Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Science Fiction Double Feature - By Lisabet Sarai

Greetings, everyone! I'm delighted to be here at Vijaya's scifi blog for the first time, and I want to thank her for inviting me.


Science fiction was one of my first loves. If you'd peeked into my room pretty much any afternoon when I was in school, you would have found me sprawled across the bed with my nose in a book, and it's quite likely it would have been sci fi. I couldn't have been more than seven or eight when I began exploring Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet. Then I moved on to Heinlein's and Bradbury's visions of Mars (very different places!), and the world of Asimov's Foundation trilogy. I was in high school when I devoured Stranger in a Strange Land, fell head over heals for Valentine Michael Smith, and developed my enduring fascination with polyamory.


My husband introduced me to Philip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem and Fritz Leiber. Then we became friends with a woman who taught English at a local university. She organized a scifi reading group. What a glorious year and a half that was! Every month we'd read a new book and discuss it, over delicious potluck dinners (with a strong emphasis on the desserts). I sampled a raft of new authors: Olivia Butler, Greg Bear, Sheri S. Tepper, Pat Cadigan, Harry Harrison, James Tiptree, David Brin... I was like a kid in a candy store!


I discovered that I much preferred “soft” science fiction – stories that start with some premise about society or history and then explore the consequences. For example, The Man in the High Castle, which is the first Dick book I read, turns on the notion that the United States and its allies lost World War II. The author then proceeds to build a world in which the Japanese and the Germans have divided up the American continent, and San Francisco is mostly Asian. (Gee, sounds like the present!) Another favorite is A Canticle for Lebowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. In a post-apocalyptic future, devout communities of monks act as custodians for the mysterious knowledge and artifacts of vanished civilization. One of the most sacred of all texts is written in the hand of Saint Isaac Lebowitz and begins “gallon of milk/loaf of bread/...” Then there's Kate Wilhelm's The Year of the Cloud. I don't remember where I picked this novel up – it's obscure, far less well known than her masterpiece Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang – but I remember now, decades later, how it impressed me. The earth passes through a cloud of stellar dust. The dust has the effect of “thickening” water, turning it from liquid to a kind of sludge. Having posited this single fact, Wilhelm then proceeds to show how this turns society upside down, as humans (over ninety percent H2O) die and usable water becomes increasingly scarce. I found the book chilling but totally plausible, once you had accepted the triggering event.


So when I began publishing, why didn't I write science fiction instead of erotica? Partly because I didn't dare! I doubted my ability to create a compelling yet believable alternative world. And I'd read so much science fiction by then, I felt as though all my ideas would be derivative.


Still, I've been tempted – and once or twice, I've given in. Now, after more than a dozen years as an author, I've published just two science fiction erotic romances: a M/F/M ménage novella called Bodies of Light and my recently released M/M novel Quarantine. As you might guess, both fall into the “soft sci fi” category, even though Bodies of Light is set on a starship hurtling toward a far galaxy.


BODIES OF LIGHT IS ABOUT THE NON-CORPOREAL NATURE OF DESIRE. SINCE MY PRIMARY GENRE IS EROTICA/EROTIC ROMANCE, IT'S NATURAL THAT THE SCI FI THEMES THAT INTEREST ME RELATE TO SEXUALITY.


PHYSICIST DR. CHRISTINE MONROE HAS DEVOTED HER LONELY LIFE TO RESEARCH ON HYPER-SPACE TRAVEL. GUILT ABOUT HER CONTINUED FAILURE LEADS HER TO SIGN ON TO THE ARCHIMEDES, A SUB-LIGHT-SPEED MISSION AIMED AT ESTABLISHING A COLONY IN THE SIRIUS B SYSTEM. WHEN SHE WAKES FROM SUSPENDED ANIMATION, SHE DISCOVERS THAT THE SHIP IS WILDLY OFF COURSE AND THE REST OF THE CREW ARE DEAD DUE TO EQUIPMENT FAILURE. AT FIRST SHE THINKS THE TWO HANDSOME STRANGERS WHO SHOW UP ON THE SHIP ARE FIGMENTS OF HER IMAGINATION - EROTIC HALLUCINATIONS CREATED BY ISOLATION AND STRESS. HOWEVER, ALYN AND ZED ARE SOLID, REAL, AND READY TO SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES FOR THE STRONG WOMAN THEY'VE FOUND STRANDED IN DEEP SPACE. AS HER SHIP BEGINS TO DISINTEGRATE, CHRISTINE MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN THE PLANET SHE WAS SENT TO SAVE AND THE TWO ALIEN BEINGS SHE'S COME TO CHERISH.

QUARANTINE FOCUSES ON POLITICS AND PREJUDICE. IT TAKES PLACE IN A DYSTOPIAN NEAR FUTURE, WHEN ALL KNOWN HOMOSEXUALS (IDENTIFIED BY A GENETIC MARKER) HAVE BEEN IMPRISONED IN REMOTE QUARANTINE CAMPS, OSTENSIBLY TO PROTECT THE GENERAL POPULATION FROM THE PLAGUE THE GAYS CARRY. AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF CONFINEMENT, INMATE DYLAN MOORE WILL DO ANYTHING FOR FREEDOM, INCLUDING SEDUCING RAFE COWELL, AN EX-GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO A BLEAK STINT AS A CAMP GUARD.


RAFE IS H-NEGATIVE. HE FIGURES THE LUST HE FEELS WATCHING PRISONER 3218 MASTURBATE ON THE SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS MUST BE DUE TO HIS LONELINESS AND ISOLATION. WHEN HE FINALLY MEETS THE YOUNG QUEER, HOWEVER, HE FINDS HE CAN'T RESIST THE OTHER MAN'S CHARM. BY THE TIME DYLAN ASKS FOR HIS HELP IN ESCAPING, RAFE CARES TOO MUCH FOR DYLAN TO REFUSE.


THE NOVEL FOLLOWS THE TWO MEN AS THEY BECOME FUGITIVES, FIGHTING MURDEROUS ANDROIDS, HOMOPHOBIC IDEOLOGUES AND THEIR OWN MUTUAL DISTRUST. HIDING IN THE PLAGUE-RAVAGED CITY OF SANFRAN, DYLAN AND RAFE LEARN THERE'S FAR MORE THAN THEIR OWN SAFETY AT STAKE – THAT THE LIVES OF MILLIONS MORE PEOPLE DEPEND ON THEIR SUCCESS IN RESISTING THE SHADOWY GUARDIANS WHO CONTROL AND MANIPULATE WHAT'S LEFT OF AMERICAN SOCIETY.


I'M AFRAID THAT NEITHER BOOK WILL WIN A HUGO (ALTHOUGH BODIES OF LIGHT RECEIVED A BEST BOOK AWARD FROM WHIPPED CREAM REVIEWS). NEVERTHELESS, I'M INCREDIBLY PROUD THAT I'VE FINALLY ADDED MY OWN VISIONS TO THE SCIENCE FICTION CANON. AND THOUGH I HAVEN'T STARTED WRITING YET, I'M WORKING ON IDEAS FOR A SEQUEL TO QUARANTINE, AS DYLAN AND RAFE JOIN WITH THE QUEER RESISTANCE TO FIGHT THE GUARDIANS.


IT'S NOT GOING TO BE PHILIP K. DICK (THOUGH HE MIGHT WELL HAVE FELT AT HOME IN RAFE'S AND DYLAN'S WORLD) – BUT IT'S MY ATTEMPT TO HONOR MY LIFE LONG LOVE.

I'M GIVING AWAY A COPY OF BODIES OF LIGHT TO ONE PERSON WHO COMMENTS ON THIS POST TODAY. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE SCIENCE FICTION AUTHOR OR BOOK, ONE THAT LEFT A HUGE IMPRESSION. OR JUST SAY HI. DON'T FORGET TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!

If you'd like to win a print copy of Quarantine, enter the September contest in my newsletter:
http://www.lisabetsarai.com/news.html


THANKS AGAIN TO VIJAYA FOR THE CHANCE TO INDULGE MYSELF IN SOME HAPPY LITERARY MEMORIES!

BIO: A DOZEN YEARS AGO I EXPERIENCED A SERENDIPITOUS FUSION OF MY LOVE OF WRITING AND MY FASCINATION WITH SEX. SINCE THEN I'VE PUBLISHED FIVE SINGLE AUTHOR SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS AND SEVEN FULL LENGTH EROTIC NOVELS, INCLUDING THE CLASSIC RAW SILK. DOZENS OF MY SHORTER WORKS HAVE BEEN RELEASED AS EBOOKS AND IN PRINT ANTHOLOGIES. I'VE ALSO EDITED SEVERAL ANTHOLOGIES AND I'M CURRENTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ALTRUISTIC EROTICA SERIES COMING TOGETHER PRESENTS. IN ADDITION, I'M A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR TO THE EROTICA READERS AND WRITERS ASSOCIATION
http://www.erotica-readers.com/
 AND EROTICA REVEALED
http://www.eroticarevealed.com/


I HOLD MORE DEGREES THAN ANYONE NEEDS FROM PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITIES WHO WOULD NO DOUBT BE HIGHLY EMBARRASSED BY MY CHOSEN GENRE. I LOVE TO TRAVEL AND HAVE VISITED EVERY CONTINENT EXCEPT AUSTRALIA. CURRENTLY I LIVE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA WITH MY HIGHLY TOLERANT HUSBAND AND TWO COSMOPOLITAN FELINES. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ME, VISIT LISABET SARAI'S FANTASY FACTORY (HTTP://WWW.LISABETSARAI.COM) OR MY BLOG BEYOND ROMANCE HTTP://LISABETSARAI.BLOGSPOT.COM

Friday, September 14, 2012

the BOREALIS SERIES is alive and well

BOREALIS 7 - BLACK DRAGON, one of my sci-fi romance novellas published by Desert Breeze, just received 5 kisses from TwoLips Reviews.

Merrylee really liked it. She says: "I love the Borealis novellas, and in particular, this one by Vijaya Schartz. As always, her action-packed, well-plotted out prose kept me glued to the pages of Black Dragon from start to finish."

This series is available in KINDLE, NOOK, at ARe, and at Desert Breeze Publishing.

ABOUT THE BOREALIS SPACE STATION:
In orbit over a deserted outpost at the edge of conquered space sits an aging space station under the control of the Trans Planetary Protectorate. It's name is Borealis and it is slowly falling apart as the Protectorate funnels its massive resources into the border wars, and keeping the outlying systems in line, as insurrections break out.

BLACK DRAGON:

A gambler is cheating in a den of the Borealis space station, and Lieutenant Zara  Frankel intends to catch him in the act. She always gets her man, but this one could prove more than she can handle.

Captain Czerno Drake, code name Black Dragon, has come under cover to break his innocent uncle from the most secure penitentiary in the galaxy, on the Borealis space station. He will stop at nothing to succeed, even enrolling the help of the lovely straight arrow TPP enforcer. When Zara realizes that she's been used by a shrewd but seductive rebel, her reaction surprises everyone, most of all herself.

Other reviewers joined the chorus:

"I like the balance of humor and danger in this story, and the action kept me glued to the pages...  I enjoyed watching as suspicion turned to admiration, and admiration became the first flickers of love between Czerno and Zara... Pick up a copy of Borealis: Black Dragon, by Vijaya Schartz, and enter a world of adventure, romance, and a spoiled cat named Marshmallow." - Long and Short Reviews - 4½ books rating - sensual

"Vijaya Schartz is known for her strong female characters and Zara is no exception...  gives the reader lots of action and a sweet love story." - Single Titles Review - 4½ stars

Happy Reading!