Tag Archives: sci-fi

[D&B Vol. 01] Episode 005

The demon blood had stiffened on her battle tights. It flaked away in small patches, covering the cell’s wooden bench in spots of darkness every time she shifted.

Her thighs hurt from laying on the hard surface, her hips and shoulders too, all those soft points objecting to a night spent in close contact with something never meant for sleeping. Not that she’d intended to sleep, not with her cell mate looking at her with hard calculation, but exhaustion had pulled her eyes closed almost as soon as the door slammed closed behind her.

She hadn’t dreamed, not even of that dark space between lives.

The dull throb in her legs and arms brought her half from sleep, but it was the dull itch between her shoulder blades that woke her.

Someone had lowered the lights during the night, leaving the cell in half-gloom, but the figure across from her was easy to make out.

A man sat where the hard-eyed woman had. Lean and pale he slouched against the wall, his white-blond hair model perfect, the dark roots just so. He stared at her out of pale, black-rimmed irises that had always reminded her of light trying to escape a black hole.

He smiled. ‘You’re usually harder to find.’

Byrne was up and across the cell, teeth bared, summoning her trident to her hand. A force like an anvil sent her crashing back into the wall. Starlight burst behind her eyes, coming with sharp pain as her head hit the concrete, trident dissolving before it had formed. She must have lost a few seconds there, because when she blinked he was above her, staring down, and for a heartbeat she thought she saw concern replace his smile.

‘I’m going to kill you,’ she said.

The smile flooded back to his face. He crouched. ‘You always say that, but so far…’ He gestured to his unruffled T-shirt and jacket. ‘You’re not doing too well.’

Byrne struggled to stand, getting her feet under her before the same force that had sent her into the wall pushed her back down.

He shook his head, brushing his hands down his jeans. ‘I don’t know Byrne, twice in two lifetimes your sister has died on your watch.’ He folded his arms over his knee and leaned in close. ‘Maybe you should get another job?’

She spat. The blob of saliva hit his cheek, and he jerked like she’d hit him. His expression turned to stone, and even though she couldn’t see his eyes, she could see his anger in the fine tremble of his hand as he wiped the spit away. The same anger made the invisible band holding her down tremble.

Satisfaction coursed through Byrne’s blood and she smiled, showing teeth. ‘She’s not dead arsehole.’

‘She will be.’ He didn’t look at her, but at the spit on his hand. ‘She’ll make sure Suun sees to that.’

‘Not if I told Suun I won’t follow.’

His head snapped up. ‘You can’t do that,’ he said, but was the hint of a question buried under the certainty in his voice.

‘I can,’ she said, satisfaction running through her veins as she felt the invisible band crack. ‘Nova may stick a knife between her ribs, but you’ll still be stuck with me, Tellamoth.’


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

!!! Very Important Question time !!!

Do we think Tellamoth is truly evil? Might he be a) redeemable or b) not guilty of the things we suspect he is?

[D&B Vol. 1] Episode 004

‘Sword Uthor!’ She barely heard Della yelling behind her, deliberately shut her ears to the power of her friend’s voice, to the command in the name she’d left behind when she’d stuck a knife in her own heart and launched herself into new life.

Not again. Not again. Not again. The chant matched the pound of her feet. Nurses scattered before her, adding their voices to Della’s command to stop. But she wouldn’t, not after the things she’d seen. Oh Powers, the things she’d seen. 

Byrne burst through the doors at the end of the long hall, ignoring the “No admittance” emblazoned across the front. There were more yells, a man hurrying towards her, white coat  flapping, another in the solid blue of a police uniform starting with surprise, hand falling to the gun at his hip. 

She let it flow around her, concentrating on the solid pulse in her chest, the link only a Sword could feel, the one that drew her to her sisters. A window separated her from the emergency care ward, beds and the quiet hush machinery, some occupied, others not and there, there a pale blue curtain blocking the view at the end of the room.

The doctor stepped in her way, towering over her. There was compassion on his face, buried under the anger as he reached for her—

She put him on the ground, stepping over his body as he wheezed for air, already rushing the police officer as his gun cleared its holster. He hit the nurses station, back sliding down the shiny white front before his arse smacked the floor, gasping for air like the first, pieces of his weapon shattered around him.

The curtain at the back of the ward called her, the hot pulse behind her breastbone telling her to hurry. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. 

Byrne ripped the fabric aside.

Sunmetal didn’t glint or glow. In the grip of one of the royal blood it burned, a ravenous flame fit to rival a star, just like the tip of the dagger hovering over Nova’s chest.

Fear obliterated moderation and Byrne sent her youngest sister crashing into the wall. The dagger fell from Suun’s hands and Byrne caught it on reflex, snatching the burning metal out of the air. It turned black in her hands, the fire eating itself until nothing by but the pitiless cold of space remained.

In the hands of the blood sunmetal burned, but in her hands, the hand of the royal Bastard, it wasn’t flame that licked the metal.

Nova slept, her long black hair arranged in one of Suun’s careful braids, her face a mass of bruises, her right arm an ugly stump wrapped in bandages. 

‘It’s what she wants Byrne.’ Suun’s soft voice drew her gaze to the floor, to the baby sister she’d sworn to protect with her last breath. 

Eyes as soft as her voice, and as dark as the blade in Byrne’s hand gazed steadily back. No reproach, no anger, just a steady, soul deep understanding that cut deeper than any recrimination. Not for the first time, Byrne wondered if Suun had seen the horrors she had, felt the pain, the fear in the time between lives.

‘It’s not what I want,’ Byrne said.

Boots pounded behind her, sharp clack of authority and danger that reminded her of long-ago barracks full of soldiers. Reinforcements had arrived, come to take her away, yelling at her to drop the weapon and get on her knees. She let the dagger fall, touched the cold floor with her knees, but her gaze never broke from Suun’s.

‘When Nova wakes up, tell her to do whatever she wants.’ Byrne said as rough hands grabbed her arms. ‘But I’m not going to follow.’

Byrne had time to see Suun’s complexion turned a whiter shade of ghastly, before the hands pulled her up and marched her out of the hospital.


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

I sense something strange about Byrne, something to do with why sunmetal turns black and cold in her hand, while it burns gold when one of her sisters touches it. 

What do you think this strangeness might be?

 

 

 

 

 

[D&B Vol 01.] Episode 003

Another lifetime. Another war they couldn’t win because her sister and Empress fell for the same pretty face.

Suun had kept Nova alive long enough for the paramedics to find them. The woman and her partner had both had the calm, stoic expressions of those who had seen it all, but Byrne had recognised the too-wide eyes and pale sheen of shock as they’d half-jogged into the gym showers. 

There’d been a handful of seconds where all they did was stare, eyes agog at the four teens in their battle-stained uniforms, before Della had laid a hand on their shoulders. The paramedics had gone about their work then, not seeing the incor stains or claw marks, just like the people around Byrne didn’t see them now. 

The hospital beeped and rustled soft-footed nurses rushing past her in a sea of pale blue and white, the doctors striding past with coats flapping, cocooned in their bubble of command.

She knew that feeling, the power, the rush of command, remembered it well from that lifetime when she’d wielded the might of her sister’s armies. Remembered too the crushing despair when she held Nova’s body in her arms as the Imperial city burned around her, the strength of its legions laid to waste by her sister’s indiscretion.

And now…now she stood in a hospital ward while the Hordes paced beyond the Veil and her sister struggled to breathe. 

‘We were meant to do it better,’ Byrne said to herself. 

‘We will.’ Della wrapped a hand around Byrne’s arm, hugging it tight to her chest. ‘We know Tellamoth’s true face now, and I know once we complete the ritual, we’ll recognise it in the next life—’

Byrne ripped her arm out of Della’s embrace, horror stopping her heart, making her voice shrill. ‘What?’

The next life? Their lives were now, the threat was here. There was no guarantee if they performed the ritual, committed themselves to another go at the Wheel, that they would recall anything in another life. 

Byrne remembered the most out of them all, fragments of memory and snippets of knowledge that pressed against her brain and haunted her nights. Every day the weight of it threatened to swallow her whole, every night she dreamed of blood and terror. And never did she remember enough or soon enough to prevent the same sorry tragedies. 

Even now, she recalled Della as she had been before, tall and statuesque, raven hair cascading down her back, arms banded in the golden marks of a priestess, screaming as the power of the universe pulled her apart molecule-by-molecule. 

Della reached for her again, big dark eyes soft but steady, hiding the thread of steel Byrne knew lurked behind. ‘It was Her last order Byrne.’ 

Byrne shuddered at the way Della’s voice seemed to echo when she used the Imperial ‘Her’. She worked to push back the memories of echoing marble corridors and a sea of bowed heads, of always standing to the left and two steps behind Nova. Pain and regret swamped her senses, made it difficult for her to concentrate on the here and now, and maybe Della knew, counted on it even because her next words barely penetrated the haze of memory. 

‘Suun’s with Her now.’

Byrne ripped herself out of the memory. ‘No.’ The colour left her cheeks, she felt the blood drain to her feet but the dizzy rush didn’t stop her from spinning on her heel and sprinting down the corridor.


Don’t forget to check out the episode notes for more behind the scenes content.

Question time

What is Suun doing to Nova and what’s Byrne going to do about it? What kind of empire do you think Nova ruled?

 

Sci-fi books on my TBR pile

Like a lot of bookworms, my to-be-read pile is huge, like monster kanji huge. Genre-wise there’s just about everything in there, from romance to action, crime and (of course) almost every shade of sci-fi and fantasy you can imagine. Here are a few of the sci-fi ones I’m really looking forward to reading.

Descriptions from Amazon and Kobo.

 

Draekora (Lynette Noni)

Cover of Draekora by Lynette Noni“I swear by the stars that you and the others slain tonight will be the first of many. Of that you have my word.”

With Aven Dalmarta now hiding in the shadows of Meya, Alex is desperate to save Jordan and keep the Rebel Prince from taking more lives.

Training day and night to master the enhanced immortal blood in her veins, Alex undertakes a dangerous Meyarin warrior trial that separates her from those she loves and leaves her stranded in a place where nothing is as it should be.

As friends become enemies and enemies become friends, Alex must decide who to trust as powerful new allies—and adversaries—push her towards a future of either light… or darkness.

One way or another, the world will change…

My thoughts
Strickly speaking, I’ve already started reading Draekora but I’d barely started chapter three before I was sidetracked, so it’s back on the TBR pile. I enjoyed the first two books in this series but the third (so far) is a little so-so, still I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

Cold Welcome (Elizabeth Moon)

Cover of Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon
Admiral Ky Vatta should return to her childhood home a war hero, but on the way her shuttle is downed by sabotage.
Marooned in a hostile landscape it’ll take every bit of wit, skill and luck she can muster to lead her fellow survivors to safety, knowing that the mysterious enemies who destroyed the ship are on the hunt, and may have an agent in the group ready to finish the job at any moment. And was the sabotage an attempt on Ky’s own life, or someone else’s?

My thoughts
I LOVE SPACE OPERA! But moving on… I picked this beauty up when I was on holiday in New Zealand. I really enjoyed the earlier series (Vatta’s War), featuring the same universe and characters and I just could resist picking up this one when I saw it. Expecting lots of action and a butt-kicking heroine.

Star Wars: Ahsoka (E.K. Johnston)

Cover of Star Wars: Ahsoka by EK JohnstonFans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance…

My thoughts
I have three words for you. Star. Wars. Ahsoka. Or, if you’re one of those rare individuals who’ve never heard of Star Wars, awesome butt-kicking heroine with glowy swords! ‘Nuff said.

P.S. I totally want a poster-sized version of that cover.

Over to you

What sci-fi books are on your TBR pile? Any new ones coming out, or maybe an old favourite you’re itching to re-read?

Risking her life: Sue Parritt on Strong Female Characters

Sue Parritt is an Australian science fiction author. Her first trilogy tells the tale of a futuristic Australia ravaged by climate change, and racial oppression.

BELINDA: Tell us about Sannah, what makes her strong?

SUE: Sensuous, emotional and dramatic, Sannah, 39, a descendant of Environmental Refugees from the drowned Pacific Islands, is the Storyteller for Village 10. Storytellers–one for each Brown Zone village–are trained to deliver a distorted version of history to ensure compliance and reinforce White superiority. An articulate speaker, Sannah employs both voice and body to weave a spell around her audience. She also plays the role of ‘lover’ to many White men, to gain information useful to the Women’s Line, an undercover group that assists political prisoners on the run to flee the country and find sanctuary in egalitarian Aotearoa. Intelligent and savvy, Sannah knows what it takes to survive in an oppressive apartheid society ruled by tyrannical troopers, but willingly risks her life to ensure clandestine truth-telling continues. In twenty-fourth century Australia, she is a third-class citizen, but despite her low status, she believes in the power to effect change. This, plus the determination to engage in seditious activities whatever the consequences, makes and keeps her strong. Continue reading

6 awesome space operas books, all free

Space opera, it’s my favourite subgenre. I love how big the universe is, how spaceships can zip to and fro, with warp drives, hyperdrives and jump gates. But mostly I love the drama of it, how a single person (or a few persons) can save the universe. Inevitably, someone important dies along the way, but that just adds to the tension and that slightly breathless feeling you get as story draws to its conclusion.

If you haven’t read space opera before but want to give it a try, and even if you’re a hard core fan, below are few free space operas to get you started.

The Course of Empire (Course of Empire 1)

The Course of Empire by Eric Flint and KD Wentworth
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Would they destroy earth in order to save it?

Conquered by the Jao twenty years ago, the Earth is shackled under alien tyranny—and threatened by the even more dangerous Ekhat, who are sending a genocidal extermination fleet to the solar system. Humanity’s only chance rests with an unusual pair of allies: a young Jao prince, newly arrived to Terra to assume his duties, and a young human woman brought up amongst the Jao occupiers.

But both are under pressure from the opposing forces—a cruel Jao viceroy on one side, determined to drown all opposition in blood; a reckless human resistance on the other, perfectly prepared to shed it. Added to the mix is the fact that only by adopting some portions of human technology and using human sepoy troops can the haughty Jao hope to defeat the oncoming Ekhat attack—and then only by fighting the battle within the Sun itself.

Amazon.com Amazon.com.au

Caretaker (Caretaker Chronicles 1)

Caretaker by Josi Russell
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Fifty years in space—alone.

Ethan Bryant was supposed to fall asleep on a ship leaving Earth and wake up fifty years later with his family on the planet Minea. Instead, after the ship’s caretaker—the lone human in charge of monitoring the ship’s vital systems—suddenly died, the ship’s computer locked Ethan out of his stasis chamber and gave him the job. That was five years ago. Five years of checking to make sure everything runs smoothly on a ship Ethan knows almost nothing about.

Who wouldn’t dread the years ahead? Who wouldn’t long for their once-bright future now stolen away?

Ethan is resigned to his fate, until the ship suddenly wakes up another passenger: a beautiful engineer who, along with Ethan, soon discovers a horrible secret—a navigation room hidden from even the ship’s computer. The ship is not bound for Minea—but to somewhere far more dangerous.

With the ship nearing its sinister destination, Ethan soon learns he is the only one who holds the key to saving all 4,000 passengers from a highly-advanced, hostile alien race.

Amazon.com Amazon.com.au

Alien Hunters (Alien Hunters 1)

Alien Hunters by Daniel Arenson
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The skelkrins. Predators from deep space. Creatures of claws, fangs, and unending malice. They swarm across the galaxy, slaying all in their path. Planets burn in their wake. And now they’re heading to Earth.

Raphael “Riff” Starfire commands the Alien Hunters, a group of scruffy mercenaries. Galactic pest controllers, they mostly handle small critters–aliens that clog up your engine pipes, gnaw on your hull, or burrow through your silos.

Riff and his crew have never faced anything like the skelkrins before. As these cosmic killers invade our solar system, will Riff be the one hunting aliens…or will aliens hunt him?

Amazon.com Amazon.com.au Kobo

Bane of the Dead (Seraphim Revival 1)

Bane of the Dead by Jacob Holo
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In an empire ruled by the honored dead, seraphs are the ultimate weapons. Fueled by the pilot’s very soul, these colossal humanoid war machines are unstoppable in battle. Only a few possess the gift to control such craft, and those men and women are prized above all others.

Jack Donolon is the most powerful pilot in existence, a hero of Earth with a mind fractured by his seraph. On the far side of the galaxy, he uncovers a terrible truth about the seraphs and their pilots. Now he must return on a mission no one will understand, to face and kill the people who once called him friend and comrade.

But the death he will bring is insignificant next to the destruction that will follow, should he fail…

Amazon.com Amazon.com.au Kobo

Dark Expanse (Bright Beyond prequel)

Dark Expanse by Theresa Kay
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In a world of military space stations, planetary jumps and alien offensives, nineteen-year-old Eva Braebel’s life has never been easy. She’s small. She’s female. And she earned the ire of a powerful General at a young age. With hard work and the support of her friends, she achieves more than she ever dreamed possible: A position as flight squadron leader and the man who she loves by her side.

Eva just got everything she’s ever wanted, but how long can she keep it?

Amazon.com Amazon.com.au Kobo

Axira Episode One (Galactic Coalition Academy)

Axira Episode One by Odette C Bell
image-1859
She is different. Powerful. A solider of centuries.

For 450 years she was enslaved to one of the masters of the Kore sects. She was forced to fight in endless battles. War, destruction, desolation–all wrought by her.

But then she escapes. Seeking revenge on her master, she turns to the only group powerful enough to help her–the Coalition.

She joins the Academy. It should be easy. It isn’t. She rapidly finds out that despite her raw power, she needs more to become an effective recruit.

But now is not the time for failure. There is a spy on Academy grounds–a spy who is tearing the Coalition’s intelligence to shreds. She finds herself drawn into the hunt. A hunt she will not lose. For she is Axira, the most powerful spacer in the Milky Way…

Amazon.com Amazon.com.au Kobo

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Feature image courtesy of Bill Lile via Flickr. Used with a Creative Commons license.

#B2BCyCon Science Fiction Blog Tour!

Welcome to stop 3 on the Brains to Books Cyber Convention SF tour! On this stop, you’ll find book covers, blurbs and a few reading recommendations!

Also, don’t forget to check out how you can win 7 YA sci-fi books!

Daimones by Massimo Marino

Cover of Daimones by Massimo Marino.For readers who liked The Road, Earth Abide and Childhood’s End.
A post-apocalyptic sci-fi with elements of first encounters and genetic engineering.

The death and re-birth of the human race.

Death swept away the lives of billions, but spared Dan Amenta and his family, leading them to an uncertain future. When merely surviving isn’t enough and the hunt for answers begins, memories from the past and troubling encounters lead Dan to the truth about the extermination of the human race. Distressing revelations will give new meaning to their very existence.

Early humans shaped the future and seeded a plan millions of years in the making. Now survivors must choose: Endure a future with no past or fade away into a past with no future?

Get it on Amazon.

The Call to Search Everywhen by Chess Desalls

The Call to Search Everywhen box set by Chess Desalls
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For readers who liked A Wrinkle in Time and The Never Ending Story.

A YA sci-fi time travel series, in a box set!

In TRAVEL GLASSES, Calla Winston falls into a world of worlds after meeting Valcas, a time traveler who traverses time and space with a pair of altered sunglasses. After learning that his search for her was no mere coincidence, she tracks down the inventor of the Travel Glasses in hopes of discovering more about Valcas. With Valcas hot on her trail, Calla hopes to find what she’s looking for before he catches up.

In INSIGHT KINDLING, Calla faces charges against her for changing the past. She teams up with a group of talented travelers and discovers that she has a special travel talent of her own. But will that be enough to protect her and her teammates?

In TIME FOR THE LOST the team reunites for a mission they never saw coming: a journey to a world caught between life and death, and hidden within the deepest recesses of time.

Get it on Amazon.

Invasion (Identity Crisis 2029: Book I)
by JD Brink

Invasion by JD Brink
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For readers who like Batman, Star Wars and Watchmen.

A sci-fi superhero adventure in space.

A swarm of biomechanical monsters attack a new U.N. space station. Fortunately, two of its engineers are more than just astronauts…

Earth’s Apex superheroes—a physicist turned nuclear colossus, a hyper-intelligent silverback gorilla, and an otherworldly gladiator—are all that stand between an alien beachhead and the innocent billions below.

But repelling the first wave isn’t enough. And the best defense is a good offense.

Adam Smasher, Symian, and Ballista leave this world behind and venture into deep space, where the void—and the mission—may be darker and colder than they ever expected.

Get it on Amazon.

Escape From B-Movie Hell by MT McGuire

Escape from B-Movie Hell by MT McGuire
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For readers who like Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat Series, Red Dwarf and Terry Pratchet.

A sci-fi comedy for everyone to enjoy!

If you asked Andi Turbot whether she had anything in common with Flash Gordon she’d say no, emphatically. Saving the world is for dynamic, go-ahead, leaders of men and while it would be nice to see a woman getting involved for a change, she believes she could be the least well-equipped being in her galaxy for the job.

Then her best friend, Eric, reveals that he is an extraterrestrial. He’s not just any ET either. He’s Gamalian: seven-foot, lobster-shaped and covered in Marmite-scented goo. Just when Andi’s getting used to that he tells her about the Apocalypse and really ruins her day.

The human race will perish unless Eric’s Gamalian superiors step in. Abducted and trapped on an alien ship, Andi must convince the Gamalians her world is worth saving. Or escape from their clutches and save it herself.

Get it on Amazon.

Looking for more Sci-fi awesomeness?

Don’t forget to check out the next stop on the #B2BCyCon16 SF blog tour!

On fighting, YA and sci-fi: An interview with Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee knows kung fu, so when she writes a fight scene you know it’s going to be awesome. Which is fortunate, since her debut novel, Zeroboxer, is all about boxing (plus you know, intrigue,  planet-spanning criminal enterprises and a smattering of romance).

Find out how you can win a copy of Zeroboxer at the bottom of the interview.

BELINDA: What is YA science fiction (sci-fi) to you?

FONDA: YA is fiction about the experiences of characters who are transitioning to adulthood. Science fiction is the genre of exploring the possible—not the world as we know it, nor a world that has never been, but the world as it could be. So to me, YA science fiction is about young characters navigating challenges in the context of a world that is different from, but a plausible extrapolation, of our own.

BELINDA: What drew you to the genre?

FONDA: I write science fiction and fantasy because it’s what I was drawn to read when I was growing up. As I kid, I loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain, and John Christopher’s Tripod Trilogy, among so many others. In my teenage years, I loaded up on Issac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, and Piers Anthony. I’ve been an aspiring writer since I was ten years old, and have always written speculative fiction. I guess in some ways I’m lucky in that I have no desire to write anything else; I’ve enough to keep me busy!

BELINDA: Do you think there is a difference between YA sci-fi and that which is marketed at adults?

The cover of Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee.
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FONDA: I do think there’s a difference. I’ve had many adult readers tell me that they “don’t read science fiction.” Yet they’re fans of Star Trek, and Star Wars, and they read Michael Crichton and loved the movie The Martian. I think there’s often a general public perception that adult science fiction literature is for brainy physics types who want to read the hardest end of what we in the field dub “hard science fiction.” Which is not all true, though some readers do prefer this type of literature and perpetuate the impression. YA science fiction can still be “hard” (adhering strictly to science as we currently understand it) but because it contains elements typical of YA (focus on a young protagonist, coming-of-age issues, relationships with friends, parents, and romantic interests, and faster story pacing), I believe it can often be marketed as more mainstream and accessible than science fiction literature for adults.

BELINDA: What inspired the world of Zeroboxer?

FONDA: Zeroboxer was inspired by a number of things: my love of science fiction, martial arts, and action movies, combined with my background working in a sports company and seeing first hand the enormous amount of marketing, money and emotion involved in the athletics industry. It all came together in my mind as a nascent idea about a futuristic prizefighter who ends up inspiring and representing Earth. Everything else fell into place.

BELINDA: You’re a martial artist, what do most writers get wrong in fight scenes?

FONDA: I’m a big fight scene aficionado, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when writers don’t realistically depict the time required for someone to become a good fighter, and the extent of how exhausting and dangerous fights are. I roll my eyes when someone writes a character who seems to fight for hours against multiple opponents without getting injured, or who gets injured but then seems to miraculously recover after a short period of time.

BELINDA: What are a few of your favourite YA sci-fi books?

FONDA: House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Feed by MT Andersen, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, and the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld.

About Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee, author of Zeroboxer.
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Fonda Lee is the author of the novel Zeroboxer (Flux/Llewellyn, April 2015), which is an Andre Norton Award nominee, a Jr. Library Guild Selection, and an ALA Top 10 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. Her second YA sci-fi novel will be released by Scholastic in January 2017. A recovering corporate strategist, when she is not writing, Fonda can be found training in kung fu or searching out tasty breakfasts. Find her online at www.fondalee.com and on Twitter @fondajlee.

YA Sci-fi giveaway

Win a copy of Zeroboxer, along with six other awesome YA sci-fi books, in our giveaway running from 8 April 2016 to 10 April 2016.

Sign up to be notified about this and future giveaways.

Feature image courtesy of clement127 (via Flickr). Used with a Creative Commons licence.

Daydreaming the future: An interview with Jenny Martin

Cars, racing and a passel of my favourite movies! I talk with Jenny Martin about what makes YA sci-fi awesome and her book, Tracked. 

Don’t forget to check out how you can win a copy of Tracked at the bottom of the interview.

BELINDA: What is YA science fiction to you?

JENNY: First and foremost, it’s something near and dear to my heart. I spent a lot of my childhood with my nose science fiction novels. And while there were several wonderful speculative novels written for middle grade and teen readers, many of them were shelved in the adult section. Now, there’s a new generation of YA science fiction books, and it’s just wonderful to see. So many people, of all ages, are interested in asking “what if?” They daydream about the road ahead, where science, technology and humanity can take us. They’re interested in the intersection between the ingenuity of the mind and the restlessness of the heart. They’re fascinated by the prospect of faraway worlds and new frontiers, full of wondrous (and sometimes frightening) possibility. To me, that’s what YA science fiction is…an answer to that call.

BELINDA: What drew you to the genre?

JENNY: Again, the answer probably lies in childhood. When it comes to science fiction, I don’t think my heart ever had a chance. I was always in our little public library. I always watching adventure movies like Star Wars and SF shows on TV. I was always daydreaming in class, about rocketing into space or traveling to another time or conquering a kingdom. SF was, and still is, my window, mirror, anchor and escape.

BELINDA: Do you think there’s a difference between YA science fiction and science fiction marketed for adults?

JENNY: Yes, and no. I think some SF has a distinctly old school or adult flavor. For many years, science fiction was largely dominated by white male authors, and/or authors explicitly interested in intensely focusing on hard science. But over the years, the genre has slowly evolved and now, there are so many subgenres within SF. Yes, the time honored conventions are still thoroughly explored, and many different authors pen these traditional SF sagas, but now, there are so many other types of stories. There’s something for everyone. There’s room for everyone to share a fresh point of view.

I will say, that by and large, most YA SF seems to focus on heroes and heroines who are coming of age, on the raw cusp of adulthood. There is some crossover, with older narrators in YA and younger narrators in adult novels, but this pattern tends to hold. Overall, it’s a great era for SF. The field is wide open. Many readers are willing to champion both YA and adult books.

The cover of Tracked by Jenny Martin
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BELINDA: Tracked is marketed as The Fast and the Furious (one of my favourites) with a futuristic twist. What inspired you to write
a SF series about racing?

JENNY: Believe it or not, the inspirations for the racing world of Tracked hit me all at once. Around that time, I came across the remake of Death Race 2000 (the one with Jason Statham). I was intrigued by the premise, and thrilled with the foot-to-the-floor racing scenes. Not long after, I watched a documentary called Hot Coffee, a fiercely critical look at politics, corporate greed, and its impact on the criminal justice system. From there, my Star Wars-obsessed brain put these two elements together. I imagined a planet (one that had been colonized and settled through land run races, like home state, Oklahoma) where corporations held all the political cards. And then I imagined how a spitfire street racer might fight to take them down.

BELINDA: What’s next for you after the next book in the Tracked series, Marked, comes out in May?

JENNY: Thanks for asking! It’s been so wonderfully cathartic to wrap up Phee’s story in Marked, and now I’m working on a top secret project, something completely new and unrelated to the Tracked world. It’s a star-crossed, epic, multi-POV saga that rides the line between science fiction and fantasy. I like to think of it as a tech-drenched, swashbuckling, feminist Game of Thrones.

BELINDA: What are some of your favourite YA sci-fi novels?

JENNY: This past year, I really enjoyed Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee (a fantastic, speculative book at zero gravity boxing), Lost Stars by Claudia Gray (a gripping story set in the Star Wars universe) and Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (an action-packed saga told in a really cool, really original way).

About Jenny Martin

Jenny Martin, author of Tracked
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Jenny Martin is an author and librarian. Her first novel, Tracked, released on May 5th, 2015, by Dial, an imprint of Penguin Random-House. Tracked was named one of Paste Magazine’s and Teen Magazine’s ‘Best Books of 2015’, and its sequel, Marked, will be released May 17th, 2016. Jenny is also an experienced speaker, panelist and presenter who’s appeared Texas Teen Book Festival, Texas Library Association and San Diego Comic Con. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with her husband and son, where she hoards books and writes fiction. And yes, she’s still on a quest for the perfect pancake.

Find out more about Jenny and her books on her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

YA Sci-fi giveaway

Win a copy of Tracked, along with six other awesome YA sci-fi books, in our giveaway running from 8 April 2016 to 10 April 2016.

Sign up to be notified about this and future giveaways.

Feature image courtesy of Anne Worner (via Flickr). Used with a Creative Commons license.

On mirrors and YA sci-fi: An interview with N.K. Traver

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

That’s a great opening line and it’s on the back of Duplicity, a YA cyber-thriller by N.K. Traver. Find out how you can win a copy at the bottom of the interview.

BELINDA: What is YA science fiction (sci-fi) to you?

N.K.: YA sci-fi is about exploring current or future technology from a teen standpoint–specifically, as technology that can be influenced or changed.

BELINDA: What drew you to the genre?

N.K.: I kind of fell into it by accident. I’ve always had an interest in technology and the hypothetical ways it could affect our future, but I didn’t realize that was the direction Duplicity was headed until it came time to work out the explanation behind Brandon’s moving reflection. I didn’t want to go with a full fantasy bent, so I steered it toward a technological explanation.

BELINDA: Do you think there is a difference between YA sci-fi and that which is marketed at adults?

N.K.: To me, I think they’re pretty similar, especially as far as theme. I think there’s great crossover appeal for both age groups since the uniting factor remains the same: how technology might go wrong, or how it might go wrong in the wrong hands.

BELINDA: How much of your background as a programmer influenced the world you built in Duplicity?

N.K.: Almost all of it. The entire world behind the mirror in Duplicity is influenced by my understanding of computers and what they would be capable of–with a few liberties taken on future tech, of course.

BELINDA: As a programmer, are there things that authors get wrong that bug you?

N.K.: Most authors do their research when it comes to programming, but I will say that a star dies every time an author makes programming an easy skill to pick up or makes it some kind of god-power – i.e., a character who’s dabbled in website hacking suddenly knows how to hack everything from FBI vending machines to NASA launch codes.

BELINDA: What are a few of your favourite YA sci-fi books?

N.K.:I enjoyed The Silence Of Six by E.C. Myers, and I also really enjoyed All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

About N.K. Traver

The cover of Duplicity by N.K. Traver
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As a freshman at the University of Colorado, N.K. Traver decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said “no one could make a living” with an English degree. It wasn’t too many years later Traver realized it didn’t matter what the job paid—nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Programmer by day, writer by night, it was only a matter of time before the two overlapped. Traver’s debut, Duplicity, a cyberthriller pitched as Breaking Bad meets The Matrix for teens, was named one of the ALA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers in 2016.

Find out more about N.K. Traver on her website or follow her on Twitter.

YA Sci-fi giveaway

Win a copy of Duplicity, along with six other awesome YA sci-fi books, in our giveaway running from 8 April 2016 to 10 April 2016.

Sign up to be notified about this and future giveaways.

Feature image courtesy of Chloe Blanchfield (via Flickr). Used with a Creative Commons licence.