Tag Archive | scifi

The Peers of Beinan: A Literary Journey

Castle Fantasy BackdropThere is a lot of science fiction on the market from independent authors published these last five years since I first published “The Great Succession Crisis.”  It is a crowded field where it is easy to get lost in. As with many popular genres, a huge number of books seek to emulate the plot and character elements of mega hits on the assumption of that what works for one highly profitable author must work for them as well. We’ve seen this with “Twilight” style paranormal romances.  We’ve seen this with “Five Shades of Grey” styled erotica.  The list goes on and on.

As moderator of a book promo group on facebook, I get to see the copycats almost ad nauseam. Books all look the same after a while. And while the premise of copying another’s ideas is repulsive to me as both a science fiction author and as a dedicated historian, I do genuinely see some success in these authors following those formulas — if the measure of success is Amazon rankings in any event.

But open these books and the blandness of copycatting shows itself. The writing lacks the sort of literary luster of the books and authors whose work holds the test of time. That is, perhaps, the best distinction one makes between commercial and literary fiction.  Commercial fiction is about today’s sale.  Literary fiction is about creating timeless works of art.  My fiction is literary fiction.

The Peers of Beinan Series is everything I love about the classics. As a free thinker and intellectual with a life-long passion for learning, it has never been my habit to follow the crowd – on anything. Whatever was “hot” or “trendy” was never of interest to me.  I always liked to be different. On occasion what I’ve liked and what the greater society is into have coincided — but never by my conscious design and rarely in precisely the same way.

I started my writing career with the Peers of Beinan because I saw an America becoming more and more socially and politically divided, an America where it was becoming more and more difficult to engage in civil conversations about the stuff that matters. I saw an America that was increasingly creating false equivalences between fact and opinion and where acts of hate against those who are different was going unpunished and ignored. Sound familiar?

I wanted to engage in an honest discussion with people about the subjects that matter to me most. Looking to the great science fiction/fantasy authors I like best — Gene Roddenberry, Dorothy “DC” Fontana, Ray Bradberry, Frank Herbert, Issac Asimov to name just a few — what I noticed is they often tackled some really big social and sometimes political subjects in their books — without offending people in the process.

I wanted to do the same.  I wanted to talk to people and encourage people to really think about things that matter to me. And I wanted people to open their minds to ideas and possibilities that put a different way to them they would never listen to.

And that is, in essence, what the Peers of Beinan Series is. It’s my reaching out across the universe and saying “this is important, please think it about it” from a group of stories that don’t ask that question directly of people.

house-personal-heraldry-collage

In personal interactions I am known for my point-blank directness. I don’t play the stereotypical gender roles game — not any more at least. And so I am “bold” as a woman and a writer. The Peers of Beinan is less point-blank than I usually am. It seeks to provoke thought without being confrontational. And just as important to me personally:  it seeks to bring you hope. For in the greatest darkness and despair, there is always Light. That’s how I overcame the great adversities of my life and how you will too.

 

Advertisements

Why some book series should be read in the order written

Goodbye 3D

Good-bye A672E92 Quintus is chronologically the first book in the Peers of Beinan Series. However it was actually written FOURTH of the six books.

I love a great book series.  From the JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon Series, I find it satisfying to stay within the same world, getting to know characters, places, and events intimately.  It’s one reason why serialized fiction is so popular and entertaining.

Like both my aforementioned literary mentors, I do not write in chronological order.  With the Legendary Women of World History series this makes sense:  each biography is a stand alone book.  The series designation signals consistency in theme and approach to historical data.  But the books themselves are not necessarily strongly connected (the exception:  Mary Queen of the Scots and Journey to Gloriana).

By contrast, the Peers of Beinan Series is much more traditional with the same cultural, historical, and environmental setting across the books.  The books were written in the following order:

  1. The Great Succession Crisis (along with its companion Data Files, now out of print).
  2. The First King
  3. The Ghosts of the Past
  4. Good-bye A672E92 Quintus (most editions integrate The First King into the text)
  5. The Poisoned Ground
  6. Princess Anyu Returns

This means that the bulk of the world building and explanations of the world building are achieved in The Great Succession Crisis and The Ghosts of the Past — much like George Lucas establishes his world building in Star Wars (A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back.  Viewers of Return of the Jedi and of the three prequel films are expected to know ideas like Jedi Knights and Sith Lords before viewing these films.

And so does the Peers of Beinan Series.  The result:  a chronological reading of the series as the first reading of the series is a little bit confusing.  Especially with the novellas (Good-bye A672E92 Quintus and The Poisoned Ground) I found myself not re-describing the wheel already built.  And, to risk sounding pompous, I honestly did not expect to need to do so.  These books are for young adults and adults, after all — not middle grade children like the biographies.  So I expect a higher level of education and deductive reasoning/critical thinking skills from Peers of Beinan Series readers than I do with the biographies.  After all, science fiction readers are some of the smartest and best educated of literary audiences.  As lovers of science fiction we expect our books to be factually accurate, imaginative, and thought-provoking.   We expect to be challenged intellectually and emotionally.  As a life-long science fiction fan, I wrote the books that I most want to read myself.

And so the series best makes sense when you read it in the order that I wrote it in with a chronological reading (such as you find in The Complete Series) best for the second and subsequent readings.  In that, I continue to follow the greats I love:  JRR Tolkien, Frank Herbert, George Lucas, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana,  J. Michael Straczynski, and Stan Lee.

Read these in the order I wrote them and i know you will love them too!

In Dorothy’s Footsteps The Legacy of a Star Trek Pioneer and Legend

Though it received fewer comments on Yahoo Voices, this tribute to Star Trek pioneer Dorothy “DC” Fontana remains popular among science fiction fans.

 

In Dorothy’s Footsteps

The Legacy of a Star Trek Pioneer and Legend

April 2nd, 2013

On March 25th, the legendary Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana turned 74 years old. Dorothy has been a pioneer in science fiction since first beginning her work with Gene Roddenbury in 1963. She wrote some of Star Trek’s most famous episodes, including “Journey to Babel” for the original series, “Yesteryear” for the animated series, Star Trek the Next Generation’s opener, “Encounter at Far Point,” and “Dax” for Star Trek Deep Space 9 (see Startrek.com’s recent interview with Dorothy Fontana).

Babylon 5 also owes some of its glory to Dorothy Fontana with “The War Prayer,” which is one of my favorite episodes from season one, a poignant story about racism, politics, and love. A famous line from that episode is delivered by Londo Mollari, “My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance.”


I remember reading Dorothy’s work in junior high when I first discovered Star Trek on a serious basis, books marked “D.C. Fontana” on the cover, disguising the fact that my favorite science fiction author was a woman.

Growing up, I never saw any examples of women science fiction writers, as if it were a complete oxymoron — rather like a female physicist or astronomer. Women were teachers or nurses — not writers and certainly not scientists! Women were supposed to get married, have children, stay home, and promote their husbands’ careers. And if their marriage was abusive or unhappy, women were supposed to just put up, shut up, and hope to not be killed by her husband.

As a child I often questioned this expectation for my life as a girl growing up in a very conservative, Evangelical Christian home. My feelings were dismissed as defiance and rebellion. There was something unnatural about me for loving science.

Without knowing that my favorite science fiction writer was a woman, I had no clear evidence my family was wrong. Only in later years, when Ms. Fontana’s real name came forward to me, did i realize that across the many years of my life, my role model for great science fiction writing was a woman.

In the aforementioned interview, Dorothy (no longer D.C.) talks about the barriers she faced as a woman daring to defy gender stereotypes and the discrimination that forced her to publish under pseudonyms. No one would take “Dorothy” Fontana seriously in the 1960s and 1970s when some of her most cherished works were first published and produced on television; using her initials masked her gender from sexist eyes.

Hidden from view, Dorothy Fontana changed our world. Everything we think of as “Vulcan” we owe to her pen and her willingness to not let gender stereotypes define her nor lesson the quality of her work.

More than perhaps most of the visible icons of the “women’s movement,” she quietly followed her talent and imagination, opening doors for the rest of us who dream of the stars, understand science, and embrace our gift for language.
The legacy of Dorothy Fontana is in every single woman who dares to be more than “just” a woman, who follows her passion, no matter where it takes her, including and especially to the stars.

Forty years after “Journey to Babel,” the barriers are not completely gone for women in science fiction. But they are fewer. Today, no woman feels she needs to conceal her gender to the world when she writes. We are allowed, finally, to pursue the “final frontier” as Star Trek puts it in ourown right.

Beltane 2014 Gift: THREE FREE KINDLE BOOKS

Medieval manuscript of “Tempus Adest Floridum” celebrating the arrival of spring. In the 19th century, new lyrics were written to the tune: “Good King Wenceslas”

Merry Beltane!  What is Beltane?  Beltane is one of the oldest and longest enduring European festivals, originating long before Plato and Aristotle, long before warring Greeks and then later Romans conquered their way across the world.  It is a festive time celebrating the warmth of spring and signaling that it is time to plant fields and gardens.  This is “May Day” with the traditional ribbon weaving dance around the May pole.   It was and is a festival well known by all in Britain and kept as a tradition in Ireland all the way into the reign of Queen Victoria — until anti-Irish and anti-witchcraft laws abolished it — for a few decades anyway.   Though our ancient ancestors celebrated Beltane based on the movements of the moon, today’s Wiccans and those celebrating Irish/Welsh/Scottish/English heritage celebrate this joyful mid-spring festival from sundown on April 30th to sundown May 1st.   Growing up in Nebraska, we celebrated May Day by making decorative baskets which we filled with flowers and candy and then gave to all our neighbors, a simplification of the large Beltane picnic brunches that our ancestors enjoyed.   I still love May Day baskets, still love planting my garden, and still love giving presents to celebrate.   So can you think of a better reason for me to give YOU THREE PRESENTS?   I sure cannot!  Everyone LOVES PRESENTS!   So here are my presents to YOU.  But just on Beltane.  But since you may live hours ahead of me or hours behind me on the globe, let’s make Beltane to be from 3 AM Eastern Daylight Time on WEDNESDAY APRIL 30TH to MIDNIGHT Eastern Daylight Time on MAY 1ST.   Okay with you?  GREAT!!  I thought you might like that!

Here are my presents:

Boudicca Britain's Queen of the Iceni

Ghosts of the Past The Lost Tales of the Anlei's Legacy Trilogy  FREE DOWNLOADS on Amazon sites (amazon.com, amazon.co.uk etc) of THREE  of my KINDLE BOOKS.

Here are the full USA Amazon links.  Adjust these for your country’s Amazon website:

Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni  http://tinyurl.com/LWWHBoudicca

The Ghosts of the Past  http://viewBook.at/B00BVBHNDO

The Lost Tales of the Anlei’s Legacy Trilogy http://tinyurl.com/ALLost

These are free JUST ON APRIL 30TH TO MAY 1ST, 2014 — but with prices ranging from 99 cents to $2.99, these books are always a great value!   If you miss the giveaway but want to read/review any or all of these, just email me at peersofbeinan@gmail.com and I will gladly gift you whichever books you are interested in.   Spread the word so I can give out more presents.  Presents are good!  I want to give you presents!     Learn more about Beltane and the music celebrating it in my research article on Yahoo Voices