Wednesday, 25 September 2019

September's Interview - Lawrence N. Oliver

September's Interview Lawrence N. Oliver

Q. So to give a brief setup, Ben Corbin and Sam Garrett have woken up in the 28th century after 200 years in stasis. Who are these characters and what is the mission they find themselves having to accept?

Thrust into a new age of engineered soldiers, interplanetary politics, and self-aware robots, Corbin has to quickly decide who he’s going to trust as he journeys back to the Mars colony to find Garrett. The task is to convince their new alien allies of humanity’s worth. What exactly is expected of Corbin though is unclear as the Commonwealth and the aliens both know he’s no diplomat. Corbin isn’t satisfied with the restrictions placed on him and he breaks rank in an attempt to find some closure regarding his dead wife – but his search for truth may come at the cost of his life, and the fate of the Commonwealth may rest on his decision.

Q. I found The Last Marines to be very visual, very fun. Are you influenced more by movies, TV or by books with regards to sci-fi?

As much as I’d like to say books it was really TV and Movies growing up. I’m dyslexic and I hated to read as a child. I slowly came around after my father bought me copies of The Hobbit and The Foundation. I love reading now but it took a long time for me to really enjoy them.

Q. Who do you write for and if you could slip this book onto anyone’s desk, whose would it be?

Adult lovers of Science Fiction, Military Science Fiction, Space Opera, Westerns, Light Horror … If I could slip this book on to anyone’s desk it would have to be Quentin Tarantino. Though I know it would be very different I’d love to see what he would do with it.

Q. I read that you got the idea for The Last Marines while watching another movie …

No not really a movie, though I’m sure the movies I’ve seen over the years have influenced me even in ways I don’t realize. That said, I had actually found myself with let’s say a few “unplanned” days off work and I was catching up on some reading. Sitting in my cliché suburban recliner with a fire burning in the fire place and nothing to distract me from my book. Even still I kept finding myself staring out of the window think of another story. One I wanted to tell, in my own universe with my own characters. The book I was reading wasn’t bad mind you it was good ole’ Space Opera stuff. The hero was very heroic and right and the women swooned. I imagined something a little darker, with flawed diverse characters that made mistakes. Mistakes with real consequences, and casualties. So I put down the book I was reading and started writing.

Q. What has writing this novel taught you and what do you think you may do differently next time?

It taught me that there are many different perspectives you have to consider even when not writing from those perspectives. Hiring good editors and cover designers is important if you want people to pick up your book and keep reading it once they spent their hard-earned money on it. As a writer I hate to say it but marketing is just as important as the writing IF you want to sell books and get them into people’s hands.

Q. Which are the best gadgets/inventions of the sci-fi world you created? Any favourites?

Definitely the gauntlet weapons and living armor that the aliens use. Also the nanotech defensive and offensive systems humans have.

Q. When we read sci-fi, in many respects we are looking for something familiar. Familiar sci-fi I mean. So I wanted to ask, what did you invent and what did you borrow?

I borrowed blasters, anti-gravity vehl. “jetpacks” so to speak, robots, faster than light space travel, creatures of legend, aliens, cyborg prosthetics… because lets face it who doesn’t love a good mil-spec robot arm. What I invented… Living armor, AIs whose consciousness can be installed in a wide variety of enter changeable chassis ranging from a floating gun sentry the size of a basketball to a massive capital ship or installation. Also nanite defensive and offensive weapons for both personal and ship born use. These were original ideas mind you but I’m not swearing none of them were ever thought of by anyone before me in some work of fiction I’m not aware of.

Q. There are quite a few characters in this book. Apart from the main two, are there any other, say minor characters, that you are particularly fond of?

Definitely, Nolan. Partly because the readers love her and partly because of the evolution of the character during my writing process. Now when I started this journey there was a lot I did not know, still is really but I’m working on it. One of the things I’ve learned along the way is don’t interject yourself into the story. Originally Nolan was just a minor one scene character named Ollie… and his wife was named Mandie, after my wife and myself since a part of the original scene is modelled after phone conversations my wife and I have had. So I changed the character’s name for that reason and because I’d decided for story reasons to make the character a disabled veteran. I changed it a couple of times, in fact, before settling on Nolan. Then it was suggested that Nolan would be an even better character as a woman and after considering it for a hot minute I couldn’t for the life of me figured out why I hadn’t I thought of that. Having strong female characters that readers will really enjoy is very important to me. The character works great as a nare do well, inked, pan sexual, female, veteran getting by as best she as a VIP shuttle operator ever since she’d been kicked out of the Fleet Infantry for what amounted to insubordination. Changed Nolan’s wife’s name to Eidnam and haven’t looked back. This character is quickly becoming one of my favourites as I’ve written her into the series as supporting character.

Q. Okay, just to change the topic, you’ve set up quite a successful sci-fi group on facebook (in fact I’m a member myself). Tell us a little about the group and what drove you to create it?

I really wanted a group where experienced writers, new authors and fans of the Science Fiction genre could come together and share ideas, experiences both positive and negative as well as resources with each other. All while networking and promoting their work and mine… The group is growing but I’ve admittedly not given it all the attention I think it deserves to make it what it could be.

Q. I read in another interview that you like to hide secrets in your novels. How about telling us just one?

Throughout THE LAST MARINES series, a side theme, I guess you’d call it, is that the existence of certain creatures from Earth legends are explained as having alien origins. This isn’t the main theme of THE LAST MARINES but is the main theme for a spinoff I’m working on. It takes place in the same “universe” as THE LAST MARINES but instead of being set in the distant future it takes place in the American West of the 1880s.

Sounds interesting. Okay, thanks for the interview, Lawrence.
Check out these links for The Last Marines on amazon here, Lawrence’s blog here and you can connect with him on twitter here and on goodreads here. Also don’t forget to check out the facebook page here.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

September's Art - Mohzart

September's Art - Mohzart
Mecha Prawn Awakens
NASA Spider
Tank-Mech Experiment 001
Mechatank Concept 003
Heavy Tank Suit

Saturday, 14 September 2019

September's Book - Europa by Geoffrey Church

September's Book - Europa by Geoffrey Church

A short novel that moves quickly from a near future metropolis to the wonders held beneath the oceans of Jupiter's Europa. Told in a patiently realistic style, this story is both believable and fun. A ride worth taking.

The year is 2068. The United States already has several colonies on the moon, Mars, and Jupiter's beautiful moon, Europa. A vast saltwater ocean has been discovered below the frozen surface of Europa. The president of the United States has approved a special mission to drill through the frozen surface of Europa and deploy a submarine to explore and search for life in Europa's vast subterranean ocean. A team of highly successful business leaders and entrepreneurs finance the adventure, hoping to capitalize on the treasures and resources for the benefit of mankind back on Earth. They encounter a truly amazing world, with many similarities to our own planet, not to mention a breath taking landscape.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

September’s Story – From by Katherine Hajer


by Katherine Hajer

On Mars the daytime sky is pink — it’s the sunsets that are pale blue.

After over two years of not being on a planet at all, Audrey didn’t care what colour the sky was, so long as she had one over her. She paused for a moment as she stepped off the spaceliner and onto the walkway that led to the Martian welcome centre. It was strange to walk without feeling engine vibrations coming up through the floor. She tilted her head back and gaped at the huge glass dome. Fred Peters, her job contact here, had told her that eventually people stopped thinking of the domes as “being inside” and identified anywhere without an opaque wall as “outside”. Audrey shook herself and continued to the welcome centre. It was going to take a while to get used to this.

She scanned the crowd for someone looking like the photo of Fred Peters that was on the employee intranet, then noticed a teenaged girl holding a sign that said “Audrey” on it. The girl made eye contact with her and smiled.

Are you Audrey Fremantle? I’m Sarah Peters, Fred’s daughter. My dad got called into work at the last minute, so I said that I would come and meet you.” Sarah put away the sign. “It doesn’t happen that often.”

Nice to meet you, Sarah.” Audrey guessed the girl was about sixteen. “Thank you for stepping in.”

No problem — I’ve never met someone who was actually from Earth before. You know the government will move your things to your residence, right?”

Audrey nodded. “Right.” She paused as Sarah’s words sank in. “Never? Both your parents were born here?”

Sarah nodded. “I’m third gen. All my grandparents were part of the construction crews that built the first domes, but they had all died before I was born. My older brothers can remember them a little. Want to have a tour of the colony, or do you want to go straight to your residence?”

A tour would be great.”

Sarah led Audrey out of the welcome centre to a trio of glass tunnels. They stepped onto a movator, sort of like the ones at Earth airports, except this one had chairs. The two women sat down, and Sarah started pointing out things.

I picked this tunnel because it gives you a good view of the dome layout, and it’s nice and long so we can talk about what you want to look at. The government area is over there — that’s where we live, and where your residence is too. I used to go to school there, but now I take the tunnel to the university area. The senior high schools are in the same location.”

Audrey compared the two dome clusters, but from this distance they looked identical. She supposed there would be better identifying landmarks once they were actually inside the domes.

We’re going to go through the agricultural district now,” said Sarah. “This is my favourite place in the colony.” The movator slid past a field of tall plants. “Those are sunflowers. You can eat the kernels, and you can cook with their oil.”

My mother used to grow sunflowers in her garden on Earth,” said Audrey.

Sarah looked surprised. “Really? I didn’t know they’d been exported to Earth.”

They’re not, they were exported from...” Audrey started to say, but Sarah was pointing out a field of spelt, carefully explaining to Audrey what spelt was and proudly announcing it was a Martian staple.

Yeah, on Earth too, thought Audrey. She peered at the spelt. Maybe it was a Mars-specific strain invented to be grown under glass domes, but to Audrey it just looked like plain old spelt.

They trundled along more domes filled with fields of beans and strawberries. Each time, Sarah’s explanation indicated that she believed the plants were native to Mars, and that Audrey would never have seen them before.

Ooh, the botanical gardens!” Sarah jumped off the movator. “Let’s walk around!”

Audrey followed Sarah into a walkway that led to a dome set out as a formal garden. There were plaques in front of each kind of plant stating what its common and scientific names were, but not mentioning that all of them, down to the last shrub, were transplants from Earth.

Sarah had stopped explaining what everything was when Audrey started reading the plaques out loud, but Audrey was still troubled by the misconception. After all, the reason why she was on this three-year research stint with the government was to ensure Earth-Martian links remained strong.

She decided to take her stand by a clump of rose bushes. “These are lovely,” she said. “I used to grow the exact same variety outside my townhouse on Earth. This kind’s from England originally, as I recall.”

Sarah smiled, but Audrey could see it was forced. “Those are Martian roses. Everyone in my family volunteers here. I planted that bush myself.”

The plant is Martian, sure, but as a variety —”

They’re Martian! It’s true, everything they say about Earthers is true! You’re all in total denial that Mars is Mars, you think this is all just Earth under a bunch of domes!”

Audrey tried to recall everything she had ever learned about staying calm. “The colony’s been here a long time,” she began. “Certainly long enough to have its own identity and culture.”

I know,” said Sarah.

Audrey tried again. “On Earth, roses grow all over the world, but they’re from Asia, mostly.”

These are from Mars.”

Audrey pointed to the emergency hatch at the end of the garden path. “If these are Martian roses, open that hatch and see how long they last without the dome’s seal protecting them.”

Sarah muttered something under her breath and stomped back towards the movator. Audrey caught only a few swear words and decided not to push it. She was here as a researcher, not a teacher.

The roses were lovely, though. She envied the Martians' ability to control the climate so precisely, thanks to the domes.

She heard Sarah shouting something, but couldn’t make out what it was.

Then she noticed the abrupt temperature drop, and how the wind started blowing.

For more information, check out Katherine Hajer’s blog here.