Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lest We Ever Forget

Sometimes controversy tries to drown out
the truest and the greatest contributions
of one life, one voice, one message...

Let us never forget
what he showed us through his music.

We are the world.

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just for Fun

Counting Down Our Favorite Sci-Fi Movie Babes, Past & Present on Asylum.

I voted for Sigourney Weaver as the most bad-ass female in Sci-Fi (but only because Vasquez wasn't on the list). Who do you pick?

And a Star Wars Dance Off on YouTube that includes an unintended tribute.

Yeah, I had to vote for the late entry, too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Parellel Universe on The Galaxy Express

A reminder about The Galaxy Express Parallel Universe event, which is coming up beginning July 5.

Parallel Universe will run concurrently with the RWA Nationals in Washington DC and promises to be a Skiffy Rommer paradise, featuring articles, guest bloggers, and live twitter posts (tweets) from SFR-oriented attendees who will be right at the heart of it all reporting on the happenings--official or otherwise. We hope to have good coverage of "The Gathering" sponsored by the FF&P Chapter and the RITA and Golden Heart Awards, where we'll be cheering on Sharon Lynn Fisher's SFR, Ghost Planet, a Golden Heart finalist in the Paranormal category.

If you're on Twitter, the #rwasfr hashtag has been kicked off in advance (and I could use some company). Feel free to post anything related to SFR or RWA whether you plan to be in attendance or not. If you're not on Twitter but have been thinking of joining, now might be a good time to sign up. Do a search for the hashtag #rwasfr to jump into the conversation. You may also wish to follow #rwachange which has developed in just a few days into an almost 400-strong group promoting reform of the organizations' policies toward e-publishing.

Come join the fun.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spaceport Groundbreaking

I often describe New Mexico as a wonderful place for a writer to live because it can't decide which century it wants to exist in.

Yesterday marked an event that's definitely a showcase of the state's stake in the future, the groundbreaking of the first commercial spaceport in the world!

From the Spaceport America website:

The next chapter in space transportation is being written right now in the State of New Mexico. Forward-thinking pioneers are developing both vertical and horizontal launch vehicles using the power of free-market enterprise.

As the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America is designed with the needs of the commercial space business in mind. Unique geographic benefits, striking iconic design, and the tradition of New Mexico space leadership are coming together to create a new way to travel into space.

When it comes to outer space, New Mexico is bringing it down to earth!

I invite you to stop by the Spaceport America website to see the vision, browse the videos and information and check out the Spaceport America Foundation and available products.

Support your local spaceport! :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

SFR Trajectory: Retaking the Moon

Last evening, the Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and sister payload Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on the start of its mission to take mankind back to the moon by the year 2020. The launch was heralded with hardly a mention in the media or the American public despite it being a major step in our space program. Read more here.

Meanwhile, the
shut down of the Shuttle program continues.

As SFR writers, should we be concerned about the complacency shown toward space exploration?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Penguin Launches The Publisher's Office Site

From Twitter:

Penguin announces the launch of its The Publisher's Office site featuring an Orientation, Bulletin Board, Screening Room, Radio Room, articles and more.

The Screening Room currently has a feature called Project Paranormal, although it seems to be geared more toward fantasy romance than SFR.

Worth checking out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Special Tribute: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

I was planning to do a series of articles this week on Hero Material, but I've decided to postpone the articles to instead honor two very special men who give new meaning to the term--Sgt. Andy Tingwall and Officer Wesley Cox of the New Mexico State Police. This morning, I attended the memorial service for Andy Tingwall in Santa Fe.

This past week was a very
difficult time for the police and National Guard families, and the citizens of New Mexico, as we hoped and prayed for the safe return of Andy and Megumi Yamamoto, the lost hiker he and Officer Cox had set out to find in the rugged, snow-covered wilderness at 12,200 feet in a State Police helicopter. Though we are thankful for the survival of his spotter, Wesley Cox, who managed to negotiate impossible terrain to find help even though severely injured, we were deeply saddened that Andy and Ms. Yamamoto did not survive. They were recovered by members of the National Guard after a desperate two-day search.

I once had the privilege of meeting Andy Tingwall, and my immediate impression was that he was a quality individual. His fellow officers describe him as man who had a genuine desire to perform a service for his state and community--a humble and understated professional who's philosophy was summed up as: "Whatever you do, be the best you can be at it." In addition to his role as a helicopter pilot, Sgt. Tingwall served as a police spokesman, an academy training officer, had been honored as the 2008 Officer of the Year and was to receive a Medal of Valor on Friday for past efforts. He truly was a man who went above and beyond the call of duty.

Officer Wesley Cox is a member of the bomb team and had received a Purple Heart after being struck by a vehicle in the line of duty a few years ago. He spent nearly two years recovering from those injuries. At present, he is still recovering as a result of the helicopter crash but was present at the memorial service. Last week, when asked by a reporter how Officer Cox managed to find help with his extensive injuries and severe hypothermia, State Police Chief Faron Segotta shook his head and described him as "very tough."

Over the last six days, Sgt. Andy Tingwall and Officer Wesley Cox have given me new insights into the term "
hero material." Andy's service this morning reinforced what a true giant we have lost. His memorial was attended by hundreds of law enforcement officers, military, search and rescue personnel, citizens, and officials such as Governor Bill Richardson, who knew Andy personally and talked of his qualities. Many of his close friends and colleagues told anecdotes about Andy, including his two surviving brothers--one also a State Police Officer--his fellow pilots, and his oldest daughter, who is ten. Part of a letter he had written to his wife and daughters in the event of his death was read to the audience. In it, Andy told his family he now flew in blue skies and clear air and not to be too saddened by his passing.

The Japanese consulate and the parents of Megumi Yamamoto were also present, after traveling all the way from Japan. In another touching gesture, the Yamamotos presented the Tingwall family with a wreath in gratitude for Andy's efforts to save their daughter and in sympathy for his loss.

We have indeed lost a great hero...but another is still among us.

We wish Officer Cox a very speedy recovery.

Rest in peace...and blue skies and clear air, Sgt. Andy Tingwall.

Officer Wesley Cox
Sgt. Andrew Tingwall

Sunday, June 14, 2009

SFR Scout

Hi, all. Fax here--bartender by night, multi-tasking by day as SFR Scout to make my first report.

Just wanted to pass along an article on Rob's Blog o' Stuff with a preview of many upcoming releases including THE DARK REACHES by Kristin Landon and RIFT IN THE SKY by Julie Czerneda, both due out on July 7th.

The article also features a blurb on SF author John Scalzi's new SF/Fantasy THE GOD ENGINES scheduled to be released in December 2009.

Look for a progressive style review on Scalzi's Hugo-nominated OLD MAN'S WAR coming soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

RWA Randomness and SFR Promotion

Escape Velocity! Membership and registration now paid, offsite hotel booked, and airline tickets secured. It appears I'm headed for DC! *\o/*

I've been pondering many things writing-related since trying to pull together this trip to the RWA Conference in Washington DC in July. For one, I have my rader tuned to any talk of SFR, whether from speakers, authors, editors, agents or fellow writers. I've registered for the FF&P Chapter "The Gathering" event on Thursday night with hopes I'll meet a few more like-minded SFR writers.

The Galaxy Express recently had a spirited discussion about SFR promotion and the market in general in response to the post entitled The Bane of Being Futuristically Challenged. It got me thinking. Could we, as SFR writers and readers, help bolster the demand for our own sub-genre?

Another issue I've been thinking about? How can Science Fiction Romance break out of containment by that big, gray Paranormal Romance Oort cloud? It seems a bit unfortunate that almost all contests and awards lump our super sleek tech-throbs into the same pack with werewolves, vampires, mages and other icons that fall decidedly into the fantasy realm. SFR is a breed all its own, don't you think? Throwing it in this catch-all arena is like pitting Lord of the Rings against Star Wars. Or Ghost against Alien.

Since the demise of the Sapphire Awards [click for more on the Sapphire here], I don't know of any contests tailored to Science Fiction Romance. (If you do, let me know!)

So I have a dual-mission when I head to DC. Not only will I be there to promote my work, but SFR as a whole. Lighting one small gamma ray burst as the saying goes. (What, you've never heard it put quite that way?) I'll be talking SFR every chance I get, and keeping my radar tuned to SFR news I can share in future posts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happenings for Two of My Favorite Authors

Lisa Shearin did a live interview and chat on Bitten by Books yesterday (6/2/09) talking about her Raine Benares series. A fun read and some great questions and answers.

Linnea Sinclair, SFR author, is featured on All About Romance's
Favorite Books by Favorite Authors as one of the top author picks. You can vote on this site by listing your favorite book/s, as well as seeing who else made the list. Show your support for Linnea Sinclair and SFR!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Clone (Free Online Novel)

Today I'm interviewing Dawn Jackson, published author of four erotica shorts with Ravenous Romance but a SFR writer at heart, and one of my IPs (Indispensable Peers).

Dawn is posting her serialized free novel CLONE on our Take it the the Stars blog. The introduction, prologue, and chapter one (in two parts) is currently up. Here's a
shortcut to the posts.

This dark Science Fiction/Futuristic is one of my favorites of Dawn's many projects. Here's a mini-interview with Dawn about why she decided to share CLONE with our blog readers.

Q: Being a big fan of the CLONE wip, I was very surprised when you began posting the story on the Take it to the Stars blog. Why did you decide to offer it as a free novel on the internet?

A: Clone is probably my darkest story. Finding a home for it, I think would have been nearly impossible. Still, I wanted to share it. It contains a lot of unrestrained feelings. It's me uncensored and raw. I'll make no apologies, ugly things happen. When I started it, I told myself no rules. I wasn’t going to worry about offending or making someone uneasy. I hope it will grab the readers emotionally the way it did me when I wrote it. Eva is an anti-heroine, who if I’m successful, the readers will both love and hate. Clone allowed me to say and write what I needed to, to be able to tell this story the way it should be. I let myself lose on the ugly side of human nature and I didn’t cover anything up. Because of that, it would be a hard, hard sell. It doesn’t have fuzzy bunnies and fluffy kittens and the ending is the only one I could justify. You'll have to follow along with me to find out what I mean.

Q: Can you explain a little about the characters, premise and/or world-building in CLONE?

A: There are two major players in Clone. Eva, who is a clone, escaped from her keeper and Dante, who befriends her when she reaches the UR. After a great war, the earth is divided into two sides. Europia and the United Regions. Throughout the story I hope the reader will question if Dante is as he appears. I wanted to get into Eva’s head so this story is in first person. I wanted to portray her with realism and that realism might include delusions, anger and paranoia. She’s never been loved or treated with kindness, had a family or belongings of her own. She’s been beaten as a child, raped multiple times as a young woman and her babies were aborted for their stem cells. Blood, tissue and organs have been harvested from her countless times. She’s suffered horrific abuse and it leads to who she becomes. As I wrote her I had to ask myself several questions. Is she capable of love? Could she trust after suffering abuse her entire life? I tried to put myself in her shoes, when I did, I realized her views of Dante would not always be sweet, and sometimes you might think this girl just isn’t sane. Would you be? So I wrote her as I felt she would be. At times she’s cold and unfeeling. Now take someone like this and give them power. That’s Eva.

World-building. Pretty simple. Post WWW III. In Europia they started cloning to save themselves from extinction, but soon realized that not only could the clones save their lives, they could be used for labor and to build a greater empire. Soldiers, workers, child-bearers and organ donors, the clones served multiple purposes and were nothing more than human livestock and were treated as such. Escaped clones would flee to the UR, a place that accepted them into society and didn’t condone the slavery. Eva escapes, only to be caught up in a plot to overthrow the Europian government and replace her keeper, the Europian First Lady, Anna. She ends up back in Europian and for the first time in her life she has power. A massive amount of power.

Q: What inspired the story idea? Does the story carry a message?

A: What happens when man plays god? Does it give him the right to the lives of those created through cloning? Are clones the property of the human whose DNA was donated? My story has parallels to Nazi Germany. You might have caught that in the prologue and with Eva's name. Also, I wanted to make readers think what if? What if, man started cloning for the sole purpose of creating humans for organs compatible to the host or host’s family? What laws would govern clones and their creation? Would they have rights? Could we harvest their organs if they did? Could they feasibly be used for other purposes?

Human cloning has been ethically questioned for a reason. Think about it. People have had babies to save another child from cancer. Would they, could they use clones for the same purpose? For what other purpose would man need to clone? To resurrect genius? I feel it is our environment and experiences that shapes us into who we become, and cloning a genius is not a guarantee you’ll get the same. If not for genius, what other reasons? If war corrupted our environment, caused cancers, disease, the inability to reproduce normally and mankind faced extinction, would we employ something like this to save ourselves? Our loved ones? Is it ethical?

Ethical or not, somewhere, sometime, someone is going to do it and you have to wonder the outcome of such a monumental choice.

Q: Do you consider CLONE a SFR? If not, how would you classify it in terms of genre/s?

A: This one is hard to classify. It is a love story, but it’s also a tragedy. The science isn’t about space ships or alien worlds, but a possible future we could feasibly face if we break the laws of nature. It’s a story of “what if.”

Q: How would you rate the heat factor for CLONE?

A: This is mild heat. I’m hitting the reader with plenty of other questionable things, so I felt I needed to keep something tame.

Thank you, Dawn, for taking the time to answer a few questions for those who are curious about CLONE. I hope readers will enjoy this dark, thought-provoking SF/Futuristic as much as I did.