07 April 2018

Instilling a Love of Science Fiction in Our Kids

Today's post is written by Cassandra Davis, author of Dremiks.

This school year, I’ve taken on the task of homeschooling both of my sons. Because they both have learning disabilities (but not the same disabilities, because that would be too easy!) and are three years apart, I knew I would need a bit more structure to my curriculum. With my eldest we were using a free-wheeling mixture of formal curricula and piece-meal work; doing double of that might drive me (further) insane. So, I opted to use a popular Catholic homeschool education “curriculum in a box”. One of the courses is “Junior High Literature”.  The syllabus has a wide range of suggested books to choose from, includes guides for book report writing for the middle grades, and huge notebook of questions on the texts.

For my son’s first book of the year, I chose a short book on the life of St. Paul to ease him into the structure of the course.  During the second quarter of the year, I assigned the short-story course. This worked out well because I’d just contributed to a short-story anthology of holiday stories. I added “Winter Wonder” to the syllabus and had him pick out a few stories to read and comment upon.  However, my son’s greatest engagement with his literature schoolwork has been when he gets to choose (from the list of approved books) which he will read.

He has now read “The Fellowship of the Ring”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Out of the Silent Planet”. He’s seen all the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies and his father read “The Hobbit” to him a few years ago. So, his choosing and enjoyment of a high fantasy novel was not a huge surprise. What was surprising was that for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Out of the Silent Planet”, he read the books in half of the allotted time.  He stayed up way past bedtime reading under the covers, just like his mamma used to do.  Of course, with his Amazon Kindle he doesn’t have to juggle a flashlight and the book!

With limited resources and ever-expanding class sizes—in which students of wildly varying reading levels are grouped-- science fiction and fantasy classics are quickly disappearing from school reading lists. Given the limits on time and resources just mentioned, it isn’t feasible for schools to add these books back into the curricula. Therefore, whether homeschooling or not, we as parents need to make an effort to expand our children’s exposure to these genres. Movies do help bring attention to genre fiction, especially teen-dystopia and high fantasy, but we cannot allow Hollywood to determine what is worthy of reading.

If you have children in your home, or younger relatives you regularly interact with, please take the time to read with them.  Discuss what books you enjoyed as a teen.  Give sci-fi classics as presents. Help preserve genre literature as an important facet of our culture.

Visit the comment section to leave your suggestions for sci-fi and fantasy books appropriate for children and teens.

24 March 2018

Quantum Telecommunication and Teleportation

Would you like to chat to a friendly alien on a distant planet, or even pop through a portal to explore an extraterrestrial world?

A common event in science fiction, but physically impossible in the real world of today.
In current physics theory, nothing can travel faster than light. This limitation means that even if you could travel at the speed of light, you would take more than four years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

Nothing can travel faster than light speed, except for quantum wave/particles. Entangled quanta can communicate at a distance by teleportation. This effect is real. Experiments have demonstrated quantum teleportation over a distance of several hundred miles.
Quantum computing is also feasible and is becoming a practical reality. Consequently, quanta can exchange data or communicate at a significant distance. These advances mean we can envision a future where we can transmit data in the form of digital messages, voice or images to an extraterrestrial location.

Remember the live holographic images in decades-old science fiction like Star Trek? In my opinion, such communications are within the bounds of current physical knowledge. Future technical advances might enable us to chat to an intelligent entity on the far side of the galaxy.

Our dream of visiting this alien entity is still impossible in the real physical world because a human is not a quantum-scale object. If we could perform quantum manipulations on an object the size of a human, and if such operations would not injure a live human, we could blithely teleport to an alien planet. But, it’s not possible in current physics. Sorry! We cannot jump through a portal to one of the planets near Alpha Centauri.

We must rely on our imaginations to explore the galaxy and interact with alien lifeforms. Hence, I create adventures in space to vault over the bounds of reality, and often invoke teleportation as a means of interstellar travel in my science fiction stories.

Author Bio
Aurora Springer is a scientist morphing into a novelist. She has a PhD in molecular biophysics and discovers science facts in her day job. She has invented adventures in weird worlds for as long as she can remember. In 2014, Aurora achieved a life-long ambition to publish her stories. Her works are character-driven adventures and romances set in weird worlds and described with a sprinkle of humor. Some of the stories were composed thirty years ago. She was born in the UK and lives in Atlanta with her husband, a dog and two cats to sit on the keyboard. Her hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like gardening, watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.

Aurora Springer’s Published Stories are listed HERE

Media links: Facebook  Twitter  Google+  Blog

10 March 2018

A Series Completed

Last week I finally completed the Snow Queen Cycle (pictured above), which I first began to read over twenty years ago. From one of the queens of SF, it's a particularly good series - especially the third book, The Summer Queen, is a real blockbuster - featuring two amazing queens.

Set primarily on the world of Tiamat (book two, World's End, is set elsewhere), the series follows Moon, a member of the Summer clan, first as she seeks her lover in Tiamat's one city, Carbuncle, and then as she seeks to write a heinous wrong (which I won't disclose). Tiamat is one of the worlds under the thumb of the Kharemough Hegemony, whose primary interest in the world is a species of sentient creatures that live in its waters, called mers. The blood of these mers is known as the Water of Life, and is sought after for its longevity properties. Arienrhod, the titular Snow Queen and a member of the Winter Clan, has, for example, ruled Tiamat for 150 years, keeping herself alive and physically young through use of the Water of Life.

When Moon becomes a sybil, a human portal to an ancient repository of knowledge, her lover Sparks Dawntreader Summer leaves the Summer islands for Winter Carbuncle in disgust. And so the unfolding action is set up, leading Moon not only to Carbuncle, but to Kharemough in her quest to rescue Sparks.

And there I'll leave it. This Cycle has been likened to Dune, and arguably, yes, I'll agree with that. It really is an understated, amazing story, and I loved reading every page.

What's your favourite SF series - and why?

24 February 2018

Cowboys, Aliens and Hygiene

Today's post is written by TK Toppin, author of The Lancaster Trilogy and the Jax Marlin series.

When I watched the movie Cowboys and Aliens, a thought bubble formed. Not only was it a fun movie, with classic moments from Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, but something else bugged me.


Yep. I’ve always wondered about personal hygiene, in the real world, way back when in those days. The germaphobe in me shudders. If movies and books are authentically portraying those time periods (and from what is written in history), then it’s pretty safe to say that personal hygiene in those days were either few and far between, or non-existent. Judging from the sweat stains, general dirt and filth, and those hideously decaying teeth, then humanity in those days must have stunk to the heavens. But I suppose people back then were made of hardier stock. Their survival from that stench alone is confirmation.

From history we know that perfume was invented, and later the combination of soap and water became a popular choice to smell better and keep body parts fresh. But still, when you think about how travel used to be, and how it took you days on end to reach your destination, with limited bathroom stops, one can only surmise that people back then STANK! The invention of wet wipes and Purell couldn’t come fast enough!

This brings me to my next idle thought. The future. Now I love writing SF and stuff that happens way into the beyond. A lot of stuff I see in fiction combine great adventures, where people zip all over the universe in spaceships and wormholes and whatnots with action and intense moments that get the sweat glands overworked. Of course, people appear a lot cleaner-looking in the Hollywood-ized future, with incredible backdrops of super-sophisticated building and vessels and wow-gadgets and everything. But aside from shower/dryer tubes, no one really ventures into the personal hygiene issues. I know, gross, but really. Maybe a little mention or tiny detail about it might keep the curiosity at bay. And don’t you just wonder, when the super-cool hero grabs the equally super-cool heroine and gives her that long-awaited first kiss after battling and killing aliens and spaceships for the better part of a week, and no toothbrush in sight…errr, well, personally, I’d tell the dude to just hold that thought a bit. Plaque buildup is really gross!

Well, I know. I just sucked the romance and adventure right out of it. But brushing one’s teeth, how would you do it in the future? Would we still have toothbrushes and toothpaste? And deodorant—a stick, a spray, a pill? And don’t get me started on toilet paper…brings to mind that movie, Demolition Man, with Stallone and the sea shells. I’m still waiting to know what they’re for.

In one of my books, Jax Marlin, I wrote in a scene where the hero crunched on an oral cleanser, which bubbled and frothed and cleaned his teeth and freshened his breath. I’ve seen other references to personal hygiene in other books, past, present and in the future. But it seems to be a topic, or scene, many don’t bother with. But like the senses we try to include in writing like seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching, a little mention or a creative way of imaging the hygiene rituals would make for a well-
rounded tale. Don’t you think?

So what about you? For a Science Fiction or Fantasy novel, how would you create a new personal hygiene item, or how would you incorporate it into your tale? More often that not, it’s easy to just glean over or just ignore stuff like that. But if you’re a curious like me…

10 February 2018

One of My Top Fantasy Reads is...

I read it about 15 years ago, and I've just finished my first reread of it. One thing that I can say is that it certainly lost none of its magic between reads - probably due to the lapsed time. The world Hobb creates is as fascinating as it is complex, and her characters are sympathetic and wholly villainous, depending on who one is considering. Definitely one of my favourite fantasy reads.

Do let us know about a fantasy book falls into your top ten, and why it gets up there for you.

Laurel C Kriegler is an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, an editor, and occasionally dabbles in writing.

27 January 2018

Relaunching SFFS

The decision has been taken to relaunch SFFS. Previous members of the SFFS blog ring will join me in writing bi-weekly posts for the blog. In addition, SFFS will share cover launches, book launches and other writerly events (book sales?!) on appropriate days. We will still return to our roots of doing a blog ring extract share every now and then.

I look forward to sharing sf/f content with you all once again, and hopefully some more interaction as time passes.

06 April 2016

SFFS - 09 April 2016

This is the final round of SFFS ever. After 301 blog posts, 202 rounds of snippets shared, and some good friendships forged, it's time to bid farewell. Thank you to all the authors who have participated over the last almost-five years, and to all the readers who drop by each week. It's been a good ride. In the meantime, let's make this week a good one. The rules remain the same:

  1. Have the blog post live by 6 AM GMT . Work it out if you're in a different time zone.
  2. Make the SFFS blog post clearly identifiable to readers (e.g. use "SFFS" in the heading, or some variant). It is preferable that the link you post to this list leads directly to the blog post, so that readers do not have to play 'hunt-the-snippet'.
  3. Do not post anything else on your blog for at least 24 hours after posting the SFFS blog post.
  4. Keep the snippet's length below fifteen sentences. Any snippets found to be blatantly over this limit will be summarily removed from the week's list (no email warning or requests to shorten).
  5. If your excerpt comes from a book available online, be sure to provide a link within your snippet. If it's from a WIP, let us know what other books it may be related to, or any other titles you might have available.
  6. Come back on Saturday and visit all of our posted authors, to read some of the best new science fiction and fantasy writing that we have to offer. 

Our twitter hashtag is #sffsat.

Instilling a Love of Science Fiction in Our Kids

Today's post is written by Cassandra Davis, author of Dremiks. This school year, I’ve taken on the task of homeschooling both of m...