Book Spotlight- Cruiser Dreams – Janet Morris

FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED SILISTRA QUARTET.

Cruiser Dreams

Cruiser Dreams

The cruisers called.

She answered.

Book II in the Kerrion Empire trilogy.

 Cruiser Dreams: A young woman inherits an empire beyond all imagining, where interstellar cruisers become sentient and the cosmos itself is transformed.

In this epic of political treachery, interstellar insecurity, human passion, and artificial intelligence, Morris continues the saga of the fiery girl Shebat, stolen away from a decaying and primitive Earth to become the adoptive heir to the Kerrion Empire.  Molded to serve the designs of the Kerrion state, Shebat instead becomes the harbinger of change sweeping the civilized stars.

Against the chaotic background of simultaneous social and technological revolutions, Shebat struggles to face the fact that the man she loves is her implacable enemy, that the man she reluctantly married is perhaps her only ally, and that her space-faring cruiser may be her only true friend.

Praise for Dream Dancer  Book One in the three-part saga of the Kerrion Empire:

“A fascinating and lyrical story, told with great invention…” – Peter Straub, author of Shadowland and Ghost Story

“Not since Dune have we witnessed a power struggle of such awesome intensity!” Eric Van Lustbader, author of The Ninja and The Bourne Legacy.

Praise for Cruiser Dreams, Book Two  in the bestselling three-part saga of the Kerrion Empire:

“Packed with intrigue, spiced with romance . . .” — Publishers Weekly

Fascinating . . .  Recommended!” — Booklist

Janet Morris is an international best-selling author who lives with her husband on Cape Cod.

Amazon UK Kindle

Amazon. Com

 

Dirty Dozen Character Interviews – Kairi Johnson #Sci-fi #Bundle

CHARACTER NAME Kairi Johnson

 

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

Unfortunately, I’m an orphan. I don’t know anything about my family—and I really wish I did!  I’m also a student at the University of Colorado where I have an awesome boyfriend, Josh and my best friend Dakota.

  • Tell us why you’re embarking on this adventure?

My adventure all started when I went with Josh on a spring break road trip to Padre Island, TX. I actually found …an engagement ring when I was packing the car! But it really went downhill from there when we ran into a tornado and then I got stranded by the side of the road. So, as for the ‘why’ I basically had to, I had to figure out what was going on so I could save myself and my friends.

  • Do you have a moral code? If so what might it be

I definitely have a moral code. Since I don’t have a family, my friends are precious to me. I would do anything, and I do mean anything, to keep them safe.

  • Would you kill for those you love?

Definitely.

  • Would you die for those you love?

Definitely.

  • Who is your greatest friend?

My greatest friend is Dakota, she’s my sister from another mister. We met in the foster care system and I’d do anything for her.

  • How do you define ‘heroism?’

Heroism is showing up and standing up to difficulty even when you don’t understand what’s going on or you’re not sure you can succeed.

  • Tell us about your family?

I wish I knew.

  • What is your greatest skill/asset

I keep on going no matter what! Is that stubbornness? I guess it is.

I’m starting to get an inkling, however, that I might have a special power which might turn out to be my greatest skill/asset.

  • What is your greatest weakness (we won’t tell).

I am much more insecure than I seem. I’m also very lonely. I get envious of other people who have families.

  • How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself to others as fiercely loyal and tough. With no family I’ve had to be tough and depend on myself.

  • How do you think others see you?

I think others see me as a regular woman, but they’re wrong. Josh says I’m pretty…

For the author

Books in which this character appears: Temporal Dreams

Links, short author bio…

Links

Temporal Dreams on Amazon

This also features in Spring Surprise Bundle

Spring Surprise on Bundle Rabbit

Spring Surprise – Universal Link

Lesley L. Smith has published seven science fiction novels including Temporal Dreams, The Quantum Cop, A Jack By Any Other Name, and Conservation of Luck.

Her short science fiction has been published in several venues including “Analog Science Fiction and Fact” and “Daily Science Fiction.” She is an active member of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

She is also a founder and editor of the speculative fiction ezine Electric Spec (http://www.electricspec.com). For more information, please see http://www.lesleylsmith.com.

Dirty Dozen and Returning Author Interview – Andrew P. Weston – Sci-Fi

#Dirtydozen #Meetanauthor #Scifi

Name: Andrew P. Weston

Please tell us about your publications.

My publications have been produced with the guidance and support of the team at Perseid Press and as you will see, I tend to favour themes with a science fiction, fantasy and paranormal bent.

The science fiction slot is filled with the IX Series, detailing the trials and tribulations of the legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome who marched into the mists of Caledonia in circa 100AD and were never seen again. Needless to say, they didn’t just disappear, and the series has grown into something of a gem.

The trilogy is comprised of the following books: The IXExordium of TearsPrelude of Sorrow. (Just released, get it while it’s piping hot!)

IXPreludeSorrowLargeAdvert - Copy.jpg

The fantasy paranormal niche is nicely filled by the exploits of Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim. His adventures are told through a series of anthologies and full novels incorporated within Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell universe.
The novels are: Hell BoundHell Hounds – (and Hell Gate out in the Fall of 2018 – stay tuned).

The anthologies that leapfrog the novels are: Grim – Doctors in Hell, Pieces of Hate – Pirates in Hell, and later this year, Devil’s Trull – Lovers in Hell.)
If you want to stay with the flow of Daemon Grim’s evolution, it would be best to start with Doctors in Hell, and then go on to Hell Bound; Pirates in Hell, followed by Hell Hounds. Do you see? Each of the anthology pieces is a complete short story in itself, but it also adds substance to Grim’s overall adventure.

What first prompted you to publish your work?

The challenge! There’s a well-known maxim that states we all have a book inside us. But how many actually sit down and do it? How many dedicate themselves to the uphill marathon of putting all those thoughts and ideas into a coherent mass, from which you have to pick out the nuts and bolts of an organized tale that grips and entertains? I nearly gave up a good half dozen times on my first book. But I’m glad I persisted … because now I can’t seem to stop.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process?

Now I’m progressing? Being too picky. When I write the first draft and complete my running edits, I’m paranoid about not repeating the mistakes I made in my first few manuscripts of overusing certain ‘descriptive’ words or expressions.

I can’t help it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, which makes me my own worst enemy when it comes to relaxing and letting things roll naturally. (The amount of hair pulling and fist clenching that goes on in my house would entertain the most avid WWE fan).

However, I’m addressing that particular challenge and hope to grow my hair back soon.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I think it’s true to say I plot by the seat of my pants!

My readers will know I do plan things out rather meticulously before I start writing, especially during the world building stage. The same goes when it comes to the story arc. I like to chart the course I intend to follow so I can prepare sub-plots and mini-arcs along the way. You know, those little side-stories that keep the reader engrossed. However, I’ve learned NOT to stick rigidly to plan. Some of my best, most heartrending scenes came to me ‘mid-type.’ And when I went with those spur-of-the-moment ideas and allowed them to expand until they were interwoven into my concept…? Well, I think my stories have been enriched in every case. (Mac McDonald’s death in The IX being one such panster moment. Originally, he wasn’t destined to die, you see J ).

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

Nowhere near as influential as it should be.

I was very fortunate growing up, my mother would read to me every night before bed, and my father was always making weird and wonderful tales up with which to regale me. Whether it was written or no, I remember how I lived what I was listening to, imagining in my head what the monsters looked like, the creatures in the forests, the undersea caves full of treasure, etc. Storytelling stimulates the mind – in both the speaker and listener – and encourages a world of fantasy in ways mobile phones and iPods never will.

Which authors have influenced you the most?

Stephen Donaldson: for his use of descriptive prose. (and a darn good story-arc).

Tad Williams: for writing in a way that involves you in the most incredulous adventures as if they really could be a part of everyday life.

Neil Gaiman: Because it’s Neil Gaiman and I don’t think there’s a topic in existence he can’t turn into a weirdly, wonderful marvel that will hold you spellbound to the end.

Edgar Allen Poe: He inspired me to bear my dark soul in poetry, and damned the consequences.

What is your writing space like?

Think of what a gaily decorated and fully-laden Christmas Tree looks like after playful kittens high on catnip have been let loose on it for a while, and you won’t go far wrong.

Tell us about your latest piece?

I’m just concluding the Author’s Cut edition of Kiss of the Succubus, book 2 of the Cambion Journals. This particular series is being completed in tandem with the first Guardians trilogy. Both were debut works I completed as I broke into the business and I’m ensuring to give them the attention they deserve. I can’t wait for readers to meet these characters – especially Augustus Thorne. (You’ll see, ladies. You’ll see.)

What’s your next writing adventure?

I’m still thinking about it. Once the Author’s cut versions of the Guardian Series and Cambion Journals are out the way, I have the foundations in place for several projects: Something from the IX world – most likely a prequel; the completion of the second trilogy from the Guardians universe; new adventures within the Cambion multiverse; the further exploits of Daemon Grim; and a brand new untitled project set in a dystopian future.
I know…so much to do, so little time, and only one pair of hands!

What is the last book you’ve read?

The Artisans of Albia trilogy by Cas Peace. (It comes as one book you see…a cunning ploy) I really do recommend it. It’s great fun to read and will definitely pique your interest in the follow-ups. (I know I’ll be reading them)

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?

No. True readers love real books too much. The smell and atmosphere in a bookshop can’t be replaced. This subject reminds me of a wonderful little one-liner the actor Stephen Fry said to an interviewer who asked him a similar question. His reply ran along the lines of…”Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”

Isn’t that awesome? And it makes a powerful point, doesn’t it?
Yes, I enjoy ebooks and the ease by which you can buy them online. But buying and reading them that way will never usurp actually holding the real deal in your hands and feeling its cover, the texture of the page, the smell of the printing process and the ambience of a shop. Heaven.

Is there a message in your books?
Always. The thing is, spotting them.

Some are tongue-in-cheek. From the very beginning, I’ve sprinkled cross-references to my other works in each novel. Little phrases here and there. A name, a title, a term of endearment or address. (Here’s a good one – when The Rage of Augustus, Book 1 of the Cambion Series becomes available, see if you can spot a direct nod toward ME – Andrew P. Weston, author). I’m there if you look carefully. And no, I’m not talking about my name on the cover. J

Apart from that, I do like to include some form of real-world moral or ethical dilemma within my story arcs that helps the reader appreciate, “What if?” What would I do if I faced that predicament? Would I be as restrained? That strong? That determined? Or would I simply take the easy course and go with the flow?
Again, they are there if you look, and each of them are specific to the story arc in question.

Links:

Links to Prelude to Sorrow

Amazon UK

Amazon

Website: http://www.andrewpweston.com/

Blog: http://andrewpweston.blogspot.gr/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WestonAndrew

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewpaul.weston

IXPRELUDEFINALinstallment

 

Bio:
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he is the creator of the internationally acclaimed IX Series and Hell Bound & Hell Hounds (novels forming part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Sherry D Ramsey #fantasy #scifi #Immortalsbundle

 

 

immortals-fb-bannerAuthor name: Sherry D. Ramsey

 *Please tell us about your publications. I enjoy writing both short fiction and novels. I have a series of science fiction novels published by Tyche Books (Alberta, Canada) (The Nearspace series: One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars); a middle-grade fantasy from Dreaming Robot Press (New Mexico, USA) (The Seventh Crow); and a self-published urban fantasy/mystery (The Murder Prophet­). I also have two collections of previously-published short stories, To Unimagined Shores and The Cache and Other Stories.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? I feel somewhat frustrated that I don’t write faster—in the current publishing climate there’s a certain pressure to publish consistently and often for greatest success. I see many authors publishing three or more books a year, and I just don’t seem to work at those speeds. Last year I had a short story collection, a new novel, and a couple of short stories come out, and that seems like a lot for me. I know it’s usually not a good idea to compare oneself to other writers, but I would like to be able to work a little faster. I’m not a perfectionist—but I am a bit of a procrastinator. Maybe I need to work on that!

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I’ve always been a pantser, for sure. A long time ago I tried outlining a novel, and then found that I was no longer interested in writing it; the fun of “discovery” seemed to have disappeared during the outlining process. Lately, though, I’ve begun to find a middle ground—I’ve discovered that minimal outlining actually helps my writing process and reduces the chance that I’ll run out of steam/ideas on a project. So now I guess I’m a hybrid between pantser and plotter. Plantser?

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. I think I’d have to choose Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe to have dinner with. No doubt he’d wax forth on some fascinating topic for dinner conversation, and of course the meal would be superbly prepared by his chef, Fritz. We might have corn, “roasted in the husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted,” since Wolfe considered that to be ambrosia. It’s probably cheating, but I expect Archie Goodwin would also be there for dinner, so I’d get two characters for the price of one. If I were particularly fortunate, Wolfe would show me his orchid collection after dinner. The perfect literary character interaction!

What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? I think that offering some work for free can be a valuable promotional tool for writers who would like to find new readers. Many readers are wary of taking a chance on a new-to-them writer, and most of us watch how we spend our hard-earned dollars these days. It’s also a way to introduce a new reader to a series or character. I don’t think it’s demeaning to authors or their work when it’s done sensibly, professionally, and as a promotional choice.

Sort these into order of importance: Good plot, Great characters, Awesome world-building, Technically perfect. For me, the characters come first. Sometimes a character arrives on the doorstep of your mind with a suitcase in hand and not even a name, but they have a story they want you to tell. You can’t turn them away. I think most of the time, we keep reading a book or put it down forever because of the characters. If you love the characters, you can forgive a lot of other sins in a book. Plot comes next—the smooth, flowing experience of reading a well-plotted book is such a rewarding experience for a reader, I think we should always strive to create that as writers. World-building is important, of course, and sometimes the world can even be like another character in a book—but the most fabulously-imagined world can’t carry a book if the characters and story are not strong. Technical perfection—I’m not convinced it exists. I do some work as an editor, with two co-editors, and even working as a team I don’t think we’ve ever ended up with a technically perfect work. It’s important to create the best work you can, but striving for perfection might mean no-one else ever gets to read it. I think we have to learn when our work is “close enough” to perfection, and let it go.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I write many flavours of both science fiction and fantasy, so I’ve done research on topics from medical nanomachines to particle accelerators to how magic might be fueled by different minerals. One of the most interesting things I researched lately was the question of how two machines/computers, each created by a different alien species, might learn to communicate. I learned a lot of fascinating things about both computing and language acquisition!

Which authors have influenced you the most? I read a LOT, and over the years I think there have been many authors who’ve influenced me in my writing. I love to write humour and humorously convoluted situations, so the influences of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Connie Willis are there. I love science and the future, so Nancy Kress, Jack McDevitt, and classics like Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl have left their mark. And I love to work with the wide reaches of imagination in fantasy, so Dave Duncan, Maggie Stiefvater, and Elizabeth Bear have made an impression. So many more I could name!

What is your writing space like? I’m very fortunate to have a small but wonderful office at home. I have a normal sitting desk and also a treadmill desk, where I try to spend at least part of each writing day. Too much sitting is not good for me! The walls of my office are covered with overflowing bookshelves and inspiring artwork, and I have a large southwest-facing window that gets lots of light and houses many plants. There’s one extra chair so a friend or family member can come in and visit. This sounds idyllic, but now add in lots of notes, maps, knickknacks, filing cabinets, binders—and some folks might find it too cluttery! For me, it’s inspiring and comfortable, though, and although I might sometimes write elsewhere in the house with a laptop, I always come back to my office as my main creative space.

Tell us about your latest piece? Coincidentally, one of the projects I’m currently working on is another Olympia Investigations story, featuring Acacia Sheridan, the main character from “The Goddess Problem.” Acacia is a private detective with a special gift – she can communicate and interact with supernatural creatures of all sorts. Her clientele includes ghosts, demons, fae, and many more denizens of the otherworld…which makes for some interesting cases. In the new story, her client—who is also a suspect in a series of murders—is a vampire, so I’m having some fun playing with traditional vampire-story tropes.

What’s your next writing adventure? I have another Nearspace book underway, and several other partially-finished projects trying to get my attention. I’ve also seen a few interesting calls for short story submissions in the past few weeks, so ideas are percolating for those as well. I may write slowly, but there’s never a lack of things to write!

What is the last book you’ve read? I just finished listening to the audiobook of Blade Runner by Philip K. Dick. Although of course I shouldn’t have been surprised, I was struck by how much deeper the book is than the movie (although I’ve always loved the movie) and what themes and ideas did not make it into the movie, despite being central to the book. I never expect movie adaptations to be particularly true to a book—the demands of the media are completely different, after all—but the book gave me a lot to think about in terms of choices made at the time concerning what to include and what to leave out. How do we decide what’s vital to a story? Can you separate out certain themes and still have a complete tale? Lots to ponder.

Links

Website: http://www.sherrydramsey.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sdramsey

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sdramsey/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SherryDRamseyWritingNews/

 

Bio

Sherry D. Ramsey is a speculative fiction writer, editor, publisher, creativity addict and self-confessed Internet geek. When she’s not writing, she makes jewelry, gardens, hones her creative procrastination skills on social media, and consumes far more coffee and chocolate than is likely good for her.

Her books include the Nearspace series from Tyche Books, One’s Aspect to the SunDark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars; the middle grade fantasy The Seventh Crow; The Murder Prophet; and two collections of short stories. With her partners at Third Person Press, she has co-edited six anthologies of regional short fiction and a novel. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Writer’s Council, Sherry is also a past Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of SF Canada.

Sherry lives in Nova Scotia with her husband, children, and dogs. You can visit her online at www.sherrydramsey.com, find her on Facebook, and keep up with her much more pithy musings and visual life on Twitter and Instagram @sdramsey.

Sherry’s book The Goddess Problem features in Immortals

Universal Link https://books2read.com/Immortalsbundle

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/immortals

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-immortals-bundle

Amazon http://amzn.to/2BiYsIh

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-immortals-bundle-a-l-butcher/1127826108

I Tunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1335201648

 

Character Interview Number Thirty-Eight – Estri of Silistra

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s) Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi

 

Age: Three hundred forty Silistran years old

Please tell us a little about yourself.

First, I must say that your language is difficult, not one intuitive to me. Nevertheless I shall try to answer you in your own tongue. Excuse my syntax, and I will tell you what I can.

Once I ruled the greatest house of pleasure in the civilized stars. When I reached my majority of three hundred years, I undertook a quest to find my father at the behest of my dead mother. So I left my position as Well-Keepress in my beloved Astria, and nothing has been the same for me since. All I thought I knew, I now question. So many truths proved false, so many assumptions groundless, so much love lost and found. I have greater powers now than I once did, but wisdom can triumph over power, and color all life anew.

I have been many things: aristocrat, outcast, picara, slave, ruler. I have served powers greater than my own, and baser than my soul could stand. I have had everything, lost everything, and gained knowledge by seeking love along the way. Doubtless I am wiser now than when I began my journey out of Astria, having learned that true wisdom comes only to a loving heart. But where love lies, there hatred takes root, and envy, and fear, and dangers undreamt. And yet, love is the key to every mystery: to life and death and creation itself. For without love, what are we, but a brief glimmer seen against eternal night? Where are we in this combustible universe? What arms hold us safe? What we learn, exploring, brings us home to ourselves, to our own loves, our own hearts. Creation plays no favorites, seeking only change. Love can surmount all, I once believed as a naive girl, and believe it yet.

 

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Copper -skinned, copper-haired, with a body to please the gods.

 

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Silistra’s moral code I still hold as mine: my world was wrecked and sundered by unbridled lusts for power. We who remain must rebuild not only our population, but our faith that whatever man destroys, nature can put to rights . . . given time.

 

Would you kill for those you love? I have done so, and killed that I myself survive.

 

Would you die for those you love? Would that I had the chance. To die for something is an honor.  To die for nothing is a cruelty greater than any other.

 

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? Ha. You must not know my people, to ask such a thing. Some say my strengths are in my blood, that I was bred to this battle between the spirit and the flesh, between man and woman, between life ineffable and life everlasting, a battle long conceived before ever I was born. Some say my coming was devoutly to be wished, and others say I and those who love me are travesties, a flaw in the natural order. I myself say that life and love are their own justification, where passion rules.

 

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why?What entitles you to know my heart, my mind, my soul? Shall I feed you platitudes, disarming truisms and children’s tales? Of my beloveds, you need to know very little, perhaps only one thing: “We are all bound, the greatest no less than the meanest,” as my lover says. I prize the sky and earth and every creature upon it with a love fierce enough to defeat even the foolishness of man.

 

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I have whatever walks or crawls or slithers or swims, slinks or flies free in our air. We are part of our world’s nature, sometimes its victims, but never its masters. I have friends among the honest killers of the wild, for all kill to eat and thrive and risk their own lives so their offspring will survive. Sometimes I ride on the backs of those who roam the plains or stalk their prey, or live cheek by jowl with them; sometimes not. But they are not mine any more or less than I am theirs.

 

Do you have a family? Tell us about them. You haven’t the time to hear my story. I’ve written some of it; look there to see my mother, my father, my lost child, my relations, deadly every one. My bloodline is old: to live so long, to prowl the universe and shower in star’s breath, my family well learned the wisdom of survival, when to destroy and when to succor.

 

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? Where I live, some can survive for hundreds of years or more. When my mother bade me seek my father, she sent me on a trek more dangerous than my young and foolish self understood. Before then, I thought that men and women were put on the ground to reproduce, to conserve, not to destroy. To claim my heritage, I learned hard lessons — about the nature of life, and the degree to which we are all controlled by the wisdom of our sex. And thus did I blindly go forth to claim my inheritance, thinking all I had to do was ask and the universe would serve my pleasure. I learned otherwise, in the doing; that the world turns by a greater will than mine; that reality is the child of biology, that all things come into being by strife; battling against men, against women, and sometimes against the gods themselves.

I learned many lessons about what men will do to win, and what women will do, and why. I learned that men who punish men and women lust to rule all; that women who punish men and women lust after dominion, and how dangerous both can be.

From childhood’s days to these, I have strived to keep my wits well about me, and shape my own fate.

 

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. In my three hundredth years, I was known as the most beautiful and exotic courtesan in the civilized stars. I commanded a great price.

 

Tell Us About Your World

 

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Silistra is a planet in the Bipedal Federate Group.  Our main exports are our life-extending serums. Our men, in their romance with machines and technology, warred until our planet and its ecology were nearly destroyed and life on the surface became nearly impossible. One result of this war was that conception became very difficult, and those who could conceive a child had power. Then did our leaders develop the life-extending serum which gave us some hope of not becoming extinct.  For thousands of years, a few survivors languished in underground shelters, while women took power away from the men that had nearly destroyed us all.

When the time came that Silistrans could live above the ground, we instituted the Well system, where fertile women could come to find a man who could impregnate her, and the nature of our culture, under the guidance of our spiritual leaders, became life-conserving, rather than life-destroying.

 

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour. On Silistra, some believe in gods, some are descended from gods, some meet with gods, face to face. Whether or not we believe in gods, the gods who made us take a hand in our fates. We are a culture that values those skills by which an individual mind can shape the future. Our dhareners, interpreters of the will of those gods who walk with mankind, guide our development by choosing our paths and making our laws.

 

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I have been to places on Silistra that are thought mythical and mystical, where few outsiders have ever been; I have gone to the places where gods hold sway, and seen what few Silistrans have ever seen. I have traveled among the stars, and farther.
What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) On civilized Silistra, our government is controlled by our dhareners, our spiritual leaders, and by the Well-Keepresses, hereditary matriarchs, or by the cahndors, hereditary patriarchs. But our governments have no simple rule by the lowest common denominator as seen on other worlds, nor the rule by wealth, nor are we controlled by a theocracy as you will know the term. The composition of our high councils varies, depending on where one lives or travels. Like our government or not, it has kept us safe from the depredations of plutocracy and the tyranny of mercantilists and their machines. Some parts of Silistra are timocratic, some oligarchic, and some, such as the Wells, are controlled by a hereditary matriarchy or patriarchy.

 

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?We are few, and some are black, brown, copper-colored, red or white. On Silistra, what is in the heart, the mind, and the bloodline determines status, not the color of skin.

 

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Silistran myths are predominantly memories, from before the fall of man. My favorite is the legend of Se’keroth, and if you read my writings, you will see why.

We also have a divination system, called Ors Yris-tera, that guides some of us and helps us forecast the Weathers of Life.  But on Silistra, any legend that survives is a memory of truths from the past or a portent of the future. Or both.

 

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? Most of us live without technology, as you know it, by choice. The off-worlders who visit try to seduce us with their machines of ease and speed, but we have lived upon and below the surface of a world ravaged by technology for too long to be fooled. True strength lies in the one’s mind and heart. If we wish to do more than a person should, the old weapons and tools of our fallen past still exist in our ‘hides,’ where those who lust for those can still find them.

 

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

 

High Couch of Silsitra:         https://www.amazon.com/High-Couch-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01B1M1JBY/

 

The Golden Sword…………. https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Sword-Silistra-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B01FCMA7LM/
The Silistra Quartet consists of four books in chronological order:  High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. The first two books are now available in hardcover, trade paper, and e-book “Author’s Cut” editions from Perseid Press.  The final two books will be available from Perseid in 2017.

 

The Bantam and Baen editions of the Silistra Quartet are out of print.

 

Author name: Janet Morris

 

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

http://www.theperseidpress.com/

https://sacredbander.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Morris/e/B001HPJJB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
https://www.blackgate.com/2016/03/19/vintage-treasures-the-silistra-quartet-by-janet-morris/

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Book Spotlight – The Golden Sword

Book – The Golden Sword – Book II of the Silistra Quartet

Janet Morris – fantasy, science-fiction, epic

 

Beginning in May 02 2015, after more than 30 years of print, the four volumes of The Silistra Quartet are being published in all-new Author’s Cut editions by Perseid Press, revised by Janet Morris.  The second of these, The Golden Sword, released in May 2016.

The Silistra Quartet is a series of fictional memoirs by the High Couch of  Silsitra herself, Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi. The books chronicle the adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe, The Silistra Quartet is Mythic Fiction, combining elements of science fiction and fantasy with mythology, metaphysics, and magical realism from a distant realm.

The Golden Sword

Front Page

Overview: The Battle of the Sexes is never over…

She had the power to create planets.
The sixty carved bones of the Yris-tera foretold her ancient fate.
Her heritage of power took her beyond time and space and stole from her the
one man she loved.

Enslaved on the planet Silistra tomorrow’s most beautiful courtesan unleashes the
powers of the gods.

Silistra2_goldsword_AC

Overview:  High Couch of Silistra:  Biology dictates reality

One woman’s mythic search for self-realization in a distant tomorrow…

Her sensuality was at the core of her world, her quest beyond the civilized stars.

Aristocrat. Outcast. Picara. Slave. Ruler.

Praise for the Silistra Quartet:

“Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.” – Charles N. Brown, Locus Magazine

“The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow’s universe” – Frederik Pohl

“To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time. The best single example of prostitution in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series. […] Each the books exhibits a consciousness its form as an historical autobiography; the author appends glossaries for each novel and includes prologues, epilogues, biographical sketches, and copious notes to guide the reader into a better grasp of the mult-levels of the work, […]  To be an outcast in Silsitra means travel and Estri is a traveler between stars and planets as well as between time.  — Anne K. Kaler, The Picara From Hera To Fantasy Heroine

FOR ADVENTUROUS READERS ONLY
“Long ago the human colonists of Silistra waged a war so vicious that centuries later the planet has not recovered. Men and women alike suffer from infertility — the deadliest legacy of that deadly war. Because the birth rate is so low, the Silistrans value above all the ability to bear children . . . and their social order is based on their fertility and sexual prowess.
On a planet desperate for population, women hold the keys to power. These are the adventures of Estri, Well-Keepress of Astria and holder of the ultimate seat of control: the High Couch of Silistra.” — Jim Baen, publisher, Baen Books.
 

“The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris’ Silistra series… Estri’s character is most like that of Ishtar who describes herself as “‘a prostitute compassionate am I'” because she “symbolizes the creative submission to the demands of instinct, to the chaos of nature …the free woman, as opposed to the domesticated woman”. Linking Estri with these lunar and water symbols is not difficult because of the moon’s eternal virginity (the strength of integrity) links with her changeability (the prostitute’s switching of lovers). […] Morris strengthens the moon imagery by having Estri as a well-keepress because wells, fountains, and the moon as the orb which controls water have long been associated with fertility, […] In a sense, she is like the moon because she is apparently eternal, never waxing or waning except in her pursuit of the quest; she is the prototypical wanderer like the moon and Ishtar. She is the eternal night symbol of the moon in opposition to the Day-Keepers […] At her majority (her three hundredth birthday), she is given a silver-cubed hologram letter from her mother, containing a videotape of her conception by the savage bronzed barbarian god from another world. […] If Estri’s mother then acts as a bawd, willing her lineage as Well-Keepress to her daughter, then Estri’s great-grandmother Astria as foundress of the Well becomes a further mother-bawd figure when she offers her prophetic advice in her letter: “Guard Astria for you may lose it, and more. Beware of one who is not as he seems. Stray not in the port city of Baniev …look well about you, for your father’s daughter’s brother seeks you”. Having no brother that she knows of does not stay Estri from undertaking the heroic quest of finding her father.” – Anne K. Kaler, The Picara: From Hera to Fantasy Heroine.

Fantasy and Sci-fi in Society Guest Post – Deborah Dixon

Name: Deborah Dixon

 

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

 

How do YOU define fantasy/science fiction/heroism?

Fantasy generally involves the use of fantastic creatures and settings. Science fiction involves the use of fantastic (for now) technology. Obviously there can be major overlap between the two; that’s why I like the term “speculative fiction” to cover them both. As for “heroism,” I specifically don’t define it. More on that below.

 

How pervasive do you think fantasy/sci-fi is in our society today?  Why do you think this is?

HBO’s most successful show is a high-fantasy epic. The Star Wars reboot came out as one of the highest-grossing films of all time. SF offers a special sort of escapism that society is searching for today, which puts SF writers in a very unique position.

 

Are these genres seen in a more acceptable light than they used to be?

I don’t think they were ever unacceptable. Perhaps sci-fi was at first, in the days of H.P. Lovecraft and Harlan Ellison and others (and that’s a very specific sort of sci-fi), but that’s way before my time. I could only offer hearsay.

 

What makes a ‘hero’? Would you say this definition is different within literature to real life?

Heroism is a concept that I find much too simplified in fiction as well as in real life. The definition varies from person to person – I doubt you’d find anyone over the age of five who would give the same answer. Is it a person who does good things? Perhaps, but what if they use undesirable means to do good things? Is it a person who obeys the law? Perhaps, but what if the person follows the law to the extent that other people are hurt? There is no basic definition one can put on heroism, or on villainy.

 

If you’re a writer how do you portray heroism in your books?

I don’t. I write characters who act based on their beliefs, their frames of reference, and their own capabilities. Whether any of my characters are heroes or villains I leave for my readers to decide. My first novel to be published specifically deals with this concept – of what makes a hero or villain, and who gets to decide who wears those labels. I personally do not label my characters as either (although for story reasons a few of my characters refer to themselves as one or the other. But it’s based on their perspectives of themselves.)

 

It has been argued fantasy is full of ‘tropes’ – what are your views on this?

Do you mean tropes or clichés? There’s a huge difference. Tropes are everywhere – in fantasy as much as your favorite romantic comedy and the last reality show you watched. They’re helpful writing tools in any genre or format. Clichés are tropes that are overused to the point of making a reader groan upon spotting one, such as the typical damsel in distress. Some fantasy writers do overindulge in clichés, but I would stop short of stating the whole genre suffers from them. Authors such as George R.R. Martin and Neil Gaiman have made an art of writing fantasy while shunning clichés or turning them on their heads.

 

Fantasy and science fiction used to be seen as very male-oriented, do you think this is still the case. Do you have any experience of this?

In terms of writers? The field is certainly more even between women and men in fantasy than it was a couple of decades ago. Sci-fi is probably still more male-dominated, but I suspect that’s by choice; the readership of sci-fi absent any significant romantic element tends to be decidedly male, and so men end up writing it as well, just as women are all over romance. I like being an obviously female sci-fi writer; it’s a novelty I can market. But as far as my work goes, I’d rather get past sex and gender and focus on the material.

 

How important are ‘facts’ in fantasy/science fiction – does something need to be plausible to be believable?

Facts provide a basis on which the writer can build plausibility. For example, if you take the care to explain a hierarchal society in ways that relate to the real world, that will make the action in your high-fantasy novel much more sturdy, and then you’ve built up trust with your reader once you decide to whip out the dragons and magic rings. The same goes for sci-fi; introduce some technology or science your readers are familiar with, and later they will be more likely to accept that the spaceship just traveled from Earth to the galactic north in two hours. Don’t just dump phlebotinum on them with a “they can do that because that’s how this book works” hand wave. You have to establish why they should accept the rules of your world/galaxy.

 

How has science fiction changed from the days of Mary Shelley and Jules Verne?

I personally consider Shelley and Verne to be general literary authors, not science fiction, but that’s due to technology pressing forward and the concepts they worked with no longer holding the novelty of impossibility they did when they were published. Hey, it’ll happen to me too some day. “Oh, the Singularity. I remember that fondly. How quaint.”

 

Fairy-tales, anthropomorphic personifications, mythical beasts and cultural fantastical persons are all about us – such as Santa Claus, St George, dragons and fairies – how vital are these for our identity? Are we who we are because of the myths our cultures hold?

It’s the other way around. Our myths and creatures exist as they do because we are who we are. There’s a reason so many widely spread cultures have such similar stories – we as human beings have a need to believe in a higher power, to create an origin story, to explain away the best and worst in ourselves through benevolent and malevolent beings. Agricultural societies always have nature deities. Hierarchal societies always have pantheons. And they’re still vital to us, even as psychology and science explain many of these things, because they appeal to our sense of imagination, and they give us something to lean on and hide behind.

 

What myths have influenced your work?

All the myths I know. My own background means my works focus most on Abrahamic stories, but I’ve included and toyed with elements from Celtic, Norse, Greek/Roman, and West African mythologies, and feature anything from shapeshifters to kami and all in between. One of my own characters sums this approach up succinctly: “Everything is true, at least in part. All anything needs is a believer.”

 

What are some in YOUR society/cultural identity, how are they perceived and why are they important? Why have they endured?

Jamaica’s stories as they exist now are mostly those brought over from Africa in the slave trade, such as Anansi, the spider who weaves all webs and tells all tales. The reason for those enduring probably has to do with African slaves needing to bring something over from their own lives (including vodou, which is not practiced in Jamaica, but it is in Haiti. Just for the record). Unfortunately, the mythologies that existed before European colonization are not enduring; they were oral traditions and very few of them were written down before the native islanders were wiped out. A large part of my ancestry is made up of people who were extinguished before their stories could be immortalized; I suppose that has something to do with my interest in writing and helping others to write as well.

 

Bio: Deborah Dixon is a lifelong writer residing in New Orleans. She has written nine novels, five novellas, and numerous short stories. She is also one of the three founders of Shalamar, a publishing company designed to help new writers. Aside from writing, she also composes music and promotes small business in her hometown.

 

Links:

http://shalamarmedia.com (Shalamar, my publishing company)

https://twitter.com/Deboracracy (my professional Twitter)

https://shalamartanara.wordpress.com/ (our blog about writing and publishing)

https://www.facebook.com/shalamarllp/ (our Facebook Page)

 

Review IX – Andrew Weston – Sci-fi/Military/Time Travel/Historical

IX by Andrew Weston

Historical/Military/science fiction/fantasy/time travel.

5 stars.

Synopsis:

Soldiers from varying eras and vastly different backgrounds, including the IX Legion of Rome, are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing, and transported to the far side of the galaxy. Thinking they have been granted a reprieve, their relief turns to horror when they discover they face a stark ultimatum: Fight or die.

Romans, Native Americans, fierce Celtic warriors, Special Ops, American Civil War fighters – not a huge amount in common one would think. Wrong. Death is what they expect – but not necessarily what they get – at least not where and when they think. From differing backgrounds they are thrown into a war and a world far removed from Earth. The Horde have decimated the galaxy and the Ardenese for decades and now all that remains is myth and the hidden remnants of a once mighty civilisation. The 9th intake is the last best hope for the salvation of Arden, if they can put aside their differences. Technology far beyond ours brought expansion, then it brought war.

Action takes the fore in this adventure which encompasses military, historical, science fiction and fantasy. The characters are varied, at once both complex and simplistic, and often surprising. Death stalks the pages, but his companions are loyalty, courage and dignity.  Well written with twists and turns, and a rather unexpected ending.

Great for fans of sci-fi, time travel fiction and historical.

Author Interview Number Eighty-Three – Sharon Kae Reamer – Spec Fic

Welcome to Sharon Kae Reamer

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Philadelphia, PA and am now an expat American living in Cologne, Germany.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a speculative fiction writer, writing in both the fantasy and science fiction subgenres. I’ve dabbled a little with writing horror short stories and plan on doing a historical mystery in the near future. My first fantasy series, The Schattenreich, is a cross-genre work combining science and fantasy with suspense and a strong love story. It’s a curious mix of seismology, Celtic mythology, and German aristocracy.

It started out as a standalone with a sequel and then grew to five books. So the whole thing wasn’t planned. I’m not sure I’d do a series that way again, but then again, it made for a much more organic process than if I’d planned each book and the whole series. I’m a pantser, so it’s easier for me to write that way.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. Seriously. A man’s face. A TV documentary. A small wooden cat was the inspiration for my current series. Odd phrases that run through my head. Looking out the window or lying in bed on my day off and just letting my thoughts wander – I do that a lot. I believe the technical term is goofing off. I prefer the term daydreaming.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I like most all of my characters. At times, I will think more about a certain character than another, mainly when I’m writing certain parts of the story that heavily feature that character. I even like my bad guys. It was fun keeping them evil but also giving them motivations and background.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Yes, but I’m not going to tell you why or who. It would be unfair to that character. And it would hurt their feelings.

Are your characters based on real people? Not directly. There are people who serve as models for my characters, either visually or the way they talk or walk. Sometimes it’s not a conscious thing. I just get a vision of a character and I don’t know where it comes from.

Some characters are an amalgam of people I’ve met or observed. I have a couple of cameos in the series featuring real people (with changed names), but not without their permission. There are a few characters that aren’t reality-based, like the Celtic and Germanic deities and some of the other supernatural creatures.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Yes, which is why I was so evasive above.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources?  love research and have done a whole bunch of it for The Schattenreich series. I knew relatively little about Celtic and Germanic mythology when I started out, really nothing about druids or the history of the Celts. I read a bunch of books to educate myself, books about the Celts, about their mythology, about whether or not the druids really existed, about the demise of the Celtic culture.

I recently tackled the Germanic mythology and history, including the rune language. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on modern Paganism and a bit on the history of witchcraft and Satanism.

I do some reading on the Internet, but my favourite resource so far has been books. Luckily, I love to read non-fiction including history and mythology, so it was a labor of love.

For the science fiction novel I’m writing now, I have read a lot about quantum physics, string theory, extreme biology and the evolution of plate tectonics on our planet. I am a geophysicist in real life, so the last two subjects were also fun to research and gave me an excuse to buy a few books that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to justify.

Since I live in a non-English-speaking country, I have to buy most of my reference materials. I do read some German reference books, but it’s much easier for me to read in English if I can.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I don’t write to theme, but themes do sometimes emerge during writing. I just try to tell a story. I don’t mind reading books with a message, but if it’s heavy-handed or if the story is just there to illustrate a certain political stance, then I’m usually not keen on it.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Your order is pretty good. I’d probably put solid plot ahead of world-building in some cases, but it depends on the genre and the type of story – is it a fast-paced thriller or a deeply complex world with lots of interacting characters? Each has different demands. But great characters are always at the top of my list as a reader and therefore, that’s my first consideration as a writer. Figure out who the characters are, what their motivations are, and write the story around them.

I don’t believe technical perfection is something I ever worry about when I read. I doubt I will ever be able to achieve technical perfection in my own writing. I just try to write the best book I know how to with my current skills. That’s all any writer can do, really.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? My Schattenreich series books are available in print and ebook formats and in a variety of places. I’m not exclusive to any one vendor. I would like to do audio books now that I’ve finished the last book in the series, but currently the Audible/ACX option is only available to U.S. residents. I’m researching other audio options.

I plan on releasing a few short stories in the near future, and will do ebook format exclusively on those at first. If I get some requests for print, then I’ll consider it.

I’d love to have my books translated into German, but it’s financially beyond my reach at present.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I have all my writing professionally edited. My very wonderful editor, John Kenny, is as much The Schattenreich series as I am. He’s helped me shape the series, and I can’t imagine having gotten this far without him. I hope he will continue to edit my books in the future. I feel like I won the lottery finding him right away. I’ve learned so much from having him edit my books. It’s money well spent.

I do a lot of self-editing as well both before and after sending my manuscripts to my editor. There are different types of editing for different phases of writing, and I’m still learning how and when to use them.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes.

Because self-published works are not considered to have been ‘curated’ for the most part. It’s true. But many readers don’t seem to mind that.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. I don’t really pay attention to publishers any more. I look at the cover, at the subject matter, at the description. If it’s something I think I will like, and the price is right, I’ll try it. I read on a Paperwhite as well as in print (but increasingly more ebooks all the time) and find that many trad-pubbed ebooks are too expensive for my budget. I read a lot (my Goodreads goal is 100 books this year – I probably won’t make it, but I wanted to try). Generally, I’ll take a chance on any author for under 5 bucks. I will not pay more than 10 bucks for an ebook unless it is a non-fiction book that I can’t do without.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Good question. I think reviews are important but perhaps not in a direct monetary sense. I do not comment on them. I once contacted a reviewer because they made a statement about one of my books that was factually wrong, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. If I know the reviewer, then I might say something to them personally about my choices, but never criticizing their review and my policy is to not make comments as a public statement. The only comment I allow myself to make to any reviewer, in public, is ‘thank you’.

But I would be lying if I said a bad review doesn’t bother me. I do try to take it for what it’s worth and then just move on.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Yes. But I don’t always take them seriously.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? It’s okay. We do it. It’s not always optimal. I review books on GR – mostly from authors I don’t know and less often from authors I do know. If someone I know asks me to review their book, if it’s a genre I read a lot in, I will usually say yes. I mostly use GR as a reader and so I think that reviewing books there is a thing I can do as a reader without having to feel bad about it. As a rule, I don’t review on Amazon any more.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books are better for getting inside a character’s head, for expressing complicated emotions, for allowing the reader to absorb content at their own pace. Movies are watched usually all at once. In a video game, the pace can be controlled to a certain extent, but books are better.

Movies and video games are also visually oriented. So if a writer is doing his or her job, they can provide the reader with a complete sensory perception of a world, and this is especially important in the speculative genres. You can get that to a certain extent with movies and video games, but books are waaaaaay better. I much prefer to read sex scenes rather than watch them (with certain exceptions). I can control what I visualize and how I visualize it.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  1. Write as much as you can.
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  3. Don’t give up.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just recently finished The Martian, by Andy Weir. I did enjoy it, which surprised me. It was our book club selection for February (four women who read SFF – yes it definitely counts as a book club) and probably is not something I would have picked up otherwise.

Do you have a favourite movie? Impossible to name just one!!

The Raiders of the Lost Ark is at or near the top of the list.

The Hunt for Red October

Gone with the Wind

Star Wars – IV-VI

Groundhog Day

Music and Lyrics

Any Cary Grant movie, even the bad ones – I’ll watch them anytime.

Do you have any pets? My European shorthair, Ramses, 17 years old

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m easily startled. Earthworms and grubs used to terrify me. But I’ve learned to get over that. I scream like a girl on roller coasters and in the movies when a scary part comes and in traffic when my husband is driving and I get spooked by another car making a sudden move. Makes him angry. I don’t blame him.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

 

Books 1-4 of The Schattenreich:

Primary Fault

Shaky Ground

Double Couple

Shadow Zone

www.sharonreamer.com

www.sharonreamer.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Fantasy, Science Fiction and Literary Heroes in Our Society – Guest Post Jacob Foxx

Name: Jacob Foxx

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

How do YOU define fantasy/science fiction/heroism? I define science fiction as human experiences with the fantastic, where the fantastic has its roots in natural and physical laws. Something in our existing body of knowledge about the world provides the basis or explains the spectacular or fantastic thing in the story. To me, it doesn’t matter whether it is hard science, soft science, the future, the past, or an alternate reality, if it has roots in human knowledge, it is science fiction. Some things have a combination of science and fantasy, such as zombie and superhero stories. Both sit on the boundary of the genres. For those, you have to look at each on a case-by-case basis.

Fantasy is simply human experiences with the fantastic, where the fantastic is not rooted in natural or physical laws. It can be rooted in religious belief, mythology, spiritualism, or anything supernatural. There’s no need for an explanation of the fantastic, it simply exists. At the boundary are objects that might be real but are unproven or dismissed by mainstream science as fantasy. The writer might believe the object of their story is real. If the writer attempts to create a scientific explanation, no matter how improbable, it probably fits better in science fiction. If the author doesn’t make an attempt at a scientific explanation, I’d say its fantasy.

I use the word “root” as in foundation. The fantastic object or event must have its foundation in natural or physical laws, not its parts or some tangential relationship. A fictional dragon might obey the laws of aerodynamics or possess biological qualities similar to an actual reptile, but the creature itself is fantasy.

How pervasive do you think fantasy/sci-fi is in our society today?  Why do you think this is? Science fiction is extremely pervasive thanks to the increasing role of new technology in daily life, as well as advances in CGI and other special effects in movies. There are also an increasing number of people that work in the technology sector as opposed to factory floors or farms. Creativity and critical thinking are more highly valued in the new economy. From a societal standpoint, science fiction is a positive force because it encourages curiosity and open-mindedness. Most of all, science fiction makes us think about the future, whether just a few years or generations ahead. We could all do a little more long-term thinking.

Fantasy is enjoying a renaissance thanks to CGI. The biggest fantasy franchises are all classics from the 20th and 19th centuries that adapted to the big screen and television. A few decades ago this was largely impossible. Special effects just weren’t advanced enough for an epic like The Lord of the Rings. Modern filmmaking technology has given new life to fantasy stories, even ones as old as Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I think fantasy is also growing rapidly due to increasing diversity of beliefs in the West. I’m not old enough to comment on society prior to the 1990s but my general impression is that older generations had a mild disdain towards the supernatural, pagan myths and fables. It was weird, and weird was shunned. There was a preference towards realism and relatable heroes of the day. Christianity was also the dominant source of allegorical tales and fables, which didn’t leave much room for others. American society has since grown much more diverse in thought and far more open to the fantastic. We live in fantastic times after all.

Fantasy and science fiction used to be seen as very male-oriented, do you think this is still the case. Do you have any experience of this? Science fiction is still male-oriented but not as extensive as before. Sadly, my favorite genre has been the slowest to adopt gender parity. Most science fiction authors are probably men, or at the very least an overwhelming majority of the bestselling authors. The gender breakdown among the readers is probably just as lopsided. Clearly science fiction is failing to appeal to half the audience. There are probably a few causes but it is something I hope changes very soon.

The imbalance has led to some other unfortunate trends in the literature itself. Many science fiction novels are somewhat misogynistic with male-dominated casts. Often there are only one or two female characters that aren’t portrayed in a positive or flattering light. They fulfil the limited role of the love interest. Many embody the adolescent male fantasy: doe-eyed nymphomaniac desperate for the affections of the hero. Such stories don’t appeal to female readers. As a result science fiction has yet to reach its full potential.

I am not as familiar with the fantasy genre but my impression is that it is far less male-oriented than science fiction. If anything, it has reached gender parity. There are plenty of female main characters that are quite compelling. A large number of fantasy authors are women, and probably a majority of fantasy readers. Some antiquated stereotypes remain but they are fading fast.

How important are ‘facts’ in fantasy/science fiction – does something need to be plausible to be believable? In fantasy, consistency is more important than plausibility. As long as a fantasy world has its own “facts” and adheres to them throughout the story, it works. Obviously, they don’t have to correspond with any real-world facts. Plausibility is rarely a factor. However, world-building is just as important to fantasy as it is to science fiction. The more fantastic the world, the greater thought needs to go into how everything fits together. Problems arise when the fantasy facts don’t seem to fit the world or don’t seem to give rise to the world the author created. If the world breaks down, the story breaks down.

In science fiction, plausibility is important but not essential. I used to think scientific plausibility was essential but often times a story is better served by playing a little loose with the science. Inaccuracies tend to drive hardcore fans nuts but I’ve become more tolerant of them as long as they aren’t blatant nonsense. My general rule is the closer a fact is to the central conflict in the story, the more plausible or grounded it has to be. Science fiction world-building also needs the same consistency as fantasy. Whatever new technologies or facts exist in the author’s universe, they need to have to fit within the overall setting. In other words, it has to be very clear how we got there. Here, science fiction has a smaller margin of error than fantasy.

How has science fiction changed from the days of Mary Shelley and Jules Verne? It is getting much harder to impress audiences these days. Mary Shelley and Jules Verne had almost no competition. Today, science fiction is a crowded genre. Theoretical technologies are now the norm, thanks to the maturation of the genre and advances in real-world technology. Shelley and Verne also used fantastic technologies to make social commentary. Sadly, fewer and fewer science fiction writers do this today. There seems to be a reluctance to challenge readers intellectually or to stimulate critical thinking on controversial issues. It may have to do with the reluctance to betray one’s own beliefs for fear of alienating readers. Shelley and Verne didn’t have mainstream ideas and certainly weren’t afraid to present unconventional perspectives.

Shelley and Verne also wrote about technologies that were truly out there. H.G. Wells was another that sought to see farther into the future than anyone had previously. Contemporary writers tend to utilize established sci-fi technologies already familiar to readers. There is also a strong preference towards familiar character archetypes and stories. Most movies are sequels or reboots of 20th century classics, or are adapted from old comic book heroes. This might be a temporary nostalgic phase, but as a whole, science fiction has lost some of its creative edge recently.

What science fiction/fantasy has influenced you most?  What would you say the most influential writers/film-makers? Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek has had the largest impact on me. It brought a positive and hopeful vision of the future but also presented the serious challenges we will face as well. Knowledge and critical thinking were essential to the success of Star Trek missions. In most conventional fiction, the protagonist triumphed through feats of physical prowess or tactical genius. Star Trek was about problem-solving and creativity. It much better resembled the major challenges of the real world. Most of all, Star Trek was about progress. It wasn’t about making the best of an imperfect world but finding ways to make it better. There were futuristic technologies of course but there were also new political, social, and cultural advances in Roddenberry’s future, many of which are those we aspire to today.

The ideals of Roddenberry were embodied in Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He was part commander, part statesman, part explorer, part scientist, and part philosopher. He is the ideal Starfleet citizen and a portrait of everything we could be in the future. The principles of the Federation, such as the Prime Directive were also impressive given that they applied to situations we have yet to face and probably won’t for centuries.

From a literary standpoint, Frank Herbert’s Dune is the best sci-fi novel I’ve ever read. The planet of Arrakis came alive in a way no other fictional world has for me. H.G. Wells and George Orwell have also been very influential. In terms of influencing the genre as a whole, I think the big three probably have had the greatest impact on science fiction: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. More recent influences are Orson Scott Card, Michael Crichton, and William Gibson.

James Cameron is probably the most influential science fiction filmmaker of our time. Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2, and Avatar are classics that everyone should see. George Lucas, of course, inhabits a special place in science fiction.