Tag Archives: sci-fi

Confessions: When I hid from Ursula

Sometimes, I’m an idiot and I regret things…

One of my more acute (but only terrible to myself) regrets, is of the time I ran and hid from Ursula K. Leguin. Don’t know her? Go read everything she has written. She is amazing.

UKLbyMarianWoodKolisch

I was working as a facilities maintenance worker (read: JANITOR) at the downtown Seattle Public Library on a night shift. Although the job was hard physically, and made me constantly tired it also had some pretty amazing perks – books. Everywhere. And lots of them. One of the areas I kept clean was the science fiction department and YA section. I would devour books on my breaks, sometimes barely remembering to eat just so I could finish a book and pick up another one. It was during this time that I discovered one of my other favorite short fiction writers Ted Chiang along with the exceptional Ursula K. Leguin.
On one particularly special Friday evening at the library, Ursula K. Leguin had been a guest speaker and had just finished her talk with a full audience who had given her a hearty and rousing applause. It was a little after this that I heard people walking towards the back-of-house portion of the auditorium where there was a little dressing room for library guest speakers. She was coming back there, probably to grab her things. I was back there too, rinsing out a nasty mop-bucket after a clean-up from a notoriously disgusting first floor public men’s room. (You don’t even want to know what I cleaned on a regular basis *shudders*)

When I heard she was coming I took off in the opposite direction.

I told myself there was a carpet that needed to be vacuumed in the children’s office right away because they had had cupcakes with the sprinkles on them and you know how those get all over the floor. Not to mention they had black carpeting which made everything show and it couldn’t possibly wait.
Of course I was lying to myself.
I was terrified.
Terrified that I would see Ursula K. Leguin and she would see me: the sweaty, tired-of-working nights, dreaming-of-being-a-writer-but-never-brave-enough to-try-Janitor.
So, I hid and didn’t stop vacuuming until I was sure she was gone. Then I went back to rinsing the mop bucket and cleaning the rest of the bathrooms, trying my best to pretend I wasn’t angry or sad that I just missed my once in a lifetime opportunity to meet her.

In the years since, that regret has never ceased to prick at me. And as I pursue my dream of being a writer it makes me even more sad that I did this.
The regret isn’t so much that I passed up an opportunity to shake her hand or maybe take a photo with my favorite author, the remorse is that I didn’t want to meet her because I was afraid, and ashamed of who I was. How prideful is that? It’s just so…lame.

And as a story teller, I throw books across the room that end this way-yet there it is, a crappy anti-climatic ending.

Just promise me this: if you ever get a chance to meet your Ursula, don’t run away out of fear. Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are. Be sweaty, be tired, pull off your rubber gloves, proudly offer Ursula your hand and live without regrets.

~R.

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Untangling the plot, encountering ghosts, and a little bit of heart and soul.

Revision of my novel has been going slower than I’d care to admit.  I was hoping to be done with the first pass by the middle of May which happens to be today and I’m only about  35% of the way through the first revision.

A couple of things are slowing me down – mostly having to re-write the chapters that I had written from the POV of a character I deleted and strengthening the scenes of some minor characters I’m bringing more to the front of the story.

So far, my plot is holding strong and I’m not encountering any holes or dead ends, but I’m just having to untangle a few sub-plots here and there due to the character changes and deletions.

Along the way through the revision, I’m trying to fill out my characters a bit, give them more substance, and of course,  a little bit of heart and soul.

Yes, I just linked to a 1987 T’Pau song.

Deal with it.

I’m still looking for a cover artist and have been glancing around Deviant art.  Unfortunately, most of the artists that really turn me on are already big time concept artists for video games and blockbuster summer movies and knowing their commission rates makes me faint a little.  My husband is talking to a guy who knows a guy that was an artist for Magic the Gathering cards.  We should be in discussion with him soon to find out if he’s interested in the project and find out if we can even afford him.

Also, I’ve been looking into some professional editing and pricing that too and that’s turning out to be a whole other faint-worthy topic.

We can’t afford any of it right now so I’ve been praying to God and looking for jobs to do on the side.  You need a babysitter on the weekend?  Hit me up!  😉

It looks like I got a few Beta readers lined up for me when I finish and I’m excited about that too.  But, I could always use more!  So, if I know you in real life and you  like to read military sci-fi, have a critical eye and are not afraid to tell me when something sucks and doesn’t work – hit me up for that, too!

Cheers!

R.

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Asteroid Mining, Dyson Spheres, Glimmers and Aches

Two recent news stories have captured my imagination of late – or more likely, confirmed an imagination already groomed for the news by having read sci-fi novels since I was eight years old.

Asteroid mining has been a staple of Science Fiction novels for decades – even the video game inspired Halo novels mentions mining colonies built into asteroid belts and supplying the UNSC fleet with precious metals for war.

And what seemed so far away from possibility from when I was a kid is now the very near ambition of  private industry who has  been leading the way into making this a reality, by sending a bunch of satellites  into space in the next couple of years to search out the best targets for mining.  Amazing.

Then I read another article that some people believe the technology is there to start the early stages of building a Dyson Sphere – or at least a Dyson swarm.  So what the heck is a Dyson thingy?

Well, for who don’t share my particular nerdish fascination with sci-fi or old Star Trek: Nest Generation episodes,

or never read Larry Niven’s Ring World, or played the video game Halo (which is a Dyson Ring)or know what the heck a Dyson Sphere is – just go here.

I love the collective imagination of our species and that we live in a time to see some of the strangest and most ambitious of these innovations come to fruition – perhaps even in our lifetime.  It’s nice to get a peek through the smog and catch a peek at something brighter that glimmers with hope and calls us to something better.

I know the solution for humanity will never come from the stars or Dyson Sphere’s or asteroid mining, but maybe these glimmers  and wild flurries of imagination, will remind us of something lost and something just beyond our reach.  And that the ache of it will call us forward into a startling place or an unexpected truth.

Now, to world build my new sci-fi fantasy apocalyptic space opera that takes place in a Dyson Sphere that is falling apart due to old age!  Actually, never mind.  Dystopian future’s are too easy.  It’s always been the optimistic sci-fi that has sparked our collective imaginations, don’t you think?

Cheers!

R.

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So, you wrote a novel. What’s it about?

It’s frustrating how hard this question is to answer without inadvertently making people’s eyes glaze over.  So, as an exercise I’ve been trying to write an elevator pitch for this book – or you know, the back of the book blurb that’s supposed to wet a reader’s appetite and get them to buy the darn thing.  It should be simple, right?

It’s not. At least for me.

But, that said, here’s a couple of the blurbs I’ve been working on – all for Pandora Mech, the story I just finished.  And these are in no way done – I’m probably going to go through a hundred variations of each just to get the right one.

1.)Thorpco has designed the perfect killing machine for the military but has one problem: not enough operators with the talent to push the tech to its limits.

Desperate and in need of operators to help land a high-profile military contract, Thorpco looks to the competitive gaming community for talent and recruits a handful of legendary pro gamers down on their luck and in need of a job.

Little do they know if they’re successful, it could change the way the world plays and makes war, forever.

Bleh, here’s another:

2.)Titus Kane, a legendary pro-gamer in the decline of his career is thinking of finally hanging up the game controller for a regular nine-to-five, when an old rival and ex-military drone pilot offers him a contract to work at an unmanned combat military robotics developer, for really good money.

The money could change his career for the better, but the job, if successful, could change the world for the worse.

Meh.  Here’s a longer one:

3.)In a world where warfare is rapidly changing and being fought from remotely operated military drones,

One weapon company has finally developed the ultimate in remotely operated vehicles; a sophisticated Battle Mech that could one day do the job of the everyday foot soldier.   But the company lacks one thing: talented operators to control them and in desperation, look to the competitive gaming scene for operators.

Titus is a legendary professional gamer, worshipped within the niche’ gaming community, but his career has been in slow decline with less wins and less sponsor’s he is forced to consider retirement – until a weapon’s developer offers him a job he can’t refuse.

Thrust into a war he didn’t know he had been recruited for, and bound by contract to continue, Titus and his team of other ex-pro gamer Battle Mech operators come face to face with the blurry boundaries of war and realize that war is not a game.

Yeah, I know, that last one there was a mess!  (sorry!)

Well, back to the drawing board.  My goal is to try to get three variations a night until I get a winner.  Also, during this time I’ll be revising and polishing what I wrote – my goal being to go through the manuscript at least 7 times before handing it off to beta readers.

So that’s kind of what my book is about, anyway.

Cheers!

R.

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DARPA Robot masters stairs.

A friend of mine sent me this link today.

Apparently, my obsession with robots  has become one of those things where someone finds anything on the internet about robots, they immediately send me the link.

Which I LOVE because it totally cuts down on my research time.  So thank you guys and keep the links coming!

Here’s the link:

A funny thing happens when I watch this: first, I’m absolutely delighted because in my upcoming novel, the robots I feature are bi-pedal robots that can climb stairs and climb them well.  So, when I watch this a part of me does a little fist pump and goes “Yes! I’m on the right track!”  Followed quickly by, “Oh sh*t.  This stuff is real.  And stairs aren’t going to stop them.”

So, how do you feel about DARPA – a well-funded government research agency funding research into bi-pedal robots that can climb stairs fast and without fatigue?  Does it comfort you or are alarm bells going off?

I’d love to hear from you!

R.

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You will be a Cyborg in 20 years

Think you won’t?  Check out what Google is working on.

Five years ago, if you would of told me that companies would want your Facebook password as a prerequisite to be hired, I would have laughed in your face.  What makes you think they wont want to jack into your brain 20 years from now?

Good luck getting a job without submitting to a corperate brain implant!

*hyperventilates*

*Jots down idea for a sci-fi thriller*

A paradigm shift is on the horizon!  Grab your tin foil hats and virgin brains and run for the hills!

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