's not even counting the star that's about to go supernova!...” by Debauched Sloth

“The author's characters are varied, both in personality and trait, which makes them all interesting…. Hegira augurs well for Jim Cronin's future books. I look forward to reading more from him. ..” by Tracy Black

“Of obvious appeal to sci-fi fans but the strong story-line gives this book universal appeal. So I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good, well-written story….” by Maria

“Wow! It's been a long time since I read good science fiction. Cronin's writing is superb and his world building abilities are impressive. At times, I had to slow down and take it all in. But he put the story together nicely. The twists throughout were well-placed and the story itself had a great flow.
Hegira offers so much to readers: mystery, adventure, and even some romance! …” by Carissa Beckherms

This is a new author to me and I completely enjoyed the wild ride. From the outset the reader knew that Karm was sent from the future to save his race when his world’s sun supernovas. You even know how the last mission went wrong so when you are reading and see the same pattern developing you turn the pages with despair. History is doomed to repeat itself, yet you are compelled to keep turning pages. The book has built in plot twists which makes reading until the end very rewarding. Thank you for the wonderful story…” By Kestrel watcher


Purchase Links:


Amazon Universal link:




Fascinating! Thank you for stopping by to give us a glimpse of your bookshelf, Jim!  :)


About the Author:

I worked for thirty five years as a middle school science teacher, but am now semi-retired, working part-time as an educator/performer at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I have been married for thirty seven years to the love of my life, Diane. Together, we raised two incredible sons, and now have a beautiful granddaughter to spoil rotten.

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in Arlington, Virginia before moving to Denver where I attended High School and eventually college at Colorado State University, graduating with a degree in Zoology and a teacher certification. I currently live near Denver in the small town of Parker.

While I have always enjoyed reading science fiction stories, actually writing one never seemed possible. Just ask any of my former Language Arts co-teachers. They will confirm my complete mystification by the English language. However, on a lark, and at the urging of my brother, I labored to learn to write. It only took three years of editing, rewriting, and regular rejections to finally produce this book. It has proved to be a fascinating and incredible journey.


Author Links:




Amazon Author Page:





Jim's Book:


Well, there you have it, readers! What a nice look at Jim's bookshelf! It was a pleasure to have him here! :)



No comments:

Post a Comment

Featured Post

A Character Interview with Dillon from MOUNTAIN BLAZE, plus a conversation with author Debby Grahl!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview. These character interviews, ...