Friday, September 30, 2016

Can Sci-Fi Help Raise Thinkers?

I'm delighted to welcome author Karina Fabian to my blog today. She writes science fiction for thinking readers, but she also writes to encourage readers to think. She's touring the internet this month with her new novel, Discovery


About Discovery - The truth is out there. The Truth is in you - Sisters Ann, Tommie and Rita are part of a classified mission to explore an alien ship that has crash landed on an asteroid three billion miles from earth. Humanity's first contact with beings from beyond the solar system is bound to unlock the mystery of life in the universe, but the crew have their own secrets; hidden fears, desires, horrible sins - and a mission to kill. Researchers discover something unique about the third arm of the ship: something wonderful, terrifying and...holy. This discovery challenges Rita and Ann to confront their own pasts in order to secure the safety of the mission and the very souls of the crew.

Find out more: http://karinafabian.com/DiscoveryRun 
Buy it at:  https://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Karina-Fabian-ebook/dp/B01LJX7INS/  

About the author - By day, Karina is a mild-mannered reviewer of business software and services for TopTenReviews.com. After hours, she’s a psychic intent on saving the world; a snarky dragon who thinks he saves the world all-too regularly, a zombie exterminator who just wants her world clear of undead vermin, and Catholic religious sisters whose callings have taken them off our world. Needless to say, her imagination is vast, her stories legion, and her brain crowded. When she’s not converting her wild tales to stories, she’s enjoying time with her husband, Rob, their four kids, and their two dogs.

Find her at:


Raising Thinkers Using Sci-Fi

By Karina Fabian


Rob and I have a sci-fi/fantasy nerd family.  Given the choice between Secretariat and Star Trek, we're going to choose Spock's pointed ears every time.  If we are going to read about heartfelt angst, we'd better have healthy dollop of spaceships or wizardry mixed in.  When it comes to card games, we'll take Munchkin Zombies over Seven-Card Stud. 

Science Fiction gets a bum rap.  Many people dismiss it as pure escapism with flashy special effects, confine it to Nerdism (though nerds are cool now), or consider it Godless literature.  However, Rob and I see it differently.

Sure, it can provide mindless escapism--nothing wrong with that in moderation--but it also provides a lot of educational opportunities in a fun and safe setting. Plus, in our increasingly technological world, it really is a compass to our future--good and bad.

By putting issues into a fantastic setting--another world, another future--you can look at issues in a more objective light.  Star Trek was, of course, famous for this, but there are many others: our concept of "Big Brother" comes from George Orwell's 1984, one of the first SF novels (written in 1949.)  The TV series Alien Nation took a frank look at racism and cultural prejudice, using the alien race as the foil.  Remember the movie I, Robot?  It was based on the book by Isaac Asimov, who created the three laws of robotics, and explores the question "Can we legislate morality?"

Science fiction gives us a chance to explore technology.  Many of today's inventions--from the solar sail to the cell phone--were given practical applications in science fiction decades or even centuries before they were created.  The challenge now for writers--and for readers--is to consider the future in light of so much scientific breakthrough.  Readers of science fiction, we believe, have a better acceptance of scientific advances. Even more, those that are taught to really think about what they read or watch can apply that same skill to real life.

What about its "Godless" approach?  True, the genre was born in the "Age of Enlightenment" and is written by many agnostics and atheists, but there are a lot of faithful authors who write it.  And of course, the genre of speculative fiction with Christian teachings is growing.  Rob's and my anthologies, Infinite Space, Infinite God I and II (http://karinafabian.com/infinite-space-infinite-god/) feature Catholic characters and themes in tales of time and space travel, aliens and virtual realities. My stand-alone novel, Discovery, (http://karinafabian.com/discoveryrun/) stars Catholic religious sisters who are assisting the exploration of an alien ship.   There are several new publishers on the scene that specialize in religious science fiction and fantasy and many secular publishers are accepting these stories.  Regardless, science fiction isn't just about exploding spaceships; it's about making moral choices, and there's always room to bring God into that, even if the author didn't do it himself.

In our house (especially thanks to my brilliant husband), we talk, analyze and apply.  We criticize the wrong use of science in a movie, we coach the hero in better using their tools, we gripe when they miss the obvious.  We discuss the issues--and because they are removed from our daily reality, we can pick them apart without feeling threatened or guilty if they go against society's norms (especially the politically correct ones that might not be so correct after all.)  These develop the skills of thought that we and our kids apply to reality, and because they practiced doing this in a fantasy setting, they have greater confidence in applying it in reality.


Inevitably at least one of our children’s teachers will tell us, "Your child can think.  Do you know how rare that is?"  It doesn't have to be rare.  It's about learning to examine what's presented before you--and science fiction is a fun venue for that.

I do so agree, Karina. Thank you for putting it so well. Even Godless science fiction can encourage readers to ponder what they really know or believe. And if we don't pause for thought, what does that say about the value we place on the minds we've been given?

Find out more. Follow the Tour (and watch for giveaways!)
(and see below for an excerpt too!)


Date
Location
Fun in Store
Give-Away
18-Sep
Interview
Discovery eBook
18-Sep
Interview
Discovery eBook
18-Sep
Catholic Geek Podcast
Interview & Other Fun

19-Sep
About the Book
ISIG II
20-Sep
Rocking the Bechdel Test

21-Sep
About the Book

21-Sep
Five Rules for Faith in Fiction

21-Sep
Meet Characters Sean & James
Discovery eBook
22-Sep
About the Book
Discovery eBook
22-Sep
Interview, Review
ISIG II
22-Sep
Why I Love Writing Science Fiction
Discovery eBook
23-Sep
Christian Themes in Stranger Things
ISIG II
23-Sep
Character Interview

24-Sep
Review

25-Sep
Cut Scene - Rita & James

26-Sep
Interview, Review
Discovery eBook
26-Sep
About the Book
Discovery eBook
27-Sep
Prelaunch Story - Merl

27-Sep
Review

28-Sep
About the Book
ISIG II
29-Sep
Why Nuns in Space

29-Sep
Interview

30-Sep
Raising Thinkers Using Sci-Fi

1-Oct
Prelaunch Story - Chris

1-Oct
Prizes, Contests, Livecasting

2-Oct
Religion, Technology and SF

3-Oct
Interview
ISIG II
5-Oct
Interview

6-Oct
Review

10-Oct
How I Started Writing Catholic SFF

12-Oct
Review

13-Oct
Excerpts from Reviews

Want to read an excerpt?



For all her nightmares of earlier, the next shift on Discovery seemed to be going according to routine. Rita applied the cut-away compound in a smooth circle on the door of their next room. She had the toe of one boot anchored in the suction handle outside it; another handle was attached to the center. Over the headset, she heard the chatter of the teams as they went about their own assignments. Ian and Reg were in the engineering arm, hoping to find the engines themselves but so far reporting control room after control room. Chris and Sean had just finished exploring a supply room and were working on their second door. Thoren had cut a deal to get on the exploration team and was working with Merl in the control room to try to match some of the symbols and perhaps get some idea of what the instruments were for. In Engineering, Gordon and his teammate were doing the same. She and James had decided to start along the second level of the central sphere. So far, they'd found what looked like a meeting room and a broom closet.

We got the exciting section, Rita thought.

James watched her from where he floated, anchored by one of the many handholds in the hall. "You're really good at that," he said over their private line.

"Lots of practice. It helps that I'm not worrying about the injured people on the other side."

A small snort, then silence. She imagined him shaking his head, but couldn't turn to look. "What?"

"You. In space. Saving lives, working with explosives."

"It's not an explosive, really. More like an acidic compound. See? There are two stripes separated by a chemical barrier. I actually 'ignite' it by dissolving the barrier.”

"Do you hear yourself?"

Is that disbelief or admiration? Actually, I don't want to know. "James, thanks for agreeing to make the pods off-limits for now."

"It's not a problem. Like I said, a find like this will take decades — lifetimes! — of study with teams of experts. We're here to survey."

"Ah, yes. To seek and record the broom closets." The circle complete, she put the application gun away and pulled out a second tube with a needle. She programmed the activator voltage into its controls, then pressed the needle into the compound. She reported the action to Ann on the ET.

"You can learn a lot from a broom closet. Seriously, I'm having the time of my life. Do you know what kind of archeology I usually work? Sift through buckets of dirt looking for evidence of anything that might stop
some building from being constructed. The only time I've gotten to explore an intact site — well, relatively intact — was when Cole took me to Egypt as his pet archaeologist. And, I suppose, when he had me searching a sunken ship for evidence of his great-grandparents."

The current raced along the barrier, creating a spitting, smoking trail as the two chemicals interacted. Slowly, the compound ate into the door, leaving a darkened circle.

James continued. "Never mind that this is an alien race. Do you have any idea how thrilling just finding an intact site is? We're seeing it, just as they left it who knows how long ago? Broom closets or not, I'm excited to see what's behind each door, and to see it first, with my own eyes."

"Well, here's your next chance. Edwina Taggert, this is Rita. We're about to open our door."

"Copy, Rita. Be very careful. It's not a closet this time."

Rita didn't bother to ask how Ann knew that; she'd just say "hunch," anyway in deference to Thoren listening to the mission channel. Ann did, however, whisper a Hail Mary. Rita knew she did that for every open door, a small ritual of the Rescue Sisters to pray for the souls in need behind it, but now she prayed for the explorers instead.

"Sean to everybody! Guess what! I think we just found the medical bay!"

"Still feeling excited about that broom closet?" she asked James with a tease in her voice.

"Oh, just open the door!"

The circle had stopped smoking. Bracing both feet against the wall, she took hold of the handle on the freed disk. She tugged, and the door moved, but it seemed to take longer than the others. "Rita to ET. I think you're right, Ann. The door seems thicker than the others."

"Copy, Rita."

"See? Maybe not a broom closet this time," James said.

The disk slid free, and Rita and James wrestled it to the hallway floor. He held it in place while she secured it.
As soon as she gave the clear, James all but bounded to the open door, although his drag line caught him before he could pull Rita by their safety line. She hurried to join him as he described the long, deep chamber.

"Obviously a storage room. We have lines and lines of small containers, twenty or thirty deep, in some kind of storage cabinets — transparent doors, obviously. ET, are you seeing this?"

"I have Rita's feed on the main screen, James," Ann said, her voice breathy with excitement. "And I'm relaying it to the biolab."

"Okay." Rita could tell from James' voice he didn't see the connection, but Ann's words had made her heart skip. She played her own hunch. "ET, I'm going to extended spectrum."

The room dimmed, then filled with symbols and designs. Unlike most of the ones they'd seen so far, however, these ones were readily identifiable as animals and plants, albeit as odd as the aliens themselves. Even better, each row had its own illustrations, clearly labels.

Is this why I saw rainbows? Rita wondered.

Kelley's and Zabrina's squeals of delight overrode hers.

"Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive," Ann whispered.

"What?" James asked, then he must have switched his visuals, because he, too, whistled. "I don't believe it."


"Rita to everyone. We found the ark!"

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Who's Your Fantasy Bartender?

chrissygarrisontourbadge


Today I'm delighted to welcome author E. Chris Garrison to my blog as she tours the internet with her wonderful Tispy Fairy Tales. I gather she's just returned from the Indianapolis Monument Circle of her books, where she met... well, I'll let her tell you... Welcome Chrissy.


Having a Brew With a Fantasy Bartender

By E. Chris Garrison



Sometimes characters become fairly real to an author. We argue with them, trying to forward a plot while the character, in our mind's eye, pouts and stomps their feet, refusing to do as we say because it's not how they would handle the situation we put them in. We spend much mental effort putting ourselves in their places, to keep the characterization authentic and true to the vision we're trying to portray. But they have a way of taking on a life of their own.

But some characters spend a lot of time in the background, more or less as plot devices, and it's harder to get to know them. So, I thought I'd get to know one who's a constant for Skye, the main character of the Tipsy Fairy Tales. And since he's a fixture in his own bar, I thought I'd go visit Greg Heath.

Heath's place exists on the Indianapolis Monument Circle only in my books, so as I strolled in off the street, the tangibility of the scents of fried food and the noise of the crowd took me by surprise.

"Help you, ma'am?" The black-aproned man who peered at me from behind the podium at the door had amusement in his eye. He scratched his Roman nose absently, but his eyes focused with great attention on me.

Since I am me, I wondered what he saw as he looked at me. I smoothed the skirts of my dress and adjusted my purse on my shoulder, trying not to seem self-conscious. "Uh, I just want to sit at the bar."

The man nodded and pointed with his chin. "Seat yourself, I'll be with you in a minute."

As he slipped away to talk to a neon-green-haired waitress, I found myself a seat at the bar, uncomfortable because I couldn't find a stool with no one next to me. I found myself sitting next to an enormous hunk of a man, though he didn't acknowledge my quiet greeting.

The hawk-nosed man who'd met me at the door appeared behind the bar, towel slung over one shoulder; I knew at once that I'd been talking with none other than the proprietor, Greg Heath. He flashed me a grin and touched a chalkboard behind him. The list of beers taunted me. A fan of craft beer myself, I could only imagine what my idealized brewmaster had on tap. And in this case, I'd get to taste.

I bit my lip at the decision. Should I have "Pumpernickel Porter", "Strawberry Blonde", "Monumental Red Ale", or … OH!

"You still have some Heath's Heather Honey Gruit left on draught?"

Heath grinned and nodded, already pulling a pint of the legendary beer. As he set it in front of me, I must have seemed a little too excited, because Heath chuckled. "On the house, ma'am."

I hesitated, the glass halfway to my lips. "What, why?"

Heath shrugged. "I figure I know who you are. Your money's no good here."

I set the glass down and extended a hand. "Chrissy."

He nodded. "Pleasure, Chrissy. Greg Heath. But you know that."

I smiled and nodded. "The pleasure's mine. This place, well, you may not know it, but it's a favorite of the places, well, you know, the places that I…" I worried that if I said it aloud, the spell would be broken and the dream would fade.

He nodded. "That you've written about."

I let out a nervous laugh. "Right. Does that bother you?"

Heath shrugged. "Should it?"

I shook my head. "No, I suppose not."

He glanced at the glass between us and then met my eyes once more.

Oh! I lifted the pint, and said aloud, "To imaginary places, may we always find comfort there."

And then, I was lost in the rich, brown, floral heaven that filled my mouth and warmed my stomach as the Heather Honey Gruit and I became one. My certainty of which was more real, the imaginary bar, or my life up until that sip, blurred. I drew breath, and the flowery scent of the head of the pint made my head do a slow spin of joy.

"What ya fink that's supposed ta mean?" The big guy to my right turned his head and glared at me. His face, which might as well have been chiseled from stone, scrunched into a scowl, eyes disappearing into dark shadow under his brows.

I blinked. "Huh?"

"Yer a fine lady, ain't ya. All high and mighty and fancy, sayin' what's real and what's not. I fink ya don't know crapola."

I looked to Heath for help, but the bartender just shrugged and slapped a hand on the bar, to demonstrate its solidity.

"Well," I said, "I mean, I did make this all up. Skye needed a place to get a drink, and an ally or two…"

The big guy snorted. "Yeh, that beer taste like anyfing? Or is it jest yer imagination?"

"Well, no, it's delicious, but I… I mean…"

He raised a hand, placed it on my shoulder, and shoved. I had to catch the bar to keep from falling onto the barroom floor. I stood next to my barstool and prepared an angry retort, but the imaginary character loomed over me, easily a foot and a half taller and two and a half times more massive than me. I swallowed the reply and just stared.

Why did this all seem so real? A thought experiment gone wrong? It's the beer. I should never have drank any. They say not to eat or drink anything in fairyland, you might not be able to leave. Maybe the same is true of my own made up worlds.

Heath snapped his towel between us and said, "Listen to me, Brick. I let you trolls drink here because Skye says it's okay. But not if you mess with my customers."

And in that moment, whether it was the beer or the mention of Skye, I had her second sight long enough to see the ruddy stone features of an even larger troll superimposed over the big guy's features. A hint of something like fear kindled in the recesses of those eyes, and he shrank into himself. "Er, sorry, ma'am. Jest tryin' to show yeh that I'm real as you."

Heath turned his piercing gaze to meet my eyes. "Just because you made it up, doesn't mean it's not real. Ma'am."

I picked up my pint and drank deeply, to calm my nerves, and to hide my confused feelings behind the glass for a moment. "Fair enough. And it's Chrissy to my friends."

Greg smiled. "Another?"

I realized that I held an empty glass. "Wow. Um, yeah. You know, this is even better than what I made at home."

Brick guffawed. "Nobody brews better than Heath."

"Where'd the recipe come from," said Heath.

"Well, I brewed based on a beer that Skye had here."

His grin was at least a hundred watts as he slid the new full glass in front of me. "Well, not every recipe clone is perfect."

"What? But I came up with…"

Brick growled next to me.

Greg shrugged.

"Fine. I hear you," I said. "Wherever the recipe originated, you made it better, Greg."

Heath poured another pint and handed it to Brick. "Anyone ever tell you you're a lot like Skye, Chrissy?"

I laughed. "I am as short as she is tall, I'm old enough to be her mother…"

Heath's eyes squinted as he laughed. "You think that's important? Nah, you're like her where it counts." He touched one of his temples, and then touched the left side of his chest.

My face warmed, and once more, I hid behind my glass. "Thanks. But Skye's braver than I am. And a better leader."

Heath shook his head. "I see through you both. Skye's can be shy as you underneath, and you're as fierce as her if you need to be."

Uncomfortable, I said, "Well, I do put some of myself in every character…"

Brick set down his glass. "Or mebbe yeh learn from what yeh write about, hmm? Ever fink about that?"

I shook my head. "No, I hadn't. But it's something to think about."

The troll's face split in a toothy grin. He reached out a hand once more, and I flinched at his touch, but he merely patted my head this time. "Yer awright, Chrissy. Jes like Skye."

Heath held up a glass flute with something dark and foaming in it. "Welcome to Heath's, Chrissy. You're welcome here anytime."


We all drank to that.

If I had some Heather Honey Gruit and if it were gluten-free I'd drink to that too. Indeed, the flavors, the place, the characters, they all seem so real, and will to everyone who reads your books as well. So, lacking gf Heather Honey Gruit, perhaps I should just sit down and enjoy the read. Thank you for joining me here Chrissy, and you're welcome back anytime.


ChrissyGarrison

  About the author: E. Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.

Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and the Tipsy Fairy Tales published by Seventh Star Press. These novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk.

Her novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013.

Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

So perhaps I should ask you, Chrissy, can you make a gluten free version of that super-delicious brew?

Find Chrissy here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EChrisGarrison
Twitter: @ecgarrison
Website: https://sillyhatbooks.com/

bluespirit_cover1200x800Book Synopsis for Blue Spirit (Book one in the Tipsy Fairy tale trilogy): Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she’s tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships.

With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen’s plot?
Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!
 
restless_spirit_coverJPG1200X800Book Synopsis for Restless Spirit (Book 2 in the trilogy): When Skye McLeod is asked by her pal Phil Jenson if she wants to cosplay at his game company’s booth during Big Con Weekend—and get paid for it—she jumps at the chance. Besides, Skye’s hit a rocky patch with her girlfriend Annabelle, who wants her to stop drinking and act more responsibly.

Then Skye gets a call from paranormal detective Rebecca Burton for another job; something big is going on at the convention, and she needs Skye to be her eyes and ears there. So now Skye’s getting paid to have fun—twice!
Then The Night Duke, a creep from Skye’s live role playing days, shows up and uses some weird mojo, seemingly turning pretend zombies into real ones. After barely escaping an attack, Skye learns the fairies and trolls within the magical realm are getting restless, and her old friend, the Transit King, is in the middle of it.

Skye decides to once again enlist the aid of her fairy companion “Minnie.” For Skye to enter the magic realm, she needs to get tipsy. Then she’ll just have to control the powers within her and contain the outside forces that threaten to spin into chaos. How can she possibly screw this up?

Find Chrissy's books here:

Blue Spirit
Amazon Print Version
https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Spirit-E-Chris-Garrison/dp/1941706827
Kindle Version
https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Spirit-Tipsy-Fairy-Tale-ebook/dp/B00X6571BC
Barnes and Noble Link for Blue Spirit
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-spirit-eric-garrison/1105805795?ean=9781941706824
 
Restless Spirit
Amazon Print Version
https://www.amazon.com/Restless-Spirit-E-Chris-Garrison/dp/1941706444
Kindle Version
https://www.amazon.com/Restless-Spirit-Tipsy-Fairy-Tale-ebook/dp/B01GKC51FK
Barnes and Noble Link for Restless Spirit
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/restless-spirit-e-chris-garrison/1123998495?ean=9781941706442
 

Find out more! Follow the Tour!

9/21 Novel-ties Review
9/21 RJ Sullivan Fiction Guest Post
9/21 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Top Ten's List
9/22 Green Gates Entertainment Review
9/23 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! Top Ten's List
9/24 Sheila's Reviews Guest Post
9/25 Deal Sharing Aunt Author Interview
9/26 Jorie Loves A Story Review
9/26 Magic of books Review
9/26 Cabin Goddess Top Ten's List
9/27 Jordan Hirsch Review
9/27 The Seventh Star Author Interview
9/28 Jorie Loves A Story Guest Post