Tag Archives: alien cultures

A Second Chance for a Hugo Winner

Hey there:

Sometimes you have to give someone a second chance.

In this case, I tried to read N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and not only was I confused, but bored. Gods meddling with humans is not my thing.

So, I shunned her novels for years until the acclaim became so great I felt I should try again.

After all, winning the Hugo three years in a row is quite a feat. Lois McMasters Bujold, my favorite author, has won four times and only Asimov, Willis, and Vinge have won three times, and not sequentially. All other authors have won two or less… or not at all.

So I started with The Fifth Season.

Right off the bat, I want to say that I did enjoy the whole series. But first, I had to get over being angry. At the very beginning, Jemisin writes as if the reader is sitting next to her in an easy chair and Jemisin is telling her a story … that flips back and forth through time.

Her first sentence : “Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”

Start at the end? Talk straight to the reader?

What she moves on to is a detailed description of the land using an incredible amount of telling in third person ubiquitous. She also describes two people, one a man who raises his arms and creates a gigantic earthquake and breaks the land. You have no idea who he is or why he does what he is doing. Even, how he can do it. His description isn’t woven in the story as so many experts tell an author to do, but told… Telling not showing.

We have an award winning author writing from a point of view that many so-called word police say you shouldn’t. Keep your author’s comments and voice out of the story, they say. Also, “show, don’t tell.”

She didn’t. Lots of description.
Voice intrudes throughout the series.

“Don’t jump back and forth in time, you’ll only confused the reader.”

She does.

Then after long descriptions of the land, a city, and a strange metamorphosis of rock to a human shape, in the next chapter, she switches to the second person to tell the story of Essun who discovers her son dead in her home.

Second person narrative. Tricky at best.

With little background at this point, the reader has no idea what is happening until Nemisin hones the story down to Essun, a middle-aged, impoverished woman who walks into her home to find her son murdered by her husband, his father.

So, now the reader is interested. Why?

We find out Essun is an orogene, which means she has the ability to move the earth and control certain elements of the ground … and other scary stuff.

Her kind is hated and feared, and she has to hide what she is. Her children are to be eliminated to protect humanity. So, her son is murdered by his father when he realizes what his son is. For some reason he doesn’t kill the daughter, but runs away with her with plans to kill her.

But how did Essun come to this state?

Next chapter, we skip back to her childhood where as a young child she is sold by her mother to frightening warrior called “a Guardian.” He takes her to the Fulcrum, a place where orogenes like her are controlled and trained. The first thing the guardian does, once he finds her hiding in the barn under the straw, is place a tracker inside the back of her head. He smiles and says nice words, but doesn’t mean any of it.

So, the story takes off. You become used to being addressed directly at various points in the story and the changes in viewpoints, and the jumps through time. The land becomes almost another character as it affects the lives of the beings on the planet, not all of them human.

By the end of the first book, when I realized the planet was unstable due to a missing moon, I was ready to read the second in the series, The Obelisk Gate. This follows Essun as she searches for her daughter to try and save her. Only her daughter is growing more and more powerful, and can do a few things of her own.

I was interested in following more of the life of Essun, first known as Damaya, and also other names. Keep track.

The second book jumps back and forth between her and her daughter’s experiences. Yes, a bit confusing, but I wanted to know how they were going to save the planet from the many episodes of upheavals called “the Stillnesses.” These are dramatic upheavals of the dangerous planet that create devastating events such as plagues, floods, etc. and can happen at any time and last ages, or not.

Would the moon ever return? And if it did, would ancient technology left by a previous race, enable them to capture it and stabilize the planet?

So, I read The Obelisk Gate and then The Stone Sky.

I was hooked.

I realized an original and interesting story often trumps certain rules of writing.

 

BUT…

Often the guidelines are there to strengthen your writing. Yesterday, I read Diana Wallace’s blog and finally understood “filter” words and how they weaken your writing.

Read her blog for more details at:

http://www.mythsofthemirror.com.

In commerce, the middle man is being taken out of the transaction. Amazon goes directly to the buyer, eliminating the publishing house or consumer. In the same way, words such as heard, felt, thought are filters that diminish the reader’s experience. Here is an example taken from Diana’s blog that will explain.

Ex:
Greta stood on her front porch. She felt the long-awaited spring call her with a rustling of leaves and patter of hummingbird wings. A smile brightened her face as she watched them battle around the feeder that she’d remembered to fill yesterday.  She supposed she wasn’t the only one enjoying the languid morning. On the porch rail, she saw her lazy tabby stretch and heard his rumbling purr as she rubbed his ears. She knew he liked the sunshine; she imagined he always had.

Correction without filter words:
Greta stood on her front porch. The long-awaited spring called her with a rustling of leaves and patter of hummingbird wings. A smile brightened her face as they battled around the feeder that she’d filled yesterday.  She wasn’t the only one enjoying the languid morning. On the porch rail, her lazy tabby stretched, and he rumbled a purr as she rubbed his ears. He liked the sunshine; he always had.

See the difference?

For more explanations and other great insights, check out her blog.

Yes, yes, I know that I just ranted and raved about a triple Hugo winner breaking all the rules, and then I turn around and give you a rule.

Who said writing was easy?

Not me.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Hugo winners, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Writing Tips and Lectures

2019 Hugo nominees, Nebula, and a Murderbot

Often awards are a way to curate outstanding books. In the science fiction and fantasy field that means the Hugo and the Nebula. Nominees for 2019 are now in for both, and may offer several interesting reads. (See below)

Still, I feel there’s a lot of politics involved, and I have said so before. However, it’s easy to stand on the sideline and make critiques while others work hard to improve the genre. Mary Robbinette Kowal is a lovely lady who used to live here in the Portland area, and I have met her several times at events. I want to note however, that she was past Secretary and then Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America who sponsor the Nebula Awards. This past January she ran for President and then withdrew her nomination. Similarly, past president John Scalzi has won a number of Hugo awards. Coincidence? I don’t know. I know he writes well and is prolific, and I like his series. I plan to read Mary’s recently nominated book, The Calculating Stars, because she is a local author and a charming person. I’ll let you know what I think.

The other books on the nominating list I plan to read are: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang and Artificial Condition by Martha Wells.

 

Here are the Nebula nominees for 2019:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2019 Nebula Awards, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, and for the first time, the Nebula Award for Game Writing.

The winners will be announced at SFWA’s 54th annual Nebula Conference in Los Angeles, CA, which takes place from Thursday, May 16th through Sunday, May 19th at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills, CA.

The finalists are as follows:

Novel
The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)
Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)
Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)
Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
Novella
Fire Ant, Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)
The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)
Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
Novelette
The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”, Tina Connolly (Tor.com 7/11/18)
“An Agent of Utopia”, Andy Duncan (An Agent of Utopia)
“The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births”, José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)
“The Rule of Three”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Future Science Fiction Digest 12/18)
“Messenger”, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding Universe, Volume 4)

Also in are the 2019 Hugo nominees.

The 2019 Hugo Awards will be handed out at this year’s WorldCon 77, which will be held in Dublin, Ireland, between August 15th and 19th. Here is a shortened list of nominees for this year’s awards.

BEST NOVEL

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

BEST NOVELLA
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

BEST NOVELETTE
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho, Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly, Tor.com
Nine Last Days on Planet Earth by Daryl Gregory, Tor.com
The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander, Tor.com
The Thing About Ghost Stories by Naomi Kritzer, Uncanny Magazine
When We Were Starless by Simone Heller, Clarkesworld Magazine

BEST SHORT STORY
The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker, Lightspeed Magazine
The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society by T. Kingfisher, Uncanny Magazine
The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington by P. Djèlí Clark, Fireside Magazine
STET by Sarah Gailey, Fireside Magazine
The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander, Uncanny Magazine
A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow, Apex Magazine

BEST SERIES
The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older
The Laundry Files by Charles Stross
Machineries of Empire by Yoon Ha Lee
The October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire
The Universe of Xuya by Aliette de Bodard
Wayfarers by Becky Chambers

BEST RELATED WORK
Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, by Alec Nevala-Lee
The Hobbit Duology (a documentary in three parts), written and edited by Lindsay Ellis and Angelina Meehan
An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards 1953-2000, by Jo Walton
The Mexicanx Initiative Experience at Worldcon 76 by Julia Rios, Libia Brenda, Pablo Defendini, and John Picacio
Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. Le Guin with David Naimon

There are numerous other categories with nominees that you can find on the website:
http://www.thehugoawards.org/

I have read and commented on other books by Becky Chambers, Naomi Novik, Mary Robinette Kowal, Martha Wells, Yoon Ha Lee, and Charles Stross in previous blogs. All have been nominated for other books in other years. It seems the same people get nominated repeatedly. Nonetheless, several authors have been nominated more than once for various books over the years in both the Hugo and Nebula. It seems a common practice.

***
With that settled, I’m currently working on marketing. I have a promo on Fussy Librarian April 25 for Caught in Time. The tricky part with promos is figuring out all the rules and logistics. Fussy expects at least ten reviews with a four star overall average. If it is in a series, they’ll only take the first book. But… They will take a new release if you can show ten reviews with four plus average rating on your other books. Fussy is also cheaper. Twenty-five dollars for science fiction and thirty-eight for romance. However, they recently updated their website and guess who got totally confused?

Yup. Me.
Somehow I found myself opening up yet another Facebook account. Yipes!

BUT … They had a good messaging system, and when I yelled for help, they responded promptly and took care of me, listing me as a romance for ten dollars more. Oh, well. They can reach 175,000 readers through their free newsletter, and they will advertise your novel on Facebook. Check the website for complete up-to-date details.

I’ll let you know the response I get and if it was worth it.

Free on May 9, 10 and 11th, I’m going back to favorite ad site, FreeBooksy for May 10. My last promo in March for Somewhat Alien gathered 1,898 downloads with a happy quantity of follow-on sales.

That’s what I want to see.

No specific amount of reviews are required, but the book has to be free. (FREEbooksy) That means setting up your free days through KDP if you are on that program, which I am. If you want to charge or have a specific genre like romance, there are other promos available. The price depends on the category of your book. Science fiction is $70.

I’ll promo Caught in Time because that evening will be my book club venue, and I want to offer several special deals to the group.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if I found any of this a worthwhile part of any book marketing plan.
***
For my book recommendation this time around, I’m going to mention Martha Wells’ Artificial Condition since it made both the Nebula and Hugo nomination list this year.

The books in her series are short, which puts them in the novella category. The cost for a 160 page hardcover is $17 and the Kindle version is $9.99. A lot of readers have protested the blatant attempt to squeeze as much money as possible out of the series by her publisher. It’s caused quite a kerfuffle.

I, however, made use of the public library and paid nothing, but was irritated at a publisher’s manipulation of readers to make as big a profit as possible.

I’m getting to be a cranky old woman … I know, I know.

However, I have read three of the Murderbot Series and enjoyed them all very much. (See previous blog comments)

Artificial intelligence passing as human is a current theme in science fiction. Martha Wells’ AI calls itself Murderbot due to a mining incident where a number of humans were massacred by AIs, and it was present.

Somehow, the narrating AI managed to disengage his controller and escape, avoiding the “reset” or wipe performed on the other robots by the company. Robots, like Murderbot, are designed for fighting and violence and frighten ordinary humans. They normally are kept under tight control, but our narrator runs for it, attempting to pass for human under a disguise of cloak and helmet.

Its memory is still hazy about the incident, so, it decides to return to find out what happened. Murderbot negotiates to hitch a ride with an artificial-intelligence operated Research Transport Vehicle named ART in return for downloaded media goodies. Their interactions form some of the more hilarious parts of the story, and make it a worthwhile read, even at an inflated price.

As the story goes, humans in the story do irrational things and cause Murderbot to wonder at their actions. However, as it absorbs the human soap operas and recorded movies, it acts more and more human until the reader is charmed and also wants to know the truth of what happened.

Unfortunately, that will take another book.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, artificial nature, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Hugo Nominations, Marketing and selling novels, Nebula nominations, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, science fiction space opera

Science Fiction Selections for 2019

Marketing your book—some people love to do it.

But no one I know.

As my blog readers know, I just published my third book in the Terran Trilogy, Weight of Gravity.
I tried to cover the obvious marketing essentials :

An exciting book cover. Check.
Editing as thorough as my writers’ group, several editors, Beta readers, and I could do. Check.
A compelling blurb. Check.
A cohesive story. Check.

Those items are under my control and are the first steps of marketing my book. Then, I need to get the word out. Here’s where I have difficulties. Unfortunately, I don’t have millions of Twitter readers or Facebook followers. After all the privacy revelations, I’m afraid to put anything on Facebook. I want the right sort of people to know me, not the chirping automated voice of Becky who says she’s been trying to call me to offer a free vacation, health monitor, heating system, computer diagnosis, or credit card rate. You can fill in the blank. You’ve probably heard from her already, or her sister, or her Indian cousin.

To get the word out to readers, I returned to my favorite ad site, Freebooksy, and offered the second in the Terran Trilogy series for free. I had already placed A World Too Far last year when it first came out and was happy with the downloads, but I needed reviews for Somewhat Alien (it’s feeling lonely) and wanted to see how a promotion would do with that book.

So, free on Amazon or through Freebooksy, the second in the Trilogy, Somewhat Alien, will be free, free, free March 5 through 7. And please… On bended knee… leave a review. Doesn’t have to be fancy, and hopefully, it will make me smile. Deep thanks.

Yey!

Then you might like to continue the story with my latest book, Weight of Gravity.

This book has an adventure in a Ching T’Karre harem with an attempted rescue of kidnapped Terran women, an involvement with an obstreperous lompir named Matilda (very camel like), an unexpected meeting of human-appearing robots, lots of secret clones milling about, and a wild space battle to name just a few of the things you might encounter.

Finally, I’ve been honored to be invited to talk to a Portland book club in April. This is the best part in a marketing program, and I look forward to meeting new friends.

Meanwhile, I’m pursuing other venues and will keep you informed to give you ideas for your own book marketing endeavors. Comment below on what has worked best for you in your marketing experiences. We’ll share.

Each year in January, I select ten books to read for the coming year.

Oops … you say it’s already heading into March? Where does the time go?

Well, I better get to it then. Here are the suggestions for books that you may find interesting in the science fiction or fantasy world that I have put on my to-be-read pile for 2019. I will add in others as they crop up.

1. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill. Well, robots are in fashion, thanks to Anne Leckie and Martha Wells. Like their stories, this is also told from the point of view of a robot but is rather a Mad Maxx meets Asimov’s I-robot. Should be interesting.

2. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence You may have read Mark Lawrence and his First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself...) or his Broken Empire Series (Prince of Thorns... ) or his Red Queen’s War Series (Prince of Fools…) I have mentioned several of them in my blogs. They are gritty and violent with main characters that you’re not sure you would want as friends … but, oh what reads they are. So, I put this on my list. Grey Sister, book two, is also out with Holy Sister arriving in April 2019.

3. Getting away from the developing red color theme above, I plan to read Stone Sky by Jemisin, the first in her Broken Earth series. (another broken theme) So much acclaim has been offered her for her writing in the last couple of years, (winning a Hugo for the last three years, and more). I need to see what she is all about, even though I normally don’t like apocalyptic fiction. I’m always hoping for a better future for my descendents.

4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is next. This has been mentioned by several people, and I was given the sequel, Time’s Convert, at my Powell’s book club meeting, so, of course, I have to read the first one first.

5. And finally, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. This was also given to me. Peter, the science fiction expert at Powell’s, saw that I had it under my arm and gave me an enigmatic grin. He said, “I would be interested in what you think about that one.” I’m not sure what he meant, and now, I’m worried. But, we’ll see.

So that’s the final selection for my 2019 list. I will add in books as I go along. I follow up with comments, opinions, and sage wisdom on the books I think are worth mentioning in an effort to bring what I consider interesting science fiction to you, my readers.

Ps: Don’t forget this Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, March 5-7 and download Somewhat Alien … and possibly check out the others too.

Then, enjoy.

Spring is coming and no snow this weekend!

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, Clones, fantasy series, first contact, Hugo winners, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, Robots in science fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera, space ship, space travel, Transhumanism

Seven Concepts for Writing Aliens in Science Fiction

 

A quick reminder that the Perseid Meteroid Showers are raining down on us. This year should be more impressive due to a diminished moon. But if you’re in a smoky environment because of fires, or the night is cloudy, then visibility could be poor. Check your weather.

Best of luck in viewing an amazing event from Earth.

                                      Aliens in science fiction  

The best place to find extreme characters or divergent world views is in science fiction because when writing, or reading best selling science fiction, usually there are aliens. As a writer, this can get tricky. For if your aliens are really different, i.e. alien, then most likely, your readers won’t understand or relate to them. This does not usually make for a good story. Your readers need to get engaged and identify with the characters in your book.

That is the reason I went with the Earth colony idea and threw in variances caused by a different environment. I wanted to write about characters that my readers could relate to.

Most of my characters are humanoid because it’s hard to love a slime worm or rancid igrot. Still in Past the Event Horizon just as they rediscover the alien signal, the crew on The Seeker discuss what might be out there in space, and what the aliens sending the signal might look like:

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Idly Joel said, “What do you think they look like?”

Everyone paused.

“Surely someone has a bet?” commented Braden.

“I’ve got money on blobs that float,” answered Glaze. “They live in the ether and inhale methane.”

“Blobs?” Icabar snorted. “That’s ridiculous. You need dexterous digits to build a stargate.” He grinned and flexed his hand. “I’ll take your bet, and I’ll take your money.”

“It’s not a big bet.” Glaze shrugged.

“My money’s on a hive mind and insect-like creatures.” Icabar looked up. “The leader has a big brain and lots of worker bees.”

Solanje shook her head. “Insects stay small on Alysia because they can’t support a heavy exoskeleton under our gravity. No, I think maybe something with tentacles and eyes that shoot out on stalks. Something tall and skinny that survives in a light gravity.”

Glaze twirled around. “Tessa thinks they’re living plants with wavy fronds that walk on stalk legs.”

“Geesh, she would think something like that,” commented Icabar. “Just like a botanist.”

“Maybe they’re all hairy with ugly sharp teeth and red eyes,” offered Bashar.

“Putting money on that?” Icabar gave a grin.

Bashar smirked and shook his head.

“What about ghosts?” Joel blurted out. “Ghosts that glow in the dark.”

“I think bird creatures with wings,” Solanje chime in, flapping her arms.

“Yes, wings,” mumbled Joel.

Braden pursed his lips and thought. “They need digit-like hands so they can manipulate materials and build stuff. The need eyes to see and sensory equipment…feet and legs to walk with.”

The crew realized that they were parameters and rules that would dictate what an alien might look like, or how it might act.

Over the ages, science fiction stories have depicted many kinds of aliens.

Here are seven concepts to think about when writing aliens and my comments:

1. Aliens should be alien. This sounds pretty straight forward, but be careful with it. The problem is that it’s like trying to visualize the fifth dimension. One dimension…easy, two dimensions…easy, three dimensions– also easy. I live with them every day. The fourth dimension, dealing with time, I kinda get, but go past that and my mind starts to turn to jelly, trying to understand what other dimensions might look like. Same with an alien. If it’s truly alien, then how can I understand it or even try to write about it? Would my readers even care whether it lives or dies if they can’t understand it or empathize with it. So, maybe, somewhat alien? (Great title for a book… oh, one of mine.)

2. Aliens have their own history and story. What fun to construct a culture and history for an alien race. Going wild here.

3. Aliens that are naturally telepathic won’t grasp the concept of language. I have a few telepaths in my stories. In my most recent book, The Weight of Gravity, (coming out in September 2018) I have a very fun chapter where two characters can read minds at an Alysian Ball. What humans think to themselves in a crowd of others makes for hilarious writing. I have a language for the nontelepaths in the society because if your characters are all telepaths and don’t need language, then how on God’s green Earth are you going to write a book? Ummmm. No words.

4. Aliens that can’t hold a tool, won’t invent space ships. Love this one. So if your alien is a blob, or chittering insect, better have flexible mandibles if they are going to go far…like outer space.

5. If aliens have a different body chemistry (and alien means that they do) then they aren’t going to eat human food. And a corollary to that is that humans won’t be able to eat the alien food. Makes sense, but I bent the rules a little here. So if you have your characters land on an alien planet, they’d better be well supplied or they could starve. Still, playing around with humans reacting to alien food can be a lot of fun in a story.

6. If they don’t look human, then they most likely have a different definition of beauty. Silky filaments probably turn on the Jovian worm lord, but for you, me, and our reader…ugh. Maybe the males on Cassiopeia don’t appreciate the fine curves of Marilyn Monroe. Heh! Finally. I don’t mind competing with the three-eyed felix from Raegon … unless the judge is the three-eyed male felix.

7. Aliens should conform to their world’s environment. A tall skinny plant form would not grow successfully on a heavy gravity planet. Thus, if your alien is aquatic, his world would be dominated by water, or if his world is dry, his culture and physical form would reflect that. Remember Dune, and how that environment affected the natives there? How the spice affected them?

So here are seven concepts to consider when inventing aliens and an alien world. Maybe aliens aren’t visiting us because their worlds are too different, and our environment would kill them. Think of War of the Worlds. A very clever book.

So, writing about aliens provides rich fodder for your science fiction story as long as you keep a few concepts in mind.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, science fiction

Current Female Authors in Science Fiction

Women. Hooray!
Mumble, grumble… “There they go again.”

Okay guys, what would you do without us? Life would be really boring. So, as promised, I’m giving you five current female science fiction/ fantasy authors who I  think should be mentioned. Yes, yes, there are oodles more, but here’s my five. Deal with it. Feel free to add your own in the comment section.

 

First, Anne Leckie.

Ann Leckie won a Hugo in 2014 with her debut book Ancillary Justice. Her novels are interesting because the narrator’s point of view comes from an A-I who once ran the computers on a large military ship. Unfortunately, it confuses the reader by its utter disregard for gender, and you’re not sure if the human it is speaking about is male or female. That certainly pointed out to me what a gendered society we live in. There was also some confusion with clones in Ancillary Mercy as the leaders of several worlds are clones who are at war with one another, so, of course things get confusing.
Now Anne’s back with another Hugo nomination from that series with Provenance. It’s on my TBR list.

Next, Jacqueline Carey

Jacqueline Carey has a fantasy series, Kushiel’s Legacy that I read and enjoyed. The main character was a spy working undercover in a house of pleasure. So fair warning that some of the scenes are a bit pornographic. Okay, really pornographic. Her new series that starts with the Starless Sky, so far is not, but I’m still in the early stages of the story, and really enjoying it.

It balances on the edge of science fiction with an overhead sky devoid of stars and hints of ancient ones who walked their world. The story follows Kai, destined from birth to protect the princess Zariya. Childhood training on how to kill and employ stealth takes place in the deep desert as Kai prepares to face a startling destiny. True to form, Carey portrays a rich world with interesting characters and non stop action.

Thirdly, N.K. Jeminsin.

I could hardly overlook Jeminsin who won the Hugo in 2016 for her novel The Fifth Season, the 2017 Hugo for The Obelisk Gate, and now she’s nominated for the 2018 Hugo with The Stone Sky. All are in her Broken Earth Series. I started her first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and couldn’t finish it. Gods come to Earth to wrangle with humans wasn’t my cup of tea. But with so much acclaim, I’m going to have to try again with her new series. I would be interested to hear any opinions from readers who have already read it.

How about Becky Chambers?

A strong science fiction novel, Chambers charms with her series, starting with a A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. This is a light-hearted adventure of a human female, Rosemary Harper, who, in running away from a mysterious past, joins the crew of the patched-up ship the Wayfarer. On board is a zany crew who adopts the distant young woman and makes her part of their family. From Sissex, the reptilian pilot, to the chatty duo of Lizzy and Jenks, engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble Captain, Ashby, Rosemary finds love and adventure. Her next in the series, A Closed and Common Orbit is on my list to read this year.

And last, but not least, is Mur Lafferty with her exciting novel Six Wakes. This is a debut novel already nominated for the 2018 Hugo and was also nominated for the Nebula. I was ready for a strong science fiction adventure and Lafferty delivered.

Six humans crew a ship of selected Earth citizens, now in cryo, who expect to settle a new world and start over. The six awake from their replicator chamber to be confronted with a bloody massacre of their previous clones. Billed as a fresh start, no one’s past is recorded, but this time even personal memories of events and personalities are erased. The clones try to unravel the mystery of the murders to discover who among them is guilty … and why he or she is attempting to hunt and kill the crew. In the process, they uncover shocking information about who they are and what they have done.

Be prepared for twists and turns, flashbacks that offer clues, and a satisfying story of what makes for human behavior and personality.

In summary:

Jacqueline Carey. Starless
Anne Leckie. Provenance
N.K. Jeminsin. The Stone Sky
Mur Lafferty. Six Wakes
Becky Chambers A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

p.s.  I’ll be offering my first book in the Terran Trilogy, A World Too Far this Friday July 13 (12 a.m. PDT), July 14 to Sunday, July 15 (11:59 PDT) for free, free, free on Amazon or through Book Barbarian. This is a nail-biting journey of forty ships, lost in the Galaxy, trying to find a planet to call home. Space is dangerous, but humans can also be deadly if driven too far.

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Favorite Women in Science Fiction

Outstanding Women in Science Fiction

Science fiction is often thought of as a male genre with its space battles, male warriors, and gruesome aliens.

But not so fast. There are a number of good female authors who have made their mark in the genre.

In the spirit of the new feminism, and a different kind of #metoo, I thought I’d mention my  favorite female authors.

Even the guys will like these compelling writers.

In no particular order of preference, I’ll start with Connie Willis. Although, Connie isn’t as prolific as some of the others, when she writes, she often wins awards… Usually of the Hugo variety. Ten Hugos (includes short stories and novelettes )and nine Nebulas make her worth mentioning.
Hugo award winner To Say Nothing of the Dog is a rollicking trip through time, searching for a seminal event that has affected the future. Hold onto your hat as this one is fast and funny and explores Victorian England.

In contrast, Willis’ Hugo winning novel, The Doomsday Book is grim. Accidentally transported back in time to the plague in Europe, the main character struggles to survive. A double novel Blackout and All Clear portrays several characters trapped in time during the raid on London in World War II who also try to figure their way out to safety. Be prepared for wild action and constantly missed connections. The last Willis I read, and reviewed, was Crosstalk. This near future story takes smart phones and our interconnected internet crosstalkonto a whole new level. Again, Willis’ character becomes frenetic when an experimental phone connects so fast it’s like mental telepathy. Imagine if you could read other people’s minds. The experience becomes disorienting to say the least.

 

Only two authors have won as many as four Hugos for best novel, and one is a female.

Yes. Think about that.

The next with three for best novel is Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, and Vernon Vinge.
But my favorite author, Lois McMaster Bujold, has won four.

Unlike Willis’ stand alone novels, Bujold is known for her Vorkosigan Saga that follows her main character, Miles Vorkosigan through many escapades in his life. But like Willis, she displays a sharp humor when writing about human behavior. Start with her first book, Shards of Honor and nibbled (or gulp) your way through the series. She has added a few Barrayarother novels such as Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance where the main character is not Miles but his swinging bachelor cousin who gets caught up in…well, I’ll let you find out what. She has packaged several of the books in omnibus style, so heads up there. In addition to her science fiction, she is prolific in several fantasy series. Enjoy those too.

 

Another female author who is prolific in both science fiction and fantasy is C.J. Cherryh. Her Down Below Station was a Hugo winner that fits into her Alliance-Union Universe series. A prolific writer like Bujold, Cherryh has so far written over eighty books, which also includes several fantasy series. Her most current science fiction saga is her Heavy TimeForeigner series. While her Alliance-Union novels can be read in any order, her Foreigner Series follows a timeline. Bren Cameron is an ambassador for the humans having landed on an alien planet and gives insight into a human struggling to understand an alien culture. Cherryh immerses her character so deeply into the culture, and because she tells tells of his experiences through the first person, the readers almost begins to think like the atevi. Bren’s life is fraught with danger in a culture that had fourteen words for betrayal and not a single one for love.

Another Hugo winner is Catherine Asaro. Her series on the Skolian Empire/Ruby Dynasty pit two star flung dynasties against each other. The Skolian Dynasty is known for their jaggarnauts with faster than light capability and the Kyle Web, while their enemy, the Eubians, thrive on slavery and cruelty. Not to be outdone, her novel The Compass Rose also won a Hugo. Recently, she has started a new offshoot of this so far fourteen book series called the Major Baahjan Series. A few characters from her first series make appearances, but the series deals mainly with a new female character who becomes a detective on an alien planet. Lots of mystery and action with an underground culture.

 

While I have picked ten authors, I’m going to end this blog with my fifth pick and finish the rest in the next blog with a full review on my most recent favorite female author.

Hastur LordBut in the mix of prolific female writers, I had to include Marion Zimmer Bradley. Her Darkover series has elements of fantasy, but takes place on an alien planet and also deals with humans from Earth trying to colonize a planet they consider alien. The natives are humans from a long ago landing who have interbred with a native alien species that carried strange powers, but are almost now extinct. The more elite of the human natives carry psychic powers received from this interbreeding. At one point, the current Terrans leave, but politics and conflict continue among the natives. This series is extensive and has invited other authors such as Mercedes Lackey and Deborah J. Ross to co-write several of the novels. There are also collection of short stories dealing with the Darkover story in an anthology series, and also an Omnibus series. There is a timeline of events, but each novel stands on its own and is complete. So, don’t be afraid to pick what looks interesting.

Next time, I’ll talk about five more outstanding female science fiction authors who are my favorites. Tell me who is your favorite female science fiction author.

All great summer reading.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Discovering New Worlds, Hugo winners, Lois McMasters Bujold, Political science fictionLois McMasters Bujold, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Women in Science Fiction

Streaming Science Fiction

More than Books: Streaming Science Fiction 

This week I want to explore alternative forms of science fiction… namely streaming stories.

Being the hip (cough) person that I am, I have been watching several Netflix series and a few regular TV offerings. You may be watching others that readers would like to know about.

Currently, The Expanse by  James S. A. Corey has my attention. I have read most of the books in the series with Persepolis on my current reading list. What I like about the television series is the special effects and realistic dramatization of the ships in space.

What I don’t like is the selection of actors picked to play the main characters. I’ve had to revise my image of what I thought they looked like and how they would act. Also, those who have not read the book may find the sequence of events confusing.

Still, it is a triumph of production and worth viewing. Tonight: series three, episode ten on the Scifi channel.  Catch up or watch along with me.

https://www.Youtube.com/watch?v=ydKmedH336Q

My favorite in this list is Travelers. Season three has been renewed, thank goodness, but the time and date are yet to be announced. Angst not, for you can catch up on Netflix with season one and two. 

Already up to date? Then, as my mother used to say, “Patience is a virtue.” One, however, that is elusive in my personality structure. So, grit teeth, etc.

Travelers is a time-travel story about a group of people from the far future where the Earth is dying. They download their personalities into 21st century bodies just as a selected person is dying. Once here, they hope to save their future by changing specific events. A mysterious entity communicates from the future and guides them.

The glitch in the operation is the people they are downloaded into, which makes for an interesting story. One is an aged wise man who finds himself downloaded into a teenager’s body. At first, the youth and vitality of his new physical body thrills him, but then he has to deal with overbearing parents who lecture him, high school friends who bully others and make poor choices, and a society that restricts his actions at every turn and views him as a young kid.

Another download is a brilliant scientist /mathematician who is put into an addict’s body. While his mind functions brilliantly, his addiction betrays him at every turn.

Still another is a strong rebel freedom fighter whose lover is downloaded into a married man’s body that works in the group. She finds herself in a black girl’s body with a new baby and has to deal with an abusive husband who is also a cop and a strange face on someone who used to be her lover.

There are others equally interesting people in this small selected group. The best part of the series is the struggle that future enlightened people have to go through as they adjust to difficult bodies and situations they know they will never escape.

https://www.Youtube.com/watch?v=99LZwZmSoNo&t=19s

Currently, I’m watching Sense8, also on Netflix. This series concerns eight individuals, called a cluster, from all parts of the world that can sense each other and actually step in to one another’s body to help them out of situations or just experience certain events together. Of course, there is the scientist who is trying to round them up to perform horrible experiments on them or kill them outright.

One of the scientist is able to invade one of the individuals from the cluster and learn information that could help him find them. So they have to practice deception to evade capture. The cluster is composed of a young handsome cop, a white female tech geek, a Korean girl framed for her father’s murder and in prison, a beautiful blonde from New Zealand, a German thug, an African bus driver, a girl from India forced to marry a man whose father is rich, and a famous gay Brazilian actor.

In some episodes, the action is intense while in a few the main characters celebrate love and life. Be aware of adult content both in violence and sex.

https://Youtube.com/watch?v=E9c_KSZ6zMk

Lost in Space was a surprise… A pleasant surprise. This series is better than the original TV show with updated special effects that put a fresh believable polish on a well known story. The plot itself is more cohesive and well done. Dr. Smith is turned into a scary, evil woman while the robot also is updated to be more menacing. The mother would make any feminist proud, and the main character, Will, is adorable. His two sisters also have stand out personalities and come through when the going gets tough.

https://www.Youtube.com/watch?v=fzmM0AB60QQ

These are a few recommendations that you might like. Do you have any others?

Science fiction had gone streaming, and there are some really good series to check out. What’s out there that you like?

 

ps. Copy the link and paste into browser for great video trailers. This tech idiot couldn’t get it to play directly on this website like I did on a previous blog.

And for a smile today:

 

 

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