News on September 18th, 2009

Johne Cook says: Adam Callaway interviewed me for his 100th blog post at the Weirdside. The interview was more challenging than expected, as I had to formalize some things that I've just sort of 'known' up to this point. The question about the differences between Space Opera, Planetary Romance, Military SF, and Hard SF was probably the most difficult, and the one I reworked the most until it reflected what I thought I thought. Y'know?


AC: What makes space opera different from hard sf, military sf, or planetary romance?

JC: The Wikipedia entry on this is quite good, and I’ll be cribbing my answer from there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_opera

Basically, the primary difference between space opera and planetary romance is that the former emphasizes space travel while the latter emphasizes what takes place on alien worlds. For my part, alien worlds exist in space, so I tend to mix the two up. I read Doc Smith and Edgar Rice Burroughs at about the same time, and tend to classify the former’s Lensman stories with the latter’s John Carter, Warlord of Mars stories. They’re technically different but close enough in tone to comfortably co-exist.

There is a clear difference between hard SF and space opera. I think space opera is science fiction with a lessened emphasis on rigorous science and a greater emphasis on adventure, characterization, and sprawling scale. In Star Wars, George Lucas did a great job of suggesting advanced technology (anti-grav hovercraft, energy beam weapons, light sabers) without going into any great detail how any of those technologies worked. He simply used them (consistently, for the most part) in the telling of his stories. (There were a multitude of other design flaws, however, which John Scalzi recently exposed in a column at AMC.)

Military SF strikes me as a subset of space opera and science fiction with parts that overlap between the two. Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis trilogy depicts large-scale space battles with futuristic weapons, however, the science he uses is quite rigorous and consistent. Take the Ender’s Game books by Orson Scott Card for another example. They clearly contain military SF elements. They just as clearly contain space opera elements. And so one can be a fan of the one sub-genre without being an explicit fan of the other and still enjoy the work.


News on September 16th, 2009

Johne Cook says:

Ray Gun Revival magazine celebrates it's third anniversary with Issue 54. Get it now! http://ping.fm/DPtel

The Overlords' Lair: RGR's Third Anniversary by Johne Cook

Sky Voices by Alice Roelke
She remembered how she'd wished for the stars. It seemed ironic, now.

Just A Room, Out In Space by Matthew Wimmer
Choices can be hard to make, but what happens when they are made for you?

What World is Made Of by Casey Chan
In a world built on lies, a futuristic test prep expert tries telling the truth with disastrous consequences.

Calamity's Child, Chapter Eight - ROP: King in the Corner by M. Keaton
Serial Fiction

C.Moira's Choice by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
TA space marshal hunts a fugitive on a barren planet but finds things are not as she was led to believe.

Featured artist Christian Nauck, Germany

Tales of the Breaking Dawn: The Ties That Bind, Part Three by Justin R. Macumber
Serial Fiction
The crew of the star-freighter First Light Of The Breaking Dawn must race against time and enemy fire, where the finish line lies directly between worlds at war.

Deuces Wild, Season Two, Space-pale by L. S. King
Serial Fiction

RGR Reviews: Book Reviews by and Matthew Winslow and Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
Reviewed this month:
The Company Series, by Kage Baker
Empress of Mars, by Kage Baker
Three Unbroken, by Chris Roberson

The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, Chapter 27: Enter the Barracuda by Johne Cook
Serial Fiction
We left Cooper Flynn and The Friar of Briar Island at a crucial crossroads nearly a year ago. After a long and brutal bout with writer's block, the series rebounds with the introduction of... well, you'll see.

Blind Bart has what it takes to make it to old age, including duplicity, cunning, and a voracious capacity for rum. None of that bodes well for Cooper Flynn or the bounty hunter who's picked up his trail...

Thieves' Honor: Episode Nine - Endgame, Part Two by Keanan Brand
Serial Fiction


Karina Fabian says: Hello, Hello, DragonEye, PI, fans!

This is to let you know the next issue of A Dragon's Eye View is available for download. (Click here.). I'm going to be looking into an e-zine service for subsequent issues so you won't need to go through the hassle of downloading in the future. However, this issue is worth it! Vern and I talk about zombies and a fun new anthology called The Zombie Cookbook, in which I have two stories.

Piggy-backing this great news is some sad news for those eagerly awaiting the next DragonEye, PI, novel, Live and Let Fly. By mutual agreement, Swimming Kangaroo and I have decided I should take the manuscript to a bigger publisher. You can read more on the DragonEye, PI, website. At any rate, I give you my promise: I will have this contracted in a year. You will see Live and Let Fly in 2011/2012. In the meantime, I will continue to write stories for magazines and for sale on my website. Vern and Grace are not going away!


Guild Member Spotlight: Tony Lavoie

Welcome to the first in a series of personal interviews with the members of the Lost Genre Guild. Look out for these spotlights every Monday!

Tony Lavoie

When did you join the LGG? How did you make the connection?

Less than a year ago. Someone on ChristianWriters.com recommended LGG as a pretty nice place to hang out. Can't remember who that was, but thank you, whoever you are! :)

What's the first thing you remember that happened in the Guild?

I have a hard time remembering the first thing that happened this morning...you really expect me to remember way back then?

I do recall early on hearing someone talk about Frank Creed's "Flashpoint", and following a link to a short story of his. It may have been Frank. :)

Tell us some good things that have transpired from belonging.

I found Ray Gun Revival, hopped aboard a couple of other Christian Spec-Fic lists, discovered Jeff Gerke's "Where the Map Ends", gave away a couple of .pdf's of my Scabbard Pete book, had a laugh or two, discovered my laptop doesn't like it's primary life let alone any "Second Life", met some really great people whom I'd really like to meet someday (read that again ;), and got to assist--in some very small way--the promotion of speculative fiction from Christian writers. All with the ultimate aim of glorifying my Creator and his creation.

What's your genre and subgenre? Why do you think that is?

My novel is pirate fantasy, my published short stories have all been sci-fi, and my best works are Christmas tales. Because those are the stories that Creator guy I mentioned above gave me. :)

Do you like to read the same genre as you write? What other genres interest you? Favourite authors?

I'd be really weird if I didn't. :) (Hey, we're ALL weird around here!)
In addition to sci-fi (pretty much all sub-genres) and fantasy (ditto), I like some historical fiction (but it has to really grab me) but really don't read much else. I do like Robert B. Parker (Spenser) and some military fiction like Dale Brown and Tom Clancy. My favorites are older science fiction stories - pulp stuff from the 40's through 60's, Verne, Wells, Bradbury...others too numerous to mention. I really dig Terry Pratchett's Discworld stuff, and Robert Howard's Conan books, and Ian Fleming's James Bond.

Oh, and Diana Wynne-Jones knocks my socks off. :)

Tell us about your published work, and where we can go to find out more.

My first publishing success came this year, in the form of my short story "Moon Dust" accepted by MindFlights.com (http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=5289). My second and third came from "Horses" and "Evil Awakened" at Digital Dragon (http://digitaldragonmagazine.net). I am also self-publishing my novel "The Ballad of Scabbard Pete".

What are you working on right now? How's progress?

I have a serial project under consideration at one venue, a short story I'm working on for possible submission to another venue (both sci-fi, of course), and a Christmas story to complete two others I've written. This last project (the collection of Christmas Tales) is the most exciting for me, because I'm working with a very talented artist who is working up some wonderful illustrations for it. Progress progresses. Anyone have a few hours in the day they're not using? ;)

How has the LGG helped you in your work?

Aside from the obvious benefit of being able to get the word out on my writing, and subsequently get my name known a little bit more widely than just on my street, I've really enjoyed seeing how other writers are handling and promoting their projects. I've read a couple of very good books by some of the authors who hang out here, and gotten to listen to and share ideas and advice, not to mention encourage a couple of people at what seems just the time they needed it. It's a great experience, and I'll take this opportunity to thank you all--and especially the Big Guy upstairs--for letting me be a part of it.

What are your dreams for the future of Christian speculative fiction, and for yourself within that?

I'd love to see Christian spec-fic titles on the same shelves at Barnes and Noble and Borders as the rest of the spec-fic writers. How can I help that? Haven't the foggiest, other than to hang around corners like this one and help spread the word. That, and try to write the best darn stories I can, and make sure God is in them. :)

Your best writing tip?

Write. You were given a story to tell (possibly more than one!), so tell it in the best possible way you can. And don't be afraid to ask for help.

What else are you up to that our readers would find interesting?

That you would find interesting? Well, theres...no, I can't admit that here. Okay, then, how about...no, that's only interesting to llamas and train engineers. All right, here's one...I really am as big a nerd as my wife thinks I am. :) And I tend to have to remove an inordinate amount of "in fact"s from my writing.

Something you reckon not many people know about you?

I design model rockets. Out of paper. Really cool ones! :)
And I've designed a cover for a book being published, and designed a logo for the imprint that's going to publish it. http://portyonderpress.com to check those out (though the logo's not there yet...she's still bringing things up to speed).

Your website or social media profile?

http://PaperGizmo.com <= that's a good place to start. It'll even take you to the rockets. :) http://facebook.com/tonylavoie <= but be forewarned, if you befriend me, you end up getting the real me, nerdiness and all. http://twitter.com/tonylavoie <= but I don't update every day. FB is my primary social venue. http://scabbardpete.wordpress.com <= my blog, but I update only about two or three times a month, usually. That's me! :)