Monday, March 31, 2014

Mission Success: Crossroads

Laurie's Journal

Writing Process Blog Hop
Thanks to my Donna and Pippa for participating in the Writing Process Blog Hop last week. It was a fun exercise and I learned things about my co-bloggers that I never knew. If readers missed our blogs, you can catch up here:

Pippa's Writing Process
Donna's Writing Process
Laurie's Writing Process

Reassignment in the Works?
A factor in every writer's career is what goes on in other areas of their life. Well, after 19 years of managing our military agency's budget at my day job, I'm in the process of requesting reassignment to another position that I think will be good for both my agency and for my stress level and creative energy. If we can reach an agreement, this promises to be a great thing all around. Please cross your fingers with me for a good outcome.

Sharon's Next Novel Releases Tomorrow!
Co-blogger and RITA finalist Sharon Lynn Fisher's second novel -- The Ophelia Prophecy -- releases on Tuesday, April 1st. No April Foolin'! Be sure to stop back here at Spacefreighters Lounge tomorrow to learn more about this very exciting new Science Fiction Romance title from Tor! I don't want to steal Sharon's thunder, but I will say this is a fabulous, imaginative story you won't want to miss!

I think Pippa Jay mentioned she also has a release coming out tomorrow! And with Donna now being an expectant author (with her first book due next February) it's a very exciting time for the Spacefreighters crew!

A December Deadline
All of this moving and shaking by my co-bloggers had me doing some mental sorting and reassessing of my own career. I had a chat with my agent to get her thoughts on possibly pursuing the agent-as-publisher option that Donna is following. (Read her big announcement here.) After kicking it around a bit, we decided that with my first novel still out to two big publishers and a dynamic smaller one, that we're content, at least for now, to await the outcome. But it's time to start formulating other strategies, so I've set December as the point-in-the-future where I'll start pursuing other publishing options if we haven't yet had a sale. Either way, come December I'll have good news...or good news! This is an exciting time to be a pre-publshed author!

Meet Echo 8
I have a fun announcement to make. In addition to my day job and writing career, I have yet a third endeavor. My husband and I raise Thoroughbred horses.

A fun and sometimes boggling part of that pursuit is finding an unique name for each of our babies that no other living, registered Thoroughbred of the same sex in North America has already claimed. With somewhere between 19,000 and 30,000 Thoroughbreds born every year on this continent, that can be a very tall order.

Ideally, we like to choose a name that says something about the foal's parents or prominent bloodlines. On February 2nd, we welcomed our first foal of the year, a fiesty little chestnut colt with a tiny white star and one white sock. That little star is more of a streak than a spot. Kind of reminds me of a shooting star, really. Like a comet. Or an asteroid.

His parents are Diabolical (sire) and Soulful (dam). His famous grandsire is the fabulous Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

Having just finished a beta read of Sharon's third novel, Golden Heart finalist ECHO 8, things clicked into place. How so?

Here's the advance blurb of Echo 8:

The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance as three lives entangle: Jake, a man shifted to an alternate Earth, where he must drain energy from others to survive. Tess, the parapsychologist trying to save him. Ross, the FBI agent torn between duty and his love for Tess.

I absolutely loved this story the first time I read it in a much earlier draft, but this latest pre-published version of ECHO 8 is one fantastic, Soulful, Diabolical SFR story, that's set in Seattle. (See where I'm going with this?)

Add the unique "falling asteroid" marking on our colt's forehead and the fact that Jake's world was destroyed by an asteroid, and *dingdingding* I think we have a winner! After getting Sharon's okay, we'll be submitting Echo 8 as the first name choice for our colt.

So world...meet the other Echo 8. And here's to a very successful future for both of them!

~~~~ * ~~~~

Friday, March 28, 2014

WRITING PROCESS BLOG HOP--PART THREE



My editorial assistants monitor my work.

Donna S. Frelick
Romance at the Edge 
of Space and Time 

My turn now, as part of the Writing Process Blog Hop set in motion by Arlene Hittle (see Laurie’s post on Monday).  I was invited to participate by my blog partner of six years, Laurie A. Green, three-time RWA® Golden Heart® nominee, fellow Firebird sister (2012 Golden Hearts®) and indefatigable advocate of SFR everywhere, including through the organization she founded, the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

Now, since you’re just dying to know:

What Am I Working On?  I can hardly keep from shouting the news that I’m working on cover design and promotional planning for the publication of the first of my series of science fiction suspense romance novels, Unchained Memory!  The book is being published as part of a three-book deal with Ink’d Press, the publishing division of Inkling Literary Agency, founded by my agent Michelle Johnson.  In this new approach to publication, I’ll have a lot of the benefits of greater control that self-pubbers have, with fewer of the risks (and headaches!).  Distribution will be in digital and print-on-demand through Amazon, with a release date of February, 2015.  (Trouble in Mind, the second book of the series, will likely follow within six months.)

In the meantime, I’m finishing up revisions on the third book in the series (Fools Rush In) and beginning the first draft of a fourth (Follow the Sun).

How does my work differ from others in my genre?  I write what The Galaxy Express’s Heather Massey has dubbed “hearth and home” SFR.  In my books, most of the story takes place on Earth, and is about protecting Earth and its people.  Settings are largely familiar; the time is now.  It is only the perspective that is skewed.  Aliens exist—and some of them are an ongoing threat to us.  Space travel is common—in other parts of the galaxy.  In Unchained Memory, we only see other worlds in flashbacks, and never see the real villains, the Gray slave-trading aliens.  In Trouble in Mind, we do travel to the Gray homeworld and several other worlds, but most of the action takes place on Earth.  Not until the third book in the series, Fools Rush In, do I set an entire story in space, where many typical SFR stories are set.  That one is a departure for me, but the same elements of community and a need for “home” are still part of the story.

Why do I write what I do?  I once thought I wanted to be a science fiction writer.  But the story I was writing just wasn’t working as straight SF.  I couldn’t get beyond the basic idea—that a woman out late at night loses three hours and gets home to find her house in flames and her children dead in the fire.  Her quest to find what had happened to her in that three hours was the kernel of the story, but something else was needed to propel it. 

Then one day I was standing in the grocery line and saw a dramatic cover for Karen Marie Moning’s Kiss of the Highlander, a time travel romance.  I learned two things right away.  Covers are important!  And there’s such a thing as time travel romance!  Later that night I learned something else.  Romance is addictive!  I went right out and bought all the Karen Marie Moning books I could find.

Within days that SF story had turned into a science fiction romance novel—Unchained Memory.  Asia, my tormented heroine, found Ethan, an equally tormented hero, to help her in her quest, and the story suddenly made sense.  And I realized I’d been writing SFR all along, in the four STAR TREK fanfic novels and seven short stories I’d written years before.  It was Fate.

How does my writing process work?  Well, looks like I might be the plotter of the group.  I almost always start with the characters.  They come to me first, with a history and a look which I just have to discover.  I may have a scene that pops in my head to start with—like that lonely road where Asia first wakes up in the prologue to Unchained Memory.  But before I ever start writing, I sketch out the main characters in a Notes file on the computer. This gives me an idea of what their motivations and goals might be. I sketch out a rough outline of the plot, too, like a very broad synopsis.  Conflicts are identified this way (or the lack of them!).  

But just because I do this doesn’t mean things can’t change along the way.  Ideas, characters, plot complications all emerge from the process of writing.  You may discover you need a better villain, or a minor character may hijack the book and lead you in a whole new direction.  That’s okay—it’s your subconscious, your intuition doing its job.

I write and revise as I go, revising the previous day’s work as the start of the new day’s session.  Then when I finish the “first” draft, I go over the whole thing again before I let anyone else see it.  The manuscript goes to my critique partner, Linda, next, who is exceptional at pointing out inconsistencies in character, holes in the plot or problems of pacing.  If I can snag Laurie or Sharon (rare these days, ‘cuz they’re so busy!), I’ll ask them for a read after those revisions are done.  They’ll be looking for consistency with SFR conventions, bad science and, ahem, bad grammar!  (Typos, those are typos!)

If I haven’t discouraged you by now, you must really want to be a writer!  Believe me, it’s not something we choose. Writing chooses us.  And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a match made in heaven.

Cheers, Donna



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop - Pippa's Journal

So, on Monday Laurie posted her four answers about her writing process as part of a special blog hop, and now it's my turn. Bwahahaaa! :P I was invited to take part by Laurie A. Green - three-time RWA® Golden Heart® finalist and science fiction romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers, which now totals over 300 members.

What am I working on? Right now I'm absolutely drowning in edits. And mostly on a super secret project. If I told you about that I'd have to kill you. Or at least hold you prisoner until it's done. All I can tell you is it's a SciFi romance novel that I'm planning to self publish, and hopefully the first of five. I also have pre-edits on two novellas. One is a SciFi romance with a succubi-like assassin forced to impersonate her sister clone to negotiate a tricky intergalactic treaty with an alien race that despises humanity. The other is a YA paranormal story with zombies, set in Louisiana. The last is totally out of my comfort zone, but I feel trying new genres/methods etc is a good way to challenge yourself and keep it fresh. I'm also releasing a cyberpunk short story on Monday and I'm waiting on edits for a paranormal short I'm releasing in October.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, I like to blend other genres into one another, or at least different elements. And I try to put odd twists in too. A touch of fantasy and paranormal into my SciFi. Underused mythical creatures. Redefining well known monsters. I also try to hit people with an ending they might not expect. There's nothing I love more than a twist that has people wondering what the heck I just did to them. Bwahahaa!

Why do I write what I do? They say write the story you want to read, so I did. Repeatedly. I don't try to write to a trend or what's hot right now. Just the story that's in my head. That's what makes me happy and why I write at all. Sometimes it takes me to somewhere completely different and leaves me doubting my sanity... Mostly scifi because that's the genre I love most, although I've now written two paranormal pieces. But give me a lightsaber over a wand any day.

Finally, how does my writing process work? It's pretty chaotic, but it works for me. I don't plot and I don't write linearly. That probably sounds like a disaster, but that's how my mind works. I have one or more scenes in my head that I write down - often that is or includes the opening scene, but not always. Those are the bones of my story. Then I go back and join them up. This can mean by the end I have to chop sections out and move them around (I once had to print off a story and literally take a pair of scissors to it, then stick it back together to be sure the timeline wasn't messed up!) but as yet I've never had someone throw a story back as too confusing.

Next up on the blog, the awesome Donna S. Frelick - Romance at the Edge of Space and Time

Monday, March 24, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

Today I'm participating in a Writing Process Blog Hop. I was invited to the dance by the wonderful Arlene Hittle, a fellow Starcatcher/2011 Golden Heart finalist, author of a baseball romance series including Beauty and the Ballplayer and Diva in the Dugout (luvluvluv those titles). As a matter of fact, I believe Beauty just released last Thursday from Turquoise Press. Congratulations, Arlene! Arlene blogs on her web site. That link should take you directly to her Writing Process Blog Hop post.

So on with the Hop! I have some questions to answer.

What am I working on?

Right now, I'm developing three short stories--all Science Fiction Romance (but of course). All are related to my Draxian Universe series, although the threads are a bit nebulous. One takes place 50,000 years in the future, one a mere 1,500 years after the final book, and the last just a few decades after the close of the final book in the six book series.

The first is titled The Shell and The Star, about two individuals from different sides of an environmental catastrophe who must face the truth about their roots even in the face of exile by their peer races. I call it an Evolutionary Romeo and Juliet.

The second is Silo 9, and it's about one of a handful of breadbasket planets--called Silos--that are dedicated to growing enough food for a human race in the midst of a population explosion. When an alien species threatens to overrun Silo 9, the planetary General Manager and a female General Officer engage in a desperate power struggle over the defense of Silo 9 against an alien swarm bent on destroying it. (And, darn it, I'm going to have to find a new title due to the WOOL series having a related novel called Silo 49).


The last is Farewell Andromeda, about Captain Tijarra  Bell, an independent deep space pilot and the famous astronomer she encounters on Andromeda Station, a remote outpost/observatory on the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy. She soon learns Dr. Dante Drake is often not the man he portrays himself to be, and the root of that secret will cause her to make choices--reckless choices--she swore she'd never make.

All three stories share a theme of Romance Against All Odds.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

If we're talking about Romance as a whole, the Science Fiction part of the equation makes my work very different from most of my other peers'. SFR requires an element of technology--or the sciences--to be interwoven in the plot and contribute a crucial component to the romantic elements. All the parts have to contribute to the whole, it can't simply be a romance with futuristic window-dressing.

As far as how my work is different than my SFR peers? That's a little tougher to explain, but I think it's that although my stories that are set in the future, all are based on a single "What If..." from the distant past. That in itself is hardly an unusual concept in SF or SFR, but what each author does with it and the spin we put on it is what steers SFR away from any danger of falling into a cookie-cutter scenario. SFR is all about imaginative storytelling, and ranging from Space Opera to Steampunk to Apocalyptic Romance, it's probably one of the most diverse genres in the romance cosmos.

Why do I write what I do?

I've always been fascinated by the stars, by the allure of space, by the excitement of space exploration and maybe at the heart of it all, the spirit of discovery and adventure. When I wrote the introduction for my web site, I dug deep to examine the real root of that question and this is how I summarized it:

Ever since I was very young, I’ve been spellbound by the mystery of space. On warm summer nights I would lie on my back in the cool grass and stare up at the star-sprinkled eternity with a deep sense of wonder. I’d ponder the shadows of the Moon. Hold my breath in awe at the brilliance of a shooting star. Be captivated by the slow dance of the constellations across the heavens. I’d ask myself, what’s out there? What discoveries? What adventures? What surprises?

I’ve always longed to go seek out those answers. But I knew, too, that the universe could be an empty, lonely place, if we made the trek alone. Every journey is as much about who we take with us as what we find. There is as much to discover in each other as there is among a trillion stars. Exploration is truly a journey of the heart as well as the mind.

This is the soul of my work. Whether the story is set on a distant Goldilocks planet, an alternate present or a troubling future, it is as much about the unstoppable power of love as it is about the paradoxes of time and space.

Finally, how does my writing process work?

I call it Chaos Theory. I'm an extreme pantser. A story starts in my head, generally with the seed of an idea. Maybe something I dream, or observe, or read starts taking shape in my thoughts. That idea expands and characters manifest who are active participants in The Idea. By the time I type out the first words, I  have a pretty good plan in my head where the story is going and what it's about.

I can't outline. It simply kills my creative process. Once upon a time I wrote scenes and passages of dialogue and basic plot elements in the order that inspiration hit me, and then strung them all together by writing bridge scenes. That method often resulted in writing myself into corners.

I've gotten more disciplined in recent years after attending workshops and talking to other writers about their process (a nod to my fabulous cobloggers, as well as Robin Perini, Lisa Shearin, and Paula Paul, whose ideas helped me create something that at least resembles an orderly writing process). Now I try to write the blurb and synopsis early on to help me nail down the direction and theme, then I write (more or less) chronologically. As the Ghosts of  Future Scenes pop up, I jot them down them down as "loose notes" on anything handy at the moment--notebook, sticky note, cocktail napkin, page ripped out of my checkbook register--and collect all these little pieces in a Loose Notes file. When I reach that part of the story--voila!--I read through my notes to re-spark the inspiration for the scene. Capturing those powerful ideas at the moment of inspiration is important because it's often a fleeting state of mind.

Thanks for tuning in to my Writing Process Blog Hop.

Following me to talk about their own writing processes will be my multi-talented co-bloggers:

Pippa Jay - Author of Science Fiction with a Romantic Soul

Donna S. Frelick - Romance at the Edge of Space and Time

Friday, March 21, 2014

ARE WE THERE YET? OR HOW TO GET FROM EARTH TO ANTARES IN FIVE EASY JUMPS

Getting from here to there ain't easy.


Space . . . the final frontier.  Yes, and therein lies the problem.  

Space is big.  Almost infinitely big.  So huge and empty and forbidding we mewling little humans can scarcely wrap our tiny brains around the concept of it.  Carl Sagan’s famous “billions upon billions of stars” comment?  Gross understatement!  Try “billions upon billions” of galaxies! (And, thank you Neil DeGrasse Tyson for reminding us of our piddling place in the cosmos!)

It’s almost enough to make a science fiction romance writer give up in despair.  How the heck do we get around an area so vast, even if we confine our perambulations to our home galaxy?  We can set our stories in the future, when new technologies have presumably been invented, but how do we get around that pesky Einsteinian rule that nothing goes faster than the speed of light—and even at the speed of light it takes way too long to get anywhere?

Let me say right up front that I’m no scientist.  I had to use a study group to get through astronomy in college.  I just love the ideas of science.  Once you start in with the math and the formulae and the explanations, you lose me.  On the one hand, that’s a handicap.  I’ll never write hard SF like Vernor Vinge, dense stuff that could actually start an argument in a physicists’ convention. 
 
On the other hand, I’ll never lose sleep over whether warp drive is a stupid idea or not.  I think it’s brilliant to propose using freely available energy (the harnessed interaction between matter and antimatter) to warp space around a vehicle to propel you on a wave through the galaxy like a needle through bunched fabric.  Evidently millions of others think like me, including a few outlying physicists, who are trying to work the numbers to make it happen.  That’s the beauty of unfettered imagination.

Most SF/SFR writers use some form of hyperdrive or hyperspace to get through the galaxy, meaning the space travelers use wormholes to get around, eliminating huge distances between Point A and Point B.  There are two broad versions of this:  either the spaceship is able to create a wormhole of its own anywhere it wants, to go anywhere it wants, or the ship travels by slower, more conventional power (ion drive or some such) to wormholes already extant throughout the known galaxy (known as gates or nodes or jumps or some variant). 

Hyperspace and jumping through it can have its own unique dangers.  Author Ann Aguirre uses the mode of travel to great advantage, for example, in her Grimspace books, centering on the effects time in that space can have on the pilots who navigate it.  Navigating hyperspace can not only require special training, as in Linnea Sinclair’s Dock Five Series, but also the use of addicting drugs, as in Frank Herbert’s Dune. Or the jump can be just another way to get from here to there, barely mentioned and little explained, as is the case with most SFR.  Similarly, the jump can take no objective time, or a fair amount of it, depending on the author (and the needs of the story).

In my Interstellar Rescue series, good guys and bad both use an existing network of wormholes (“jump nodes”) to get around. Ion drive is used to travel between nodes. The nodes were first mapped by an alien species, the Tularians, victims long ago of others who used the system they discovered to invade and destroy them.  Earth is in the unlucky position of proximity to a jump node that leads to and from the heart of a slave-trading empire eager for workers.

To those in the ships using the nodes, travel appears to be instantaneous, but time does pass within the jump, enough that time itself can be manipulated with intricate adjustment of the matrix that regulates engine speed within the jump.  This manipulation is how the good guys return rescued slaves to Earth at the time they were taken, leaving them with no memory of their abduction.  Unless, of course, something goes wrong, as it does with my heroine in Unchained Memory.

REAL scientists are ROTFLTAO right now, because, of course, nothing can go through a wormhole and come out the other side as anything but a package condensed to the size of a neutron.  Sorry, Mr. and Ms. Scientist, but we don’t care.  Hyperspace and hyperdrive, jump nodes and all the rest work because at least we can wrap our minds around the idea and easily dismiss the big elephant in the middle of the room.  It is what we call a convention, something agreed upon by SF writers and readers alike, a leap of faith we all take when we climb on board the starship that is a science fiction/SFR story.  Just like we all agree to be open to the possibility that other dimensions exist and other planets harbor intelligent, space-faring life and one day we’ll make it to the stars.  Or that true love lasts forever.  

After all, who knows?  Choose to believe it, and some day it just might be true.

Cheers, Donna







Sunday, March 16, 2014

Leaving

One year, ten months, one week.

That's the countdown to my official retirement from what will be a 21-year-plus career in military support. I joke with my coworkers that I gave them my two-year notice, but truth be told I've been counting down the days since early 2010. On a spreadsheet. With formulas. 'Cause that's how I roll.

My workbook tells me as I reach each major milestone--4 years, 3 years, 1000 days, 2 years to go. My next biggie is 700 days remaining.

T-minus 700 and counting. Freedom looms.

I've been thinking of it as my own personal Independence Day. No more clawing my way out of bed at Oh Dark Thirty. No more chugging coffee and spooning breakfast on the run. No more 42 mile commutes dealing with snow, ice, rain, fog, windstorms and maddeningly slow tourists. No more frantic juggling of deadlines and due-outs. Yahoo! Free, free, freeeeeee!

And then I had this dream...

My retirement had finally arrived and I was--not ecstatic, not happy-dancing on my desk, not beaming like a fool--but sad. Filled with a deep, aching sadness. I walked out the glass doors of the lobby for the final time and looked out at the vista of mountains and thought, "I'll never do that again as Laurie Green, employee." As a visitor, maybe, but turning in my credentials and passcards and exiting the building will be a point of no return in my life. My career and professional persona with the government will morph into history. Poof! Gone. No more. The end.

And in my dream, that made me cry.

I think my subconscious was giving me a little wake-up call: "Hellooo. Leaving is not going to be as emancipating as you've been thinking. Leaving is hard on the soul!"

Oh sure, it does have its highlights. It will mean tons more time to pursue my second career as a writer, to work on my online presence, attend trainings and workshops and conferences, and generally grow and (hopefully) blossom in those new endeavors. But for the first time I felt that punch-in-the-gut sense of what it will be like to "close one door and open another."

There's a segment of the Lonesome Dove miniseries entitled Leaving. If you're not familiar with it, it deals with the characters setting out from the tiny town in southern Texas that they have called home for many years. They embark on a great cattle drive to establish one of the first cattle ranches in Montana...2,500 miles to the north. Big dreams.

The chapter explores the characters' roots in the town of Lonesome Dove, the role it's played in their lives, the people and places they're leaving behind, and what has lured them away from the comfort--but stagnancy--of these familiar surroundings. The phrase "You can never go back" is in the subtext of every scene and in the minds of the characters. They sense in their bones that should they ever return to Lonesome Dove, it will not be the same place they are setting out from. (And for at least one character, that premonition rings true.)

While I was still deep in the mulling phase all of this, I saw an interview with one of the potential candidates for the one-way Mars mission. He's now in his 20s and will be in his 40s when it comes time for Leaving. He talked about how he'll never be able to take a walk in the fresh air again, and how he's taken a long time to consider the impact of things he'll never be able to do again once he leaves Earth. He may have the hardest job of Leaving in the history of mankind. But does he still want to go? Yes.

So this overload of Leaving topics got me brainstorming about my work. All characters must face a form of Leaving or there is no story. They may be Leaving a place, another person/s, or even an identity. It may be a deliberate, planned act by the character, an action imposed on them by someone else, or one that happens because of a sudden change or emergency that requires they "Drop what you're doing and leave now!" (to quote Jurassic Park). But at some point--maybe as they are watching their former home (or lover or planet or belief system) fade into memory, they really should be experiencing that gut punch of Leaving.

Have I really dealt with the emotions of Leaving in my stories? Hmmm. I realized it's something I need to take a closer look at during each editing phase. Real people do not pass from one chapter of life to another without carrying some degree of mental baggage along with them. I want my characters to think and act like real people. I want to be sure their emotions are fully explored.

Do you have anything you'd like to add? For writers, have you ever made a special effort to capture a character's feelings about Leaving? As a reader, do you have any favorite stories where you think a character's reaction to Leaving was especially well done? Anyone care to name any titles that delve into the deep subject of Leaving?

LAURIE'S JOURNAL

It's been quite awhile since I've done any real updates on my writer's journey, so this seemed like an opportune time to log a new entry.

PUBLISH OR BUST
Our tax expert tells me that 2014 would be *ahem* a very good time to debut as a published author, so I now have a firm goal to get at least one short story indie-pubbed by the end of the year. I know it's going to be one huge learning curve, but I'm very enthusiastic about taking it on. My recent decision to become a hybrid author plays nicely into the plan.

NEWS!
My agent just let me know we've had a bit of a nibble on my first novel from a big publisher. It's always encouraging to find out there's another iron in the fire that's started to glow. Now to keep blowing on those coals and not holding my breath. :) 

SAN ANTONE, HERE I COME!
This weekend I [finally!] registered for the RWA National Conference in San Antonio and booked my room (and for those of you who haven't yet marked this off your To Do list, suggest you get to it ASAP! Rooms for Tuesday were already SOLD OUT! Yikes!) And the stampede will begin for reelz next week, after the...

GOLDEN HEART/RITA ANNOUNCEMENTS
No horse in the GH race for me again this year--though I was initially planning to enter, life had other ideas--but I can't wait to hear what peers will make the cut. The big day is coming on March 26th, and also marks the fourth SFR Brigade anniversary. It was founded on GHAD (Golden Heart Announcement Day) 2010.

PING PONG
Pippa: So glad to see how 2014 is turning around for you and excited to see the many positive things in the works for your writerly life.

Donna: Fabulous recap on the SF/R shows, and I'm especially jazzed about Cosmos. Seeing more and more SF/R on the event horizon has to be a very good thing, right?

Sharon: So excited about the upcoming release of your second novel--The Ophelia Prophecy--and getting a peek at the revised version of #3--Echo 8. I've been getting goosebumps about both!

Friday, March 14, 2014

'COSMOS' TOPS OFFERINGS ON TV THIS SPRING



'COSMOS': Ship of the Imagination hovers over Earth
Science, science fiction and the paranormal all continue to fascinate on the small screen as we enter another “mini-season” this spring.  And, though the producers of shows like THE 100, still don’t understand SF is not just for teenagers, there are enough new ideas being floated to be encouraging to SF/SFR fans.

The biggest thrill this season will not come from any fictional speculation on our place in the galaxy, though.  For those of us with a jones for anything space, the premiere of the magnificently reimagined COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY on Fox, FX and National Geographic networks is far more exciting than any other new show.  This new take on Carl Sagan’s classic ‘80’s journey through the universe is directed by STAR TREK’s Brannon Braga, produced by Seth McFarlane (!) and  hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a scientist with a style and reputation all his own.  

The first episode certainly lived up to the expectations generated by the COSMOS creative team, with eye-catching visuals and Tyson’s charismatic presence guiding us through the space-and-timeline we’ll be investigating.  There was even a touching personal tribute to Carl Sagan from Tyson, who met him as a teenager. With state-of-the-art graphics and 30 years of new science to play with, the rest of this 13-week series is guaranteed to blow our minds—and to inspire a whole new generation of young science nerds!

The other new show clearly aimed at science (fiction) fans this spring is THE 100, scheduled to debut March 19 on, of course, The CW.  Based on Kass Morgan’s novel of the same name, the show follows a band of juvenile delinquents sent down from an orbiting space station to “explore” an Earth devastated by nuclear holocaust in advance of a recolonization attempt.  Think Lord of the Flies meets, I don’t know, Red Mars.  Of course, according to TV Guide, the action will include the perquisite “parolees battl[ing] one another, hormones and unnamed horrors” on the Earth’s surface, while above in the space station manipulating adults scheme to rule the reclaimed world.  Really.  I’m bored already.  

But, okay, I haven’t seen it yet, and I’ve been surprised before.  See my comments below on the eyebrow-raising turns taken by REVOLUTION and Syfy’s HELIX.
The other two shows of interest this spring —BELIEVE and RESURRECTION—seem to land more squarely on the paranormal side of the continuum, though they may both end up offering a more “rational” explanation for what’s going on.  Both tend in a more spiritual direction and both focus attention in the beginning on young children, but that’s where the similarities end. 

In BELIEVE (Mondays on NBC), a young girl is identified (and tracked from birth by both good guys and bad guys) because of her powers of telekinesis, empathy/telepathy, and possibly more.  In the first episode, the good guys spring a man from death row to be her protector.  At first it seems a classic case of an odd-couple pairing, and the chemistry between the two actors (Johnny Sequoya as the girl, Jake McLaughlin as the inmate) supports their alternately squabbling-and-intrigued relationship.  But there is a reason they are brought together (isn’t there always?), and it’s deeper than the nonstop action implies.

 J.J. Abrams and Alphonso Cuaron are behind this show; it’s worth a watch just to see what two of the most creative minds working onscreen today will do with this premise.

RESURRECTION (Sundays on ABC) offers a slower pace and a more reflective tone, clearly asking questions of a spiritual nature.  When an eight-year-old American boy awakens in a rice paddy in China, he sets in motion a series of events that disrupts the lives of everyone he comes in contact with, including those in his hometown of Arcadia, Missouri.  The boy (Landon Jimenez) is identified as Jacob Langston.  The only problem:  Jacob Langston of Arcadia, Missouri, drowned more than 30 years ago.

Producer Aaron Zelman (DAMAGES) says the resolution of this story will take a while to play out, but that this is not a science fiction story.  “It’s about healing, grief and loss.  Human things.”  (Apparently, Mr. Zelman hasn’t heard that SF can also address these human emotions.)  Okay, so it’s not about alien abduction.  I forgive him.  The pilot was worth watching, and I’ll keep watching for a while.

Meanwhile, several SF shows are continuing along satisfactory courses.  ALMOST HUMAN, although not living up to its initial promise, continues to entertain, thanks mostly to the chemistry between Karl Urban and Michael Ealy.  The tech is still cool, but the plots rarely rise above your basic police procedural, despite the futuristic setting.  I hope the show survives to find its footing.

REVOLUTION started out with a distinctly young-adult skew, but quickly discovered SF is for grown-ups and focused more of its story on the adults in the ensemble.  The plot’s zigs and zags have kept me tuning in for more, and the testy romance between Miles and Elisabeth has been both well-written and convincingly acted.  If you haven’t been following this show, time to Netflix.

Finally, the first episodes of a limited series on Syfy, HELIX, were laughably awful, but somehow the show gained traction around the third episode and has been worth watching ever since.  Thank God for DVR, or I would have dismissed this show out of hand.  I had several episodes backed up and nothing much else to do, so I watched, gradually becoming more engrossed in a story with more and more twisty plot turns. Good guys turned slightly bad; bad guys suddenly started looking good as new, more evil villains appeared (and ain’t that the way of the world!).  What looked like your typical zombies meet THE THING plot has become something much better. Now I don’t know what those things are! Bravo for creator Cameron Porsandeh, who seems to have made something out of nothing.

That’s the report from my TV—what have you been watching?

Cheers, Donna

About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.