Thursday, July 31, 2008

Liquid Assets

Big announcements in solar system news. It was determined that Mars does, in fact, have water, and the Cassini probe has found a liquid (hydrocarbon) lake on Titan, a moon of Saturn. These discovers will fuel research for years to come.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4275801.html

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=liquid-lake-on-titan

Exciting times in space exploration.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Heather Strikes Again

Heather over at The Galaxy Express has done it again! In her neverending quest to promote the wondrous universe of Science Fiction Romance, she's set up a (now very popular) discussion group on the Tor website. You can check it out here:

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&func=view&id=919

Why not register and join the fun?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hello World *gulp*

Well, I did it. (Now I feel so exposed!)

I performed an extreme makeover on a blog and turned it into a personal website. (It will serve until I sell my first novel and then I'll have a professional site created.)

I've posted a pic, included a brief bio, works in progress blurbs, memberships, favorite things, a bit about my IPs and my Toastie co-bloggers, a few links, and other shtuff. Take a peek and let me know what you think.

Oh, there's no comment function or guest book on the site. That may happen later.

http://www.laurie-green.blogspot.com/

(You may notice from the older posts that the site's been in existence for awhile, but I finally got the nerve to open it up to the internet.)

*bites nails*

First Look: MIRRORED HEAVENS

I've started reading THE MIRRORED HEAVENS by David J. Williams, and although it isn't technically SciFiRom, it's good, imaginative science fiction with fascinating characters and credible world building. There's a hint that a romance might be involved, but I'll see how that develops.

The story is written in first person, present tense which gives the action an immediate as-it's-happening feel. I found the style a bit choppy at first, with a lot of sentence fragments and quite a few repetitious words, but once I got settled into the story and accustomed to the rhythm, I liked the lightning pace and stream-of-consciousness thoughts of the characters.

One thing I love is the how the story is told from three main POVs and each characters has their own icon that marks the beginning of any paragraph where they're the central figure. I appreciate not having to puzzle over whose eyes I'm looking through each time there's a POV shift, which is constant. I also enjoy the short, action-packed scenes.

Not quite a quarter of the way in, there's a lot of action and reaction, covert operations, terrorists, spaceships, a space elevator, really cool techie equipment and a cyber-guru who's called a "razor." Unless this one goes seriously awry deeper into the story (which I doubt) expect a full crit in the future.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Great Beginnings and Other Shtuff

io9 has posted another great article, this one on hook lines from a variety of science fiction novels. I think my favorite was the one from Ender's Game.

Check it out here: http://io9.com/5027128/great-opening-sentences-from-science-fiction

I posted an article about drabbles on the Toaster Scimitar. www.toaster-scimitar.blogspot.com I'm so intrigued with Sandra McDonald's collection, I'm going to have to try a few of my own.

Check out Lisa Shearin's blog today for information on the RT Book Lover's Convention that will be held in Orlando next year. www.lisashearin.com I'm hoping to be there. Anyone else making plans?

And check out Shelfari, a place to find like-minded readers (or writers) and post your lists of "read" and "to be read" books, join discussion groups, etc. www.shelfari.com

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Other People's Reviews

My Google Alert for Science Fiction Romance snagged this review of Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST: A NOVEL from the great, wide internet universe. I found it worth a read. THE HOST is one of the books destined to hit my Leaning Tower of TBR (TM) in the very near future.

Take a look at the review here: http://www.fortmorgantimes.com/news/2008/jul/18/barker-books/

The Enduring Romance Blog reprinted my review of THE OUTBACK STARS by Sandra McDonald. You can read that and other insightful reviews here: http://www.enduringromance.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm Off...

...to beautiful Taos for the weekend. A little sun, a little fun, a bit of relaxation and maybe a few Parrot Bay and Cokes. And of course my laptop is going, too. Have a great weekend. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've Adopted a Sub!


OK, it's technically not a submarine...yet. The USS New Mexico is a Virginia class fast attack nuclear sub that is currently in the construction phase. After reading Sandra McDonald's excellent novel, THE OUTBACK STARS, and thinking about all the detail she put in to her story based on her naval experience, I started doing some research on ships. I actually stumbled across the USS New Mexico via work (the entity I work for has administrative oversight of her promotional budget) and realized that a submarine and a starship have a lot in common, both being vessels with self-contained environments.

That's her crest above, designed by an Albuquerque student. The mountain range in the background is the Sandia Crest (we spent our Fourth of July watching the fireworks there). :)

Here's the link to the USS New Mexico website if you'd like to take a look. There's a lot of good information here.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

RIBsville

Yes, I'm guilty of having a RIB. There's a cure. It's called more free time. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to buy, beg, borrow or steal any of that lately. So this blog has fallen into RIBdom. What the heck is a RIB, you ask? It's a Ridiculously Idle Blog. *sigh* Guilty as charged.

But, but...one of the reasons it's been idle is that I've been inspired and blazing away on my next two SciFiRom projects, generally referred to as Draxis and Planets.

Still. It's no excuse. I must recommit myself to annihilating the RIB. The RIB must die. Down with the RIB. Give me RIBerty or give me... OK. I got carried away.

So, anywho...what's in the pipe?

A review of DEAD BEAT by Jim Butcher (a Dresden files novel) should be here soon.

I'm also having serious heartburn over a sequel I read that seemed to succumb to a severe case of Sequilitis [yes, I'm coining a new phrase] (which is when a really great premise, plot and characters are introduced in the first book and utterly destroyed in the second...IMHO, of course). I'm hoping to broach the discussion without thoroughly skewering the author. We'll see how that goes.

I recently joined Shelfari, where you can create a bookshelf of "reads" and "to reads," write reviews, share your insights and join like-minded groups....like SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE for instance. (You knew I was going to give my genre a plug, now didn't you?) Check it out here: http://www.shelfari.com/

On a sad note, I lost a four-legged member of the family yesterday. "Addie" (registered as Bold Addition) had been with us for 18 years, and was one of the first two horses to step foot on our ranch. She was a granddaughter of Successor, who was Secretariat's brother (actually a 3/4 brother, but I didn't want to get too genetically technical). She had a foal many years ago that we registered as To Boldly Go, nicknamed "Trekkie." (Yes, an old Star Trek fan here. One of my screen names used to be ShezaTrekkie.) I spent the day alternating between tears and hysteria. Do you know how difficult it is to make, uh "funeral arrangements" for a 1300 pound animal who drops dead in her stall? The logistics are not pretty.

I'll be back soon with more genre news, links and general Anti-RIB rambling.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Quicky Skiffy Rommer Roundup

New books added to the scout list:

Science Fiction Romance
THE BAD BOYS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Karen Kelley

Futuristic Romance
HIDDEN by Eve Kenin

Today's links focus on big screen happening in SciFiRom.

Wall-E:
Sigourney Weave Back in Sci-Fi Mode from CBS News (online)
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/03/earlyshow/leisure/boxoffice/main4232222.shtml
Question of the day: Does Wall-E count as SciFiRom? An animated story of the last robot left on Earth, should Wall-E count as a member of the SFR media sub-genre?

Bollywood goes Sci-Fi with Love Story 2050 from Reuters from Reuters (online)
The film industry in India jumps on the Skiffy Rom bandwagon with a time travel romance.
http://in.reuters.com/article/bollywoodNews/idINIndia-34377220080704

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Review: THE OUTBACK STARS




THE OUTBACK STARS
By Sandra McDonald
Science Fiction Romance
TOR

Opening Notes From the Reviewer: I was intrigued about this one because Sandra McDonald is a former US Naval officer and I’d read praise about how well she incorporates her knowledge into THE OUTBACK STARS. I’ve worked for the military for over thirteen years and found the detail engrossing. I don’t know how much imagination she used in projecting her experiences into the future, but for me, the organization, protocol and environment of the Aral Sea was completely effective and believable.

COVER ART: I offer commentary on the cover because readers do judge books by them. Unfortunately. This has no bearing on my overall enjoyment of, or comments about the story. It’s important to remember that cover art is a choice in which the author normally has little say. THE OUTBACK STARS cover has swirling cool blues and hot yellows of space behind the female MC that are attractive and have an almost dreamy quality, which may be intentional. I found her gear a bit fanciful for a military sci-fi, and have no idea what the scrolling black objects are meant to represent in the foreground, but overall it does what a cover is supposed to do and that’s catch the eye.

INITIAL IMPRESSION: The story starts with a prologue, which some readers immediately skip. I don’t. This one has a specific purpose for existing. It offers a suspenseful hook into the crux of a disaster, and it gives insights into the female MCs experiences that has a tremendous bearing on her thoughts and actions later in the story. It was gut-wrenching, to say the least. It was also very short. It did everything a good prologue should, and it did its job extremely well.

MAIN CHARACTERS: I felt an immediate connection with the MCs angst, and an immediate sympathy toward the male MC as he debated reporting for duty or going AWOL to lose himself in the mountains. I also got a sense of their attraction in their first encounter, even though they both shuffle it off as unthinkable. Lieutenant JoDenny Scott is an officer. Sergeant Teran “Terry” Myell a NCO. Fraternization in this future is still a taboo. Both are tortured souls for things—terrible, unfair things—that happened in their past, and both bring a fair share of career baggage aboard their ship, the Aral Sea.

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: There is a large cast, and if the reader isn’t accustomed to military organizations, they may want to consider taking notes about who is who, their rank, position and what they do on the ship. The author seamlessly works in some explanations of rank and structure via JoDenny’s education of a civilian worker who doesn’t understand how things work. Some of the characters have a few surprises in store. The author’s knowledge of military organization, especially that on a large vessel, is superb. It can be a learning experience as well as a great read. I found some of the bots (robots) very entertaining, especially a security bot that confronts JoDenny at one point in the story.

VILLAIN: The villains become obvious through their interactions with the characters, but there’s much more going on than meets the eye. The offstage villains, for the most part, is a terrorist organization called the Colonial Freedom Project.

WORLD BUILDING: Well done, believable, realistic. The various worlds of the Seven Sisters are distinct and have their own personalities. The ships and connected tower environments are a fascinating concept. The futuristic elements are not too far-fetched. The blending of military structure, mythic past, and modern space travel work well.

CONFLICT: As the story progresses, it becomes obvious something is amiss, and the Aral Sea is a very troubled ship. But not all the mystery is inside the ship. Some dirty dealings become evident, but not everything and not every threat is as straightforward. There are some surprises, some shocks, and some wondrous discoveries along the way. The tension is well done, though it occurs on many levels—professionally, sexually and outright life-threatening.

ROMANCE: There were times during the story I wanted to cuff each of the MCs for their stubbornness and for being in denial about their feelings and hurting the other because of it, but at the same time I understood their reservations and their reasons for wanting to hide from what they felt. I found Terry Myell the most honest of the two about his feelings, and his tenderness toward his niece and nephew and even a pet gecko, heartwarming. Terry is a put-up and shut-up sort, who is often closed-mouthed when he shouldn’t be, but there’s nothing dodgy or weak-willed about him. He’s an understated alpha male who finds himself in situations where he must control his temper and his tongue. I admired Lieutenant JoDenny Scott for her take-charge attitude, and her dealings with problem subordinates, sometimes by very clever methods. The relationship between JoDenny and Terry built slowly and encountered many obstacles, and the reader was ‘shown’ in subtle ways that—damn regulations!—these two belong together. They are often thrown into the mix because of surprising twists and turns. I would have liked to be privy to more of the emotions going on inside their heads before they finally blurted out the depths of their feelings—but the relationship worked for me and I rooted for them each step of the way. When they make an agreement not to see each other until Terry’s contract is up, JoDenny returns to being a confused officer and I found her way of dealing with things to be cold and aloof. For me, one of the most satisfying elements of the story was when Terry finally met her evasiveness head on in this excerpt:

Someone knocked. “Sergeant Gordon,” a voice said, and JoDenny snapped her head up to see Myell standing in the hatchway. Myell continued, “Can you excuse us for a moment. The lieutenant and I need to talk.”

Gordon blinked. “Sure thing.”

When she was gone, Myell deliberately closed the hatch, leaving just the two of them alone.

“Are you crazy?” JoDenny asked.

Myell gazed at her steadily. “Nowhere in ship’s regulations does it say that a lieutenant and a sergeant can’t have a private conversation behind closed doors.”

She rose. “You don’t think people are watching us?”

He advanced on her, his eyes dark and mouth grim. “We said we would keep this professional for three months. That doesn’t mean ignoring me in public. That doesn’t mean not even saying ‘Good morning, Sergeant’ or ‘How are you, Sergeant?’ in a lift.”

Jo Denny flushed. “Ensign Hultz told you.”

Myell took her arms and the nearness of him almost made her dizzy. “Ensign Hultz isn’t the woman I love.”

[I’ll let you read the rest for yourself.]

READABILITY: I found the story fascinating; though the pace wasn’t lightning quick there was enough mystery, emotion, and danger to keep me reading along and wanting more. I was disappointed when the story ended, and had to go on a recon mission to read a few excerpts from the sequel THE STARS DOWN UNDER. TSDU is definitely going into my Leaning Tower of TBR, somewhere very near the top.

EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. As you have probably guessed, this one earns an enthusiastic endorsement.

COOL STUFF:
In this future, Australia took the lead in space travel, so many of the place-names where taken from Australia or Australian Aboriginal mythology.

The ships are all named after environmental disasters on Earth, such as the Chernobyl, Okeechobee, Alaska, and Yangtze. One of the characters was bemused about this being someone’s brilliant idea. So was I.

DNGOs – (dingos) The ship’s worker robots that come in various classes and differing levels of erratic behavior.

Alcheringa – The alien transportation system that connects the Seven Sisters—habitable planets that have been colonized. The space warp was discovered near Mars, but not the aliens that built it.

Gib – an electronic device that has an “agent” the owner configures according to their tastes (female, male, sense of humor, etc.). The agent is like an electronic secretary who talks to the owner about their schedule, talks to other agents, makes appointments and provides information. They have names like Katherine and Holland, and yeah, I can easily see these as the iPhones of the future.

SECOND READ: Even after I finished, it was like this book was glued to my fingertips. I picked it up again and again to read a section or a chapter. After a few days, I had to go back to the beginning and start reading it all over again while I wait for the sequel to arrive. I missed a lot of subtle foreshadowing and detail the first time through. I don’t think I’m going to find a cure for this obsession until the sequel arrives.

OVERALL RATING: I don’t rate novels on a number scale. Each novel is unique and, just like sightseeing in a strange city, you learn about the literary ‘points of interest’ as you get to know the territory. Ok, this one is too easy. What city could this one be but Sydney? The Australian flavor is stamped on every page, and this story is just as much an enjoyable destination as the iconic Down Under harbor town, a place where the mythic past meets the present, and the future. A place you just have to go see for yourself. You just gotta.