P.H.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard plus background in jazz and ballet equals a science fiction writer, right? What?
Not only does Catherine Asaro have a P.H.D. from Harvard, but she also has a M.A. in Physics and a B.S. from ULCA in Chemistry. Her novel The Quantum Rose won the Nebula in 2001 and was written as an allegory to quantum scattering theory. If this sounds all too much like ultra sophisticated math; it is, but her stories often revolve around simple and well known themes.
The Quantum Rose was basically a Beauty and the Beast rewrite using aliens and a strange planet. A large gold humanoid alien crash lands on an out of the way planet and the local beauty marries him to save her family fortune. He is stranded and struggling to survive on a planet where the atmosphere is barely breathable for him. There is angst that a war is going on across the stars and he is missing it. Despite his startling appearance, they eventually fall in love. Sound a bit familiar?
Her stories are rich in romance and relationships. So, for you military types, or math elites, many of her books I would categorize as science fiction romance rather than hard science fiction. Do not be afraid. If you like Sharon Lee and Steve Miller and their Liadon Universe, then you’ll like this series too. Plus the math and physics is interesting if you want a touch of the intellectual.
I read Primary Inversion first and became enraptured by her Skolian Universe. It came out in 1995, but is one of the later stories in the timeline. For some reason, Catherine started with much later books on her timeline, so I would recommend that a new reader start with Skyfall that begins the dynasty that becomes the Ruby Empire.
Skyfall is the story of Roca Skolia who is a Rhon psion that carries telepathetic and empathetic powers. These humans are few and far between and comprise the nobility of the Skolian Empire. On her way home, traveling through the universe, Roca gets isolated on a primitive world called Skyfall. While waiting for the next ship to take her home, she is abducted by the local barbaric lord Eldrinson Althor Valdorian. Even though the odds are huge, it turns out that he also carries the Rhon gene. He is being challenged by an opposing faction that wants to take over his rule of Skyfall. Roca and Eldrinson get trapped in his castle and, as they say, the rest is history.
One of the reasons I chose Catherine Asaro this week is because she is coming out with a new book. After a while of waiting for the next novel, Carnelians will soon be out. Her previous book, Diamond Star was about the heir apparent not wanting the throne, but rather wanting to become a rock star instead. Of course, the royal family was all on board for this choice. NOT.