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Friday, March 20, 2015

What Kind Of Sci-fi Reader Are You?




Many bookstores still shelve sci-fi and fantasy together, a practice that causes most Sci-Fi readers to fume and mutter while they scan the shelves for something new to read. Who can seriously believe that the works of Tolkien and Asimov have anything in common? At Dog-Eared Pages, one of the first things I did was to separate them. However, after three years of helping readers find new authors, I believe the science fiction section could be divided even further.

I could be wrong, although I rarely am. (Just don't ask my hubby.) There have been no studies or experiments to back up my theory, but I believe there are different reasons why people read the genre. While all sci-fi lovers share the common expectation that the advancements and achievements in technology are paramount and the science behind them needs to be accurate and believable, I think there are two distinct types of readers. I call them trekkies and warriors. I have successfully used this method, for the past seven years, to help guide my customers in their search to find new books to enjoy.

Trekkies, of course, enjoy reading the series Star Trek. They read to learn the philosophy of the future. I have found they also savor Asimov's Foundation series, Herbert's Dune series, Orwell's 1984 and Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. It's not so much about the advanced technology, but the more subtle and profound thoughts these books force their readers to tackle. Trekkies love to read about the possible futures of mankind, both good and bad. They relish the politics, belief systems and schools  of thought about the future. Trekkies often ponder and anguish over which direction we are headed for now.

Warriors, are a completely different breed. They devour the Star Wars series. They're usually drawn to authors such as Cherryh, Bova, Card, and Clarke. Warriors read for adventure. Warriors want their battles complete with lasers swords swashing and titanium helms buckling. They root for the good guys and see themselves in the midst of the action. Above all, they crave a great adventure story.

Before I released my newest novel, Pangaea, I had to figure out its genre so people would know what type of book it was, and so bookstores would know where to shelve it. Pangaea's blend of magic and science mad this tougher than I thought it would be. With no wizards or dragons, it wasn't high fantasy and fans of Tolkien and Butcher would be disappointed. Although I was leaning toward a Trekkie type of sci-fi, I knew if I claimed it as such, Ringworld fans would have my head.

After watching me pace and grumble for an hour or so, my hubby asked, “Why not call it Utopian Fantasy?”

“Because that's not a real genre.” I answered, still pounding my head against my desk in despair.

“But that's what Pangaea is: your fantasy of a utopian society. Make a new genre.”

“Hmmm. That's true.” I typed the words on the cover and liked what I saw. 'Utopian Fantasy'. My readers would at least have an inkling of what Pangaea was about. And thus a new genre was born.

Are you a Trekkie or a Warrior? Or do you think there should be a third category? A fourth? Do you believe my theory lacks substance and should be shoved into the theory disposal unit? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I'm still considering whether to break my sci-fi section down into these two categories, and would love to hear from some hard-core sci-fi readers.

After this, I realized Fantasy needed subcategories, too. How many? Which ones? I'll be busy shelving and reshelving books forever. It's all good.

Portions of this article were previously published in Connotations Sci-fi Magazine.


Anna Questerly is the author of The Minstrel's Tale and manager of Dog-Eared Pages bookstore in North Phoenix. Anna can be reached at www.annaquesterly.com or www.dogearedpagesusedbooks.com  or through Facebook as either Anna Questerly or Dog-Eared Pages. Of course, if you're in Phoenix, please be sure to stop in. I'd love to meet you. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Release—Syn-En Pillar World

Admiral Beijing York and his cyborgs are losing the war. With the Founders conquering world after world, desperate measures are called for. Preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice, he and his wife, Nell Stafford, set out on a mission that could turn the tide of battle.
Instead they are captured by the Meek, a race of tremendous power and ability, willing to join their cause. Is this new ally an answered prayer or a deal with the Devil?
Monday, March 16, 2015

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR VIJAYA SCHARTZ

Why do you write?
I cannot imagine not writing. Writing is my drug, and I'm definitely addicted. Even if I read the thousands of books in my kindle, it would not fill the void of writing deprivation. I've been writing all my life. At an early age (five or six) I wrote poems, then I wrote in my diary and enjoyed crafting long letters. I also kept journals of my vacations. It gave me an outlet for my frustrations as a teenager. At the time I discovered mystery novels and thought of writing one, but life quickly became too exciting and hectic, as I left my home in France to travel the world and spend time in exotic lands like India. Still, I kept journals. When I finally settled down in Arizona, I started writing the stories running amok in my head. I believe a true writer cannot live without writing. It's a crucial necessity. When I write I forget the time, I forget to eat or sleep or bathe. My cat has an internal clock and jumps on the keyboard to remind me that I'm late for her favorite tuna treat, or it's dark out, and time to go to bed.

Do you work any reality from your own life into your novels? If so, do you change it to make it more or less dramatic? How and why?
They say, write about what you know. I often raid my memory banks to enhance a scene. My travels provide exotic settings for the backdrop of my stories. I recall strong emotions of love, loss or frustration to flesh out my characters. I believe the more a writer has experienced, the more depth he/she can give to fictitious characters. Occasionally, I feature someone I used to know as a character in a novel, but it takes some distance in space and time to look at people objectively. I also make sure I change names, places, and circumstances. If it's a hero, I enhance that person's good qualities, if it's a villain, I push his/her vices and weaknesses to the extreme.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you? Tell us why you love writing in whatever genre you consider your favorite.
I write in many genres, because I write the books I would want to read. In my youth I loved reading Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert (Dune), so my favorite genre is science fiction, but being from Europe, I also love romance and medieval times. I managed to blend all three in WHITE TIGER and in the subsequent novels of the CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK series, where a human medieval society struggles for freedom against galactic races of advanced aliens. Of course, this human society evolved in slightly different ways, away from Earth, that's why they keep large felines as pets and train them for battle... White Tiger is my heroine's warrior name as she learned to fight with tigers. The felines in this series make for stunning covers, thanks to the talented DBP cover artist Jenifer Ranieri.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
AMAZON  B&N  -  SMASHWORDS  -  ARE
Friday, March 13, 2015

Is it Sci-Fi or Magic?



The differences between science-fiction and outright magic is open for discussion. According to TV Tropes (one of the BEST resources for writers), blending the two becomes something called Sci-Fi Fantasy:

"Robots and wizards, spaceships and dragons, lasers and fireballs. Mix these ingredients in your cyber-witch's boiling pot of dark matter, and you've got yourself Science Fantasy.


Science Fiction and Fantasy stories can be difficult to tell apart under normal circumstances, as all but the very hardest sci-fi introduces some hypothetical technology that one has to take on faith, like FTL Travel or Humanoid Aliens. And at the other end of the scale, even High Fantasy works have consistency requirements like Magic A Is Magic A, which can blur the line into Sufficiently Analyzed Magic.



Science Fantasy works, on the other hand, take traditional Fantasy and Science Fiction tropes and throw them in a blender, purposely creating a setting that has the feel of both. Expect to see a lot of classic Fantasy tropes (e.g. warriors with swordsdragonswizardscastles, and elvesand a lot of standard Science Fiction tropes (e.g. spaceshipsalienslasersscientistsrobots, and Time Travel)."


Since Time Travel fits neatly into this trope, grab a copy of my Time Travel Romance Kiss Me, I'm Irish just in time for St. Patrick's Day. It will be .99 (reg. $2.99) Saturday through Tuesday the 17th.

BOOK ONE in the TENNESSEE WALTZ SERIES. 

Emily Musgrave is heading a direction she never wanted to go in Regency England--namely a convent to turn her from her waywardness. But it's more loneliness than rebellion that motivates her to escape her certain fate. 

Liam Jackson is going nowhere fast in modern-day Tennessee. Playing his Dobro in seedy bars and backward dives along with his fiddling sister, Tinker, is doing nothing for his music career--and even less for the dark places in his soul. 

Pixie mischief can not only change time-lines, it can change hearts. Because sometimes a girl just needs a little magic in her life. 

So, decide whether Kiss Me, I'm Irish is sci-fi, magic, or sci-fi fantasy as you tip your hat to St Patrick this year.



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