Challenge Identity – Scifi Does More than Entertain #scifi #sciencefiction #reading #books #womenauthors

Women abound in science fiction, as readers, characters in stories, and as authors. I’m running a series of guest posts from some great science fiction authors who are women. Today’s guest is Mikhaeyla Kopievsky, author of the Divided Elements series.

Take it away, Mikhaeyla!

Challenging the Collective Identity

Just a little while ago, on 14 July, I released the second book in my Divided Elements series, Rebellion. I thought it was kind of fitting that Rebellion was published on Bastille Day, since it is a dystopian tale of revolution set in a post-apocalyptic Paris. Interestingly, 14 July is also celebrated as International Non-binary Day – which similarly held a nice symmetry, since my book is centered on challenging the identity stereotypes society imposes.

As someone who has always strongly identified as female and as a feminist, but not particularly feminine, Non-binary day got me thinking about how gendered identity – like all types of identity – is both a deeply personal and a deeply cultural concept. And that authentic identity is forged in the way we both embrace and challenge the cultural stereotypes of that collective identity.

Collective identity is a tricky thing – by its very nature it is a generalization; a broad-brushed characterization of a shared experience, perspective, and values-system. Changing the way we view that characterization (and opening up opportunities for challenging it), requires changing the narrative…

And what better vehicle for doing that than actual narratives?

Science fiction has been creating mind-bending narratives for decades and there are likely hundreds of examples that show stereotypes being challenged and reimagined. Today I want to share with you my favorite examples of gendered stereotypes turned on their heads by scifi books and movies:

  • Sarah Connor (Terminator) – ‘Mother’. Sarah Connor is not the kind of mother you’d find in a Norman Rockwell painting and yet she is nothing if not fiercely maternal. Sarah debunks all concepts of passive, gentle motherhood and instead gives us a mother lioness.
  • Ellen Ripley (Alien) – ‘Damsel in Distress’. Ellen Ripley is on a distant, unfamiliar planet when her entire crew is decimated by a really freaking scary alien. Ellen is not a kick-ass, alien-killing ninja (a la Emily Blunt’s Angel of Verdun in Edge of Tomorrow) – she is just a woman who is left alone and who must survive with the skills, knowledge and resources available to her. She is not super-human, but she finds a super-human strength within her to win her battle with a formidable foe and make it out alive.
  • Ann Burden (Z is for Zacahariah) – ‘Dreamy Schoolgirl’. Ann, a teenage girl who is left alone on her family’s farm in the wake of a nuclear fallout, undergoes a rite of passage when her isolation is interrupted by the arrival of Loomis – an older man who appears with a radiation safe-suit and ideas on how to survive. Desperate for company and impressed by his confidence and credentials, Ann nurses him to health and fantasizes about eventually marrying him, falling into line with his ideas and directions. Over time, she starts to harbor doubts about the man and his ideas and when he turns aggressive and violent, rather than capitulate to submission, Ann takes control of her life and claws back her own agency.
  • YT (Snowcrash) – ‘Sweet Sidekick’. YT (Yours Truly) is a savvy, self-assured skateboarding courier who is more the reluctant hero than the book’s actual protagonist, Hiro. YT is a world-weary fifteen year old, who wears a dentata (anti-rape device), frequently thinks about sex, throws herself into the path of danger, and still loves her mum.
  • Nyx (God’s War) – ‘Pure Warrior’. There are many stories about women warriors who are righteous and just and almost Madonna-like (holy, not musical) in their pure quest for victory. Not Nyx. Nyx is a ruthless mercenary who kills for money, not morals and not loyalty. She is not the one to save the cat, she is one to save herself.

Each of these examples show how good science fiction can challenge what we think we know about a shared experience and collective identity. I see aspects of myself, my sister, my mother, and my friends in all of these characters – and I love that they broaden my understanding of what being female is and can be.

Challenging gender stereotypes creates a more dynamic and fluid understanding of identity and allows us to create more personal reflections of the cultural stereotypes that have previously limited us.

I hope to read, and create more amazing and interesting and unique female characters that continue to challenge and inspire me.

What Fans Say About ResistanceLove thought-provoking and subversive science fiction? Check out the Divided Elements series, where forging your own identity is the most dangerous form of revolution.

From the moment you are born, you are conditioned to know this truth: Unorthodoxy is wrong action, Heterodoxy is wrong thought. One will lead to your Detention. The other to your Execution.

Two generations after the Execution of Kane 148 and Otpor’s return to Orthodoxy, the Resistor’s legacy still lingers.

In this future, post-apocalyptic Paris, forbidden murals are appearing on crumbling concrete walls – calling citizens to action. Calling for Resistance.

When Kane’s former protégé, Anaiya 234, is selected for a high-risk undercover mission, Otpor is given the chance it needs to eliminate the Heterodoxy and Anaiya the opportunity she craves to erase a shameful past.

But the mission demands an impossible sacrifice – her identity.

While the growing rebellion will change the utopian lives of all Otpor’s citizens, for Anaiya it will change who she is. As the risk of violence escalates and every decision is fraught with betrayal, will Anaiya’s fractured identity save her or condemn her?

Winner of a 2017 OneBookTwo Standout Award, Resistance (Divided Elements #1) is free for a limited time. Rebellion (Divided Elements #2) is now available as an ebook from all major distributors.

Get your free Cocktail Companion Guide and deleted prologue by signing up to Mikhaeyla’s newsletter.

author picture MIKHAEYLA KOPIEVSKY is an independent speculative fiction author who loves writing about complex and flawed characters in stories that explore philosophy, sociology and politics. She holds degrees in International Relations, Journalism, and Environmental Science. A former counter-terrorism advisor, she has travelled to and worked in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Mikhaeyla lives in the Hunter Valley, Australia, with her husband and son. Divided Elements is her debut offering.

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Women of Scifi – Writing Beneath a Glass Ceiling #author #scifi #sciencefiction #amwriting

I’m lucky enough to have several scifi authors guest posting on my blog. If you think women don’t write science fiction, you’re in for a surprise. If you wonder how women become scifi authors, you’ll find out from the first author in this series, Anela Deen, whose scifi book Insurrection is available now. Welcome Anela!

Every author will tell you critique groups are essential to the writing process. We need other writers to go over those passionate scribbles and point out the spots that need work. I tend to use online groups because you get a variety of readers and people seem to lean more towards honesty if they aren’t sitting face-to-face with each other. I’ve found them to be full of well-meaning writers looking to support, encourage, and improve each other’s art…that is until I asked for feedback on a Sci-Fi story I wrote.

No Girls Allowed

Let me back up a bit here before I tell you what happened. Last year the Twittersphere lit up with the hashtag  #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear. Women tweeted about the gender assumptions they face when it comes to their writing. What stood out to me, having experienced it myself, is the condescension and oftentimes outright belligerence doled out to women who dare to publish in genres viewed as “belonging to men”. Like Science-Fiction.

Anela Deen Guest Post

This is not a new issue, Continue reading

Scifi by Asimov and a Transgendered Search for Identify – Wait a Minute – Isaac Asimov? #scifi #sciencefiction #bookreview #genderequality

cover Robots of DawnIsaac Asimov, a giant of early 20th Century science fiction, is often criticized for awkward writing with flat characters. Could his book The Robots of Dawn, and in particular a sex scene in the story (Asimov? sex?) have helped a trans preteen find his way?

This is a great article and you should read it in its entirety. What riveted the author about Asimov’s character was:

Bailey’s desires and fantasies effortlessly become reality: Without his asking for it, sex came to him exactly as he imagined it because he was a smart masculine detective guy. I wanted that pleasure and ease and wordless understanding between the object of my desire and myself…
The phrase I now have for it is gender dysphoria—I shunned any experience that sought to tie me to my female body, and in turn escaped that body by mapping my sexual fantasies onto those of cisgender, heterosexual men, in scifi, in pornography, and beyond.

Asimov’s story focuses on a case of roboticide. There are, of course, robots with positronic brainpaths (Mr. Data, here’s your creator.) But he set his story on a planet where sex is casual and monogamy nonexistent. Well, Asimov is also known for writing for adolescent boys. And his story opened up new possibilities for at least one youngster.

I’ve never read the book and headed to Amazon to find over 200 reviews and a 4.5 star rating. Readers love the robot mystery, and also note some elements that didn’t age well over the decades.

  • Fascinating take on culture clashes and assumptions made–even while it remains blind to some of the assumptions of the time period in which it was written.
  • The sex scenes were written in an odd way, I thought, showing that the character (as well as the author perhaps?) was not comfortable
  • There doesn’t seem to be any ethnic diversity
  • This book dragged on and on. I bought it for my 14 year old and found it was really inappropriate.

Even the writer who found the book transformative as a preteen says, “When I re-read The Robots of Dawn now, passages that I absorbed uncritically at the time are transformed into stumbling blocks… a fantasy world that had no place for me or anyone like me.”

I’ve found some of Asimov’s other work to be dated. I have fond memories of some of his books and have avoided re-reading them exactly because I don’t want to spoil the memories.

I’m intrigued. The book resonated for a particular person at a particular point in his young life. What do you think? Should I read Robots of Dawn? Will you read it?

Read for Free – great ebook deals here #reading #scifi #books #GiveawayAlert #stories

woman readingLooking for something to read? Tired of the same old authors? Then snap up a freebie and find a new favorite. You’ll find links to current and upcoming giveaways on my Read For Free page.

Click now.

Summer Book Sale, All Kinds, Links Here, Leave Comments #books #ebook #reading #readingtweet

Colony on Mars series coversIt’s half over but still time for great deals.  My links are below, and click here for loads more books in all genres!

Please do me a favor. Come back here and enter a comment on a book – one sentence is enough for me to share with other readers!

Here are my Smashwords links! The discount code is on each page. Thanks for your help 🙂

50% off Colony on Mars Box Set – all 5 stories, what a deal

50% off Storm on Mars – the latest Mars colonization book

50% off Venture – space station disaster leads to a fantastic journey

Science inspired poetry collections – 1st collection free, 2nd collection free, latest collection 50% off

Glitch, my predictions of the future rolled into a story, free

It’s summer! The perfect time for great deals on books. I publish through Smashwords and they run a blow-out sale every July. Now’s the time to download your summer reading and find a new favorite author.

Browse all the great Smashwords deals here.

Do it now – these deals expire 11:59pm USA Pacific time on July 31

Summer Book Sale – Yeah, there’s me, but lots more too :) #books #ebook #reading #redaingtweet

Colony on Mars series coversIt’s summer! Time for great deals on ebooks. I publish through Smashwords and they run a blow-out sale every July. Now’s the time to download your summer reading and find a new favorite author.

Browse all the great Smashwords deals here.

Below are my Smashwords links! The discount code is on each page. Please leave a review – a sentence or two is all it takes to make my day 😉 Thanks for your help.

50% off Colony on Mars Box Set – all 5 stories, what a deal

50% off Storm on Mars – the latest Mars colonization book

50% off Venture – space station disaster leads to a fantastic journey

Science inspired poetry collections – 1st collection free, 2nd collection free, latest collection 50% off

Glitch, my predictions of the future rolled into a story, free.

Do it now – these deals expire 11:59pm USA Pacific time on July 31

Bowl of Heaven a bowl of rehash, doesn’t even have an ending #bookreview #review #scifi #sciencefiction

Bowl of Heaven coverIt’s not often I finish a book with the urge to throw it across the room, but that’s where Bowl of Heaven left me. I didn’t even get that satisfaction because I had a hardcover book and was afraid I’d break something.

With two popular authors, “science fiction masters” (so the blurb says) Larry Niven (best known for Ringworld) and Gregory Benford (best known for Timescape) I expected more. The story begins with grand ideas – an interstellar ship with most of the crew in hibernation and an amazing, huge ship-star, a variation on a Dyson sphere (and, therefore, a variation on Niven’s Ringworld from 1970) that is quite cool and fun to contemplate. Cool enough that the book seems to repeat descriptions and slack-jawed wonder of the contrivance (the authors like the word contrivance) from time to time throughout the book. But, okay, maybe some readers forget and appreciate the repetition. I noticed but wasn’t especially annoyed.

A landing party from the interstellar ship gets separated, one group captured by the enormous bird-like rulers, the other running and trying to learn about the vast contrivance. They’re mostly on foot so we see only a teeny tiny bit of the vast Bowl. The captured group escapes, so the story follows two groups on the run in the Bowl, plus those remaining on their ship above the contrivance. (I’m getting used to that word.)

Some scenes are told from the Bird-Folk’s point of view and therefore comment on humanity’s weaknesses, though I couldn’t shake the image of Sesame Street’s Big Bird from my mind.

The landings parties wander around the Bowl. Well, I guess wander isn’t fair – they are being chased. As the story progresses, they find more interesting technologies and species of Bowl inhabitants. Interesting, but not especially riveting.

What got me was – the book ends after 400+ pages, but the story doesn’t. There isn’t even a particular cliffhanger. It just stops – go buy the next book. The blurb on Amazon doesn’t warn you that you’re buying half a story (at $8.99 for the Kindle version.) That makes me angry. I’m used to multi-book series, but I expect each book to have an ending. Scheisse. The next book is available. They call it a sequel. Sequel my eye – it’s part 2, and I hope the story gets to a conclusion, but I don’t expect to read it.

The Bowl gets 3.1 stars on Amazon (from a hefty 291 reviews the day I checked.) I’ve never seen a distribution like this – reviews are evenly divided among all five star rating levels! As many people hate the book as love it.

“Old themes rewarmed and mixed together,” “long, rambling, resolves nothing.” I agree with those comments. “Physics is solid and the engineering is great.” I agree with that too. Maybe that’s why the book returns to descriptions of the Bowl so often.

So after six years on Amazon Kindle, how can this book still rank #644 in its scifi category? With an overall Kindle store ranking of #118,990, someone buys the book every day. Those are awesome rankings that I, as a newbie scifi author, would love to have.

Come on people. Try something new! How about my near-future Mars colony? Find Glory on Mars and the rest of the series on Amazon and other favorite stores. Or join my Readers’ Club and get a coupon for a free download of Glory on Mars. Mars isn’t as big as the Bowl, but give the story a try.

RetrogradeIf not my story, give someone’s story a try. You can probably buy two or three ebooks from new authors for what the Bowl will cost you. Here’s a story by a friend of mine that offers the exploits of an interstellar diplomat, with thoughtful themes I rarely find in scifi. With art on the cover instead of the almost-standard Fiverr covers assembled from stock images. Creativity is good 🙂