Posts Tagged With: Alien

Just launched: Sci-Fi Short Story Magazine

Back in the day, when someone launched a new indie Sci Fi magazine, production usually involved a lot of black and white photocopies and a remarkable device we called a “stapler.”

Now, we’re in the 21st century.  Behold the power of digital publishing.  Gotta love it.

I haven’t yet picked up a copy of “Sci-Fi Short Story Magazine,” but I will say that the cover art rocks.  And the title, well, the title pretty much says it all.  Contributors include Elizabeth Barrette, John Cosper, Jim Courter, Ron Savage, James R. Silvestri, Shelly Li, Michael D. Matula and Joseph Farley.

If you’ve read this magazine (or appeared in it), let me know.  I want to hear about it!

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SF author Laura E. Reeve tells it like it is

It’s always a pleasure to feature a Colorado science fiction author, and Laura E. Reeve is no exception.  Fans of David Weber or Jack Campbell will enjoy her military science fiction series about flawed but likable pilot Major Ariane Kedros.  Her latest book, Pathfinder, just came out this summer and is in stores now.

Sci Fi Bookshelf:  For those who haven’t picked up a Major Ariane Kedros novel yet, how would you describe the series?

Laura E. Reeve:  Military-flavored SF Adventure.  The heroine, Reserve Major Ariane Kedros, had her identity erased by the government for her own protection, due to her missions during the war. She now has a civilian job as pilot and explorer, but still undertakes Intelligence assignments–always dangerous, because not everyone supports the “new peace.” She also has to deal with wartime guilt and sometimes, against her own inclinations, she has to help old enemies.

SFB:  What authors are your biggest influences?

LER:  C.J. Cherryh fascinates me with her ability to spin alien mindsets and complex politics. Perhaps she even affected me subliminally; I only recently realized I used the same main character name she used in her Cyteen books, which I’d read years ago. Other SF/F writers I like who might have influenced my writing are Dan Simmons (irresistible subplots and character agendas), David Brin (dolphin space explorers–genius!), Vernor Vinge (suspenseful plots), Joan D. Vinge (riveting character conflict), and Marian Zimmer Bradley (because, in the end, it’s about characters and story).  At the least, I hope some of these authors’ skills have rubbed off on me.

SFB:  What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

LER:  I love editing most, by far, because the blank page is still intimidating to me. I also have the problem that I have to write sequentially, to know what each character has been through up to that point–which makes my first drafts pretty painful. However, once I have something to work with, I’m in heaven. I can add scenes, tighten connections between plot/subplot points, enhance characters, and “mine” for more conflict.

SFB:  What are you working on next?  Any more Major Ariane Kedros novels coming up?

LER:  My publisher (Penguin/Roc) wants to wait and see how well the Kedros series does, before contracting me for more books in that series.  I’m okay with that, since they paid for my editor, copyeditors, artists, formatting, printing, distribution, marketing, etc., and there’s such a lag time in determining how well books sell these days. So I’m reworking some of my traditional fantasy and we’ll see how that floats…

SFB: Do you have any advice for new writers today?

LER:  Persevere, but remain flexible. Most writers understand perseverance; finish your work and keep pitching it, right? Agreed. But understand the market and keep moving beyond the one beautiful manuscript you’re trying to sell. I’m not advocating “following the market” or warping a story into something it isn’t. But the ideal flexible writer has several finished manuscripts under his or her belt, and knows what to pitch to whom. An ideal flexible writer also begins working on a different manuscript as soon as the current one is in shape to be submitted.

Note that I said an IDEAL flexible writer, and I’ve got the cautionary tale: In late 2004, my agent said perhaps this wasn’t the “right time” for my traditional fantasy, and it might not be the “first manuscript” I sold. What tactful wording she used! Did I have anything else?  Unfortunately, I’d just spent a year writing a sequel to that manuscript, which was NOT the best use of my time. I made sure to finish the draft I was working on, archived all the information about the world, and put my traditional fantasies on the shelf. I then switched gears, and dug up the beginning chapters of a novel that would eventually become Peacekeeper, my first sale. Now, I’m going back to that first traditional fantasy, editing it, and sending it in. Then I’ll be moving on to a steampunk fantasy that’s been growing in the back of my mind. I’m trying to be more flexible.

SFB:  We’ll keep our eyes open for future books.  Laura, thank you so much for your time!

LER:  Thank you very much.

Laura E. Reeve
The Major Ariane Kedros Novels

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Grand Master Joe Haldeman tells all (or some, anyway) to Sci Fi Bookshelf

Joe Haldeman has just been named to the Grand Master Award, joining the ranks of science fiction giants like Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and Ursula K. Le Guin.  He has also won three Hugo awards, four Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award and more.  He’s perhaps best known for The Forever War, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.  His latest novel, Starbound, just recently hit store shelves.  Somehow, in between teaching writing at MIT and winning staggering amounts of acclaim, it seems Joe still manages to find the time to write.  He was generous enough to share some views from the top, infused with his own unmistakably dry sense of humor.

Sci Fi  Marsbound was met with some great reviews, and Starbound is in stores now.  Was there any particular idea that inspired this series?  And can you tell us anything about the upcoming book, Earthbound?

Joe Haldeman:  MARSBOUND started off as a stand-alone novel.  I’d written the novella “The Mars Girl” for a Dozois/Dann anthology of Young Adult sf stories, and I wrote it with the idea of expanding it into a YA novel.  I used the novella to pitch the story to a YA editor, and she said no, thanks.  (Later she told me she’d been wrong; her daughter read the novella and loved it.)

Anyhow, that made me think.  I’m not a YA author anyhow.  So why not make the protagonist a bit older and write it as a regular novel, sex and all.  So that became MARSBOUND.

I was literally a few days from the end of the novel when it occurred to me that it needed a sequel, with the two main characters upping the ante and going off to the stars.  I wrote an outline pitching that book, STARBOUND, to sell it to my publisher.  But in writing the outline, I saw it required a third book, EARTHBOUND.

So what started out as a novella became a trilogy.  Trilogies do sell better than stand-alone novels, but that wasn’t my motivation, at least consciously.

The books follow the same characters in an unbroken series of events, but I tried to make each one enjoyable as a stand-alone novel.  It was a challenge to write the second and third books so they would work both for a reader who was following the series and for one who had picked up the book without preparation.  Background information has to be presented in a way that’s not boring to the reader who’s seen it before.

I started EARTHBOUND with a literary problem in mind.  I’d just taught Cormack McCarthy’s THE ROAD, which was well written but mindnumbingly depressing, and I wondered (since EARTHBOUND had a similar opening situation) whether I could make my book work without it being so psychologically painful.  I don’t know whether I’m succeeding; I’m only halfway through the book.

SFB:  Is it true that you write everything longhand?

JH:  I write the first draft of my novels in longhand, with a fountain pen in bound blank books.  Other writing (like this) I do on the computer.

SFB:  The rumors are flying about Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Legend) doing a film based on The Forever War.  Is there any news you can pass along?

The Forever WarJH:  He bought the rights.  The astounding success of AVATAR makes me think the project is more likely, but I haven’t heard anything from Scott about that.  (Except that he also loved the movie and intends to do THE FOREVER WAR in 3-D.)

SFB:  What’s the biggest change you see coming in the science fiction genre?

JH:  We’re in the middle of a long slow change that reflects the reading public’s lack of interest in science, and their concomitant ignorance of it.  Hard SF is a hard sell, and a lot of writers are leaning toward fantasy.  I stick with hard SF, but I’m not selling as many books as the ones about dragons and mighty-thewed heroes. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring science fiction writers who haven’t been fortunate enough to take your class at MIT?

JH:  Writing can be fun (for the writer) and can be a tool for personal growth.  Writing for other people, in the sense of writing for a living, is relatively difficult.  Most writers make very little money and see little or no fame while enduring criticism and the excruciating pain of watching terribly written books outsell their gems.  The best advice is not to do it unless you can’t see yourself living any other way.  Or you could marry someone with money and write what you want.

SFB:  If this isn’t too obtuse to ask, how does it feel to win the Grand Master Award and join the ranks of some of the greatest science fiction writers of all time?

JH:  I don’t feel old enough for the honor.

SFB:  Joe, it’s been a real pleasure.  Thank you so much for your time.

JH:  Thanks.

Joe Haldeman’s web site:
Joe Haldeman on
Joe Haldeman‘s blog:

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