Sunday, July 19, 2009

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Author Supernova: Sandra McDonald (Part I)

New shoes? Meh. New purse? No, thanks. New-to-me author? Yes, please!

I’ve always loved discovering new authors. I realize many readers are hesitant to try out an author new to them, but I’m the proverbial polar opposite. Part of my interest in new voices and concepts has to do with the very nature of SF: I envision it as a frontier genre, as there is always a new discovery around the corner with each story I read. Experiencing the unexpected is a significant part of the appeal.

The other reason is that before the rise of the Internet and DVDs, I feared that I would never recapture the stories of my youth, especially the ones involving grand space opera, romance, and larger than life characters. For years, 100% doubt reigned in my mind that these stories would be gone forever. I also worried that no one would invent similar ones—apart from fanfiction, that is.

All of this evolved into an ongoing quest to discover stories that synchronized with my particular tastes. Therefore, the fact that the author was new to me became inconsequential. My main goal was to relive that sense of excitement over and over again.

In the event that you, my adventure-loving passengers, are seeking a similar experience, I am featuring a trilogy this week that fits the bill.

Sandra McDonaldAuthor Sandra McDonald’s motto is “love. duty. really big spaceships.” She wrote a trilogy that encapsulates everything I love about stories blending SF and romance. However, the trilogy defies a simple breakdown. Here’s my take on how various elements mingle in her trilogy:

THE OUTBACK STARS is military SF with a romance subplot; THE STARS DOWN UNDER leans toward science fantasy with romantic elements; and THE STARS BLUE YONDER has a more definitive science fiction romance feel. The romance is much more predominant and the story would appeal to readers who enjoy time travel twists.

Another element that appealed to me about this trilogy is that the reader follows the relationship over the course of the three books. Apart from books such as J.D. Robb’s In Death series, publishers don’t frequently support continuing stories revolving around the same couple (at least for SFR). So when they do appear, it’s a pleasant surprise.

THE OUTBACK STARSTHE OUTBACK STARS can serve as a standalone novel, but the other books plunge the hero and heroine right back into the thick of things. While the SF elements were fun, fascinating, and sometimes downright funky, what kept me hooked was how intensely I rooted for the couple to prevail over ever-increasing odds. That’s when I knew I had a keeper.

Here’s the author’s bio from the Tor author page:

“Sandra McDonald has been a Hollywood assistant, a software instructor, a bureaucrat, and an officer in the US Navy. Her short fiction has appeared inRealms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. Her previous novels were The Outback Stars and The Stars Down Under. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida.”

This week we’ll have guest posts from two fans of Sandra McDonald, bloggers without whom I wouldn’t have discovered Sandra McDonald’s trilogy. I’ve rounded up a collection of links about the author and her work so you can learn more. You can also look forward to an exclusive interview with the author.

Additionally, one lucky passenger will win a paperback copy of THE OUTBACK STARS!

In the meantime, please share your thoughts about how you approach trying out a new author. What factors have to be in place before you’ll read his/her work?

Joyfully yours,