I know Cat from conventions and the local coffeshop. I also know her writing and love it. I’m completely biased and I really enjoyed the Near + Far collection.
My favorite thing about Near + Far is that I was worried at one point that I couldn't write SF. I've never been a sciencey person. I like reading about it, but when it comes to numbers and metals and periodic weights, a little part of my head goes wandering off into the forest, gathering daisies, until the numbers have gone away.
But one of the cool things about science fiction is that it's social science too, and that's an area that interests me greatly. Some of my favorite books fall into this view, like Joan Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean, Kay Kenyon's The Braided World, or Louise Marley's The Terrorists of Irustan. That's where I went when I wrote science fiction, into mental rather than material science.
So there are space stations, but not much explanation of how they recycle their waste or what they're powering their solenoids on. There's war and biological weapons, but not much about the underpinnings of that. It's a little nerve wracking, because sometimes one thinks that to write science fiction, you must understand science fact.
And certainly science can inspire stories - a piece a friend posted about the impervious nature of plastic in our oceans ended up shaping "The Mermaids Singing, Each to Each," while biological engineering underlies other stories, like “RealFur” or “VocoBox.” But in each, the science is only a secondary character - it's what people do and think and say that matter in the stories, that move them along.
I’d always thought of myself as primarily a fantasy writer - both The Surgeon’s Tale and Other Stories as well as Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight are both chockfull of nothing but fantasy. But when I sat down and started compiling stories, I realized I had a lot more science fiction than I had originally thought. And that made me happy. Because I wanted to be an SF writer, to follow in the footsteps of the SF writers who’d shaped my reading growing up: Samuel R. Delany, Robert Heinlein, and Andre Norton, more than anyone else. I might not be able to operate a slide rule in a way Heinlein would approve of, but I could create a story that referenced his and talked about some of the things in it that bothered me. I was one of the gang, with just as much right to speak science fiction as the rest of them.
I’m still timorous around those who speak in numbers, those who understand the mysteries of subatomic particles or string theory. But I feel a bit more confident with this book in joining the conversation. I’m an SF writer too, dammit, and I’ve got the book to prove it. ;)
Those of you who have read me for any length of time know I’m a busy woman. I write, edit, game design, and publish. There’s not a lot more I can do. Except when opportunities present themselves in the form of Kickstarters. I really do believe in my “Share the Love” philosophy. If I can help you, within reason, I will.
So beyond supporting a number kickstarters with my money, I’m currently working with several kickstarters to help back them with my name and / or work. It may not be much but it is something I can give.
Cthulhu Playing Cards – For those who love Lovecraft and the crazy universe he created and then invited others to play in, Cthulhu playing cards are awesome. They have wonderful artwork and the add-ons are very cool. I’m helping out by editing the chapbook that is one of the add-ons. It will have stories by Kenneth Hite and Cody Goodfellow. The cover is to die for already.
Beyond the Sun anthology – This is a science-fiction anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. I really believe we need more sci-fi anthologies out there. This one is featuring Robert Silverberg, Nancy Kress, and Mike Resnick. I’m helping out by offering a short story critique at the $100 or “Junior Officer” (#2) level. This critique will include a Skype call or an in person discussion about your story.
One-Shot RPG – One Shot RPG is designed to be played with two people and I thought that was wonderful. I love the idea of playing this what-if game with my husband. When I was approached by the creator to submit a story for the stretch goal anthology, I had to say yes. I could see a One Shot story in my Mowry universe without thinking twice.
I think crowd-sourcing is an excellent way to get smaller projects off the ground and I think a lot of them are worth supporting with more than money. It’s why I do it.
I met Myke Cole at Worldcon 2012. I asked him to tell me something interesting about his forthcoming book, FORTRESS FRONTIER (Ace, Jan 2013) and he told me what was at the heart of the book. It makes me that much more interested in the series.
When I was in Baghdad, people kept asking me if I needed anything. There were constant offers of help from friends and family: food, books, movies. Anything I wanted, anything that would get me through the long months.
Honestly? We were covered. Camp Liberty had the equivalent of a Wal-Mart where you could buy everything from flat-screen TVs to survival knives. Heck, you could even order a car, provided you were willing to pick it up once you got back stateside.
Anothing thing we had was a video library on the network, which everyone pulling a late night shift on watch wasn't supposed to be availing themselves of.
It was on just such a late night watch that I . . . ahem . . . accidentally hit up the video library and came across the 1964 film ZULU starring Michael Caine. It's a Hollywood stab at the unlikely battle of Rorke's Drift, where just over 150 British troops (many convalescing from wounds) successfully defended a position against 4,000 Zulu warriors. It had the hopeless odds base covered, which is sort of a staple in all good war films, but the thing that really resonated with me was the portrayal of the hero, Lieutenant John Chard (played by Stanley Baker).
Chard found himself thrust into a situation for which he was completely unprepared. You have to remember, Chard was a Royal Engineer who (at least according to the movie) had been sent to Rorke's Drift to survey for the construction of a bridge. Sure, he wore a uniform. Sure, he was a was a soldier, even an officer. But the truth? He wasn't a commander, wasn't a warrior, wasn't ready not only for a battle, but for a battle with odds that utterly hopeless.
Tom Hanks' character in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN shared the same situation and the same qualities. Utterly unprepared for what faced him, he simply shrugged, kept his fear and doubt to himself, and put one foot in front of the other. In what seems an utterly inadequate response to something as serious as an overwhelming horde of enemies determined to kill you, they fake it 'til they make it.
And make it they do.
That concept fascinates me. It's not a new idea. Heck, it's practically a trope in fantasy and science fiction. But there's something incredibly inspiring about watching the little guy, frightened, unprepared, hopelessly outclassed, just put one foot in front of the other. Not confident, not cocky, just plodding doggedly, because he can't figure out what else to do. You grit your teeth and you bear it.
And sometimes, you win.
That's the heart of FORTRESS FRONTIER. I hope folks find it as inspiring to read it as I did to write it.