Is It Scifi If…..?

Sorry, I’ve been really sidetracked lately and it has kept me away from the blog. Bad blogger, no eggnog for me. Ok, maybe just a little of the nonalcoholic variety that’s in the fridge. Anyway… I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, and enjoying my time over at the NaNo Forums. But there has been something I’ve noticed, a lot of people are reluctant to label their Short Novels with the label of Science Fiction. The vast majority of things people don’t feel fit SF is near future or an alt present day, and doesn’t included phasers, space, or any overt SF elements like taking place in space. Some have more obvious elements like time travel through a technological means as part of the premise.

Here’s the thing, yes, those stories are SF despite not being “classic Scifi.” And if you want to check out some literal classic SF I would suggest HG Wells, Time Machine is one of my favorite books.  SF just means it is based in science in some way, even if there’s a lot of handwavium going on.

Say a Literary writer decides to write a story exploring gender, as well as other themes relating to gender. They set their story in a near future world where someone can have their genetic sex changed to fit their gender identity by western standards, and their Main Character/Narrator goes through that change. Their story is now not only Lit ( A post on what I term Literary Fiction is coming sometime soon, watch out for it.), but is now also SF as well. They’ve hinged their story on science and that is what matters.

How can someone not know this if what counts as SF really is that simple? It’s a combination of who most of the people doing NaNo are, people who only write during November to please themselves. There’s some people who will continue even after NaNo is over and finish their work like me, or write all year round professionally or as a hobby also like me. But most are what I call November Hobbiests, and may or may not have knowledge of what is included in a genre.  They fall unintentionally into the trap of not thinking something if SF for a silly reason, or in some cases, forget that the social sciences count as well. (I’m looking at you, all those people in the what’s my genre thread who asked if Dystopians are Scifi.)

So when in doubt remember, if something has some sort of science at its core it is Science Fiction. Doesn’t matter if it’s athropology instead lf tech based, or if it doesn’t take place in space. It is still SF.

Till next time, don’t get eaten or abducted!

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Fanfiction, why do people write it?

Today’s post was meant to be my Top Ten Favorite Books, but I changed my mind at the last moment. If you still want to know about my favorite books (No, not novels. Some of my favorite books are novella length, so books is the appropriate term for me to use when referring to my favorite works of literature.), then tune in next Saturday for that post. I’m still planning to do it, despite my sudden change in plans.

If you’ve read the title of today’s post, then you know we’re going to be talking about fanfiction. Specifically, what it is and why people write it. I will also be going over some useful terms to know, and the benefits of writing fanfiction. Some basic fanfiction etiquette is also in the cards if I have my say. You can consider this post a primer of sorts for people interested in writing fanfic, and for those just interested in what it is.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I write fanfiction when I’m not working on original stuff, and that I enjoy writing it.  This is the first of many post I on the subject that I will making an official part of this blog, covering everything from things I love about it, to the things I hate in regards to it. Here’s a glossary of terms you will need to get through the following post:

Fanon: Things adopted by fans as canon, but not strictly shown in the source material. A lot of times these things are logical offshoots of what is found in the source material, but that isn’t always the case.

Canon: What is shown in the source material, whether that be a comic, Anime, TV show, book, or a movie. Even what is shown in a video game, because there are certainly plenty of fan written stories written about video game characters as well.

Fandom: The people who enjoy whatever the source material is, they sometimes even have specific names. For example, Trekkies are fans of any of the Star Trek shows and movies.

Ship: Short for relationship, this has to do with pairing characters romantically together. You have three main forms of shipping, slash (male/male), femslash (female/female), and het (male/female). There’s also poly relationships, but they’re less common than strict two person pairings.

Gen: Stories without any romantic relationships or that are about friendship fall under the heading or gen, which is short for general. Gen may also be a story rating, where the fic is basically child friendly or equivalent to a G or PG movie rating.

What is fanfiction and why would people want to write it?

Fanfiction or fanfic for short, are non-liscenced derivative stories written by fans of a book, movie, TV show, comic, or video game that is still under copyright by the owner or their estate. Why am I defining it in legal terms? Because, legally despite what other say of derivative retellings and adaptations of out of copyright things. You can not have fanfiction of something that is owned by the public and not a single person or organization. Yes, fanfics are derivative. But Jane Austen isn’t going to come after you if you try to get retellings of her work published, Joss Whedon the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer legally can and will.

So, why do people write fanfic if they can’t legally make any money off of it? Simplest answer to that is because they love the source material, and want to spend more time in that world/universe with their favorite characters. Sometimes there’s something in the source they want to change, or wish never happened despite their love of the source. They end up writing an alternate universe that diverges ( I will be referring to this as AU-Canon Divergent from now on.) from the canon material right at the point of their unhappiness with their beloved source material.

Say I write an AU-Canon Divergent story in which Thorin never dies in the Hobbit, or Frodo finds his cure in Middle Earth instead of sailing into the west. Those can be considered fix-it stories, I “fixed” something that bothered me about the original despite my love for the movies, or books. But don’t think that all AU- Canon Divergence stories are about fixing something in the source material, most are what if type of things. What if the Enterprise had never found the Xryillian ship after Trip became the first ever recorded pregnant human male? ( For all of those recoiling in fear, yes, Enterprise did make one of their male crew members pregnant. If you’re interested in that episode, it is either episode four or five of the first season of the show.) What if Trip and T’Pol’s bond wasn’t romantic in nature?

Of course not all fanfiction falls into this, some of it gen as I mention in my glossary a little ways up the page. Other fics don’t fall under general but are still canon friendly, or essentially extensions of canon with no changes. And still other fics take the what if portion of writing fanfiction even further to diverge completely from canon and place things in an entirely new setting. At its core, fanfic is a labor of love for the people who write it.

Where do people read fanfiction if it isn’t allowed to be sold? 

Writers of this type of fiction post to archives that deal with this specific type of fiction. Places such as Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net, as well as smaller archive sites that deal with only one fandom. I myself post at both FF.net and AO3 (Archive of Our Own), as well as a smaller Star Trek: Enterprise only fanfic site. Yes, you heard me right. I really did admit one of the fandoms I write for is Enterprise. Star Trek has a history as a whole of encouraging fanfiction, and also encourages writers to submit canon compliant fiction (Stories that comply completely with the source material given in the shows, and would be indistinguishable from an episode were it ever filmed.) for liscencing.

My stuff tends towards AU- Canon Divergence, so I won’t ever seek publication for it. Even my more compliant fanfic tends towards things such as slash or femslash, making it automatically a no for publication. And I am content with that.

I want to write my own fanfiction, do you have any tips or basic etiquette I can follow? 

Tip 1) Use proper grammar, and make notice of how things like character names are spelled.

As a reader, I will hit the backspace button like lightning if I see someone misspell the name of a character. Take pride in your work, and don’t just throw it up on the internet after you’ve finished it. Let it sit for a little bit, make it the best you can make it.

Tip 2) Keep all the characters in character.

Readers notice when a character isn’t behaving as they should, and for many of us it’s a deal breaker. We won’t read further and may put that writer on our Never Read Again list. This can be helped by getting a beta reader, someone who reads your work before others. They should catch things such as if the character is in character or not, and whether your plot makes sense. Get involved in the community around that fandom, join a board if you can. Sometimes you can even find one in your comments, that’s how I found my beta reader.

A really good way to make sure your characters sound like they should, is to read, watch, play etc. the source material again with an eye towards how they act, and speak/sound.

Tip 3) Have fun!

Long as your plot makes sense, Spock is in character, your spelling and grammar is sound, and you handle any sensitive topics with respect etc. people will love your story. Heck, even for most people you don’t have to have all of these. People love stories where plot and character are fine, but everything else is bad all the time. But still, don’t let have fun mean you’ll be embarrassed to look back on your work in the future. You won’t be perfect the first time, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your best.

With all that said, I think I’m going to go work on some Star Trek fanfic. Maybe I will work on my blog serial (At the end of next month I’m premiering a series of original  serialized stories about a supernatural detective, who solves crime in 1900′s Boston.) , or on an original short story. I don’t really know what I will be doing to tell you the truth. Either way, join me next month for more talk of fanfic.

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Review! Star Trek: Enterprise Season One

Yikes, sorry for neglecting my posts from last week. Those posts will be made up another time I assure you. Today I have something else for you though, a review of a show.

I’m a geek, and proud of it. I’m also a Trekkie, having enjoyed at least part of every incarnation of Star Trek in the franchise. One such incarnation was Star Trek: Enterprise.

The show premiered on September 26th 2001, and was originally titled Enterprise for the first two seasons. And personally I think it is underrated by my fellow Trekkies, getting a underseved bad reputation. Season one covers roughly the first full year of the original starship Enterprise’s (NX-01) mission to explore and seek out new life (the show itself is a prequel to the original Star Trek), and her crew. This translates as 23 episodes. Costumes are pretty good for a TV show of the time, and so are the special effects. But it was the cast that really made the season for me. Each get their own arcs during the course of the series, though some change more than others do. In this season we see the beginning of those arcs, and the core of who the characters really are.

We are introduced to many staples of the Star Trek universe in this season, Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians, and a host of others mentioned but barely seen in other Treks. In fact we are introduced to these non-human characters straight from the start. The first scene of episode one includes a Klingon fleeing from another alien race. In the type of show this is, I count this as a good thing. Heck, I count it as more than good. It sets things up very nicely, giving a tone for the series and laying the foundation for things in the future.

But as much as I love the show, I do have episodes that I don’t enjoy as much. Episode four ( This episode is technically fourth in the season, but Netflix combines the two-part episode one and two into a single movie length first episode.) is my least favorite one of the season, because it just feels out of left field to me. I do enjoy what we learn about one of the shows main cast during it quite a bit, but that doesn’t quite make up for the left fieldedness of that episode. The next episode on the other hand more than makes up for it.

In fact I would say the same of any of my least favorite episodes this season, they’re made up for by the ones I love. They still furthered the characters in a way each episode of a show should, and put them in interesting situations. If I prefer the episode where Trip played by Conor Trinneer gets pregnant by an alien woman (episode 4/5 Unexpected) to the one with a hallucinogenic planet, that is simply a matter of my strange taste and I don’t fault the show for it.

All in all, it is a great show. The premise is very interesting, the execution with a couple of exceptions is spot on. If you enjoy Star Trek, including the new movies, then I suggest you give it a try.

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My Top 10 TV Shows!

Besides writing and reading, if you follow this blog you will see I have a love of TV, movies, food (Give me a good curry and I will be your best friend!), and hair. I’m a woman of many passions.

Most people in the modern west watch TV, anywhere from big things like Sherlock to their local stations. In my neck of the woods that would be PBS, UPN, WB etc. and yes I am aware the last two changed their names years ago. To me they will always have the names they had when I was a kid watching Moesha, Star Trek: Enterprise, Rosewell, and Smallville. Nothing could make me call UPN, TV38. And WB invokes Saturday mornings watching Pinky & The Brain.

By now, if you didn’t catch on before. I am sure you understand we’re going to be talking about TV Shows, more specifically, my Top 10 most loved TV shows. So sit back and relax while I tell you my list, counting down from number ten.

The List

10) Torchwood (2006 – 2011): I will give you one good reason why this makes the list besides loving it, and one good reason only. Canon gay relationship! So often in Scifi and Fantasy shows all the characters are straight, and it tends to leave the impression SFF doesn’t have a place for LGBT people. Add to the fact the plots are awesome, and I love the characters. It isn’t in the number ten spot because I don’t adore it with all my heart, but because there are other things I love more.

09) NCIS (2003-Present): The story lines, the character, everything about this so is pretty damn awesome. In my mind it is tied with Criminal Minds, but I like it more so it is the one that made the list.

08) Hemlock Grove (2013 – Present): This one is a bit of a cheat I know, because it is only available via Netflix. But despite that I really love the show and the character. And on the infamous three-some Roman, Miranda, and Peter had in season 2 I have one thing to say…they should have shown them touching instead of just the awkward pre-threesome talk and morning after. That drove me crazy, but I love everything else about the show. Literally everything else about the show is pretty awesome.

07) Smallville (2001 – 2011): I confess to never having finished the entire series, but I still love it and therefore it is on the list. Deal with it. The first three season, which are what I saw, were absolutely awesome. Supes before he was Superman, every nerds wildest dream.

06) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003): Some people watched this for Buffy, I watched it for Spike, Willow, and Xander. Much like with 3 on this list, I came to this show part-way through and mainlined reruns till I was caught up. The first episode I ever watched had Spike in it in fact. And it wasn’t long before I as a little fangirl that I was, had started watching my favorite character’s favorite TV show. Since that was Spike, eight year old me was watching Passions in the morning before the school bus came. Any show that can inspire such loyalty is a good one. Cheezy sometimes, but still damn awesome.

05) Bones (2005 – Present): Asskicking female forensic anthropologist. Enough said.

04) Xena (1995 – 2001): I wanted to be Xena, and I seriously envied her bond with Gabrielle. Still envy it to this day, and I completely understand why people ship them. Not to mention the huge crush I had on Lucy Lawless at the age of like 7 or 8. Like most shows of my childhood I came to it partway through the series, but that never stopped my love for it.

03) Stargate SG1 (1997 – 2007): Yes, I was a child when this came out. At 10 I caught the middle of season 3 and then proceeded to watch every possible rerun of the first 2.5 seasons that I could. It starts out where the movie left off, and that was awesome since I already had seen the film. Who wouldn’t love a show about fighting aliens and exploring the galaxy? I certainly did.

02) Enterprise (2001 – 2005): The little known Star Trek, that gets a bad wrap from other Trekkies. It is a highly underrated show, except for that last episode which is a complete and utter copout. ENT fans refer to it as The Abomination. Between story lines and the characters, I have loved this show for thirteen years. It will even be getting a much longer review than this in few weeks, expect that review on the 14th. Which leads us to number one on my list…..

01) BBC’s Sherlock (2010 – Present): Yea, I hear you snorting in the background over there. If you didn’t know Sherlock would be in the top spot on this list after my gusher of a review about it, then you’re just mental. Everything from the acting to the setting just pings my interest buttons. Even if they make me wait two years for a damn 3 episode season. Being a fan of other adaptations of A.C. Doyle’s work, it was almost assured I would love a show that keeps to its spirit like this one does.

And that is my list! There are some honorable mentions like Roswell (Alien teenagers for the win!), and Criminal Minds. While I loved them, and my geeky hard mainlines them via Netflix often. They and a few other shows I love are missing that little indescribable extra that would have got them on the list.

Join me on Tuesday for some information on a serial that will be coming ro this blog in a couple of weeks. Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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A Mother’s Love Collection Monthly Update 1

Morning. I see no-one has been eaten or abducted, now let’s move on to todays post.

I’ve made one previous post about my story collection A Mother’s Love, but for those who are new to reading this I will go over it a bit again. My project goal for this collection is 75,000+ word, covering short stories, a couple novellas (had a lot of fun drafting my novella Bringing me Dreams during July’s camp NaNo), and a long novella/short novel. I’m not sure if I will ever get around to selling the collection, so I’m not setting out to do so.

Mother’s Love is based on a something both simple and complicated, the bond between mother and child. Most mothers love their children and most children love their mothers in return, but what if the mother or the child wasn’t human? What challenges would they face? How would they cope, and how would this strengthen their bond? The stories in this collection seek to answer those questions, or at least I hope they will.

Each month, on the first Thursday of the month I will be updating you on my progress. Speaking of updates, we should get to this month’s update don’t you think?

Progress

500 of 75,000 words written.

Goal for the Month?

6,250 words.

Problems that may crop up?

Motivation will be key, and I have other things to do for this blog and other projects. So I will have to carve out time and write. If I can manage one or two hand-written pages a day then I will be well on track, and actually exceed my goal by a fair margin.

Don’t get eaten or abducted, and join me on Saturday, when I will be discussing my Top 10 Favorite Books.

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Ramblings Of The Sleepy And The Sick pt.2

Last week you tuned in to listen to me rant and ramble about the classics, this week we are going to continue talking about them. Many of you will have bristled at last weeks post, puffing up like an angry puffer fish. Why should I give up my free time to read out of date material? They’re all boring and long etc. We already covered a lot of that, but this time I’m going to go more in-depth about a couple of those things. Actually we will be covering two, maybe three if I can think of a third.

1) Classics are boring.

I touched on how I feel classics are just like any other book, boring depends on taste of the reader and taste alone. You have stories of romance, horror, science fiction ( known during the Victorian Era as Scientific Romances), weird fantasy mash-ups etc. Classic Literature is very diverse despite its reputation.

If someone likes adventure stories, then they may want to try reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, which tells the story of an explorer who discovers a lost pocket of prehistory in South America. 

Then you have the transgressive things like Matthew Lewis’ The Monk, published in 1796, which deals with a monk who is both pious and a sexually depraved murderer. Yes, you read that right. Some supposedly stuffy person in the 18th century wrote such a story, in fact the writer was just barely 20, so in all likelihood he was no more stuffy for his time than you or I. The Monk who is named Ambrosio even attempts to rape the object of his affection, and when that doesn’t work turns to witchcraft to get her only to find out in the end that she was his sister. He eventually meets a gruesome end. 

And I haven’t even mentioned Penny Dreadfuls, follow the link to my friend AJ’s blog post on them if you want to know more. But basically they were the trashy supermarket fiction of their day, often dealing with things we would today recognise as horror though they didn’t always.

2) Classics are long.

This is another charge often leveled at classic literature, that it is long and ponderous. I can only think of one way to dispel this and that is by giving you a sample of ten classic novels and their wordcounts.

1) Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (121,342)

2) The Monk by Matthew Lewis (137,192)

3) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (176,543)

4) Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (27,853)

5) Les Miserable Victor Hugo (560,391)

6) Time Machine by H.G. Wells (32,059)

7) Dracula by Bram Stoker (160,363)

8) The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (78,462)

9) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (75,380)

10) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (135,420)

As you can see, they run the whole gamut from novella length to crazy long. Some are so short they wouldn’t even be published separately in a print run of their own now, but for their status as classics.

I hope that this has helped you in some way. That concludes my whining about classics for now. It’s sure to happen again, but not at this point in time. Maybe in a few weeks or longer? Don’t get eaten or abducted!

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Ramblings Of The Sleepy and The Sick

I’m sick, tired, and a tad grumpy from being sick and tired. So you, dear readers get to read me rambling. Thankfully this post will be constructive rambling, or at least I hope it will. You will be the ultimate judge. Anyway… this morning I’m here to talk to you about the classics.

Yes, those books that you were probably forced to endure in school and haven’t read since. Don’t roll your eyes at me buddy, there’s a lot to talk about in regards to them. And they’re damn useful if you’re a writer as well. One of my biggest pet peeves, along with people who try to save my soul when they see me with my girlfriend, is the snobbery that surrounds much of the classics. And I’m not talking just the won’t read a book published after 1960 crowd either, but the other crowd as well. You know the one I mean, and you may even be a part of it yourself. That crowd that claims all classic, even ones in their genre are dry and boring, like Sherlock when he has a case that’s only a 3 on his personal interesting scale.

Well, riddle me this. If you only read books published after a certain year, then how on Earth do you understand how the genres you like to read got to where they are now? By contrast if you’re an aspiring writer that only reads stories from before 1960, how do you understand what is considered an accessible and enjoyable narrative style for today’s audiences? At best both types of people will have incomplete knowledge, maybe even sub-standard.

I will admit that I am biased, I’ve had a love affair with classics since I was an eight-year-old girl reading both Harry Potter and Time Machine, and when I found Shakespeare, then Jane Austen? Well, my fate was sealed as a lover of the classics. In fact, I read Pride & Prejudice every year, and have a copy of Shakespeare’s complete works I regularly thumb through. But don’t let that influence what your feeling on what I’m saying are. Do try to keep an open mind.

There are some myths I would like to dispell regarding the classics. First and foremost is the idea you must read them all, which is honestly absolutely absurd. You could try to read all of them, but there are hundreds of them, possibly even thousands. People who claim you have to read them all are just insane, and often times are the people who hate classics the most. Trotting out the tired excuse of, “I don’t have time to read all the classics when I could be reading modern stuff.”

Which makes me go all twitchy and think,”Ok, and what gave you the fool notion you need to read all of them? Do you expect to read all the modern books in your genre too, or is this brand of foolishness reserved only for classics?”

Second is that they’re all long like Proust, and this is proven by the fact many came in volumes originally. This is yet another foolish notion, as many of the classics are novellas. Yes, let’s face it. Many classics were sold in volumes originally, because the people who wrote them and made a living couldn’t afford to sit on them until the entire thing was complete. You know what? They were also likely to be published in magazines and newspapers before bound into one. A lot of the writers who wrote the classics were paid by word, so, sometimes they did write huge things to make their living. How does this stop you from reading novellas just because they’re classics though?

Smart answer? It doesn’t. You don’t want to read a monster tome then read a novella, I assure you it will actually take less time than your latest Joe Abercrombie, or any other number of modern novelists.

Third thing is that they’re boring. Nah, sorry to rain on your parade, but they aren’t any more boring than a modern work. And to say they are shows how little knowledge someone has on the subject. I’ve read plenty of boring modern books, so you can peddle that piece of fools gold elsewhere. A classic is just a book that’s stood the test of time, no more inherently boring than any modern book is.

Four, is the idea that to understand your chosen genre or genres you don’t need to know their origins. Yes you do. In order to manipulate tropes effectively, I’m of the opinion you need to know how they came about. It helps you to understand how the tropes work, how they’re changed or stayed the same, where the right spin for you story can be made on said tropes. And frankly, I don’t want to read something praised as original that’s the oldest tropes just collected and rehashed in all their glory because the writer didn’t know better. Easiest way to do that is read the classics that either began or were close to the start of those tropes, and read modern stuff which uses them to compare the difference. But you can’t do that without reading the classics in the first place.

And that is enough for now, my decidedly foggy and grumpy brain wants to sleep. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this on Tuesday. Don’t get eaten or abducted.

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