Category Archives: Science Fiction

World Fantasy

Early in November  I attended the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio. WFC is a professional writers’ event to a significant degree, but even I, with no fantasy books out as of yet, had several attendees ask me for autographs at the Signature Event (with every writer in one big room signing autographs.)

The convention venue was adjacent to San Antonio’s Riverwalk.  It’s one of my favorite places, an oasis in that city—though as cities go, San Antonio, with its ancient Hispanic roots, is its own kind of oasis in Texas.

The Riverwalk meanders for miles through downtown San Antonio, though on the river’s level you’d hardly know it.  There are some shops and restaurants reaching all the way down to the water’s edge.  There are also whimsical bridges and sculptures, birds, and even water taxis:  it’s Venice in Texas!

There’s also the aquatic version of street sweepers.

Below the Southwest School of Art & Craft, people who walk or jog by are watched by miniature folk sketched on a wall of rough timbers.  Here’s one of the watchers.

No visit to San Antonio, by someone who writes speculative fiction with spiritual angles, would be complete without paying respects to  San Fernando Cathedral, or, to use the full name, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe.  Portions of this cathedral date to 1738.  It is a major anchor in the Mexican-American life of San Antonio.

And then there’s this:  the towering mosaic on the facade of Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital.  The artist is Jesse Trevino, a native son from the West Side of San Antonio, who when he was young saw a tombstone angel with a broken wing that he never forgot.

The image is fantastic – a kind of sacred fantasy that speaks to the hope of healing in the real world.

Our Island Home

When I write speculative fiction, I do a lot of world-building. I imagine a fictional world in sufficient detail and logically consistent enough to potentially exist—and sound plausible to knowledgeable readers. (I have to do the same thing with the contours of the human heart; our shared, different-but-alike internal landscapes must be recreated in a way that always rings true.)

When building worlds, for my jumping-off place I start with the world we all share: the beautiful blue oasis we sometimes call Earth, sometimes call Terra—and always call “home.”

The image below shows a part of the world familiar to transatlantic airline pilots. You can spot the lights of Goose Bay, where an airport large enough to land an airliner serves as a sort of emergency “what-if” option for flight planning.

In the lower right portion of the image you see the white ring that marks the perimeter of the Manicouagan Crater, a meteor crater fully 70 kilometers in diameter. In wintertime it’s covered with frozen water, making it so striking and so readily visible even from orbit.

And the aurora borealis crowns the Earth with fire.

Auroras figure into my Aeon’s Legacy series – in the novel Hurricane Moon, in which an aurora on the colony world Green is injected with the ashes of dead starfarers, adding colors to create a luminous memorial; and in Star Crossing, in which the auroras of Green are transformed into a generator for a radio message across the stars.

And a meteor crater in Canada figures significantly into my novelette “The Vigilant Ones.”

This photo, courtesy NASA, was taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station on February 3, 2012.

THE TIDE

This excellent book adroitly weaves together  the scientific understanding of tides, the role of tides in history and literature, and the author’s own encounters with tides. And Aldersey-Williams writes so well that his meticulous account of spending a solid day on bit of shoreline near his home in England, watching the tide go and come, is page-turningly interesting!

THE TIDE was published by Viking in 2016.

Among the interesting scientific angles is that Earth’s tides likely had much to do with the evolution of life on Earth, including stabilizing the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which limited evolved life’s exposure to climatic extremes. In looking for life on other worlds, we may need to focus on exoplanets with moons.  This idea played into my science fiction novel Hurricane Moon, in which a star colonization mission seeks (and at first fails to find) a world with a large moon.

THE TIDE starts with an epigram that quoted John Steinbeck in The Log of the Sea of Cortez:  “It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.”

 

Pets in Space!

This is an upcoming anthology project I’m delighted to be involved in.  Nine science fiction romance authors are concocting stories about pets in space.

Pets have a way of involving themselves in anyone’s romantic relationships – we all know that.  But in this anthology, it can happen that aliens need pets;  pets have pets;  or alien pets humanize alienated people. Being science fiction, there are pets changed into something genetically or cybernetically way beyond just a pet. Science Fiction + Romance + Pets is one recipe that has a very different but delicious result for every one of us who is concocting it.  The sexual content varies from innocently sweet to considerable heat.

Pets in Space will be out on October 11th.  10% of the first month’s profits goes to Hero-Dogs. This organization raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

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Cover compare

Here are the covers of the original print edition of Hurricane Moon (art by Brian W. Dow) from Pyr and the e-book edition from Avendis Press.  Both imply qualities central to the book:  romance and exotic worlds in the first case and astronomical science fiction in the second.

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Epiphany

In the liturgical year, January 6 is the day of the Epiphany, and the days from now until Ash Wednesday, when the penitential season of Lent begins, are the Epiphany season.  The imagery of Epiphany includes a new and portentous star and the arrival of foreign wise men.  The meaning of Epiphany is a showing forth of something heretofore hidden but momentously significant.

This reminds me of my just-published novel Downfall Tide.  But oppositely, like a photographic negative.  The story opens with a new star in the night sky.  It isn’t the kind of astronomical new star the colonists on Planet Green first  guess it may be.  It’s something else entirely.  And soon the not-really-a-star brings the arrival of foreigners who are not only not wise men, but anti-wise men.  What follows for my main characters is a time that could be considered a penitential season.  And after that, the story parallels Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

The aspect of Downfall Tide that is a parallel to Good Friday is what made it the hardest book I’ve ever written.  Some readers will find that  part distressing to read.

But the end of the book mirrors Easter, the day that dawns with resurrected hope.

 

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Avendis Press

Now that  I’m resuming the series that begins with Hurricane Moon, I’ve decided to independently publish these books.  Science fiction with theological themes is not what major publishers want – and besides, I already have most of these books written and I want to get them published before forever.

I should say I’m completing the series, now that I have at long last written the one that immediately follows Hurricane MoonDownfall Tide may be the hardest book I’ll ever write. The one after that, Star Crossing, has long since been written and edited – although books tend to end up needing MORE editing.

It’s from Star Crossing that the name of my very own press comes from.  In Star Crossing, Avendis is an extraordinary place, a treasury of civilization in a far future history, and a dangerous journey’s end.  That’s more than significant enough to name my publishing endeavor after.  🙂

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Skill and Tool Set

Independently publishing a theological science fiction series, for a while I was overwhelmed by everything that has to be learned well enough to do it well enough and/or recognize and recruit good enough help for it.  Finally I made a table of the skills and IT or online tools that are required.  The table ran four pages. No wonder I felt outnumbered!  On the other hand, each of these skills is learnable. Some of the digital tools are rather wonderful.  And with this most of this stuff something can be accomplished in hours, not the months it takes to write a new novel. I just have to tackle the dreaded learning curve.  My latest fun involved:  learning how to convert a pdf file to jpg (Cloud Converter works really well); learning how to download new, free fonts (from Fontsquirrel) and install them in my PC;  getting better at noodling around in Picasa (the free photo program) to put new typefaces on the covers of two novels;  and recruiting my writer and independent publisher friend Pauline Baird Jones to do more sophisticated versions of same on Photoshop.

So I now have even more items to add to that skills/tools table.  But I also have two nicer looking novel covers. Real progress!