Tag Archives: Star Trek

Analog, I revile thee, or how The Martian redeemed my faith in science fiction

The MArtian Andy WeirI’m a book addict. Each time I crack open a book, whether in hard copy or on my Kindle, I’m hoping to be blown away by the imagery the author presents, hoping for that amazing high that comes from living a true classic. Lately I have been reading wide of my usual slot, not abandoning fantasy, but going back and seeing what I loved the most about the genre that was my first introduction to reading for pleasure. I recently had the experience of being completely and utterly blown away by a science fiction novel, The Martian, by Andy Weir.

It’s one of the best science fiction stories to come out of the last 20 years.  A real adventure story from the get-go, this story of an astronaut inadvertently left behind is gripping from page one. As a main character, Mark Watney is hilarious. He is the sort of man who gets through life by finding something positive in every disaster, and mocking the hell out of everything that is negative.

A horrendous storm destroys much of their base, and his team is forced to abort their mission.  During the emergency evacuation of the Ares 3 landing site, he is severely injured in an accident that appears to have killed him. His body is unretrievable, and unaware that he is still alive, he is left behind. His companions begin the long journey back to Earth, grief-stricken at his sudden death. THIS is an awesome, gripping, and hilarious story.

300px-Astound5006I’ve been a subscriber to a well-known science fiction magazine, Analog,  for many years. I am actually considering letting my subscription lapse, because for the last five years or so I have struggled to find something enjoyable in their magazine.  I no longer enjoy the work they are publishing and they no longer seem to care. While there are occasional nuggets, the majority of work they publish is frequently harsh, lifeless, depressing, and incomprehensible. The fact is, perhaps they have forgotten what real science fiction is about, what the average reader wants. Perhaps I am no longer smart enough for their publication–and I hate paying to be sneered at.

Despite the efforts of the publishing community, the genre of science fiction is not dead. Andy Weir ‘s brilliant work on The Martian proves that there are writers out there with exactly the sort of stories I am looking for.  And guess what–he published it in 2012 AS AN INDIE.  This is a really telling thing, that the watershed books are no longer being put out there by the Big Six, until they have proven their worth in the Indie market. Hugh Howey, A.G.Riddle, Rachel Thompson–INDIES, all of them.

In my sci-fi, I want human frailties, drama, adventure, intense life and survival against great odds, set against a backdrop of understandable and realistic science.

I want a Space Opera.  Andy Weir gave that to me.

It is that high drama that made the Star Trek empire what it is. High drama set in exotic places made George Lucas’s Star Wars series of movies the poster child for space operas. Those two series translated the intensity of feeling that the great authors of science fiction all brought to their work.

Over the years, I have written many short space operas for my own consumption. However, this fall I am embarking on the real test–putting my writing skill where my mouth is.  It just so happens that off and on for the last  3 years, I’ve been outlining a science fiction story.  Originally, I began this project  in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2013, but this will be the year to implement it, so in November this will be my work.

As a devoted fangirl of many well-known physicists, I’ve been doing  research for the last three years, and feel sure my science will hold up, which, in sci-fi, is key to the longevity of a tale. I have great characters, and a really plausible plot. I just have to spend 30 days stream-of-conscious writing to the prompts I have set forth and…well, that is the trick, isn’t it? But even if I fail to write anything worth publishing, I will have had a good time, and that is what this gig is all about: enjoying the ride.



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National Pot-pie Month

We’re approaching November once more.  November is the month where for 30 days, people all over the world from all walks of life will spend their free moments writing a novel. All over the world, families will dine on microwaved pot-pies as people steal minutes from their day to get 1650 words written, to keep up their word-count.

They will strive to get their word-count of 50,000 words in total, or more, and will hopefully have a novel with a beginning, a middle and an ending by the time November 30th arrives.

Leah in Las VegasThis year is really special for me. My oldest daughter, Leah, is participating for the first time, and she will be writing in the area of contemporary women’s fiction.  As you can see from her picture she is lovely and glamorous–nothing like her frumpy old mama.  Leah is passionate about her characters and is fully committed to developing the story that has been rolling around her head for years. It’s a fun and hilarious story, one that so many young women will identify with.

What Leah really wants to do is write a screenplay, and once she has the story written, she will be able to turn her book into a screenplay with no problems.  After all, great movies begin with great stories.

I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of having a child who wants to follow in your footsteps, who wants to work at the craft you love so much. It is a mixture of pride, amazement and mystification–and by that I do mean mystification.

It’s a lonely job, one others find interesting in theory, but rather useless. It pays little or nothing for years, usually. On vacations she will be as determined as I am to get those precious writing moments in and others will think she is being selfish and ignoring them. Her chosen path is not an easy one, but Leah has the backbone and the balls to do this crazy thing, and to make it work.

I have begun writing my story descriptions, and have created the basic synopsis for my NaNoWriMo novel this year.  The working title for the book is “UNDERGROUNDERS”.

It is a hard science fiction novel and grew out of a short-story I wrote called “Alpharse Run.” That tale is an old-fashioned Gene Roddenberry type of  “Space-Opera.”  I began researching the physics for this project in 2010 for Alpharse Run.  My science is all based on current theories, and all my technology is physically possible according to current physics.

We humans could do all this now–we just haven’t got the hardware or the funding to do this monumental an undertaking at this time in our history. Getting the hardware right is the most critical thing, for people living in an alien environment. I’ve spent a great deal of time designing the technology that will make or break my tale.

Short Synopsis for UNDERGROUNDERS:

A retired fighter pilot and leading researcher in the field of terraforming and adapting earth-type plants to alien environments, Professor Elena Brend has been invited to continue her work at the University on the distant colony-world of Alpharse.

But all is not as serene as she had been told–the ecology of Alpharse is both fragile and dangerous. Handsome shuttle-pilot, Braden Langley wants more of Elena’s life than she is willing to give and she will have to make a decision that could break two hearts.

Two factions within the community now fight for dominance as Alpharse is cut off from the rest of the human worlds.

Can Elena survive in this new world of power, politics and brinkmanship?

????????????????????????????????????????One of the first things I found myself doing this time was creating a possible book cover for the book, before it is even written.  I’ve never done that sort of thing before, and,  of course, I messed up on the word “Dream.” But there is something about having made a cover (bad though it may be) that forces you make the interior.

This is not the final cover, but is a mock-up pointing in the general direction of what I envision the completed book to look like, something to keep my mind on the right path.

I’ve been creating bios and descriptions for all the characters, and building the world.  I’ve a great story in my mind, and it takes place in a completely alien environment so I have been asking myself questions.

1. What is their new world really like? What is the composition, the atmosphere, the indigenous life, microbial and complex? Can the colonists live on the surface or must they live in special habitats?

alien-worlds from NightTransmissions.com copyrighted material private use only2. What have they had to do to adapt to this new world? What sort of monumental task was it to get to the point where they have a university at all? How far out of the pioneering phase is their society?

3. Who is Elena Brend and what made her that person?

4. Who is Braden Langley and what makes him tick?

5. How does my protagonist fit into her new society? Who are her friends, and who feels threatened by her? Who resents her intrusion into their closed community, and why?

6. What is the problem? Why is this a problem?

7. Who profits from the situation as it currently exists?

8. Who stands to lose if this problem is resolved, and what will they lose? To what lengths are they willing to go to ensure they don’t lose this battle?

I will have everything ready to go by November 1st so I can pound out this new tale, of wonder and new worlds.  The great thing about this for me is the knowledge my daughter Leah is doing the same thing, preparing and educating herself about the people and their environment, the problems and the triumphs they will go through. Her book takes place in  a truly alien environment–Las Vegas. I’m excited about her story. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!



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