Sci Fi – thoughts

Moving to other dimensions


I’ve been watching Fringe and it’s got me thinking about different dimensions and what that might be like. I believe in a multi-dimensional universe, let’s get that out of the way right at the start. No, my problem is not in its plausibility, it’s in whether it would be advisable to traverse between different dimensions and alternative universes.

Movies and TV shows make meeting one of your ‘other’ selves an interesting experience that brings positive benefits but I’m not so sure that would be the case if we did it for real. If you’re having a shit time of it here in this dimension and you get the chance to pop over to an alternative one where you find another you is living what you believe to be the perfect privileged life, how are you going to feel? Yeah, me too.

What would you do, use the experience to positively motivate yourself here in this dimension? Shoot the other you and take their place in theirs? Get suicidally depressed and do nothing but mope? I doubt too many would do the first. Most of us would do either of the latter two.

Supposing it was the other way around and you found the other you living a shit life. Wouldn’t you be tempted to try to sort them out? Would you not try to give them the benefit of your experience? I know I would.

The main thing is this, how would all this interfering affect both your own dimension, and theirs? Would the general universal time line (if there is such a thing) be able to cope with millions of people ‘meddling’ in each others’ dimensions? I’m tempted to think not. I can imagine millions of lives collapsing, and millions of people not knowing whether they’re coming or going, whether they belong here or there or somewhere else. Who’s dead and who’s alive and which one are you sleeping with tonight?

No, I can foresee nothing but chaos if we fiddle about in other dimensions, and let’s face it, coping with all the shit in this one is enough work, isn’t it?

Immortalised on the red planet

I just found a fun thing  on the internet. If you go here, you can name a crater on Mars. I named one in honour of Vincent Domenico, star of The Lilean Chronicles, and another in honour of Sam Sinclair, star of The Sinclair V-Logs.  This is most likely not official, but it’s fun.



Sexism in Science Fiction

For a while now, there has been a new topic of discussion amongst some female authors – sexism in science fiction.  If you’re a woman, and you write science fiction, you are far less likely to be reviewed or taken seriously, and the whole science fiction arena continues to be dominated by men, men who don’t seem to welcome their female counterparts into the genre. Why should this be?

The first time this subject came to my attention was when I read this post by Ann Aguirre.   In it, she tells of her treatment at the hands of male sci fi authors at the SFF Fandom in 2008. It’s shocking reading, and not just because I’m a woman, and not because I’m also a sci fi author, but because I’m a human being doing something I love to do, and which I’m pretty good at. What has my genitalia got to do with it?

Take a few minutes to google, and you can find countless articles about this problem of sexism in sci fi.  Here is one by the Guardian, here’s another by The Wire, and here’s another by, and there are many more. It seems that men in sci fi think us gals will sully ‘their’ genre by bringing romance into it, and that we should stick to the romance genre. Tsk tsk gentlemen, don’t you realise that without romance, you and your dinosaur chums wouldn’t exist?

It’s  not that male sci fi writers keep their books full of action and derring-do, far from it.  Take a look at a few sci fi novels written by men and you will often see scantily clad women on the covers, scantily clad women characters and quite a bit of sex in the stratosphere going on. These narrow minded male writers are happy for these almost-naked-but-not-quite characters to appear in their books, but they tend to be of lower ranks in the pecking order, and often spend their off time bedding (or trying to bed) the hero. The male characters spend quite a bit of time having sex or trying to have sex with female characters, but seldom do these books contain strong female lead characters who don’t wear skimpy bikinis while fighting creatures, and seldom do they not hop into bed with anything with a Y chromosome at the drop of a hat. For these male writers, sex is fine, but romance is out of order. They seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that woman can’t write anything without romance being an integral part. I have a sci fi series called The Sinclair V-Logs, which stars a freelance law enforcer and I can assure all those male dinosaurs out there, that there is no romance whatsoever, nor will there be.  Sam Sinclair’s adventures concentrate on his experiences as a law enforcer, not any romance he might have encountered. I refuse to believe I’m the only woman who can write without including romance into a story.

The old boy’s network is trying its best to exclude women from the genre, by disrespecting us and our work, by behaving in the most shocking ways to us in front of sci fi fans, and by generally behaving like rather badly educated neanderthals. Women are beginning to hit back, some by adopting genderless pen names and others by being nominated for prestigious awards. This year’s Nebula Award nominee list shows a refreshing number of women. This is wonderful news, and a real step forwards for us women science fiction authors.

As a female science fiction writer myself, I find it hard enough to garner interest for my work, as sci fi doesn’t seem to attract the same interest as other genres, without sexism coming into it. I must admit, I have toyed with the idea of adopting a genderless pen name, but I’ve resisted so far.  Let’s hope that the Nebula award winners turn out to be all women. That will deal a mighty blow for the old boy’s sci fi network, won’t it girls?

Science Fiction, an alien language

I’m two thirds the way through my Camp Nano science fiction novel and have just passed my nano goal of 50k words, so I’ve officially ‘won’ although the book isn’t yet finished.  I’m aiming to get it to around 75k or thereabouts.

I’m doing two things in this book that I’ve never done before and it’s both interesting and good discipline.  I like to challenge myself and see how far I can achieve something.

I’m doing this book from 3rd person POV but, unlike my preferred style, I’m not doing it as omnipresent.  The story is told in 3rd person but only from one character’s POV.  I like 3rd omni but this book just demanded it be in one character’s POV, so who am I to argue with my muse?

This makes it slower to write and I’m finding, as I did when I wrote in 1st person for the first time for Floxham Island, that the book is growing a little slower and I’m having to go deeper into my main character’s personality.  This is good practice in character development.  I can’t hop POV to ‘pad it out’ any more, I have to let this main character lead the story all the way through.

I’m also inventing an alien language for this book, which is something I never imagined I would ever do.  I must admit, when it became obvious that this was necessary for the story, I was dumbfounded and scared.  The only other person I know of who has done this is Tolkien and he was a language expert and spent ten years building his languages.  I’m not prepared to spend that long, so I had to find a quicker way to do it.

Without boring you with the minutiae of building a language, what I did first was to decide upon my verb conjugations and tenses.  I copied the Spanish language for this, inasmuch as I decided to have three standard verb endings – AN, AKSI and IEL.  I then decided how many tenses I was going to have, and I chose just 3, present, past and future and then worked out how to change the endings for each conjugation.  It was just a case then of inventing the verbs, making sure they had one of my three chosen endings and giving them the appropriate conjugation for the tense in which they are used.  I toyed with the idea of having a preterit tense, but for simplification I decided to use the full, unconjugated verb for the preterit.

After that, with nouns, pronouns etc, I just invented them and made sure the language has a common sound that runs through it.  I also decided upon a rule for pluralisation, which in this case is achieved by adding ISI at the end of the noun.  I’m not bothering with silent letters or anything like that, I’ve done mine so it is pronounced as it’s written, which will make it easier for the reader to follow.

I wasn’t sure about the correct way to display this alien language with its translation and I worried about it for a while, until asking around and settling on having the alien language in italics, with the translation directly after.  I feel this is likely to be the easiest way for the reader to follow and understand it.

There isn’t a lot of the new language in the book, just short snippets of conversation here and there between the three characters who speak it, so it shouldn’t be an overload.  I’ll be interested to see how the book is received and whether people like the language or not.  Have you ever invented a new language?  I’d be interested in hearing how you approached it.

This book should be out in the new year 2014, hopefully February.

We’re exploring the final frontier.

I’ve been catching up on the first couple of seasons of Through the Wormhole.  We’ve not had this show in the UK, at least I’ve never seen it here and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  My parents always loved science type shows and I grew up having to watch them and now I love them too.  I can’t imagine anyone not being interested in how the universe works.

I saw one episode earlier this evening about what first contact would be like, and the bottom line was that as all the substances essential to life seem to be uniformly spread throughout the whole universe, any life is likely to be very similar to us.  This pleased me for one important reason; in all of my books, my aliens are very much like us.  As I said before in this post,  I have a real problem with sentient life forms that resemble a puddle of blue gloop or tentacled beings who eat nothing but living human flesh flying sophisticated space ships across the galaxy.  So, my aliens are recognisably humanoid.

The other thing this show brings home to me is how soon it is likely to be that those things I write about in my novels will be commonplace, and that is awesome.  It means that, in a way, I’m predicting the future.  There are so many wonderful and varied theories about how this or that aspect of life, the universe and everything works and it’s so damn exciting.  From a infinite universe, to multiple universes, string theory, mulitiple dimensions and all manner of other mind bogglingly complicated shit, people are really starting to think outside the box and reach out with their minds.  We are living in a time of real exploration, not just physical but mental and it’s amazing.

Personally, I tend to agree with Stephen Hawking on the point of first contact.  He said that any race capable of crossing the vast expanse of space just to come here, aren’t going to go to all that trouble just to say “Hi there y’all, how ya doin?”  If they make all that effort to come here, then the likelihood is that they want something we’ve got and they probably won’t be too keen to take no for an answer.  As Professor Hawking said, in the case of meeting alien life, we’d be wise to keep our heads down.

By the way; a nod to the title of this post.  That is probably the only thing about Star Trek that I hate.  When they say “space, the final frontier,” I get so annoyed because it isn’t the final frontier at all.  There can only be one final frontier and that one is about as final as it gets.  Death, the final frontier.

One Big Universe

I’ve never blogged about this before and only ever really discussed it with my mother.  I don’t know quite why that should be, I guess it’s never occurred to me to mention it before.  It seems so obvious to me you see that I never thought I was being unusual or unique.

My characters all live in the same universe.

“So what?” I hear you yell.

Well, other books I’ve read don’t seem to make a point of that.  Let me explain.  At the moment I have one complete 4 part series out called The Lilean Chronicles and the first of a new series called The Sinclair V-Logs.  I also have one other stand alone novel finished and in the process of editing.  I’m halfway through writing a second Sinclair V-Log and have 2 other stand alone novels planned for the April and July Camp Nano’s.

All of these novels take place within the same universe.  You’ll meet characters in one series that you first met in a previous series.  For instance, a peripheral character in the last of The Lilean Chronicles series has become the main protagonist in The Sinclair V-Logs.  He is also a peripheral character in one of my stand alone novels and the main protagonist in one of my stand alones has a couple of mentions in one of The Sinclair V-Log novels.  From book to book, series to series to stand alone, you’ll hear planets mentioned that have been visited before or mentioned before in previous series’ or books.

For me, this gives added cohesion to my books; a sense of familiarity that ties them all together.  After all, we actually do live in the same universe, so it makes sense that my characters would too.  It makes me smile when reading one of my books and I come across a name I know from a previous book or series, or hear a character talk about this planet or that planet.  I think to myself  “Oh, I’ve been there in such and such a book.”

When meeting a character that I’ve already met in a previous book, I immediately feel a sense of connection which I feel helps the reader to feel at home in my universe.

I’d be very interested to know your thoughts or observations on this.

Dream Project

Someone over on facebook had a great idea for a blog hop.  Taking place every day of February, one person blogs each day and answers questions relating to your own personal ‘dream project.’

You’re supposed to tag the person who is due to blog the next day and so it continues etc.

Maybe you’d like to join in and do your own blog with these questions.  Leave your link in the comments.

Writers dream. Now it’s time to dream BIG.

You have the opportunity to hire anybody as your cover artist, who would you get for the interior artwork?

I write space opera/science fiction so for my space opera series, The Lilean Chronicles, I would need an experienced concept artist. I don’t know the names of any and don’t have a favourite but I like what I’ve seen of Lik Studios in Taiwan. As you can see in the pictures below, the realism is amazing. To have these guys working on my books would be simply awesome.

Visit Lik Studios on this link.





Who would you co-write your next novel with? What genre? Why?

I couldn’t imagine ever writing in any genre other than space opera. All the books and movies I love are space opera/science fiction/fantasy and all of my own daydreams and personal imaginings are in based in such a world. I’m a very creative person and have always had a very vivid imagination and a yearning to escape from this world, this life and everything within it. It stands to reason therefore that my creativity takes me as far away from this reality as it’s possible to go and that is the only place I find joy and fulfilment.  If I could co write a space opera/science fiction novel I’d love to work with Dave Twohy, the movie Director of Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick fame.  He wrote the Riddick story and directed all three movies and he has great imagination and the ability to bring the imagined into being.  I believe he would help me to make my story more real.

Visit Dave on this link


Your publisher wants to do an audiobook version of your novel and they’re not sparing any expense. Who do you think can narrate your masterpiece?

Well certainly not Morgan Freeman..! Seriously though, my narrator would need a deep velvet voice with a calm flow and not too strong an accent. The Lilean Chronicles, although basically a space opera novel, has a strong spiritual thread running through it and some of the main characters are deeply wise spiritual guides and nothing else but a deep, warm and slow voice will do. A warm deep voice relaxes you and allows your mind to absorb the words more easily and really live the story. My choice would be James Earl Jones, without doubt the best voice for my project.

Visit James on this link.


They’re really going all out! Your novel is getting a full soundtrack. Who should compose it? If your novel uses a lot of songs, list your compilation here.

Now this is one of the easiest questions to answer. Without a second’s hesitation I choose Heart of Courage by Two Steps to Hell, closely followed by Asimov, Archangel and Dragon Rider, all by Two Steps to Hell. Bringing up the rear would be Bravest of the Braves by Kosinus Music. I was halfway through writing the first of The Lilean Chronicles series when I first heard Heart of Courage and the moment I heard Heart of Courage, I knew it was perfect for the soundtrack of the movie. When I’m writing or editing, I take regular breaks and during those times I often listen to it a few times, to keep me in the right zone.

Congratulations! Your novel is being turned into a major motion picture. As the creator of the original work, you get to pick the director.

Easy peasy, Dave Twohy for all the reasons mentioned above in the co writing question. To have this amazing man direct The Lilean Chronicles movie would be mind blowing. His ability to bring what I see in my mind into reality, to create the imagination in physical form is simply awesome. If anyone could bring my characters to life, it’s Dave Twohy.

The director has some ideas on who to cast, but you get to cast one character. What role/character is it and who portrays them?

Well ideally I’d like to cast two characters, but if I had only one, I would have to lay claim to first choice of actor to play my main male protagonist. The Lilean Chronicles’ main male character is called Vincent Richard Domenico and there is only one man alive suitable to play him and that is Dwayne The Rock Johnson. The main reason is his size; Vincent is a very big and muscular man and therefore needs a very big actor to play him but also for his racial look. Vincent comes from a planet called Lilea and their physical appearance is what we would term ‘mixed race’ – light brown skin and black eyes. When I was a few chapters into writing the first volume of The Lilean Chronicles and just getting to know Vincent, he began to show me the kind of look he wanted to have and by the time I’d finished chapter ten, it was Dwayne I saw in my mind whenever I wrote about Vincent. I tried to change this image, to make it go away because I originally had another actor in mind for his look but Vincent knew what he wanted and he laid the law down, so Dwayne it is.

Visit Dwayne’s facebook page on this link.


 You’ve been hired to write a novel based on a preexisting character or franchise from another medium. Which character or franchise is it?

It would be Riddick. I would give my right arm to write a Riddick story and that is in fact how I first began writing. I wrote short fan fiction pieces, new adventures for Riddick and that’s how I was first inspired to write my own character and story. It was great fun and satisfied my need to connect with the character as a fan of his but pretty soon I realised that it would be so easy to just carry the story on and let it run. Once I got to twenty thousand words I realised that this could be a whole book if I just kept going and let it have it’s head and lead the way. I then had a dilemma though; Riddick has already been invented. He’s a copyrighted trademark and I’d probably end up in trouble if I wrote a book with him in it. I almost gave up but then I thought “oh what the hell, just start again with my own character.” The background could stay the same and the peripheral characters could stay but the main protagonist must be new. So Vincent was born.

It’s the anniversary of your favorite literary character’s debut. You’ve been hired (yay, work!) to write an anniversary novel. Who is the literary character?

This would have to be Willis E Davidge, one of two main protagonists from Enemy Mine by Barry B Longyear. The movie that was made from this book is one of my favourite space operas and the character Davidge is everything I love my protagonists to be; fearless and flawed but with an over riding sense of what is right and a willingness to give his life in the quest for justice and truth. He’s not bad looking, funny and the adventure he has with his co protagonist, the Drac, is heartwarming and emotional. Writing an anniversary novel of Willis E Davidge would be huge fun and something of an homage to one of my favourite movies.

Visit Enemy Mine on this link.



Visit the next stop in the Dream Project Blog Hop with this link.

Tentacles, Gloop & Flying Fried Eggs

I write science fiction cum fantasy cum space opera novels. All of my work includes travel to other worlds, other races of beings, fearsome predatory creatures and amazing technology. I find this genre affords me huge freedoms that writing stories set on earth in the now, don’t. When forming a new planet, a new race of people or a technological gizmo I can let my mind wander where it wants to go without being too bound to today’s rules of physics, biology or engineering. This means I don’t have to do very much research, which is a huge blessing. I don’t have to study engineering or today’s known limits of electrical power and I don’t have to know anything about history. My characters can be whatever I want them to be, do whatever I want them to do and the fact that such things aren’t possible today, doesn’t matter.

Some writers of this genre take this freedom to what is for me, a ridiculous extent. I’ve read books and seen movies containing beings made of gelatinous goop, tentacled ‘things’ and even the famous Star Trek flying fried eggs. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not averse to a tentacle or two here and there but I find the idea of gelatinous gloop with intelligence and reasoning and the power to make the choice to be good or evil, a little too far fetched. My sentient beings are all basically humanoid in appearance and for me this is important for one reason only – it gives the reader a familiar concept to identify with, which they recognise and feel comfortable with. I’m don’t dismiss the concept that out there somewhere is a world with super intelligent blue gloop, it’s just that I think readers need something they recognise to make that initial connection with and which will lead them willingly into the rest of the story.

I do have a ‘bad guy’ character who doesn’t have a physical body at all, but that is still better than flying fried eggs or tentacles with IQ’s higher than mine. With today’s acceptance and interest in all things paranormal, having a baddie who is just a spirit form is not only acceptable these days, but probably desirable. Maybe it’s just me but the concept of intelligent blue gloop or gelatinous tentacles with personalities, is a stretch too far. I’ve ordered my mother to shoot me if I ever put a flying fried egg into one of my books, and she’s agreed to do so..!

My sentient characters are all therefore, humanoid. I start with the basic humanoid structure and then enhance it in whatever way I want. A tweak to a brain function here, a slight adjustment to musculature there and I have a person everyone can recognise and identify with right away, but who is also different enough to us that we can accept him as ‘alien’. This is the only area where I do some research. I have this little quirk, idiosyncrasy if you like, that anything I claim for my character must have some basis in what is known and accepted science today. Even a fairly tenuous link will do, so long as there is a foundation of plausibility upon which I can build and enhance.

For instance, my main characters are Lileans. They are from the planet Lilea and they have a very close working relationship with spirits, with whom they interact and communicate with ease. I have given them this ability as an inherited, genetic trait and I’ll explain my ‘science’ behind it. Within the human brain is an area called the Thalamus. This gland has many functions but I concentrated my focus on two of them. The Thalamus takes in all the raw data brought in by your other five senses and sorts it out so that you can make sense of the world around you; so you can understand your world. The Thalamus is also the gland responsible for altered states of consciousness.

What I did with the Lilean Thalamus, was to make it much bigger than it’s Earth counterpart, more complicated in structure so that the Lileans can enjoy a much greater degree of altered states of consciousness with far more ease than us Earthlings do. I also invented a disease for this gland – Thalamic Breakdown. Sufferers have difficulty making sense of the world around them due to the diseased Thalamus not interpreting the data brought in by the other 5 senses correctly. Sufferers also lose the ability to connect with their spirit friends. I then also invented a drug treatment for this disease – Manopterfilamide THZ7.

Because I’ve based my characters’ abilities in today’s known science, they seem all the more plausible to the reader. I do this with everything concerning the biology of my characters and I feel it gives them a ‘believability’ that flying fried eggs and blue gloop can never have.