Monday, March 19, 2018

Trilogy of Topics--Hawking, Water and PiSA3

Today, I have three different topics to blog about. It's been a busy week!

RIP Stephen Hawking

Renown scientist Stephen Hawking died the morning of March 13, 2018 in his Cambridge home. His death came some 55 years after he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease (ALS) in 1963...and given two years to live. What he accomplished in all those "borrowed years" was nothing short of spectacular.

In that five-and-a-half decade span, he was confined to a wheelchair, lost his ability to speak, wrote 15 books -- including A Brief History of Time, which sold more than 10 million copies -- co-authored a series of children's books with his daughter, guest starred in television series including Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory and as an animated character in The Simpsons, married twice, had three children, and made inestimable contributions to science and physics.

I had the utmost respect for Dr. Hawking, and even wrote a mention of his name into one of my as yet unpublished novels. His loss is a huge blow to science and the universe.

You can read more on this Thursday blog by Greta van der Rol: Unintended Consequences

Rest with the Stars, Stephen Hawking.

The Shape of Water Mini-Review

I'm actually a little stunned by the general lack of buzz in the SFR community about a Science Fiction Romance film nominated for -- and receiving -- an Oscar for Best Picture (plus three other awards). So I had to wonder if the film was actually a true SFR, or if it had been given that tag by the misinformed. Did it really have the required HEA or HFN?

Indeed it did!

Was it a satisfying romance that I could connect to on a very deep level?

Sadly, no.

Upon viewing the film, I'm sorry to say I wasn't entirely thrilled with the story. Although the relationship was sweet and included a couple of sexytimes scenes -- implied or otherwise -- I think it lacked any true chemistry between the mute female lead, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) and the River God/river monster hero (Doug Jones), who's origins in nature and/or science were never explained.

Pluses were the richly detailed very late 50s/early 60s setting, a lavishly noir art-deco-in-decline that provided a wonderful, moody backdrop. But I think it tried too hard to make certain statements, which only served to turn some of the characters, one in particular, into a comic book caricatures. The villain was sadly one-dimensional and completely unsympathetic instead of being portrayed as a well-rounded antagonist with understandable drives and goals. One particular sex scene involving the villain seemed unnecessary and gratuitous, introducing a trivial, implied thread that the film failed to carry through on.

I also thought the reaction of the heroine's close friend, Zelda, to the discovery about her unusual sex life was way too understated and a bit unbelievable. It seemed such a monumental revelation warranted more than just a low chuckle and joking retort, and the abilities of outstanding actress Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) were certainly wasted in this scene.

So sadly, The Shape of Water is not, in my humble opinion, going to be another Avatar in terms of defining what great SFR can be to the general public. It's probably worth a watch, but don't expect it to shake your universe.

I can't comment on the book as I haven't read it, but may check it out to see if it delivers a better emotional experience than the movie.

My rating: Not a definite "Go," but more of a "Watch it if you have time and are so inclined."

P.S. Can I also add that a much better use of your viewing time might be to see the deeply moving Only the Brave -- a thought-provoking and inspiring motion picture (though not SFR or a romance) -- which I blogged about at length last week.

Pets in Space 3 in Coming!

On Friday, the first big announcement of 2018 from the Pets in Space 3 team came out on the SFR Brigade blog. You can read the full announcement by clicking the link in the last sentence, but I wanted to focus on a few exciting tidbits.

First of all, the title! The 2018 edition will be titled:

Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

The Pets in Space 3 collection will feature eleven authors (one less than last year but two more than the original anthology), and several are new to the PISA projects. Among them, you may recognize some well-known names in Science Fiction Romance. Here's the 2018 roster:

 S.E. Smith
Anna Hackett
Ruby Lionsdrake
Veronica Scott
Pauline Baird Jones
Carol Van Natta
Tiffany Roberts
Alexis Glynn Latner
E D Walker
JC Hay
Kyndra Hatch
The authors in bold text are first time contributors to a Pets in Space collection. Only four of the authors, S. E. Smith, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones and Alexis Glynn Latner will be veterans of all three releases.

The anthology will again support the wonderful by donating 10% of the first month's profits to the organization. In the last two years, the PISA collections (which I did take part in) have donated $4,400 to the charity! Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and provides them free of charge to U.S. Veterans. (My special project during the 2016 and 2017 Pets in Space editions was in "adopting" one of these dogs, Hero Dog Mitch, and making separate contributions to his training. Mitch successfully graduated the program on November 5, 2017 and was paired with a U.S. Coast Guard veteran.)

But there's one more thing I wanted to tell you about. Right now, the group is offering a FREE coloring book as a thank you for subscribing to their newsletter. This link to the subscription page will also take you to the Pet in Space website which has more information about the anthology.

In closing, I want to mention that it's almost that day again -- the annual announcement of the RITA and Golden Heart Finalists for 2018.

This is a major event for hundreds of aspiring and published authors when they anxiously await the phone call or email telling them they are a finalist, and have a shot at one of the two most prestigious awards in the Romance industry.

I remember a couple of years where I took the day off from work, cleared my schedule and waited, ears tuned to the phone for "the call" to come in. Happily, I got those calls in two out of three years I entered -- and twice in 2011! -- and they each began a whirlwind, runaway-train experience known as the Golden Heart Awards, and the formation of my two GH classes--the 2011 Starcatchers and the 2012 Firebirds. I'll never forget those crazy, heady times!

From the RWA website:

March 21, 2018
E-mails and phone calls to notify finalists will commence.
Release of official finalist list on RWA's website by 2 p.m. CT.

If you're entered this year--good for you, best wishes, much luck!

And finally, today marks a big anniversary! It's hard to believe the SFR Brigade is now eight years old! When I originally started the group, I was hoping there were at least 50 other writers and authors of science fiction romance out there. In the first 30 days we acquired over 100 members!

Today, the Facebook group numbers over 1,230 members and the Fanpage has over 1,700 likes. The spirit of the Brigade seems alive and well. Happy Eighth Anniversary, Brigaders.

Have a great announcement and anniversary week!


  1. Have to agree with you on THE SHAPE OF WATER, but for a few different reasons. I thought the ending was too ambiguous to be truly HEA/HFN. It's hard to know, really, what del Toro was trying to say there. I agree with you that the "hero" was much too vaguely drawn to be a real character. I think that was deliberate. To me this was the heroine's fantasy, so his true character wasn't really important. Del Toro himself calls the film a fantasy, not SF, and it seems more like that to me. There was a long discussion of the film on the FF&P forum, but I didn't jump in. Seems like folks didn't have much historic context, if you know what I mean.

  2. Interesting, Donna. I missed all the big discussions. I definitely missed the FF&P discussion since I wasn't (at that time) a member. (That changed yesterday. I R now a member again.) I do agree on the ambiguity, although I *think* a happily ever after was somewhat implied, especially in the voice over.

    Regardless, it was an interesting movie, for sure. And probably worth a watch for SFR fans, though as you mentioned it's a lot heavier on the fantasy than the SF aspects.

  3. In the trailer for The Shape of Water the alien looks just like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. It's not one I'll be watching

  4. That was one of my first thoughts. I think there was a definite resemblance.


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