Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Sci-fi cats in space

 

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As you can tell from my book covers, I have cats in many of my Science fiction novels, even in those not featuring a cat on the cover. Most of these cats are telepathic, and it’s not by accident. We all know cats have a sixth sense… and nine lives to boot.

I love cats, and if I had to go on a long voyage through space to another planet, I couldn’t imagine not taking a cat as a companion. I would also want to seed that new earth-like planet with cats. It makes perfect sense as I couldn’t imagine life without these beautiful creatures.

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Marshmallow in BLACK DRAGON is a cuddly ball of fluff who helps the hero cheat at cards and charm the ladies. His favorite reward is synthetic tuna.

But some of these cats are enormous, and readers not familiar with my work sometimes ask: “How is it possible to have such big cats on a spaceship, or a space station?”

Alpha Space Station in the movie Valerian and the city of a thousand planets

Obviously, they have the wrong idea of the size of an interstellar ship. Since there is no limitation to size in space, ships can be the size of several football fields. As for the space stations of the distant future, we are not talking about our tiny ISS orbiting earth, but about space stations as large as entire cities or small moons, like artificial planets orbiting alien suns or gas giants, and supporting millions of people.

The Byzantium Space Station as I imagined it.

How do cats happen to be in space or on other planets?

Sometimes my fictional cats are wild and native to their alien planet, like Tibeta and her cubs in Angel Brave, the Smilodons of Azura, a planet teeming with large predators. I pity the hero, Keoke, who has to face this deadly family of cats.

Tibeta, the sabertooth Smilodon cat in Angel Brave

Sometimes, like in the Chronicles of Kassouk, the big cats are the result of a human experiment gone out of control, and are trained and used in battle, or kept as pets.

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There are also the big cats experimented upon, who are genetically modified and electronically enhanced to communicate telepathically with their owners. They usually become companions for bounty hunters, like Akira’s cheetah retriever in AKIRA’S CHOICE, or the telepathic cougar helping Fianna catch the bad guys in ANGEL MINE.

In MALAIKA’S SECRET, Raja, the lion guarding the temple, was rescued from illegal smugglers of exotic animals.

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In SNATCHED, my heroine has to face a native saber-tooth tiger in the jungle.


In ALIEN LOCKDOWN, set in the Andromeda galaxy, my protagonists face a native predator called a bearcat.

There are no significant cats in my medieval fantasy series CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, based on Celtic legends, but I must mention for dog lovers, that I have a heroic dog named Kopek in DAMSEL OF THE HAWK, book 7, which is a standalone in the series.

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But there are more cats to come in my future books. In ANGEL SHIP, Book one of the Blue Phantom series, to be released in the fall of 2022, the heroine, a warrior princess, has a telepathic feline bodyguard with a keen sense of peoples’ true character.


In the meantime, you can find all my books at online retailers. amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Friday, December 24, 2021

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and a happy holiday season, whatever you are celebrating

 



It's raining in Phoenix this Christmas. Not exactly snow, but the closest we'll ever get, so it's fitting. The sun is taking a well deserved vacation. Hope Santa won't get too drenched. Time to stay inside with Princess Jasmine, and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa.


Princess Jasmine has inspired many of the cat characters in my books over the past fifteen years, with her indomitable spirit and determination. She still has it despite her age. I understand it's a common trait for calico cats like her. 

Although Christmas is the most common celebration in the Western world at this time of year, there are many other holidays being celebrated here and around the world.


Here is a list with a few more:

Saint Nicholas Day Dec. 6
Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican)
Lucia Day (Swedish) Dec. 13
Hanukkah (Jewish)
Winter Solstice
Christmas Day (Christian)
Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish)
Kwanzaa (African American) Dec.26 to January 1st
Yule (Pagan)
Saturnalia (Pagan)
Omisoka (Japanese New Year)
New Year's Day - for all using the Western calendar
Three Kings Day/Epiphany - January 6th



Above all I wish you all a good health in these pandemic times, and peace on earth. May we learn to live in harmony with each other, as children of this beautiful but endangered planet. 

Love and peace.

Vijaya





Monday, December 6, 2021

Funny and clever swear words and expressions in Science Fiction

 

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This trend has been going on for a very long time. Many authors and screenwriters have used this tool to avoid vulgarity and spare the sensibilities of readers and viewers. We all remember Starbuck saying Frak. To me, it’s an opportunity for creativity. Adapting the words to the world you created is also a fun challenge.

Holy Motherboard from Angel Fierce. This expression is unique and fitting, in a futuristic world where no one would know what a motherboard is… except maybe a nerd who studied ancient technology, like Maksou, the skilled hacker and god’s gift to women.

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By the frozen hells of Laxxar – Many mentions of Laxxar in my sci-fi novels indicate it’s a mining colony in a frozen world, where they send lifers, criminals, and political prisoners, to die in forced labor. I will definitely explore this world in a future novel.
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Fark – This one is close enough and far enough to the contemporary word, so that readers can understand it without explanation.

Holy Mackerel from Akira’s choice (a contemporary expression which becomes weird and funny in a child’s mouth, on a space station where no one has ever seen a mackerel, or even knows what it is).

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Also in Akira’s Choice, since she is Samurai, I used a few Japanese expletives, which just sounds funny to the ear of an English speaker.

Fire-breathing volcano goddess! – Suggests a Polynesian inspired culture in the third book of the Azura Chronicles, ANGEL BRAVE

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But I’m still writing, and thinking up new worlds and new expressions for my characters to express their frustration.

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By the bountiful tits of Helsara – By the land of many waters - Coming in the new Blue Phantom series Book 1, ANGEL SHIP (October 2022 release)

In the meantime, happy reading!



Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

I was a presenter at the Arizona Literary Awards Banquet on November 6, 2021, at the Glendale Civic Center Plaza



Slowly the pictures are starting to surface from the November 6, 2021 Arizona Literary Awards Banquet. Here are the hosts, Toby Heathcotte, current President, and Vijaya Schartz, Former President, 2019 winner, and current Blogmistress.


The theme was 'Those were the days, my friend..." and many attendees, mostly nominees for the awards and their guests, chose to wear a costume. Here is the costume contest winner, Miss Butterfly in all her splendor. The costume is based on one of her published children's books.

Costume contest winner - Maureen Scanlon

Other notable costumes:


 

It was a wonderful event. The Mexican buffet was fantastic, and the deserts divine.




Then came the time for the awards, recognition, and speeches from the winners. On the left, Janet Crum, and on the right, Maureen Scanlon.

 

More pictures of costumed guests: Here Marty Feess and guest.

 

And, of course, group pictures:




Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Tripping trip to the mall - We live in a changing world

It had been a while since I last visited my favorite mall, my old stomping ground, the Arrowhead Mall in Peoria, the West Valley of Phoenix AZ. I used to walk there with a friend on weekend mornings, when the scorching heat didn’t allow hiking on the mountains.

On this particular Saturday morning, my Tai-Chi class in the park was cancelled, so I decided to revisit the Arrowhead mall before hours, and walk around to get some exercise. Lots of people do it to get their steps in the early morning.

To my surprise, many of the familiar stores were gone, sometimes showing shiny black walls or mall ads for the new upcoming stores.

But what surprised me the most was the kind of stores that replaced them. Instead of “Forever 21” was a very spooky Halloween store. Well, tis the season, and this is probably a seasonal opportunity. Unless this new store changes its theme for each season… Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Mardi-gras, Easter, Weddings, Mothers’ Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, etc.

A CBD Emporium in the mall? You better believe it. It’s legal in Arizona, and apparently it has become mainstream. Maybe this new and very lucrative business will rescue the malls from impending bankruptcy.

A shooting gallery, with airsoft guns, 50 shots for $9.99. Camo walls, military videogame style d├ęcor, and realistic looking guns. There used to be arcades in the malls, not anymore. But this isn’t a store for young children (at least, I hope not). It’s just a fun and game shop at the heart of the mall to practice your targeting skills. What does it say about our society?

The Disney store is getting bigger. T-Mobile has a larger space. A new game shop popped up. Not that surprising since videogames are definitely popular. Some of my old favorites survived, like Charlotte Russe. The Apple store is not going anywhere soon. There was a line in front of it, hours before opening time.
 


In a clothing store window, I saw a pair of jeans with wide bell bottoms, like the ones I used to wear in the sixties. It was presented as the “brand new” style of jeans. Oookaaay… new? Really? Like the brand-new revolutionary way to remove your makeup with this fantastic and totally new product called witch-hazel? For real? Don’t laugh it was a big commercial on TV. Then, the original company that had launched witch-hazel a long time ago did a commercial of their own, advertising selling it for over 150 years. I guess young advertisers should research the history of the products they promote.


A Pangaea Dinosaur Grill in the food court. First, I thought it was a Halloween feature, but no. It’s a true food court franchise. With realistic dinosaur head sticking out of the serving counter, and a dedicated line for the kids to take selfies with the dinosaur head. I’m sure they love it. Very smart way to attract customers.


A Sunglass Hut Ray-Ban window, advertising first generation smart glasses that can film and record and transmit or upload everything you see to Facebook. Spy technology? Or an obsession to record every minutia of our lives?

Do you see a trend emerging? You are right. Here is the cherry on the cake.


There also was a new SELFIE STORE. I was curious. It’s a store where, for as low as $18, you may use one of their photography booths and cubicles to take your own selfies. The small cubicles offer different color backgrounds and settings to choose from, and a photo friendly lighting. Having your picture taken at the mall just took a completely different meaning. The last time I did it, the trend was glamor shots… but I’m dating myself. Oh well…

Other than that, I had my exercise. Life is never boring.

For out of this world entertainment, read my award-winning sci-fi novels with lots of action and romance. Find all the links on my website and retailer pages below.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Not that kind of angel

 I dream of angels all the time… sometimes I am one. Do not cry blasphemy. I’m not that kind of angel. That’s probably why I have recurring angel themes in my novels. (Archangel twin books – Azura chronicles – Byzantium Space Station – Blue Phantom series scheduled for release in 2022).


Angels or aliens? It is safe to say that angels, being not of this earth, are by definition extraterrestrials, which makes them aliens, not from our world, but from somewhere else. Just clarifying vocabulary here.

“I’m not that kind of angel” is a famous quote from the movie Michael with John Travolta. In the movie, he portrays the Archangel Michael, fallen from grace. The same is true for the hero of my Archangel books, where Michael is a very reluctant archangel with many problems to overcome. Drinker… single father… girlfriend problems… he doesn’t know he’s an angel, and refuses to acknowledge the call when he is needed to fight evil.

Creating a fictional universe with angels was a challenge… but I love challenges. First, what do we know about angels? They do not have free will. They are legion. They are the instrument of the almighty. They are powerful. Some are described with wings, flying through the air. They have beautiful voices, and beautiful names. They can perform miracles…


According to ancient books, a very long time ago, a group of them questioned authority, revolted, and were banished… and have wreaked havoc ever since. The good angels are forever fighting the bad ones in a constant struggle of good vs. evil.

The angels in my book fit the same criteria. But the story of their origin is unique to my universe… the Azura universe.


Some of them carry flaming swords, like the Archangel Michael.

On a deeper level, the good angels represent what we wish to be, vs. what we really are (flawed). So it’s reassuring when angels are not perfect… like the ones in my books. It gives us hope that we’ll someday overcome our flaws to ascend toward the light.



In the meantime, you can enjoy reading my novels. I enjoyed writing them for you. Happy reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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