Posts tagged ‘Science Fiction’

December 27, 2013

Meet Cerece Rennie Murphy author of Order of the Seers Series

Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you Cerece Rennie Murphy the author of the Order of the Seers Series. I had the pleasure to meet Ms. Murphy in October when I attended the Black Authors and Readers Rock Weekend presented by the Reading Divas in Bowie, Maryland. She was the only science fiction and fantasy writer present for the weekend, so you know I was excited to meet her. When she agreed to do an interview for my blog I was over the moon. So here it is my interview with Cerece Rennie Murphy.  Enjoy!

A.H. Tell me about yourself. Cerece Rennie Murphy

C.M. Ok. I am a city girl, born and raised in the beautiful city of Washington, DC.  My parents are West Indian, from Grenada and Trinidad and thankfully moved to DC in their late teens to go to Howard University.  I am so grateful to them for picking this city as my hometown.  I wouldn’t be who I am if I wasn’t raised in DC.

In my former professional life, I did fundraising and program development for a number of community-based and international development organizations.  But these days, I am a part-time writer/business owner and full-time wife and mother to our two kids.

A.H. What author has influenced your current style of writing?

C.M. You know, I never know how to answer that question.  I don’t consciously try to write like anyone else.  But I can tell you the authors who leave me in awe and inspire me to dig deeper for the right word or to be unafraid of the emotion in a scene.  At the top of my list is Toni Morrison.  For me, her writing turns reading into an experience for all five senses.  Her stories aren’t linear, which I love.  They twist, turn and curl back on themselves.  You have to pay attention.  I love reading books like that.  Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed was the first book that ever blew my mind.  I read it over and over. It’s frightening and genuinely fantastic.  Other writers I love include everyone from Amy Tan to Lynn Emery to a fan fiction writer named YellowGlue.

A.H. Tell me about the Order of the Seers Trilogy.

C.M.  The Order of the Seers Trilogy is about a group of people who can see the future and are enslaved for that ability.  The first book in the trilogy, titled Order of the Seers, is about how the Seers escape the organization that seeks to exploit their gift, reclaim their power and start fighting back.  The second book in the trilogy, titled The Red Order, picks up right where the first book leaves off, but is quite a bit darker because you get to know your villains really well in the second book.  Having made some gains in the first book, the Seers are now faced with a larger mission and a deeper understanding of their gift and its potential.  I am working on the final book in the trilogy now.  I’d like to think that the first two books answer the question of who the Seers are and what they are capable of.  The final book answers the question of why the Seers have their gifts at this specific time.  I am really looking forward to sharing the final chapter in this story.

A.H. Where did you get this idea? Was there a person, event, place, or idea that inspired the idea?

C.M.  The idea for Order of the Seers came to me randomly as I was washing the dishes almost 4 years ago.  It was only later, after I read through the first complete draft that I realized how many of my own questions about human potential and the importance of spiritual connection permeated the book. That was not my intention starting out, but the books have been very cathartic for me in exploring those issues.

A.H. I know personally, that sometimes my original idea isn’t necessarily what the story turns out to be in the end. Did that happen for you with this book?

C.M.  Not yet.  I did a story outline pretty early on in the writing process, so I knew the story arc and how things would end from the beginning.  Then, before I wrote each book, I did a detailed chapter outline, which helped me figure out the goal, message and tension in each chapter before I started writing it.  For me, the adventure is always in how each chapter unfolds.  Even though I know what will happen, how it happens is almost always a surprise.  It’s so much fun!  Though I am following the same process with the 3rd book, I can already tell that this installment is going to keep me guessing in a whole new way.

A.H. Of all the characters in this book who is your favorite and why?

Order of the SeersC.M.  My favorite character in the book is Marcus Akida.  Marcus is who I want to be when I grow up.  Marcus is a man who has suffered unimaginable loss at the hands of the Guild.  In some ways, he’s suffered even more than other Seers because he was taken when he was older – he had a wife, a son and an entire life of his own that was taken away.  Despite this, he never loses sight of who he is and what is important to him and that inner strength is what makes him the most powerful Seer.  But even more important than his supernatural powers is Marcus’ ability to inspire the best in others.  Everyone around him tries harder and becomes better as a result of following his example.  I am so honored that he chose me to tell his story.

A.H. Let’s talk about creating worlds because as Science Fiction and Fantasy writer that can make or break a story.  What’s your process for creating worlds? Do you have a book where you write it down or on a poster board?

C.M.  I do a lot of outlining in notebooks. Order of the Seers is contemporary sci-fi, so instead of creating an entirely new world, I wanted to offer a new interpretation to some common assumptions in the “real” world.  I wanted the world of Order of the Seers to feel very familiar, so that when I started folding in the secrets and the lies, it feels like maybe you could be living in the world of Order of the Seers.

One of my next projects is a two-part space opera, so I am sure that will require even more outlining, but I like to work out the framework as much as possible before I get started.

A.H. What’s your take on being a woman in science fiction and fantasy? What challenges have you faced? And how did you deal with them?

C.M.  You know, I look at it like everything else – there is always going to be something in your way, whether it’s because you are black, you’re a woman or someone doesn’t get what you’re trying to do.  You just have to decide what you believe in and who you believe is truly in control of your destiny.  I have the luxury and ability to push forward because of all the doors that have been opened for me by my ancestors.  That is the legacy they have left for me.  I honestly believe there is nothing I can’t do if I am willing to work hard enough and smart enough for it.  With so many avenues opening up in the publishing industry, this is especially true. I am not someone who sees my gender or my race as a disadvantage.  I think, as an African-American woman, I’m used to a certain amount of struggle, which makes me more prepared to fight the battles I need to fight.  There are many things that people thought were impossible, right up until the moment when somebody did it.

I think one of the biggest challenges for African-American authors in any genre is overcoming the perception that stories written by African-American authors are only intended for an African-American audience.  There is a very pervasive belief within the industry that there is no point in marketing our stories to a wider audience because no one outside of our community will read them.

Fortunately, I am my own publisher, so I’m not subject to anyone’s limited interpretation of the market for my work.  I can place myself wherever I think I can find an audience and sell my books and that is a huge advantage.

A.H.  Tell me about being your own publisher.

C.M.  I started LionSky Publishing in 2012 to publish and promote my work.  The learning curve has been steep, but I enjoy the control I have to decide how and when my work is presented.

A.H. Where can people buy your book?

C.M.  The first 2 books in the Order of the Seers Trilogy are available in paperback on Amazon, BN.com, Books-a-Million and in your local bookstore. If they don’t have it on the shelves, they can always order it for you. Both books are also available in eBook format on Kindle and Nook.

A.H. What kinds of questions do you want people to consider when reading this book?

C.M.  I think mostly I would like people to question their own assumptions about who they are and what their potential really is.  I’d like to challenge them to look past the stories they have been told about themselves and redefine their own expectations.  The Seers spend a lot of time believing other people’s stories about who they are and what they are meant for.  It’s only after they escape the Guild and begin to answer those questions for themselves that their true power emerges.  I think that dynamic is true of all of us.   I’d also like people to reconsider occurrences that we regularly dismiss, like déjà vu and dreams that come true, and ask themselves if there is something more going on.  Finally, I’d LOVE it if people would reconsider their own understanding of their relationship with God (however they define it) and become really curious about what that relationship might look like if there was no separation between us and our creator.

A.H. If people wanted to meet you where will you be promoting your book? (Do you have a link to a book tour schedule or blog tour schedule?)

C.M.  In November I finished a book tour with Orangeberry Book Tours (http://www.orangeberrybooktours.com/2013/11/ob-phoenix-30-cerece-rennie-murphy/ ).  And this week I finished a book tour with Prism Book Tours (http://prismbooktours.blogspot.com/2013/10/new-ominous-tour-order-of-seers-by.html ).

A.H. Do you have any suggestions for those interested in writing science fiction and fantasy?

C.M.  My main suggestion would be to just GO FOR IT!  Don’t let your own self-doubt stop you from telling the story you have inside you.  Enjoy that process of bringing your unique vision to the world as much as you can.

A.H. Do you follow any bloggers on writing Science Fiction and Fantasy?

C.M.  Not really and I don’t know if that is necessarily a good thing.  I tend to live in a little bubble that let’s in very few outside resources.  I am easily overwhelmed, so most days, I only have time to figure out what I’m going to do.  I find reading advice on writing both helpful and intimidating.  I don’t want to start censoring myself based on someone else’s opinion of “how it’s done”. The upside of isolation is that I stay pretty self-directed.  The downside is I think I miss out on a lot of opportunities to feel connected and learn from the successes and mistakes of others. I did just recently start following the Black Girl Nerds blog, though and I absolutely love it.  It’s nice to know that I am not alone in my geekitude.  J

A.H. I’m a big fan of Black Girl Nerds too! So in true geekitude in a dystopian world what would you hoard?

C.M.  Food, and anything that could help me ensure the safety of my family.  The other thing I would hoard is music.  I can make up stories to tell my kids, but both my husband and I can’t sing worth a damn.

A.H. Thank you Cerece for your time. Connect with her at:

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Google+

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November 24, 2013

Short Story Review: “Flash Bang Remember” by Tina Connolly and Caroline M Yoachim

Lightspeed Science Fiction and Fantasy, Issue 27, August 2012

Could you imagine having no memories of your own? I can’t but Girl 23 of “Flash Bang Remember” doesn’t have to imagine that is her destiny. Girl 23 is one of many young girls that grow up with the sole purpose of creating memories that will eventually be shared among the group of people who live on her spaceship. Unlike the other girls, Girl 23 doesn’t want to have her memories shared with the group instead she wants to keep them for herself. “Flash Bang Remember” doesn’t is an enjoyable science fiction story with romance, action, suspense, a strong female lead and likeable characters.

There is more to science than just the mechanics, there is the question of how will it affect humans and is it ethical. “Flash Bang Remember” asks the moral questions about cloning and memory transfer. Connolly and Yoachim don’t spend a lot of time talking about how to make a clone or even what the cloning room looks like, but they do spend a lot of time showing us how it affects our main character, Girl 23 and The Child. The most moving scene is at the end of the story when Girl 23 has to go back into the pod to have her memory rebooted. They don’t just say tell us it happens, they drag us through it every painful and terrifying step that Girl 23 feels. I appreciated that part the most because I don’t know if I couldn’t have imagined what they wrote.

Girl 23 is one of my favorite characters. It would have been very easy for her to become of my least favorite characters but instead she proves to be a cleaver, strong and determined young woman who is only searching for the same thing we all are – our identity. I think she is a role model for young women because she doesn’t seek out external acceptance and she is able to stay mentally strong and focused when others dismiss her. Also, her character doesn’t whine about her situation instead she sets out to do something about it even though she is aware of the Catch-22.

Overall, I highly recommend this story. Connolly and Yoachim propose an interesting question in this era of individualism glorification about what defines identity. Some say it is our memories that make us individual each person experiences things differently, but if we all have the same memory of how something feels and smells is there still individualism? The story also allows for the reader to pose other questions about how important is childhood, how much of actually doing something is important to learning and should those who seek to be different be made to be mold to the collective. Even though this is a short story there is a lot for the reader to consider.

October 3, 2013

Short Story Review: “First Contact with Gorgonids “ by Ursula K LeGuin

 

#HRLeGuin

 

Last month, I picked up a copy of “A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” by Ursula K LeGuin,  a collection of short stories that were published between 1990 and 1994 in various publications.  When it comes to conversations about amazing women who write Science Fiction, Ursula K LeGuin always comes up. I’ve never read anything of hers but I have appreciated her contribution to the genre and society.  “The First Contact with Gorgonids” was originally published in 1991 by Omni magazine.

 

“The First Contact with Gorgonids “ is a story about Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Debree who are on vacation in Australia when they mistakenly end up on the wrong road and face-to-face with the aliens Gorgonids.  This is a very enjoyable short story. It is part thriller and humor. Our heroine triumphs not from any difficult trials but from being smart where her husband is foolish and selfish.

 

The story uses cliché characters which lets the story begin quickly and easily.  The reader isn’t required to get to know these characters habits, back-story, or personalities instead LeGuin draws on social stereotypes to create the basis of the character. I liked this use of clichés. The true beauty of a story is how a character changes, if your short story is going to be tight you have to make the best of not only what you bring to the page but what the reader will bring.

 

LeGuin uses smart humor to define Mrs. Jerry Debree as a strong female lead that provides a different take on the cliched idea of what a woman is like in a verbally abusive relationship. Within the first three paragraphs LeGuin shows the reader to not under estimate our heroine. She is smart and clever, and able to manipulate her husband to get what she needs from him either emotionally or physically. The mocking tones of other characters, Mr. Debree actions and aside reflections of Mrs. Debree show Mr. Jerry Debree’s deficiencies and Mrs. Jerry Debree’s strengthens.

 

Overall, this is a great short story. It isn’t long and weighted down in ideas or metaphors. I love how LeGuin isn’t afraid to deal with social issues and have fun with them.  LeGuin developed a setting that was believable and easy to imagine. (Yes, I said believable even with the aliens.) The dialogue is easy to navigate and understand from a European background. I am eager to continue “A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.”

July 20, 2013

Review: Analog: Science Fiction and Fact

Issue: September 2013

Normally I only review books, but this month I thought I would try something different. I got a gift card for Christmas and this month I used it to buy some science fiction magazines. I bought the current issues of Analog, and Fantasy and Science Fiction. This review is only going to cover Analog and next month I will review Fantasy and Science Fiction.

 

I started reading Analog last year mainly for the short fiction. This issue I really enjoyed for several reasons. The short story section was just perfect for me this month. My favorite of the three stories was “Life of the Author Plus Seventy” by Kenneth Schneyer. This story hit home with me on several levels. The story is narrated by the protagonist Eric Weiss a writer who published one novel with mediocre success. This novel becomes his downfall, but not in the way you would suspect with hilarious outcomes. I enjoyed the writers tone and development of the story. It was really easy to imagine that I was sitting next to Eric Weiss in a dingy bar as he retold me this story. The science in the story is hibernation and artificial intelligence.

 

The other two short stories are “Full Fathom Five” by Joe Pitkins and “Creatures from a Blue Lagoon” by Liz J. Anderson. “Full Fathom Five” is a good story with two female lead characters a human scientist, Maria, and an A.I intelligence Ariel. This story contemplates an interesting idea about coming into contact with a new alien and the possibility that by simply coming into contact with it you kill it. The A.I reminds me of Hal but not as creepy. This is a hard science story that centers on biology.  In “Creatures from a Blue Lagoon” Dr. Jesmuhr is an intergalactic veterinarian called on to help the Zarjassians when their food animal “Floobar” stops eating. This is another story with a female A.I intelligence. While this story isn’t as funny to me “Life of the Author Plus Seventy” there are some chuckle moments. It’s a good story with a female lead that represents strong women well (humans otherwise).

 

The Special Feature “From Idea to Story (or why “High Concept” is only the beginning)” by Richard A. Lovett hit on something that I had been pondering for several weeks, how to take science fiction ideas and make them into compelling stories. Science fiction stories must have the science fiction element as the key element of the story. While the concept is simple enough the execution is often where science fiction stories fail. For this article Lovett interviewed regular contributors to Analog for advice and suggestions which I found useful. For writers, I would highly recommend purchasing this issue of Analog if for no other reason than this article.

 

I started reading the Novella and the Novelettes but at the writing of this post I haven’t finished them. The Novella, “Murder on the Aldrin Express” by Martin L. Shoemaker is so far good. I’m a huge fan of mystery, so I was thrilled when I saw this story. Does the title remind you of another famous story? (Hint, Hint- Orient.) The Novelette “The Whale God” by Alec Nevala-Lee is also pretty good, but I’m not sure where the story is going.

 

I tried to read the Science Fact article “The Evaporation of Worlds” but it was too boring for me. It sounded like it probably has some really good information but I just couldn’t make it through the first column.

 

When I make it through the other stories I’ll add my comments to this post.

 

Cheers.

May 20, 2013

Musing on Battlestar Galatica (2004)

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It’s impossible to be in the science fiction field and not eventually hear “Battlestar Galactica”. I’ve had Battlestar Galactica (BG) in my Netflix queue now for almost three years.  But it wasn’t until my recent immersion in hard science novels and television serials that I decided it was time to push play.

I didn’t research BG before watching it because I don’t do research on something until I know I like it.  Once I start researching it’s hard for me to stop, I’ll find myself doing it at every available moment and continuing to make connections. I knew a few things about BG, there were Cylons– machines made to be like humans and it took place in outer space. Really though when you think about it what more does a tv show need.

I was immediately hooked by the first episode which is actually the first part in a miniseries. The episode is filled with references, allusions, and allegories for social, theological, and ethical issues that humans face not only in connection with technology but with each other and what we believe.  How far should humans go in our quest to explore technology? What will be the consequences? I don’t know if it will be anything as bad as a cylon take over, but I can’t predict the future. Can we learn from these scenarios? The questions are endless and so are the answers.

Considering the scope of the show there are numerous characters, many that are only present for several episodes and some that are only present for an episode. I can’t say that I have a favorite character, but I am enjoying Dr. Gaius Baltar played by James Callis. In the 2004 remake, the character though not willfully complicit in the cylon invasion in the beginning does what he can to make sure that no one learns of his role afterwards. As the mini-series progress you learn that he was willing to ignore the misgiving he felt where his lover Cylon Number Six was concerned and in this way he was an accomplice.  His character alone exists in two worlds; one where he is with his lover the Cylon Number Six played by Tricia Janine Helfer and another where is with the rest of the crew.  As he shifts between these two planes ideas of fate, destiny, and a high purpose are explored. What dos Gaius believe? What do you believe?