Scifi, fantasy and portals

Food for happy thoughts.

Recently I read a post online that made me happy. The post dealt with things that are often seen as bad things in scifi and fantasy writing. One of the ‘bad’ things discussed was portals.

Why are portals considered bad?

Probably because they are easy. Portals can just be there without any further explanation. No one knows how it got there, nor who built it. The fun is to figure out if it still works, how it works, and how to get yourself out of the mess once you went through it.

Why do certain critics insist that writers should come up with other, more credible bits of equipment to get their characters into trouble? It will only add to the size of the book because the whole thing needs to be explained, invented, put into place, made credible. All that will draw the attention away from the actual story.

Of course, at times coming up with a new way to go from one place to another can be bunches of fun, but then that whole experience should be part of the story.  No such thing needed with a portal. Bam. It’s there. We’re in trouble Now what?

 

My own portals.

Seriously, I love portals. I’ve used one in Francis and Frankie for instance. And the times that Hilda and William travelled from Fairyland to ours and back, for instance in The Wytches Roone, that didn’t happen because of well-defined physics and other particle storm entities. Portal. Get them there and make the story happen. The titles I mentioned up here were fantasy stories. My Scifi story “Wanted: hero” also uses a portal to get to another planet. No space ships, no FTL-drives (Faster Than Light, another thing mentioned on the article I referred to). Without portals many stories would not have happened, and I’m not just referring to my own stories here.

A famous portal.

Sg1 stargate frontDo you remember the first Stargate film? What else is that star gate but a big, old portal? An entire network of them even!

As the series went on, the origin of the star gate was divulged, little by little. A great way to do this because it gave the people writing the series time to come up with credible parts to make this sound plausible. For me they did a great job with that.

(And since I’m a book lover: did you know that there are books published about the Stargate universe? Really! Follow the link and be surprised if you’re a fan and didn’t know about this yet!)

Gimme my portal and no one gets hurt.

Portals. I love them. Because they’re so convenient and versatile. How do you feel about portals in fiction (and film) to move to other places, other times, other worlds? Heck, maybe I’ll write a book called Portal World some day. I can see interesting things happening in such a place…

Book review – Captain Vorpatril’s alliance

Title: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating

Captain Vorpartil’s Alliance is an extremely entertaining book for me. There is a lot of humour and witty dialogue in it and many situations just invite to laugh.

Meet captain Ivan Xav Vorpatril who, thanks to helping an old friend to watch over someone, gets into a very strange situation, one that is supposed to be only temporary: he gets married. His wife, who comes from a high family on another planet in an entirely different area of the universe, brings with her a heritage that she herself was not even aware of, but when Ivan Xav’s family in law arrives, things really take a turn for the worse!

10 writing rules to break

Dear reader,

IO9, a wonderful site (in my humble opinion) on all things scifi and fantasy, has unleashed a list of 10 rules they would like writers of science fiction and fantasy to break more often.

  1. No third-person omniscient
  2. No prologues
  3. Avoid infodumps
  4. Fantasy novels have to be series instead of standalones
  5. No portal fantasy (= gateways between worlds)
  6. No FTL (=Faster Than Light, for travelling)
  7. Women can’t write “hard” science fiction.
  8. Magic has to be just a minor part of a fantasy world
  9. No present tense
  10. No “unsympathetic” characters

I feel like I have managed to break many of these rules, so far. Rules, as usual, are made to be broken. Otherwise they are no fun. If you feel like going into the full article, please follow this link to IO9.

Bactine can be yours for free

For the holiday season I priced down Bactine to 99c (until Jan 6th 2012) on Smashwords and Amazon.

For all you people who visit my site, I have Smashwords coupon code NF34Z to get it for free. It is a book for people who like steampunk/scifi. (I have no idea how to do this on Amazon; if you are a Kindle user, you can download the ‘mobi’ version to read on your Kindle.)

You can find Bactine when you follow this link. Just enter the coupon code upon checkout.

Indie Promotion Day

Hello, dear reader. Welcome once again.

What is this? This is the first Indie Promotion Day post. I will use this recurring opporunity to bring a book by an independent author to your attention, each week around this time. Independent authors work hard for their books and stories and oftentimes go unnoticed, so here is my humble attempt to change this situation.

So, may I present today’s Indie Promotion:

Between Darkness and Light


by Brianna Hawthorne

Ebook Short Description:  This is book one of The Universe Cycle trilogy. Shi’ahn and her brother William find themselves transported into a realm beyond anything they could have possibly imagined. Where they had once been powerful individuals, they are now almost inconsequential – at first. This book unfolds the ‘childhood’ of siblings that will soon have a tremendous effect upon the fate of everyone.

Between Darkness and Light is a Scifi/Fantasy book addressing the battle between the forces of order and chaos.

Where to find.
You can find the e-book on Smashwords.com where it is available for free. It is ready for download in all the common e-book formats, like epub, Kindle .mobi, pdf, etc.

Nanowrimo 2009

Now why would I bring up something ancient like a story from 2009? And you may ask, dear reader, what is a Nanowrimo?

Last things first: Nanowrimo is a challenge to write a novel in a month. A novel of at least 50,000 words. This amounts to around 1680 words per day, and more if you slip a day. Think of a book of about 100 pages, for easier reference.

In 2009 I did Nanowrimo for the third time. The story developed from a very short story I had written on the prompt of a friend. The prompt was: “Did they use Bactine?” At that time I was not even aware that Bactine is a first aid liquid, as it is an American product and unknown in the Netherlands.

The story is about a soldier on a star base who gets hurt badly, fixed up, set up, thrown out of the military in a halfway decent manner and ends up with a ‘special assignment’. He is sent to a planet far away, where a number of interesting things are waiting for him in an equally interesting environment.

It came out a cross between science-fiction and steampunk, at least that is how it feels to me. I am currently editing the book (trust me, writing 136,000 words in one month desperately calls for editing), so it is acceptable for publishing on Smashwords and affiliates.

If you, dear reader, have an appreciation for scifi and steampunk, it might be an idea to keep your eyes open for “Bactine”. Of course, I will keep everyone informed about the progress on this book, on this very weblog.

Below is a small snippet from “Bactine”, at the point where Daniel has returned from a mission that almost went wrong. It is the point where his future will change dramatically.

Read more