Tag Archives: Space Song

Imagination to Reality in Science Fiction

IMG_0174Imagination…one of the attributes that sets man apart from the beasts.

When I was a kid I used to wonder what the future would look like.

Still do.

And since my father loved science fiction, I often envisioned what a space station, or a spaceship might look like.

I watched Startrek and got some ideas. Battlestar Galactica gave me others. I read about other writers’ ideas in many books.

When we walked the moon, I wondered if we would ever build a space station, and go further.

What would crafts able to travel in deep space look like? Probably not like the airplanes I saw flying overhead at the time. I researched space travel for my book Past the Event Horizon and tasked my character Richard Steele to build a space station in Space Song.

Of course in imagination, there is no price tag and mine is fairly large and spacious, but not without some stumbling blocks.

Gravity, radiation, fuel, distances, oxygen, and many more elements would drive innovation in designing a safe travel vehicle or spinning way station …

but man has ingenuity…and imagination, and can do amazing things

I would close my eyes and envision a spinning station where people worked experiments, slept, ate, and launched ships onto other worlds.

Now I have reached that future.

It’s not exactly what I expected. Or saw in most movies, but I often feared I wouldn’t see it in my lifetime.

And yet one of these now exists. Enjoy a tour of our International Space Station, courtesy of the imagination of man.

And be amazed at what man has accomplished.

Click here: Departing Space Station Commander Provides Tour of Orbital Laboratory – YouTube

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Does Science Fiction have a Gender Bias?

IMG_9503Is reader gender important in science fiction?

I’ve been led to believe that men and women read different types of stories.

In our writer’s group we have four women and two men. When we only had one male, the criticism was always…give more description and detail. What do the walls look like? What are they eating? Wearing? Facial features?

Then we added another guy.

Suddenly we were talking about action in the story!

Myths of the MirrorI put a lot of action in my stories, but our fantasy writer does eloquent description and engaging characters. Check out Myths of the Mirror by D. Peach. I have been learning a lot from her on how to paint details and characters into my story.

Now, suddenly, with another male voice in the mix, the comments have become…when are they going to DO something?

We don’t know what color his protagonist’s hair is, or if  eyes are blue or green…but Ted writes compelling military action stories.

Check out  http://www.perihelionsf.com/archives/blasche001.htm “To Dance With the Ladies from IO6” by Ted Blasche. When the women fussed at him, he said that he wants the reader to engage his own imagination to create the character…and plot and action drive his stories.

Both work.

Why am I blogging about this?

Because as a writer, I need to figure out my audience, and I’m not so sure science fiction is as male dominated as some might think. Or that women are all about pretty description and intense emotion in a story. I know I’m not. I like both.

I was brought up short when one of the female readers from my book group critiqued Rendezvous With Rama by commenting that she really liked how clean and straightforward the writing was. Several chimed in that David Weber just put in too much description.

Is such a thing possible?

I had thought Rendezvous With Rama dry and needing more description. I wanted to meet the aliens or have the ship on some dramatic mission, rather than have our solar system be just a fuel stop.Rendezvous with Rama

Plot, character and description is a three pronged stool and the writer needs to keep in mind the audience he, or she is aiming at while writing.

Thank goodness, science fiction is also malleable. It can be intellectual with lots of science like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, or laden with love and emotion like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffenger. It can be a mystery like Kathryn Rusch’s Retrieval series or military like Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

The fun is that you can write a variety of sub genres under the cloak of science fiction. Caught in Time is a basic time travel romance with a war thrown in for the guys. A Dangerous Talent for Time is more a quest story, almost young adult, as two main characters are in their late teens, early twenties. Then, Cosmic Entanglement has a murder mystery. Past the Event Horizon takes place on a starship and is very Star Trek with a space battle and emphasizes the science and physics of space . Space Song involves pieces of all elements: romance, military, mystery, science, young adult.space-song-cover-smashwords

So, today I’m wondering how to connect with my audience, and is there a gender bias there? Anyone know of any research along those lines?

Next week I’ll be in Nashville giving a talk on “Time Travel and all things science fiction,” and signing books. Also, a big wedding, and later, a hot card game with relatives. So, timing on when I get my blog out may be influenced by wild social activities. Fingers crossed.

Fair warning.

Next question is: Does science fiction have an age bias? What kind of science fiction is read by young, middle-aged and the mature audience? Is it different? Is there a preference that is determined by age? I know my twenty something daughter, who rarely reads science fiction, got caught up in The Hunger Games trilogy. Was it the plot or the characters? Maybe both.

And what group or subset is reading the most science fiction? Young kids? Old guys? Housewives?

Today, we ask questions of the universe. Tomorrow we seek answers.

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Dad: A science fiction inspiration

IMG_9518I would like to offer a tribute to my father

since this weekend is Father’s Day.

He’s the person who inspired me to write science fiction.

He loved to read it, and often mentioned that when he had time, he would write a science fiction novel.

Then, one day he retired…and started a story, but it was harder than he thought. He came and told me that he could read it, but he couldn’t write it

And threw the torch to me.

My father has since passed; but his love, his encouragement, and his memory remain with me.

Writing good science fiction became a life long goal of mine that I worked on for many years while I managed a day job, ran a household, raised a child and tended a marriage.

Whew! Not easy.

space-song-cover-smashwords

Persistence (stubbornness?) often is key to success. His spirit and his memory kept me going, and recently I published my fifth novel in the Alysian Universe series, and plan to publish the sixth, called Touching Crystal by November of this year. I’ve put that goal up in front of me and am working hard to get there in time.

Are you an inspiring father? Maybe mother?

So in honor of my father, I put the newest book Space Song on KDP Select and will offer it free on Kindle as an ebook for three days only over Father’s Day weekend. June 14, 15, 16. If you have a kindle, iPad or other device, you can download it.

I hope you like it and maybe take a look at the others in the series.

Ender's GameWhat is your favorite science fiction story?

I realized that with all the books I have suggested and discussed, I never mention Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. 

And now, they’re finally making it into a movie.

This is one of my favorites books, and over the past several years Card has added in prequels and sequels that are pretty good, also.

Like Space Song,  Ender’s Game deals with how to defend against an alien threat.

Card focuses on Battle School while my protagonist builds a space station and warships while getting distracted by a genetic mystery.

His newest novel in the series is a prequel that comes out this month (June 2013) called Earth Afire and Earth Afiredeals with the Formic Wars.

With the box office success of The Hunger Games, it appears Hollywood is more open to science fiction stories than ever before.

Hunger Games2001:A Space Odessey did pretty well, not to mention “Star Wars” and the subsequent prequels there.

“Catching Fire” will be coming out in the fall, so if “Enders Game” does well, there’s plenty of product in the many other books in the series.

Science fiction seems to be a genre that converts well onto the screen.

What book would you like to see being made into a movie?

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Aliens come to Earth?

IMG_9503There may actually be aliens that have arrived on Earth riding on asteroids, meteors or comets.

But we’re not sure.

Here’s the mug shot of what scientists have named, a Tardigrade. I can’t imagine anything more alien in appearance. This photo appeared on APOD or A Photo Of the Day, a free  Ap that I highly recommend you download…if you haven’t already.

This ap has amazing images from our world and space that are showcased, one each day. Along with each image is an explanation of what you’re seeing.

Image 1Here’s the explanation on our possibly alien friend.

Tardigrade in Moss

Image Credit & Copyright: Nicole Ottawa & Oliver Meckes / Eye of Science / Science Source Images

“Explanation: Is this an alien?

Probably not, but of all the animals on Earth, the tardigrade might be the best candidate. That’s because tardigrades are known to be able to go for decades without food or water, to survive temperatures from near absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, to survive pressures from near zero to well above that on ocean floors, and to survive direct exposure to dangerous radiations.

The far-ranging survivability of these extremophiles was tested in 2011 outside an orbiting space shuttle.

Tardigrades are so durable partly because they can repair their own DNA and reduce their body water content to a few percent. Some of these miniature water-bears almost became extraterrestrials recently when they were launched toward to the Martian moon Phobos on board the Russian mission Fobos-Grunt, but stayed terrestrial when a rocket failed and the capsule remained in Earth orbit.

Tardigrades are more common than humans across most of the Earth. Pictured above in a color-enhanced electron micrograph, a millimeter-long tardigrade crawls on moss.”

Sounds like a candidate to me.

space-song-cover-smashwordsIn Space Song, my forthcoming novel, Richard has to prepare his world of Alysia for an alien attack, but he hasn’t been given much information on them and he needs to know what might be coming.

Here’s an excerpt:  Richard and Treysa are having a dinner date. She has just told him she’s an astronomer and scans the sky every night looking for extraterrestrials.

“Extraterrestrials. Weren’t you listening?…Maybe they’re already here and we just don’t recognize them.” She calmly picked up another forkful of salad and watched him carefully, as if evaluating his candidacy for alien citizenship.

“We’d know if they’d invaded,don’t you think?” he retorted. He thought of bombs, laser attacks and the violence that Braden had suggested with the word, “hostile.”

“Why do you think we’d know?” she asked. “Do you expect them to come in big blazing ships? Have waving antennas? Maybe you suppose they’d have spiny appendages or be big globs of slime? What if our body style is one of the most efficient forms of life and aliens are configured a lot like us?”

“I’ve thought of that and there’s an enormous diversity of life here on our world. As an astronomer, surely you have seen the extreme variety of worlds outside our own. Most are very different from us and have hostile environments that are dangerous to our lifeforms here. To survive them, any creature would have to adapt in a far different manner from us and therefore look very different.”

Image 2It never ceases to amaze me how many strange life forms we have on Earth and how little evidence of life we’ve found on other worlds so far.

Here are some more amazing pictures from APOD.stars4

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