Over at the Galaxy’s Edge website, issue #32 has been released this month. Here are some highlights:
If it is an interview with an award-winning author you are after…
GALAXY’S EDGE INTERVIEWS CATHERINE ASARO
Joy Ward is the author of one novel. She has several stories in print, in magazines and in anthologies, and has also conducted interviews, both written and video, for other publications.
Catherine Asaro is the author of numerous award-winning science fiction and fantasy works. She holds a doctorate in chemical physics and directs the Chesapeake Math Program. It might be easier to list the awards she has not won than those she has won. Dr. Asaro has served twice as president of SFWA. She was a jazz and ballet dancer and is still a musician.
Joy Ward: How did you get into writing science fiction?
Catherine Asaro: When I was a kid I used to make up stories. When I was really little they were about this sort of nebulous girl who was, when I was five, she was seven, and she’d go out and save the galaxy. I didn’t know I was making up stories. I thought everybody did this. I would daydream.
Then I found science fiction. Space Cat was my first set of science fiction stories. I thought this was just cool, the idea of these kids going to the moon or this cat going with this astronaut to Venus and so I started reading science fiction voluminously.
I had a brother and a father who liked it so I’d steal their books—until my father found out I was stealing books with sex scenes. Then the books all disappeared. I didn’t quite get them (the sex scenes). But I just loved the science fiction, and I always made up stories. I didn’t know at first why many of the books didn’t quite work for me. All I knew is that when I made up stories, the central character, and I didn’t think about it for many years, but she was always a girl.
Around the time I was twelve or thirteen, I started making the connection. There are no girls that play substantial roles in these books. Even when they are, they’re usually there to support a male character. It wasn’t that I was making some great statement by stopping reading. I just kind of lost interest. I couldn’t find books that spoke to me since I was becoming a teenager and I’d figured out that boys were different than girls, in very interesting ways, ways I wanted to explore more. The books didn’t really speak to me, but I did keep making up the stories in my mind. I never made the connection with that and the fact that I was making up stories about very strong female characters who ruled civilizations and went out on adventures until the boy next door—actually it was the boy across the street. We were down in the park, you know, doing that sort of flirting thing that teenagers—thirteen, fourteen year olds—do. He said, “Tell me your stories.” So I started telling some and he listened, and he goes, “Well that’s cool.” Then he said, “But how come all the main characters are girls?” Until that point I hadn’t made the connection. Then I thought, well should I make main characters the guys? I thought, well sure yeah, but then I thought I don’t have to do it; it’s my stories. But I did. I mean it wasn’t on purpose. The guys are in there, the romantic interest. So the cats got replaced with handsome young pirates….
To read the rest of the interview go to the website, but if it is a column about science fiction you are after, here is an excerpt out Robert J. Sawyer’s latest offering for Galaxy’s Edge #32…
Robert J. Sawyer is the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell Memorial, Heinlein, Hal Clement, Skylark, Aurora, and Seiun Award–winning author of twenty-three bestselling science-fiction novels, including the trilogy of Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids, which won Canada’s Aurora Award for the Best Work of the Decade. Rob holds two honorary doctorates and is a Member of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Canadian government. Find him online at sfwriter.com.
One of my proudest moments came at the Toronto Public Library’s Book Lover’s Ball in 2007. The conclusion of that fundraising banquet was the presentation to me of the annual Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award—and yes, I was happy to receive this honor, but my pride was not in the trophy but rather in the zinger I was able to deliver as it was about to be handed to me.
See, it was incumbent upon the previous year’s winner to present the award to the new recipient, and the year before the winner had been none other than Margaret Atwood. In bestowing the award, Margaret concluded her comments with “…and I’d just like to say how pleased I am to be seeing this go to a science-fiction writer.”
To which I immediately responded, “And Margaret, I’d just like to say how pleased I am to be getting this from a science-fiction writer.” My quip brought the house down.
Then and now, Atwood was most famous for her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the story of a future America in which a far-right Christian group has seized power and is subjugating women. But Margaret had always denied publicly that her book was science fiction. In fact, there was an old TV interview between her and her publisher, the late great Jack McClelland, on this very point, with them both agreeing at once that referring to her then-forthcoming novel as SF would have been marketing suicide.
Fair enough. Michael Crichton’s publisher had earlier made the same decision, and that had propelled him out of the SF sales ghetto onto bestsellers’ lists worldwide; I don’t begrudge anyone their marketing strategies in this parlous business of books. (Still, the world knew better: The Handmaid’s Tale was nominated for the Science Fiction Writers of America’s Nebula Award and won the first-ever Arthur C. Clarke Award from the British Science Fiction Association.)
But soon Atwood went beyond merely denying her work was science fiction to dumping on the science-fiction genre as a whole—and that I could not abide. On the BBC One TV program Breakfast News, Margaret dismissed SF as merely “talking squids in outer space.” (One of these days, I really must ask Ted Chiang if the talking squids from outer space that feature in his 1998 Nebula Award–winning novella “Story of Your Life,” later filmed as Arrival, were a gentle rebuke of Ms. Atwood.)
I knew that Margaret knew better. She’d been a customer at Toronto’s Bakka Books, now the world’s oldest extant science-fiction specialty bookstore, when I was a clerk there in 1982; I regret not having saved the carbon paper with her autograph from the credit-card slip she signed when I sold her a book…
To read the rest of this column, go to the website, or continue on to read some book reviews appearing in the latest issue…
Jody Lynn Nye is the author of forty novels and more than one hundred stories, and has at various times collaborated with Anne McCaffrey and Robert Asprin. Her husband, Bill Fawcett, is a prolific author, editor and packager, and is also active in the gaming field.
Though Hell Should Bar the Way
by David Drake
David Drake’s RCN books featuring Captain Leary have been a top-selling series for years. The Republic of Cinnabar Navy universe is one of star empires and full of shifting alliances and cutthroat espionage. David Drake has commented that it is modelled on the period between the two Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. Interestingly, both heroes serve in the navy of a mercantile oligarchy similar to Carthage. Which is not as dark as it sounds since his characters are unaware of their historical precedent. It is not beyond Mr. Drake to find a way for the merchant princes to win this time.
What makes Though Hell Should Bar the Way noteworthy is not only the writing and great story, but—and this is something rare in our era of twelve-book trilogies and never-ending series—it’s the first book of a new series set in the same RCN universe. It introduces a new character, Roy Olfetrie, who becomes a member of Leary’s crew and then things happen to him, lots of things, mostly very unpleasant.
The book focuses on this new character. Olfetrie was a cadet but had to quit when his father is discovered to have been stealing massively from navy contracts. When the book opens, Olfetrie is struggling at an unskilled job at a shipyard. He is provoked into decking the obnoxious son-in-law of the owner. Fortunately he does this in front of several of Leary’s crew, who are impressed by his guts, and soon finds himself as the captain’s third officer on a ship carrying a diplomatic delegation to a minor star empire.
Roy finds himself approached to become a spy. He is shanghaied, then enslaved, but through nerve and a bit of financial cunning soon changes not only his situation, but an entire planet’s future. Along with Drake’s typically great action, gritty realism, and well-drawn characterizations, you also see more of a fascinating universe from a new perspective.
Whether you have read the rest of the RCN novels or not, this book is a quick, fun read. If you are new to the series, this is a great place to start, knowing that there are half a dozen more good books set in the same worlds already available.
Once it starts rolling, you cannot put Though Hell Should Bar the Way down. In other words, it’s exactly what we expect from any military science-fiction novel by such a master of the field. Highly recommended for hard SF readers, action junkies, military SF fans and those who enjoy a multi-world jaunt fraught with betrayal, heroism, and desperation.
by Michael David Ares
If you are a fan of Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, this is a book you will really enjoy. A police detective is on the hunt for a serial killer across a dystopian New York City that is facing its first real sunny day in forty years. The concept was obviously inspired by the exact opposite situation in the classic Isaac Asimov story Nightfall. But here, due to an atomic war in Asia complicated by massive global warming, the sun has been obscured for decades over much of the Northern Hemisphere. A somewhat shrunken Atlantic Ocean has flooded half the borough, and Manhattan is in the middle of political and social unrest with a serial killer enhancing the near panic any change, even a return to sunlight days, often brings. The mystery works, the main character is very human while still being as hard-edged and determined as any pulp detective. If you will enjoy an urban murder mystery, cutthroat politicians, and the seamy underside of a dystopian New York City, don’t miss Dayfall.
by Kristen Simmons
This dystopian story is one of the best and most colorfully drawn dark futures out there. More importantly, the book does not preach but simply uses the setting as the basis of a really well told action story with suitable doses of both romance and coming-of-age troubles and angst.
With a dramatic increase in carbon dioxide the oceans have risen not a few feet, but hundreds. All that remains of California are mountain-top islands. Humanity has been driven up the sides of the Rocky Mountains. Thousands huddle at the base of the last real city, mostly facing starvation and oppression on the shores of an enlarged Pacific Ocean wracked by massive storms.
Ron Torres is the sheltered son of the charismatic president of this last city. He and the elite live opulent lives. Ron and a friend, who is the token underprivileged student at his private school, decide to sneak out and see one of the almost daily riots. Neither youth is ready for either the sheer hopelessness of the poorer areas or the dangers of the reality of desperate people rioting and police putting them down using extreme force. The friends are separated, and Ron finds himself imprisoned by mistake, then fleeing with a fellow prisoner, the street- and ocean-savvy Marin. It soon turns out that Marin was the daughter and is now sister of a pirate leader whose base is an island that is really a gigantic floating aggregation of plastics and waste. The young protagonists fall into a series of adventures, betrayals, romance, and sea-faring saga all involving with a plot to relocate the poor to an island paradise that does not really exist.
One of the strengths of this book is the excellent portrayal of the emotions of the characters. The resentment of the oppressed and their desperation, the courage of the young heroes, and the greed and arrogance of those who just want to get rid of the annoying masses are an integral part of this very dark dystopia. This is a very readable cultural and high-seas adventure.
Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World
Edited by David Brin and Stephen W. Potts
The subtitle of this anthology is “Visions of Our Coming Transparent World.” All the stories relate to communication and human interaction as modified by technology, and privacy. There are over thirty stories by many of the top writers in SF. Each is categorized under such sections as Big Brother, Surveillance, No Place to Hide, and Lies and Private Lies. Some of the stories and short essays included were written from as far back as the 60s, though more than half of the stories are new.
In a way, it was hard to review this anthology. The usual approach doesn’t apply. At the risk of frightening off readers, I have to say that this is a collection of stories that has something important to say about an issue that is vitally important to your world today, not something you can very often say about a SF anthology. Each story in each topic shows how SF authors have been concerned about the questions of privacy, control of one’s own data or even oneself, and the consequences of technology that will affect the coming decades. More importantly this rather large anthology is brimming with excellent, well-written and sometimes frightening or uncomfortable stories.
Normally you pick out a few outstanding entries that justify the collection. But who to pick from this one is a problem. There are classics such as William Gibson’s “The Road to Oceana,” emotionally evocative classics such as Damon Knight’s “I See You,” and Robert Silverberg’s “The Invisible Man.” There are stories with an open warning such as Jack McDevitt’s “Your Lying Eyes” or David Brin’s “Insistence of Vision.” (You will never look at Apple glasses the same way again after reading David’s story.) The original stories in the volume are of equal quality and impact. There is no way to avoid one cliché phrase when describing these stories: thought provoking. Read this just after signing off from Google, or looking up someone on Facebook…
To read another four book reviews, or the short stories featured in this issue, go to the website. Here is the table of contents for GALAXY’S EDGE #32: