Category Archives: Liandon Universe

What Comes Next? Science Fiction Series Conumdrum

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One of the things I try to do when blogging about a series I want to suggest, is to start with the first book in the series. The problem with that is, if I like the series, then I want to read the next book, and the next, and that gets time consuming. In addition to reading a book a week (or more) for my blog, I am writing and editing my next book in my own series…

Which brings me to another dilemma.

When someone asks me to tell them what book they should read first, I hesitate on what to suggest.

Of course, it should be the first in the series…which I like…but the first one is a very different book from some of the others. The first is a time travel romance with adventure. Fun stuff…but…

The second one is a young adult with flavors of fantasy while the third is espionage and mystery and takes place at Sunpointe Space Academy. And because it’s time travel, you can start with this book also.

In the fourth, all action is on a space ship and is more hard science, Star Trek and first contact while book five is genetic manipulation and alien invasion. Six is apocalypse and alien crystals with some romance.

See what I mean?

They are all science fiction, but they’re all very different, and yet they deal with the same characters along a timeline on the planet, Alysia.

And that may change too.

I’m thinking of going out to other worlds with my guys.

Meet new people, er, aliens, er whatever.

The second part of this dilemma is that over time, and through much work, I hope that I have improved in my writing.

Shouldn’t an author get better as he or she writes? If you care about what you are putting out to the public, then hopefully you are improving. (Although where to put commas still drives me crazy)

My writers group says this last one is the best one so far. Someone’s Clone is a mystery thriller with transhumanism. Starts off with a murder and the main character is hunted down and he doesn’t know why. To disguise himself, he undergoes a dramatic operation that equips him with an implanted computer and superhuman abilities. Think the bionic man. Then he is caught up in the middle of a conflict between the invading Terrans and the native Alysians for control of the planet.

So it’s hard to know what to say when they ask what they should read first. It depends on what their science fiction hot button is. This is the dilemma of the series writer. What is the best book to offer first so as to hook your reader?

Trilogy of Dune Sometimes, sequels don’t have the same dramatic impact as the original. Here I’m thinking of the Dune Series by a Frank Herbert. His son Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have continued adding prequels and sequels to the original series and, for the most part, have done a good job. But the first book, Dune, is the best in my opinion. But now, it’s no longer the beginning in the series of their timeline, but more in the middle.

However, Lois Bujold has kept up the quality in her Vorsigan Series and her last one, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance was  unexpectedly good. The same could be said for Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liadon series. However, Lois has kept going forward along her timeline while Lee and Miller have hopped all around, offering earlier stories and later ones. It can be confusing except they’re stand alones with complete stories. Still.Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

So after a reluctant review of The First Blade by Joe Abercrombie, I found myself drawn into reading the second book of The First Law Trilogy. With a trilogy, you have to start with the first one to make any sense of what you’re reading. The action is one continuous story.

It wasn’t the writing as much as the subject matter and what the characters did that put me off the first book…like cutting off fingers and staggering bloody through mud, etc. One character reminded me of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, only instead of a dwarf, he is a crippled who was tortured by the enemy and now serves as Inquisitor for the king. Each step Glatko takes, each move he makes, brings pain, and the reader winces along with him.

However, the second book Before They Are Hanged was quite good. I found myself becoming invested in the characters. I grew to look forward to the biting wit of Glatko, the Inquisitor, and the evolution of his character as he actually shows courage, intelligence and selected compassion along with his torturing.

Each of the characters goes through a dramatic evolution. Jezel, the shallow, silly dandy of a Lieutenant becomes disfigured and assumes some humility and compassion. Logan, an ugly, scary, brute of a Northman, proves to be the most capable when the chips are down. Lieutenant West, the solid loyal self-made man, loses control after a devastating battle and commits the unspeakable crime. As each one struggles to meet what life throws at them, they change, adapt and as Logan constantly reassures himself with, “I’m still alive,” the reader is amazed along with him at the fact.

In this case, I’m glad I continued in the series and recommend it. Now, let’s see how it all ends with the final book.

Before I leave, I want to let anyone know that isn’t aware that we’ll have a total eclipse of the moon April 15 (some celestial comment about my taxes?)

The good news is that a full eclipse will appear in the western hemisphere. The bad news is that it starts at 2:00 a.m. for you night owls and goes to 4:00 a.m. or so. Here’s the link that gives all the details.

http://www.space.com/25390-total-lunar-eclipse-april-preview.html

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, fantasy, Liandon Universe, Lois McMasters Bujold, modifying humans, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing, Space opera, space travel, time travel, Transhumanism, Uncategorized

The Overwhelmed Author

IMG_0180Are there other authors and writers out there overwhelmed by all they are told they need to do and little time in which to accomplish it?

With Amazon opening the floodgates of self publishing in 2009-2010, I am now hearing the moans of authors saying, “I have no time to write anymore.”

Marketing has reared it’s ugly head.

Even those carrying contracts with big and little publishers are tasked to do the lion’s share of their marketing. Everybody has turned to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,Google+, Goodreads, Librarything, LinkedIn, etc. and finding social media can create a black hole in their time and energy without any knowledge of what return is gotten on sales. Everyone’s experience is different. Some swear by social media, while others question its effectiveness. As old ways shift to new strategies, we feel like we’re on unsettled ground.

In addition, the Indie author is struggling with formatting, editing, cover design and downloading protocol. It’s doable, but time consuming unless you farm it out…and then beware. Everyone has a book to sell on marketing or book design. Various publishers are ready to rip off the uninformed writer who has no time to research what a good contract should look like, what distribution is best or just the basic business of writing.

Check out http://kriswrites.com to help you. It’s an exciting world out there to be sure….but overwhelming.

And if you’re writing, I am hearing the complaint that there’s no time to read anymore. Welcome to my world…and I write a book review blog. Gah!

This week I strayed off course (“Again!” you say.) and picked up Constellation 2 (just out) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Constellation 1 is also out.

Constellation

As some know, I’m deep in the Liadon Universe series and this is a compilation of short stories published over the years for various magazines and venues.

The interesting point here is that these authors kept writing and putting out work while they tried to find a publisher. They kept on. And on.

And developed a fan base, or what everyone is now calling “a platform.”

Think persistence if you want to be successful. Remember the parable of the tortoise and the hare? So, because of their persistence, they also have a wealth of content that they are bundling into anthologies. In addition, they are taking their novelettes and putting two or three together, adding a new cover and title and republishing to a new and building readership.

If you own your copyright, you can do this. Hear me Indie author…the power is yours.

Constellation2Constellation 2 is a delightful group of stories. Lee and Miller have a way of making their characters feel alive. In each story, the plot is interesting and the action strong.

For example:

In the first story, a young girl struggles in a world where women are controlled and repressed. Father has several wives picked out by his father. Women are not taught to read and are expected to stay home and serve their chosen husband . But Ina Bhar is the mousy third daughter with a clever mind and her father, a scholar, lets her into his world by teaching her to read and think. He bequeaths her the Curiat, a dangerous book that brings about his death at the hands of those searching for it. Using the book, she plots to escape her bonds, her world and those that would kill for its secrets.

Not one normally for anthologies, these stories feel like quick additional peeks into the lives of characters I have read about over the years. They are a side venture, not explored with the major plot but vignettes that adds depth and deeper understanding to characters and events already introduced in the series. They are familiar characters or situations that I am eager to learn more about.

So, here is an example of two authors who are getting creative with their efforts, and stories written long ago for other venues are finding new markets, and adding some efficiency to the role of the Indie author.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, dragons, genetic manipulation, Liandon Universe, Science Fiction Anthology, Science Fiction Novelettes

Species Symbiosis: Pets in science fiction

IMG_0193Two new kittens tear across my feet, jump and land in a tussle of ferocious claws and fur, wrestling with each other. Tails flick, haunches wiggle and soon one is soaring through the air with a mighty pounce.Image 3

Nothing like two new cats  to distract my gaze from the wet, chill weather that has moved into the Northwest.

So, throughout history and even into fictional alien worlds has humanity attempted to bond with other species.

A treecat in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series springs to mind. A sense of communication and symbiosis wrapped around Honor’s neck much like a pelted scarf.OnBasiliskStation

Sky DragonsOr the dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey that humans imprint on the hatching grounds and forge a telecommunication link that can transcend even time.

Robin Hobb also carries out this theme of telepathic dragons in her own dragon series. The more recent ones being Blood of Dragons and City of Dragons. Also in her Farseer trilogy, the young boy hero bonds with a wolf.Royal Assassin

The Zero StoneAndre Norton’s The Zero Stone starts a series where the ship’s cat ingests a strange seedpod and evolves into an entity that names itself Eet and follows the hero as his companion into adventures.

Timothy Vaughn writes in Dragon and Thief about a dragon alien, named Draycos,  that blends onto the young hero’s back and legs, but can leap out into three dimensions to interact at need. Talk about getting a wild tat.Dragon and Thief

In the Liaden universe,  several family cats are cameoed and even a tree appears to communicate with the Delm of Korval, dropping magical seed pods whenever necessary.

John Scalzi’s hero, Jack Halloway,  battles to prove sentience in a small furry creature that he befriends in Fuzzy Nation.  Human and creature face off in a legal battle against the big business of  Zaracorp that has its own plans for their alien world.51CG59JWAeL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

If you’re searching for a story of alien and human bonding, here are just a few samples of species symbiosis in science fiction .

Do you have any favorites?

We humans form friendships and alliances with other species on our own Earth, so why not with aliens from other worlds? From dolphins to horses, cats to dogs, many other species have enriched our life and eased the drear of coming winter with adorable gamboling and warm, cuddly affection.Kittens copy

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Anne McCaffrey, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, dragons, Liandon Universe, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Uncategorized

Sampling the Novelette in Science Fiction

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I have never been a short story enthusiast, nor one for anthologies. Give me the long story…the deep world…or better yet, an extended series.

The number one current marketing tip is…write more books…novelettes…short stories.

Recently, thanks to Hugh Howey and others, the teaser and then, follow-up novels have become touted as a way to accumulate readers.

My path.

I tried Hugh Howey’s first book, Wool, and this week followed that with book 2,  Wool: Proper Gauge.  I must admit I spent money to get it, but I was impressed with the writing and very much enjoyed it. And it didn’t cost that much.

I plan to read more.

WoolIn book one, the reader is introduced to the world of the silo where humanity is trapped by a hostile world inside a huge one hundred forty-four level living space. The sheriff, Holston, believes that the bleak landscape that they see through the begrimed windows is a lie, as did his wife before him, and he volunteers to go out and clean the other side of the contaminated lenses. The poignant story of this event runs about forty-nine pages.

Book two, Wool: Proper Gauge continues the story as the aging mayor Jahns and her assistant, Marnes, have to now find a new sheriff for the Silo community. Very cleverly, Howey places Marne’s top candidate at the bottom of the Silo, and the Mayor and Marnes travel down all one hundred and forty-four levels in an attempt to interview her and persuade her to accept the position.Wool2

What you get is a fascinating look at the Silo community at various levels and an interesting mystery concerning the controversial candidate…Juliette, a mechanic servicing the engines of the Silo at the bottom.

An additional obstacle crops up in the form of Bernard, who runs IT and appears to be trying to gather power and control over the Silo. He suggests another candidate and is startled when Mayor Jahns rejects his signed, sealed and delivered choice. A dangerous move on her part.

A shocking twist at the end wets the reader’s appetite for book three.

Not content to open a whole new way of delivering a fascinating story, Howey has opened his world to other authors who are now publishing their own stories within the Silo universe.

Hmmm… Interesting.

Another set of authors, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, are bringing out novelettes and adding them to the already best selling novels of the Liadon Universe. They are offering these shorter stories for anywhere from $1.99 and up.

courierI recently read Courier Run. I picked it because it is a back story on the relationship between Daav yos Phelium, Delm Korval, and Aelliana Caylon when they were first starting out as courier pilots on Ride the Luck. And it was only $2.99 and an easy read.

 I also wanted to learn further about Daav, since I had recently read Fledgling, Saltation, and Ghost Ship in which he plays an older father and background part.

I was in the Liadon Universe and thirsty for more.

 For those who have read Agent of Change, and Carpe Diem, and know Daav, Courier Run is a fun filled story about an upper class romance, a mother, a daughter and a ring in a tricky insurance fraud shell game. Daav and Aelliana are tasked to deliver a priceless ring to a museum, but the daughter has already gifted this ring to her paramour. Quick thinking is in order for Aelliana and co-pilot Daav as they deliver the ring on Ride the Luck.

The second story in this set is “Kinship” and finishes up the story in Changeling, which tells Ren Zel’s story of “death” and ostracism through the hands of a treacherous clan leader. In “Kin Ties” he returns home and faces true death at the hands of the clan leader’s descendent who blames him for the death of her mother and the collapse of her clan.

As always, Miller and Smith deliver. In this case reading Changeling first would make “Kinship” more understandable, but the two stand on their own in the Liadon series.

In the past, both these novelettes would be too short to find on a bookstore shelf unless buried in an anthology, but the new world of publishing and how we read has open up the door, and these tasty helpings on the buffet table of a popular series are well worth sampling.

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Filed under Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, Discovering new a Earth, ebook science fiction, Hugh Howey, Liandon Universe, Science Fiction Novelettes, science fiction series, Science fiction world building