This story is not pleasant, but it is true. I’m going to try to put it below a “read more” tag, so as not to shock the unwary, but I don’t know how well it will work.
As some of you know, I had my right hip Totally Replaced in December, and the past two months have been largely devoted to regaining the mobility I lost starting with a cycling accident ten years ago. But now the pain meds are out of my system, I’m able to write again – and I am absolutely thrilled to be going to my first Boskone this coming weekend!
If you’re in the Boston area, consider going; it promises to be a great weekend. And I would love to meet more of you! Here’s my schedule:
Friday, 7:00 PM
Room: Harbor II
“No one talks that way!”
“Well, okay, but your characters aren’t all you. How about writing the way other people talk?”
“Okay, let’s have the panelists talk about that …”
Vincent O’Neil (M), A.C.E. Bauer, John Chu, Christie Meierz, Bruce Coville
Friday, 8:00 PM
Room: Marina 2
Fiction’s bad guys may be a dime a dozen, next to the real thing. One of history’s most mysterious and infamous serial killers, Jack the Ripper continues to be a cut above. How has his dark shadow inspired villains in fantastical fiction since he faded into darkness more than 125 years ago?
Dana Cameron (M), Christopher Golden, Leigh Perry, Christie Meierz, E.J. Stevens
Saturday, 4:00 PM
Room: Marina 3
Writing: Pinning Down Your Plot
Complicated plots need proper handling to keep from growing legs and walking away. Writers who lose control of a twisty tale can confuse and/or alienate their readers. But just how do authors manage a complex story line? Come hear their tips for keeping track of the trickiest of plots.
Steven Popkes (M), Ken Altabef, Sharon Lee, Christie Meierz, Vincent O’Neil
Sunday, 10:30 AM
Reading: Christie Meierz
Sunday, 1:00 PM
Broad Universe Group Reading
Join members of Broad Universe — a nonprofit association dedicated to supporting, encouraging, and promoting female authors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror — as they read tidbits of works and works in progress. Celebrate 16 years of “Broads” with Randee Dawn, Elaine Isaak, Anna Erishkigal, Lisa Hawkridge, Christie Meierz, and Roberta Rogow. Hosted by LJ Cohen.
Sunday, 2:00 PM
Room: Harbor III
How to Kill … a Character
Death shouldn’t be easy. Killing characters within a story shouldn’t just glorify death, or play to prurient interest. How, when, and why should you end a character so that it serves the greater purpose of the story? Is anyone really safe within a story?
Sarah Smith (M), Charles Gannon, David Gerrold, Christie Meierz, E.J. Stevens
And the household has a new denizen….
Meet Banichi, a black shelter-kitten we adopted around the time of my surgery. He makes an admirable Head of Security, for now.
What can I say? He makes me smile.
As I’ve mentioned from time to time on Facebook, I blew out a hip ten years ago in a cycling accident, and it’s deteriorated quite a bit over the years. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be getting a total hip replacement. See you on the other side!
At one time, I kept a good record of what I was reading on Goodreads. but watching a few authors struggle with web controversy has kept me away from it. What do you think? Is it worthwhile for authors to have a Goodreads presence as readers? If you’re on Goodreads, how do you use it? Comments, please!
I should be writing.
But the horrible violence in Paris and in Beirut took the story words right out of me, and left this:
Why? Why do we humans resort to violence? What sense does it make to kill good people, innocent people, and why? Because they want something? Because they hate someone? WHY?
They’re going to have to sit down and talk to get what they want, so why not do that FIRST?
They hate a color, they hate a nationality, they hate a religion, they hate a race — WHY? Why do some people think killing innocents will get them what they want? Because we all know what it’s going to do — it’s just going to make more people angry, and then they will be just as determined never to let you have what you killed innocent people to get. Now everyone is angry. An eye for an eye, until the whole fucking world goes blind.
How about we sit down and talk instead of kill?
I’m taking a break from Tolari Space and writing a straight-up first contact story. Here’s a taste from the first draft:
“Jeth,” Ull said. “Water.” He loosened the tie on the waterskin and poured a little onto his hand to show her what it was, and then took a drink.
She reached for it when he offered the skin to her, and drank greedily. After she handed the skin back, she lay back in the moss—with her back on the ground—and looked up into the sky. And jolted up onto her elbows, gasping. Ull followed her gaze. The half-moon, no longer on fire, had just risen—with a dark smudge it had never had before, like an eye along its rim. Jeth uttered a little groan, and her eyes glistened.
Has it already been a week?
It has! Here’s a bit from the Kepler story:
“I surrender to you,” he said, carefully, because those little ears did not look any better than the tiny eyes did. Still, they had seen him, so they were not like the plains stalkers, which could not see a person if they did not move. He opened his eyes wide, to show respect. “I surrender to you.”
The ugly, two-legged forerunner showed him her hands with their extra fingers and said, as carefully as he had, “I surrender to you.”
Gosh, it’s been a while since I posted a snippet from a work in progress!
Astute readers of Farryn’s War may have noticed that there seemed to be one more human on Tolar than could be accounted for. Here is a bit of her story, which takes place in between The Marann and The Fall. The working title is… Stranded. Tell me what you think:
Alexia groaned at the pounding in her head. I should not have drunk so much champagne at the ball. She wrapped her arms around her head and curled up on her side.
She froze. On her side? Gravity? The lifeboat. She sat up and threw her arms out as the world spun.
“Hold on,” said a woman’s voice, in English. A hand took her arm. “Take it easy.”
The room steadied, and Alexia blinked up at a woman with startling blue eyes and very long, wavy brown hair. She wore a simple blue robe with white embroidery at the collar and cuffs, and she smiled down with an amused expression on her face.
She was pretty enough. Alexia looked closer. Freckles! What sort of woman allowed herself to sprout freckles?
Not one Mamá would allow her to associate with. She jerked her arm away.
“Feeling better?” the woman asked, one eyebrow lifted.
“No.” Alexia frowned. The fierce pounding in her head put a hair trigger on a temper which, her dueña loved to remind her, was already too easy to set off. “Where am I? I was in a lifeboat–” she swallowed “–freezing to death. Who are you?”
“Oh! I’m sorry, introductions are in order. I’m Marianne Woolsey. You’re in the stronghold of the province of Suralia on the fourth planet of Beta Hydri. And you are…?”
Alexia rubbed her forehead. “Beta Hydri? We should not have been near Beta Hydri.”
“And you are…?”
“Alexia Victoria de la Cerda y Aragon.”
“Welcome to Tolar. May I call you Alexia?”
Today we have another treat: USA Today Bestselling author Cynthia Sax, who writes contemporary, SF and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.
Why I Love Cyborg Heroes
by Cynthia Sax
I love cyborg heroes! Yes, every cyborg hero is different. In Releasing Rage, my most recent cyborg romance, we meet several cyborgs. They all have different personalities (because they’re partially human and every human being is different). But there are some traits that are consistent across almost all cyborgs. (I say almost all because there are always exceptions to every ‘rule.’)
Cyborgs are partially human, partially machine. My cyborgs have both computer-like processors and human brains. They have skin and muscle over metal frames and mechanics. They normally heal faster and live longer than humans.
Cyborgs are constantly conflicted between their machine side and their human side, between logic and emotion, between following commands and exploring their independence, between programming and free will.
At no time is this conflict more pronounced than when cyborgs fall in love. There is little logic behind love. Will their human sides be strong enough to overcome their machine sides, allowing them to choose love?
Cyborgs are usually manufactured to be soldiers. They have loyalty built into them, which is very appealing. They know how to protect, defend, fight for their loved ones.
They’re also dangerous. Their killing abilities are honed. They’re faster and stronger than their heroines. If their machine sides saw their heroines as threats, these heroines would be in big trouble. This gives every encounter an appealing edge, an unpredictability.
These genetically designed warriors usually don’t grow up with a father and mother. They might know the companionship of their fellow cyborgs but not the deep love of a parent for a child. Often they feel that lack. They have a loneliness, a yearning for love that tears at my heartstrings.
These heroes want to ‘solve’ that lack but don’t know how. Cyborgs don’t date. They might not have any interaction with the opposite sex. Dealing with females could be completely foreign to them. When they fall in love, they often don’t know what to do with that emotion. They’re discovering all of this for the first time.
All of this combines into an intriguing and engaging hero ‘type’, one that is unique within SciFi romance. This is why I love reading and writing about cyborgs.
What do you love about cyborg heroes?
Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.
Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.
Until he meets Joan.
Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.
When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?
Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com
This weekend, I had to smile when I saw a new review on Amazon for my latest science fiction novel, Farryn’s War:
I normally read a lot of science fiction and not much romance, so I was a bit concerned we’d be all heaving bosoms and whatnot. Pleasantly surprised to find the ‘romance’ was just part of the plot line and character building.
And that, my friends, is why I always pause and really look at the person who asks me, “What do you write?”
Most of my stories are about a race of empaths, the Tolari, who live on a planet circling Beta Hydri, two dozen light years from Earth. The stories encompass local and interstellar politics, cultural isolation and societal change, a dozen alien races, war, peace, and everything in between. Also, men, women, and children, relationships and choices, victories and losses. And there’s the rub. What should I call it, anyway?
Once upon a time, “space opera” was a term of disdain, but thanks to Lester del Ray and others, it came to stand for space adventure, characters, plotting, and a big canvas: vast civilizations, long space voyages, epic battles.
Are the Tolari novels space opera? Absolutely. But over time, the trappings in the genre assumed a life of their own, and the genre called “space opera” became very fluid. Take a look at the space opera bestseller list on Amazon, and it could be 75% military SF, or 75% space adventure, or anything in between, with a sometimes heavy sprinkling of science fiction romance in the top 20.
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as “science fiction romance,” except perhaps in the much older sense by which Edwin Abbott’s Flatland was called “a romance of many dimensions.” But writers in the 1970’s and 1980’s (mostly women, but not all) did astonishing work in drawing realistic characters in SF settings, looking at the ripple effects of technological and cultural change on people, relationships, and societies. And people fall in love: one of the very oldest sources of complexity in fiction. Are the Tolari novels science fiction romance? Absolutely! But over just the past few years, the acceptance (and popularity) of erotica and a dismayingly limited number of tropes mean that virtually every title on the current Amazon “science fiction romance” bestseller list sports a man with a naked chest on the cover — and romance readers know what that means.
Now, I think my writing can stand up respectably next to military SF and “alien warriors and the women they capture.” But that’s not the point. The point is labeling. And Cooties.
- Science fiction readers (many but not all male) who see the word “romance” – or even an obviously female name on the cover, or artwork with a couple holding hands — often have the same sense of anxiety and risk-taking described in the review above: “Hold on, Grampa. Is this a kissing book?” In other words: relationships and sex. In other words: Girl Cooties.
- Romance readers (most but not all female) may be OK with “science fiction” on the cover, but if they see spaceships, or an alien NOT locked in an embrace with a human of some sort, they may worry that there will be whole chapters about alien cultures, or the effects of technological change, and lots of cardboard characterization. In other words: Science Cooties.
I grew up on Andre Norton and Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov and CJ Cherryh, as well as my mother’s Harlequin romances. I’m a science fiction writer, but I refuse to limit my scope to anything less than everything. If that means I sometimes call what I write “space opera,” and sometimes “futuristic romance,” and sometimes just “SF,” I’m going to be asking my readers to take a chance. If you like romance, read The Marann (winner of the 2013 PRISM award from the Romance Writers of America — the same award won by quintessential space adventure writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller). If you like space opera, read my latest, Farryn’s War. It’s not military, and it’s definitely not erotica, and if you absolutely hate spaceships or romance, you might want to look for another author more to your taste. But if you find one of my books that you like, take a risk and try another.
I’m about stories, and a sense of wonder, and unforgettable characters, and I’m a sucker for happy endings, though in the middle, it may get rough for a while.
Who knows, I may someday be one of the women who destroy science fiction.
But whether they’re the physics kind or the kissing kind, I am done worrying about Cooties. There are just too many good stories I want to tell.
So Farryn’s War is out in both e-book and print; the print edition boasts a beautiful interior layout by Melissa Neely and a Tom Peters cover. It’s a thorough-going space opera, and a bit of suspense noir. I hope you like it.
Every villain is the hero of his (or her) own story, and I definitely got to play with that in Farryn’s War – and explore a lot of things I only hinted at in previous books: the history of the human colonies; the reasons the Tolari turned away from spaceflight before their human cousins had running water; and what happens to Tolari who can’t (or won’t) live up to the rigid standards of a close-knit, empathic society.
After the rush of release work, I’m blogging again; you can look forward to the return of Sunday Snippets from my works in progress. On Monday, you might see a post on the subject of literary space opera, romance, and writing your own thing. We’ll see how brave I am.
In other news:
- The second issue of my newsletter for readers, News from Tolari Space, will go out this weekend; subscribe now!
- I will be on programming at Capclave in Gaithersburg, MD on October 9-11. I hope to see some of you there!
- I’m hosting an Evening of Space Opera and Futuristic Romance at Pittsburgh’s Rickert and Beagle Bookshop on Tuesday evening, October 20, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. Discussion, readings, and giveaways of classic SF and space opera; if you’re in driving distance of Pittsburgh, we’ve love to have you there. (It’s co-owned by Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, and worth checking out in any case!)
P. S. My website has a new look and feel; tell me what you think!