Wednesday, March 28, 2012
War comes to Gaia in 4 more days. Dare you join the fight?
The Green Rose is a fantasy romance set in the mythical land of Gaia. There are four allied nations: N'Gasse, Daháka, Tapin, and Ravenrock. Pat Ravenrock, to the east, in a tundra-like land, the savage wyldebeasts are kept at bay by a 50,000 myle granite wall that runs the length of Ravenrock.
The evil mage, Balthyser, has betrayed Tapin. Seeking power, he uses the wyldebeasts to attack the allied nations, kidnapping the kings of Tapin and Daháka.
The royal families of the allied nations have all bonded to animals. N'Gasse has bonded with jaguars, Tapin with falcons, Daháka with dragons, and Ravenrock to ravens. Despite a powerful blood bone, the rulers must seek the green rose and harness its magic in order to defeat Balthyser.
Sonia of Tapin and Ivánstan of Daháka are selected to find the green rose, but will the evil forces that are on the rise in Gaia prove difficult to overcome?
While the actual inspiration came from a writing prompt on Writing.com, it's my recent love and admiration for "Game of Thrones" which drove me to write "The Green Rose."
Every good fantasy story has dragons.
I researched dragon lore and created the land of Daháka where dragons live. Ivánstan's family, the Drakons, have a long history of bonding with dragons. The dragons live in caves near the water to keep cool since the fire their bodies are able to generate make their internal temperatures run hot. The capital of Daháka, Drakon, has onion dome aeries to accommodate the dragons.
The Green Rose opens on Komodo Field, a valley on the border of Tapin. The landscape of Daháka is rich with lush, green forests, rivers, and lakes.
Ivánstan's dragon is named Draco and through their bond, man and dragon can mind speak with each other. Ivánstan's strength is his cunning and fighting prowess, but when he meets Sonia of Tapin, will the princess throw his honed instincts into chaos?
NEXT: Tomorrow, visit my blog at http://sgcardin.blogspot.com and meet Sonia of Tapin and visit the land of falcons.
BLURB: Sonia and Ivánstan embark on a quest for the green rose in order to save Gaia from Balthyser's evil threat.
ENJOY THIS EXCERPT:
Ivánstan quickly ate and they picked up camp. Draco rose from the river with a fish in his mouth and swallowed it whole.
Ivánstan secured his travel bag to his horse's saddle. "Where's Hiro?"
"Scouting. He thought he caught a whiff of Gabriel, but he can't find it now."
"We'll be prepared."
"Aye, we will." Sonia rested her hand on the hilt of her sword, her golden falcon-like eyes glistening in the sun.
Mounting his horse, he waited until Sonia was on hers and they resumed their travel north with the Volga on their right. Hiro skimmed the treetops and landed on Sonia's shoulder with practiced ease.
Sonia. There was no denying she was under his skin. Their time together had been short, but he knew what he felt. Desire. Protectiveness. Love. Damned, though, if the woman didn't tax his control and willpower.
"Ivan, why does she hold you at bay?"
"Draco." Ivánstan frowned. "Why are you interrupting my thoughts?"
"I'm curious, nothing more. I've never known you to be so preoccupied with someone until now."
"The affairs of the heart can be complicated, my friend."
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Monday, March 26, 2012
ChristinaUgh! She's the hardest one to cast! I think since Future Savior Book One: Conception, I've picked about five or six different actresses for Christina. Here are some of them: Alyssa Milano, Serena Gilroy, Kate Beckinsale. Right now? I like Sarah Bolger from The Spiderwick Chronicles. She might be a little bit young for Christina, but I think she would do well. What do you guys think?
Until Desecration comes out, here's a little taste of the latest release in The Future Savior Series, Book 3: Evacuation:
Please feel free to harass me on the web at the following locations:
Friday, March 23, 2012
Are you ready?
Thursday, 8 January 2054
Aretu and Raxo Embassy
United Earth Protectorate, Capital City
Alexandria, Seat of Virginia
North American Continent
11 Months After the War
"We've secured the perimeter and have men on the protestors, sir."
"Understood, Captain." Lieutenant Colonel Connor Montgomery stood at the top of the steps leading into the Aretu and Raxo Embassy, scanning the group of twenty-or-so people forming a protest at the bottom of the embassy stairs. They held up signs demanding the ambassadors "Go Home!" and "Get off Earth!" while others were more colorful in their suggestions.
He knew his team member's underlying message. It grew harder every day to tell Friend from Foe. The sign-wielders could very well just be a group of peacefully protesting Separatists, or they could be Xenos. Xenos looked like every other Human -- or Areth, as the case may be -- walking the streets. Except Xenos took their beliefs to the extreme, and weren't afraid to spill blood to prove their point. The saddest part was they were Humans, and they had no qualms about killing other Humans in their pursuit of purity for the Human race. Kill Humans to purify Humans.
Which was what had earned them the name Xenos. Xenophobes on a global scale. To the extreme.
All he could do was be as aware as possible.
A family of four walked twenty yards north of the embassy entrance. Across the street, a man dressed in rags had been slouched in a doorway for over an hour. He'd taken several long swigs from the bottle resting between his feet. Could be a drunk, could be a ruse.
Random pedestrians moved along the dank street. The afternoon thunder show had driven most inside except for the diehard. The rain had left a raw nip in the air and darkened the pavement with the quick shower. At least it helped with thinning out the crowd.
At the base of the stairs half a dozen news agencies camped out waiting for the ambassador to exit. The talks between the ambassador and the Presidential Council for Planetary Reconstruction had been going on for three days, and they were near a settling point, and everyone wanted to break the news first.
Then there was the usual gaggle of grinning females hovering outside the concrete barriers on the opposite side of the staircase from the protestors, charismatic young women who wouldn't be deterred by just a little rain. Wherever John Smith was, so were the women. Connor shook his head. He'd be the first to admit he didn't have a clue about women, but he couldn't figure out what had so many going gaga over the ambassador.
Connor tipped his chin toward the crowd and spoke to his 2IC, Mel Briggs, who held her post on the other side of the door. "Hey, Mel. You're a woman, right?" His answer was a half-hearted "hey!" before he continued. "What about Smith has the women all over him?"
"Why? Need some tips, Montgomery?"
He chuckled and looked at Mel over the top of his sunglasses. "I'm doing just fine, thank you."
"If you say so, sir."
Connor chuckled. In truth, there was really only one woman he focused on these days -- Mel. After years of working side-by-side with her, he finally had begun to see the woman who had been there all along. Problem was, he was her commanding officer. "Just answer the question, Briggs. Is it just the alien thing?"
"What alien thing are you talking about?"
Connor rolled his head back, grinning. "You know. Women get all gooey at the idea of being with an alien."
Mel chuckled. "No, sir. It's most definitely not an alien thing." Connor stayed quiet, waiting for her to elaborate. After a pause, she huffed. "Okay, so maybe a little bit. But, he's also powerful. He's sexy. He's intense."
"Sexy?" Connor looked at Mel again over his glasses. "Are you kidding?"
Mel smiled slowly. "No, sir," she answered, dragging the words out. "He's got those great angular features. Sharp cheekbones. Defined chin--"
"--Big nose. Big ears," Connor interjected.
"Long, lean body--"
"He's tall and skinny!"
"Those gorgeous blue eyes." Mel shook her head. "You could take a lesson or two from Ambassador Smith about how to deal with women. He doesn't talk, he listens. And looks directly at you the whole time with those great eyes--"
"Alright! Alright!" Connor held up his hands in surrender. "I get it. Actually, no, I don't get it but I've heard enough."
Mel smirked and shifted her stance, her hand resting on the hilt of her pulse weapon. Connor had been reluctant when Colonel Goldberg first assigned Mel as his 2IC five years earlier. She was slight of build, and just cleared his shoulder, but he soon learned her size was an asset. She was assumed to be weak because of her stature, but Mel could lay a 6-foot-4 man out on his stomach with his hands and feet hogtied before he managed to say "Hey, baby". She could drink half the squadron under the table, but could buff her nails and comb her hair and silence a crowd when she walked in. With short golden-brown hair and matching eyes, and a bright smile, Mel Briggs was a looker. She also never seemed to be lacking for company, so maybe she did know what she was talking about.
But still, John Smith sexy? Even his name was ordinary.
He just didn't get it.
The small electronic earpiece molded into the canal of his ear twittered softly before he heard Lieutenant Halliwell's voice. "We're on our way down, sir," Halliwell informed him.
Connor nodded to the three Firebirds standing ready at the foot of the stairs, and to the driver waiting outside the armored hovercar. When he heard approaching footsteps inside, he turned and gripped the curved door handle. Mel matched his move from the other side of the entrance, and in unison they pulled open the doors.
Ambassador John Smith and his son Silas moved into the dim afternoon light, flanked on each side by Firebird soldiers. Connor moved into position beside the ambassador, his hand on his pulse pistol. Silas held his father's hand, his dark eyes wide as they moved into the street.
"Good afternoon, Ambassador," Connor said as he took up position. He leaned forward just enough to grin at the young boy clinging to his father's hand. "Hi, Silas. Remember me?"
Seven year old Silas -- although by what Connor understood, no one could be positive about the boy's age since his mother was dead, and John Smith had effectively adopted him after the initial Sorracchi attacks -- looked up at Connor with wide eyes and nodded. A toothy grin spread his lips. "Yes, sir."
"We need to talk," John said with his head turned toward Connor and away from his son. His elongated vowels and lilted accent made him sound like he was from Manchester, England rather than an alien planet on the other side of the galaxy. "Silas is more frightened now with your men hoverin' than he was after the inner-city bombin's. Is this necessary?"
"President Tanner thinks so," Connor answered, keeping his attention on their surroundings as they walked down the stairs. "He can't let threats against your life go unanswered. Both you and Ambassador Drucillus Clodianus Hiacyntus are vital to the continuation of relations between Earth and your worlds."
John snorted. "Whose been preachin' the party line to you, my friend?"
Connor couldn't help his grin. "Doesn't help when your sister is married to the President of the World." As pretentious as the title sounded, Connor knew President Nick Tanner felt the same way.
As they neared the bottom of the stairs, the cluster of women to their left called out to John, reaching out past the barriers as if he were some 20th century singing star. The news reporters lunged forward, shouting the ambassador's name and rapid-firing questions at him.
The ambassador turned to the reporters, not addressing one in particular, and grinned amicably. "I would prefer no' to comment until we've completed the discussions. Thank you." With that simple statement, he turned and angled his son away from the screaming crowd and toward the hovercar.
"You know, Ambassador," Connor said, reaching for the hovercar door handle. "Security would be a hell of a lot easier if you didn't attract every single female within a--"
His words trailed off as one particular woman caught his attention in the crowd of ladies who wanted to have John Smith's alien love child. While the other women blushed and cried, calling out John's name, she stood apart. She wore nondescript, government-issue clothing in drab olive green, much like most civilians wore since simple staples like clothing had become short in supply and high in demand. They were sturdy and simple and easy to produce in large quantities. She was beautiful, with rich brown hair and as far as he could tell, dark eyes. But, it was her expression -- the smug calmness -- that caught his attention.
"John, get in the car," Connor said in a low, but stern voice. He tapped his earpiece. "On alert," was all he said.
Every Firebird within the perimeter drew their weapons. Connor stepped around John so he stood between the ambassador and his son and the beautiful woman with the cool expression. Connor stared at her through his sunglasses, and she stared right back. Then a small, almost indiscernible smile bowed her lips.
The hairs on the back of Connor's neck stood to attention and he shoved John toward the door just as she took from the pocket of her jacket a small, metallic ball with red lights blinking around the circumference.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
How much science should there be in science fiction? The purists claim it should permeate every scene if not every sentence. Others say the genre' is changing and that just attaining the atmosphere of science fiction is enough.
Me? I'm stuck in the middle with you—unless of course you're a purist and/or a rocket scientist. Now I've read the classic masters and popular masters of sci-fi like Bradbury, who was my first ever introduction to the genre' with the short "There Will Come Soft Rains" which, if you grew up in the "duck and cover" generation with the unholy terror of nuclear war and annihilation, was something you could relate to entirely (run on sentence).
I've also read sci-fi in which the main character is so cyborg-ish that he plugs himself into the dashboard of his ship. For me, that's a little off-putting. Oh, I don't mind a little man/machine interaction, in fact I have a WIP that has a little of it too. It's just that when people stop becoming people there really isn't any story (excepting the above Bradbury masterpiece in which an automated house is the main character), at least not for me. I mean, it's hard to give a medical droid an ethics conflict, R2 and C3PO notwithstanding.
Now, as much as I love Blade Runner—and I do—I usually don't put pleasure androids such as Pris in my work. Why? There has to be a human to have the conflict with or because of a Pris type android, and that droid usually doesn't have the wherewithal to have a conflict themselves. (And oh, shut the heck up about Hal in 2001 A Space Odyssey, and "The Robot" in Lost In Space, etc., and etc.) In the case of Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) has the main moral conflict both physical in destroying the Replicants but also one because of his attraction to Rachel who believes she is human. Once again, there's that human interaction and not by plugging oneself into a dashboard, per se.
I think that book length is also a factor in science fiction. Thinking up credible engaging thorough worlds with plagues and problems takes a lot of time if you really love the genre' and therein lies a major quandary. With all the subgenre' and mashups of genre' being the trend of the times, sometimes you have to make a distinction however small, between science fiction proper and science fiction action/thriller/adventure/dark/dystopian, on and on. Dystopian is the one genre' or subgenre' that comes to mind as close to real, pure science fiction. Why? Because it's usually a setting/story of people attempting to survive in a ravaged, destroyed world/society due to advances in science whether war, plague, mutation, alien invasion/contact and what have you. One book that truly is a great work of this type is The Plague Tales by Ann Benson. Surprisingly, I love the futuristic storyline better than the historical, which I normally prefer. I think it's because that story line is so realistic I can totally see it logically happening one day.
However for writers like me who devote a lot of work to the inner conflicts of characters much of it has to do with how the characters relate to each other and how they deal with their conflicts resulting in growth of their personalities. I believe that that characterization drives the plot lines in my stories.
Yet I still have the obligation to stick to the genre' major. I do research of a sort to give credence to my books unless I'm completely making it up and I try to create a setting/world/technology that readers can picture and relate to but that isn't rocket science either. So there I am still stuck in the middle with or without you, riding the galactic fence. That's when I fall back on those subgenre' mashups. I've called my books futuristic crime thrillers, near-future thrillers, sci-fi adventure, dark science fiction and spec fiction and I think I need to do that even though it might narrow the reader audience. I don't think it does—I hope it doesn't—I'm hoping it will cross-genre' much like a virus can mutate (ooh, science talk) into various strains and perhaps reach readers who might otherwise pass it by.
Take that rocket scientists!
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Women are powerful beings. Imagine, they hold humanity and life in their hands - er, womb. Well, you get what I mean. What could be more powerful than that, except when they birth a girl? It's the most visual representation of humanity's continuation. It's like when Queen Hipolyte birthed Diana, Princess of Themyscira...Sorry, geek Wonder Woman moment. (I spent a lot of third grade wearing the Wonder Woman headband.)
Any-who. Where was I?
Oh, yeah. Mother/Daughter relationship. Powerful beings. Got it.
After a woman births a baby, that good old Oxytocin kicks in and she becomes a mother lioness. And the lessons from one female to another begins almost immediately. Yeah, the daughter doesn't really know what's going on, and the mom might not overtly know either, but it's happening. The mother teaches through her very actions what kind of woman she wants her daughter to become. It's instinctual. (Just like they teach their sons, but this is girl's day...sorry Jmo.)
The era, culture, social rank, perception of their own raising, etc, will dictate what expectations a mother has for their daughter's grown up life. At times, it can be an odd, contentious, co-dependent relationship.
Daughters will spend the formative years mimicking mommy as much as possible. This is the time where they get their baseline characteristics. Say the first 12 to 13 years (give or take, pending). After that, their hormones start to kick in...their superpowers if you will. The urge to understand and become their own woman, whether it's to strive to be like mom or strive to completely unlike mom.
For the next generation or so, depending on you and your daughter's personalities, life will either be a constant episode of Dallas or as cold and tense as US and Russia during the peak of the Cold War.
If we're lucky, our daughters will finally come to terms with who they are, and accept you for the woman you are. And vice verse, you will come to terms with your little girl being a woman. At that point the tribal instinct kicks in and you become companions, mentor/mentee, and potentially you'll reach a friendship of sorts.
In my latest release, Revelations of Tomorrow, mother Noah Bonney is trying to reconcile with her daughter. Her own shame, for her people and her past, builds a wall that she can't figure out how to break down. Luckily for them both, Noah's vessel slams into a vessel carrying Jetta McCree and begins their journey into Noah's past. This helps Noah come to terms with herself and open up to her daughter, Brenda.
Below is a scene from Revelations of Tomorrow, which is the first book in the Telomere Trilogy, which showcases the dynamic of Noah and Brenda.
Her young girl had wanted to be a physician since her first scrape, when the vessel doc bandaged her. The whole time she'd interrogated the poor man with question after question. From that moment on, she'd shadowed him and when he retired, the replacement. The dogged determination did her well when she applied for and was accepted into medical school.
Noah had missed her sorely during that time. The feeling had not been reciprocated, she remembered. The tension came back into her shoulder and the light dimmed in her heart. Brenda had enjoyed the freedom from her. It'd been a selfish act of desperation when Noah had bullied all the other captains to keep them from accepting Brenda on their crews. The last year of icy and distant relations with her daughter had been the ongoing punishment.
Brenda reviewed the chart again and then tapped it closed. The image dematerialized and shrunk into the network encased in the bed frame. "I've given her something to wake her a bit, but please don't keep her too long. She needs rest." She tucked her access pad in her smock pocket and moved toward the door without once meeting Noah's eyes.
"Brenda. We have to talk." Noah checked the desperation and strain in her voice. More, she wanted so much for it not to exist.
With rigid shoulders and her hand still rested on the door frame, Brenda replied, "I'm not ready." Emotions choked her words.
"The ceremony is approaching, Brenda. We need to prepare." Noah grabbed the patient rail to hide the tremble in her hands and steady her shaky legs. It's not what she wanted to say, but those words wouldn't come out. She wanted to hug her, but that wouldn't come out either.
"I'm not ready," Brenda said, a little stronger.
She departed, leaving Noah alone with the injured woman. Tears burned her eyes.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Desert Breeze Website All Romance Books
Monday, March 19, 2012
I love fantasy.
I always have. It combines two of my loves so perfectly I can't help myself. I love history and I love imagining new worlds. To me fantasy has always been taking history and slapping a whole new face on it. I refer to it as the great and powerful 'What if?'
Growing up these books filled me with wonder that very few things could touch. The Lord of the Rings kick started my infatuation, like you had to guess. Next came Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. In rapid secession came Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Christopher Stasheff, who might be more scifi, but his books were fantasy at heart, Robert Asprin, and Anne McCaffrey, another scifi with a fantasy bent. Science fiction and fantasy hand in hand. It's hard to separate the two, especially when you find and author who can blend them so seamlessly you can't tell the difference.
But, before those authors came one who instilled wonder in me at a very tender age. I first read C.S. Lewis before I knew what fantasy was. I just knew I'd fallen in love for the first time. From the second Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan walk through that wardrobe, and I was hooked. I can remember crying when the evil witch ties Aslan to the stone and cuts his mane, only to cry with joy when he comes back. By the end of the book, I was panting for more. When Sister Regina told me the next day in class she had the rest of the books in the library at school, I almost lost my fear of nuns. Almost mind you. Needless to say I devoured the books in less than a month.
Thinking back, I should have guessed there was an ulterior motive for Sister Regina giving me those books. After I returned the last book, she smugly told me that I'd just read the greatest books next to the Bible, and that they'd all been about God. I didn't even feel duped or cheated. They were the greatest books I'd ever read. It took me a few years before I began to work my way through the Bible, but The Chronicles of Narnia were never far from my thoughts or bedside table. I think they were the first books to start the massive collection that dominates my house in every room.
Now, I have a new author to add to that lists of authors who have inspired me to think not to the stars but to a world within the one I already know. Jennifer Hartz's Future Savior series embodies all those things my early loves held so dear. Savior starts in our present day world where Christina is like the rest of us, living a life so normal it hurts. Then on her thirtieth birthday something amazing happens. She finds out that normal is just the tip of the iceberg. Okay, she also finds herself in another world where nothing makes a lick of sense. From that simple beginning, an explosion of rich vibrant details draws you into a story that spans both time and the imagination. See, we're treading dangerously close to science fiction, but like Stasheff and McCaffrey, Hartz dispels your disbelief and demands you believe every word you're drinking in.
Like C.S. Lewis, Future Savior is more than a fantasy. It is a message wrapped around fiction. That message isn't in your face but its impact is the same nonetheless. You want there to be clear distinctions between good and evil. You want hope to shine through the blackness of everyday life. Above all else, you want there to be a Savior out there, who's willing to die for us. Here's a hint. There is one and He already did. Future Savior brings those things to your heart and so much more.
Three books into the series, and that initial spark of wonder has not diminished. If anything, it has grown. Evacuation was a nonstop ride of emotions and action. To me, hands down, it is the best book of the series. I seriously hate talking about the species of a book because to me, doing so always gives away something. Spoilers, sweeties! So I'm asking you to believe me when I say that Jennifer Hartz has penned an amazing series that will strap you in for the ride of your lives. To say anymore would spoil--see above Doctor Whoism--the unraveling of the books before your eyes.
I started this discourse to show my journey through the many worlds of fantasy, and I think I've succeeded to illustrate that I'm not responsible for the person I am today. I place the blame solely on the authors who created worlds more interesting that the one I was born into. To sum it up in a neat little package.
Thank God for authors!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I love casting the characters of my books. It really helps me to give them a visual. And, hey, you never known, Hollywood might actually call one day, right? *wink* (Okay, maybe they won't). I thought I'd share some reviews for "The Hungarian," Book 1 in my Budapest Moon Series and my casting picks. Enjoy!
BLURB: Matthias harbors a dark secret, but when Katherine comes into his life he risks everything for her love.
Happily Ever After Reviews, 5 Cups
"This is an excellent book and I think fans of both the paranormal and historical romances will really, really enjoy it."
Hope Chest Reviews - 4 Hearts
Overall, The Hungarian was a pretty good read. Stephanie Burkhart is good at telling an interesting story that holds my attention.
You Gotta Read Reviews - You Need to Read, Lupa
I was so very happily surprised by this book. The characters are enchanting, the scenes are vividly written, and the story has a fantastic flow. I really enjoyed the warm love and fiery passion that seemed to leap off the page.
Sizzling Hot Book Reviews, 5 Hearts
"I highly recommend The Hungarian￼, even if you aren't that interested in the paranormal such as werewolves. The romantic tale of The Hungarian￼ is enough to win over anyone."
Reader's Favorites, 5 Stars
"This book is extremely entertaining. The plot is sensual and romantic."
Coffee Time Romance, 3 Cups
"Ms. Burkhart tells this tale in such a voice that we can practically feel the waves of emotions both characters are feeling coming off the pages."
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RESA, THE WITCH:
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Monday, March 12, 2012
#1. Win a copy of Future Savior 1: Conception. If you haven't checked out Future Savior yet, what better way to start then for free!
#2. Become part of the story! Ever wish you could be a character in a fantasy novel? Now's your chance! One lucky winner will be a character in Future Savior 4: Desecration. How cool is that!?
Go to my website - http://jenniferhartz.com/ - and enter now!
Friday, March 9, 2012
I was once told by a woman of 'advanced generation' in our church that a Christian couldn't enjoy, watch, read, or write science fiction because it was sacrilegious. I was very young, and worried about what she said for a long time, but with the maturity of my faith I fully accepted I didn't agree.
My father once said, "I think we'd be pretty stupid to think we're the only ones God bothered with." That struck me as far more true than the idea of imagination being sacrilege.
Psalms 8:3 says, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place."
In the age old debate of Science versus Faith, those who scream the loudest about either side don't seem to see what I see. I believe in creation, but I also see science as proof for my faith. Proof, you say? Yes, proof. I see again and again how the study of our world, our bodies, chemistry, biology, physics proves to me we are the result of divine creation and not a random event when nothing became something and exploded with such ferocity to create everything with such perfect intrinsic beauty and purpose.
So, if I can see science as proof of our divine origins, it isn't a long stretch to believe God in His desire to create life would look beyond the third planet of a single solar system. If all He wanted to do was create life on a single planet, why create all of the universe?
Religion is an element in just about every major vein of science fiction, in some way or another. In Star Wars you have The Force and the Jedi themselves were a type of religious sect. Star Trek addressed religion in the atheistic lack of religion. It's still an element in that they chose to present an anti-religion stance. Stargate addressed religion by using the existence of the stargate as the origin of many of the ancient 'gods' on Earth. On Firefly, the crew of Serenity included a Shepherd, a minister/pastor/preacher/man of the cloth from our future who often referenced the teachings of the Bible.
My favorite quote of his, while loading a weapon for a battle and Zoe asks him "Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?", to which he answers "Quite specific. It is, however, fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."
So, how have I handled religion in my Phoenix series? Just like in life, my characters range in their belief systems. In the first series, Lieutenant Jace Quinn is the son of a preacher and ordained himself. He is grounded in his faith, but as he is absent for a good portion of the series it doesn't play much until the second series. Although never directly addressed, I see Nick Tanner as a man of faith though not a man who would be in a church every week. He sees God in creation. I do point out how the bad guys were so convincing on so many things, they convinced much of the population of the Earth to forget the religion of their forefathers.
Religion plays a larger part in the second series because in the second series I explore the concept of other worlds, other cultures, other evolutions of society much more than in the first series that was very much Earth-bound. I cannot recall a science fiction world that has a religion like Christianity in a society not originating from Earth. If the basis of Christianity is that Jesus Christ, son of God, came to Earth for us, I had to ask myself a question. If I believe God created all of existence, and God loves all His creations, why would his son choose Earth if other planets and life forms exist?
I endeavor to answer that question in Phoenix Rising, not as part of the series arc, but just as I addressed religion in the first series, as a part of the development and culture of the various people living in this Phoenix 'universe'. I've actually had some very interesting, thought provoking, and inspiring conversations with my pastor about this element of my story.
He actually thinks it's a pretty cool idea, and almost as excited about the concepts I've worked up as I am. Quite the left turn from Sister Esther back in Milo, Maine who told me just imagining such a thing was heresy.
You can read more about The Phoenix Rebellion, and it's upcoming sequel Phoenix Rising, at my website.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Let's start off with the most obvious: the sense of empowerment female readers experience when reading a novel with a kickass heroine. Yeah yeah yeah I know, Freud and all that stuff. Still, there's that sense of "I wish I could break political correctness and say what the hell I want in real life" whenever a female character kicks in the head of some vicious opponent/enemy spouting off snarky smartass remarks like "Alien garbage, you're only worth is being used for Euro trash soccer!" No offense to my beloved Europeans. Or "You have to have a brain for me to kick it out of your head!" Well, okay, I've said stuff like that to guys which is probably why I'm alone…
But enough about my loserhood. Kickass heroines can be funny in other ways besides the smartass violence they seem to love. Now, I'm talking about action heroines, not the strong womanly type so keep that in mind—besides that's a whole other blog post. They can make you laugh by their sheer sense of no rules, no repercussions for their actions and giving the bad guy or girl their just desserts. In that sense, they're actually a lot like cartoon characters of days past. Remember when The Roadrunner could drop an anvil on the head of Wile E. Coyote without causing any real brain damage aside from a momentary concussion? That's what kickass women characters can do, too. Besides, don't we all want that cathartic sense of seeing the bad guy/gal get what they deserve in a true sense of getting their butt kicked? I think that might be a subconscious transference from wanting the same to happen to your co-workers, but again that's a question for the cocaine abusing Dr. Sigmund Freud.
On the other hand, there's the loser/underdog female heroine. Not to influence you, but she's my personal preference. Why? Again, it's that sense of catharsis, that the "worm has turned" and is going to kick the not only the butt but the brain, face, and sometimes other sensitive areas of the bad dude/dudette. She's a lot like the kickass heroine but she's the one going through changes as opposed to the enemy—or the kickass heroine who does not change but remains faithful to her character and attitude from the beginning to the end.
The underdog female is the one you root for, get angry for and about, and sigh/cheer with relief when she finally does turn herself around and gets revenge on those who picked on her during the story. Remember Stephen King's Carrie? That was one big ol' bullied chick giving everybody their rewards for excessive cruelty in the face of high school society. Thank God now we have organizations and news casts trying to change bullying behavior in schools! I support them fully!
Oops, excuse my personal political views.
The female underdog is also a relatable character. Which one of us has not felt put upon in the challenges of life—sometimes we feel like the underdog ourselves—which is why we root for her whether we know it or not. That's why we want her to win, to break out of her timidity and just plain kick somebody's ass. She's us in disguise.
Which is your favorite heroine type and why?
Have at it.
"Blood. Take it or leave it? Your thoughts?"
Okay, obviously it's take it, or cease to exist. What I wanted to discuss today is the importance of blood as a symbol. Not just in writing (and not just vampires and werewolves and MacBeth). 'Cause, face it, if it wasn't important in life, it wouldn't be in writing.
So, what is it that makes the liquid river of the body so essential to our psyche? I mean, it's mostly water (about 90% or so) with a little bit of proteins, glucose, minerals, hormones, and carbon dioxide. Oh, and don't forget those little blood cells themselves, two kinds: red and white. In those are micro puffs of oxygen.
It's vital, but so are so many other parts of our body. I mean we're not so sentimental about our lungs and yet if they weren't there we'd cease to exist. What about genes? We have a fondness for genes, yet when referencing heritage and lineage it's always the "blood line" we reference, not the "gene line"...
Ah, now we've hit the spot. Scientific evolution gives us an understanding of the blood's historical importance, and human sentimentality cements it.
Thousands of years ago no one knew about genetics. But they knew blood pumped through our body and allowed us to survive, and thrive. It was quite natural to claim blood was the source of lineage and the source of "being". So, resulto facto, blood became the symbol for life, spirit, and self.
Cannibals are a prime example. (Prime..haha, get it?) They don't eat for the purpose of answering their grumbling bellies. The eating of another is symbolic for them. Those that eat their kin or tribe members are doing so to continue the line of ancestors with them. Those that eat outsiders usually do so as a way to show dominance and seal them as the conqueror. Both acts boost the eater's power source in his/her and their tribe's minds.
Okay, cannibals aside, from this core belief of blood as our source of being, it was easy to develop a communication of feelings, emotions, and actions that tagged to blood. "She's cold-blooded", "he's out for blood vengeance", "blood tells". To show your bond you become "blood brothers/sisters" or sacrifice yourself by the letting of blood.
It was also easy for the world to create blood-focused monsters. Those creatures out to get your soul, and since blood equaled soul it got it by taking your blood. As a bonus, this helped society keep the masses in line and safe in those old days where beyond the village limits were dangerous and foreboding.
Vampires, zombies and werewolves, oh my!
Vampires use blood to more than feed and survive. By just sampling it, they manipulated and controlled that person. Signifying that blood somehow links to that person's soul and vitality. Zombies, once their bite hits your blood stream, you are no longer human. Your soul and humanity are stripped and you become nothing but a mindless cannibal. (Ahhh...see how I tied the earlier comment?) Once you were bitten by a werewolf you had to sacrifice your humanity on a monthly basis-- I'll take my monthly menstrual, thank you very much. By breaking that cardinal rule and venturing where you "weren't supposed to" you had to suffer the rest of your life with the consequences.
As society created these monsters to keep the moral compass of people and their soul intact, it was up to the writers and storytellers to keep the monsters alive, and to portray them and evolve them as the world evolved.
Now, at this point my SF roots are bubbling to the surface. How will the growing importance of genetics as the core of heredity and lineage impact that symbolism? You also have the industrial age and the expansion of electrical lighting, which have been slowly abating fears of the night. Not to mention, both the sexual revolution and equality movements have all but vanquished the purity angle.
Where does that leave the symbol of blood? Will that strong human sentimentality keep hold of it, or will it become obsolete as other, new symbols emerge? I just don't know. I'm not sentimental -- just ask my Hubby -- but there's something cool about blood as the main life force/energy.
What do you think?
Oh! Also, what is your favorite blood quote from a story? Mine is, and probably always will be, "Blood is life!" from Bram Stoker's Dracula.
(NOTE: Totally summarizing years of research and time lines from the pros here in this post...but unless we want this post to be thousands of words longs, it'll have to do.)