Monday, September 28, 2020

We're in the Final Countdown!

I've been sharing news and previews all year, but now I'm super excited that release day for Pets in Space® 5 is next week. Next week! 

Tuesday, October 6th! 

This anthology has been firming up over the last year-- and what a year it's been? KnowwhatImean? We can't wait to "unleash" this latest Pets in Space® collection on the universe. (See what I did there?)

Today I'm going to share my impressions of one of my peers' stories, because now that I have my advanced copy, my read-through of the collection (which, by the way, is massive!) has begun. I can tell you right off the bat that this volume is looking to be ah-maz-ing!

Here's my take on one of the stories and more information on the other works in the volume to give you a closer glimpse at the collection.

GALACTIC SEARCH AND RESCUE
Central Galactic Concordance Series
By Carol Van Natta

Rescuers Taz and Rylando can’t let their forbidden attraction get in the way of saving lives. When a planetary disaster turns deadly, can they save an entire town... and each other?

Subcaptain Taz Correa, telekinetic talent and first-responder in the military’s underfunded and overworked Galactic Search and Rescue division, hides her unprofessional attraction for teammate Rylando and his unorthodox team of animal assistants. When catastrophe strikes a politically important town, Taz, Rylando, and his animals are the only rescuers left to respond.

Subcaptain Rylando Dalroinn loves his telepathic connection to his animals, but wants a heart connection with teammate Taz. Unfortunately, not only is it against the rules, but he doesn’t know how to tell her. And in GSAR, rescue missions always come first.

Kaz lives her worst nightmare when trapped underground with the animals in a hidden room set to blow sky high. Everything Rylando loves is in peril, and now he’s at the mercy of people who aren’t just victims.

If Taz, Rylando, and the animals can’t find their way to save each other fast and neutralize the threat, the whole town will become a disaster statistic.

I decided to read this story first because I was intrigued by the rescue team aspects (especially involving K-9 and OtherCreatures-9 team members) and pseudo-military details that I tend to relate to.

I found the world-building and situation-related politics in this high-risk rescue mission very detailed and realistic. The scenes involving their work were wonderfully detailed without sacrificing the pace, and the team makes use of some extremely sophisticated future tech. 

The rescue team at the center of the story involves two characters that are very relatable and authentic in their thoughts and actions, as well as the other members of their team--one human and an array of clever, talented, well-trained--not to mention lovable--creatures (and by lovable, I mean you just want to throw your arms around them and hug them to pieces) who work with them. In spite of their competence they have been dropped into a situation that is impossible, at best, as forces of corruption, greed, animosity and other undisclosed motivations--as well as nature itself--threaten to bring them down.

I can't wait to dive into all the other stories! 

Here's a quick run down of what's in store in the eleven other Pets in Space stories. 


THE KING’S QUEST
Dragon Lords of Valdier Series Short Story
by S.E. Smith

A playful trick leads to love for a Goddess, but will the King she falls in love with accept her for who she really is? 


DARK AMBITIONS
A Class 5 Novella
By Michelle Diener

When a planetary exploration trip takes a dangerous turn, a human woman and her powerful AI friend will need all their skills to come to the rescue.


STAR CRUISE: RETURN VOYAGE
The Sectors SF Romance Series
By Veronica Scott

She survived the worst interstellar shipping disaster in history as a child but can she survive the RETURN VOYAGE as an adult?


GENERAL’S HOLIDAY
Project Enterprise Series
By Pauline Baird Jones

A General is ready for another fight—this time for the woman he loves.

JUGGERNAUT
The Inherited Stars Series
By Laurie A. Green

A security commander must decide if she can trust a mysterious stranger and his bioengineered StarDog when the secret underground site she protects is threatened.

REAPER
Xian Warriors Series
By Regine Abel

With time running out, a woman accepts her fate only to find hope in the genetically engineered warrior created by her captors.

PASTFINDERS
Starways Series
By Alexis Glynn Latner

A woman’s psychic gift might be the catalyst needed to save the life of the man she loves—in an ancient archaeological site that contains a stupendous discovery.

MITTENS NOT INCLUDED
TriSystems: Smugglers Series
By JC Hay

He craved order and discipline to help his life make sense. She offered him cats instead.

FINDING MOGHA
Before The Fall Series
By Kyndra Hatch

A human’s effort to save a sentient being takes her straight into the path of a Korthan warrior.

RATE OF RETURN
The Department of Homeworld Security Series
By Cassandra Chandler

Falling for an Earthling sends an alien and his adorable, six-legged pet in a tailspin.

GLITCH
Crashland Colony Romance Series
By Leslie Chase

An alien pirate and a human find love in the shadow of disaster.


I'll be posting further story commentary on my website blog in the coming week if you want to read the follow-ups there: Laurie A. Green - Escape to the Stars

Pets in Space® 5 is supporting Hero Dogs!

Please remember our charity, because 10% of the royalties for all pre-orders and the first month's sales will go to support Hero-Dogs. This organization raises, trains and places--free of charge--service animals with disabled veterans and first responders to improve their quality of life. 

Our anthology is all about how pets can enrich the lives of our characters, but can you imagine what a difference a real life service dog and trusted companion can make in the lives of those who have sacrificed to serve their country and communities?

This is your chance to make a difference and enjoy several great reads in the bargain. 

You can pre-order Pets in Space® 5 now so you're one of the first to get it on release day and have your purchase count for Hero Dogs! You can read more and find all vendor links on the Pets in Space website << by clicking here.

Have a great week!





Friday, September 25, 2020

YOUR RIGHT, YOUR DUTY--VOTE!

My husband had one of our infrequent talks with our almost 19-year-old grandson this week. Our oldest daughter’s son gives us lots to be proud of: He’s on his own in the world, working full-time as the assistant manager of an auto parts store; he’s smart, he’s funny, he’s caring.

But when my hubby asked him whether he was registered and had a plan to vote in the upcoming election, our normally intelligent grandson answered that voting was “against my principles.” When pressed he would only say that he had a “philosophy” of his own that did not include participation in an organized governmental process—or some such. Libertarianism? Anarchy? Who knows?

All I could think was, where did we go wrong? And by “we” I mean not only his family but also his school, his community and all the influences in his life. How could we not give this intelligent young man the tools to understand the most fundamental right and responsibility of the democratic republic in which he lives: his duty to select the men and women who will decide the policies, laws and direction of the government by casting a vote? How could we have given him the impression that not only is a vote not important, but that government itself is not necessary?

This young man seems to think he can live his life completely distanced from the political process—and he is certainly not the only one who thinks this. He believes the political process doesn’t affect him, and, conversely, that nothing he does can affect the process.

Not that I’m unfamiliar with this mindset. My family, with the exception of my grandfather, who was a union coal miner in West Virginia and thus a Democrat, was apolitical when I was growing up. My single mother never voted, never paid attention to the news, though sure as hell it mattered to her life who sat in the White House, the Congress, the Governor’s Mansion, the Mayor’s Office. She just didn’t realize it until she had to call on her Congressman to resolve an issue (which she did—twice).

But as far back as I can remember, the political was always personal for me. I can still recall watching my first presidential nominating convention (for Kennedy, in 1960) on a tiny black-and- white television. I was seven. I’ve voted in every election since I got the vote at age 18, even voting absentee when I was overseas in the Peace Corps. I plan to vote early in person this year, to make sure my vote counts despite the threat of long lines at the polls and potential screw-ups with mail-in voting.


You can imagine I’m tearing my hair out at my grandson’s attitude. So, for him and for anyone like him who somehow thinks their vote doesn’t count, or that government is an unnecessary impediment to personal freedom, I have a few things to say.

First, from Thomas Hobbes: Without the “social contract” (ie. government of some sort) life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” –The Leviathan, 1651.

Combine this with John Donne’s “no man is an island,” and you get the message loud and clear. Humans aren’t meant to live alone, but when we live in groups, we need rules to get along. That means structures, like the three branches of our government, and ruling documents, like our Constitution.

Second, from Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” This one is attributed to the 18th Century Irish politician, but no one knows if he actually said it. Doesn’t matter, it’s brilliant. You can’t hide in your little life (your job, your apartment, your farm or ranch or little acre of paradise) while the world burns around you. The wildfire, the hurricane, the plague, the jackboots will eventually come for you. You can only hope someone will still be around to help you after you’ve left your neighbors on their own.

Third, I highly recommend a sobering but essential piece of nonfiction literature, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer. I read this piece of courageous historical reporting when I was about my grandson’s age, and it had a profound effect on me. Shirer spent years in Nazi Germany reporting on the political rise of Hitler and the outbreak of World War II as a correspondent for the Hearst Newspapers and CBS News. He saw firsthand what happens when a once-democratic people give up their responsibility for governing themselves and fall prey to authoritarian appeals to “law and order,” racism and uncontrolled nationalism. Just read the book; I won’t have to draw any conclusions for you.

And finally, make a plan to vote now and follow through. Do your duty as a citizen of this country. Vote in person if you can, but if you can’t, vote absentee by mail (absentee voting is already underway in most states). Don’t let anything deter you. Your government belongs to you, but only if you take the responsibility that is yours.

A voter for 49 years,

Donna

Monday, September 21, 2020

At Last! DUNE, Done Right!

Of course I don't really know for sure (yet) that they got this epic science fiction masterpiece right in a motion picture format for the first time in, well, history...but if the trailer gives any indication, fans, we're in for a total sci-fi phenomenon.

See for yourself. (And listen closely for that epic soundtrack. You might just have heard it before.)

It's all there. All the epic feels. The cinematography. The sense of struggle against impossible odds and destiny with a glistening edge. This brought the same visual imagery that I imagined in my head decades ago when I first read the series anchor novel by the late Frank Herbert. 

And much of this was shot with actual sets--not bluescreen!--to add to the realism and tangible sense of place. 

And that soundtrack I mentioned? Yeah, that's Pink Floyd's Eclipse. Like I said. Epic.

But these glowing first thoughts come with just a hint of reservation. There have been many, many years and two less-than-stellar attempts to capture the essence that is Dune on the big and small screen and both, in my humble opinion, fell far short of the goal. 

This trailer gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, they finally did it.


If you're interested in what the (freaking stellar) cast has to say, you can view this interview with the main actors conducted by Stephen Colbert below. (Unfortunately, the *bleeping* commercials take a lot away from the continuity, but it's worthwhile to hear their thoughts and emotions about this monumental undertaking, all the same.) While I admit Stephen Colbert is not my favorite television personality, his enthusiasm for Dune in this clip is undeniable and palpable.


Dune is slated to arrive just before Christmas 2020. Definitely a present I wasn't anticipating that will make my 2020 holidays very bright. And it would be so fantastic to see the wreck that is 2020 go out on a truly awesome cinematic note.

What do you think? Excited? Hopeful? Skeptical? Let me know in comments.

Have a great week!




Friday, September 18, 2020

AWAY: BIG NAMES CAN'T HIDE FLAWS

The international crew of Mars-bound Atlas on Away.

As an author of science fiction romance I’m always on the lookout for new television shows that depict character-driven science fiction, focusing on the people, not just the far-out ideas or the futuristic technology. So I was pretty excited when I saw the previews for Netflix’s original series AWAY, starring Oscar-winning actor Hilary Swank (BOYS DON’T CRY, MILLION DOLLAR BABY). The series, which just uploaded its first season on Netflix, follows the fictional drama of the first international crew mission to Mars, a premise that holds plenty of promise.

By setting the show in the near-future, the show’s creators got around a few obstacles, notably the current stumbling block of any trip to Mars—the fact that it’s a one-way trip, since we lack the technology to engineer a return. We also have no permanent base on the moon from which to launch the three-year round-trip. The show assumes we have solved those technical problems and have also achieved the high level of international cooperation which would be required to pool expertise and resources on a combined mission.

Anyway, the Atlas crew is what you’d expect for a mission of this great historical import (and dramatic flair). You have your representatives of the major space-faring nations—the grizzled Russian veteran Misha (Ukrainian Mark Ivanir, with an extensive character-acting resume and several languages to his credit), the tough Chinese astronaut and only other female member of the crew, Lu (Chinese-American actor Vivian Wu), the na├»ve Afro-British botanist and space newbie Kwesi (Ato Essandoh, lately seen in ALTERED CARBON) and the dewy-eyed Indian physician/second-in-command Ram (British actor, writer, producer and director Ray Panthaki). All are led by American Commander Emma Green (Swank), who has worked her way through NASA’s astronaut corps to be there.

Now, because this is character-driven SF, we learn quite a bit about the members of the crew as the episodes roll along, many times in flashback, but just as often as each person interacts with their family members back home via video chat or email.

Each of the characters gets an episode, or a significant portion of an episode, to reveal and develop his or her backstory. Some of the episodes are outstanding on an emotional level, particularly “Half the Sky,” which details the relationship between Lu and her secret lover Mei, and “Space Dogs,” in which Misha enlists the entire Atlas crew in helping him produce and perform a Christmas puppet show for his grandchildren via video.

Other attempts to pluck at our heartstrings fail, either because they are shoehorned into genuine scientific/technical crises occurring onboard the ship, or because they aren’t really based in believable emotion. Ram, for example, seems to have developed a crush on his commanding officer. But that emotion has come out of nowhere, not to mention it’s completely inappropriate. Fortunately, Commander Green shuts that nonsense down.

There are legitimate technical emergencies onboard which must be dealt with—the failure to deploy of a solar sail, the breakdown of a crucial water recycling system. But the show seems to use these as an excuse for more relational drama than the kind of scientific problem-solving SF fans are accustomed to.

In fact, the crew bickers, complains and pouts to the point of near-mutiny, leaving one to wonder what the hell has happened to the cool, calm and collected spacers we’re used to from the days of Mercury, Apollo and even the International Space Station.

The problem, as identified by the crew, is Commander Emma Green, and, so far, I’d have to agree with them. Captain James T. Kirk she is not. Green’s leadership style is hesitant, unsure, uninformed, distracted. And did I mention she’s got a shuttle-load of problems going on at home?

AWAY almost lost me in the first episode with its presentation of Green’s character. In that episode we see her as a loving mom who attends her teenage daughter’s soccer games and celebrates small triumphs with her family. We learn her husband, Matt (Josh Charles) is also a member of NASA’s astronaut corps, but he was grounded because of a serious genetic brain disease that makes him prone to strokes. And yet, NASA selects her as the commander of the first manned mission to Mars (unlikely) and she accepts this mission (even more unlikely). This means she will be away from her family for three years, unable to communicate intimately with her husband or teenage daughter, exposed to all the untold and unpredictable dangers of space. But, hey, hell yeah, sign me up!

The central problem here is that the writers didn’t set Green’s character up as a hard case, someone who never had time for her daughter’s games or concerns—which, by the way, is not inconceivable. Lots of busy parents exist out there all points of the gender continuum who can’t be bothered to leave work on time or have family dinners or participate in their kids’ lives. But they chose not to craft the character that way. She was supposed to be an ambitious astronaut with dreams of going to Mars and an involved, caring mom. Somehow, the writers didn’t see that three-year gap in the middle of her daughter’s high school life as a problem. As the mother of two daughters myself, I couldn’t help but view it as a disaster waiting to happen.

Then, of course, there is Green’s husband, whose brain disease acts up just as the Atlas crew prepares to launch from the moon to Mars, leaving him paralyzed on one side from a stroke. What woman would continue the mission under those circumstances? Who could leave their paralyzed husband and 15-year-old daughter at home and go off for three years with the very real possibility she wasn’t coming home at all? If NASA would even allow her to continue as commander under those conditions?

At the very least NASA would insist any crew members selected for this dangerous three-year mission would have a strong family backup system at home. Commander Green does not meet even that basic minimum. She leaves her husband and daughter on their own, with no grandparents or aunts and uncles and cousins but only a family friend as backup.

And the situation at home very obviously affects Green’s decision-making ability on Atlas. This is because the writers want it to, of course, not because it necessarily would in real life. But it demonstrates a weakness in the character they have created. Is Commander Green a sensitive, emotional type, in which case she should have stayed home? Or is she a clear-thinking, hard-driving astronaut commander, in which case she might have gone ahead, but wouldn’t have let things at home distract her to the extent they have on the show. This is a big flaw with AWAY, in my opinion, one they’d better fix before Season Two, if they hope to improve on the dismal 6.5 rating they’ve currently earned on Imdb. And, even more, if they hope to keep this science fiction fan watching.

Cheers, Donna

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A handful of screen offerings

 

As the days shorten in the Northern Hemisphere, people's thoughts seem to lean toward indoor activities, such as watching movies.  Or at least, that was what used to happen before covid-19. These days I suppose indoor activities are the norm. for many people.

There are a few interesting offerings for science fiction fans.

I'm looking forward to season two of The Mandalorian.


Then there's a new version of Frank Herbert's classic SF Dune. I have high hopes for this one. I was seriously unimpressed with the 1984 movie (Sting was in it) and although I didn't mind the first episode of the mini-series with John Hurt, I quickly ran out of steam with that one, too.


This next one I happened across by accident, one of those titles listed down the right side of the screen when you watch YouTube. It piqued my interest. Books and movies are always throwing up possibilities for new stories. A minor character might end up getting his own story. Admiral Philip Guthrie in Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five series comes to mind. Or you might read something in a novel and find yourself wondering how that happened? In my Morgan's Choice, Admiral Ravindra has a tattoo, something men of his class just don't have. I turned that into a short story (Ink).

Back to YouTube. I noticed a short film entitled Birth of a Monster – a Star Wars story. Half the fun of this one was trying to work out how it fitted into the Star Wars universe. I won't spoil it by telling you – if you've watched the original trilogy, you should be able to work it out. It's about twenty minutes long.


It adds depth and understanding to an otherwise puzzling scene.

 

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.