Fantasy author K. M. Shea has been running a pretty amazing summer reading event over on her site, collaborating with loads of authors to host awesome giveaways and free books.
For August, she has brought 70 authors together to participate in a huge BookFunnel giveaway of novellas and short stories. These are all classified as “clean” reads (no sex and minimum violence and language) and are 100% Free :):):)
Click here to head on over and see if there’s something new for you to try!
Couple of quick things to tell you about as we head into the weekend:
First, I’ve put Insurrection: The Complete Omnibus on sale for 99¢ for a few days (also on Kindle Unlimited). Space battles, chases, escapes, true love, blasters — sometimes a love of blasters — all at a discount;)
Second, for you gamers out there, I want to draw your attention to a seriously awesome indie game called Crying Suns. If you’re a fan of FTL, this is DEFINITELY a game you want in on. It’s in the final days of their Kickstarter campaign and the demo is unbelievably amazing. All the same fun and freedom of choosing your own adventure from FTL, but with more story. Kotaku has given it a rave review as well.
Check out the trailer:
Woah, right?? And the game play is as fun as this looks. The creators poured their heart and soul into this one, and it shows. We’re already contributors at my house and just had to signal boost. Support for independent creators is how epic games come about, so if you’re able, please consider giving them yours.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Anela says: I’m excited to kick off a series of guest posts from awesome women authors of science fiction. Women fill science fiction as readers, writers, and characters in stories, though do not often receive equal recognition in this genre. Today, I welcome author Mikhaeyla Kopievsky as she examines gendered stereotypes and the ways in which science fiction has served as a vehicle to challenge them.
Take it away, Mikhaeyla!
Challenging the Collective Identity
Just a little while ago, on 14 July, I released the second book in my Divided Elements series, Rebellion. I thought it was kind of fitting that Rebellion was published on Bastille Day, since it is a dystopian tale of revolution set in a post-apocalyptic Paris. Interestingly, 14 July is also celebrated as International Non-binary Day – which similarly held a nice symmetry, since my book is centered on challenging the identity stereotypes society imposes.
As someone who has always strongly identified as female and as a feminist, but not particularly feminine, Non-binary day got me thinking about how gendered identity – like all types of identity – is both a deeply personal and a deeply cultural concept. And that authentic identity is forged in the way we both embrace and challenge the cultural stereotypes of that collective identity.
Collective identity is a tricky thing – by its very nature it is a generalisation; a broad-brushed characterisation of a shared experience, perspective, and values-system. Changing the way we view that characterisation (and opening up opportunities for challenging it), requires changing the narrative…
And what better vehicle for doing that than actual narratives?
Science fiction has been creating mind-bending narratives for decades and there are likely hundreds of examples that show stereotypes being challenged and reimagined. Today I want to share with you my favourite examples of gendered stereotypes turned on their heads by scifi books and movies:
- Sarah Connor (Terminator) – ‘Mother’. Sarah Connor is not the kind of mother you’d find in a Norman Rockwell painting and yet she is nothing if not fiercely maternal. Sarah debunks all concepts of passive, gentle motherhood and instead gives us a mother lioness.
- Ellen Ripley (Alien) – ‘Damsel in Distress’. Ellen Ripley is on a distant, unfamiliar planet when her entire crew is decimated by a really freaking scary alien. Ellen is not a kick-ass, alien-killing ninja (a la Emily Blunt’s Angel of Verdun in Edge of Tomorrow) – she is just a woman who is left alone and who must survive with the skills, knowledge and resources available to her. She is not super-human, but she finds a super-human strength within her to win her battle with a formidable foe and make it out alive.
- Ann Burden (Z is for Zacahariah) – ‘Dreamy Schoolgirl’. Ann, a teenage girl who is left alone on her family’s farm in the wake of a nuclear fallout, undergoes a rite of passage when her isolation is interrupted by the arrival of Loomis – an older man who appears with a radiation safe-suit and ideas on how to survive. Desperate for company and impressed by his confidence and credentials, Ann nurses him to health and fantasizes about eventually marrying him, falling into line with his ideas and directions. Over time, she starts to harbor doubts about the man and his ideas and when he turns aggressive and violent, rather than capitulate to submission, Ann takes control of her life and claws back her own agency.
- YT (Snowcrash) – ‘Sweet Sidekick’. YT (Yours Truly) is a savvy, self-assured skateboarding courier who is more the reluctant hero than the book’s actual protagonist, Hiro. YT is a world-weary fifteen year old, who wears a dentata (anti-rape device), frequently thinks about sex, throws herself into the path of danger, and still loves her mum.
- Nyx (God’s War) – ‘Pure Warrior’. There are many stories about women warriors who are righteous and just and almost Madonna-like (holy, not musical) in their pure quest for victory. Not Nyx. Nyx is a ruthless mercenary who kills for money, not morals and not loyalty. She is not the one to save the cat, she is one to save herself.
Each of these examples show how good science fiction can challenge what we think we know about a shared experience and collective identity. I see aspects of myself, my sister, my mother, and my friends in all of these characters – and I love that they broaden my understanding of what being female is and can be.
Challenging gender stereotypes creates a more dynamic and fluid understanding of identity and allows us to create more personal reflections of the cultural stereotypes that have previously limited us.
I hope to read, and create!, more amazing and interesting and unique female characters that continue to challenge and inspire me.
Anela says: Thank you so much for this insightful post, Mikhaeyla!
Readers, where have you seen science fiction confront or confound gender stereotypes in books/TV/movies/games?
Don’t forget to check out Mikhaeyla’s gripping Sci-Fi series Divided Elements below!
Love thought-provoking and subversive science fiction? Check out the Divided Elements series, where forging your own identity is the most dangerous form of revolution.
From the moment you are born, you are conditioned to know this truth: Unorthodoxy is wrong action, Heterodoxy is wrong thought. One will lead to your Detention. The other to your Execution.
Two generations after the Execution of Kane 148 and Otpor’s return to Orthodoxy, the Resistor’s legacy still lingers.
In this future, post-apocalyptic Paris, forbidden murals are appearing on crumbling concrete walls – calling citizens to action. Calling for Resistance.
When Kane’s former protege, Anaiya 234, is selected for a high-risk undercover mission, Otpor is given the chance it needs to eliminate the Heterodoxy and Anaiya the opportunity she craves to erase a shameful past.
But the mission demands an impossible sacrifice – her identity.
While the growing rebellion will change the utopian lives of all Otpor’s citizens, for Anaiya it will change who she is. As the risk of violence escalates and every decision is fraught with betrayal, will Anaiya’s fractured identity save her or condemn her?
Get your free Cocktail Companion Guide and deleted prologue by signing up to Mikhaeyla’s newsletter.
MIKHAEYLA KOPIEVSKY is an independent speculative fiction author who loves writing about complex and flawed characters in stories that explore philosophy, sociology and politics. She holds degrees in International Relations, Journalism, and Environmental Science. A former counter-terrorism advisor, she has travelled to and worked in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Mikhaeyla lives in the Hunter Valley, Australia, with her husband and son. Divided Elements is her debut offering.
Today I have a fun surprise I’d like to share with you:
I’ve teamed up with 30+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Young Adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!
Oh, and did I mention you’ll receive a collection of FREE reads just for entering? ;D
You can win books from authors like Andrea Pearson (Mosaic Chronicles series) and Tosca Lee (The Books of Mortals series), plus my new novel FAILSAFE
Enter the giveaway by clicking HERE
Good luck and happy Monday, everyone!
I love romance. Straight up, putting it out there and feelin’ no shame: I looove it. A friend of mine once told me I was in love with love. It could be true because a good love story gives me the fuzzies, the butterflies, the squees. Whatever you want to call it, a romantic sub-plot so does it for me. It takes a really good writer to make me not notice its absence because I usually feel like the story was missing something when there isn’t one.
So, you can imagine I’m pretty familiar with what sucks about them. I’ve read stories where the plot/worldbuilding/characters are all amazing, but for some reason they shoved in a glaringly bad love story that dragged down all the good. My working theory is that there are authors who think they have to have a love story in order to catch the attention of readers who prefer stories with them (like me), but they don’t actually read/write much romance themselves and thus don’t have a good feel for what it should look like.
Whatever the case may be, I’ve boiled it down to three main things that make readers despise a romance — and which give the romantic sub-plot in books a bad name.
1. Melodrama & Manufactured tension
I’d put the love triangle/square/hexagon mess under melodrama, because really, what a problem it is when one JUST CAN’T DECIDE between multiple hotties. The triangle can work. I’ve seen it done well and it was awesome, but most of the time it’s a total blunder. Also, I have a hard time rooting for a character who strings love interests along under the rationale that they don’t want to “hurt” one of them, or they’re “so in love with them both”. Lord, give me a break.
This is also the category where I file the miscommunication gag that could be solved with a single conversation, and the dumb arguments where one side is mad at the other for something ridiculous that wasn’t even the other one’s fault. If they’re gonna fight, let it be for something real. There’s plenty of that to choose from.
2. Insta-Love/No chemistry
When Romeo saw Juliet from across the room and fell in love, proclaiming that “she doth teach the torches to burn bright”, his best friends immediately told him he was an idiot and ribbed the crap out of him. “You were in love with someone else not five minutes ago, man!” (uh, paraphrasing here) So, yeah, insta-love is hard to believe in, and with only a few exceptions I’ve come across, it does not work well. Insta-attraction, hells yeah, that exists. But love is familiarity. Love is seeing their sadness while everyone else sees a convincing smile. That takes work to convey on the page.
Similar deal with the no chemistry thing. That relationship needs to be grown from a bond that’s believable, one based on mutual understanding and a genuine affection. Readers know the difference between a connection that’s real and one that’s inserted to check off the romance sub-plot box.
3. Abuse as romance
This is a big one. It takes many forms but to avoid the endless rant I’m capable of I’ll outline one specific thing I’ve noticed recently, especially in YA:
I don’t know how many times I’ve read a book where the pair started off as enemies (which is okay) but one of them imprisons/physically harms/threatens with death/verbally abuses/endangers or abandons the other one who eventually turns out to be the love interest later on (which is incredibly NOT okay).
I really don’t understand this or why people love the trope so much. If the relationship started out as harmful, HOW can the one harmed grow to trust and love the other one knowing what they are capable of in the absence of those lovey feelings?? The memory, the echo of that fear, does not just vanish no matter how sassy-tough the character is. If the harm happened on the field of battle — like, literally, they were in opposing armies attacking each other — that’s something else. It’s the intentional cruelty at the beginning of their association that I don’t feel can be overcome. Forgiven, sure, but turned into a romance, noooo. A complicated introduction can be done without this element!
Anyway, I promised not to rant, so I’ll stop there.
You might be wondering at this point, given how badly a romance sub-plot can go, why am I still a fan? That’s easy. When a romance is done well, when time and effort and, you know, love is invested in it, it can make a story that was good into something transcendent, one I’ll read and reread over and over again.
Two big reasons:
1. Love is transformative
Don’t everybody roll your eyes at me! The world is a cynical place and we are surrounded by tragic endings, and injustice, and wrongdoing, but this does not mean that love isn’t a force that can change everything. In books, I don’t think that love should replace personal strength, or require the sacrifice of one’s own dreams, or that it can cure trauma, but it can be the spark that shows the characters that there is more than despair. It can be the safe space offered by someone who loves that person for who they are, who will support them no matter what. It’s someone saying, “I believe in you” when the world is shouting the other down. Tell me that isn’t something that can turn defeat into victory and sorrow into joy.
2. Love is fun
You know what I mean here. Love is banter. It’s inside jokes, teasing. LAUGHTER. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read where the romance was so friggin’ seeerious with the smoldering gazes and angst and agony that I just couldn’t get into it. I remember closing the book and thinking, “You know what this story could’ve used? Some funny.”
For me, humor does not deflate intensity. It actually makes the romance–the bond–seem more real. And when they’re torn apart by *insert terrible thing happening in the plot*, the longing each character suffers is visceral because I feel the absence of that bright spot in their life with them.
These two things together are why I still adore the romance sub-plot even though it gets mishandled. An occasional disappointment, yes, but always eclipsed by my joy when a story does it well.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today on the subject.
As you can see, it ends after tomorrow, so hop over and see if there’s an awesome read for you. The sale includes my own fantasy novel, A Ransom of Flames, which is 99¢ until this sale ends.
Happy Monday and have a great rest of the week!
You might’ve noticed a couple of alternations on the ole website here. I’ve cleaned up the link headers at the top menu, made a few adjustments on the pages, and other odds n’ ends. I don’t have plans to change the entire look of the place (yet) but my intention is to focus this site on the author part of me rather than the blogger.
Don’t panic! I will continue doing book and movie reviews, posts about speculative fiction, and other fun stuff, but I’m closing down the areas where I accept requests from the public. This page will still be dedicated to showcasing Indie books exclusively, though the newsletter might include some traditional book recommendations as well.
It saddens me a bit to ease up on the book blogger aspects because I had so much fun with it, but there are only so many full-time jobs a single individual can do at the same time. Reducing this obligation will allow me to fulfill the promises to those whose books I have agreed to review and, more importantly, free up the time I need to prioritize my writing. Being an author has always been my passion ever since I was a scrawny elementary school kid huddled over my wide-rule notebooks, scribbling feverishly with my #2 pencil at the kitchen table. (By the way, there are actual pictures of little me writing stories that my mom took covertly, wild curly hair and everything — No, you don’t get to see them! *cowers in mortification*)
So, that’s the update. Some change, but I’m betting you won’t notice too much since I’ve kinda been doing this for a little while already. Now it’s just official.
On to the Free books!
I also wanted to showcase a Steampunk space opera called Eye of the Colossus that’s on sale for just 99¢ on Amazon (or free via Kindle Unlimited). It has four and five-star reviews and looks pretty awesome.
Here’s the teaser:
Sufficiently teased? Find out more on Amazon and get your copy for only 99 pennies!
That’s all for now! Sending much love and hoping everyone is having a great week!