Category Archives: Sci Fi

Sci Fi Friday: 3 Cool Future Identification Technologies

 

Face Recognition - Enhancing security in public places Copyright 2005 BAE Systems DSEI goodAA045744[1]There are certain technologies that are ubiquitous in future stories. Flying cars. Laser guns. And identification technology.

It’s hard to imagine fingerprint dusting in the 22nd century. Instead, crime investigations may be “dusting” for DNA. And forget about a mere iris scanner to gain entry to that above top-secret lab. Instead you may have to pass the sniff test.

Good luck trying to fake someone else’s scent.

Here are three super cool, super futuristic identification technologies that I read about recently on LiveScience and provide some cool inspiration for futuristic sci-fi stories:

1. BODY ODOR

dog noseYou read the correctly. Apparently, each person has a unique odor. That’s an “of course” to dogs. Companies are working to catch up to dog tech by finding ways to identify our unique smell signature.

But don’t worry about having a computer sniff you yet. Although researchers have attained a recognition rate of better than 85%, the technology is still in the research stages.

2. HEART BEATS

nymi-hero

While I can see the “sniff test” being used at border crossings and airports, this one seems more like the kind of thing we’ll use every day. A Toronto company called Bionym is developing a bracelet called Nymi that uses your heartbeat for digital identification. Each of us has a unique pattern of electrical activity in our heart. Who knew? The bracelet reads ECG (electrocardiogram) waveforms to identify the wearer.

But here’s where this one gets super spiffy. The Nymi bracelet can them communicate via Bluetooth to our devices. It seems that the possibilities there are endless. No need for a password or even a finger scan to log in to your computer. Just wear the bracelet and it could seamlessly connect the wearer to their devices. But why stop there? How about your car? A hotel room? Bank deposit box? 

And this one isn’t just theoretical. You can order this device from Bionym now and it will ship next year.

3. VEINS

This one is even more strange than the others. And a bit creepy too. Apparently we not only have unique fingerprints, odors, and heartbeats, we also have unique vein patterns. This sounds like it’s straight from a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually a technology being branded as BiyoWallet (originally called PulseWallet). Imagine waving your palm over a machine that scans your veins. Once you’ve introduced yourself to the machine, the device would automatically deduct payment owed to the merchant from your account. Good-bye credit and debit cards. Sounds like one of the more promising technologies to prevent identity theft related to credit/debit card use.
Until some evil genius finds a way to counterfeit our veins! (Just wait – you know it will happen 😉
Do you think we’ll see widespread use of any of these technologies in the near future? Do you embrace these technologies? Or do they scare you? What one would you like to use the most?
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Sci Fi Friday: When Art and Science Meet It’s a Beautiful Thing

If you’ve been reading my blog on Fridays, then you may have surmised that I frequently geek out over scientific discoveries. Whether its news about a new technology for space travel or the latest from CERN, I can’t resist a headline that hints at a cool discovery. 
 
This week I was blown away by this elegant idea from Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde. Roosegaarde’s team has conceptualized interactive highways and parks that remove smog. But this latest idea is where art meets science.
 
Here’s the pitch: What happens when you take the biology that produces bioluminescence and merge it with plants? Think algae street lamps that store energy from photosynthesis to generate light at night. But Roosegaarde’s team takes it one step further.
 
Roosegaarde’s team, inspired by deep water jellyfish, imagined bio luminescent trees. Check out this video as Daan Roosegaarde explains the concept. Imagine, a street lined with trees instead of street lamps.
How cool is that? Imagine a landscape lit at night by glowing trees. My sci fi imagine is spinning …
 
What other applications can you imagine for bio luminescent biology?

3 Loglines for H.A.L.F.

I’ve been working on a spiffy log line for H.A.L.F., my speculative sci fi-ish novel that launches in March. For anyone not familiar with a logline, it’s a one sentence (short) summary of the big idea of the book. It’s the “elevator pitch”.

After playing around with it for some time, I’ve come up with three and would like your opinion. Which of these do you think is the most intriguing? Which one makes you interested to know more? Or have I missed the mark completely?

Please drop a comment below and let me know your honest opinion. And thanks so much for dropping by 😀

1. When a teenager liberates an alien-human hybrid from a government lab, she triggers an inter-stellar war.
2. Three teens become fugitives when they help an alien-human hybrid escape a government lab.

3. While inter-stellar war looms, a teen must liberate the government’s top secret weapon or be terminated.



So let me know which is best for you – #1, #2 or #3 – and why 🙂 Thanks!

Sci Fi Friday: Alien Structures on Mars and a Man on the Moon?!

For this SciFi Friday, a bit of fun with moon shadows (cue up Van Morrison). 

Remember the face on Mars?


Face on Mars, 1976
The internet swarmed with stories of an alien race having built the structure.

NASA denied that the image was what it appeared to be. They said it was a trick of light and shadows. They have proffered this more recent photo taken by the Mars Global Surveyor camera in April, 2001. 



Of course it would be nice to see it pulled back from the terrain a bit so we can compare surrounding landscape. I looked for one that was equivalent to the top photo but couldn’t find one. If any of you find it, can you leave a link in the comments below?

So we have alleged faces, pyramids and cities on Mars. Now there’s a literal man on the moon! Or maybe it’s an alien.
What do you think? Is this a shadow playing tricks on our mind? Is it a complete fabrication/hoax? Or is it possible that there’s a being on the moon that just happened to get caught on film by a satellite?

Writer Wednesday: Time to Fight or Take Flight with Chele Cooke

Welcome to Writer Wednesday! I am pleased to welcome back author Chele Cooke. I’m happy to share with you her new release, Fight or Flight. It’s the follow up to Dead and Buryd (the Out of Orbit series). If you haven’t already read Dead and Buryd, pick it up now! It’s FREE on Amazon from July 25 to August 8. And grab Fight or Flight while you’re there.

To whet your appetite, here is an excerpt from Fight or Flight. Enjoy!


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Fight or Flight by Chele Cooke
Book 2 of the Out of Orbit Series
From Chapter 2: Promises and Protection
“Dhiren,” Georgianna began. “How did you… I mean, why did you agree to work for them?”

A soft sigh left his lips and he leaned forwards, resting his arms across his knees. He glanced at Georgianna before turning his attention back onto his boots.

“I didn’t have much of a choice.”

“But you’re… You could have defended yourself,” she argued. “You don’t need their protection like…”

“Like me” almost slipped from her lips, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. Dhiren tilted his head to the side and carefully stretched out his jaw, a click sounding from one of the joints.

“I did from the Adveni,” he admitted. “When I was captured, I knew that it would only be so long before I was given the rope. Vajra approached me. He said he would keep me from being executed if I worked for them.”

He gave a dismissive shrug.

He was older than her, perhaps by five or six years. She had often wondered about him, curious about what he’d done to get put into the compound, but she had never dared ask. 

He’d never been anything but kind and cheerful to her, but the opinions of the other inmates had often weighed on her mind.

She’d heard stories when she used to come into the compound on her medic visits, but it was only when she arrived as an inmate herself that the other inmates really began to talk. They told her everything she wanted to know. There were different stories, but the one she heard most often was that the brothers had been captured after the massacre of an Adveni transport almost six years before. Ta-Dao, the elder brother, and Vajra, the younger, had been informed that they would never leave the compound unless they were being put into the ground.

Funnily, there were no common rumours about Dhiren’s incarceration. Every person who spoke about it gave a different story, varying from the questionable to the downright insane. His story, according to most, was far more exciting than the brothers because he never talked about it. Georgianna wondered if anyone had bothered to ask him.

“What… What did you do?”

Dhiren’s eyes narrowed and he tugged at each of his sleeves in turn, covering up a little more skin. She wondered whether she had stepped too far. If she was wrong about people being afraid to ask him about his crime, he might not look at her the same way again. He didn’t speak to many of the other inmates and from what Georgianna had seen, he didn’t even speak to the brothers unless he had to. He watched her for a few moments, a calculating expression on his square face.

“Murder. Three Adveni.”

In an instant, the cautious look in his eyes was gone and he smiled proudly, almost childishly—a teenager boasting of his first hunting kill.

“That they caught me for.”


*     *    *

Oh, I love that last line. And I want to know more about Dhiren. How about you?

Links to Fight or Flight

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And read Chele’s bio and check out her social media links after the Giveaway.


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Chele Cooke is an English-born writer based in London. Starting out writing fan fiction, she soon moved onto her own fiction, releasing her first novel, ‘Dead and Buryd’, in 2013, the sequel ‘Fight or Flight’ following less than a year later.
She is currently working on The Out of Orbit series, a number of short stories, a circus based sci-fi, and a paranormal serial currently released weekly on Wattpad.


Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Wattpad

Writer Wednesday with Chele Cooke and Dead and Buryd

I used the plagiarism checker at Grammarly.com because I’m an original, baby!

Chele Cook,
Author of Dead and Buryd

Happy Wednesday! Please welcome Chele Cooke, a fabulous new author to Writer Wednesday. Chele and I chatted recently about her new release, Dead and Buryd. I’m reading it now and I love it!! So pull up a listen:


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What inspired you to write Dead and Buryd?
I’d had the idea for the Out of Orbit series for quite a while. I’ve been involved in the roleplay community for over a decade, and through a series of different websites I created, this story cemented itself into being. There was a lot of planning to do, and I decided not to write anything down until NaNoWriMo, but once I started, Dead and Buryd was one of the easiest things I’ve ever written a first draft of.
In what genre do you place Dead and Buryd?
It’s a Sci-Fi mainly. I’ve been given advice to place it in the New Adult category, but from my responses from readers, it’s had a good response from people of a variety of ages. I have a group of friends I made through cross stitching. They range from mid twenties to their sixties, and they all enjoyed it. I like to call Dead and Buryd ‘accessible Sci-Fi’ because you don’t need to be a hardcore Sci-Fi fan to get into this story. It’s much more involved with the characters than the technology.
Was there any specific research you did before writing this book?
Admittedly, there wasn’t so much for Dead and Buryd. The research I did for the series in general is related more to the rest of the series than Dead and Buryd as a single book. Most of the research into military, technology, and the effects on a conquered nation will come into play later in the series. I wanted for readers to be more in touch with these characters before I threw the rest into the mix.
Tell us a little about your writing experience.
I was incredibly blessed with this story, it went very easily for the first draft. I started writing it for NaNoWriMo, and had twenty-one thousand words in three days. It was all in my head, it was just making my fingers move fast enough to get it out. I use a program called ‘Write or Die’ which is great, it really motivates you to block out the distractions and just write.
The hard part for me with this project was the editing. I’d never worked with a professional editor before, and while I was sure I had an amazing story, nothing prepares you for a professional edit the first time. It’s like being punched in the stomach. At least now I know to go into the next one with a big bar of chocolate handy.

“Write or Die” sounds interesting – I’ll have to check it out! But back to Dead and Buryd, you created an entire world complete with a history and names for the different cultures. Can you tell us something about your world building?
World building is one of my favourite parts, especially working in a Fantasy or Sci-fi setting. I find that if I ensure my world is set out properly, it makes the story much easier to write. Not only that, but elements of the world can enhance the plot. Dead and Buryd will not be the only time in this series where the oppressive weather will shape parts of the story.
And how did you come up with the names?
The names were an interesting one. I specifically went with Eastern European influences for the Adveni, and there were certain rules I made myself follow, like the i before e rule we’re told as children in English. When you have those, you can predict a lot of the pattern of letters in a word. Admittedly, most of the names came from me writing down twenty or so variations and seeing which one I liked best.
What was your favorite part about writing Dead and Buryd?
Being surprised. I think that’s always my favourite element about writing, when you’re writing a story, you have everything planned, and then half way through a chapter, you realise that it’s going in a different direction, one much better than the one you’d originally thought of. There are some elements in Dead and Buryd that I never expected to happen. Georgianna and Edtroka’s relationship is one of them. I never intended for them to be funny together, but it just happened, and I think it has worked for the better.
What was your least favorite part about writing the book?
Rewriting, I think. It can be painful to be told you need to change things, especially when you’re really happy with a story. I am sure many writers (and readers for that matter) can understand that a novel, especially the first, becomes like a child. You want to think that it’s perfect, and looking at it through someone else’s eyes can be difficult at first. Looking back, though, it’s definitely been the most worthwhile part, as I think it’s really improved the book.  
You chose to self-publish Dead and Buryd. What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?
I was planning on going the traditional route. I even submitted Dead and Buryd to a number of agents. I got some great, positive feedback on it, but it came down to them not being able to market it. In April, I was lucky enough to go to the London Book Fair and meet some fantastic self-published authors. Hearing from them, I realised that going Indie wasn’t something you either did with massive success, or spectacular failure. It’s a business, and if you can get all the elements lined up and done in a professional manner, you have a pretty good shot at reaching an audience. I had the writing part down, I just needed to learn the business side. Looking at it as a business really helped push me to make the leap, because I realised that it’s not as untouchable as a lot of people think it is.
What can we look forward to next from you, Chele?
I’m currently in the detailed planning stages for book two of Out of Orbit, that’s taking precedence right now, as I’d like to start writing for NaNoWriMo. I also have a number of short stories that will slot into the series. One of my favourite elements of fan fiction is when people write scenes  from another character’s view, or scenes that are mentioned but never explained fully. So, between releases of the books, I’ll also be releasing some of those little extras.
I am in the early planning stages of another series, which fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly will love. It’s a Sci-Fi Circus with elements of the 1920s. So, kind of steampunk, but without the steam. Cirquepunk, I guess.
I’m also planning a collaboration with a very dear friend, Moa. She’s actually who Dead and Buryd is dedicated to. Basically, right now, I’m very very busy.
Okay, time for some silliness. Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate: I’m a massive chocolate fiend. Except in cake. For some reason, I’m not a massive fan of chocolate cake.

Coffee or tea?
Is Red Bull not an option? I like both, honestly, but living with four tea fanatics (we have an entire cupboard just for different types of tea, it’s terrifying,) I guess I’d have to say coffee just to see the looks on their faces.
Beach or mountains?
That’s a horrible question. Man, I have no idea. I guess I’d have to go with beach, but if I learn to ski on more than the bunny slope, that might change.
What three words describe Chele Cooke?
Ha ha! I bet my answers here would be different than if you asked people who know me.

Dork – I’m a massive dork… seriously huge. I get really obsessed with the things I like, whether they’re books/tv/films or places. I get really into things and can talk about them for hours.
Emotional – This relates back to ‘Dork’ somewhat, but I get really emotionally invested in things I like. I am a sap when it comes to fiction, and am often reduced to tears. I’m also a complete wuss, but that’s something different.
Spacey – Because ‘Mental Escape Artist’ isn’t a single word. I love travelling and seeing new places, not to mention that I spend about 50% of my day thinking about things that don’t exist. I think spacey works for both.
Thank you, Chele, for taking the time to stop by and chat. Readers, check out the blurb for Dead and Buryd:


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A single life could liberate an entire race, but the life required may be hers.

Since the invasion of her home planet by the ruthless Adveni, Georgianna Lennox’s life as a Veniche medic isn’t as simple as it used to be. When a single infraction against the Adveni can lead to incarceration, slavery, or death, each life saved can bring harsh consequences.

A secret delivery into the infamous Lyndbury Prison Compound reveals that her friend Nyah has been sold into slavery, and Georgianna must decide how to weigh a single life against the risk to herself and others.

Caught between her duty as a medic, her family, and her promise to a friend, she puts her trust in a group of rebels, the Belsa. However, when the attempt to free Nyah uncovers a plan that could rid the Veniche of the Adveni for good, Georgianna struggles with the realisation that the people she trusted may have been using her for their own gain.

Unable to walk away, Georgianna finds herself pulled deep into a web of lies and cruelty that will either claim Nyah’s life… or her own.

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com
Chele is an English Sci-Fi and Fantasy writer currently living in London, UK. Slightly obsessive when it comes to the things she enjoys, Chele fell in love with the Harry Potter fandom which led to her writing fan fiction throughout her teen years. Moving on to original fiction, Chele completed a degree in Creative Writing, and has continued writing ever since. Dead and Buryd is the first book in Chele’s “Out of Orbit” series.

CONNECT with Chele:

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Website: chelecooke.com

Twitter: @chelecooke


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Writer Wednesday: Finding the Real in the Fantasy with Author Chele Cooke

I’m so happy to introduce fantasy author Chele Cooke to my blog readers. Chele is an awesome sci-fi and fantasy writer who hails from across the pond. Here, Chele shares her thoughts on how writers bring their fantasy and fantastical worlds to life for readers:

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Finding
the Real in the Fantasy
Guest Post by Chele Cooke

As a sci-fi and fantasy writer, one of my
favourite compliments to be given by readers is ‘you made me feel like I was
right there.’ When we’re creating whole new worlds, this is a big achievement.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand
words, yet we are constantly told as writers that we need to get to the action
faster, hook the reader in quicker. So, when you don’t always have a thousand
words, how do you paint a realistic picture of your world and the characters within
it?

If you look at popular Sci-Fi and fantasy
franchises, you will often find that the protagonist is new to the world, or at
least aspects of it, that we, as the reader, are being pulled into. If you look
at Harry Potter as an example, Harry is new to the wizarding world, and as the
reader, we explore with him, gaining understanding as he does. This use of an
outsider stepping into the world for the first time binds the reader to the
main character, not only making things easier for us to understand, but also
creating an empathetic bond between reader and character, because, new to the
world ourselves, we understand the excitement of it.

Imagination is a wonderful thing that
allows a reader great scope, but as people, we also like the familiar. We use
metaphors and similes, grounding images in the familiar in order to help tie a
tangible rope to a new image or idea. It is much easier for a reader to imagine
an image similar to one they know from their life, than a completely new image
they have never encountered.

New languages can also be implemented in
Sci-Fi and Fantasy, especially if you are exploring multiple new settings.
However, try to intersperse the words of this foreign tongue with the language
you’re writing in. Having sentences of a new language will only confuse and
frustrate the reader. If you have conversation to occur in this new tongue, a
language your protagonist does not understand, simply comment that they spoke
in their foreign tongue and instead focus on the facial expressions and body
language of the characters speaking. We gain 70% of our understanding from body
language, and 15% from tone of voice. So, even if your character does not
understand the words, you can very easily ensure that the reader understands
the conversation.

Individual words can also become
problematic if the reader cannot pronounce them with ease. I have a number of
new words and names in my first sci-fi series, and to ensure that these new
words were not tripping readers up, I tried to ensure that even if the
pronunciation the reader attributed was slightly wrong, they were at least able
to make the pronunciation as easily as possible. If you line up a Q, a J, and
an F next to each other in a word, for example, you will have readers
struggling because it’s not a combination we have ever experienced.

I used a number of Eastern European
languages as the basis of my language Adtvenis, with words and names like
Edtroka, Drysta, and Tyllenich. While none of these words are direct
translations, or even the same words as used in any Eastern European language,
by keeping the words within a general feel of an existing language, it becomes
more believable to the reader, and easier for them to get to grips with, as
they know not only the individual words, but through them, begin to get a feel
for accent and rhythm.

The creation of new ideas, places, and even
languages, is one of my favourite reasons to write Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I can go
wherever my imagination takes me. By employing some of these points to your
writing, grounding the fantastical into everyday reality, you can ensure that
your readers will follow your imagination wherever it chooses to go.

For further information stuff,
my website: http://chelecooke.com/

Review Friday: A Blue Man, Telepathy & Psychic Sex – Meet Keir

Keir
Today it is my pleasure to review Keir, by Pippa Jay. I’m going to start by saying that I highly recommend Keir for anyone who would like a fun, fast-paced read. Here is the summary from Goodreads:
Outcast. Cursed. Dying. Is Keir beyond redemption?

For Keirlan de Corizi–the legendary ‘Blue Demon’ of Adalucien–death seems the only escape from a world where his discolored skin marks him as an oddity and condemns him to life as a pariah. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise: Tarquin Secker, a young woman who can travel the stars with a wave of her hand.

But Quin has secrets of her own. She’s spent eternity searching through space and time with a strange band of companions at her back. Defying her friends’ counsel, Quin risks her apparent immortality to save Keir. She offers him sanctuary and a new life on her home world, Lyagnius.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes his dormant alien powers and earns instant exile from Quin’s home world, will she risk everything to stand by him again?


Author of Keir, Pippa Jay

Pippa Jay starts out the novel with a haunting scene of Keir, beaten and near death, being rescued by Quin. That opening scene haunted me and drew me in for more. I immediately like Quin, a strong woman with a penchant for getting herself into trouble. And Keirlan is immediately sympathetic.


The story unfolds and we learn more about each character – and their demons. Quin may seem like she’s got it all together, but she’s hunted and on the run. At first she is saving Keir, but by the end she is leaning on him as well.

I enjoyed the romance aspect of this book very much. Generally, I avoid romance novels because they too frequently follow a pat formula that is not to my liking. Keir was a breath of fresh air.
brooke-shields-virginity-lost-at-22
Brooke Shields & Christopher Atkins
in The Blue Lagoon. Keir is is what this
movie could have been if it was good!

The book is worth the read, in my opinion, just for the section where Quin and Keir are stranded together on a desert island. Remember the movie Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields? Pippa Jay’s version is a steamy, hot adult version. The scenes contain sexual content, but it is not X-rated or pornographic. Because the characters (Quin and Keir) have had a sort of mind-meld thing, they are connected not just physically, but mentally as well. I’ve never read sex scenes where the characters were telepathically connected. Steamy!


Keir is a fun, satisfying read with an ending that left me wanting more – more of these characters, and more of the world that Pippa Jay has created.

I highly recommend Keir. You can pick it up at Amazon by clicking this button.

And to learn more about author Pippa Jay, check out my fun interview with her by clicking here.


I give Keir 5 Hawks, and can’t wait to read the sequel.



First Annual SciFi Brigade Midsummer Blog Hop!!

Welcome midsummer revelers to the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Midsummer Blog Hop 2012! If you got to my page from the SFR Brigade page, welcome, and make sure you enter my Rafflecopter Giveaway below for a chance to snag my book and some bookish swag. If you are one of my regulars or happened upon my page, make sure to click this link to hop from blog to blog so you can check out all the amazing posts – and enter to win! Remember, your comments on the blog posts enter you in the giveaway for the prizes offered by the Brigade, namely a Kindle OR Nook!!

Here, my ode to midsummer:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet mush-roses and the eglantine.
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.
     -From A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

Ah, midsummer. Shakespeare’s lines capture it well, don’t you think? When reading these lines, you can almost smell the sultry perfume of abundant flowers, their blooms brazenly open, releasing their musky scent. I’m picturing a lush, green English garden – a perfect place for faerie folk to linger.

Midsummer has long been a time of celebration for many cultures. When researching my novel Emily’s House, I was intrigued by ancient Celtic rituals. Though the Summer Solstice was not the most important celebration for the ancient Celts, it certainly was honored.

On my trip to Ireland in 2010, I had the opportunity to visit Loughcrew. Loughcrew is a megalithic site dating to 3500 to 3300 B.C. To put that in context, the Great Pyramid at Giza was completed in 2560 B.C. That means that the ancient Celts in Ireland created large, planned structures for burial and ritual over a thousand years before the Egyptians built the pyramids.

Loughcrew has a small hole in the capstone of the structure which is aligned with the sun at both the Spring and Autumnal equinox. As the alignment occurs, the sun illuminates the back wall and the petroglyphs and symbols etched there.

This hole still aligns the sun at the spring and autumn equinox, as it has for over 5000 years.

Loughcrew isn’t the only cairn in the area. There is also Carrowkeel with its cairn aligned with the setting sun at the Summer Solstice.


Summer Solstice Sunset at Carrowkeel Cairn G viewed through the roofbox

Scholars aren’t sure why our ancestors built these sites. But clearly it was important to them to observe the cycles of the sun. Their livelihood likely depended on it.


I can’t say for sure the purpose of Loughcrew, but I can say that when I was there, I felt its spiritual power. It is my belief that objects and places retain the energy signatures from the people who touched or used them. At Loughcrew, you feel the spiritual energy and solemnity of the site.

An alter? A view of the outside of the Cairn at Loughcrew.

As I walked the grounds and laid my hands on the stones, I tried to imagine why the ancients had built the structure and what had taken place there. I could almost smell the smoke of the burning wood of the celebratory fires. The odor of roasting meat filled my nose. I could feel the pulse of the deep ritual drums. As I stood on top of that hill, feeling the Irish wind whipping my hair, I felt the power of the words spoken by ancient Druid priests calling upon the sun god for blessing.

Sheep share the hill at Loughcrew
The cairn at Loughcrew, Ireland

Fire was, and still is, a significant component of midsummer celebrations. In midsummer, our ancient ancestors were concerned with making sure their crops would have plenty of sun to help them grow to maturity for harvest. Fire was considered “sympathetic magic,” used to amplify or call down the power of the sun.

The ancients relied on the cooperation of nature for their survival. These ancient sites reveal that their rituals were tied to nature’s cycles.

When I wrote Emily’s House, I knew that I wanted to include a scene with an ancient Celtic ritual. What fit with the story was a ban feis, a ritualistic marriage of the King to the Goddess (representing the land). Once I’d been to Ireland and Loughcrew, I rewrote the scene entirely, calling on my impressions of the ancient rites that I received subconsciously while I was there. While at Loughcrew, the whole place imbued with the lingering imprint of the spirits of our ancient ancestors who built it, I felt like I’d been there before.

Perhaps we’ve all been there. Maybe the collective memory of the days when our ancestors danced and feasted around the bonfire is buried in our DNA. Just maybe our need to mark the seasons with ritual and merriment is an ingrained part of our human nature.

Being a desert dweller, the fires of midsummer will burn in my heart rather than my yard. Sláinte!



Midsummer Blog Hop Participants

1.  Pippa Jay   13.  Liana Brooks   25.  Debra A. Soles  
2.  Misa Buckley   14.  A. R. Norris   26.  Marlene @ Reading Reality  
3.  Arlene Webb   15.  L.J. Garland & Debbie Gould   27.  Rae Lori  
4.  Pauline Baird Jones   16.  Sandra Sookoo   28.  Bella Street  
5.  Frances Pauli   17.  Cara Michaels   29.  Kyn Hatch  
6.  Imogene Nix   18.  Sheryl Nantus   30.  T.K. Anthony  
7.  Natalie Wright   19.  Diane Dooley   31.  Jo Jones  
8.  Greta van der Rol   20.  Kathleen Scott   32.  A.B. Gayle  
9.  Jessica E. Subject   21.  Ella Drake   33.  Sue Ann Bowling  
10.  Kayelle Allen   22.  Cathy Pegau   34.  S. Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore  
11.  Joanne Elder   23.  T. C. Archer   35.  DL Jackson  
12.  Melisse Aires   24.  Kitty Roads   36.  Hywela Lyn  

Writer Chat Wednesday with Jason G. Anderson, author of Gears of Wonderland

Welcome to Writer Chat Wednesday! Continuing with Steampunk week, I chat today with Jason G. Anderson, author of Gears of Wonderland, a wonderfully fun steampunk tale set in Wonderland. Jason is an imaginative storyteller and I’m so psyched that he took a moment to visit with me. Come back Friday for my review of Gears of Wonderland
Natalie
Wright (NW): When and how did you become interested in Steampunk? For anyone
interested in reading books in the Steampunk genre, can you recommend some good
ones that you enjoyed?
JASON
ANDERSON (JA):
My initial interest in steampunk came purely from
the visual aspect. The Victorian-but-not clothing, the strange machines, the
bizarre city scenes with airships and other unusual elements in the picture,
etc. Then I read (and watched) various steampunk, or steampunk inspired,
stories, and became hooked.
One book I whole-heartedly recommend is by indie-author SM Reine. It’s a
novella I read over Christmas, titled “The 19 Dragons”. As the name suggests,
the story focuses on 19 dragons, but they all live in a unique steampunk world
that depends on them remaining alive for it to exist. Which isn’t good when
someone starts killing the dragons one by one! The story itself is crafted in a
very unusual way, as it switches viewpoint to each of the dragons in turn to
tell the tale. I loved it, and highly recommend it to everyone remotely interested
in the steampunk genre.
NW: What
inspired you to write Gears of Wonderland?
JA: Back in October 2010 I was getting ready to take part in NaNoWriMo,
planning out the story I was going to write (totally unrelated to Wonderland or
steampunk). Then I saw the SyFy version of Alice, and immediately got struck by
the idea of a Wonderland that had aged and changed along with our world. I
tried to ignore it, and focus on my original story idea, but the thought just
wouldn’t get out of my head. So I began developing the idea further, and it was
the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo.
The two core ideas I had was the Knave of Hearts taking over Wonderland,
and that the land had gone down the steampunk route (since the original stories
were written in the Victorian period). Everything else came later. The final
published version isn’t too different to what I had at the end of NaNoWriMo. I
reworked parts of the first quarter of the story, and added a few extra scenes
throughout the rest, but it didn’t end up changing much at all.
Actually, I lie. The first draft of Gears didn’t have the White Rabbit
in the story at all. That was a real head-slap moment for me when I realized –
how can you have a story about Wonderland that doesn’t have the White Rabbit?
So he got worked into the story during the revision.
Another thing that changed was the title. My original working title was
Wonderland in Darkness, but I figured it was rather uninspiring, and didn’t
convey the steampunk aspect. So I changed it to the current title as I approached
the end of the first draft.
NW: Laura,
James’ girlfriend, is such a — difficult — woman. I was happy when James,
early on, had an opportunity to get a break from her! Is the Laura character
based on any real life girlfriend(s)?
JA: “Difficult” is one word to describe her! No, Laura isn’t based on
anyone I know. Some nasty people have claimed that I must be writing about my
wife, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I wanted the opening scenes
of the novel, with James’s boss and Laura, to show how submissive James was at
this point in his life. He was unwilling to fight for the things he wanted, or
even consider ‘rocking the boat’, no matter how bad their demands became.
Wonderland becomes a chance for him to leave those habits (mostly) behind, and
grow in confidence.
NW: Will you
write a sequel to Gears of Wonderland?
JA: That is my current plan. I didn’t set out to write a series originally,
but I had a lot of fun working with the characters as I was revising the book
into its final form that I’d like to go back to the setting. A few people have
also asked about a sequel, so it seems to have struck a chord with a few
readers at least.
I have a few ideas floating around in my mind on what the sequel could
be about (the fallout from what happened at the end of the novel, and Kara’s
search for her mother), but nothing solid yet. I’ve got to survive my current
WIP first!
NW: Why did
you choose to self-publish? And are you interested in pursuing a traditional
publishing contract?
JA: To be honest, I decided to self-publish because I couldn’t imagine
being a traditionally published author!
I’ve always been a fan of having full control over whatever I create.
Back when I went to university, I wrote software for Apple computers that I
sold online as “shareware” (basically you download the program to try it out
first, and if you like it you buy it from the author). More recently, I wrote
several small roleplay gaming supplements, that I sold as PDF.



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When the urge to write novels became too large to
ignore, being an indie author didn’t seem much different to what I’d done
before. That’s not to say that I’d never accept a traditional publishing
contract. But they would have to offer me much better than their “standard”
terms to entice me. And whatever they offered would have to not screw over my
current readers (unlike a current indie-turned-traditional author that my wife
was a fan of, who signed a deal that blocks sales of their current & future
books outside of the US).

NW: You live
in Tasmania, which is so far away from so many places! Have you always lived
there? And does your environment inspire your writing at all?
JA: We’re not that far away from the rest of the world 🙂
Yep, I was born in Tasmania, although at the opposite end of the state
(Devonport). I moved to Hobart, the state capital, to attend university. After
I graduated I managed to find a job down here, so I stayed. I also met my
future wife at university, which was another reason not to move back to my
parents place!
I don’t really know that I could say the environment has inspired my
writing that much. I guess because Tasmania doesn’t have the level of
development, or the large cities, that other places have, I tend to think more in
terms of open spaces and green surrounds (which featured in Gears). I can’t say
that it’s helped with my post-apocalyptic short stories though 🙂
NW: Will you
write more books in the Steampunk genre? And/or what other genres do you write
in?
JA: Other than the sequel to Gears, I’m not sure if I’ll write more in the
steampunk genre, at least in the near-future. While it’s not the wisest idea to
spread yourself over different genres, the next few ideas I have for books are
in the sci-fi and urban fantasy genres. Plus I have my Atomic Wasteland series
of short stories, which are all set in a post-apocalyptic world.
It all depends how strong the idea for the story is when it comes time
for me to start a new book I guess!
NW: What are
you working on now? Can we look forward to any new titles from you soon?
JA: I’m currently working on a sci-fi thriller titled “On Ice”. It’s about
a group of scientists who are studying the polar region of an uninhabited alien
planet. They become cut off from the main base of the (planet-wide) expedition,
and have to deal with a situation that goes from bad to worse very quickly. As
people start dying, they begin to realize that there may be a reason the planet
is uninhabited!
The novel in part is inspired by my own work. I work in the Antarctic
science field (as an assistant, not a scientist), and wanted to write about
something that was ice-related. Setting it in modern-day Antarctica didn’t
appeal, but putting it in the future did. I’ve been able to talk with a few
people who have spent time “in the field”, to get a feel of what it’s like to
work in that sort of environment. Hopefully I won’t mess up too much of what
they told me! 🙂
I’m frantically working on the book now, and hope to have it out
sometime in April.



Thanks Jason for stopping by. I’m looking forward to reading On Ice and hope you’ll stop back then to chat about it.


Until then, check out all of Jason’s titles:


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You can connect with Jason here:

Blog: http://www.jasonga.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jason.g.anderson
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JasonGA

Bio:
Jason G. Anderson lives in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia with his wife and several cats. During the day, he helps Antarctic scientists manage the vast quantities of data they collect. At night, he dreams of other worlds and realities much different to our own. His writing interests include sci-fi, urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic and steampunk.