A longtime follower of Women and Words, Ted Beveridge, is with us today to share his thoughts on the fabulous world building found in sci-fi. Woo! Take it away, Ted.
Thanks to Andi and Jove for letting me bend your ear for a minute with a reader’s perspective. I wanted to talk about two of my favorite genre’s, lesfic and sci-fi.
I started growing up in the 70’s. With very few outlets to tide the boredom of life, I turned to books. I keenly remember calling up my father at work while reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series and asking my dad what “queer” meant in the context of my reading. Since I had an openly gay uncle, I was used to hearing words like, “fag, faggot, queer”, etc when the re-tellings of his beatings were overheard. In this instance, queer only meant different and out of the ordinary. My 6 year old brain was satisfied with that definition.
The 80’s. I found myself immersed in a flood of sci-fi and fantasy. The ultimate escapism. What better way for a dirty poor kid in bum-Eff-nowhere Indiana to escape his reality but to find it in a well built sci-fi book. It was also during this decade that I found it was ok to be just as attracted to Tim as it was to Tina. At least not openly. Tina was safe, Tim, not so much.
In the 90’s, I fell in love with a Tim. Fell in love with Star Trek the Next Generation as well. Later in life, I found out that my love affair with Riker wouldn’t have panned out very well. But who knew I’d have had a better shot at Jean-Luc Pickard. Make it so number one. And as luck and fate would have it, Tim and I didn’t work out. Being gay in the 90’s in the military was a terrifying time.
In the 2000’s… naw. Let’s just say my love of sci-fi has been lifelong and let the poor horse expire on its own. Sci-fi has always been my most comfortable escape.
I’ve often railed on about the lack of sci-fi in the lesfic community. But that got me thinking. Maybe I just haven’t found it all yet. Sci-fi is difficult to write. There’s the aspect of world building which can be daunting at best. Setting the stage for a sci-fi isn’t the same as setting the stage for a 2016 contemporary Chicago. I’d like to share, from a reader’s perspective, what I’ve been able to find that fits both lesbian fiction and sci-fi.
The best example of world building and general immersion I believe is Fletcher Delancey’s Chronicles of Alsea. It’s been discussed before how generally awesome this series is, so I won’t beleaguer the point. If you haven’t yet, read them. Congrats Fletcher for your GCLS win this year. You totally deserve it. Vellmar the Blade is newly released in this series, so check it out!
Holding second podium for world building is a little gem I recently found called ‘The Significant’ written under pen name Kyra Anderson. This is a massive book that besides the aspect of world building, ticks all the boxes off on the what makes a great novel. It’s layered and textured and just a great book that you’ll never forget you’ve read.
Lastly in the world building category, my hat is off to Cary Caffrey and ‘The Girls from Alcyone’. This series struck me in not only the sci-fi aspect but also in the whole general badassary the two women unleash. And trust me, they unleash *a lot*.
It was Cary actually who inspired me to try my hand at writing. I figured if he could write a compelling and respectful story about two leading ladies who were coupled up and taking on the galaxy, I could too. But… folks…. That’s hard. I have a whole universe of respect for the authors out there who make it happen.
I think just about any novel, sci-fi or otherwise, has an aspect of world building to it. You have to create the setting in the story. I don’t think Jae ever visited 18th century Oregon, but she did a bang up good job putting us in context with her Backwards to Oregon novel and even Shaken to the Core. The uniqueness of doing this in sci-fi however has you creating hopefully believable universes, races, even wildly different politics. And don’t forget the physics, lol.
And that’s the thing. Believability. Is the story too far fetched that it suspends belief? A little physics twisting and the butterfly effect is clearly evident in ‘Loved and Lost’ by Stephanie Kusiak. This book. Ugh. So good. I’ve read it several times and have lent it out to several people.
I’m going to take a moment and raise my fist in the sky screaming, “KHHHAAAAN” as a preemptive attempt to vent my frustration with the TV series ‘The 100’. I’m not going to go on about how absolutely devastated (tears people…) I was when Clexa became simply Clark. I mean up to that point it was some grade-A sci-fi with believable, gritty, loveable characters. And they had to screw it all up. But! There is hope! I think Andi has talked briefly about her foyer into fan fiction. So if you haven’t yet, peep her first chapters in an effort to give us all a story line we feel should have happened from the show that I no longer watch. http://archiveofourown.org/works/7302466/chapters/16585624
That’s not to say that all TV is lost… We still have ‘Orphan Black’. Cosima Niehaus… you’re my chica…
So… Great character development, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lise MacTague’s series. This series starts off with ‘Depths of Blue’ and continues on to ‘Heights of Green’. The last of the series, ‘Vortex of Crimson’ is due out in a few months.
Ok so I’m going to finish up with a cursory glance at my library and throw down additional titles.
Andi Marquette, Far Seek Chronicles: Friends in High Places, A Matter of Blood, The Edge of Rebellion. Good luck getting these on Amazon. I don’t see them on Ylva’s website either. They’re still in my amazon library, so I’m gonna give these a re-read, it’s been a few years since I’ve read these. Maybe Andi can comment as to their availability.
Missouri Vaun: Time Before Now, All Things Rise, The Ground Beneath
Amy Dunne: The Renegade, omygod, want to talk about world building? Yep pretty much sums it up with this one. This is one intense book.
KG MacGregor: T-Minus Two
MB Panichi: Saving Morgan, Running Toward Home
Jennifer Lyndon: ‘The Changeling’ was amazing. At first I thought it was just high fantasy but then the sci-fi twist came into play. Her only other work is ‘An Infatuation’ which is strictly fiction but well worth the read, as I have done, like 3 times.
Barbara Ann Wright: Paladins of the Storm Lord
So that’s it! Share any other great lesfic sci-fi’s you’ve found that hasn’t been mentioned pleeeeeeaze and thank you!