Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Five: Best of Online Pumpkin Carving

Since this particular Friday is Halloween, I did an Online Pumpkin Carving Contrest and these are my top five choices.

Loved the Ghouls. Awesome! That one wins the Most Creepy Crown. (See the note at the bottom of this post.)

The Creature From the Black Lagoon wins the Most Commercial Award.

Brain-eeeee!-ACK wins the Carving Genious Award.

The Headless Horseman wins the Traditional Theme Award.

And, last but not least, The Death Star wins our most prestigious award for The Best Use of Science Fiction on a Pumpkin.

Enjoy your Halloween!!!!

BTW, the ghouls pumpkin came from this website, and I hate to sound like a fangurl but this site has some freakin' awesome photography. Check it out!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hubble Transmission a Perfect 10

A glitch with the Hubble Space Telescope has been corrected, and the transmitted photo of the aftermath of two galaxies colliding to form what looks like a "Perfect 10."

The Hubble was brought back online two days ago and aimed its primary camera--the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2)--at these colliding galaxies named Arp 17.

Scientists hope the Hubble will now be in operation through 2013.

Scariest Science Fiction Movies of All Time

Over on the Toasted Scimitar, there's a countdown of the top eight (ssemed like fitting number) Scariest Science Fiction Movies of All Time with links to trailers.

Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Love Your Blog Award

Frances of Frances Writes blog recently endowed Spacefreighters Lounge with an I Love Your Blog Award. I'm so honored. Now, it's time to give back to others.

The rules for this Award are:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

I'll be reviewing my list of favorites so I can post my nominees as soon as possible. :)

Space Savvy

The Mercury Program Part 2

A continuing series on the history of the NASA program.

Scott Carpenter was the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space. He is also one of the two surviving Mercury Seven along with John Glenn. He may be lucky to be alive at all.

After the Freedom 7, Liberty Bell 7 and Friendship 7 came Scott Carpenter's spacecraft named _______________.

1. Rainbow 7
2. Jupiter 7
3. Venus 7
4. Aurora 7
5. Pluto 7

The answer is 4. Aurora 7 on May 24, 1962. His flight lasted five hours and his craft attained a maximum altitude of 164 miles and an orbital velocity of 17,532 miles per hour. He identified the mysterious fireflies reported by astronaut John Glenn as small particles of frozen liquid which he nicknamed "frostflies."

Scott Carpenter's flight was very controversial. Some reports claim he was so taken with the view that he used up much of his fuel moving his craft around to sightsee. As a result, it was unknown if he had enough fuel available for re-entry. For the first time, conflicts developed between Mission Control and the astronaut. Carpenter had to manually turn the capsule and fire the retrorockets to enter the atmosphere. While mission control waited in tense silence, Scott Carpenter entered radio blackout and lost contact with Mission Control for:

1. 4 minutes

2. 6 minutes

3. 10 minutes

4. 20 minutes

5. 4o minutes

Scott Carpenter was out of contact for 40 minutes. Mission Control feared his craft had entered at the wrong angle and burned up. They were on the verge of declaring the first astronaut had been lost in the space program when he was located in good health. Because of his manual reentry, he splashed down about 250 miles beyond the recovery area. He floated in the Atlantic for three hours awaiting recovery.

Some accounts claim Carpenter's craft had a pitch horizon scanner that malfunctioned, resulting in the overconsumption of fuel and the loss of fuel was not due to his efforts to see the sights.

Carpenter took a leave of absence from the program in late 1963 to train as:

1. a photographer

2. a member of the Sealab

3. a racecar driver

4. an actor

5. an airline pilot

Carpenter trained for the Navy's Sealab program. After injurying his left arm in a motorbike accident, he failed to regain mobility in his arm after two surgeries in 1964 and 1967. He was then ruled ineligible for spaceflight and resigned from NASA in August 1967. He then became the director of Aquanaut Operations for Sealab III.

Walter Schirra was the next astronaut in space. How many orbits did he fly?

1. Six

2. Four

3. Two

4. One

5. He never made orbit

Walter Schirra's Sigma 7 Mercury flight lasted 9 hours, 15 minutes and he completed six orbits of the Earth. Schirra was later in the pilot command seat for both the Gemini 6 and Apollo VII missions.

Gordon Cooper was the final astronaut to fly a Mercury spacecraft in Faith 7. He completed twenty two orbits over the course of 34 hours and 20 minutes, traveled 546,167 statute miles, was the last man to fly solo in Earth orbit and was the first to do what in space?

1. play cards

2. read a book

3. sleep

4. see Venus

5. eat dinner

Gordon Cooper was the first astronaut to sleep in space. Cooper later participated in Gemini flights and captured the top number of man-hours in space by accumulating a total of 225 hours and 15 minutes.

Recap of the Mercury Program Flights:

Alan Shepard - Freedom 7 - launched May 5, 1961, suborbital flight

Gus Grissom - Liberty Bell 7 - launched July 21, 1961, suborbital flight

John Glenn - Friendship 7 - launched February 20, 1962, first orbital flight, 3 orbits

Scott Carpenter - Aurora 7 - launched May 24, 1962, second orbital flight, 3 orbits

Walter Schirra - Sigma 7 - launched October 3, 1962, 6 orbits

Gordon Cooper - Faith 7 - launched May 15, 1963, 22 orbits

Full Names, Ranks and Branch of Service of the Mercury 7:

Lieutenant Malcolm Scott Carpenter, U.S. Navy

Captain LeRoy Gordon Cooper, Jr., U.S. Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel John Herschel Glenn, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps

Lieutenant Commander Walter Marty Schirra, Jr., U.S. Navy

Lieutenant Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., U.S. Navy

Captain Donald Kent Slayton, U.S. Air Force

Next Post in the Series: The Gemini Program

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Surprising Find

NASA astronomers using the Spitzer Telescope have found a triple-ringed star, an asteroid belt and a gas giant like Jupiter in orbits similar to that of our own solar system. In fact, research suggests that the solar system might be a twin to our own.

In a strange case of life possibly imitating art the star is Epsilon Eridani, which was the Vulcan sun in the popular Star Trek series. Epsilon Eridani is only a fifth the age of our own sun at about 850 million years old. It is about 62 trillion miles away, and has the closest known solar system.

Being smaller, dimmer and younger than the sun, Epsilon Eridani's "habitable zone" for Earth-like planets would be closer to the star.

Space Savvy: YouTubes

A few YouTube videos of historic moments in space and the Mercury Program related to my last post. Browse YouTube and you can find many more on any subject that interests you.

John Glenn's Friendship 7

Godspeed, John Glenn

Alan Shepard discusses Yuri Gagarin and "The Race"

1962 Mercury Atlas 6 and John Glenn

Mercury Freedom 7 (Over nine minutes of detail on training and flight preparation.)

Yuri Gagarin: First Speech from Space

The Redstone Rocket

Laika: Space Dog

Space Race: Russian Viewpoint

And purely for entertainment value,

What the Star Trek Enterprise Theme Should Have Been

Monday, October 27, 2008

Space Savvy

As part of my ongoing research for a current SciFiRom project, I've been studying the early space program. What I've uncovered is a wealth of valuable information and fascinating trivia. This fundamental and historical knowledge is important to my project, but it's also a great foundation for anyone writing science fiction or futuristic stories.

It occured to me this is something I could share on my blog. That's my inspiration for this week's series of articles: Space Savvy.

The Mercury Program: In The Beginning

The X-15, a rocket plane, played an integral part in research for the space program. It had enough power to take a pilot to the fringes of Earth's atmosphere where they could experience brief moments of weightlessness and look out into the blackness of space. Even so, a vehicle was needed to fly four times its top speed to put a man into orbit. How much horsepower did the X-15 have?

1. 30,000 hp
2. 400,00 hp
3. 6o0,000 hp
4. 900,000 hp
5. 1,000,000 hp

Answer: 3. 600,000 hp, but only rockets had enough speed--over 17,000 mph--and power to boost a space vehicle into orbit, so military rockets were converted for the early space program. These missions were very dangerous because the rockets had been designed to deliver warheads to a target--not human beings into space.

Because of the risks, even stunt men were considered as recruits for the first astronauts. President Eisenhower wanted test pilots. How many of the military's top pilots qualified for positions as the first astronauts?

1. 7
2. 57
3. 110
4. 307
5. 502

Answer: 3. A bit of a trick question--110 qualified, but only seven were selected. There were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Alan Shepard, Walter Schirra, and Deke Slayton. Each brought specific qualities and experience to the program and they became instant celebrities with the media. Scott Carpenter, first scientist astronaut. Gordon Cooper, an exceptional pilot, often considered "the best." John Glenn, a popular Marine pilot. Gus Grissom, contributed engineering savvy and quiet intellect. Alan Shepard was extremely bright. Walter Schirra was very detail-oriented Naval pilot. Deke Slayton, an Air Force pilot "nobody messed with." They were known as the Mercury Seven.

Most of the early mission control crew came from aircraft flight desks, scientists and engineers who knew nothing about rockets or the challenges of launching a man into space. No man had ever survived a vertical blastoff on top of a rocket.

The Mercury Program was extremely challenging because familiar tools and equipment had to be invented or adapted, and all procedures rewritten or invented. Many concepts associated with space travel were foreign, such as:

1. Gravity and G-forces
2. Trajectory and retro-rockets
3. Yaw and pitch
4. G-forces and centrifugal force
5. Ignition and separation

Answer: 2. Trajectory and retrorockets. These concepts are unique to space flight and were new concepts to be grasped in order for experts to plan early missions. Gene Krantz (popular figure from the Apollo 13 movie) developed many of the early mission control procedures.

The first capsule replaced a nuclear warhead on top of a:

1. Redstone missile
2. Titan missile
3. Gemini rocket
4. Mercury booster
5. Solid fuel boosters

Answer: 1. Redstone missiles, which were developed by the Army (not the Navy). Many of the earlier test rockets blew up, flew out of control or had to be destroyed before they could fly or fall back to Earth and cause damage, injuries or death upon impact. The Redstone, known as the Army's "Old Reliable" was the rocket for the first American manned mission into space, and a forerunner for the more powerful Jupiter missile used in later flights.

Who was the first in space?

1. John Glenn
2. Ham
3. Alan Shepard
4. Yuri Gagarin
5. Laika

Answer(s): It depends on your criteria of first what? 5. Laika, a female dog who was sent aboard Sputnik II was the first living being in space, but didn't survive. The first to return alive was 2. Ham, a chimpanzee on an American mission. If you selected 3. Alan Shepard, as the first human in space, sorry, but you're wrong. It was 4. Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who beat Shepard by 20 days. Alan Shepard was the first American in space on May 5, 1961, however his flight only lasted about 20 minutes and reached a sub-orbital height of 116 miles over Earth. 1. John Glenn was the first man to achieve orbit during the next Mercury mission.

How many Americans watched the first launch of Shepard's spacecraft and what was the craft called?

1. 4 million and Friendship 1
2. 15 million and Freedom 1
3. 45 million and Freedom 7
4. 100 million and Friendship 2
5. No one had television back then and Gemini 1

Answer: 3. 45 million and Freedom 7.

What was Alan Shepard's aggravated demand to launch, after several countdown holds?

1. "Drop your coffee and press that ignition button."
2. "Light a fire, boys, and send me up!"
3. "Belay that delay and let's go!"
4. "What's it going to be? Up...or down?"
5. "Let's light this candle!"

Answer: 5. "Let's light this candle!" which was a popular phrase among pilots and flight crew at the time. (It was also prophetic, since rocket fuel developed from candle wax was a later development--see link above.) Alan Shepard's flight answered the question if people would be able to do basic things like swallow or breathe during weightless conditions, and proved man could perform almost any task in space. The excitement of the Freedom 7 flight has never been matched as Alan Shepard answered questions that were complete unknowns at the time.

The astronauts worked in specialty areas as the spacecraft were developed and redesigned. John Glenn worked on control panel design. Gus Grissom championed the explosive bolts that would quickly open the hatch. Ironically, the bolts caused problems later on his flight when they malfunctioned and his space capsule, Liberty Bell 7 with a lot of invaluable data, was sunk and lost. Grissom almost drowned, but was successfully rescued. It was the only craft Grissom ever lost prior to his death in the Apollo program.

After Freedom 7 and Liberty Bell 7, what was the next capsule, named by astronaut John Glenn?

1. Endeavor 3
2. Historic 1
3. Freedom 8
4. Intrepid 8
5. Friendship 7

Answer: 5. Friendship 7. John Glenn was a fighter pilot during the Korean war who had three aircraft nearly shot out from under him, but managed to get them back safely. A lot of confidence was put in his talent as a cool-headed pilot to get his craft home safely from the first orbital flight. His Friendship 7 spacecraft was launched by the larger Atlas rocket and his historic orbital flight was considered the greatest adventure of the 21st century, and helped America catch up in race with Russia.

John Glenn said "the view is tremendous" and nothing could compare to seeing the curvature of the Earth or entire nations at a glance. He also proved swallowing and breathing would not present a problem during extended Zero G (weightless) conditions. Mission Control dealt with its first possible crisis in space when indicators reported his heat shield was loose and his capsule might burn up in re-entry. They recommended he leave his retrorocket pack in place during re-entry hoping the straps would hold the heat shield in place, however the straps burned off during firing of the retros. Glenn wasn't informed of the possible condition of his craft, because there was nothing he could do about it. The heat shield, however, was not loose and it was later learned the micro-switch indicator reporting the problem was defective. His mission was a resounding success.

What causes radio blackout during re-entry?

1. Excessive heat
2. Extreme velocity
3. The sound barrier
4. Ionized plasma
5. Flames

Answer: 4. Ionized plasma generated by the velocity of the craft during re-entry builds up around the craft which causes the blackout of communications.

President Kennedy was a major supporter of the space program and reaching the Moon. What words completed his quote regarding the space program? "We have a long way to go in the space race...but this is _____________."

1. the most important goal...
2. the new ocean...
3. the future of America...
4. the next great challenge...
5. not worth the cost...

Answer: 2. President Kennedy described the exploration of space as "the new ocean." In a speech in 1962, he said, "We have a long way to go in the space race. We started late. But this is the new ocean, and I believe the United States must sail on it and be in a position second to none."

It was also President Kennedy who set the monumental goal to have an American walk on the Moon before the end of the decade--1970, only eight years in the future. The goal seemed an impossibility at the time that was--to the astonishment of many including those involved in the program--achieved in July 1969. President Kennedy was set on winning the space race.

Next post: More on the Mercury Program

Friday, October 17, 2008

Add This Site to Your Research Links

An Atlas of the Universe. What a find! Every once in awhile I come across a site I just have to share with others interested in all things astronomical.

Take some time to explore the near and far neighborhoods of space from the closest stars and galaxies out to the fringes of the visible universe. Click on each distance section to see more star maps, information on the big bang, cosmic microwaves, classfication of stars, distance scale, etc.

And what a super resource for any Science Fiction writer (or teachers, parents, inquiring minds, et al). Create your own polyhedron skyglobe of the visible universe. It prints out on three standard sheets with instructions on how to cut and fold. You can even select from a choice of light, dark or monochrome.

A truly great resource for any Science Fiction Romance writer who takes their science seriously. Amazing. Enjoy your trip.

An Atlas to the Universe link has been added to our SCI-FI 101 resource list in the sidebar to the right.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Floating Silently...

Sorry for my weekend disappearance. I was under the influence of the dentist on Friday so didn't get to my usual Friday Five post done, and then we were without power most of the weekend because of a rather nasty tornado that wrecked havoc upon the local grid.

Up and running again...knock on wood.

Here's a couple of notes for the week.

Don't miss the post on The Galaxy Express entitled 7 Reasons Men Should Read Science Fiction Romance, and be sure to see all the insightful follow-up comments.

I completed GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre and I'll be working on a review for later this week.

I may have some puppy pics to post, too.

More later...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I've been anxious to get to this one for quite awhile. First impression? Love it.

Instant connect with the female MC and her plight. Intro of what I assume to be the male MC is action-packed both physically and mentally.

The female MC is jaded—not too kickbutt, not too hardened, not too snarky—just jaded. She's genetically enabled to jump a ship through grimspace, a talent that comes with a short longevity on sanity. Her last ship crashed—killing her pilot/lover, Kai—and she was blamed and incarcerated. The powers that be are trying to break her mentally for reasons unknown. When a stranger shows up and attempts to rescue her she's distrustful, but figures dying outside of her cell—and a slim chance of escape—is better than dying inside it. Her rescuer is a pilot, and she is resistant to bonding with him for the jump with Kai so fresh in her memory, but she must to survive.

Love the set up, love the premise. Minor characters are well drawn and nicely fleshed out.

Now to see how it all plays out.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Proto-Dog and Human Subspecies

I just saw a fascinating documentary on Nova that dealt with the evolution of the domestic dog. To summarize, there’s now a theory with some convincing genetic evidence that wolves were not domesticated and bred by man to become dogs over thousands of years, but that they self-evolved almost instantly. That flies in the face of generally accepted theories on evolution, and raises some very interesting questions and premises for Science Fiction.

The documentary offered evidence that all modern dogs are descended from a new species that evolved about 15,000 years ago in Eastern Asia, called Proto-Dog. The new species for all practical purposes “popped” into existence when humans began living in large enough groups to create garbage dumps. Wolves would gather to forage in these garbage dumps and among those wolves were most likely a few that were less afraid of humans and allowed themselves to be approached and captured, or their pups taken and raised. These domesticated wolves became dogs, but it didn’t happen over thousands of years as many believed, it may have happened in just a few generations—perhaps in one human lifetime? How? How did a new species of canine evolve in the mere blink of an eye on the evolutionary scale? The research holds some surprises.

Studies led to research on a group of silver foxes raised for their pelts in Russia in the 1950s. In order to raise foxes that were easier to manage, Russian scientist Dmitri Belyaev conducted experiments where a gloved handler reached into the cages to test the animal’s response. Those foxes that cowered or bit were not selected for breeding. Those that were accepting of the humans were bred. The results? Within a few generations not only was a more docile breed of fox created, but the foxes began exhibiting dog-like appearance, and even their coat colors changed to black and white coat patterns—like some breeds of dogs--instead of the solid dark or smokey coat of this particular breed of fox. They also began behaving very much like a domestic dog and socializing with humans. The hypothesis is that there are genetics links between so-called docile genes and other traits in the DNA and these were expressed when the selected foxes were bred, resulting in almost instantaneous evolution into the dog-foxes, or quite possibly, a new subspecies.

Going back to the spontaneous evolution of wolves, they theorize that once certain wolves were captured and domesticated, then crossed with other “docile gene” mates and producing pup-cubs, the other linked genes began to express themselves in physical change. These docile genes worked like genetic preprogramming. Once conditions were right for domestication, the wolves very rapidly evolved or adapted into a new species better suited to co-exist and co-rely on humans. They also no longer needed to hunt in packs to survive, so physical changes to teeth, jaws, and brains also began occurring at a slower rate along with the docile gene influences. In only a few generations, a breed that was probably very different from wolves existed. Voila. Spontaneous evolution.

In P2PC, my world building involves many different subspecies of humans who evolved with physical differences because of the environments of the planets they settled. I had concerns with this idea because this takes place only 1500 years in our future, and according to accepted theories of evolution, physical changes would require tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years. Now it appears very likely that this would be entirely possible as unknown genetic links come into play in specific gene pools that could cause much faster, more drastic changes. A thousand years to evolve into several subspecies now seems very much within the realm of “suspension of disbelief.”

Want to read more? Check out this link.
How Stuff Works: How Dogs Work--The Evolution of Dogs

Monday, October 6, 2008


(This commentary has been cross-posted on The Toasted Scimitar)

I just finished this SFR and what a dark psychological journey it was. I started reading it once and had to quit. I just couldn't get into to. When I decided to give it another try, it took me by surprise—total hooksville. It's been quite awhile since a book has made me sit back and say "OMG!" out loud and bring real tears at the conclusion, but this one did. Powerful stuff here. I'm going to do this commentary/mini-review (unlike one of my quirky, full-blown reviews) to offer my overall impressions and thoughts.

This book is the sequel to Linnea Sinclair's GABRIEL'S GHOST and follows the continuing story of former court martialed fleet captain Chasidah "Chaz" Bergren and outlaw/heir Gabriel "Sully" Sullivan as they face a monstrous political upheaval and diabolical threat--a floating lab breeding killing machines called jukors. As Captain Bergren, former Pride of the Sixth Fleet, Chaz once pursued Sullivan on the fringes of colonized space trying to apprehend him. After her court martial, Sully (who's supposed to be dead, hence the title) rescues her from a dangerous prison colony and smuggles her away to help him find the beast-breeding lab that's at the root of a political scheme. This is the beginning of their love affair and their covert struggle, and also their conflict, when Chaz discovers Sully is a rare human form of a universally hated telepathic/telekinetic entity.

While Sully travels the path down into a dark place called the Kyi, he grows more powerful in his abilities, at quite a cost. The introduction of "Del" as his alien co-conspirator, instructor-bond brother added a character I was very uncomfortable with in terms of his influence on Sully and his constant sexual pursuit of Chaz. Del is also a contributor to Sully's personality "split" between his human side (Sully) and the side that isn't quite human and at times very frightening (Gabriel).

The sex scenes between Chaz and Sully were frequent and very intense, although not explicit or graphic. It was an emotional intensity fortified by the fact that she could feel his pleasure and he could feel hers through their mental link, and at times the sex reached some very high emotional heat pinnacles.

The author took chances with Gabriel's character and took him places few writers would take an MC. As it turns out, sex is one of the ways Sully increases his power as he "feeds" on emotions. But that need to feed has a very twisted side to it. At one point in the story, Chaz decides to leave Gabriel when she discovers what he's done, and I was right there in her corner. What Gabriel participated in was IMHO beyond redemption and very disturbing, and the author delivered that gut punch in a very artful way. (My OMG moment.) My feeling was "Get the hell outta of there, Chaz, while you still can...and take Philip with you."

Philip is Chaz's ex-spouse, ex-Fleet Admiral and soon to be ex-living soul when he crash lands in their ships' shuttle bay and Del threatens his life to pressure Chaz into sex. I didn't like Philip in Gabriel's Ghost. I thought he was an interfering, overbearing jerk and control freak. In SHADES OF DARK, Philip came through as an absolute doll, accepting of Chaz and Sully's relationship even as he still mourns her loss, and I could completely understand the strong bond Chaz still shared with him. He's the only one totally looking out for Chaz's welfare and concerned for her safety because of the dangers of Sully's fully-phased Kyi self and requirements of his bond with Del. I had no interest at all in reading HOPE'S FOLLY—the next spin-off book due out in 2009 and Philip's story—until I read SHADES OF DARK. Now I'm a huge Philip fan. I'm not so sure how this one left me feeling about Sully, quite honestly.

In the end, Gabriel betrays Chaz in the worst possible way, and then takes steps to redeem himself that results in what is certainly not a complete HEA but probably the best possible resolution under the circumstances. It didn't change what Sully had done but his acknowledgement and deep remorse for crossing the line did bring his human side back into play.

This book may not appeal to those who go for lighter romance content or blissful HEAs, but if you crave a psychological Twilight Zone spiced with sexual and moral dilemmas, you should check this one out.

Don't Miss These Discussions

Here are some cxcellent discussions that may interest Science Fiction Romance readers. Thanks to Heather from The Galaxy Express for the head's up. She participated in both discussions.

Inside the Blogosphere: SF & F Bedroom Antics from Grasping for the Wind

Mind Meld: What's Your Favorite SubGenre of SF and/or F? from SFSignal

Amazing Finds

Setting Evolution on its Ear (Again)

The oldest-known footprints of a creature using legs is believed to have been discovered in rock dated 570 million years old in a site in Nevada that was once a shallow sea.

This could put theories of the earliest organisms that emerged from water to develop lungs and walk back some 30 million years earlier, although the finding is certain to provoke controversy in the scientific community.

The aquatic creature left two parallel rows of "footprints"—actually small 2 millimeter dot impressions in the soft marine sediment.

As reported by Live Science which has now been added to our sidebar of research sites.

Look What the Tide Washed In

Palentologist Jim Westgate was helping clear debris from around a colleague’s home in the wake of Hurricane Ike in Texas when he found a fossilized Columbian Mammoth tooth. He declared the tooth to be his best find in 19 years.

Putting a Number in Perspective

How Much is $700 Billion?

This isn’t political commentary either for or against the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, I don’t do politics on my blog. So consider this merely an education in talking about big, BIG numbers. About grasping the kind of numbers Carl Sagan made famous with his catch phrase “billions and billions of stars.” Speaking in that context, the concept of 700 billion is indeed astronomical.

In the current fiscal year, NASA will launch several missions, pay salaries for hundreds to operate numerous space telescopes, robotic Mars missions and extensive media and public relations. NASA's annual budget is only $17.6 billion, a mere 2.5 per cent of $700 billion.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports research and education on astronomy, chemistry, materials science, computing, engineering, earth sciences, nanoscience and physics at more than 1,900 universities and institutions across the United States. NSF’s budget is $6.06 billion. (I won’t even bother figuring the percentage on that.)

700 billion dollar bills, taped end-to-end, could circle the circumference of the Earth 2,651 times.

There are only 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way is just one of about two dozen galaxies in what is called the Local Group, with a combined total (in two dozen galaxies, mind you) of about 700 billion stars.

If your heart beat 700 billion times during your lifetime, you would live for over 203 centuries or 20,300 years.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Five

Five things I learned about declaring an intergalactic recognition week on my blog.

1) It's a lot of fun.
2) It's a lot of work.
3) SciFiRom fans are the best!
4) Surprises are a guarantee.
5) Kahn gets scratched off the invitation list.

Thank you, everyone who participated, commented, answered interviews, turned the interviews around on me (ha), shared your thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams about the Science Fiction Romance subgenre. To anyone stopping by for the first time, thanks for looking in and please come back soon.

Now please enjoy your weekend and read a great SciFiRom!

*conducts closing ceremony speech*
*flag waving*


Favorite SciFiRom Author Poll Results

The poll has now closed and the SciFiRom author garnering the most votes was:

*suspenseful drumroll*

Linnea Sinclair

Other authors who received votes were:

Lois McMaster Bujold
Sandra McDonald
Susan Grant

Thanks for participating in our Favorite Science Fiction Romance Author poll.

Interview with *Ack!* Me

Well, my some of my interviewees this week turned things around on me and did a boomerang interview. :O *stutters and stammers*, I can fly with that.

So, here it is. An interview with me. :/
(I see you all standing over there by the punch bowl looking amused.)

Q: You’ve developed many complex other-worlds, all with wonderful, fresh romance angles that involve character growth, cool technology, and constant twists and curves. You also blog with such enthusiasm and clear love of the genre. I know you get your inspiration from your family, other authors, but your voice is clearly yours. So, tell us a little bit about your voice.

A: Someone once told me my writing should be invisible, the text so smooth, visual and seamless the reader gets lost in the story and doesn’t realize they’re reading. That’s what I strive for. I also try to keep the prose fresh, have characters that spring surprises and plots that twist on unpredictable paths.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: At about the same time I learned how to spell words. My siblings were all a lot older, we lived in an isolated area and I didn’t have my own television until I was 12, so I started weaving tales for entertainment when I was young. My family just shook their heads and laughed. Laurie and her stories.

I didn’t realize I was any good at it until I got to Junior High. I took a creative writing class and my teacher loved my work. Somewhere I still have my class journal with her handwriting scrawled across the last page. “Laurie, don’t ever stop writing.” I never did. And some days when I feel like I should, I remember what she wrote.

Q: What kind of science inspires you and how do you work it into your stories.

A: I’m not a fan of hard Sci Fi. If you show me a television, I don’t need to know precisely how it works, just tell me what it does and how my characters might use it. That’s the aspect of science that intrigues me. Most of my technology is based on about 50% research and 50% imagination. I don’t honestly know if the propulsion systems in Draxis or P2PC are viable, but I believe in the future they could be. To me, Science Fiction is all about possibilities, not the facts of physics as they are currently understood. I once saw a documentary called “How William Shatner Changed the Universe.” It’s amazing how many scientists were inspired by the things they saw on Star Trek as kids, and decades later, strived to make similar technology a reality. “Impossible” is not a word I comprehend.

Q: You have very intricate world building with obvious ties to ancient civilizations. What civilizations pop up most in your work and inspire you in your world building process.

A: Oh yes, I’m fascinated with ancient Egypt, and anything Minoan, Babylonian, Abyssinian, Olmec, Toltec or Aztec piques my interest. Draxis borrowed elements from many of these cultures (except my characters would tell you these cultures borrowed from Draxis). In P2PC, I drew on the Roman Empire—a culture that championed arts, sciences, music and an enlightened way of life, but at the same time carried on horrific gory spectacles as entertainment. The Ithian Empire has close parallels. Their allies, the Rathskians, blended Spartan and Navajo themes. The description of the slave transports I took directly from the experiences of WWII survivors of the Bataan Death March. What a combination, huh?

Q: Who are your favorite characters and why?

A: Oh, tough one. Of the males, I think Lt. Mitchell Coe is probably my favorite, but that may be because I’m working on that WIP at present or because he’s the most contemporary of my male MCs. Alii’us (Draxis) and Sair (P2PC) are both from very different universes. Timmar, in Draxis, who may or may not be a villain, never fails to throw me a curve and he’s a habitual scene-stealer. He has a fan club trying to convince me he needs to be the MC of the story. LOL

Of the females, Dava Jordon (from P2PC Book 2), hand’s down. She’s a futuristic stormchaser, a gutsy pilot, an adrenalin junky and a survivor of an unthinkable tragedy. She’s a lot like a Tootsie Pop—hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Both her character name and her gungho attitude were inspired by my spouse, David.

Q: Why do you write?

A: Because no one wants to listen to me sing. *laughs* Self-expression has to come out in one form or another. Writing has always been my outlet, my entertainment, and my passion.

Q: Have you had any mentors or writers who've inspired you? Who and what is it about their work that gets your gears turning?

A: Well, the obvious answer is my IPs—Indispensable Peers—who never fail to inspire, motivate, help me brainstorm or give me a good swift kick in the pants when I need one. And they, of course, would be (in alphabetical order) Barbara Elsborg, Dawn Jackson and Arlene Webb.

Many writers on CritiqueCircle have inspired and educated me, especially the Toasted Scimitar gang—Abby Rustad, Ardyth DeBruyn, “Spartezda” and “SkipperZ.”

Going back quite a few years, Paula Paul was a mentor who taught me a lot about professional writing. She’s a local author who published Romance and Cozy Mystery novels, and just published book 23 titled INHERITED SINS.

Sandra McDonald’s debut novel THE OUTBACK STARS really struck a chord with me on so many levels, but anything I read that’s well written fuels my writing afterburners and shifts my muse into hyperdrive.

SFR Meet and Greet

This is our Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Meet and Greet social event being conducted all day, every day of our celebration week. So grab some Science Fiction Romance cake, a bit of Cosmic Comet ice cream, Pinwheel Galaxy punch and have fun!

Post a comment just to say hi, or let us know if you read, write, represent, publish or are a fan of SciFiRom (self-promotion is not only allowed, it's encouraged!). Did you just drop by to see what all the whoopla is about? Great! Have a website? A comment? A question? News to share? A favorite site? A favorite book? A favorite conference? Tell us.

Using advanced blog techno-wizardry (okay, we're going to attempt a little time travel date manipulation experiment), we hope to bring this chat room/party back every morning of our celebration.

Oh, and there just might be some numbers attached to comments for this date in history that results in--dare we say it--prizes? (Hmmm, do you think that was a clue?)

Sound Off about SFR

We've been revelling all week on what's so great about Science Fiction Romance, but there's always room for improvement. I asked for a few comments on what fans aren't so happy about, and boy, did I get them. Here's a Sound Off:

While mental lusting has its merit, I'm all for reining it in as far as science fiction romance is concerned. I think that in the romance genre as a whole, there's an over-reliance on mental lusting for both building sexual tension as well as for character development. Too much of it lapses into telling, not showing. Plus, page after page of it lessens the impact.

I'd love to read more Mundane SF stories, near-future, and alternate history with a romance. Oh, and let's have some alien shape shifters with super superpowers!

I prefer titles that are more SF and less romance-y (e.g., Wicked Hot Intergalactic Lover). Not to be confused with titles that invoke a sense of romantic adventure--those are great.

Do authors and publishing professionals even give a horse’s hiney about what we think? For the love of Spock! Gives us some stories with Heroes and Heroines who are not all Alphas and Kick-Butts, Caucasian-looking, between the ages of 25 and 35, and childless, regardless of how many times they do it against every bulkhead on their spaceship, their perfect pecks and perky boobs (no stretch marks, of course) described in graphic detail. SFR readers love the Fantastic Unknown. Tastes vary, but the only cardinal rule is the ‘Happily Ever After’ ending.

I'd like to see more variety in Science Fiction Romance. I mean, there's a whole universe of possibilities out there. So many have the same elements again and again--pirates, smugglers, princes, princesses. There's a myriad of other occupations, and a broad spectrum of government types that could be incorporated to avoid the rubber stamp feeling so many novels of the genre take on. Also, I get bugged when a novel is labeled as Science Fiction and the author creates a planet full of vampires or werewolves. There's no limit to imaginative possible life forms that could be created, why use the same old tired Fantasy icons?

Thinking green is great, but not when it comes to plots. I have a lot of gripes about recycled ideas. Most of them here: The Great List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches.

Names that are too complex to read and hold in your head, too much world building too early on in the story, not enough sex in them (each to his own!!!). Heroines that are too in your face - too kick ass too much!! You know what I mean? It emasculates the men and diminishes them. Also, plots that are too complicated. I liked THE OUTBACK STARS apart from the magic aboriginal angle thing, but I liked Terry much more than the heroine. I can't remember her name either! I like the softer scifi romance without too much technical stuff. I don't need three pages telling me how a ship works.

I think telepathy is a little overdone. Why do so many stories set in the future have somebody with the power to read minds? I would love to see genuine character interaction without at least one character having the ability to know what the other is thinking.

Is there some universal law in SFR that names have to start with d'something-or-other?

Pet peeves...Sci Fi that isn't original. With all you can do with worldbuilding I hate to see the same ol same ol Star Trek or Star Wars flashback. Beam me up, hyperdrive, cyborgs, anti-grav sex. Please use your imagination and yes sci fi can have fantasy elements, don't be afraid to use them and be creative.

I love fresh world-building and a writer who isn't afraid they might offend. I love writers who don't censor. I don't care if they say F*&#, as long as it's not just to throw in gratuitous cussing. If it truly reflects the characters personality, by all means, give em a potty mouth. I'm a big girl. I also hate books that preach to me, whatever it is the writers belief, personal, political or environmental. It's okay to write about it, sure it makes for great stories, but don't make it an obvious soap box. I also hate when writers hedge sex scenes. If you're going to write romance, don't hedge and shut the doors. I think it kills the tension. I'm not saying they all have to be graphic and dirty, but god don't lead me to the door and slam it in my face. I hear a lot of people say they'd rather not read it, but I'll bet if you get some of them one on one, they'd admit that they actually like it. Stop being a public prude... Write what you want and stop censoring yourselves because you think that all your readers are prudes. Let us make the decisions for ourselves.

Thanks to those who took off their gloves and let us have it straight to the jaw. Sometimes we need to know what's wrong, as well as what's right.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Coming Tomorrow

Tomorrow will be our final day of Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week and we'll have a few fun posts.

First, the Sound Off. I asked a number of SciFiRom fans to dish on what they don't want to see in SciFiRom, or what they think can be improved. And man, did I get feedback. All comments will be posted anonymously and I think you'll find what is said very educational.

Then...a few of my interviewees this week turned the tables on me--Boomerang: surprise!--and had me answer a few interview questions. Wow, too interviews in one week. I think I've used up my allotment for awhile. :) I'll post that tomorrow too.

Our Meet and Greet will warp forward in time for one the last day and then we'll wrap up the celebration with the Friday Five.

Hope to see you then.

And the Winner is...

Well, I've kept you all in suspense long enough and since we don't have a second winner yet, I'll go ahead and announce our one and only.

Jess Granger was the 9th person to post a comment under the Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week Meet and Greet and that made her our winner. Congratulations, Jess.

You'll have your choice of an Amazon or Zazzle gift certificate. Email me at Lgreen2162 AT aol DOT com (yes, that's encrypted to defeat spammer bots) so we can work out the details.

By the way, in trying to hunt down an email address for Jess, I discovered she was a guest blogger yesterday on Ann Aguirre's blog. You might want to check it out here.

Interview with Dawn Jackson

Despite an insane schedule Dawn Jackson graciously agreed to do an interview during Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week here on Spacefreighters. She’s on the verge of publishing her first short story, and this has resulted in a lot of interest in her other work—primarily military SciFiRoms. Dawn’s background in the Army gives her characters wonderful authenticity. Dawn is a definite “one to watch” in the future SciFiRom arena.

Q: Now that you're in the process of selling a short--Sex, Shoes and Combat Boots--for the anthology Sex and Shoes being published with Ravenous Romance in December, what would you like to do for an encore?

A: I've been tinkering around with a story about a female Army sniper. Since the Army doesn't have women in combat arms positions, I saw in my mind the potential for great conflict and story line. I think the world outside the military, the civilian population, knows little about how it is to walk a mile in a female soldier’s boots. I'd like to give them a peek into that world and a sexy story at the same time. I also write science fiction romance and young adult. I would eventually like to find a home for them. Where I work on multiple WIPs at a time, it gives me a chance to hit on all the genres I love.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: That’s a tough one to pin down. I’ve been telling stories since I was knee high to my father. He often called me ‘Windy’ because I talked non-stop. Now I still tell stories, but it’s on paper. I wrote several notebooks full of stories when I was twelve or thirteen, then boys happened, after that, the Army, children, life. I decided two years ago I’d put my writing off too long and made a goal to get published before my 40th birthday.

Q: Why do you write?

A: Somebody has to stop the voices in my head. LOL. Just kidding. Because I can and I love doing it. When I first picked it back up two years ago, it was so bad. Eighteen, nineteen years of being out of school and I actually had to think about grammar. Yikes. No one could pay me enough to show you the manuscript I’ve crammed under my bed. 110k of disaster. In the last two years, I’d like to think I’ve grown and improved. I certainly hope so. I have a lot more in me, now I just need the time to do it. You wouldn’t believe the stories churning around in my brain, waiting for their turn to get out.

Q: Do you have other hobbies or activities in which you invest a lot of time?

A: Well, I practice the martial arts. I’m a recommended black belt and would’ve been testing the day before Thanksgiving. Life interfered. So that’s on hold. I’m also selling one house, moving, and building another. I work full time, so that doesn’t leave me much time for hobbies. Hopefully I’ll be getting my belt in the spring. Art. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. Mostly wildlife, but every now and then I throw a fantasy painting together. I love painting dragons. I sew. I taught myself by making quilts. Crochet. Cook… [Laurie adds: I’ve seen Dawn’s artwork first hand. Her work is awesome.]

Q: What genre or genres are your favorite to write? To read?

A: That’s easy. Science Fiction and Fantasy Romance, hands down. I love the bizarre elements I can incorporate into these kinds of stories and still have characters falling in love.

Q: What elements do you put in your stories that you think will appeal to readers?

A: I think I do well with world building, action scenes. I like to blow things up. (On paper, that is.) I love strong female heroines and you won’t see a story I write with a weak kneed wimp. They all have backbone in one fashion or another.

Q: How many writing projects are you working on?

A: LOL. Shopping one completed novel, three re-writes, five novels half done, three short stories, two novellas and a partridge in a pear tree. There might be more, but these are the ones I’m working on.

Q: Who are your favorite authors or who has inspired you?

A: Depends on what I’m in the mood for. I love romance, but I’ll read anything that isn’t nailed down. I like Karen Marie Moning, Jim Butcher, Jane Austin, Stephen King, Susan Grant. I could probably go on and on.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?

A: Yeah, but the author isn’t published.

Q: Who is your favorite character from your stories and why?

A: Male characters—I have so many. That’s hard. Probably Nero. He’s definitely got personality and the interaction between Nero and Darius, his brother, was a blast to write. He’s that crazy buddy we all have, that drives you nuts, but when things get bad, he’s always there. You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth and when. Regardless, he always knows how to talk himself out of whatever he’s gotten into.

Female characters—Eva from clone. She’s a female sociopath, anti-heroin and my most challenging personality to nail down. Cold, calculating and without feeling, she’s one scary chick. What can I say? I adore her.

Q: If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose and why?

A: An Alien’s Guide to Abducting a Bride. It has the best of two worlds. Travel between planets, family on both worlds, hot men… Seriously, with all the stuff I blow up and some of the nasty creatures I’ve spun from my imagination, I’d be scared to live on some of the worlds I created. When Souls Collide is a perfect example. Genocide, a plague… Nasty stuff. Here on Earth is fine with me. And what girl doesn’t want to be abducted by a hot alien?

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a writer? What don't you enjoy?

A: Serendipity.

Thank you, Dawn! I’ll look forward to seeing your short published in December and, of course, to seeing all your wonderful novels in print very soon.

Eye Candy, SciFiRom Style

This dazzled me.

The CG art of Alexander Preuss can be found on his website here. Amazing, visual stuff your skiffy rommer muse is sure to love.

Check it out.

What's Coming in Science Fiction Romance?

Continuing with our Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week, here are some recent releases and previews of coming attractions:

KNIGHT'S FORK by Rowena Cherry looks to be a steamy futuristic with an engrossing moral dilemma. Release date is reported to be October 8. A knight's fork is a chess move, as are all the titles in this series.

FALLEN by award winning author Claire Delacroix. (Although I've seen an October 2008 release date, I understand it has already been released.) It sounds like a fascinating journey into an apocalyptic world. Click on the title to take you to the excerpts.

For a little more on both of the above, check out this Enduring Romance book news article.

WARRIOR, the second book in the Cat Star Chronicles series by Cheryl Brooks will be released in November. The first book in this series was SLAVE.

HOPE'S FOLLY by RITA Award winner Linnea Sinclair will be released February 24, 2009. This is connected to the Chaz and Sully saga introduced in GABRIEL'S GHOST and recently released book two, SHADES OF DARK, with a story focusing on the former husband of Chaz, Admiral Philip Guthrie.

THE WARLORD'S DAUGHTER, by RITA Award winner Susan Grant has an anticipated release date of February 2009. This is the second book in the Borderland's series. You can get a sneak peek at the cover here.

Also, Fantasy Debut blog often lists recently debuted Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance in the mix. Don't miss this blog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cast a SFR Character Interactive Game

*creepy War Games computer voice* Would you like to play a game?

Whew, this was a tough one to do logistically. It's called "Cast a SFR Character."

Here's how it works.

1. Read the excerpts below.
2. Choose an actor that you think fits the part.
3. See the pictures of actors posted in a separate post for visual stimuli.
4. Enter your choices in the poll (which should be somewhere in the vicinity of this post, if all goes well. If not...well, this little experiment has gone a bit off kilter and the poll is probably at the top of the page.)

Note: The excerpts were outtakes, picked up off the cutting room floor of a Science Fiction Romance writer. I won't mention any names. Or titles. :)

(Of course if you really rave about their work, they might step forward and 'fess up.)

Character: "Leo"
Scene: A character from the future pursues his target back to ancient Egypt

Leo ducked, barely avoiding a sword from separating his head from his shoulders. He was sure he just got a haircut. That one had skimmed his scalp. He turned and countered, returning the favor, but he was successful. The head that had been attached to an Egyptian guard went rolling across the stone floor. He swallowed hard. No matter how many times he had to do it, it was still difficult to take a life and not get affected by it one way or another. Whenever it happened his stomach always got a little ill. He knew it was kill or be killed, still it was hard. He pushed it to the back of his mind to work through later. Right now his warranty didn’t cover decapitation and if he didn’t pay attention it would certainly expire.

“Get back Leo!”
He stopped for a second. There was nothing that could come through those doors he couldn’t handle. After all he was a man and a Guardian. Nothing scared him, nothing. He started running again and came to a halt right behind AzraXel. Another scream, more horrific than the first. He stared in horror. Okay, maybe nothing was too strong a word, he was scared now. What the hell was that?

Leoninus spit blood into the sand and picked himself back up. Who would have known she was so agile.
Duly noted.
She spun around nailing him with another kick to the jaw, knocking him back down to the sand. And who the hell taught her to fight like that? Leo growled low and animalistic from deep in his chest. It was his turn. He launched himself across the sand catching her across the hips taking her to the ground like a defensive lineman.
She rolled, flipping him to his back before driving her elbow down into his sternum.
It hurt like hell. Two could play that game. He flipped her back over, he was the bigger, badder more dominate alpha and he was going to show her just how much. He tried to grab both her wrists to pin them over her head. He was unsuccessful. She still had one free and managed to somehow pull a knife that was strapped on her thigh. She buried it to the hilt in his chest.
He gasped clutching at the knife, backing off. Damn that was cold.

Cast a Character

In Order of Appearance:
Viggo Mortenson
Brad Pitt
Gerard Butler
Eric Dane
Eduardo Verastegui

In Case of Disappearing Posts...

I just realized all the September posts may automatically archive at midnight (because Wednesday is a new month).

EEEEkkk! They may all turn into pumpkins.

In that event, I'll set this post for oh dark thirty tomorrow morning and create this Time Travel button that will magically--no, wait, no magic, this is SciFiRom--that will employ advanced technology to zap you to a list of all posts during this celebration week.

So here you go~~~

Amazing Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week Time Travel Button ---> O

Interview with Kimber An on YA SF(R)

Today I'm interviewing Kimber An of the Young Adult Science Fiction blog with some specific questions about young adult interest in Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance.

Q: Your Star Captains' Daughter and Enduring Romance blogs have been very popular. What inspired you to start another blog directed at young adults interested in SciFi?

A: First of all, I’d like to say the selfish reason I started YA SciFi is so I can learn more about the Science Fiction which appeals to teens. I’m just getting started and I don’t consider myself an expert.

As a blogging book reviewer, what I see about readers often conflicts with what the publishing industry believes about them. I knew a lot of teens who loved Science Fiction, including girls. Yet, the industry thinks the market is extremely small. Correct me if I’m wrong because I would dearly love to be. Some even believe the Science Fiction label scares them off as ‘geeky,’ so they might label a YA Science Fiction novel as Fantasy or Paranormal instead. From my point of view, there is a healthy bunch of teens who love Science Fiction. It’s simply that the publishing industry has mostly failed to make a connection with them. I noticed some teens over here might know some great books while others elsewhere knew about some great games, but they couldn’t get together because the publishers didn’t know how to reach and connect them. I created the Young Adult Science Fiction blog to help teens find the Science Fiction they’ll love and so they can help each other find it too.

Q: What are your thoughts on why YA Science Fiction is so rare, but YA Fantasy is so predominant?

A: I’ve touched on that a little bit already. Actually, it’s not rare. It’s simply mislabeled. In an effort to reach readers, a lot of publishers have missed the readers who are truly interested. Publishers and teen readers are like two ships passing in the dark.

Q: In media, science fiction seems very popular for YA viewers. What's your take on why the publishing industry is not aligned with the current trends in television and theater?

A: Media is easy. It’s visual and audio and right there in front of you. Reading is completely different. Here are the reasons I think most publishers are missing the Science Fiction boat with teen readers-

1) They seem to think reading ability is low and that most teens don’t read. This is not true for teens who read Science Fiction. Sci-Fi Teens are avid readers who read waaaay above grade level. Most of the SciFi Teens I know skip YA and go straight to regular adult Science Fiction. That is why my blog is about the Science Fiction teens like, whether it’s meant for them or not.

2) None of the Sci-Fi Teens I know care about being cool and popular. They’re not afraid of marching to the beat of their own drums. Trying to shape YA Science Fiction to meet current teen trends is a waste of time and even a turn-off, in my observation. For example, my first teen reviewer, Madison, reviewed an original series Star Trek novel, DOCTOR’S ORDERS by Diane Duane from 1990. Assumptions cannot be made about SciFi Teens. They must be respected as individuals.

Q: What would you like to see/do you see happening in the YASF market in the near future?

A: I think Tor is onto something. It has an interactive blog for readers and a Science Fiction imprint for teens, Starscape, and they’re on MySpace as TorTeen. It seems to me they’ve really gone the extra mile to connect with teens. I’ll be following how they do closely.

I know publishers are all about getting teen readers to buy New, but I think they would do well to encourage teens reading all Science Fiction. Encouraging the love of Science Fiction as a whole will connect SciFi Teens while providing publishers with first-hand knowledge (rather than vast and general assumptions) on what teens like. Then, they can publish what teens love and teens will buy New.

Q: Do you have any articles of special note on your blog this week that you'd to share?

A: Madison’s book review is still at the top of the blog. I also reprinted an excerpt of one of Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s columns from Alien Romance. Obviously, not everything from that SFR blog is appropriate or appealing to teens, but Jacqueline’s wisdom is ageless.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to bring up on this topic?

A: I think the key to reaching and connecting with readers of any age is to search for the need and then figure out how to fill that need, rather than stepping up on a pedestal and saying, “Look at how wonderful I am! Now buy my book!” A lot of teens, especially, are used to being treated disrespectfully by adults. Also, they can spot a fake a mile away! You have to be genuine and genuinely interested in them.

Thank you, Kimber An, for taking time out from your busy schedule to offer insights and perspective on the Youth Adult SF and SFR market. You gave some very valuable information on a group that may often be overlooked as a potential SFR fanbase.

We Have a Winner!

Yes, we have a prize winner! I can't give it away just yet, but it has to do with posts and it has to do with numbers and there might have been a very subtle clue dropped earlier. Well, maybe not so subtle. Were you paying attention? ;)

Sorry to keep you in suspense. Just waiting with baited breath to see if there will be a second winner before we dish the intel.

Keep your antennaes tuned. :)