Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely relieved that the election is over with. What an ordeal! It seems like the campaigning went on for three years. That is way too long. If I could magically pass one thing into law, it would be to limit the election to one calendar year.

That said, a part of my mind is observing and cataloguing the human behaviors that continue to play out. The hopes and aspirations. The obfuscation and outright lying. The puzzle of why one promising candidate fizzles while the stranger ones thrive. It’s all fodder for a writer’s brain.

In SF fandom, it has become all too common to hear indignant outcries that “this novel/movie/comic book/video game is too political!” Usually they seem to come from white guys who are blind to the privilege they enjoy because of their race and gender.

It makes me laugh to hear them.

SF, Fantasy, and maybe especially Horror, have always been political. Let’s just look at one example: Star Trek, which was the main SF show on TV when I was in high school. Star Trek was created during the Cold War, and while America was in the midst of the Viet Nam War. Yet, the show featured a truly international crew. The all-American Captain Kirk was not just surrounded by European-descended allies, but also by African, Russian, Japanese and completely alien species such as the Vulcan, Spock. Contrast this with another show of the same era, Hogan’s Heroes. There, the “international cast” were mostly European with one token Black.

Don’t you dare try and tell me Star Trek wasn’t political. It was also hopeful and aspirational, suggesting that in the future people would overcome serious divisions to reach the stars. It’s a theme that carried through several sequel series, even when later iterations have tried to be darker and “more realistic.”

Genre writers today should not shy away from being political. It is one of the things that really sets us apart from other genres.

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I will be volunteering at Empire Game Con this weekend. So you all get a break from my ramblings. Hope you all get lots of writing done and I’ll see you again on Wednesday.

Did you know I have an author newsletter? You can get it! I’ll even give you a free e-book for signing up. Just click here.

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Enjoy this guest blog by my friend and fellow editor, David Lee Summers.

Dragons have a long association with the sea.  Examples from mythology include Scylla, the many-headed sea monster from The Odyssey or Jörmungandr, the sea serpent who circles the globe in Norse mythology.  There are many examples of ancient maps depicting sea serpents cavorting in the most mysterious ocean realms.  Although we often think of the line “Here be dragons” being printed in the ocean on ancient maps, it only actually appears on two globes — and on land!

For me, perhaps the most iconic image of a sea monster is the octopus-like kraken reaching up from the depths of the sea to pull a hapless sailing ship to its doom.  The kraken might not seem very dragon-like until you consider its serpent-like tentacles, which lend it more than a passing resemblance to a many-headed sea dragon like Scylla.

When Steve Howell, head of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at the NASA Ames Research Center, suggested we compile a follow-up to A Kepler’s Dozen, our 2013 anthology of short stories set on real exoplanets discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope, I knew I wanted to do a story featuring my space pirate Captain Firebrandt and his crew.  One of the exciting discoveries of the Kepler mission has been a whole new type of world we don’t see in our solar system — a water world.

We tend to think of Earth a water world, but in fact, it’s a rocky planet with a thin veneer of water on much of the surface.  A true water world is mostly water all the way through.  Putting Captain Firebrandt on a water world opened up the possibility of a science fictional meeting of pirates and a kraken!  Perhaps this kraken could be an alien being, or perhaps even a giant squid from Earth raised on a water world colony.  After all, it’s thought possible that stories of krakens originated from sightings of giant squid or colossal octopi.

The next challenge came from the anthology’s theme.  Steve and I are both fans of western-inspired space operas such as Firefly and Cowboy Bebop.  As a tribute to the genre, we called the new anthology Kepler’s Cowboys.  So, how did I cowboy up this meeting of pirates and a futuristic kraken?  I decided that on this futuristic water world, the inhabitants held water rodeos with the giant squid they raised and the good captain saw a way to make some easy money.  Of course, being a pirate, he plans to cheat.  keplers-cowboys-displayTo find out how that works for him, you’ll have to read the story!

You’ll find “Calamari Rodeo” alongside thirteen other short stories and five poems about real planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission in Kepler’s Cowboys, which will be released on March 1 and may be preordered at:


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