Welcome to episode 2 of Sci-Fi Sisters! Talking to us today is a new writer whose debut book received bunches of rave reviews, so this is a Sister to keep our bionic eyes on.
Let's give a warm welcome to our next guest:
1. Ursula Le Guin — Sci-Fi Sister who made us think about the concept of gender, or precursor to Harry Potter?
AF: Ursula K. Le Guin is an amazing author, and her work had a great impact on me growing up! I definitely think that she was a pioneer in getting us to think deeply about the concept of gender, of what that means within a culture and society in terms of structure, and how that can affect how a culture sees and reacts to their own internal struggles, to external events, etc. And sci-fi worlds, other galaxies and the various races and species within them are a great place to explore those concepts.
2. N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series has Essun as the main character, a mother who’s trying to find and save her daughter. In the process of doing that, she also gets involved with bigger, world-saving issues. As a writer, what do you think is more compelling for reader: a character who intentionally sets out to save the world, or a character who saves the world unintentionally because she’s helping a loved one?
AF: Great question. I love stories where the protagonists don't necessarily or intentionally set out to save the world, but find themselves embroiled in a dilemma or situation that proves to be much bigger and more important that just their own personal, individual struggles. And somewhere along the way they discover who they really are, what they want out of life, overcome their own past and personal demons, and possibly devote themselves to a cause that's much greater than where they began in their journey.
3. Your debut novel, Song of Nümenstar, was described by OnlineBookClub as a ‘masterful blend of science fiction and fantasy’. It’s set in different galaxy, so what are the fantastical elements you’ve included that mean it’s not an all-out SF space opera?
AF: Whew, that's a big question! Well, hopefully I can answer some that. I guess you could call my novel series more like Space Fantasy with some space opera elements.
First when I think of a lot of typical space opera novels, they tend to focus on humans in some future version of earth's galaxy where there has been an alien invasion. And they focus on future and alien technology, FTL travel, worm holes, warships and space battles between the races, etc. In contrast, my novel series is set in another galaxy far away with a variety of alien races, and none of them are human. My stories are more character-driven, multi-protagonist and involve multiple plot lines that intersect and converge at various points.
As for fantasy, some characters in the novels have the aptitude to be born with an innate power called Sonarum, and it's hereditary. Sonarum is an innate energy ability that not all beings in the galaxy have, only a small percentage do and only of four specific races in the galaxy (the other races do not have it). It's like a sixth sense. When a being is using their Sonarum, they feel vibrations of energy and hear things in their mind (e.g., whispers, words, phrases, music).
Some beings with Sonarum can enhance their physical abilities with it---speed, strength, endurance, reflexes (and thus become Daejic Warriors)---and other beings can use their Sonarum for enhanced mental abilities like healing, pathfinding, reading minds, seeing someone's memories, detecting beings behind walls, personal cloaking, understanding obscure languages, understanding animals and beasts, etc. (and thus become Daejic Mystiks). But you can't do telekinesis with Sonarum, that is one of its limitations. Like a power source, it can be spent and then has to be replenished with rest. Starting at age twelve when they are inducted into the Daejic Academy, the Daejic pupils are taught to train and hone their innate Sonarum power.
There are other fantasy elements and tropes one may find in my novels as well, such as the notion of planetary kingdoms, royals and commoners, fantastical beasts, ancient weapons such as swords, mystical amulets, ancient beings with godlike powers, etc. I do have advanced technology as well, but it is not the primary focus in the story, nor do I focus a lot on warships and space battles.
4. There’s a particular character in Song of Nümenstar, Chaum Laah, who’s a creature made of crystal and energy. Can you explain to us where you got the idea for such a being, and also how sentience could arise from such a fantastic creation?
AF: Growing up watching TV shows like Star Trek and movies like Star Wars, I've always been fascinated with the idea that somewhere out there in our galaxy there could exist beings or races that were not carbon-based life forms. What would they look like? How would they think or feel? What kind of language would they use? How long might they "live"? In terms of their thoughts, hopes, and dreams, would they be like us---like humankind? And how would they view and interact with other races and species?
Chaum Laah is a major character in the novel, so I really wanted to explore those concepts and really get into his head as a main character. Hopefully some readers will be able to relate to Chaum Laah and his own personal struggles.
The Sci-Fi Sisters Quick-Fire Round! No thinking! Pick the first answer that comes to you. Feel free to explain your choice if you like, but it’s not essential.
Tauriel (The Hobbit film) OR Padme (Star Wars ep.1)
Xena Warrior Princess OR Wonder Woman
Myla Ad’uar OR Arwen Evenstar
Myla Ad'uar (of course!)
Catwoman OR Storm (X-Men)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer OR Willow, Buffy’s witchy friend
Sam Carter (Stargate SG1) OR Dana Scully (X-Files)
Last but by no means least: how can people track you down in the vast expanses of space?
AF: Here are the links where you can find me and my work:
Thank you, AJ, for joining us here in the Clubhouse and sharing your SF thoughts and work with us!
AF: Thank you too, it has been my pleasure!