Water on Mars Chap 1 #Mars #scifi #book #free

“The significance of our lives and our fragile realm derives from our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning.” Carl Sagan


water-cs-cover-aug-2016-sizedSettlers arrived on Mars generations ago, sent by rivals on Earth. Kamp Kans was the first colony, established by visionaries from Europe’s Low Countries near the volcanoes of the Tharsis Bulge. Half a planet away, Fenghuang District was sent by a Sino-African cartel to the lowlands of Utopia Planatia. Neither Earther group could bear the vast expense of interplanetary missions for long, so the few dozen colonists joined together in a struggle to survive on their own. But survival of the Earth-borns wasn’t enough. If humans were to make the hostile planet their home, the colony had to grow.

Iron and copper was found near Kamp, and water and air were relatively plentiful at District. When prospectors discovered technology metals in the Tartarus Mountains, midway between the settlements, the settlers could finally fabricate more equipment, including squads of robots to work on Mars’ surface. From their new Cerberus Base, roboticists constructed a transit corridor to unite Kamp and District and, spaced along the route, they built burgs that each specialized in a vital technology. Now, no disaster at any one habitat could destroy the colony.

Finally feeling secure, the settlers had planned for everything except what happened.

Chapter One: Kamp Kans

Bliss stopped in the archway. The transit corridor was behind her and the largest city on Mars was in front, home to half the settlers on the planet, six hundred eighty-one people. She stepped through the arch. Now there were six hundred eighty-two. It looked like all of them were swarming through the plaza.


Inspiration for how to design an underground colony – a shopping mall inside a Las Vegas casino – this is much nicer than Kamp on Mars

Apprehension tinged Bliss’s excitement. Kamp’s plaza was a standard colony bay, a hundred paces long, but at home there were only twenty-four settlers. In front of Bliss was a whirl of people like a human sand storm reverberating with sound. A man erupted from the throng and headed straight towards her at a gallop.

“Hey, you!” A woman in crisp khaki coveralls ran after him.

Bliss jumped back only to bump into someone behind her. She spun around, apologizing.


“Hello, little lady.” Bliss had a glimpse of a scraggily beard and a grin full of teeth as the man grabbed her elbow to steady her, then disappeared down the corridor.

“So, you’re in league with that miscreant.” The khaki woman planted herself in front of Bliss, fists on hips. She interrupted Bliss’s confused stammer to point straight at her chest.

Bliss looked down to find a small bolt of fabric in her arms. The grinning man had slammed it against her and her hands reflexively clutched the short roll.

She held the fabric out, trying to explain.

“I’ve never seen you before.” The woman’s eyes narrowed but she made no move to take the roll.

“Give the girl a break.” A circle of people had formed around them and another man pushed through. “I was watching. That Basic dumped it on her.”

“If this is yours, please take it.” Bliss held the fabric out. “I don’t know anyone here. I’ve only just arrived from Hibes.”

“You nederlanders need to get smart in a hurry.” The khaki woman took the roll. “You’re in Kamp now.”

Individuals disappeared back into the crowd.

Bliss slid through the horde to stand with her back against the plaza’s central pond. Her heartbeat slowed as she regained her equilibrium.

The woman called her nederlander. She didn’t understand exactly what had happened, but that was no reason to tag her as stupid. Stupid because she came from a burg, one of the small habitats strung along the colony’s transit corridor.

She plucked at her own shapeless coveralls. She’d scrubbed the smell of Hibes’ fish farm from them, but the fabric was worn thin in places and patched in others. Maybe she was a nederlander, but she had the same Basic Education as anyone on Mars. She had her new adult-qualification badge and an internship. And she planned to find a permanent job. She’d be a real Kamper soon, part of the colorful crowd surging through the plaza.

If she’d somehow made a mistake this sol, she’d apologize to the khaki woman. But later. Bliss had been traveling twenty-four and a half hours a sol for five sols, stopping at transit stations only to grab a meal and switch to a taxi with a charged battery.

I won’t look for that woman now, she thought. It made sense to follow her original plan tonight and her enthusiasm returned with the decision.

Bliss wanted excitement in her life and her arrival proved this was no boring little burg like Hibes. This was the much-expanded home of twenty-eight Earth-borns who’d arrived on Mars eight generations ago. Named in honor of an old robotic mission by Dutch visionaries who launched the colony, it was Kamp Kans – Opportunity Site. The first habitat was once called a nederzetting, she reminder herself. It was an honorable term. But she was a Kamper now.

She squared her shoulders and tipped her chin up proudly, defying any doubts.

Bliss had planned this move for as long as she could remember, all through Basic Education. Now she was here.


Another view of a lovely casino shopping mall - settlers won't have it so nice

Another view of a lovely casino shopping mall – but Kamp is built of stone fabricated from the orange Mars sands

It was supper time and Kampers streamed by, headed through an archway that must lead to the cafeteria. Bliss smiled tentatively, but people hurried by without a sideways glance. When she did catch someone’s eye, they nodded back pleasantly enough. Most were dressed in khaki coveralls, clean even at the end of the sol, but there were frequent splashes of colorful shirts and bandanas. Kamp was a prosperous city and people had more than Basic goods.

Bliss leaned against a central pond built of waist-high stone and saw it didn’t simply house fish. Instead of aerators, a fountain burbled over decoratively stacked rocks at each end. Its sides were gleaming white, contrasting beautifully with the floor of massive stone fabricated from Martian sand in splotches of beige, brown, and orange. Fabricated walls curved to a barrel-vaulted ceiling that seemed higher than her home plaza, though she knew the bays were standard construction. It must be the colors and sounds that made Kamp’s plaza feel so big.

Bliss crossed the plaza with a light step, her pale auburn braid bouncing against her backpack. She was a city girl now, on her own for the first time, and she planned to enjoy every sol. She started by browsing kiosks selling Extras. It was like visiting every burg on Mars, only better. There were dates from Planitia Hamlet, apples from Olympus, and fabrics woven from Amenthes’ bioreactor outputs.


She spun around, startled at the sound of her name.

“Beeb, who’s calling me?”

“That is Nia calling you.” The colony’s Artificial Intelligence responded through her ear gel. “Her kiosk is to your right.”

Oh, yeah, Nia lived in Kamp now. She’d raised a family in Hibes and was an aunt to Bliss – her children were Bliss’s kinderen cousins. Last jaar Nia returned to Kamp, her childhood home, when her last boy adult-qualified. Only my parents, Bliss thought, want to spend their whole life in Hibes, smelling of fish guts and mealworm bedding.

She spotted the short, energetic woman and waved.

Nia kept ties with Hibes and bought their mealworms to sell, spiced using a recipe Bliss’s parents had developed. Bliss breathed in the familiar smell as she approached a sample bowl on Nia’s counter and reached for a worm. She had to admit, they were delicious, and reached for another.

“None of that, girl,” Nia said sharply. A tight pony tail emphasized her wide face and stern expression. “Your mother told me you’ve got a position in Kamp, so you can buy a bag like everyone else.”

Bliss gripped her pack’s shoulder straps with both hands to keep them from wandering back to the worms. A man waiting at the counter chuckled.

Nia handed the man a bag of freshly fried worms, reached into a tub behind the counter, and dumped a handful into a pan.

“Don’t be telling your mother they aren’t fresh,” she said as Bliss leaned forward and frowned at the pan. “I freeze them before cooking. Kampers don’t like to see their mealworms writhing when they hit the heat.

“When do you start your job?” Nia asked.

“In a couple sols.”

“I could use some help. Want a job in the kiosk until then?”

“Oh, no,” Bliss said. “I came early so I can look around.”

Nia harrumphed with a parental sort of disapproval. But Bliss clamped her lips together tightly, refusing to be swayed.

“Which job did you get?” Nia asked without looking up from her pan.

“Building a public park. The first one on Mars.”

“That’s Vance’s project, isn’t it? You’ll be working in a surface suit. Did you know that?”

“Of course.” The project sounded grand, though Bliss didn’t know much more than what she’d told Nia. The intern posting was vague. She hadn’t told her parents it required surface-qualification, though of course her father looked it up. With her mother, he tried to talk her out of taking the job, saying risks on the surface were too great for a recreational park, for anything non-essential.

She said goodbye to Nia without buying any mealworms and slipped back into the crowd.


Join Bliss in her lava tube

Despite being a Kamper, Nia had fit in with Bliss’s parents at Hibes – practical like they were and always working. Bliss understood why there was little time for play. There were as many tasks vital to survival in a little burg as in a city. Life support had to be maintained with human hands – all those pumps and compressors and fans. Ignoring a rattle or leak could lead to a system failure. Mars was a deadly planet and technology kept them alive.

Beyond life support, wastes had to be recycled, clothes cleaned, food cooked – and then the fish and mealworms tended. While Bliss was growing up there were only eight adults in Hibes with their gaggle of children, so she learned to work hard, even if she couldn’t resist sneaking off sometimes to play games or view entertainments. She’d always felt guilty when her mother tracked her down in some corner, but she also knew there was more to life than raising fish and children.

Of course, one thing her parents never did was go out on the planet’s surface. Each burg had a squad of robots to construct new bays and harvest air and water from the scant supply in Martian sand dunes. Not a large squad like the one constructing bays for Kamp, just three bots controlled by the colony’s AI. But when they needed human maintenance, specialists came to Hibes.

A surface requirement added a thrill to the intern posting. Bliss was glad her parents had argued with her, because that gave her a reason to dig in her heels. Being contrary had advantages. It ensured she applied for the position, guaranteed she’d accept it, and made it easy to push any of her own misgivings aside.

People go out on the surface all the time, she’d told her parents with exaggerated patience. It’s perfectly safe.


Water on Mars coming in late November 2016two ways to ensure you don’t miss the release. Subscribe to my Reader’s Club or sign up with Smashwords. Don’t miss out! An in the meantime, catch up with the first three On Mars books.


Destiny in Dystopian World Results in the Book “Divergent” #WritingTips #scifi #review #bookreview

divergentDivergent is one of the current crop of dystopias, perhaps inspired by Hunger Games, where teenagers fight each other and sometimes kill. Divergent offers a society inhabited by people like us in a world detached from time and place. It might be a future Chicago since there are a few references like Michigan Avenue and the Hancock Building, but the location doesn’t matter. The technology in this world seems about like ours (although fluorescent lights are called “ancient”) except with more advanced mind manipulation techniques.

In this world, citizens are separated into five factions that dislike and distrust each other. The factions are based on the virtues they venerate – Candor values honesty; Abnegation (now there’s a word!) – selflessness; Dauntless – bravery; Amity – peacefulness; and Erudite – intelligence. But an individual’s personality also has an influence. At age sixteen, a virtual reality test is given to determine if the teen fits their parents’ faction and only the teen is supposed to know the test’s outcome. Then they must choose the faction they will live with the rest of their lives. A bit contrived, but I always give a story it’s premise if possible.

The hero is a girl who changes factions and must struggle through a training and initiation period that is both mentally and physically grueling. Most of the book follows her through these trials with the friends and enemies she makes along the way. Eventually she discovers a dark plot brewing and must move beyond her own problems. Towards the end, some adults actually take positive roles.

Thousands of reviewers on Amazon love this book. A comparative few simply couldn’t accept the premise or didn’t like the characters, or felt Divergent compared poorly to Hunger Games. Some felt “there are way too many books about kids killing each other these days.” (Lisa Babcock).

The book kept me reading right along. This is clearly the first book in a series, and some interesting elements, like “factionless” loners, were introduced (I assume) to be used in the next book. The book does, however, have an ending of its own. Perhaps if you’ve ODed on teen dystopias, you should give the genre a rest. But otherwise this is a good read.

Writing Advice
I’ve been trying to learn something about writing science fiction as I read successful novels.

I found it interesting that the world of Divergent only adds one “high-tech” improvement – mind manipulation. Fists, knives, and guns form the weaponry. Everything from transportation to food seems pretty mundane. This may be a wise choice. Trying to introduce and explain multiple technologies may produce a pedantic book. Omitting explanations may leave readers bewildered. It’s a tough call because, for me, experiencing a different world is part of the fun of science fiction and obviously the future (or an alternate universe) will be different from my world in many ways.

A writing tip I’ve seen is to grab the reader with action in the first 250 words. Divergent begins with the hero (first person narration and present tense) looking at herself in the mirror and thinking. Suspense is added shortly after as she worries about her aptitude test and we begin to learn about her world.

Did it work? Even some of the book’s fans say it starts slow. The start didn’t stop me from reading, but then, personally, I don’t need a James Bond movie sort of first scene.

In Writing Fight Scenes, Rayne Hall recommends:

  • Build suspense with the immediate preliminaries,
  • Avoid prolonged stretches of blow-by-blow description,
  • Provide a surprise – (something happens that is outside the fighters’ control) and a climax when the character may be close to giving up or being defeated.
  • Depending on how realistic the story, an aftermath should take stock, feel pain, and check injuries.

Divergent follows this advice fairly well across a series of fights, though without the surprise/climax. Like most action adventures, I suspect in reality the characters would be reduced to hospitalized immobility by some of the action scenes, but we all seem to accept that in movies so why not in books.

I am closer to understanding “show don’t tell” advice. When Roth writes

The houses on my street are all the same size and shape. They are made of gray cement, with few windows, in economical, no-nonsense rectangles”

I think she is showing me the street via description. “Show and Tell” also relates to pacing: To write “I try to smile convincingly” takes fewer words than describing her appearance. How would you even describe that face so readers would easily understand?

Some adverbs do creep in violating the advice to choose a better word rather than add an adverb. But I think even Stephen King slips an adverb in occasionally.

As for “saidisms,” Roth mostly sticks to “say” and “ask” as current advice recommends.

Get Your Butt in the Seat and Write

NaNoWrMo logoNovember is National Novel Writing Month. Have you started yours?

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.” nanowrimo.org

This is a world-wide challenge, most popular in the United States and Western Europe.

I wrote the first draft of my science fiction novel Glitch inspired by NaNoWriMo and encouraged by a long-time friend. I stuck pretty close to a goal of writing 2,000 words a day. Each morning started with a few hundred pitiful words, then the dog’s morning walk. As I walked, the blocks in my brain would breach and by the time I got home, the words were ready to flow. But the huge problem with my first draft was continuity. I wrote out of sequence and purely for my own interests. It took several more drafts to beat out a coherent story. Glitch is still available. I can proudly say: it’s not terrible. Most of my (far too few) reader reviews agree with my own, biased assessment. I have a second novel, Venture, available and I’m working on a third. I’m learning and, I think, getting better. I wouldn’t call it “fun” exactly, but satisfying, interesting, addictive.

The experience led me to study advice for writers – I can’t help it, I’m and engineer and want to know how things work. I now go back and forth between outlining my story and drafting chapters. I try to keep a running list of each chapter’s content, so I have fewer problems describing – say – a character’s hair as brown in one place and blond somewhere else.

Try writing a novel, if only to find out how hard it can be. You’ll appreciate your favorite writers more. You don’t have to publish to have fun. Write just for yourself, or for your own group of friends. To publish on a social site, try Wattpad.com.  If you’re brave enough or maybe foolish enough, offer your work to others to critique. Whether you believe the saying “everybody has a book in them,” or, like Christopher Hitchens, “everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay,” it’s a great experience.

Now if I can just figure out how to keep the cat off the keyboard.

Harvey 10 helping type minutes (640x499)

Sols on #Mars


Colony concept. Cutaway shows underground hydroponics.

I’m working on a new book for next summer set at a colony on Mars. Personally, I feel conflicted about colonizing Mars. It will be such a hard life, huddled inside tiny quarters, subsistence farming, and dependent on technology to do everything including breath. A recent MIT study raises a fear I hadn’t thought of: raising enough plants in a small space may generate so much oxygen that fire becomes a huge hazard. They also think the technology isn’t as much of a slam-dunk as Mars One advertises. So I don’t think I have to worry about the possibility for myself.

But my question today is less profound.

When writing about people on Mars, it seems to me I need to use some terms that acknowledge the differences in years and days between Earth and Mars. NASA uses the term “sol” for a Martian day, which is only slightly longer than an Earth day. “The word ‘yestersol’ was coined by the NASA Mars operations team early during the MER mission to refer to the previous sol (the Mars version of ‘yesterday’) and came into fairly wide use within that organization during the Mars Exploration Rover Mission of 2003. It was even picked up and used by the press. Other neologisms include ‘tosol’ (for ‘today’) and ‘nextersol’, ‘morrowsol’, or ‘solmorrow’ (for ‘tomorrow’)” Wikipedia

Much as I love these terms (“nextersol”, how cool is that?) I’m concerned a reader will trip over them and ultimately find them annoying and distracting. Knocking a reader out of the story is too high a price to pay just because I think the words are cute. I recall a tip I read somewhere: Write for yourself, and edit for your readers.

What do you think?

Sphere, a Hit Science Fiction Book :) #amreading #review #bookreview #scifi

SphereIn my attempt to understand writing advice, I’m reading popular science fiction novels with an eye to learning. I recently read Sphere by Michael Crichton. The book has a 4 1/2 star average on Amazon with 831 reviews, 83% of them giving 4 or 5 stars. That’s beyond popular – it’s phenomenal. The criticism I noticed most was from readers who disliked the ending. There was a one-star review that said “a book that kept me up until 3 a.m.” but the reviewer didn’t like the ending. As a new author, I think I’d be thrilled with that review.

As a reader, I enjoyed the book and happily read to the end. Like some reviewers on Amazon, I noticed a similarity to the classic scifi movie Forbidden Planet, but the setting is different enough that it didn’t bother me. Crichton is known for basing his stories on science, and Sphere includes a neat view of life in a deep (really deep) sea habitat. Since the story is fiction, the author is entitled to departures from reality even in the (presumably) real portions of the story. For example, after a description of how sounds go squeaky in a helium-dominated atmosphere, each character hangs a “talker” around their neck. I wonder if there is such a thing, or if it’s simply convenient that they speak in normal tones for the rest of the story. (I often wonder how much nonsense is inside my head because of something I read in fiction that sounded real enough to believe.)

Did Crichton follow typical writing advice?

The advice: Characters should have demographic, family, and psychological histories.
Crichton gave his protagonist some perfunctory family background that, for me, could have been skipped entirely. The protag’s technical background as an academic psychologist is important to the story and Crichton offers an entire chapter on this. I found that chapter interesting, but the story would have been the same if Crichton wrote one paragraph saying ‘he’s a big-shot psychologist.’ It was a “data dump” but it didn’t discourage me from continuing to read.
Why did it work? Crichton interspersed the data dump with some comic elements (political big-shots asking silly questions about aliens). He presented the dump early, so it did not interrupt the action. He limited his data dumps: other main characters were given technical backgrounds that supported what they did in the story, but only the protag at the data dump level.

The advice: Show, don’t tell.
Crichton “told” often. Some was in context – the leader gives a briefing to new arrivals. Some was blatant telling in the narrator voice: “Many theorists argued… Men already had trouble communicating… Yet men and dolphins might appear virtually identical… But the field of knowledge we were most likely to share…” That is the beginning of each of a string of paragraphs. The “telling” ends by coming back to why “the team mathematician was going to play a crucial role.” Crichton often simply tells something, then proceeds to use the information in the story. But some of his telling is not critical to the story.
Why did it work? It was easy to swallow. For me, the science in the “telling” sounded real and interesting. Otherwise, the “told” information was slipped in easily and used immediately.
The advice: Avoid “saidisms”. He said, she said, is best unless you can drop the “said” altogether because it’s obvious who spoke.
This is advice Crichton follows. And, rather than inserting the dreaded adverb, Crichton couples dialog with action:

  • “‘Oh my God,’ she said. She pushed her thick dark hair away from her face.” (As an added bonus, this character’s physical description becomes a plot point late in the book);
  • “Norman went on in a rush. ‘And when does Jerry…'”

The advice: details of the setting must matter to the story and be there for a reason. The character’s perception of the setting matters more than objective description.
Crichton follows this advice. The setting is strange and unfamiliar, inherently dangerous – a deep sea habitat with helium-dominant atmosphere. Crichton is known for the science and technology behind his settings. His descriptions gave me a good picture of what it would be like in such a place and I can follow how it falls apart during the story. The main character often gives his personal perception of the setting.

What did I learn? Crichton puts in words that are necessary to the story or the setting. Description creates reality for the reader, and Crichton creates a believable world. Where showing would cost a lot of words, he tells the reader something simply – then uses the information (though I might quibble on some of the backstory).

While no single book makes everyone happy, Sphere is a smash hit. I’ll try to learn from it. If you’ve read Sphere, why do you think it worked? Or not?

By the way, Sphere’s copyright is 1987. Do you think I’m making a mistake looking at an older book for guidance? Has the measure of fiction writing changed enough in thirty years to make its appeal irrelevant?

A Nobel Prize Proves It – I Live Under a Rock #sciencefiction #review #bookreview #literary #scifi

Never Let Me GoI read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro with a purpose – I want to understand what makes a science fiction novel popular and commercially successful. According to the cover, Time called it “the best novel of the decade.” Over a thousand reviews on Amazon average to four stars. So I read the book trying to pay attention and learn.

UPDATE: Ishiguro just won the Nobel! And I didn’t like his book! Guess I’m out of touch. But read on and find out why.

The book opens with a data dump – something all writing advice says you must never do. We do learn a titillating detail: that the characters are “donating” their organs until they “complete.” I don’t think this next sentence is much of a SPOILER – it seemed obvious in the first few pages that these young, healthy people “donate” organs until they are killed. Later we learn they are clones and a callous world thinks raising children to produce adult-sized organs is acceptable.

Despite the science fiction premise, the book is about the relationships of teenage boarding school kids – who likes whom, who bullies whom, and (as they grow) who has sex (not graphic). The narrator tells the story as a memoir and frequently interrupts herself to explain things. Although the story covers their teens and 20s, the characters sound pretty much the same throughout the book. They show little initiative, and though they are raised to accept being “donors,” no particular indoctrination justifies their passive attitudes. It was hard for me to identify with any of them. Only one character was upset at having his organs harvested.

The premise is flawed for me. I will accept a fictional world where “they” raise others to provide organs, but in this world, they harvest the organs in four separate surgeries with lengthy and presumably expensive recoveries between. That makes no sense – it would be more efficient for a callous society to harvest all the organs at once. But not as tragic, I suppose, for the characters.

The organs don’t go to the people these kids were cloned from – so cloning seems like an unnecessary complication. I don’t see the point, other than adding an icky note. There’s no discussion of how or why the society decided to grow these children, so I don’t see why some reviewers (see below) think the ethics of science are being revealed. Any thoughts about ethics remain for the reader to invent.

The Big Discovery near the end of the book occurs when the two main characters sit in arm chairs and listen to a third character explain things (while inexplicably worrying about men moving a piece of furniture in the next room). What happened to that cornerstone piece of writing advice, “show, don’t tell”?

I can’t explain this book’s appeal, but I can quote from those who love it (from Amazon):

  • “Kazuo Ishiguro’s quietly disturbing novel aims to make us question the ethics of science”
  • “richly textured description of the relationships”
  • “the author not only conjures the question of the meaning of life, he asks us to contemplate the tragedy of wasted lives.”
  • “a transcendent novel, an astonishingly powerful work of literature”
  • “This novel works beautifully on multiple levels, giving it a quality that kept me thinking about its plot, characters and themes long after I finished its final page”
  • “The horror of Never Let Me Go is that the [characters] know almost exactly what lies beyond the curtain and they continue to look and participate in the pageantry of life anyway. How human of them”
  • “The book is a beautiful meditation… I must say that I am baffled at all the negative reviews” [About a third of the reviews are 3, 2, or 1 star]

I don’t know what I’ve learned from the book – maybe that general literary fiction has a wider appeal than the genre of science fiction (one five-star review said “the story didn’t feel like science fiction” and I agree), or that teenage angst is not as interesting to me as it is to many others. Or that, being so out of touch with a Nobel laureate, it appears that I live under a rock.

UPDATE: Today (4/28/18) I looked at the Amazon book page again, and now the sub-categories listed are all in Literary Fiction. I understand Amazon may have the book listed in other places- they only show the 3 sub-categories a book is doing best in – but Literary Fiction seems like a better description to me. The three sub-categories today are Satire, British & Irish, and Psychological.

Can Someone With Low EQ Write?

nerd-science-guy-mdEQ is Emotional Quotient, or Emotional Intelligence: “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.”

That’s a definition meant for me. Women are supposed to have lots of EQ – but not all of us do.

I like to think of myself as a goal oriented team player, but not everyone sees me that way. I can be startled when someone is upset with me – I wasn’t feeling upset or angry. My college room mate once didn’t speak to me for two weeks and I never did understand why.

Low EQ hasn’t stopped me from having a good life. I became an engineer and found friends just as pitiful in the EQ department as I am. I married an engineer. I was lured into writing fiction by a friend – I love to read, so it should be fun to write, right?

I find a lot of entertainment to be overwrought, which probably is part of why science fiction attracts me. It tends to require that I “integrate emotion to facilitate thought” less.

Bernadette on "The Big Bang Theory." Somebody loves a nerd.

Bernadette on “The Big Bang Theory.” Somebody loves a nerd.


That doesn’t mean I’m a robot. I “feel” my characters, and I want to share that feeling. But the engineer in me believes in learning, in analysis. So I like this post at http://critters.org/rel/rel.ht:

“Better” SF stories pay more attention to characters’ inter-personal relationships [than ordinary science fiction].”

The post scores large numbers of books on the “interpersonal relationships” of the characters. Out of a possible 100 perfect score that makes Oprah fans cry:

  • Science fiction/fantasy overall scores an average of 22.5.
  • Award winning/famous science fiction scores 30
  • Ordinary science fiction scores 15
  • For comparison, non-genre mainstream fiction scores 55

The scoring is explained, there’s a link to all the book titles and scores, and even a discussion of statistics. Hot damn!

(I scored my first novel and it was a bit above average. But maybe scoring my own book is circular.)

What do you think? What’s a low EQ author to do?

Oh, wait – hang on – let me add…

smiley face





(That’s supposed to be ironic. Did I get it? Did I?)

PS from 9/7/2014: I’ve gotten a lot of “views” on this posting – but no comments. What do you think? Am I doomed?