Thursday, October 30, 2008

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Dear Ken

I’m writing because I need to get something off my chest. It’s been bothering me for a long time and I feel that you should finally know. Why me? Jô won’t tell you because he’s always busy tinkering with that car of his. Ryû is too busy stuffing his face, and Jinpei has an awful lot of responsibility what with his menagerie and all.

Jun, of course, would never presume to put her needs before yours.

So that leaves me, a stranger but longtime fan, to tell it to you straight. What’s that? Oh, please. Don’t act like you haven’t a clue as to what I’m talking about. They don’t call you the Eagle for nothing.

All right, then I’ll make it clear. I know you’ve been through hell. You don’t need me to tell you that since your father’s mysterious disappearance, you’ve carried the weight of the world on your shoulders. Not only that, but you’re the brash, intrepid leader of Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman, a.k.a. Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. In essence, you really do carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Day after day, week after week, you lead your team of specially trained ninjas to battle the evil, technologically advanced Galactor organization currently terrorizing planet Earth. And I realize how anguishing it is that Red Impulse, your mentor-with-a-secret-identity, won’t give you the time of day.

However, Ken—listen to my words—that’s no reason to ignore Jun, the love of your life.

First of all, she’s an amazing warrior with superior grace. She’s also the most scientifically minded of the group—you don’t need me to remind you how many times her technical wizardry plucked you out of tough scrapes. She’s brave, too. I mean, that time she was holding the fiery GodPhoenix together with her bare hands? Gutsy.

I’ve watched her take out a dozen Galactor henchmen at once and in response, you…you merely nod your head. A head nod? What the hell is wrong with you? The next time that happens, sweep her into your arms and ravish her with a hot, breathless kiss (but, uh, you both might want to remove your helmets first).

Speaking of Jun’s physical attributes, she flaunts a wavy mane of raven black hair, full lips, and astonishingly green doe-eyes. And those hips—rowrrr! Hers are the type of hips a hero like you can really wrap your hands around. Her bosom ain’t bad, either.

But man, are you ever dense. What will it take, Ken? Just what will it take for you to recognize Jun’s adoration for you and admit you’re hopelessly in love? What will it take for you to demonstrate your feelings with more than just a bland, paternal expression of approval?

Do you realize how many times she looks at you? How many missions leave her frazzled and worried for your safety? Jun is every man’s dream, for heaven’s sake. She serves you tasty treats at her Snack J café. The woman even rocks out in her own band! If that’s not enough, here’s a Newsflash: She always sits or stands next to you, Ken, you clueless oaf!




Thank goodness I’m here, because I’ve got just the advice you need. For starters, you need to start showing off your lean, hot bod a lot more often. Yeah, like that. Jun has needs, you know.

Or maybe some therapy would help. In your case, I diagnose a case of Being Extremely Dense, so certainly a plasma shock treatment is in order.



And another thing: Quit hanging out with those Galactor goons so often. Boys’ night out is one thing, but you’re not going to defeat Galactor all by yourself. Plus, you can de-brief with Jun—I mean, c’mon! She’s way hotter than Gatchaman’s chief/father substitute Dr. Nambu.



I also recommend more alone time with her. Jinpei’s a great kid, and fiercely loyal to you both, but even though he’s Jun’s adopted brother, you’ve got to stop using him as an enabler. Get over your insecurities and take Jun away for a romantic trip to some deserted tropical island. Dr. Nambu might even let you fly aboard the GodPhoenix. Haven’t you ever thought about the kinky fun you and Jun could have while in flight, especially now with the advantage of automatic piloting?! Well, now’s a good time!

Ken, I promise you, it’ll all work out just fine. Jun understands and accepts your flaws, as do I.

Please take my words to heart and open your heart to the most intelligent, nurturing, and beautiful woman you’ll ever have the honor of knowing.


Joyfully yours,

Heather

Postus Scriptus: For more GATCHAMAN goodness, indulge in the sites and videos below:

GATCHAMAN: Home of the White Shadow
GATCHAMAN
GATCHonline





Tuesday, October 28, 2008

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"The Great BS Device"

As many of you know, during Science Fiction Romance Week at Spacefreighters’ Lounge, there was a discussion about “room for improvement” in SFR.

Frances Drake of Frances Writes made such an interesting point that I decided to create a whole post around it. But I didn't stop there. I also shamelessly ripped off borrowed one of her phrases for the title! ;)

Frances commented that I can get over the writer creating something that is impossible according to the known laws of physics, if, and only if, the writer presents it in good enough BS form that I can think "cool BS!" This generally presents itself in the form of 'faster than light' travel, and is fine. Space distances are just to[sic] great to traverse with the technology that we have now.

What I can't handle, and pulls me right out of the story, is a planet being described which *ABSOLUTELY CANNOT* support human live[sic]. A case in point: Frank Herbert's DUNE. In DUNE, people should not have been able to live unprotected upon the surface of the planet Arrakis. There was virtually no water, of which the human body needs 70% availability; and there should not have been enough oxygen. Herbert gets around this with the great BS device of the worms being the source of the oxygen on the planet.

When it comes to new worlds, a writer must, either know the laws of physics and what the human organism can tolerate, or come up with some really creative BS that can make the reader believe the world is plausible.


Reading Frances’ comment reminded me about one of my favorite SF books ever—Frederik Pohl’s GATEWAY. The premise: Mysterious alien race leaves behind thousands of operational starships in a hollowed out asteroid, and one day an Earth explorer discovers them. Trouble is, no one can predict the crafts’ preprogrammed destinations, which means that every trip could lead to either destitution, fabulous wealth, or a tragic death.

Now some may question the credibility of the science elements in this book, and they’d have a point, or two, or three. But my, um, point is that I thought Pohl crafted such a compelling set-up that for me, the Heechee technology became a “great BS device.” Entirely plausible, and even after multiple readings, never did I question the technology in the story.

With GATEWAY, I will probably always view the book through rose-colored glasses because it made such an impact on me. I still feel an intense sense of wonder about the story, and about the consequences humans faced as a result of their decisions when interacting with the technology.

Nowadays, I’m a more seasoned reader, and like my gal Frances, I prefer to read a story that demonstrates at least a basic understanding of science (whichever branch applies) or includes a “great BS device.” I also tend to enjoy stories more if a clear affection for science shines through. Doesn’t have to take up whole chapters, but nailing the details can separate a good book from a mediocre one.

On a related note, there was a nifty Mind Meld on this topic at SFSignal: Do science fiction authors have an obligation to be scientifically accurate with their stories? Is there a minimum level of accuracy an author should adhere to?

A comment by Alastair Reynolds in particular caught my eye: “There’s a wider point, though, this is this: why would anyone not be sufficiently enthralled and interested in science to want to get it right?”

And Marianne de Pierres writes that “…writers are foolish to ignore the need for internal logic in their stories; whether that be with regard to science or 'magic' or any combination of the two. Science fiction readers are intelligent and unforgiving but they also want to be awed.”

As the Mind Meld discussion shows, there are scientific flaws in books all along the SF sub-genre continuum. However, when readers level criticisms at science fiction romance, some inevitably relate to a lack of scientific credibility or “internal logic.” Of course, many of the stories don’t suffer for it (sometimes because of the presence of a “great BS device”), but others do.

Now I ask, what author wants readers pulled out of his/her story?

This plays into the reputation and respectability issue as well. I can certainly understand if romance isn’t one’s preference, but if readers are turned off of SFR (whatever the specific blend of science fiction & romance) because of problematic speculative elements, then it seems to me worthwhile to explore the issue.

Therefore, I wonder, to what extent do present and future SFR authors have a responsibility to aim for scientific accuracy or a well crafted BS device? Is there an onus for them to demonstrate that this sub-genre can master both the science and the romance? As I write this, the historical romance genre comes to mind. Readers often discuss the difference between books involving accurately portrayed historical details and “wallpaper” historicals. Interesting parallel, I’d wager.

It’s a thorny issue, and I welcome your input.

Joyfully yours,

Heather


Written on

Contest Winners!

Congratulations, Ella Drake! You've won a copy of Dara Joy's KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS! Please email your name & address to sfrgalaxy "at" gmail.com.

And now a drumroll, please...everyone who commented did a fab job guessing the identities of the characters sporting those splendid hairdos, but the one with the most greek cred is...actually, it's a tie! Because of the great teamwork they demonstrated, the winners are SciFi Guy & Ella Drake!!! All hail Skiffy Rommer King SciFi Guy and Skiffy Rommer Queen Ella Drake!!

Step on up you two and take a bow.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

Joyfully yours,

Heather


Sunday, October 26, 2008

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Pimp My Hairdo!

I need a change. I’m just so fed up! Ergo, I decided it was time for a new look. A fresh new hairstyle—that would cheer me up. But which style would be perfect for an intergalactic spy with a mild case of malaise? I decided to cast my hungry gaze toward our SF heroines for inspiration.

These ladies jumped right out at me:




But then I thought it might be just a tad too eye-catching, which is not a good idea in my line of work. Then I thought about a beautifully coiffed up-do. They are so elegant, and I’m trying to flavor my various guises with a little more sophistication:

STAR WARS (duh!;)


What am I thinking! These are way too high-maintenance for me. I don’t have time for this frou frou frolicsomeness; neither do I have a personal servant. Maybe I should let my locks loose and free:



On second thought, I need more of a wash ‘n wear hairstyle. I’m a very busy gal, and some of that hair looks downright dangerous. Hmmm. What about short and sassy?




Eeeek! I definitely don’t have the cheekbones for this look. Maybe something a little bit longer, but still short?



Oh, gosh. I dunno. I don’t think I could pull these off either. Maybe with some bright red lipstick? Maybe? Sigh. I guess I’ll stick with the tried and true. Long enough to pull back into a ponytail, but short enough that it’s not weighing me down. Like this:



Thank goodness that I’ve finally decided. Now for the fun part:

There are nineteen pictures. For number twenty, please nominate your own pick for best female hairstyle in SF/SFR. Then I’ll enter your name in a random drawing. The prize is a copy of Dara Joy’s KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS! This classic futuristic romance is particularly apt because as you can see, the heroine sports a mane of long, lustrous red hair. To die for, I know.

From the publisher’s Web site:

Fired from her job, exhausted from her miserable Boston commute, the last thing Deana Jones needs when she gets home is to find an alien in her living room. He says his name is Lorgin and that she is part of his celestial destiny. Deana thinks his reasoning is ridiculous, and she knows he is making an error of cosmic proportions. But his touch is electric and his arms strong, and when she first feels the sizzling impact of his uncontrollable desire, Deana starts to wonder if maybe their passion is indeed written in the stars.

The deadline for the drawing is 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, October 28, 2008. Contest limited to U.S. residents.

Now, if you really want to show off your geek cred, name these characters and the TV shows or movies from which they hail. Who is the odd one out and what is her name? The prize for the first passenger to identify all will be crowned Skiffy Rommer Queen or King for a Day!

Be Seeing You!

Agent Z



Written on

May the Marketing Force Be With You, Science Fiction Romance

Over at Romancing The Blog today, #1 Cheerleader Kimber An discusses the challenges of marketing science fiction romance in The Biggest Marketing Backfire I See. She also presents a few suggestions that would help brand SFR as well as increase the sub-genre’s visibility for prospective readers.

See you there!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, October 23, 2008

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'I Love Your Blog' Award

My new blog chum, SciFiGuy, recently nominated The Galaxy Express for the 'I Love Your Blog' Award. Isn’t that sweet? I was very touched.

Please take a moment to visit his blog. Not only is he an avid reader (check out his SF&F Library!), but he’s also a Linnea Sinclair fan. His site is a veritable cornucopia of genre reviews, news, and entertaining opinion.

In light of this event, I figured I’d post a few nominations myself. I’ve linked to many blogs since beginning this journey, and I think they’re all deserving of awards, but there are a few I’d like to spotlight a tad more.

So, without further ado, my ‘I Love Your Blog’ awards go to:

* Jumpdrives and Cantrips—for the intriguing reviews

* Geeks of Doom—for that awesome SPACE: 1999 feature and genre news

* SFSignal—for the amazing amount of links posted on a daily basis

* Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin’ Blog—for the thoughtful, fun, and quirky posts

* Io9—for the clever, endless parade of articles

* The Toasted Scimitar—for the in-depth presentations on craft

* Ramblings on Romance—for its festive posts

* LoveSpace—for amazing prescience about science fiction romance

There’s no obligation for the proprietors to respond in kind (but SciFiGuy lists the guidelines just in case the spirit possesses you). I’m going to bow out now so you can visit these fine sites and add them to your list of destinations.

Joyfully yours,

Heather


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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It’s Not Just a Book--It’s an Adventure!

ROMVETS is an online community and organization “…exclusively for women veterans who have proudly served their country and who are also writers.” Read the history of “military women who have turned sword into pen.” Also, check out the Company Roster, which lists each member’s branch of service and specialty.

I was excited to learn that a number of their members included published and aspiring authors of science fiction romance (according to our broad & inclusive definition here at The Galaxy Express). Therefore, I’m proud to present the work of the following ROMVET scribes:




Susan Grant is the dedicated author of numerous science fiction romances. For more about her work, check out her Author Supernova feature here aboard The Galaxy Express. She’s also a double 2008 PRISM winner for MY FAVORITE EARTHLING (first place) and HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS (second place). Congratulations, Susan!



Pam McCutcheon is another PRISM winner, for Best Futuristic Romance of 1996. From the author’s Web site, here’s the blurb from QUICKSILVER:

Sparks fly when a smart-mouthed Terran psychiatrist engages in a battle of wits and endurance with a pigheaded barbarian from the planet Delphi, their only referee a mischievous moncat who helps them transform compromise to love.

Pam McCutcheon also penned GOLDEN PROPHECIES, and you can read a brief summary at LoveSpace here.

Dawn Jackson recently sold her first short story to Ravenous Romance. With her energetic storytelling involving bio-mech technology, love triangles, otherworldly creatures, and ground based troops battling for survival in hostile landscapes, she’s sure to launch an epic into the science fiction romance universe soon.



Another ROMVETS member you should know about is “Future Empress of the Galaxy” and 2007 Romantic Times winner Nathalie Gray, author of seven science fiction/futuristic erotica romances. Her books are sexy, spicy, and action packed. Her forthcoming release, CHIMERA, will be available in December 2009. Recently, she guest blogged at Alien Romances: A Long Time ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…MY ASS! It’s a fun read so check it out.



Loribelle Hunt is an author of erotic paranormal romances, but she also penned a futuristic romance, INVASION EARTH. Her first print book, LUNAR MATES, was released in September 2008. She’s also a member of The Novelty Girls, and here are some posts that turned up when I did a search for futuristic romance!



Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter brings us THE WINDS OF FALL, “…a sexy contemporary science fiction romance with paranormal touches.” It’s available now from The Wild Rose Press. Look for the print release in December 2008. As if writing didn’t keep her busy enough, she’s also president of the Mid-Ohio Writers Association. If you missed this year’s Midwestern Dreams Writers Conference, you now have plenty of time to plan for attending next year!

For those of you who like things extra steamy, Shelby Stone is the author of a futuristic erotica novella, THE GELDING. It’s available at Mystic Moon Press.



Jo Ann Ferguson...click on each part of her name to visit all of her sites! I asked Jo Ann to tell me a little about her SFR related books and here’s what she revealed:

THE DREAM CHRONICLES are set in an alternate world where the good guys are under siege by two different groups—one worships science and gives the “Star Trek gone bad” side of the equation; the other is more fantasy and destroys dreams, driving our good guys mad. (This is a four book series. The final installment will be released at the end of 2008.)

SWORN UPON FIRE is the other alternate world book—it’s set on a world where everything around the people has frozen: the moons in mid-eclipse, the sun, the weather. Nothing is moving, and the heroine/hero have to find a way to get it moving again before the world self-destructs.


And finally, a really neat collaboration arose from ROMVETS: Lindsay McKenna, Cindy Dees, PC Cast and Merline Lovelace are the authors of the forthcoming TIME RAIDERS series that will be released by Silhouette Nocturne.

The ROMVETS are actively recruiting, so if you’re a romance writer and a veteran, contact them! (Scroll down to bottom of page for email address.)

In conclusion, if any of the ROMVET ladies would care to comment, feel free to step up to the mike and chat! Tell us more about your books/novellas. Share a bit about your military background. What are the details an author should get right when writing about military characters/settings? Regale us to your heart’s content.

Thanks for your dedication to our country, and for your art!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Postus Scriptus: Special thanks to Dawn Jackson for helping me connect with such an exciting group of women!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

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Destination: Genreville—An Interview with Rose Fox

Genreville debuted in July, 2008. I’d heard about it, but what really caught my attention was Rose Fox’s piece on The Next Big Thing: Space Wenches.

Because The Galaxy Express visits everything in the vicinity of science fiction romance, this article prompted my fangirl response here. Then I started to think about all the fascinating posts at Genreville, and what a treat it would be for all of us to hear from Rose Fox and her incredible work.

Well, I hit the jackpot! Genreville’s chief graciously agreed to answer a few questions. Read on to learn about one of the hippest pads at Publisher’s Weekly, why you simply can’t live without a Language Construction Kit, and her swashbuckling alter ego.


Language Into Images


How did the Genreville gig come about, and what is its mission statement?

I used to contribute to a general PW reviews editor blog called Notes
from the Bookroom. One day we were discussing ways to make it more
interesting to readers, and one of the editors suggested spinning off
genre-specific blogs for mystery and SF/fantasy/horror. I expressed some
enthusiasm for the latter, and Sara Nelson, our editor in chief, asked
me to write up a pitch for it. She liked my suggestions and gave me the
green light. I've been keeping a personal blog since early 2001, so I
figured it would be fun to try my hand at staying within a theme and
keeping a more professional tone. It is fun, but it's a lot of work too!

Genreville has an extremely general mission statement: I discuss
anything and everything related to book publishing in the fantastical
genres.

As a result of the “…proliferation of sub-subgenres…” in SF that you touched upon, do you think it will impact the market share for SF books in the near future?

I don't think the sub-subgenres will do that nearly as much as major new
genres like paranormal romance have done. To affect market share, I
think you need something that has very broad appeal and is a fairly
general categorization.

Calculating market share also requires defining the genre in the first
place, a very thorny question. Some people might not consider paranormal
romance part of SF, for example. Some might put space opera and epic
fantasy in one category, or consider them separate categories. Almost no
one considers YA or children's books as part of the "SF market share",
even though so many of them have fantastical elements. So the parameters
of the question really need to be defined before it can be answered.

In an earlier Genreville post, you described your background as a linguistics major. Please share some book titles that in your opinion feature skilled use of made-up languages. Can you suggest any resources in this area for aspiring writers?

What a delightful question! I think I mostly remember the really
terrible ones, like Eric Van Lustbader's Pearl Saga, where characters
have names like Rekkk and Thigpen. I defy anyone to correctly pronounce
that triple k, and really, what unkind parents would name their child
Thigpen? Or there's Susan Kearney's The Ultimatum, where made-up words
are relentlessly italicized and often refer to things that have clear
Earth analogues. Why say "marbellite" when you could say "marble"? Why
call a flower a "rolilly" when you could call it a rose or a lily? So
that's more about what not to do. Other beginner mistakes include
creating words that have no obvious similarity to other words, or
putting in weird punctuation at random. We know why there are
apostrophes in "don't" and "y'all" and "prob'ly": they note the omission
of a sound and mark the word as in some way informal or nonstandard. If
you have something called a glafin'gla, what has been omitted from it?
How did the term develop? Why is the apostrophe necessary?

There are only two major reasons why one would need to create a word:
because it's a proper noun, or because it describes something that is
completely unlike anything in this world. Proper nouns have the
fascinating property of (mostly) resisting translation. My friend
Gian-Paolo is Italian; I don't call him "John Paul" when I'm speaking
about him in English, even though the meaning is the same. Given this
property, creating cultures implies the need for creating names. You can
take this to extremes, as Theodore Sturgeon did in "The [Widget], the
[Wadget], and Boff", where two of the alien names simply can't be
pronounced or understood and therefore get silly-sounding placeholders.
You could go the other way and have Earthlings call aliens Joe and Carol
and give places descriptive names like the Crater of Needles. Most
writers take the middle road of creating proper nouns that give a sense
of the created language and culture without requiring a full-on
glossary. If all members of the nobility have names that end with -to,
you can guess without being told that -to is some sort of honorific
suffix. If all women have names that end with -a, you can guess without
being told that the author is not thinking too much about language
creation.

Other vocabulary also needs to reflect culture, but this can very often
be done by repurposing English words rather than creating new ones.
Tanya Huff does this pretty well in her Quarters books, where each
culture has a different set of swear words: those who believe that the
Circle encloses all good things might refer to something dreadful as
"unenclosed", an equivalent to the English "damned", while devotees of a
war goddess say "slaughter" the way we say "fuck", a neat analogy of a
sacred act done profanely. Catherynne M. Valente makes extensive use of
simile in The Orphan's Tales because simile is so often present in
folklore, and The Orphan's Tales are essentially folklore for a world
that doesn't exist. A phrase like "the shadows wrapping around him like
slippery river eels" tells you a great deal about the culture it comes
from: there are rivers, there are eels, the reader is expected to
immediately recognize their slipperiness. The errors made by a foreigner
will give a sense of how that foreigner's native language is structured:
"Please to show the way" suggests a language where the infinitive of a
verb is one word rather than two, and where pronouns are often implied
rather than stated outright. Then you can go into ideas about what
implied pronouns suggest about a culture: are people very self-effacing,
refusing to talk about themselves? or are they very selfish, assuming
that oneself is the default and all others must be named explicitly?

I would recommend that anyone who wants to play around with language in
a created world should first pay really close attention to language in
our world. Look up the origins of English words and phrases. Read the
wonderful Language Log blog, or look through the Straight Dope archives
for obscure language questions. Read a book written a hundred years ago
and look at how words change. Read a book written in another
English-speaking country and see what phrases signal foreignness. Read
Idiom's Delight. Get a basic linguistics textbook and learn about
language families and the way sounds and meanings change across distance
and over time. Learn a bit about other Germanic languages; see how much
you can puzzle out of Der Spiegel just based on the similarities between
German and English. Learn about languages that are completely different
from English, like Japanese or Hungarian. Learn about record-keeping
systems around the world.

Then start looking at what are essentially languages created within
English, like Boontling and Cockney rhyming slang and the incredibly
specific, always increasing vocabulary of doctors and taxonomists. Read
up on the history of Esperanto, Loglan/Lojban, Klingon, and of course
the creations of J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. Read science fiction
about language and communication: Joe Haldeman's "A !Tangled Web", Mary
Doria Russell
's "The Sparrow", Sheila Finch's "The Guild of
Xenolinguists", anything by Suzette Haden Elgin (whose website includes
fabulous conlang resources). Look at why people create languages, what
assumptions they make, how they start and where they go.

Around this point, start thinking about the physical nature of the world
you're creating. Who is using this language? If they're non-humanoid,
what language-emitting parts do they have? Are they in space, in
atmosphere, underwater? We communicate using all our senses; think not
just about speech but about gestures and body language, the firmness of
handshakes, involuntary reactions like blushing or pupil dilation, the
means by which words are turned into permanent records. Then think about
the cultures. How old are they? How big are they? How much do they
interact with neighbors or distant cultures? What things are important
to them? Imagine entering the culture as a stranger: what would be in
your phrasebook? Imagine growing up in that culture as a child: what
stories would you hear from adults or your fellow children? Begin to
develop simile and metaphor and hierarchy and family structures and
politics and priorities. If your culture looks a whole lot like an Earth
culture, study the language of that culture and consider adapting it for
your purposes. (There's no shame in this; Tolkien borrowed heavily from
several languages.) Write a few pages (or chapters) using only English,
developing regionalisms and accents and intricacies of phrasing.

Then, finally, use the Language Construction Kit…to build the actual language. Remember that 99% of it should never appear in your story or book! Like good worldbuilding, most of good languagebuilding is below the surface. Translate from English into your created language only where absolutely necessary.

I'm going to show my true east coast elitist colors here: If this all
sounds like a lot of work for very little payoff, then don't do it. Use
English instead. Building a language is mostly its own reward, and you
have to take it seriously if you're going to do it well. People think of
language as just being vocabulary, but it's intimately tied to culture.
Whether you think language shapes thought or thought shapes language,
you simply can't have one without the other. A language that does not
reflect its culture will inevitably ring false.

Whew! Rant over.

How many SF/F books do you read in a month?

Depends on the month! When I was reviewing, I read three a week. Lately,
it's more like three or four a month. I've taken up knitting, which cuts
extensively into my reading time.

If you were a female space pirate, what would be your name, weapon of choice, and signature accessory?

My name would still be Rose Fox, which I think is actually a pretty
great space pirate name. I would carry blasters in twin quick-draw
holsters and my signature accessory would be the classy eyepatch decal
on the outside of my bubble helmet, which on the inside would display
useful information drawn from my ship's computer.

What are some of your favorite SF/F conventions?

I never miss a Readercon. It's my must-do convention of the year. I also
go to Arisia almost every year; 2009 will be the second year that my
husband and I run the Green Room there.

Have you read any science fiction romance books? If so, what did you think?

I obviously wasn't wowed by the Susan Kearney title I mention above. On
the other hand, Sharon Shinn's Samaria books are very much science
fiction romance--though not usually billed that way--and I absolutely
adore them.

Is there any Genreville news or information that you’d like to share?

I'm going on vacation from 10/27 to 11/7, and I have some fabulous guest
bloggers lined up: Catherynne M. Valente, Gregory Frost, Mindy Klasky,
Marie Brennan, Jim C. Hines, and John Levitt. I expect their posts to be
far superior to my usual output. Keep an eye out for them!

Thanks so much for the chance to reach out to your readers. I really
appreciate it.



Rose, thank you for that exciting journey through Genreville! I encourage you, my splendid passengers, to make Genreville one of your regular stops for informative, stimulating news about the science fiction & fantasy genres.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Postus Scriptus: All the links were provided by The Galaxy Express except for The Language Construction Kit.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

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To Infinity and Beyond...!

I’m very pleased to share that I’ve been invited to be a front-page blogger for Tor.com. They offer a great community for SF/F fans, and if you haven’t already visited, please take advantage of the energetic community you'll find there.

Periodically, I’ll be posting festive pieces at Tor on...hmmm, I don’t know...perhaps the mating habits of terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks?

Nah. I think I’ll stick with science fiction romance!

My debut post is GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Enjoy, and feel free to comment here, or there, in response to my discussion questions.

Joyfully yours,

Heather Sam-I-Am


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

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Lifeline


Today’s post is a contribution to Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty (thanks to author Rowena Cherry for the link).


In THE HIDDEN WORLDS by Kristin Landon, “Nineteen-year-old Linnea Kiaho lives on a backwater hostile planet, one of the poorest of the Hidden Worlds. To save her family, Linnea does the unspeakable: She accepts an indenture on the decadent home world of the Pilot Masters, hoping that she will be able to barter an old family secret into a future for her loved ones—and perhaps her planet as well.”

As the story begins, Linnea’s world Santandru faces the threat of being cut off from the rest of humanity, effectively eliminating any new supplies. If this were to happen, existing machinery would fall into disrepair, and the citizens of Sandandru would be unable to harvest enough food. Even basic sustenance, already in short supply on a planet with meager resources to begin with, would dwindle to nothing, ensuring the demise of the entire population. Matters are even grimmer given that the planet’s citizens are already on the run and have nowhere else to hide.

And once the medical resources are depleted, what then? Deaths from untreated illnesses and injuries would follow, and crime rates would soar as many choose to steal and hoard whatever remains. Mental illness would also rise rampantly, and who can effectively problem solve while experiencing malnutrition, starvation, and debilitating levels of depression, anxiety, and anger?

Though Linnea accepts a world of burden upon her shoulders in the hopes that her act might save her home world, she is not the only one responsible for Santandru. Just as the powerful Pilot Masters have the means to help the Hidden Worlds survive, we who are privileged have a responsibility toward those less fortunate.

Like the swift, sharp slash of a blade, poverty cuts one off from friends, family, neighbors, and community. Swept up in our everyday concerns, we forget that places like Santandru exist all over the world. Before we know it, entire populations shift toward the brink of despair.

Is poverty an overwhelming issue? Absolutely. Is it an insurmountable one? No way.

Today, my dear passengers, I ask you to pledge one action, no matter how small or brief, toward overcoming poverty. Help me communicate to the Santandrus of the world that there are people who won’t tolerate cutting off anyone’s lifeline. Ever.

Gratefully yours,

Heather




Sunday, October 12, 2008

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7 Reasons Men Should Read Science Fiction Romance

Male fans of science fiction romance are out there, and some are quite vocal about how much they enjoy the sub-genre. But many (read: most) aren’t.

They're not vocal. And they're out there. Period.

Despite the ability to create an anonymous identity, guy fans don’t seem to comment very often about SFR in the online sites and forums. And I know it’s not because men don’t enjoy talking about books. Visit any SF/F forum on the block and you’ll see what I mean. They love it, often leaving no stone of minutiae unturned.

Then there are the men who would enjoy science fiction romance, but are as leery of it as Sam-I-Am's neighbors staring down at a fresh heaping plate of green eggs and ham.

Sure, loads of guys flock to theatres or their 50-inch plasma screens to enjoy SF films and TV shows that invariably involve some kind of romance, even if it’s just a token one. But all of these mediums are visual, and even the combined forces of Jessica Alba, Rebecca Romijn, and Tricia Helfer can be pretty paltry when it comes to feeding the voracious intellect and appetites of a gentleman SF fan.

So given this, why don’t more of these adventurous souls explore SFR, what I consider as part of speculative fiction's wild frontier? And if they already do, why the reluctance to participate in online discussions?

The reluctance to read SFR could be attributed to stereotypes about the romance genre, a few of which have a kernel of truth in them. Or it could be a reluctance to read stories wherein the prose is heavily steeped in romance traditions. Or maybe there’s a pervasive fear that any hint of romance will dilute the plot or speculative aspects, even if the book hails from an SF imprint.

Or, maybe it all just goes back to the third grade playground and the atavistic fear of catching the cooties if they go near anything slightly feminine.

Well, leave it to me to point you fellas in the right direction! Herewith are 7 reasons all of you sexy, progressive, strapping pillars of testosterone should delve into science fiction romance and talk about it:




1) You’ve just had a long day at work, the commute’s a pain in the ass, and you arrive home only to discover the rent/mortgage was due yesterday. Frankly, you could use the release. A great SFR book will happily provide that, 100% cootie free. Trust me.

2) The heroes of science fiction romance are handsome, magnetic, and possess a keen intelligence. They score at least half the credit for saving the world/universe/dimension. Often, they engage in hot nookie in outer space* and beyond. You could be one of those men by proxy.

3) Despite what society tells you, nature wired men with the capacity to feel. It’s perfectly okay to indulge in your emotions. But don’t just limit yourself to happy, sad, or angry. Embrace your inner Dr. Phil. Science fiction romance can feed not only your brain but also your capacity for luuuurrv....

4) Your favorite SF authors often include a romantic subplot. I know—not strictly a separate genre, but these days the lines are blurring. I consider books like that a gateway to science fiction romance. And truthfully, doesn’t the romance have an intrigue all of its own? (Correct answer: “Yes!” while pumping your fist high in the air).



5) There are plenty of science fiction romances with scientific amusements. Some don’t play the “romance” concerto at all. They read more like romance undercover. You like a little mystery in your life, right? That’s what I thought.

6) The online SFR community is nurturing and deeply supportive. If other guys try to invalidate your feelings about science fiction romance, we will promptly reconfigure their neural pathways so that they instantly agree with your preferences.

7) And the final reason? C'mon, you know you really want to. Search your feelings. You know this to be true! Give in...to the SFR side!

Okay, guys, now’s your chance: talk to me! Here at The Galaxy Express you can wax about SFR to your heart’s content and you’ll be all the stronger for it. Name a science fiction romance book you read. Add to my list and share what's great about SFR. Or, tell me how the SFR community can encourage more involvement from our Y-chromosome brethren.

By the way, no cricket chirping allowed (like I said, nurturing!).

Joyfully yours,

Heather

*© Kimber An of Enduring Romance

Written on

An Extra Slice of Fun

I'm over at Romancing The Blog right now. Check out my post to discover what I mean by That's So Hot!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, October 9, 2008

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Engage!

I shan't keep you waiting! Here’s the latest and greatest from the worlds of science fiction romance:

* Rowena Cherry’s KNIGHT’S FORK is now available for your reading pleasure. (Actually, the book was…er…released a bit earlier than planned, but who’s complaining?)


* Over at The Book Smugglers, you can peruse the joint review of Pauline Baird Jones’ THE KEY. Also, those two jazzy proprietors, Thea & Ana, held a blog appreciation post you should check out, and not just because The Galaxy Express was appreciated, for which I humbly thank them.

* Joseph Mallozzi conducted an interview with Kage Baker, author of IN THE GARDEN OF IDEN.

* A hearty congratulations to Dawn Jackson for her short story sale!

* There’s a new science fiction romance author in the neighborhood: Claire Delacroix presents her debut book THE FALLEN. Why not wet your whistle with an excerpt? (Thanks to Linnea Sinclair for the link.)



* Linnea Sinclair visited Desert Island Keepers, in case you missed it.

* Kathy’s Review Corner posted thoughtful reviews for GABRIEL’S GHOST and SHADES OF DARK.

* Debut SFR author Jess Granger has been a busy butterfly. She bared all on the process of book titles, guest blogged at Ann Aguirre’s joint, and gave us a peek into the writing life.

* And the truly Discriminating Fangirl reviewed Ann Aguirre’s WANDERLUST.

Space wench alert!

After reading this mysterious announcement at Dear Author--It doesn’t say, but I’m going to guess that these are more SFF romances. RITA award-winning author Susan Grant’s next two romances, to Tara Parsons at HQN, by Ethan Ellenberg (world).—Susan Grant revealed that she’s working on a story involving a space pirate heroine! Can I get a double on that—Woot! Woot!

And from Jace Scribbles comes an exciting peek at the covers of Susan Grant’s next three books!

I also discovered that Rhienelleth is working on space opera with pirates. I think Genreville’s Rose Fox is going to be one happy camper in the near future! (And stay tuned for the fab interview with Ms. Fox that I have lined up for later this month.)

In a more industrial vein, nn announcement from Dex Garvey came in via my comments section about a steampunk convention in California!

And Spacefreighters’ Lounge features a run down on What’s Coming in Science Fiction Romance.

Until next time, keep your TARDIS separate from your SIDRAT!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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You've come a long way, baby...or have you?


Spaceman Lothario

Even though I enjoy perusing images like the one posted above (because who can resist their retro splendor?), they make me reflect on how much has changed—and not changed—regarding how genre stories are marketed. Obviously, many book covers/magazines/movie posters focus solely on the weird and wondrous, but there are just as many that toss in the sex factor.

I’m a fan of romanticized covers and posters, but sometimes blatantly sexualized images leave me with mixed feelings. Not so much love/hate but cool/wha...? Even as my eyes glaze over with lust, the internal alarms screech, warning of an impending marketing attack. Then I start to wonder if I’m overreacting or reading too much into things.

I haven’t yet resolved the feelings, and I may never do so. However, the reason I wanted to post about it was to hear your thoughts about the matter. (Well, okay, *read* your thoughts.)

There are more of these circa 1950’s boss vintage pictures here. While you’re waiting for them to load, indulge my current whim and answer the following:

Name one thing that’s cool about this picture.

Name one thing that bothers you about this picture.

If you were to guess/create the story based on this image, would you envision the “rocketeer” character as a man, robot, or android? Where is he taking the woman and what will he do with her once they reach the destination?

How would you account for the woman’s current state?

Whatever you do, don’t hold back. Have fun with it!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, October 5, 2008

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Would You Like It Here...or There?

I’m jazzed to share that I participated in two genre roundtables last week:

John DeNardo of SFSignal invited me to participate in his regular Mind Meld feature. The topic is “What’s your favorite sub-genre of science fiction and/or fantasy?” Mine’s the last post, and I’ll bet you can’t guess what it is. ;)

Thanks, SFSignal, for the opportunity to share my excitement about this genre. What great support the gesture demonstrated for science fiction romance. (Now if only the romance community can work up just as much ardor about science fiction romance...!)

The second roundtable took place at John Ottinger III’s blog, Grasping for the Wind. The participants plunged “Inside The Blogosphere” to explore SF&F’s Bedroom Antics. Ooh la la!

Enjoy, and feel free to go forth and comment.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, October 2, 2008

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Science Fiction Romance Week

In case you hadn't heard, it's Science Fiction Romance Week at Spacefreighters' Lounge!

Click on over for interviews, fun polls, hot guys, articles, Dom Perignon, interactive festivities, even more stellar interviews, and too many other swell features to count.

Plus, you can't beat the witty banter and discussion found amongst the "League of Extraordinary Skiffy Rommers!"

See you there, and don't forget to mark your calendars for next year.

Joyfully yours,

Heather