Tag: sci fi

#14 – Gareth L. Powell – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 14 with Gareth L. Powell – near-future thriller & space opera writer

“The more I read, the better I write”

Episode 14 – Gareth L. Powell – Show Notes
  • Losing the knack of the short story
  • Writing relics – Tiki, rune & painted pebble
  • Always character focused – the story is a learning experience for the characters
  • ‘William Gibson’s short story collection kicked me in the head’; writing real people into scifi
  • You don’t know if you’re measuring yourself against the right people
  • Write 100 words every day
  • Balancing two different novels in different genres at the same time
  • Space opera inspired by technology available for the Titanic; the call for help
  • Madeleine’s tip – The Heroine’s Journey

“Ack Ack Macaque is the bastard child of Biggles and John Belushi in the film 1941”

“I wanted to get back to sarcastic self-aware spaceships.”

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#11 – Steve Turnbull – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 11 with Steve Turnbull – Fantasy, steampunk & erotica writer

“The thing that improves your writing is writing.”

Episode 11 – Steve Turnbull – Show Notes
  • Don’t feel guilty for not writing
  • Themes include ‘all your favourite prejudices’
  • Changing and developing as an artist. Inspired by Bowie
  • Not necessarily trying new things but rather telling a story the way it needs to be told
  • Kymiera from screenplay to novel and back to screenplay
  • Cider with Rosie
  • Don’t write too many series at once, your fans will be demanding sequels
  • Madeleine’s tip – Reading Widely

“Don’t you pity our protagonists and what we put them through.”

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#08 – Dave Hutchinson – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 08 with Dave Hutchinson – award winning sci-fi writer & prophet

“You know in your head what a good book is. Try and be that good book.”

Episode 8 – Dave Hutchinson – Show Notes
  • A natural short story writer and more comfortable in 1st person but currently writing novels in 3rd
  • Winging it
  • Europe books: prophetic by accident
  • Write something that satisfies you as a reader. Read widely – it’s all writing
  • Discovering ordinary people in sci-fi
  • Struggling with the fourth Europe book
  • Madeleine’s tip – no internet before writing

“I’m a better writer than I am a plumber.”

“John Le Carre is the guv’nor.”

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#07 Dominic Dulley – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 07 with Dominic Dulley – writer of rollicking space adventures

Critiques Groups, Spreadsheets and Con Women in space

“When I didn’t get picked up, the next book I’d write I’d try something different, another tangent, to give myself the best chance to get a deal”

Episode 07 – Interview with Dominic Dulley – Show Notes
  • Great fan of spreadsheets
  • Plotting only a few chapters ahead
  • Hunting down chocolate hobnobs
  • Exploring friendship, loss, wealth and privilege in space
  • Critiquing others is equally important as receiving feedback in your improving writing
  • Debut novel ‘Shattermoon’ inspired by True Grit but in space
  • Madeleine’s tip (or is it a fail?)

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#04 – Kristy Acevedo – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode o4 with Kristy Acevedo – YA Sci-fi author & writing community leader

In and Out, Diverse Voices and Dried Mango

“It’s getting harder to be in survival mode and also produce art.”

Episode 04 – Kristy Acevedo – Show Notes
  • The 100 page discovery draft
  • Dried mango as a writing aid
  • Getting in and out of a scene as soon as possible
  • JK Rowling and Stephen King as inspirations but not for the reasons you might think
  • Championing working class and disadvantaged voices
  • Madeleine’s segment: The Monthly Twitter Writing Challenge
Links
Episode 04 – Interview transcript coming soon…

Evangeline and the Mysterious Lights – sneak peek

Would you like a little taster of Evangeline and the Mysterious Lights? A wee amuse-bouche?

Well, here’s an extract from Chapter 1.

If you like what you read, Evangeline and the Mysterious Lights is available for pre-order now and is out 11th October 2017.

Or if you’d like all four novellas in one Collection, The Antics of Evangeline is also available for pre-order.

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Superstitions, Steampunk and Speculative Fiction Reviews

I’m back in the swing of this writing thing after a brilliant holiday and so what’s next for me?

Origins of Common Superstitions monthly series
I’m writing a monthly series for the fabulous Folklore Thursday exploring the origins of common superstitions.
So far, I’ve written about;
· Bad Luck comes in Threes: Matches, Murderers or Mathematics
· The Origins of ‘Touch Wood’: Tree Spirits, The True Cross, or Tag?

And there’s another eight more to come….

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Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction review – podcast archive

Like you I love to read.

If you’d like to hear me talk about the books I love, check out my reviews on Art District radio. My show – Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction Review – is all about speculative fiction, where I bang on about science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, dystopia, horror, paranormal etc.

You can listen to the back catalogue of reviews as podcasts.

Happy listening and happy reading.

Recent reads – The Female Man by Joanna Russ

The Female Man by Joanna Russ, first published in 1975 by Bantam Books.

 One of the main reasons why I like speculative fiction is how the genre allows the exploration of different ideas about science or culture or in the case today’s book, gender, by using made-up worlds.

While people might think it’s not about reality with all the aliens, spaceships, dragons and demons, but the truth is speculative fiction is a different way of examining our world by using these allegories.

This is definitely the case with The Female Man. This is a book has been hailed as a landmark feminist science fiction novel.

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Recent Reads: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Today I’m going to talk space opera with The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, first self-published in 2014 but now available through Hodder and Stoughton.

It’s time to talk spaceships.

The Wayfarer is a tunnelling ship, creating wormholes between planets, captained by a pacifist and crewed by a diverse group of characters from across the galaxy. In this ‘world’ (using the term loosely because there are many worlds), humanity is only one of a number of species all grouped together under the Galactic Council.

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Recent reads – To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

Today, it’s all about time travel with To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. First published in 1997 by Bantam Spectra and won two of Science Fiction’s major awards, the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1999.

As part of my speculative fiction reviews I am aiming to discuss as many female speculative fiction writers as possible. But of course, whether I like the book or not, comes first. No fear with To Say Nothing of the Dog.

Ned Henry is knackered and is on the verge of getting ‘time lag’, the time traveller’s version of jet lag. He’s been travelling backward and forward through a portal from the 21st century to the 1940s trying to locate a weird Victorian object called the “bishop’s bird stump.”

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Madeleine’s Speculative Fiction Review on artdistrict-radio.com

For something different, I’ve started a short book review radio show/podcast on artdistrict-radio.com, a French digital radio station focused on jazz and the arts. Each week I’ll be sharing a book I love from the speculative fiction genre. (And my show is in English, in case you were wondering.)

See details of my first review on Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler here. Or you can listen to the podcasts here.

 

My favourite books of 2016

Yep, another top 2016 list. But this one is all about me.

Here’s my list of 5 star rated books from my own goodreads list (because I can’t rely on my own memory) filled with vampires, time travel, near future spy thrillers and two present day thrillers.

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Great sci-fi holiday reads – High Castle and Temp Job of Doom

I’ve been spending some quality time by a pool with books attached to my face. I started many, finished a few and really enjoyed two.

Here are my highlight holiday reads. Quite different but both sci-fi.

Let’s start with a classic.

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Free Book promo – 6th and 7th August

Evangeline and the Alchemist: A Novella: Mystery and Mayhem in steampunk Melbourne (The Antics of Evangeline Book 1) is free until 8th August but I’m also taking part in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Free Book promo over 6th-7th August.

Over a hundred free books with all e-book retailers.

Get amongst it! I’m gonna load my Kindle too.

Continuum Melbourne – June 10

I’ll be appearing at Continuum – Melbourne’s Speculative Fiction Convention on June 10 on a panel about “Magical Melbourne” at 10pm. We’ll be discussing Melbourne as a setting for speculative fiction and I’ll be talking about Evangeline and the Alchemist in steampunk Melbourne.

Check out the rest of the program here.

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What inspired The Antics of Evangeline stories?

Now, what inspired the stories in The Antics of Evangeline?

Since I was a child, I’ve loved the weird, the wonderful and the supernatural. I am a big fan of Dr Who, Whedon-worlds, Hammer horror, the X-Files, folktales and all manner of forteana.

The Antics of Evangeline combine a steampunk setting with an exploration of folklore and the paranormal.

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Why I write steampunk?

In my last post, I proposed my own pithy definition of steampunk.

But why does steampunk appeal to me? Why do I write steampunk?

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What is steampunk? My pithy definition

When I tell people I’m writing a series of steampunk novellas (The Antics of Evangeline), the first question is often ‘what is steampunk?’ Not everyone appears to be familiar with the world of steampunk.

Here’s my pithy definition of steampunk.

Steampunk is a science-fiction genre based in the Victorian era but with anachronistic technology, generally steam-powered.

Steampunk is an alternate world where Victorian innovations are taken to new heights and fun inventions are inserted alongside the Victorian clichés of parasols, whiskers and London pea-soup fogs.

I hope this helps. Next up, I’ll post about “why I write steampunk?”

Further reading (with considerable more detail) on ‘what is steampunk’ including the history, the community, the elements of a steampunk story and of course, the fabulous fashion.

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Recent Reads – Europe in Autumn

Why did I love Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson so much?

The book is a spy thriller set slightly in the future, in a time when the countries of Europe is dissolving. Every man and his dog is seceding, setting up their own principality. Borders are a bureaucratic nightmare and black marketeers are taking advantage of the chaos.

The hero is Rudi, an Estonian chef turned courier, who gets deeper and deeper into the murky world of espionage.

The book is in four parts following Rudi from his first gig until the point when it all goes wrong. It is almost like four novellas, pieced together eventually. The middle section with Rudi’s family in Estonia seems out of step at first until more details are revealed. I adored the excerpt from the map-making of Whitton-Whyte and the twist delighted this little sci-fi fan.

Why did I enjoy this book so much?

Perhaps it was the mix of vivid characters; the burly Hungarians, the obnoxious mentor Fabio, Rudi’s bizarrely robotic English captors, the grumpy crusty Pawel. The characters were well rounded and real.

Perhaps it was the slight weirdness of the world. Quite similar to our own, yet with minor technological and geo-political differences.It was familiar and yet intriguing. There was little time spent world building, the story jumps right in and explains the world as we go. Yet there are enough odd little details to remind the reader that this is not your ordinary Tom Clancy thriller.

Perhaps it was the wry English humour. The dialogue was sharp and believable. I chuckled out aloud a number of times.

Plus a cracking plot.

Let’s just say, I really liked this book.

But the topic of genre provoked the most thought for me. This is classified as a science fiction novel – which it is. The world is futuristic, but only looking a few years into a possible future. I was so curious about the genre of this novel, I contacted the author. I had a nice conversation with Dave Hutchinson over Twitter regarding the genre classification of this book. Hutchinson describes it as a “near-future espionage thriller”. This is a very apt description.

I struggle with the “science fiction” label because it brings to mind aliens and spaceships. My own writing is in a similar vein to Hutchinson’s – a different world not too dissimilar to our own. Is speculative fiction a better description or “fantastika” as Hutchinson offered? Yet, your average punter doesn’t use the expression ‘speculative fiction’. When I look at the categories for sci-fi in Amazon, the only vaguely applicable are “dystopian” and “post-apocalyptic” but my own writing and a book like Europe in Autumn does not fit with the other zombie invasion novels.

Anyway less about me and more about Europe in Autumn. If you like a well built near-future world with espionage, great characters and good writing, I recommend you take a look at Europe in Autumn.

I’m off to read the sequel…when I’ve finished The Wise Man’s Fear.

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Excerpt – Evangeline & the Alchemist

Today, I thought I’d share the first page of my steampunk novella set in Marvellous Melbourne in 1880s, Evangeline & the Alchemist.

I hope you enjoy….

Chapter 1

It all started with a rat-a-tat-tat on the Professor’s laboratory-workshop door. Evangeline and the Professor looked up from their inventing to see Miss Plockton in the doorway.

“Chief Inspector Pensnett ta see you, sir?” she said.

Evangeline perked up on her stool. A policeman here at 56 Collins Street? Something exciting was surely about to happen.

“Ah, yes. I plum forgot.”

Evangeline’s father stopped adjusting his new, improved auto-chariot and walked over to the wooden bench, placing his trusty brass screwdriver with the ivory handle down beside neat stacks of brass cogs, wheels and pins. Her father, Professor Montague Caldicott, the pre-eminent horological-engineer in all the Colonies, smoothed down his humongous moustache with his real hand.

“Your lesson is over for today, m’dear. Follow Miss Plockton upstairs and continue with your embroidery.”

“But Father…” Evangeline groaned. “I could be of some assistance.”

“Police matters are not for the ears of impressionable young ladies. All those dead bodies and smugglers and swarthy criminals. Far too sordid.”

“I never get to do anything interesting,” Evangeline grumbled as she stowed away her rosewood-handled screwdriver in the pocket of her dress, along with a handful of brass pins. The smaller and more delicate screwdriver was a recent gift from her father, an encouragement to pursue her own inventions.

Evangeline’s plain bottle-green day dress, buttoned to the neck, was not the latest fashion but it was better than she had ever imagined in her previous life on the grey foggy streets of London, when her toes poked through holes in her boots. Cold was something she had yet to worry about since she arrived three months ago on the dirigible from Singapore. She wondered whether Melbourne could be anything less than sweltering.

“Out. Out.”

The Professor shooed Evangeline and Miss Plockton from the laboratory-workshop, before carefully locking the door behind him.

 

There was a time when a visit from the police would have frightened Evangeline. She would have hurried to hide her loot, but not today. Today she was a reformed character, setting aside her urchin ways and learning to be a proper young lady. But being good all the time was a bit dull.

Evangeline and the Alchemist is now available on Amazon.

Recent reads – Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler

One of the curious things about my writing life is I write sci-fi but I don’t often read it. I’ve recently made an effort to read some “masterworks” to fill my gaps.

Don’t you hate it when you find a brilliant “new” writer, only to find out they are already dead? I’m definitely late to the Octavia Butler party, the trail blazing African American female sci-fi writer. Before reading a word of her work, only her bio, I was filled with deep respect for Butler.

First I read Bloodchild (mainly because it was free and I am cheap). I thoroughly enjoyed the story of the alien host and her human servants. Although reading the end notes, I jumped to the conclusion (like many others) that it was a story about slavery. Apparently not!

Then while on a recent trip to the US, I came across Parable of the Sower in a bookshop. The luxury of holidays gave me time to devour it quickly. If I’d been at home (and not required to be social), I would’ve curled up in a corner until I finished it.

In Parable of the Sower, Lauren is 17 and lives in a neighbourhood compound in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Her father is the local preacher and community leader where the neighbours band together to keep themselves safe from the dangers outside the walls. The outside world is dangerous, filled with drug addicts who revel in fire.

Lauren listens to her father’s sermons but she has her own ideas about what God is. Over time her thoughts formulate in her mind, she is creating her own religion. It is called Earthseed.

One night, the compound and Lauren’s world is breached. She leaves and must fend for herself on the highways of California, looking for safety and a new life. All the while, building on her ideas for a new faith.

But the Parable of the Sower is much more than a dystopian road story.

As an aspirant writer, this is one of those books that made me want to put my pen down and give it all away. The prose so crisp and precise. The concepts so big and mind-chewing. This is what I want to be when I grow up.

As I said in my review of AYTGIMM, I’m ignorant about religion. The Parable of the Sower passage from the Bible has no meaning to me. I brought no preconceived ideas when I started reading.

With the chaos around her, Lauren sees God as objective. God is change and cares only about survival. There is no moral overlay about right or wrong. It just is. This reminds of the concepts in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile. Another book which wowed me.

I was struck by a single line. “Some people see nature as God.” Pow. There’s my worldview in a nutshell in a way I’d never considered it before. The way some people see God is the way I see nature/the universe. Awe inspiring and all powerful. But like Lauren, I never placed the moral overlay on nature. She doesn’t care about you and me as individuals. She only wants to continue on.

This book has stayed with me for months now. What more can you ask for in a book? Entertainment plus a soul searching challenge on your view of the universe.

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