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

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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.

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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 🙂

Behind the Scenes of a Mars Colony, Treachery Threatens Survival #sciencefiction #Mars #military #space #scifi #story #reading #review #bookreview

We Are Mars coverCheryl Lawson’s Mars colony was established 52 years ago in story-time, which is decades into our real-life future. Placing a colony underground and genetically-modifying the humans born there made survival possible. Now, vital systems are becoming hard to maintain, they are heavily dependent on Earth, and the g-mod program is vital to ongoing support.

As the story opens, someone is drilling deep into a Martian glacier. He’s up to no good, and colonists are too worried about their spiraling maintenance problems, and (like most real people) too involved in their own relationship games to realize.

A breathtaking discovery and a dangerous system failure combine to create a race against time and a desperate fight to stay alive. Just when it seems the colony will survive, things go wildly-wrong again.

Mistakes are made, allegiances shift and lives hang in the balance. No one can be trusted as allies become enemies and the true nature of life on Mars is revealed – One wrong move, and it will be your last.

A wonderful read with a surprising relationship twist near the end. This is a fine addition to the Mars genre of scifi. I especially liked how real Mars and the colony felt. Lawson’s descriptions are fun: for example, ejecta from a crater is “a frozen splash in a bowl of tomato soup.” I also liked getting inside the characters. Each one has a generous introduction.

I scored a pre-release copy – We Are Mars is due out May 15th. So mark your calendars or better yet, pre-order today so you don’t miss out. The book is subtitled “Part One” so it ends with the hook for the next book, a hint of what’s coming.

Scifi Mars Colony in Big Trouble, But Can’t Be Bummed All the Time #cat #Mars #scifi #sciencefiction #trailer #story

While Emma and her friends struggle to save their lives and colony, what’s the cat they brought to Mars doing? It’s fun to imagine in this video.

Anxious about her one-way journey, a young roboticist won’t back out despite tragedy in the tiny colony. Admirable, but it may get her killed, because something is terribly wrong on Mars.

Scifi Mars Colony - Kate RaunerAll five books in the Mars series are available on Amazon, individually or in a Box Set (great value for hours of reading pleasure.) But you’re not stuck with Amazon! Also available from other favorite stores, individually or in that same Box Set. Join the colony. Read one today.

Conspiracy on the Moon drives this scifi heroine #bookreview #review #sciencefiction #scifi

Artemis book cover

Not the most exciting cover I’ve ever seen

If you enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian (the book or the movie) you’ll find his style carries over to Artemis. The story (with maps!) is set on the Moon, in an established (if small) lunar city. The main character, Jazz, is a young woman of Arab and Islamic descent. Her background contributes to the story, but she’s not observant and this isn’t a lecture on religion.

It’s a crime story, with more than one criminal, and some of them are willing to murder. What the criminals are after is satisfyingly wonkish and believable, but no spoilers here. You’ll see when you read the book.

Despite being in a completely different setting, Jazz shares some traits with The Martian’s Mark Watney. She uses technology in her schemes, never gives up, wise-cracks a lot, and swears. There are references to sex, though nothing steamy in the story itself.

But Jazz is not a sympathetic character. She’s a young smuggler ready to commit larger crimes. Weir gives her a backstory to explain her willingness, but it never made me like her much.

The story flows well. I enjoyed the lunar colony, which relies on imports from Earth in an economy based on tourism. The Apollo 11 site is a major draw and fun to see through the story’s eyes. The lunar city itself is well presented along with its inhabitants – exactly what I’d want on the Moon.

In an interesting twist on flashbacks, messages back and forth to Jazz’s Earth-bound pen pal provide background and then catch up to the story to participate in the action. Nice touch.

Details of the technology Jazz uses were fun through most of the book, but in the climax I skimmed along, wanting to see how the story turns out.

One odd thing: the story is described as a heist, but it’s not. At least, not in the usual sense of a robbery. My thesaurus claims the word heist can mean attack, so I guess it applies, but why use a secondary definition?

Here’s another thing I find odd. The title of the book is Artemis: A Novel. I didn’t need to be told it’s a novel – there are plenty of clues (read sarcasm here.) I’ve seen other books add “a novel” to their titles, so I guess it’s a fashion of some sort. Doesn’t hurt anything – I just think it’s odd.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who likes realistic science in their science fiction, and enjoys a bit of an anti-hero. And would like to visit a small city on the Moon.

What others are saying
At 3.9 stars, with over 1900 reviews on Amazon, it’s no surprise this book is in the top ten (not 10%, but top ten books) in its Amazon categories’ sales ranks. Although, in another oddity, the day I checked one of its Amazon categories was “time travel.” Huh?

Some reviewers had trouble following the science part of the story, while others thought it was too low-tech! Like me, some felt the main character wasn’t likeable, and one said Jazz was “what young boys THINK women are like.” Bit of an ouch there. But most readers enjoyed it,” Mr. Weir’s got humor, wit, snark” and “loved the plot, characters, and one liners.” Artemis by Andy Weir.

Interplanetary Diplomat Tackles Conspiracy on Dystopian Worlds #scifi #sciencefiction #review #bookreview

Does your reading get repetative? Does scifi feel like the same handful of galactic wars and teenage battle-games over and over. Read an indie author with a different perspective. Here are two books by EJ Randolph, an author in my own little town of Silver City, that offer optimism with their action. I bet there are authors in your town, too, you’d enjoy reading.

Retrograde

Scifi by EJ RandolphWhen a bucolic agrarian world seems too serene, its people too complacent, there’s bound to be trouble. Sent on an apparently simple mission, diplomat Kate Stevens is soon fending off attempts on her life and digging into the royal family’s intrigues.

I enjoyed exploring the society with Kate and discovering both the good and bad. She’s a straightforward hero with an admirable team and spaceship to help her. They puzzle out what’s happening on this world where the end of trade with other planets means a technological slid backwards. Was that bad luck or sabotage? And will the elite kill to protect the answer?

The Dead Don’t Believe

scifi by EJ RandolphInterstellar diplomat Kate Stevens faces another puzzle. Three primary colors and three basic geometric shapes – what can the people hoisting them intend? And why is their planetary government willing to declare war over the movement? Joined again by the crew of spaceship Miss Appropriation, Kate travels to a new Federation planet to find out.

While rebellion and interplanetary war threatens and there’s plenty of action, Kate’s commitment to doing the right thing is the core of the story. It’s fun to find a scifi book with a unique view of societies as humanity colonizes the galaxy. There are also illustrations that my e-reader displayed very nicely.

Help an indie out! Leave a review, especially on Amazon (which is the Big Dog in book sales.) Like many indie authors (including me!) Randolph is just starting to accumulate reviews. Here are a few of the comments:

  • She and her courier crew avoid lethal violence to bring harmony back to a broken society

  • I read the book in one sitting until late at night. I don’t often do that.

  • I liked the allusions to history, and to ethnic backgrounds.