Category Archives: space ship

Persistence: a Good trait for Authors

Persistence can be very powerful.

Over twenty-five years ago, I began writing a book. At times I had a day job, at times I was a busy mother, but on weekends and during odd moments, I would write. And when I wasn’t writing, I was imagining. Occasionally, I would submit my story, but as I kept on writing, I built a body of work that I hoped someday might be published. Nonetheless, having the stories was reward enough at the time.

It’s often easy to quit. As they say, “I’ve done it many times.” But the lure of a story would eventually bring me back to my writing. I also had a number of fans who encouraged me… so that helped.

Why am I blogging about this? Because recently I noticed that Andy McKell frequently posts a “like” on my blog. The notice would show up in my e-mail, I’d see his smiling, rugged face, and after a time, I would say to myself, “Ah, there’s Andy again.” He didn’t hype his work, he didn’t push for me to review him, he just put a like on my blog.

More than a year went by, and one day I saw somewhere, I think on an ad site, a book by Andy McKell. By now you may have realized I catch on slowly, but I eventually get there. So, I downloaded Faces of Janus by Andy McKell onto my Kindle library. The blurb made it sound interesting.

And there it sat.

Why? Because I had eagerly started out reading various Indie scifi books and soon became discouraged by the poor formatting, awful grammar, and rambling storylines that I too often found. I got caught in the dilemma of helping out new writers while offering an honest opinion to my bloggers. For you see, I wanted to suggest books in science fiction on my blog that excited me, that I knew others would want to read, but hey, I didn’t want to reject a sensitive new writer. Our stories are our children. We care what people say. We’re vulnerable to criticism. I didn’t want to be that person.

So I announced that I would no longer do review requests. Many new authors are under the impression that because they offer their work free, readers will do backflips of joy and be thrilled to receive their free and wonderful book. But it takes time to read and then write a review… lots of precious time. And often the books were lacking.

So Andy’s book languished in my library while I read hot new books from those top ten lists often promoted by traditional publishers. To be fair, many turned out great.

And then there was his smiling face again… persistence. Another “like” showed up.

Another one that led me over to his website, which had become even more interesting since my last visit. I decided to open his book and give it a try.

Lo and behold, I’m enjoying it. I’m glad—because without us exchanging a word, I think of Andy as a friend now.

Persistence.

So here’s the first of his current two of a series: Faces of Janus: (Paradisi Trilogy) by Andy McKell. His second is: Janus Challenge (Paradisi Trilogy)

Corporate power. Corporate betrayal. In the last decades of the twenty-first Century, the wealthiest, most powerful families on Earth are constructing ten vast space ships. Their stated mission is to travel to Mars to escape a failing Earth.

But everyone carries a secret. Jason Janus, son and now living heir of the original founder of J Corp, leaves on a multitude of unknown trips. One of his top executives and reluctant lover, Angel Flores, takes on a side lover due to JJ’s many absences. Meanwhile, Zag Bishop, her new love interest, hires Katya from a work auction to be a Guardian at J Corp due to her fighting skills and tough attitude. But she has a secret background she must hide and lives in fear of being found out.

Angel and Zag begin to put together leaked and stolen information that suggests the ships’ true destination may be altogether different than announced. The plot thickens as the ships leave and the world wakes up to the fact that they are not headed to Mars, but somewhere totally different.

A near future story of corporate espionage, secret lives, and desperate lies make this one I should have investigated sooner.

But, persistence paid off, and I’m enjoying it now.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Alien worlds, Discovering New Worlds, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series, space ship, space travel

Publishing Prediction for 2017

Mother nature is throwing fits.

In Oregon, just west of us, forty thousand areas of beautiful forests are burning near Multnomah Falls. Here in Portland the sky glows an apocalyptic orange and ash sprinkles all over, dusting my car and home.

In Florida, where both my husband and I grew up, and some family still resides, a monster hurricane roars toward land and residents flee before it.

What is going on?

My brother in Winter Garden, Florida, commented that the two events should meet and cancel each other out.

If only it were that easy.

Maybe an author could use the two events to pen an apocalyptic novel. They seem so popular nowadays.

Meanwhile, there’s hope for the future. While the hurricane is still whirling toward Miami, our winds have changed course today and are blowing the smoke away from us. (cough, cough)

So, hopefully, we resilient humans will survive nature’s tantrums.

Looking into the future, Written Word did a survey at the beginning of 2017 on publishing, and since I’ve been in full blown survey mode lately, I thought to pass along the results and implications for you as an author. The caveat is that Written Word sponsors ad sites such as Freebooksy, Bargain Books and others and is ebook friendly.

Here’s the link : http://bit.ly/2hVpPOQ  

Their Findings:

  1. The Majority of Fiction Sales will Come from eBooks.  What does this mean for you? For a first-time fiction author, publishing your work as an ebook is an affordable and easy way to enter the market.
  2. Indie Authors and Small Presses will Dominate. Fifty percent of fiction’s market share consists of small presses, Indie authors and Amazon imprints. Competition is increasing and pricing alone is not enough.
  3. Amazon Imprints will Command Top Spots. Amazon now has thirteen active publishing imprints, each in a given genre. If you can market your book in conjunction with an Amazon imprint title, the number of readers who see your book may go up.
  4. Kindle Unlimited Readership will Grow. The subscription based model is catching on all over. While belonging to KDP Select puts your book in front of more readers and enables you to be paid by the page, this trend may over time decrease single unit sales as readers stock up their libraries with “borrowed” books.
  5. Crowding will Result in Increased Competition. Books are no longer short term. There is a long tail that an author should cultivate. Check out Katherine Rusch’s blog on marketing and branding. (see previous blogs) Think out your strategy. For some authors, it may involve getting back rights, re-invigorating old titles with new covers, and bringing them online.
  6. Audiobooks will Gain in Popularity. Already I’m hearing readers talk about how they listen to books in the car, on the job, at home. Expand your horizons to include other formats such as paperback. The more formats you have, the wider your audience.
  7. Marketing will Determine the Winners. More and more, this is becoming true. This survey was done by an ad site that offers various ways to pay for marketing, but even so, I feel this is true. Marketeers are springing up to provide the dreaded marketing service, so once again, author beware of what you are paying for. Research how you plan to market your work and then work your plan.
  8. Amazon Marketing Services ads are likely to become the next big thing. Maybe. The point here is that this is a rapidly changing business. Keep abreast of what is working and what has played out. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques when it comes to selling your books.
  9. International Audiences Provide for Growth. Mark Lefebvre of Kobo talks about the growing trend in international publishing. I sell a certain percentage of my books to the UK, Canada, and Australia through Amazon. “Going Wide” may be a way to extend an author’s reach and generate more sales.
  10. Author Will Band Together. I already see a rise in book bundling. Authors such as Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck have bonded together under the pen name of James S. A. Corey to write international best sellers and produce a popular television series. Others join with authors in a similar genre and publish together in a set. Each brings their fans to the table and expands the fan base of the others.

Are there trends that you are noticing? What do these trends mean to authors and how can we adapt to them?

This week I wanted to support a small press offering that I discovered from an ad site. Chimera by N. J. Tanger has received 260 reviews with a 4.6 rating. Pretty impressive.

The story: For over  a decade, Earth’s first colony has been waiting for word. No contact, no resupply from the mother planet is causing the colony to slowly go extinct. The only way to make contact is through the ancient colony ship Chimera. But the onboard AI is asleep and the ship derelict. It needs extensive repairs. A selection process is put in place for a young crew, and one desperate teenager hacks his way onto the list.

Another young girl has piloted a trawler illegally for her alcoholic father, and through a chance encounter onboard the Chimera, makes contact with the AI when no one else can.

An interesting story with a YA flavor due to the main characters, but adults will like it for the characters and developing plot. This is the first in what looks to be an enjoyable series.

7 Comments

Filed under Alien worlds, artificial intelligence, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Publishing Trends, science fiction science, space ship, YA science ficiton

Science Fiction: On the Edge

I live in Oregon and the whole region around me is a-twitter about the coming total eclipse. I live an hour away from the coast area that lies in its path. However, my husband is not a fan of big crowds, so I expected we would view what we could from home. Then a week ago, he ups and says, “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. We have to go see it.”

A million people converging on the area, and he plans to drive somewhere to view it somehow. Details were sketchy.

Heaven help me… And it did.

I was moaning about this turn off events while bringing in the garbage cans, when my neighbor (doing the same) offered an invitation to join her and her husband at their place in Pacific City. We can leave a day or two early and hopefully miss some of the traffic. They are fun to be with, and what at first sounded like a disaster, is turning into whaeclipset could be a very memorable weekend.

It is exciting to be in a place where such a unique astronomical event occurs.

Something to tell my grandchildren about. If that ever happens. Something to mutter in my old age, “I remember when…”

***

This week I finished Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper. It was nominated for the Campbell Award. I must mention that it is tied to previous books The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep. I was unaware of this until I encountered a rant by a reviewer on Goodreads. Frankly, it didn’t disrupt the story for me at all. In my own series, several of the books are separated by spans of time and are also stand alone stories about future generations of the originals.

What makes this book worth reading is its approach on the issue of transhumanism. Each chapter is titled with a character’s name and represents his or her viewpoint. (three main characters)

Charlie stands for the environmentalist. He is a ranger on a planet called Lym that at one time had been mined and polluted. Under the rangers’ care, the wildlife and environment are being restored. The wildlife, however, can be very dangerous and the planet represents raw nature.

Nona comes from the Diamond Deep, an immense space station out in the depths of space. Her mother is dying, her father dead. Both were too late to receive the cocktail of life, now given to their daughter. Upon her father’s deathbed, she promises him to see a sky and watch a sunset. As her mother is dying, she reminds Nona of this promise and asks her to talk to a powerful relative, Saryana. Reluctantly, Nona does and learns that she owns her own spaceship and an inheritance. She’s rich. Saryana directs her to Lym and hires Charlie to be a tour guide for the young woman so she can experience what a planet feels and looks like.

Charlie expects her to be a spoiled rich spacer, but of course, I smiled as I watched a bit of impossible romance bloom between them.

Nona’s best friend is Chrystal who lives in the High Sweet Home, an outer ring space station. She lives with three others: two men, Yi and Jason, and her friend Katherine. They are scientists living in a commune and breeding genetically modified stock.

Outside beyond the dark are the banished cyborg and artificial intelligent robots that call themselves the Next. Far more intelligent than humans, and physically able to modify themselves, they do not need to eat, sleep or breathe. They are powerful beings who want to return and claim portions of planets, such as Lym, for the metal resources there. They capture the High Sweet Home and take Chrystal and her group, destroy their human bodies, and download them into robot bodies that resemble their original form to use as liaisons with the humans.

Chrystal’s chapters are chilling. They are first person narratives where the reader experiences the emotions of a human mind forced into a powerful mechanical body against her will. Not all survive the transformation, and in fact, Katherine doesn’t make it.

The Next make the three, Crystal, Yi and Jason their ambassadors and lure Nona out to the Diamond Deep to save her friend. Charlie is persuaded to go as Lym’s ambassador. Since he’s never been off planet, adjusting to space is a challenge for him.

Brenda Cooper neatly presents all sides of the artificial intelligence debate. Charlie is the human who wants to keep his planet pristine and natural. Nona is the child of ship and station who only knows life in space. Chrystal experiences the vicious prejudices of the terrified humans who call her a thing and refuse her humanity. Even her own mother repudiates her. And Jhailing is the robot who teaches Chystal to survive her difficult transformation. She learns to speak to the other robots using a kind of mental telepathy. No longer does she need to eat, sleep, or breathe. Her powerful body can pick up a human and kill him with a throw. As many humans who are repulsed by the robots, an equal amount are intrigued with the thought of becoming a robot in order to gain immortality, great intelligence, and the strength of such a form.

The reader gets a glimpse of the frightening things that the shadowy, more advanced robots can do, including shape shifting and duplication and wonder at their true purpose in returning. The humans are given a choice of Uphold, Allow or Help as the council votes on their human response to the approaching fleet of Next.

The Spear of Light continues the story. Also, Cooper just released in June, The Wilders.

***

 Monday the world will go dark in the middle of the day. A reminder of the frailty of the human species in a powerful universe.

But it will only be for two minutes, and the sun will return.

President Trump will tweet something, and somewhere a terrorist or protester will commit a violent act, and we’ll return to the insanity of our vulnerable world.

With only science fiction to warn us that we should behave better or face the consequences.

7 Comments

Filed under Alien and human bonding, Alien worlds, artificial intelligence, Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, environmental issues in science fiction, gene modification, genetic manipulation, Hard science fiction, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, science fiction science, space ship, space travel, Transhumanism, Uncategorized

Science Fiction NEW RELEASE

One of the most exciting days in an author’s life is the launch of a new book. Finally putting a book out into the universe carries the weight of hours of plotting, planning, writing, editing and packaging… plus lots more.

Somewhat Alien is now available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook. It is the second book in the Terran Trilogy Series. Because readers like to start with the first book in a series, I’m offering A World Too Far free Tuesday through Friday (7/25-7/29) And to sweeten the pot, the second book, Somewhat Alien will be reduced to $.99 for three days.

I won’t do this often, but this week is special for the debut of my latest series.

What’s the series about, you ask?

The first book is a science fiction starship adventure.

Starship Captain, Elise Fujeint, is yanked our of cryo to take control of a ship ready to mutiny. For hundreds of years the fleet of sixty Earth ships have headed towards a planet that over time had become an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland.

Now the fleet’s in chaos. Forty out of the sixty ships jump with Elise, only to find themselves lost in an uncharted sector of the Milky Way Galaxy. Challenges spring up both inside the ship and outside in space as the beleaguered ships, running low on resources, try to find a world where they can make a home.

Somewhat Alien carries on the adventure through Elise’s clone as she struggles with human-like aliens who view the fleet’s arrival on their planet as an unwanted invasion. The are consigned to a space station by the natives out of fear of contamination. Politics and diplomacy are the tools to win the day if only Elise could ignore her feelings for a powerful Alysian leader. This one has a bit of romance sprinkled in.

Diana

I’m doing a guest blog for fantasy writer D. Wallace Peach who has a few extraordinary series under her own belt that you should check out. You can find Diana’s blog at https://mythsofthemirror.com. And follow up on her other informative, fantastical, and hilarious writings.

Recently one of my blogs talked about trends found in a survey by Written Word. This week another ad site, the powerhouse Bookbub, gives seven tips on international trends. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2u1v7S2

A short summary:

1. While 76% of Bookbub’s worldwide readers are woman, the UK has the largest amount of male readers. (29% versus 24%) Science fiction tends to male readers, so this is a target market for me.

2. Different regions have different reading preferences. Australians like science fiction and fantasy. For me, that’s important, and my experience confirms this as Australia is my second strongest region for sales, followed by the UK as third. Of course, the US outsells both of them by a wide margin.

3. Readers outside the US are more likely to be retired.

4. Of Bookbub’s subscriber base, 73% don’t have children at home. (That’s how they are able to read)

5. UK subscribers read close to a book per day. (37%) while only about 26% of the worldwide subscribers read that much. Lots of books out there, but lots of readers reading lots of books, too.

6. Readers outside the US are more likely to pay full price for a book. (6% more likely) So that’s a consideration when you price both paperback and eBook. You might go higher.

7. Readers like both ebooks and paperback. 82% outside the US read ebooks while one-third of them frequently read both ebook and paperback. (I know I do) Here, you want to offer both an ebook and a paperback of your work to cover all bases.

Marketing implications? Since I’m under Amazon’s distribution, I can reach readers worldwide. Knowing the differences among the regions helps shape my marketing approach.

Now for balloons and champagne to celebrate.

2 Comments

Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Amazon publishing, Clones, ebook marketing, fantasy series, first contact, genetic manipulation, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, science fiction romance, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Self-publishing, space ship

Saturn’s Run: Hard Science Fiction

Everyone likes a sneak peek.

So, I’m giving my readers of this blog only an advance squint at my new cover. It is so hot off the press that you might burn your fingers.

Oh, no. That’s right, we’re digital. Your fingers are safe.

Anyway, I’m in the throes of birthing my next book in my Terran Trilogy series called Somewhat Alien. I spent the week working with cover designer Toni Boudreault to get the look I want.

There’s a lot to think about when doing a cover. It has to be artistic, the fonts large enough to read in a thumbnail version, and it has to suggest a story that invites the reader in. This time I’m experimenting with two faces on the cover. This is to let the readers know that there is a relationship arc in the story. I include ships, space stations, and time travel for the more hard science readers, but have added cute rodent-like gebbits that stir up all kinds of mischief on the space station. Then, I throw in a recent controversy concerning immigration. After all, the main goal of the story is for the Terran aliens to land on the planet Alysia, and the native Alysians are less than welcoming. There’s a flavor of the recent headline news in the story.

In addition to that, details on the faces like the correct hair and eye color have to be checked. I have an art background and worked in an art gallery for eight years along with painting oil landscapes. You can see my work behind a few of my blog pictures. So, this is one of my favorite parts of this whole author gig. Toni handles the dpi and megabytes, along with a professional designer’s eye, while I make comments on the look and subject matter.

Next, I’m waiting on several Beta readers to report back. Already, Cathy has given me some great suggestions that I plan to implement in the story. I’m at the final tweak stage with  changes still happening.

So stay tuned. Launch will be at the end of June.

This week, I’m presenting Saturn’s Run by John Sandford and Ctein. This is a good story that includes science so hard that you could chip a tooth. So if that’s your flavor, here’s the downlow.

Sanders Heathcock Darlington’s father is filthy rich, and in two years at the age of thirty, Sandy will inherit. Right now, however, thanks to dad, he works at the Caltech Astrophysics Working Group headed by Dr. Edward Fletcher, who is coming to regret the hire, no matter how much money daddy has promised to donate to the school. Surfing is Sandy’s current hobby along with playing guitar with a girl band called the LA Dicks. Often dressed in shorts and t-shirt, his make-work job is to double check one of the telescopes with a human eye and, if anything looks amiss, to pass it on to a Real Scientist who would evaluate the findings. The fact that he constantly scans his environment and flinches at unexpected movement as if expecting a sniper nearby, escapes most people’s notice. Still, he has a dark side to him that smart people sidestep.

Arriving at work late again, he just puts up his feet when the computer pings a critical anomaly. Close inspection reports an object decelerating, emitting hydrogen, with rich uvs approaching orbit around Saturn. A second computer check reports the same findings with a 99% chance of the object being real.

Fifteen hours later another meeting with the same group and a scary, dark-eyed man from Washington confirms the object is an alien ship. Fast forward to the oval office and President Santeros with eight select people, including Fletcher and the thin, dark -eyed man.

From there the story becomes a political race since the Chinese are readying a launch to Mars. Not wanting another country to get their hands on advanced alien tech, the American military and scientists advise President Santeros to convert the current International Space Station to a spaceship in order to beat the Chinese to Saturn. Unfortunately, the Chinese telescopes discover the alien ship and frantically begin to transform their Mars ship to a ship capable of reaching Saturn.

And the race is on.

Here Sandford involves the reader in some heavy science, discussing the ion propulsion engine, the various trajectories, needed space requirements and so forth. A frantic search for crew brings in an interesting cast of characters, and the ticking clock as the Chinese head to Saturn amps up the tension.

President Santeros’s security head, named Crow, knows ultra secret details about Sandy and urges the president to include him in the crew. Sandy is recruited as their cinematographer who works with a beautiful hard-assed reporter determined that this will make her an ultra star as they record every aspect of the journey.

Sandford does a nice job bringing in interesting people, then throwing a mole into the crew. While doing their main job, Sandy and Crow try to work out who is leaking vital information to the Chinese. A section also shows the Chinese crew and their problems as they race toward the aliens in a totally different style of ship. Technical details included.

Without giving away too much, Sandford also offers a reasonable answer to what they both eventually find.

If you can gloss over the extensive science explanations that show up in lumps, you will enjoy this story. If you are a science geek and have passed over my recent offerings of fantasy with werewolves and vampires, then this one is for you.

2 Comments

Filed under Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling author, Beta Readers, Cutting Edge Science ideas, first contact, Hard science fiction, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction romance, science fiction series, Self publishing a cover, space ship, space travel, Uncategorized

A Self-Publisher Markets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m accumulating lots of lovely ebooks in my library. I used to spend a lot of effort tracking down good science fiction or fantasy by asking friends, researching award lists, or cruising libraries. Now, due to various ad sites, I find lots of interesting ebooks. I stash them away, expecting to read them some day, and often I get around to them. I’m not alone in this behavior. I select them because I sincerely plan to read them.

Many of the books are from new authors who I have never heard of before or who are not on some award list. It’s like dating. You need to find interesting guys to date, but they don’t just show up on your front steps if they have no idea that you exist. You have to get out there where the guys are, but a bar is not the best place to find a good date, much less a life partner. So these various ad sites set certain standards such as requiring at least a 4.0 star review rating or a given amount of reviews. They curate the book for you by genre so you can hone right in on what you like, but still make it easy enough that a shy new book can qualify and be accepted to the dance.

Am I stretching the metaphor too much? You get the idea.

So to meet the readers who are compatible, I’m offering one of my books again via FreeBooksy, but this time
Past the Event Horizon is the book at the dance. There are 90,000 science fiction readers subscribed through Freebooksy, and Past the Event Horizon will be there waving “Hello” on Friday May 12th. However, not to be shy, I have also scheduled the book free through the KDP Select Platform starting TODAY and extending through Monday.

Past the Event Horizon is a thrill ride through space as the twelve person crew of the spaceship The Seeker follows an alien signal through a star gate onto an alien world. What they find and how it changes them makes for an exciting story.

It’s rare that I offer this one free, so grab it while you can.

Accod of HonorThis month I’m highlighting a few ad site books starting with Accord of Honor by Kevin McLaughlin. It’s been over three years since I noticed Kevin on the Linked-In chat boards. He offered expert advice to an ignorant author who was desperate to learn all she could. I appreciated his willingness to share information for free on self-publishing. So, when I saw his book Accord of Honor, and it was an interesting space opera, I snapped it up.

Accord of Honor is a fast-paced space military adventure. The Lunar Accord has banned all individuals or nations from arming space ships for war. But Ex-Admiral Nicholas Stein knows the peace will not last, and in secret, he exiles himself on Mars to build ships with on board weapons that could result in treason and execution if he were discovered.

Then, outof nowhere, armed ships appear, attacking vulnerable space freighters and kidnapping their crews. Soon they threaten a helpless Earth and call for its surrender. Only Admiral Stein and his son, Thomas, with their weaponized ships stand in the pirates’ way.

Accord of Honor carries political overtones similar to the Expanse Series with friction occurring between Mars, Earth and space.

It is the first book in the Accord Series followed by Accord of Mars and the recently published Accord of Valor.

While the women are out for Mothers’ Day, relax with two new space adventure series at great prices. Or… If she’s a science fiction enthusiast like me, sneak a few new books onto her ereader and watch her smile.

5 Comments

Filed under ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Mars, military science fiction, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Self-publishing, space ship

Various Forms of Aliens in Science Fiction

Anyone reading science fiction has most likely bumped into a few alien characters. Now, aliens are tricky to write about. If their form and thought processes are too alien, the readers won’t connect with them. Also, trying to figure out how an alien would look and think is difficult if you’re working from a human brain.

And that’s my assumption for most authors.

I finished reading A Long Way To a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. This is truly old-fashioned science fiction at its best. The Wayfarer is a patched- up space ship that has seen better days. The captain is offered a lucrative contact to tunnel a wormhole to a far off planet. Human Rosemary Harper is running from her past, and this opportunity to explore the galaxy with beings that know nothing of her family is just what she is looking for.

While Captain Ashby is human, the rest of the crew is an assortment of delightful aliens, along with a sentient computer, named Lovey, that runs the ship. A surprise clone is also thrown in for good measure. You get a delightful dollop of diverse aliens.

However, the trick Ms.Chambers uses to make the aliens connect to the reader is to co-opt familiar animal forms and behaviors found on Earth.

Sissix is their exotic reptilian pilot, complete with lizard tail, who gets traumatized when she starts shedding her skin. Kizzy is the brilliant ADD engineer with feathers, beak, and nesting instinct–definitely of the avian line. Jenks is her dwarfish assistant, born premature, who is in love with the ever-present Lovey. He is saving up his money to buy a body for the AI so he can download her to physical form.

Dr. Chef is a tall affable cook /doctor in the crew who has a multitude of hands/feet and reminds me of Alice in Wonderland’s talking caterpillar. His favorite dish is Rock Bugs, a supposed delicacy. The navigator is a Sianat pair conjoined due to a virus and able to visualize multidimensional space. They have short blue fur, large eyes, long fingers, and other quirks. There are more in the crew, but the connection to the aliens comes from various species of creatures familiar here on Earth that are presented as sentient.

An alien species that sits at a middle ground between human form and strange is C.J. Cherryh’s atevi found in her Foreigner series. The atevi race has the basic human form (a head, two eyes, mouth, arms, legs, etc.) but are ebony colored and eight feet or more tall. They have familiar behaviors of family, politics, emotions, but also cultural differences that contrast with their human residents.

The atevi are seen through the human eyes of Bren Cameron who becomes the designated paidhi to the tevi, which is a form of ambassador. The series embeds Bren into the atevi culture as he climbs the political ladder serving Tabini-ajii, the current ruler, and his heir, Cajeiri. Bren’s ability as go-between takes him up the social ladder until farther into the series, he becomes an atevi lord with his own estate and guild. (entourage of bodyguards and attendants)

The atevi are alien enough, but very relatable to the reader. Then, in Visitor, book seventeen of the series, (see my recent blog on it), Cherryh’s introduces an even more alien species in the form of the Kyo. Bren, Cajeiri and Ilisidi, Cajeiri’s dowager grandmother, meet the Kyo at the orbiting space station Alpha to form a treaty, hoping to keep relations friendly. These aliens have a harder form factor and show emotion through thumps and noises, but are technologically far advanced over both atevi and human. Thus, they form a threat. Bren uses all his skills as a diplomat to try to make friends with a species that is far different from human. The major content of this book is to show how difficult it would be to communicate with a completely alien species.

The most recently published novel in the series, Convergence, sends Bren to Mospheira, the human settlement on the atevi world to deliver the Kyo treaty. The clever trick that Cherry accomplishes is to have so immersed the reader in the atevi world over the last seventeen books, that when Bren confronts the humans, they feel like the aliens.

This most recent book in the series doesn’t have the heart pounding tension of the previous one, but is a pleasant read, nonetheless, even if the humans come off as arrogant jerks.

In my latest book Somewhat Alien, coming out in June, I bring the alien even closer to human. The invaders are from Earth, and the native species they interact with share their DNA. However, looks can be deceiving. Just like cultures here on Earth can sharply differ in dress, religion, and mindset, so too, the Alysians and Terrans differ in unknown ways. Two diverse cultures coming into contact to share a planet create conflict. And even when the alien is only somewhat alien, there’s bound to be misunderstandings.

***

Saving the best for last, I wanted to offer a link to an easy to read visual presentation of genre books sold through Amazon. These charts offer an intriguing glimpse at how various publishers are represented in Amazon’s Top 100 bestseller lists and asks the question: Is Amazon influencing the best sellers list?

An interesting peek at what genre sells best where.

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/visualizing-amazon-best-sellers/

2 Comments

Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Amazon publishing, artificial intelligence, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, first contact, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, space ship, space travel