Fiction

Science Fiction Mashup

Here are some fun science fiction magazine sites. If you haven’t visited them, click on the links below. Among these I’m sure you’ll find something that speaks to your SF bug.

Asimovs Science Fiction

offers samples of their print and e-format magazine, links to author, magazine and other SF related sites, and they feature a couple of new author blogs each month.

Amazing Stories Magazine

calls their site a Social Magazine. Scroll down the page to see some of the fascinating posts and join the forum to participate in the conversation.

Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine 

is up in space! (in the library of the International Space Station). This site offers the usual plus a reference library and an events calendar.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 

features a blog with interviews, reviews, and articles as well as a forum for discussions among fans.

Sfsignal

is considered a fanzine(a nonprofessional, nonofficial publication by fans). You’ll find book and movie reviews, free fiction, convention information, and more at this site.

 

Hi! I’m popping up out of my writing cave for a few minutes to say hi and share some links you might want to know about. I’ll be heading back into the cave in a minute. I’m determined to finish this re-write before I take off for an intense immersion class. In the meantime, I will try to post a short piece every couple of weeks. I’ll return to a regular blogging scheduled in late October.

I hope you found something of interest in this mashup of Science Fiction Online.

Are there science fiction sites you visit regularly?

Greek for a Day

What do you do when you want to travel abroad but can’t afford the time or expense?

If you want to go to Greece or learn about Greece for a work-in-progress (I wouldn’t know who was doing that). You go to a Greek Food Festival and become Greek for the day.

Lynette M Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows, action-suspense science fiction

 

Waiting in line while mouthwatering aromas waft through the air. . . . then the tasting begins!

Lynette M. Burrows, author

Flaming Saganaki Chees via Arnold Inuyaki on Flickr Commons

Flaming Cheese Saganaki (pronounced sah-ghah-NAH-kee). The term saganaki refers to the two-handled vessel in which appetizers are served. The cheese is pan-fried and at the last minute (often at the table) a Greek brandy or Ourzo is poured over the cheese and set aflame with a shout of “Opa!.” You can find the recipe here.

Want to know more about Greek food? You can find all you want to know about Greek food at Matt Barrett’s travel guides.

The boutique complete with souvenirs from Greece. Notice the ladies behind the counter in their festive attire.

Greek-Fest-shop2_web

Greek-Festival-shop_web

No Greek food festival is complete without dancing.

Greek festival dancing_web

Did You Know?

Greeks are notorious for late arrivals to events. In fact, when they observe someone arriving to an event on time they say “he is English.”

When something is incomprehensible to a an American we say, “It’s Greek to me.” But to the Greeks, “It’s Chinese to me.”

When a Greek exaggerates or hides the truth, he’s “pouring on the sauce.”

Shaping thumb and forefinger to a ring as in the American gesture meaning okay, is an obscene gesture to Greeks.

Many Greeks have a cactus plant near the entrance to their home. The spines or prickles of the cactus are thought to ward off the evil eye from the property.

You can find more information about Greek traditions and superstitions at the Faliraki Directory.

And the best information comes from conversations you have with the folks who remember these traditions and superstitions and a few stories about a yaya (grandmother).

While travel to the country is the best option when learning about another culture. And the internet can be a treasure trove of information.  There’s nothing quite like being almost there, at a local festival, tasting the food, listening to the music, and enjoying the stories.

Have you been Greek for a day? 

If not Greece, what country have you visited without leaving your national borders?

 

Going to Mars Word-by-Word: the Landis Way

Lynette M. Burrows, Science Fiction Author; Lynette M. Burrows, action-suspense science fiction

The next stop in our Going to Mars Word-by-Word tour is Mars Crossing by Geoffrey Landis. Published by Tor Books in 2000, this is a first novel by an experienced and award-winning short story author. It was nominated for a Nebula and won the Locus Award for best first novel in 2001.  Hop aboard for a gritty, near future science fiction tale of what the exploration of Mars just might be like.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

By 2028, two missions have been sent to Mars. Both the Brazilian and the American expeditions met with catastrophe and death on the Red Planet. A NASA-private venture hopes the third mission to Mars will be the first to return. Their plan relies on a return vessel sent to Mars years earlier, capable of manufacturing fuel for the return trip from the Martian atmosphere.

The mixed-gender, multi-national crew of six lands on Mars successfully but their celebrations are short-lived. A catastrophic failure kills one of the crew and causes irreparable damage to the return ship. And there is no hope of a rescue mission coming from Earth.

As a last ditch effort to survive, they set out to cross 4,000 miles of Mars to the north pole in the hopes that the abandoned Brazilian vehicle will be operational. Limited supplies and equipment, alien terrain, the ever present dust are only a portion of the hazards they face. The Brazilian vehicle can only carry two.

Using alternating viewpoints and flashbacks, Landis slowly reveals each surviving astronaut has a painful secret from the past. The isolation and desperation of their trek, combined with their secrets, creates tension and intrigue on every step of their journey. And one of the crew is willing to commit murder to ensure a place on the return trip to Earth.

HOW THE RED PLANET IS PORTRAYED

Mars Crossing conveys an authentic, fully-realized Martian landscape. The terrain crossed in the story includes familiar landmarks and a few surprises. Landis describes a place of beautiful desolation and isolation, a harsh and unforgiving land. It feels accurate. It feels real. And it’s no wonder, the author is in the know about real Mars exploration.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoffrey Landis wears many hats: He has published more than 80 short stories, nearly 50 poems, one one science fiction novel, and more than 400 scientific papers. His short fiction has numerous awards including a Nebula and two Hugos. See his bibliography here.

Landis can write authentically about Mars because he is a physicist at the NASA John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a member of the science team of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission that landed rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars. Opportunity is still working after nine years! Landis also worked on the Mars Pathfinder project. You can read more about the projects he has and is working on here.

CONCLUSION

For me Mars Crossing has a nice balance of characterization, science, and drama. The novel has been compared to the greats of the field. The most fascinating part of it were the intriguing questions it posed about sending humans on  interplanetary journeys:

Would you take a trip to Mars knowing that the two previous missions failed?

How would you decided who could go home and who would face certain death on the Red Planet?

What would you be willing to do to secure a seat on the trip home?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Have you read Mars Crossing? Won’t you share what you thought of it? If you haven’t read it, will you?

This is the final novel I had planned for this blog series. Yet there are many more novels I could explore. Tell me, would you like this series to continue?  If so, what novels or stories about Mars would you like for me to cover over the next few months?

Hooked

Lynette M Burrows author, Lynette M Burrows science fiction author, Lynette M Burrows action-adventure science fiction author

Courtesy of kbowenwriter and WANA Commons on Flickr

Once upon a time

. . . it was tradition to begin a story with those words. Today’s reader will accept that opening only for a certain type of story. Regardless of the genre or style of fiction, the beginning of the book is critical.  Often readers will open a book and read the first few paragraphs before deciding to spend their time on the story. If the first lines of the book make the reader go ‘bleh ‘ the book is put down and never opened again.  If the opening lines hook the reader, the reader is entertained for hours.

First Lines

Arbitrarily define the opening of the story as the first 100 words, here are the hooks of two of my favorite books.

Dune by Frank Herbert, Ace Books 1965

In the weeks before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.

It was a warm night at Castle Caladan, and the ancient pile of stone that had served the Atreides family as home for twenty-six generations bore that cooled-sweat feeling it acquired before a change in the weather. The old woman was let in by the side door down the vaulted passage by Paul’s room and she was allowed a moment to peer in at him where he lay in his bed.

In three lines of Dune, Herbert has given us a location, a life-changing event, a main character, and a mysterious presence. He created tension, a sense of foreboding, and a sense that something momentous is about to happen.

Notice the rhythm, the cadence of his words. Notice the sound and feel of the words: Arrakis, scurrying, crone, Castle Caladan, ancient, Atreides.

Notice it’s final scurrying and unbearable frenzy. Did you catch the references to change? Are you hooked? I sure am.

Okay. Let’s try another passage from another book.

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card, Tor 1987

Little Peggy was very careful with the eggs. She rooted her hand through the straw till her fingers bumped something hard and heavy. She gave no never mind to the chicken drips. After all, when folk with babies stayed at the roadhouse, Mama never even crinkled her face at their most spetackler diapers. Even when the chicken drips were wet and stringy and made her fingers stick together, little Peggy gave no never mind. She just pushed the straw apart, wrapped her hand around the egg, and lifted it out of the brood box. All this while standing tiptoe on a wobbly stool, reaching high above her head.

In this 108 words by Orson Scott Card there is a strong sense of character, of the roadhouse, of the society in which little Peggy lives. I already know I like Peggy. Do you? Do you want to know more about her? Can you feel the straw and the sticky eggs? Can you see the wobbly stool with little Peggy reaching for the nests? Do you want to know what happens next?

Hooked

Great openings hook the reader, but the story must continue to deliver the same great content. In my opinion, the two books listed above do just that. Strong characters, interesting situations, a hint of a problem that promises to grow larger, and a setting that fascinates create compelling first lines.

What do you think? Will you read past a so-so beginning? What books hooked you? Was there a particular part (character, setting, problem) that drew you in?

I love to hear from you. And you know my TBR pile can always use a few more books. Won’t you tell me about your favorites?