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

18 comments:

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Vijaya,

Thanks so much for having you as my guest.

I've been looking around at your scifi covers. Fantastic!

Ladystyx said...

I have many. Picking one is very hard. also Prefer Soft to Hard Sci Fi. I would have to Go with Stranger in a Strange land. Poly amory and the Concept of Grok - to understand in Fullness. are still themes that I have and use in my Life now.
I would Love a chance to read a new to me Book in my Favorite Genre - SciFi Erotice. Also thanks for intoroducing me to a new Author By Blogging on their Blog.
Ladystyx @ Spatialfrustration.com

booklover0226 said...

I really don't have a favorite but thanks to Ray Bradbury, I enjoy reading science fiction.

I have added Bodies of Light to my wish list.

Thanks,
Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Bebe Balocca said...

Ooooh, I LOVE sci fi! I had an older brother and I constantly borrowed books from him and just devoured them. Loved the Thomas Covenant series, Dune books, C.S. Lewis's Space trilogy, Robert Asprin's witty Myth books, Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker books, and loads more I can't think of - and love to pore through sci-fi short story anthologies. Sci-fi (like erotica and fantasy) is a great getaway for me.

Best of luck with your sci-fi erotica pieces ~ they sound fabulous!

Sydell Voeller said...

Hi Lisabet and Vijaya!

I enjoyed very much Lisabet's post, especially how she first became interested in sci-fi. I need to start reading more from this genre!

Laurie said...

I'm new to reading any type of sci-fi so I don't really have any favorites as yet. I've enjoyed the ones I have read, but they're more of the erotic sci-fi or romance sci-fi type books. And this one sounds great!

goaliemom00 (at) cox.net

hotcha12 said...

GOTTA LOVE IT LIZBETH!

lindarb49@hotmail.com

VampedChik said...

I can't really pick a favorite sci-fi author or book. There are just so many great ones out there. Your books sound great. Adding them to my wishlist! :) Thanks!
-Amber
AmberLynn1231 @ yahoo.com

Tameka said...

I've read alot of Marie Harte sci-fi erotic. But it's hard to choose who's my favorite I love all erotic books and I read many genres.
rasco630@yahoo.com

Emily said...

I love J.L. Langley's Sci-fi Regency series is awesome! And I also like Belinda McBride's Uncommon Whore universe books.

tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

Wolfy said...

ci-fi books are awsome i am reading a sci-fi novel now from the shifter series from ami blackwelder. and i love your books entered to win qurentine........ love sci-fi love story novels......... awesome


good luck

mawolf2010@aol.com

Wolfy said...

ci-fi books are awsome i am reading a sci-fi novel now from the shifter series from ami blackwelder. and i love your books entered to win qurentine........ love sci-fi love story novels......... awesome


good luck

mawolf2010@aol.com

Jen B. said...

Although I'm not sure why it's classified as sci-fi, my favorite sci-fi of all time is Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. It blew my mind. I recommend it to everyone. Just freaking amazing! My second has to be Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series. It is really gripping. jepebATverizonDOTnet

Morticia Knight said...

Lisabet - you are a woman after my own heart. I know just what you mean about feeling as though any sci-fi you might write would be derivitive. Especially when speaking of Phillip K. Dick - my favorite author of all time! I've finally given in as well, and am purposely putting an homage to him (or rather, one of his works) in what I'm writing - since I can't deny what an influence he has been. I could never hope to reach his amazing ability, but I would love to at least be considered one day as a writer of the same genre. Thanks for the post - I learned something completely new about you! ;-) morticiaknight@gmail.com

Mary Andrews said...

Talk about blasts from the past.... Reading your Sci Fi list felt nostalgic.

When I first discovered Science Fiction, I haunted the base library. It was like the potato chips, I couldn't get enough so I began reading alphabetically, from A-Z. My favorite authors tied at Roger Zelazny (Nine Princes of Amber series), Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles) and Frank Herbert (the entire Dune series).

Really nice blog. Thanks for the time travel moment. =]
author.Mary.Andrews@gmail.com

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, everyone,

I'm sorry not to have been around more to field your comments. Between time zone differences and the evil day job, I've been kept awol. But I really appreciate your comments.

I'd forgotten about the Kushiell series. In my opinion, they count more as fantasy than as scifi, but I did love them. And some of the books you suggested I haven't encountered - so thanks for the suggestions!

I'll draw a winner around 11 PM on Thursday (EST).

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, again!

I've drawn a winner - it's Wolfy!

Congratulations. I'll be sending you your book shortly.

And once again, a warm thanks to all of you who commented - and of course to Vijaya for having me as your guest.

By the way, if you want to get announcements about all my contests, join my Yahoo group Lisabet's List:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lisabets_list

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