Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Top 5 Sci-Fi Ships

I actually did a little research on this—very little. Well okay to be honest almost none other than checking out The Top 75 Sci-Fi ships on Den of Geek's 2009 list. Was I shocked and surprised! Out of 75 science fiction ships Boba Fett's Slave (I II, or IV) was nowhere to be found! "Insulting!" as Richard Riddick would say, lol! But that's further down a few paragraphs. There are a lot of favorite science fiction ship lists, so many in fact that I feel compelled as well as entitled to list my top five (or ten, depending on when I get to the end of this post). As usual I wandered off the beaten path at times but I have reason for that deviance and I do list a few of the obvious ones. Let's start backward with the aforementioned Slave in any or all incarnations.
#5: Boba Fett's Slave:  This is not a cool ship by any means and that's probably why it's not on major lists. Why do I love it then? I don't. I always loved BF's character so intense (and sexy to me—but then I'm a sucker for bad boys) in just those few scenes in Star Wars IV (A New Hope) that when I got a glimpse of that hideous thing he flew that reminded me of a repulsive elephant head I almost puked. How how could such a cool character pilot something so…yucky? Well, I wasn't pleased with the casting of Temuera Derek Morrison as Boba/Jango Fett in later films either—I liked him—he just wasn't…bad enough for me. But back to the Slave: it was functional if not pretty and it flew funny too—standing vertically as it shot through light speed. I always got the feeling Boba was standing up. Feets don't fail me now.
#4: Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea: The Seaview nuclear sub and its mini/flying subs. Myself being a water sign, of course underwater sci-fi hypnotized me. I never saw the film (too young) but I watched the television show which helped feed nuclear terror of the Cold War into children like me. The Seaview was the oceanic mother ship run on nuclear power and vaguely phallic in design. The show worked a little differently than usual by dealing with aliens, mermaids, and thwarting terrorist attacks in an underwater setting. But the coolest thing was that mini/flying sub. Oh yeah and that windshield on the Seaview that may have pre-dated Star Trek.
#3: Battlestar Galactica: from the original series. Not a giant fan of the series, it began with a tremendous potential but then many times descended into foolishness. But for Cripe's sake, the ship had a CASINO at one point! For me, that clever idea was possibly the most realistic aspect—think about it: humans need recreational activities and an interstellar Las Vegas kicked the ass of every other recreational activity on board any ship except those in international waters. Excuse me, I hear ducats dropping into someone's SpaceSlots basket…

#2: Millennium Falcon: Oh come on. Sure it had the most fun ever swiveling gunner seats and cannons with those ultra cool bay windshields, but it was also a little rickety. Okay, a lot rickety just like the research I did for this post. The difference is the Falcon was supposed to be rickety. It's been though sci-fi hell and back and it's like the ultimate Mustang Cobra Shelby of deep space. Even I got a little nervous when it showed the interior. One of the neat and logical things the Falcon had were those floor panels they hid beneath when the Storm Troopers scanned the ship. It made sense since the Falcon's main job was hauling illegal materials for galactic cartels (read: Jabba the Hut). Of course those Storm Trooper scans SHOULD have caught life forms so I listed it as #2.  Plus, it looked uneven to me with the cockpit to the side instead of under, above or front center of the ship and that unsettled and disoriented me more than a tad. Kinda' like when I went on my first road trip in Great Britain…

And last but probably least:

Ta Da Da Da!

#1: Chronicles of Riddick: Toomb's first ship: Whatever the hell they called it.  It was pointy, bouncy and possessed a super cool First Aid transfusion kit! That last was one of my sci-fi dreams. Plus the idea of riding shotgun in a dangling gunnery nest blasting gats just blows away my nano-matrix!

I know this list is completely void of technologically impressive design wonders but it isn't always about stiff scientific theory. Sometimes it's just about good old alien Bling!  

P.I. Barrington

Review for Kidnapped, Sci-Fi Romance

Hi all, my last spot on The Writer Limits had a great interview with Maria Hammarblad, a sci-fi author whose latest release is "Kidnapped." Here's my review. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Book Review for: Kidnapped
Written by: Maria Hammarblad
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61252-168-8
Avail as: ebook only
4 Stars

Hammarblad takes the reader on the adventure of a lifetime with "Kidnapped." Patricia is traveling home late one night and swerves to avoid hitting a person. Her car crashes and while that person she was trying to avoid, William, actually saves her, she's taken by an alliance soldier, Travis, as a prisoner. Soon, Travis has regrets as he realizes Patricia is an innocent bystander.

The story is a sci-fi romance set in the present day, Patricia discovers there's a thriving population of humans in space. Her captive, Travis, allows her to roam the ship and they grow close. Travis knows that if he takes Patricia as a lover, their futures will be put in danger, but will love give him the courage he needs to defy the alliance and allow him to live his life on his terms?

The story opens with Patricia's kidnapping and takes not only Patricia, but Travis on a journey that will explore the depths of their emotions.

Hammarblad's writing is solid, the plot engaging, and the story shines with creativity. "Kidnapped" allows Hammarblad's imagination to soar.

The characters are likable. Patricia is a sweet girl who is loyal in love. Travis discovers a whole new range of emotions as he falls in love including hope, honor, and true courage.

The novel is sensual/warm for romance readers with Patricia and Travis sharing kisses and tender caresses. The ending promises to bring the story full circle. If you like science fiction romance, you'll enjoy this story. I highly recommend it.

Find Maria's story on Amazon at:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Return to the Planet of the Jmo's

Since this is SciFi month, what better way to tell how Science Fiction warped my mind than by telling you about my first love in the genre? No, not Star Wars, though that is a good first guess. My love affair with Sci Fi started way before that May of 1977. It started with a Charlton Heston movie about some damn dirty apes. Yep, Planet of the Apes kick started my fascination with futures where apes talked, and spaceships could fly beyond time and space.

Way back then, I didn't consider all the social and political ramifications of Planet of the Apes. I just thought it was super cool that monkeys could talk. I didn't even like Charlton Heston. I was all about the apes. I can remember being six or seven and not wanting to eat all the food on my plate. It was liver or something similarly icky, not that it matters much to the flow of this flashback, but I can remember my dad saying that if I didn't eat all my supper, I wouldn't grow up to be a talking ape. Well, let me tell you that I ate every bite and developed a taste for icky food like you wouldn't believe. Years later I read the novel the movie was based on and felt kind of let down that it was nothing like the movie. Sure there were apes that talked but the similarities ended there.

That didn't stop me from eagerly devouring the sequels when they came on the movie of the week. For those of you born after the advent of VHS and DVD, to watch movies we had to either go see them at the theater or wait for one of the networks to broadcast edited and commercial filled versions of the movies we wanted to see. Sometimes it would take years!!! That within a year of seeing a movie in the theater we can sit in our own homes and enjoy our favorite films is a bit of Science Fiction that astounds me.

Way before Star Wars, I sat on my bedroom floor playing with my Mego PotA action figures and created worlds and stories that would later lay the foundation for my writing career. I can remember having gorilla apes chasing my Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk action figures across the universe with Spiderman thrown in just to make things interesting. If I could go back to those carefree days I would in a minute!

Planet of the Apes sparked my love of Sci Fi, but other movies came along to help fuel my addiction. Logan's Run fascinated me. Michael York's dash to freedom from a society that considered 30 old, well to my young mind 30 was old, seemed so weird. So out there. I ate it up. Of course what would a Sci Fi blog be without mentioning Flash Gordon. Oh man! That movie was so deliciously weird, I couldn't help but sing the Queen soundtrack everywhere I went. David Lynche's Dune to me is the standard all bizarre movie adaption of a book should be. Spice! Let's not forget Blade Runner in this mix or Alien. Good stuff!

My love affair didn't stop with movies. No, television had me all wrapped up and geeky. I rushed home from school to catch Star Trek when it came on at four o'clock. The Six Million Dollar Man must fit in here somewhere, because it had me running in slow motion in excess of 100 MPH. It seemed that in the late 70's and early 80's Sci Fi was everywhere. Gil Gerald in Buck Rodgers. The king daddy of them all Battlestar Galactica had me wanting to be Starbuck with a burning passion that overruled common sense. By now, my action figure collection had grown to outlandish proportions. Then! PBS started showing this cheesy little show that totally hooked me! You might know it. Doctor Who? If you don't, I'd advise you to crawl out from under that rock.

See, I've gone half a blog with barely mentioning a certain George Lucas franchise, but you knew it was coming. Planet of the Apes kick started my addiction, but the first time I was an Imperial Star Destroyer looming over a Rebel Blockage Runner, I was totally and forever lost! Most kids wanted to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker, but not me. No, I wanted that black armor and flowing cape. Well, I did until Boba Fett showed up in The Empire Strikes Back. A bounty hunter's life is what I wanted. Yeah, I tend to give in to my dark side a lot.

I guess all this ramble is me trying to say that I LOVE SCIENCE FICTION! I want nothing more than to live in a world where unimaginable wonders are possible. The only limitations holding us back are the ones we set in place. Why should we settle for what we have, when the future is ours to shape? Who doesn't want a world free of disease, hate and violence? Sure it might be boring, but after all the human race has put itself through, don't we as a people deserve a little boring.

Y'all can draw your own conclusions on this. Me? I'm going to sit in my room and play Star Wars meets Planet of the Apes meets Battlestar Galactica with my circa 1976 giant Steve Austin action figure looming over them all going…. naaaaa….na….naaaaaa….naa….naaaaaaaaaaa.

And, that's all folks!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Maria Hammerblad

STEPH: I'd like to welcome guest author, Maria Hammerblad to The Writer Limits today. Maria, your latest book with Desert Breeze Publishing is Kidnapped, a science fiction romance. When did you know you had a love for science fiction?

MARIA: I've been fascinated with space and the stars for as long as I can remember. Other little girls played with dolls, and I found a cardboard box and pretended it was a space ship... I don't know where it comes from. My mom says they took the baby version of me to an exhibition in Stockholm and saw... I don't know what rocket or spaceship it might have been in the early 1970's, but she used to joke my space-craze came from her changing my diaper in an actual space craft. It might just be a story, true or not, it's cute. :-)

STEPH: What's your favorite Star Wars movie and why?

MARIA: Of the old ones, Return of the Jedi, because it was the first one I saw. I was too young when Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back came to theaters, and my parents wouldn't take me to see them. With Return of the Jedi I was eleven or twelve, and could go on my own. I loved it! If we count the new movies as well I like Attack of the Clones. The Jedi are still strong, there's hope for Anakin, and even though I know there'll be a disaster I can still think everything might end well.

STEPH: Who is your favorite Star Trek character and why?

MARIA: Data, definitely. I love the way he's super smart, but still innocent and fascinated with the world. There's one episode when he's trying to teach his cat some manners. "Spot, this is up. Up is bad. This is down. Down is good." Hilarious!

STEPH: You grew up in Sweden. What city? Can you share a tidbit about it?

MARIA: I come from Falun, it's a medium-sized Swedish city with about 50,000 inhabitants. It's far up north, not quite enough to have the midnight sun, but during summertime the sun just goes down to the horizon and bounces back up again. In the winter it's dark except for a dusky light between noon and three... It's a very old city. It contains the world's oldest copper mine - mining started some time in the year 600 - it's the home of Stora - the world's oldest corporation - and so on. It gives a different perspective on history.

STEPH: What science fiction author or movie/TV series made an impact on you?

MARIA: When I was six or maybe seven years old my dad watched Moonbase Alpha and Jason of Star Command. The tiny version of me found the former a little too weird, but was madly in love with Jason. He had a tiny robot called Wiki. Oh, did I want one! I read everything science fiction I could get my hands on, and if a science fiction channel had existed in Sweden at the time, I would probably have developed square eyes... Nowadays I still watch everything scifi. I can't believe how few TV shows feature aliens and space.

STEPH: Where did you find the germ of the idea for Kidnapped?

MARIA: That is a good question. I started writing the very first draft when I was a teenager, and I watched a lot of British science fiction shows at the time. Put some stuff like late 1970's Dr Who in an imaginative mind, mix in some cartoons, like Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, and out comes a story! Also, ever since I was a toddler I've expected a UFO to land right in front of the car to bring me home to my "real" family, and the beginning of the story probably stems from that.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

MARI: A couple of months or many years, depending on one's point of view. :) Once I remembered the story I wrote as a teenager and decided to re-do it with an adult perspective, writing it down didn't take very long. I already knew who the characters were and what would happen to them. After that, I pottered about with it for a couple of years, adding and withdrawing things.

Every character in the book has a vivid life in my mind, and I've written one short prequel to Kidnapped. It's called "Courage and Retribution" and will be available for free around Christmas time. I have another planned in my mind too. Maybe some time next year...

STEPH: Did you have to do any research for the novel?

MARIA: Yes. Once I decided I wanted to be a science fiction writer, I did a lot of research. I took college classes in Earth and Space Science, and in Astrobiology. Even if I make things up to fit the stories, it's nice to have some knowledge to fall back on. As an example, will the spaceships have artificial gravity? Definitely. Lacking gravity would be really inconvenient. Do I know exactly how it works? Nope? Do I care? Not really. I mean, it's entertaining to brainstorm how it might work, but when it comes to a novel I think both the readers and I are more interested in what happens to the main characters, and if I wrote down all my ideas of how the space ship works it would bore people to tears.

STEPH: What's the appeal for you in writing a science fiction story?

MARIA: I love imagining other worlds and civilizations. There aren't any limits.

STEPH:Did you see the Battlestar Galatica remake in the 2000's? If so, what did you like about the series?

MARIA: I wasn't aware of the show until I moved to the US in 2008. It might have been on Swedish TV, but if it was, I missed it. I saw the last couple of seasons, and once I got to know the characters, I enjoyed it. It would probably have been a little less confusing if I'd followed it from the start...

STEPH: Are you a fan of George Noory and Coast to Coast AM?

MARIA: The who and the what? Am I missing out on something cool? I'll have to google him.

STEPH: Yes, Google George Noory and Coast to Coast AM. I LOVE his show. He's not afraid to tackle any topic including aliens, ghosts, shadow people, and reincarination. Now, tell us about your upcoming release "Undercover."

Undercover is a contemporary romance, released September 11. It's about a quite ordinary young woman, Jenny Moore, who falls helplessly in love with a visitor from Russia. Unfortunately, Alexei Roshenko comes with a complicated past, and the couple encounters problems with everything from Russian intelligence officers to the CIA.

STEPH: Can you share an excerpt of Kidnapped with us?

MARIA: I'd be delighted to! And, thank you for having me on the blog!
The room was small and sparsely furnished. Besides bare walls, she saw a narrow bed, a metal table, and two metal chairs. Not until the door closed behind her did Patricia realize Travis hadn't followed her in, and she sank down on the edge of the bed, finding it anything but comfortable. "This place really sucks. Oh, you can probably hear me, can't you? I mean, don't get me wrong, it's much better than the cell, and I am grateful, I guess. I mean, the cell is even scarier than YOU are. Is there a shower? Why didn't I ask if there's a shower?"

The sound of her own voice was somehow comforting, and she got back to her feet, wanting to find that closet filled with clothes from possibly deceased strangers. Travis picking out clothes for her seemed creepy, but investigating would give her something to do.

When she approached the first wall, it didn't move at all. The second turned out to be a completely unresponsive computer terminal, and the third opened to show a small and peculiar restroom. Her next attempt rewarded her with a long row of clothes approximately her size, of very different colors and models. Holding one up against herself, she muttered, "Does he really expect me to wear this?"

After tossing the dress to the side, she ventured over towards the little restroom, where she poked the peculiar faucets and controls, wondering what they might do. Over to the side stood a metallic tube attached to both the floor and the ceiling, and when she stepped closer, the front part slid to the side. "Hmm, I wonder if you're the garbage disposal or the sauna?"

She jumped when the metallic voice she'd once heard on the bridge echoed in the little room. "Please remove your clothing, step into the personal cleanser, close your eyes, and hold your breath."

Looking around, she was both surprised and relieved not to see anyone. "I thought you weren't real. Who are you? Where are you?"

As Travis's words of them being completely alone on the large ship surfaced in her memory, she added quietly, "Are you a figment of my imagination?"

The voice offered no explanation; it just repeated its command. "Remove your clothing, step into the personal cleanser, close your eyes, and hold your breath."

Standing in a steel tube didn't seem appealing, especially not if it required closing one's eyes and holding one's breath, but personal cleanser did sound a little like shower, and she felt disgustingly dirty. She stuck her hand in cautiously and wiggled her fingers. When she withdrew the hand it was still there, and she decided to obey, dropping her clothes in a pile on the floor.

As soon as she stepped in, the opening in the tube closed automatically behind her, and she was trapped. She barely had time to remember closing her eyes and holding her breath before a smelly solution attacked her from all sides, spraying her from top to toe. Less than a second later, it was sucked off with enough force to make her hair stand up, and another solution drenched her.

She wanted to cough, or maybe scream, but there was no time. Hot air blew over her, drying her off with near hurricane strength. It only took a few seconds after she entered the tube before the door opened to let her out, and she staggered back into the restroom, gasping for air. "Personal cleanser? That's a freakin' carwash!"

Taking a look at herself, she made a little face of reluctant approval; she was clean. She lifted an arm up and smelled it, and even if the scent wasn't exactly coconut, it was acceptable.

Bending down to pick up her clothes gave a little shock; they were no longer there. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again, but every little piece of clothing, every trace of everything that tied her to the person she once was and to the world as she knew it was gone. Not even a thread of her old self remained.

She yelled, "What the hell! Who took my clothes? I was only gone for like five seconds!"

No one answered.

Buy-link Kidnapped:

Review snippets:

"The fact that the story is set in the stars, takes place across the span of over a year versus a few weeks, and even ends with a refreshing knot all lend it an added uniqueness that is rare in many novels today. I happily recommend this to most readers if you’d like a well-crafted story of both love and dependence, life and death, and overall, redemption." -- Megan, Night Owl Reviews

"Intrigue and oddities populate this entertaining sci-fi romance. Instead of getting mired in elaborate details of UFO technology, Hammarblad opts to focus on the human drama — to great effect. And with an occasional love scene thrown in to spice things up, readers will definitely find this novel to be an absolute gem." -- Amy Lignor, RT Book Reviews

"I love a good sci fi adventure romance and this was definitely a good one... I definitely recommend this story if you love a good sci-fi adventure tied into a fabulous romance!" -- Christina Snow, Smitten by Books

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Top 10 List of Fav Sci-Fi Flicks!

Well, well, well... it's Sci-Fi September.  Ready, set GO!

On the surface, The Future Savior Series appears to be fantasy, but actually it's sci-fi at its roots.  This becomes even more clear in FS4: Desecration which will be released in December.  In this latest installment of FS the poopy hits the propellers so to speak.  I'm really excited to hear what the people think about it.

However, for today's blog I'm not going to go into great detail about FS.  I'd like to talk about some of the sci-fi movies that influenced me over the years.  So here's my top ten countdown.

Number 10:  Star Trek IV 

I'm huge on anything time travel.  What's not to love about our favorite crew going back in time to save some humpback whales!

Number 9:  Short Circuit
This movie came out when I was 7-years-old.  I loved Johnny 5!  He was ALIVE!

Number 8:  Batteries Not Included

Again, this is another one that I loved from my childhood.  Of course, Jessica Tandy would get visited by little machine aliens... it only makes sense.

Number 7:  The Matrix

I'll be the 1st to admit, I was a bit worried when I went to see this movie.  Keanu Reeves???... but WOW!  I was blown away.  The whole trilogy is an all-time favorite.  However, the first one will always be near and dear to my heart.

Number 6:  Tron

I think in many ways Tron was a predecessor to The Matrix.  Being trapped inside a computer... sounds similar.

Number 5:  E.T.

Number 5 and Number 4 on my list go hand in hand....

Number 4:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind

... both are classics, both are amazing films, and both make you wonder... are we alone in the universe???

Number 3:  The Time Machine

Of course the book is awesome, but I loved this flick too.  Guy Pierce being in it certainly helps!  Here again, we've got time travel.  Like I said, time travel is probably my favorite of the sci-fi sub-genres.

Number 2:  Back to the Future

"Think McFly, think!"  If I'm going to talk about sci-fi, say my favorite sub genre is time travel, have bunch of movies already on here from the '80s, how could I not list Back to the Future?  Fantastic!

Drum roll please.........
Probably no surprises here......
The number one movie on my list of favorite sci-fi flicks is......

Number 1:  The Empire Strikes Back

Okay... this might be a bit of a surprise.  Most people probably list A New Hope if they're listing Star Wars.  But I gotta say, I loved Empire!  It ends on such a cliffhanging downer!  If you've read even one of my Future Savior Books, you'll know I'm all about the cliffhanging downers!!!

Thanks for coming with me on this trip!  I'm sure the sci-fi community would love to bash my list but I really don't give one big harry tonton! --- all you Empire fans will know what a tonton is! ---  I love all these movies for different reasons.

So what's your favorite sci-fi flick?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Space Opera... not Soap Opera

Space Opera: A space opera is a grand epic drama or adventure set in a distant sci-fi future; an epic adventure in space that focuses less on the technical details and more on good vs. evil and character development. The mechanics of how things work ('hyperspace', 'the force') tend to be glossed over, as opposed to traditional "hard sci-fi" in which the technology is as much a character as those using it.

I have always been a character-driven writer. I care more about the people in the story than necessarily the things happening around them. Not to say those events aren’t important, but it’s about how those events affect the character, changes the character, rather than how the character externally reacts to the event.

I remember the first time a reviewer called my Phoenix series a space opera. First I thought “What? Like a soap opera?”. Then I began researching the genre and realized, yes, my series is very much a space opera. Sure, I have tech and I have aliens and I have explosions and battles. I have, in the immortal words of Colonel Jack O’Neill, “Big, honkin’, space guns”. I have space travel and amazing ships, but I also have men and women and children trying to find their way in a universe that has flipped them on their collective ears.

Instead of talking about favorite books in the genre of space opera, I’d rather talk about my favorite television series categorized as a space opera. Much science fiction can be categorized in some degree as a space opera, this particular show is the epitome of space opera in my mind.


I love this show because of the thought put into the backstory of each character right along with the movement of their lives through the larger arc of good vs. evil. Follow with me…

You have a living ship called a leviathan named Moya carrying a ragtag group of escape prisoners, ousted potentates, runaways, an outcast soldier, and an astronaut from Earth who was tossed across the universe through a renegade wormhole.

“Once upon a time there was a boy named John and John was an astronaut. He lived in a far away place called Earth which is so far away you've never heard of it. One day when John was out doing astronaut things a big, blue wormhole gobbled him up and spat him out at the far end of the universe. Things were looking grim in Mudville, till our hero met an amazing living ship, made some nice new friends, and he hooked up with his dream girl. We could've lived happily ever after, but the Peacekeepers raped, chased and tortured us for years on end.”

~~John Crichton, The Peacekeeper Wars

You’ve got an entire race of people known as Peacekeepers whose entire purpose was to, well, keep peace but they turned into bloodthirsty dictators instead… oh, and they are genetically engineered descendants of humans. In this mix you have a gentle warrior, a schizophrenic lunatic, a slug-based potentate, a sex-starved runaway, a former savage-cum-priestess, an outcast soldier, the list goes on.

I’m a romantic. Anyone who knows me knows this about me, so yeah… the love story is key for me. Of all the television shows and movies and books I’ve read, the love story of John Crichton and Aeryn Sun rank right up there at the top. It’s beautiful, really. Maybe it’s Ben Browder and Claudia Black… maybe it’s the writing, but their story is the core of it all. They are the glue, the driving force. 
And that is why I love space operas. I love the story of people. People suffering but coming through. People loving. People losing. People fighting. People giving all they are for someone else, sometimes everyone else. People facing adversity, reaching for hope. People lost in despair. People clinging to each other for peace, for strength, for a reason. Fathers. Mothers. Brothers. Sons. Daughters. Friends. Wives. Husbands. Leaders. Followers. Soldiers. Doctors. Civilians. Children lost in the world. Holy men and evil men. Righteous and corrupt. Misguided and lost, seeking a reason to live. The hopeful reaching for the desperate. The criminal who longs to be more. The politician sick of his own rhetoric.

Give me a space opera any day.

I decided I wanted to add a little video to show how much I love these two...


Read more about The Phoenix Rebellion and Phoenix Rising at

End Game is climax of science fiction series that appears worthy of the often overused word “epic”....This is a gripping saga that any sci-fi fan is guaranteed to enjoy.
JERR -- 5 Stars

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Science Fiction and its many subgenres

Science fiction... where to start, where to start? I guess from the beginning.

As many other SF lovers, H. G. Wells was the author that triggered by devotion to science fiction. His "Time Machine", with its descriptions and underlining essay on societal structures, blew my mind.

And don't even get me geeking on Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. If you want to explore some new SF authors, check out this site: It's pretty comprehensive.

I just love the possibility and wonder SF brings to its readers. It takes what's happening today - political, social, economical, technological - and looks forward to envision plausible scenarios of where it will lead humanity.

Sometimes it's dystopic, such as "Ender's Game" (Orson Scott Card) or "The Children of Men" (P. D. James). Sometimes it's utopic which usually ends up a emotionally repressed nightmare any-who, such as "Childhood's End" (Arthur C. Clarke) or "A Crystal Age" (W. H. Hudson).

SF is not as easily defined. Usually when you say you read SF, the fellow SFer asks, "What kind." That's because in reality, science fiction is a broad term that encompasses a lot of different sub genres:
·         Alternate history
·         Anthropological
·         Apocalyptic (I personally add atomic punk into this subgenre but I know there are differences of opinion in this thought)
·         Cyberpunk
·         Dieselpunk
·         Hard SF
·         Military
·         Soft/social SF
·         Space opera - the SF subgenre I usually write
·         Space western
·         Steampunk
·         Superhuman (not to be confused with superhero, which is fantasy...think genetically engineered soldiers)
·         Time travel

Mix and match these bad boys together and you got some really great stories, but where I think SF really rocks is when one or more of the above blend with another main genre: SF Comedy, SF Romance, SF folklore (think vampires in space type stuff), SF mystery, SF thriller, and on and on.

For me, I usually focus on women-driven SF. I start with space opera and dash in some anthropological, genetic engineering, military and western bits as the characters tell me they need and go from there. The science fiction I'm really focused on reading right now is the fiction romance, usually set in space.

So, what kinds of SF do you enjoy reading or are interested in checking out?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Science Fiction: Fact or Jmo

Science Fiction is perhaps one of the most influential genres ever written. Some of you might disagree with that, but out of every genre in existence none of the others have effected as much political, social, and technological change as Science Fiction has. Whether we go back to its early days of H.G. Wells or to movies and television such as Star Trek, Science Fiction has done one thing exceptionally well. It has made us think.

The great thing about thinking is it creates an atmosphere of change both within us individually and as a collective whole. Those of you who aren't SciFi readers might be asking yourself how I can make such a blank generalized statement like that? Simple. Because, it's true. Stick with me for a few, and I'll convince you.

H.G. Wells is well known for his novel The Time Machine. Sure, we've all seen the many movies based on it, but if you dig a little deeper you'll see that the story contained political undertones that acted as a satire of Wells' time. Which unless you weren't aware of the fact, is sometimes the main purpose of SciFi. Wells succeeded in making a social commentary both on the world of his time and make a startling prediction on where it would all go if we didn't sit up and take notice. The verdict is still out on whether or not they or we paid attention is still up for grabs.

A contemporary of his, George Orwell, wrote two seminal works that still resonate to this very day. 1984 introduced the concept of Big Brother into the public consciousness. If you're not familiar with the term, read the book. Animal Farm is the second of these influential books. Again Orwell confronts us with political themes veiled behind the auspices of entertainment. Notice how both these early Science Fiction authors weren't all in your face with getting their points across. That is one of the best things about a truly great Science Fiction novel, it enlightens without making it feel like the author is preaching.

Now, we come to my favorite SciFi author of all time, Robert Heinlein. I can honestly say until I read him, I didn't understand how mind shattering Science Fiction could be. Sure, before I saw untold worlds, stars shooting past my bedroom window, and aliens of every shape and description. But, I didn't understand there could be more to it that laser guns, spaceships, and women with three breasts. Forgive that last bit, but I was a teenage boy and teenage boys tend to focus on alien boobies a whole lot. Alright, men tend to focus on alien boobies a WHOLE lot. Green alien boobies in particular. You can blame Star Trek for that, but I digress.

I could probably fill a week or hundred with a complete discourse on his books. Since I've only got two, I'll just focus on the three that really showed me what Science Fiction should be and could be.

Stranger in a Strange Land. On the face of this story you'd think it was simply a story of a man returning to the home he never knew. On one level it is. Michael Smith was born on Mars after his parents' ship crashes there. Twenty years later, he is discovered by another ship lands on Mars. That's the face value story. But, SiaSL is more than that. It's about religious discovery. What is the heart of religion? Does God exist? Does one person's view of God automatically contradict another person's view? Some heavy stuff, but so well written you get drawn into the story. You also examine your own views on God and religion. This book was way ahead of its time. Published in 1961, the book was the forerunner of the Sixties free love movement and that whole period of self discovery, not to mention self medication to reach enlightenment. It also harkens to the current climate of acceptance of all forms of religion. Not bad for a book written over fifty years ago.

Next up. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. This book is my wow factor. No other book jack slapped me upside the head like this one has. The story revolves around a rebellion on the moon. Again, there's hidden and some not so hidden subtext to the story. Heinlein explores human rights, political rights and how much power government should have over those they serve. Written during the Vietnam War, the principles he explored are still so current it's scary. Great Science Fiction should be universal in their concepts and some concepts stay current forever.

Last on my trilogy of Heinlein is Starship Troopers. I'm sure most of you have seen the movie. As much as I liked it for what it was, the movie version doesn't hold a candle to the book. Like the first two books, Starship examines more than an intergalactic war. It examines what the rights of the people should be. Heinlein came from a military background and the entire tone of the book reflects that. Still, who has the right to have a voice in government? Who determines those rights? Those are some of the same issues we're still dealing with fifty-two years after the book first hit the stands.

I know those are some heady things to get from books, but books are more than casual entertainment. They inform. They illustrate. They make us strive to be better than we are. Or, they should. To me, Science Fiction is the height of this higher calling. As authors, we should hope and pray we do more than keep our readers occupied for the span of our books. We want to leave readers walking away still engulfed in our worlds and have them wishing the real world was half as exciting as what they just read.

But, if we truly wish the world was a better place, it's up to us, authors and readers alike, to take what we get from the books we read and write to effect that change. Next time you pick up a book, be it Science Fiction or the genre of your choice, I pray you walk away with that something more. It truly will change you. Which is the heart of Science Fiction, or any type of fiction.

Read Long and Prosper,
my friends.