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Science fiction for kids is rare enough; truly funny middle-grade science fiction is even rarer. In fact, off the top of my head I can only think of one book in the hilarious middle-grade science fiction genre: The True Meaning of Smekday. Now that number has doubled, with the publication of a worthy sequel, Smek for President.
If you haven't read The True Meaning of Smekday, why not? Go forth and read it now! It's a great road-trip buddy comedy about a girl and an alien on the run from the evil alien overlords. Beyond this point there will be spoilers for the first book.
In Smek for President, human leader Dan Landry has taken credit for defeating the Gorg. No one, human or Boov, knows that it was really Tip and J.Lo who discovered the Gorg's weakness and defeated them with hundreds of cloned cats. Tip is living an anonymous life trying to adjust to being a regular girl again. J.Lo is infamous on two worlds: he can't seem to stay out of trouble in their community on Earth, and to the Boov he's still the Squealer, who accidentally signaled the Gorg in the first place. Tip and J.Lo decide to take a trip to New Boovworld (formerly known as the moon Titan) to explain to Captain Smek what really happened and clear J.Lo's name.
Hilarious hijinks ensue, including a low-gravity chase that is every bit as awesome as you'd hope for a low-gravity chase to be, an escape into a garbage-pit, (with obligatory Star Wars reference) and a lonely bubble-billboard. There's more awesomeness that I can't say anything about without spoiling the book. There are several comic sections that extend the story throughout the book.
There's not much else I can say, except that this is a perfect middle-grade book, and fans of The True Meaning of Smekday will love it. Anyone who hasn't read The True Meaning of Smekday would be well served to read it first.
The protagonist Tip is mixed-race and dark skinned. She's also an awesome character that boys and girls of all races can identify with. (How many times am I allowed to say awesome in one review?)
FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.
The 2014 Nebula Award nominees have been announced, and with it the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. The Nebula and Andre Norton awards are given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Two of the Andre Norton nominees were also Cybils Awards finalists:Salvage, by Alexandra Duncan, and Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, by A.S. King. As a Cybils judge, I read both books and they're both excellent, although very different, books. I've also read Love Is the Drug, by Alaya Dawn Johnson, and loved that one as well.
Here's the full list of Andre Norton Award nominees:
Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan (Random House)
Salvage, Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)
Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, A.S. King (Little, Brown)
Dirty Wings, Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Greenglass House, Kate Milford (Clarion)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton (Candlewick)
Alex Wayfare is a time travel story. I'm not a big fan of those, mainly because I usually have trouble following the mechanics of how it happens.That's the case with The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, too. Alex is a Descender who can descend into her former lives. Until she's well into her teenage years, she believes she's just having very unpleasant visions. This part of the book was intriguing. As she begins to learn about who and what she is and starts time traveling, I got lost. The plot involves evil scientists who use Alex and others like her either to manipulate science for the benefit of present day or "base life" research or to steal items and hide them so they can be found in the present day or "base life." There's a lot of "who is this guy?" with a number of characters.
This could have made a TV show with Alex developing a Scooby Gang like Buffy's. Alex suggests as much, herself. Not the TV show part, but the Scooby Gang. I think base life boyfriend interest Jensen and Alex's sick sister, Audrey, should be included.
A sequel to this book was planned for this spring. However, the first book's publisher, Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot Books' YA imprint, closed last summer. I haven't found anything about the second Wayfare book, The Untimely Deaths of Alex Wayfare, being published. Now I will never know if two young characters are one and the same person. That's my theory.
Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]
A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
Did I love Brave New World? Not exactly. Am I glad I read it? Yes. Brave New World is a classic dystopian novel. The first half of the book seems more focused on world-building, on providing the reader with all the little details that make this future world so horrific. Not much happens but world-building. Readers meet a character or two, sure, but mostly description and information. The second half of the book, in my opinion, is where the characters become more developed. The basic premise: children are no longer born. No more mothers and fathers. No parenting. Children are "hatched." Sometimes several thousand at a time--all identical, I believe. Conditioning begins early in an artificial womb of sorts. Every single little thing is planned and accounted for. Nothing really left to chance. The conditioning continues through childhood. Even at night. Different classes are conditioned differently, of course.
In the second half, Bernard and Lenina go on vacation together to a reservation in New Mexico. They'll get a chance to see savages first hand. They meet two savages that interest them very much. For one is a woman who grew up civilized. (Her name is Linda). She was on vacation when something happened--she became separated from the group and was left behind. She's gone native--forced to go native. She's even had to--shudder--become a mother and raise her own child. His name is John. Though, for most of the book he is simply Savage. They tell their story to Lenina and Bernard. Bernard seeks permission to bring the two back with him. All four head back to civilization--back to London. But how well will John cope with civilization?
Brave New World is both strange and thought-provoking. Also depressing. The world-building was nicely done, I believe, but I would probably need to reread it a time or two to "catch" everything and fully appreciate it. There is plenty to 'shock' that's for sure. Some scenes are just disturbing--and are meant to be disturbing or disorienting at the very least.
I did like the second half more than the first half. It's not that the second half was less disturbing--it wasn't--but the fact that the focus was more on the characters. I can't say that I "liked" or "loved" any of the characters. I pitied John the most because he felt so out of place on the reservation and so out of place in civilization. John wasn't the only memorable character either.
I can see how Brave New World inspired other writers through the decades. Anyone who reads modern dystopian novels--there are so many I could list--should consider reading this one.
"I don't understand anything," she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. "Nothing. Least of all," she continued in another tone, "why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd be so jolly. So jolly," she repeated and smiled..."
The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get. They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill; they're not afraid of death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they're plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there's soma.
Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
The King stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored. This was act 4 of King Lear, a winter night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto.
Did I love Station Eleven? Yes. Did I love, love, love it? I'm almost sure of it. Only rereading it a year or so from now will answer that question definitively. But regardless of if it was love or LOVE, Station Eleven is a fascinating, absorbing read. It isn't exactly chronological in its storytelling, yet, I found it easy enough to follow. Its storytelling--the form of it, almost reminds me of LOST. It tells both the story of civilization's collapse and civilization's rebuilding. Readers meet a handful of characters then and now.
The "then" sections perhaps center around the character of Arthur Leander, an actor, a celebrity. Chapters focus in on significant, dramatic moments of his life. Not necessarily in chronological order. And not always from his point of view. Readers meet two of his three ex-wives, his son, his (former) best friend, his lawyer, etc. The novel actually opens with Arthur's death on stage. One young witness to his death is a young girl, Kirsten. Another is a former paparazzi turned paramedic.
The "now" sections center on the Traveling Symphony. Kirsten is one of the actors/performers in The Traveling Symphony. The group travels--horses pulling trucks, I believe--from place to place (town to town) performing. They perform music. They perform Shakespeare.
As I said, the focus is on the collapse of society and civilization. What life might be like if 98% of the population died from a terrible plague/disease within a few weeks. In this book, it's the "Georgian flu." What would life be like without modern conveniences--gas and fuel, electricity, telephones, television, internet, etc.
The book is beautifully written. I liked the world-building. I especially liked Miranda's creation of the graphic novels Station Eleven. I liked what little description we get of Dr. Eleven and his situation. I wouldn't have minded more. It actually would be a graphic novel that I'd want to read if it existed. I liked what the two graphic novels meant to Kirsten.
To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
"What are we to do with him her?" asked the Mole of the Water Rat. "Nothing at all," replied the Rat firmly. "Because there is really nothing to be done. You see, I know him her from old. He She is now possessed. He She has got a new craze, and it always takes him her that way, in its first stage. He'll She'll continue like that for days now, like an animal walking in a happy dream, quite useless for all practical purposes. Never mind him her. ~ Adapted from Wind of the Willows
Me obsessed with Babylon 5?! Really?! Perhaps.
I've read To Dream in the City of Sorrows three times now. I reviewed it in 2011 and 2012. I think it is a must read for fans of Babylon 5. In the introduction, J. Michael Straczynski writes, "What you hold in your hand is an official, authorized chapter in the Babylon 5 story line. This is the definitive answer to the Sinclair question, and should be considered as authentic as any episode in the regular series."
But where to place it?! That is the question. It's tempting to read it in between season one and season two. After all, most of the book's events are parallel to season two. Readers get a chance to read what Sinclair is doing in the meantime. But not all the events, and that is where it gets tricky. Reading To Dream In the City of Sorrows before viewing season three would spoil things for you. So reading it after you've seen the third season may prove best. Since I've seen most all the seasons multiple times, I read it when I like! [For the record, this time around, I've seen all of season one, and the first eight episodes of season two.]
So the framework of To Dream In The City of Sorrows--the prologue and epilogue--take place shortly after season three's "Grey 17 is Missing," and are narrated by Marcus Cole. (I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Marcus Cole!) But most of the book focuses on what was happening with Jeffrey Sinclair after he left Babylon 5. (The gap between the last episode of season one, "Chrysalis," and the incredibly intense two-part episode "War Without End" of season three.)
Read To Dream in the City of Sorrows
If you want to know what Sinclair was doing in season two and three
If you want to know what became of Catherine Sakai, to learn if these two were able to make their troubled relationship work...with the added drama of Shadows and Rangers
If you want to know more even more about the Shadows' movements during this time
If you want to learn about how Sinclair became Ranger One and re-energized the Rangers (first started by Valen)
If you want to learn more about Minbari prophecies (also their culture and caste system)
If you want to learn more about the Vorlons; in particular readers are introduced to Ulkesh. (Loved Sinclair's first impression of him! And his insights about the Vorlons in general. How Kosh may not be the most representative of his race.)
If you want to learn more about Marcus. Readers meet William Cole AND Marcus Cole. Two brothers with an imperfect relationship. William is an eager ranger-in-training trying to get Marcus to join him, but, things don't always go as planned.
Exactly four months from today, Trackedwill hit shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! So I’m celebrating by firing off a double-shot of good news:
1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love (@coachmathmartin) gave to me…the debut present of a lifetime. Seriously. This Tracked-related surprise is made of hand-polished, custom-welded, plasma-cut steel. You can see it below, in Tracked‘s first official trailer! Check it out:
2. Today, we’re also announcing TRACKED‘S OFFICIAL CREW. By joining Phee Van Zant’s circuit rally team, you’ll be the very first to snag book excerpts, custom swag, and exclusive content. And did I mention prizes? Hit the starting line now, and lap the competition by winning BIG. Each month, from now until May, there will be wildcard giveaways and winner’s circle prizes for one-of-a-kind Tracked-related bags, posters, bookmarks, keychains, t-shirts, quote cards, autographed books, skype visits and MORE. There will be loads of opportunities to win, and multiple winners will be chosen for each lap! Trust me. You’re not going to want to miss this race, so join by signing up below!
Adion Designs is hoping to raise $4000 on Kickstarter to build an interactive reading tool for Sindarin Elvish and any fictional or existing language.
The open source tool will consolidate all of Tolkien’s notes to present a clear picture of NeoSindarin’s syntax. The goal is to help readers, teachers and linguists decode the language. Ultimately the app will form a public online library of translated texts using this software.
Check it out: “We want to build…The most intuitive user interface for composing, reading and decoding language. We believe even languages such as the Sindarin of Tolkien’s Elves can be revitalized and learned by thousands more with the right learning tool. A tool that gives you everything you need to know, in one place.”
This is going to be a great series for grades 2-5!
Ranger is a golden retriever who failed search and rescue school because he can't stop chasing squirrels. He also love to dig, and one day, he finds a old first aid kit while he's digging in his back yard. When he slips the strap over his head, he is transported in time to 1850. He uses his search and rescue skills several times along the Oregon Trail to help Sam Abbott and his family.
After the story, Messner has included a very readable 10-page author's note about the time period and her writing process.
Next up in the series, Ranger travels in time to Ancient Rome!
Holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some wicked-awesome deals! Anyone who has an ereader or tablet will benefit from this wonderful opportunity to score 40 fabulous reads for the holidays. Musa Publishingis offering 13 Days of Free Ebooks starting December 13th—whoa that’s TODAY folks! Below is a list of ebooks and authors on board with this promotion, but you better act fast, as their ebooks are available for free download for only ONE day. BTW—I’m on the list too, and anyone who gets an ereader or tablet for Christmas will benefit from my free download day! Ho Ho Ho…
I hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer from Musa Publishing. There’s a book for every taste on the list from romance, science fiction, horror, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, speculative fiction, and young adult, so please help yourself to this buffet of ebooks! Wishing you, and your family, a safe and happy holiday season! Cheers and happy reading!
Then, Matthew Goodwin, editor of the forthcoming Latino/a Risinganthology offered to scan and send me not only the essay about my book, but another that he wrote himself. And they say that the social media is waste of time!
In his essay, “Virtual Reality at the Border of Migration, Race, and Labor” Goodwin proves that he knows what's going on in the wide-ranging, multimedia field of Latino/a speculative ficion in a discussion of three works: “Reaching the Shore” (1994) a short story by Guillermo Lavin, El Naftazteca: Pirate Cyber-TV for A.D. 2000 (1994) a satellite television event by Guillermo Gómez-Peña (outtakes of it can be seen online), and Sleep Dealer(2008), the powerful film by Alex Rivera. Goodwin points out that The dystopian problems depicted in these narratives are not future fantasies but present-day realities and: The beauty of these artworks is that they imagine highly creative protagonists who use virtual reality for their own purposes and find some way to change reality.
Those things could also be said about my works.
In her “Mestizaje and Heterotopia in Ernest Hogan's High Aztech” Lysa M. Rivera not only discusses my work, but getsit:
Reminiscent of Oscar Zeta Acosta's Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo(1972) as well as Stephenson's Snow Crash,High Aztech is pure Chicano cyberpunk.
But what is Chicano cyberpunk?
At once an aesthetic and a survival mechanism, rasquachecomes closest to describing Chicano/a cyberpunk production, which also transforms a found object (in this case, classic cyberpunk) by repurposing it to speak for a cultural underdog . . .
Creative protagonists again, changing reality!
High Aztechcan be read as a science fictionalization of Vasconcelos's theories of mestizaje.
Yeah, I'm a proud mestizo, believer in mongrel power, and consider impurity a good thing. I consider myself to be a member of La Raza Cosmica, the race that encompasses all other races. I tried to express this in High Aztech.
As a Chicanafuturist text, then, High Aztechnot only explores the effects of technology on people of color but also imagines alternatives to those impacts.
Protesting isn't enough. And I don't see – as some of my peers in decades past did – technology as the tool of the oppressors. Grab the tools, use them to build your world.
Hogan's text functions as a Chicanafuturist narrative not simiply because it is SF written by a Chicano but more specifically because it adopts a critical stance similar to an Afrofuturist.
I was doing postcyberpunk back when cyberpunk was just beginning. Afrofuturists have told me that High Aztechinfluenced them.
For Hogan and others like him, the motifs and metaphors of SF are best suited to counterdiscource, not escapist literature.
Escapsim is not enough. Contemporary, corporate-generated sci-fi tends to create escapist modules for oppressed consumers to retreat into. In books like High Aztech I hope to give people ideas as to how they can change their assigned realities.
Learning to survive in heterotopia requires a new way of being in the world, and what better genre is there than SF to make this happen?
Heterotopiameans the modern, urban multi/recombocultural environment, NOT a utopia based on the philosophy of Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Magazine . . . you really do need to exist in new ways there. And like I've said, Chicano is a science fiction state of being.
And a friend has offered to buy a copy of Black and Brown Planets for me. I will review it here.
The world may once again be in turmoil, but I'm feeling great, ready to take it on!
Ernest Hogan's High Aztech will be re-released new, improved, ebook and softcover Strange Particle Press editions from Digital Parchment Services in 2015. Meanwhile, buy their new Cortez on Jupiter. And buy and give La Bloga authors for the holidays.
I love coming across literary sculptures, whether they are the slew of Paddington Bears which recently appeared in London, a dapper James Joyce leaning on his cane on Earl Street in Dublin or Don Quijote and Sancho Panza trotting through the Plaza España in Madrid.
This curious monument of a man sitting amid the tentacles of a giant octopus is also a literary monument. It is in Vigo, in Galicia in North-Western Spain - but what is it?
It is a homage to the French novelist Jules Verne, often described as the inventor of the genre of science fiction, and to the Galician references in his much-loved adventure Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. First of all, the sculpture reminds us of the terrifying chapter in which Captain Nemo and the crew of the submarine Nautilus are attacked by giant squid, as in the English translation, or more correctly by giant octopus (les poulpes, in French). Galicia, renowned for spectacular seafood, is particularly in thrall to the octopus and Pulpo a feira, octopus in the style of the fair, is its signature dish - boiled in huge cauldrons by the pulpeiras, specialist octopus cooks, the tentacles snipped up with massive scissors and sprinkled with olive oil and pimentón.
But there is another chapter of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea which takes place right in the Ría de Vigo, the Bay of Vigo. This was the real life location of a major naval disaster in 1702 when English ships burnt and scuttled the French and Spanish fleets which were returning from the Caribbean laden with treasure from the New World. In the novel, Captain Nemo comes to Vigo to loot the ships´treasure.
Around the Nautilus for a half-mile radius, the waters seemed saturated with electric light. The sandy bottom was clear and bright. Dressed in diving suits, crewmen were busy clearing away half-rotted barrels and disemboweled trunks in the midst of the dingy hulks of ships. Out of these trunks and kegs spilled ingots of gold and silver, cascades of jewels, pieces of eight. The sand was heaped with them. Then, laden with these valuable spoils, the men returned to the Nautilus, dropped off their burdens inside, and went to resume this inexhaustible fishing for silver and gold.
I understood. This was the setting of that battle on October 22, 1702. Here, in this very place, those galleons carrying treasure to the Spanish government had gone to the bottom. Here, whenever he needed, Captain Nemo came to withdraw these millions to ballast his Nautilus. It was for him, for him alone, that America had yielded up its precious metals. He was the direct, sole heir to these treasures wrested from the Incas and those peoples conquered by Hernando Cortez!
Don´t miss the monument to M. Verne if you are visiting this less well known corner of Spain, a place redolent with stories of shipwrecks, smugglers, fishermen´s tales and foot-weary pilgrims, the furious music of bagpipes and an all-pervading smell of octopus and sizzling sardines. And of course, I recommend that you read the book too!
In June this year, at Continuum X (the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention), I launched LynC’s debut science fiction novel Nil by Mouth. Today’s blog post (the third in a series of launch related posts) is an approximation of my launch speech. I say approximation, because although I had notes, I actually winged a […]
Ah, I am seriously so interested and excited by this book. For folks who are unfamiliar with The Madman’s Daughter series by Megan Shepherd, the basic premise is as follows: what if Dr. Moreau (island, animal-human hybrids, H.G. Wells) had a daughter with the same scientific bent? The first book (Wendy has a positive review of that book here; Tonya liked it less) follows Juliet Moreau from London – where she’s been living and working, cleaning university laboratories and the like after her father disappeared following a scandal that besmirched their family name – to the fabled island her father’s currently set up shop on. Juliet’s anxious and excited about reuniting with her father, but her feelings become more troubled when she discovers that the rumors are true: not only is her father a vivisectionist, but he is crafting human beings from the parts of different animals. (Whom he names after characters from Shakespeare, because... Read more »
Amie says: Some months back, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Now That You’re Here, Amy K. Nichols’s debut novel. I loved it. I mean, I LOVED it. So much, that this is the blurb I gave it:
“The perfect blend of sci-fi and swoons, Now That You’re Here is like no other book I’ve read. Riveting, romantic and utterly original, it kept me up late!”
And in a starred review, here’s what Publisher’s Weekly said:
“These geeks own their intelligence like a badge of honor, using science to help a friend and explore strange new worlds.”
If you want a fantastic holiday gift for yourself (you deserve it!) or the science-fiction lover in your life, pre-order yourself a copy — it’s out on December 9th!
I loved the science in Now That You’re Here so much that I asked Amy to tell us how she approached the task of incorporating it into her story. Here’s what she had to say!
Growing up, I wasn’t a very enthusiastic science student. Perhaps it was a lack of awareness of science’s relevance to my self-absorbed teenage existence, but the last science class I remember actually enjoying was in seventh grade when we dissected frogs, learned about the hazards of smoking, and my teacher told us how hot dogs were made. (I haven’t eaten one since.) So I find it somewhat ironic that I’m now a science fiction author.
Somewhere in my college years, I discovered how cool science is, going so far as to consider a career in medicine and reading science books for fun. (I can just imagine my seventh-grade self raising an eyebrow at me.)
Then came the Large Hadron Collider.
Around 2007 I started hearing about this ginormous apparatus deep beneath the Swiss Alps that would answer all the questions of the universe…or create a black hole and swallow up the earth.
Black hole? Well that caught my attention. Even though I hadn’t shown much interest in science classes, I grew up loving science fiction stories, especially those involving portals to other worlds. One of my favorites was H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. So I started reading books about black holes, string theory, multiverses. A couple that stood out were Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions, and Michiu Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible. I can’t say I understood all of it, but it definitely made an impression on me.
By the time CERN flipped the on switch for the LHC (which, thankfully, didn’t destroy the world), I’d already decided to give this writing thing a go, and was actively working to improve my craft. I’d even written a novel (that is really bad it should be burned with fire). I’d also started writing a story about a boy who suddenly finds himself in a body that’s his own but isn’t, in a world that’s his own but isn’t. Somehow, he’d jumped to a parallel universe.
Somehow. That’s the fiction side of science fiction.
In the early drafts of Now That You’re Here, Danny’s jump just happened, more like magic than science. I included just enough science to make it clear he’d jumped without getting into the specifics of how. I mean, this was science fiction, right?
Then my agent sold the book to Knopf, and I started working with my editor, the brilliant Katherine Harrison. From the start, she honed in on the science. How exactly did Danny jump? What is the science holding up the fiction?
So I began researching, trying to form a theory for this scientifically impossible connection between Danny’s parallel worlds.
Now, this is where it gets a bit tricky. If I go into a lot of detail about the actual theory, it’ll spoil the book. So I’m going to try to do this without giving away any spoilers.
Somewhere in my research, I read How to Build a Time Machine by Paul Davies, and attended a talk he gave at Phoenix Comicon. It was fascinating, reading and hearing about the mechanics of time travel. But I wasn’t writing time travel. I was writing parallel universe travel, which is an entirely different animal.
Or is it? I continued researching and tinkering, writing ideas into my revisions. My editor liked the direction I was going, but asked for more grounding. At one point she said, “I showed your book to my friend who is a physicist,” and I thought, Nooooooo. It’s fiction, not actual science! She encouraged me to write a book where readers couldn’t easily poke holes through the science, which is such a great goal. But how do you make the implausible plausible?
I kept googling and searching, reading scientific studies to support my fictional account of a boy landing in a body and world that isn’t his. I wish I could show you the list of websites in my browser’s bookmarks. It’s long. Really long.
As I worked through my revisions, I created a construct for the impossible elements of the book, all of which are based on actual scientific principle and tested theory. When I stepped back and looked at it, my geeky little heart went pitter-pat.
Then came book two.
See, we’d sold Now That You’re Here as a two-part series, where the books mirror each other. Same characters, but two different stories in two parallel worlds. Pretty cool, right? But…science.
Suddenly the science of the second book had to work with the science of the first book. Since I was telling a different story in a different world, it couldn’t be the same science, either. It had to be something similar, but different.
So I went back to work. More research. More reading. More theorizing. More imagining.
By this time I was geeking out. I not only fell in love with science, I fell in love again with science fiction. All those stories I’d loved as a kid felt so…possible. A time machine? Sure. Flux capacitor? Okay. Wardrobe leading to a winter-cursed land? Why not?
And then it happened. I found the Holy Grail I’d been searching for. I was reading an article about Nikola Tesla and scalar wave function, and everything clicked. All the bits of info I’d been collecting suddenly fit together to create one cohesive system involving both worlds, and there in between stood my character, Danny. I revised Now That You’re Here again, and this time, I got the science right. (Or at least my editor said so.)
Is it still science fiction? Yes. Is there still a gap between the scientific and fictional elements of the story? Of course. Fiction always requires some degree of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. But hopefully, thanks to research and my mindful and diligent editor, it’s more a step over a crack than a leap over a chasm. And maybe, just maybe, somewhere my seventh grade self is smiling.
Amy has been crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She earned a Master’s in literature and worked for years as a web designer, though, before realizing what she really wanted to be was an author. Her first novel, YA sci-fi thriller Now That You’re Here, will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on December 9, 2014. The follow-up, While You Were Gone, will be published in 2015. She is mentored by award-winning crime novelist James Sallis. You can find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.
I have read a lot of fairytale retellings recently, many of them sci-fi, a lot of them doing very interesting things with the stories they are retelling. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but I was excited for a science fiction story that did something different with the Snow White tale. I will be honest: Stitching Snow was not the book for me. Stitching Snow is about Essie, the princess of Windsong, the planet that rules the galaxy. She runs away to the mining planet of Thanda after her step-mother tries to kill her and lives there somewhat peacefully for eight years until a mysterious boy, Dane, crash lands near her home. Also, she is something called an Exile, an otherwise normal human with the genetic quirk that she can enter another person’s consciousness and know everything they’re thinking. The premise was interesting enough, but I found... Read more »
This book. This book, you guys. I wanted angst, and torment, and heartbreak across dimensions. Instead I got a sort of weird sci-fi light story, mixed with historical fiction, and a half-hearted love triangle to boot. The basic gist is that consciousness swapping across multiple universes is real and scientifically supported. If you like any sort of novel in which the character escapes reality and is able to visit other worlds this will immediately appeal to you. But where the story began to lose me is that it dumps you into the “after the fact” of the protagonists’ emotional journey. She is already in deep mourning for her father who was apparently sabotaged by his graduate student, Paul. There is an attempt to make up for this by showing us flashbacks of family interactions and how Paul, and Theo, another grad student, interacted with Marguerite’s family before, but everything after... Read more »
The world probably isn’t ready for it, but I’ve learned that the world is never ready for all the good stuff. So don’t wait. Do it now.
So why not Latino/a Rising, the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres? Editor Matthew David Goodwin already has Kathleen Alcalá, Giannina Braschi, Pablo Brescia, Ana Castillo, Daína Chaviano, Junot Díaz, Carlos Hernandez, Adál Maldonado, Carmen Maria Machado, Alejandro Morales, Daniel José Older, Edmundo Paz-Soldán, Alex Rivera, and Sabrina Vourvoulias onboard.
Latino/a Rising will not only include literature. There are many Latino/a artists who are using science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres in their art work. And this anthology will include some of their most interesting artwork.
Wait a sec, I think I forgot something . . . oh yeah!
There’s going to be a story by yours truly in it, Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails.
The Paco of the title in none other than Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars, hero of two of my stories The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Marichis of Mars and Death and Dancing in New Las Vegas that originally appeared in Analog.
And yes, I’m working on more stories that I hope to assemble into an epic -- suitable for adaptation into a major motion picture or miniseries -- novel . . .
Meanwhile, contribute to the campaign. Help turn these wild Latino/a dreams loose on this troubled planet!
Ernest Hogan is trying to find time to finish a number of stories while publicizing the new edition of Cortez on Jupiter, and helping get High Aztech ready for re-release. There are also other projects he keeps remembering.
We’re big fans of These Broken Stars here at The Midnight Garden, so when we were asked to host the tour for the second Starbound novel This Shattered World, how could we possibly resist? Last year’s tour was tons of fun, and I’m excited to be working with Amie and Meagan again. These authors are such a dream to work with, as they’re both super creative, responsive, and funny–and their guest posts and interviews are always entertaining and informative, both for their avid fans and for new readers. Tour Details We’re finalizing details of the tour, but here are the basics of what you can expect. As with all TMG tours, these are a labor of love for us, so you know you’re in for a good time when you see one! Tour Dates: December 8 – 19th, 2014 Featuring: Exclusive guest posts, interviews, character interviews, excerpts, and review stops... Read more »
Raise your hands if you enjoy any of the following: Conspiracy theories! Fighting the man! Technology in the future! Androids! What it means to be a human! …or embodied! …or an individual subject! Playing “catch that allusion” re: sci-fi as a genre! Because The Body Electric thinks about all of these things, and if these are things you are also interested in thinking about, you’re in for a good time, I promise. While I wasn’t totally in love with everything in this book (and I’ll get to that), the book does a lot of things right: it entertains many interesting questions, features solid world-building, and is written beautifully. And those aspects were enough to make my readerly experience a positive one. Here’s the premise: our heroine, Ella Shepherd, lives in postwar Malta in the new city of New Venice, the site of a new global government. Shortly after Ella discovers that she... Read more »
Cress is the third in The Lunar Chronicles, which began with Cinder, a book I definitely enjoyed. Scarlet I wasn't quite so taken with. I'm back on board with Cress, though.
What Cress does really well is get readers into the story without leaving them mystified because this is part three of a serial and who remembers what happened in part two? Book One was a clear and clever Cyber Cinderella story. Book Two was an intriguing take on Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, but connecting it to Cinder's story a little awkwardly. The awkwardness is gone in Book Three.
Cress is a techie Rapunzel figure, trapped on a satellite for years doing the evil queens bidding. She is also an inexperienced romantic who believes the space cowboy she ends up leaving the satellite with is the hero of her dreams. It makes sense that she gets pulled into Cinder's scooby gang, which is plotting to save a Prince Charming from having to marry an evil Moon Queen who is planning to...
There's some romance going on in these books. It's pretty clear to me that all kinds of couples are going to come out of these Chronicles. I don't usually care for romance. But there are clever things going on with these people. Cress, for instance, is such an over-the-top sucker for romance and the object of her affections is so bad-boy questionable that there is almost a little parody going on there.
This is a serial, and I do wish I'd been able to read them in a binge instead of over a few years. That's pretty much my only complaint at this point.
Hello, friends! This glorious day is finally upon us. Today is the day The Midnight Garden discusses Animorphs! We hope you were able to join us in reading Books 1-3. It’s such a lovely sci-fi series full of action, aliens, a diverse truly bad ass cast of kid characters, and spades emotional depth. All three of us ended up loving them; we hope you did as well! Let’s dive in! General Thoughts Layla: This was delightful and I wish I’d been reading these alongside Goosebumps when I was a baby! There’s so much reading I missed out on! On the bright side, I’m sure my loss was the family dog’s gain; she probably wouldn’t have appreciated my attempts to acquire her DNA. Wendy: I never read these either, but man oh man, would I have been all over them as a kid. As I was reading book one, I realized... Read more »
I am a closet-case sci-fi fan. Or, as multiple book reviews on this blog have probably revealed, maybe not so closet case. I looked forward to reading Ancillary Justice when I'd seen it won the Hugo and Nebula awards. I cut my sci-fi teeth on the likes of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and Frank Herbert's Dune in between installments of Little House on the Prairie. That is the seventies in a nutshell. And I figured, if Leckie could beat Andy Weir's The Martian, which I love, in the awards category, I was about to fall in love again.
Let's just say Ancillary Justice and I got off to a rocky start. It was not love at first sight. In fact, the novel frustrated me (incidentally, it was the same when I first met my husband).
Basic plot - a space ship decides to take revenge on the leader of the culture that made - and ultimately attempts to destroy - it (Ancillary Justice, not my marriage; it's still happily intact).
It's fascinating stuff. AI taken to a whole new level. However, the AI can't decipher female from male and so refers to everyone as "she". Sometimes, gender is specified, but then the ship reverts to calling said characters "she". For me, it made connecting with characters really hard. And that made me wonder, why does gender matters in story? Or rather, does gender matter in story? Should it matter? What does Leckie gain by making her story more or less gender neutral?
I haven't finished figuring all of this out, but I have come to the conclusion that for the story, by making everyone gender neutral, characters become sentient beings. That's it. They have flaws and quirks, but in remaining gender neutral, they never became much deeper than that. This may, in part, have to do with the boundaries of my hermeneutics. I live in a world in which, for the most part, the gender of any person I interact with, is clear. With that comes mounds of unspoken data. Without that, I have to rethink my world. That is what Leckie forced me, as a reader, to do in her novel. I had to see it through a different lens, a new lens, one I haven't completely finished sanding down yet, and won't, without further interaction.
The absence of gender imploded my hermeneutic structure of interpretation. It made me feel uneasy. And it's kept me feeling uneasy. And thinking. In other words, it's genius.