Tag Archives: scifi

Friday Fandom: Top 10 Ships (Space and Nautical) of All Time

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So, it occurs to me I must really like ships. My first series features a fleet of tall ships—I toured several and sailed in one as part of my research—and my most recent novel is a space opera… with ships of a different kind! There’s just something grand and cool about how a ship can take you away. (And judging by a certain beloved pirate, I’m guessing Ashley agrees!)

Of course, when I realized that, I couldn’t resist a countdown for this week’s Friday Fandom. Here are my favorite fictional sea and space vessels. What are yours?

10. The Boru Karn, Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark
Props to Linnea Sinclair for making me love a ship I’ve never seen on the big screen. She’s got great description not only of the ship, but of how it moves through space. And, like so many others on this list, it’s got a charismatic captain!

9. The Sky Vessel, Stardust Stardust
It’s a tall ship. It flies. It catches lightning. That’s the trifecta! Now, throw in its colorful Captain Shakespeare, and you can’t lose.

8. The USS Enterprise, Star Trek
Before people get all feisty, this ranking says more about me than the ship. I came to the series late and have mostly only seen the new ones, so I feel like I can’t *really* do the ship full justice. Though it is one awesome ship!

7. The Indefatigable, Horatio Hornblower
My mom loves this series, and I got hooked on the VHS’ before I got a DVD player set up in my apartment. It’s partly the inspiration for the name of my most recent spaceship.

6. Shield’s Helicarrier, The Avengers
Why has no one actually created this yet?! It makes the list for sheer awesomeness of concept.

5. Serenity, Firefly and Serenity
They made this ship come alive! It felt like a home to the characters, and I couldn’t get enough! She’s scrappy and beat up, but still kickin’. Just like Mal.

4. The Inferno (AKA One-eyed Willie’s ship), Goonies
The one that started it all for me. I adore this movie, can quote every line, and when the ship sails free at the end I want to pound my chest in joy just like Sloth.

3. The Millennium Falcon, Star Wars
C’mon, it made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. What’s not to love?

2. The Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean
You may have heard of her captain. His name is Sparrow. Plus, this is just a downright gorgeous ship.

1. Moya, Farscape
She’s a living ship. She gives birth to a baby warship. Game, set, match!

From Farscape.wikia

From Farscape.wikia

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Fandom Friday: The 100

The100The 100 – Ah! This show. Where do I start? I love so many things about it that the words will probably run together into a seamless, incomprehensible stream of fangirl flailing.

For the uninitiated, the show is about a future human civilization who fled to a space station (the Ark) to escape Earth’s radiation after nuclear war. As the show opens, all of that is several generations in the past—but now, the Ark is running out of oxygen, so humanity’s leadership decides to send 100 teen delinquents to the ground to see if Earth is survivable. Not only is it, but the 100 aren’t the only ones there! The human race has splintered into 3 (maybe 4) groups.

I think what impresses me the most is the unexpected depth of the show, the plot and the writing, week in and week out. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “It’s on the CW,” how deep can it be. Well, you just watch missies and misters! As a writer, I hardcore admire this show’s writers because, man, they are FEARLESS. They throw in twists and character deaths and dark no-win situations like it’s going out of style. It’s not an exaggeration to say there are at least one or two breathless viewer moments each week.

But what keeps me coming back without a doubt are the characters (I’m holding in the fangirl squeeing, guys. It’s hard.). I have never seen so many badass lady characters all in one place before in my life!! Let’s review:

Clarke Griffin – I’ve joked with friends that I would name my daughter after Clarke. It is only partially a joke. This girl is a leader with a capital L. She takes no shit from anyone, tells it like it is, and faces danger and challenge head on to protect those around her, all while managing to keep a sense of vulnerability, fallibility and humanity. Gah, I love her!

Octavia Blake – Octavia’s perhaps the best example of what makes The 100 so different from any other show. On other shows, Octavia would simply be the sexy popular girl, who occasionally shows toughness but mostly needs others around her to do the rescuing. Ha! She may hover in that arena for the pilot episode, but the gal’s got guts and she’s not afraid to use them. She takes risks, fights (No, not just a well-timed punch or two. The scrappy kind of fighting that leaves you bloodied and makes you get up again…and again…and again), and frankly wows just about everyone around her, fellow 100ers and Grounders alike. I also love the relationships she brings to the show—her sister-brother bond with Bellamy is real and tough and so, so strong, and she is probably the most constant and reliable friend for all of her fellow 100ers

Raven Reyes – Raven is the toughest of the tough. She’s a straight arrow and always comes through. A talented mechanic, she builds her own pod to get from the Ark to Earth to join The 100, AND she devises a boatload of other cool weapons and tech from the scanty found items at the dropship camp. Fever, broken heart, paralyzed leg! Nothing can stop this girl!! Even more so than Clarke or Octavia, she’s a scrapper through and through.

Abby Griffin – Clarke’s mom. Doctor on the Ark. The only one who really believes Earth might be livable at the beginning. It’s her idea to send Raven to the ground. She’s smart, tough and (except where her daughter is concerned) pretty darn comfortable backing the play of various 100ers. Her dialogue and sparring with fellow counselor Kane are always filled with awesome tension.

Misc. Grounder Gals – Anya, Lexa or Indra, take your pick. They’re all slightly crazy, pretty brilliant, hard as nails and 100% complete badass. And, let’s just take a minute to talk about the Grounders’ society. The worldbuilding on this show is strong enough to have developed an entire language for this people. That’s something I love in books, but is rarely done to this extent on television. I am in heaven!!

And, then, of course there’s Bellamy. I think it’s some kind of sin that it’s taken me this long to mention him in this post. Let’s just say that if none of the above reasons existed, I’d watch the show for him alone. Not just because, well, um, yeah, but because he has an incredible character arc.

I *get* characters like him and Clarke. They’re my favorite kinds of heroes and heroines whether on page or screen—leaders who understand all too well the price of leadership, but lead anyway because someone has to and they see their responsibility to others as higher than their concern for self. Ah, that is just all kinds of YES! I will follow leaders like that anywhere.

Bellamy starts out as a bit of a jerk who smuggled his way onto the drop ship to look out for his sister, Octavia (Kids are monitored closely on the Ark, so they’re the only set of siblings on the show), and is driven largely by his fear of being discovered. By the end of season 1, with a lot of help from Clarke, he’s transformed into this amazing, confident and kick-ass version of that earlier guy. He does the hard stuff, the things no one else wants to do, but that have to be done, and he has a heart of utter freaking gold.

The other 100ers–Lincoln, Finn, Jasper, Monty and even Murphy–each have their shining moments on the guys’ side. The Jasper and Monty friendship is one of my favorite aspects of the show. And, an aspect I really, really enjoy (and am constantly surprised by given its network) is the fact that the parent / adult storylines often are just as engaging as the 100’s.

Often, especially in YA, adults are relegated to the sidelines or seen more as enemies or obstacles than anything else. But on this show, I’m cheering just as hard for Abby or Kane or Jaha (okay, maybe not as hard for Jaha), as I am for the others. I’ve mentioned Abby already, but I must say Kane’s season 1 character arc was almost as incredible to watch as Bellamy’s. The strength of the character development is more what I’d expect to see from a book than from a TV show. I love it!!

Speaking of which, the show IS based off a book. I haven’t read it yet and—I can’t believe I’m going to say this—but I’m not sure I want to read it. The show has won my heart in a big way, and I’m a little scared to re-imagine those beloved characters on page because I know they won’t be the same.

So, there you have it, my resounding fangirl endorsement for The 100. Go catch the first season on Netflix and, if you’re not already 150% convinced the show will be awesome, go check out Sarah Rees Brennan’s parodies. Priceless!

-Nicole

Author’s Couch: Q&A with Kate Elliott

I grew up loving Kate Elliott’s CROWN OF STARS series and more recently devoured the first book of her SPIRITWALKER trilogy. Elliott crafts characters and worlds with exceptional detail, and we’re excited to talk with her about her latest series, COURT OF FIVES. 

Enjoy!

-Nicole

Court of FivesSynopsis

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

BFF: On her website, Elliott says: “I call this ‘Little Women meet American Ninja Warrior in a setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt,’ while the publisher has pitched it as ‘Little Women meets Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games.'”

Either way, we’re onboard!

Q&A

1. What’s the story behind the story? Tell us a little about where you got the idea for COURT OF FIVES.

First, my spouse is an archaeologist, currently co-director of an excavation at the site of Tell Timai in the Delta region of Egypt. Timai was an important port during the period when first the Greeks (Macedonians) under the Ptolemaic kings and queens ruled and, after them, the Romans. The period has such an interesting dynamic with a dynasty of rulers who came from outside the country that I began to wonder how I would weave a fantasy out of it without setting it directly in historical Egypt.

Second, I wanted to write about what it means to grow up in a country where the indigenous culture has been suppressed, and how the main character slowly learns she has been taught only one way to view her own background.

Third, I love sports; I’ve always played sports, and I particularly love watching girls and women compete today because, when I was a child, sports weren’t seen as “proper” or “natural” for girls and yet I personally wanted nothing more than to play. So I really really wanted to write a story about a girl who is a serious athlete and fierce competitor.

Fourth, and finally, I wanted to write an epic fantasy story that revolves around four sisters and how they figure out how to make a place for themselves in a world with rigid social divisions where they literally don’t legally fit anywhere.

BFF: Wow, I love the mix of history, culture, and competition as your sources of inspiration. And I’m a little jealous of your husband’s archaeology gig!

2. What’s your personal favorite part about the story? A character you loved writing, a scene that gives you shivers in all the best ways, etc.

I love the ending. I wanted to set up a situation that has impact because of what the reader has learned and experienced along the way, and I think (I hope!) I managed that.

King's Dragon3. Jumping back to one of your older books, that final scene with Sanglant in KING’S DRAGON has stuck with me for years! It’s incredibly powerful, and I remember holding my breath leading up to it hoping you hadn’t actually killed my favorite character. Any backstory to share about the writing of that scene?

I guess this technically counts as a spoiler, but since the book was published in 1997 I figure there is some kind of statute of limitations.

As I wrote the “doomed defense” scenario in which soldiers ride to their death in an effort to save civilians, I knew Sanglant wasn’t going to die because of the geas laid on him by his mother. I also knew he was going to go through his own terrible nightmare (just as Liath has suffered hers). So thematically I wanted to create a situation in which two traumatized characters heal each other. However, that thematic element aside, I love the drama implicit in the hierarchy of dog eats dog, in this case literally, and I wanted to show Sanglant as a truly bad-ass fighter even or especially in the most desperate and inescapable circumstances. Strange as it may seem, scenes like that write easily because they are so emotional and so clearly defined.

BFF: You definitely accomplished the bad-ass part! And the thematic emotional depth and healing as well. It’s such a powerful scene (Clearly. It’s stuck with me for close to 15 years!). Anyone for whom that was an actual spoiler – go get your hands on KING’S DRAGON! It’s a great read.

4. What is most likely to draw you in to a book?

Characters whose lives and conflicts I want to follow.

5. What’s next on your plate?

The first volume of my next epic fantasy, BLACK WOLVES, will be published in November. Meanwhile, I am working on final revisions for the next COURT OF FIVES book while outlining the second BLACK WOLVES novel.

BFF: Talk about busy! It’s great to hear you have new series forthcoming. Now for the fun stuff…

Favorite dragon: For biology, I adore the life cycle of Robin Hobb’s dragons. So brilliant conceptually, and with such inherent drama. For character, very hard to choose because there are many. I love Smaug, of course, prototypical as he is of the old implacable dragons of yore. I also love Haku, the shape-changing River Spirit from Hayao Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away.

Favorite Shakespeare: I tend to identify favorite Shakespeare’s by productions rather than plays. This is a hard call because I have seen many great productions of many of the plays but I think I have to tip my hat to a Shakespeare Santa Cruz production of Henry IV Part I that was designed for a contemporary setting, with King Henry to all intents and purposes the dictator of a small nation whose first speech is given with other actors surrounding him with cameras and microphones. Prince Hal made his first entrance dressed as Boy George (for those who remember the 80s), Falstaff was an aging hippie who carried around a five pack of beer by the empty plastic ring, and Hotspur looked–well–hot in camo gear with a rifle slung over his back. The way Shakespeare can be transformed in so many ways always amazes me. My other favorite Shakespeare is Akira Kurosawa’s tragic film RAN, a brutal adaptation of King Lear that has one of the most searing and hopeless endings I have ever experienced in any narrative.

Favorite fantasy food: My favorite fantasy food is always a meal cooked for me by someone else where I don’t have to do the dishes either.

BFF: Ha, great answers all around! Thanks so much for joining us on the Author’s Couch, and best of luck with the COURT OF FIVES launch. 

Kate Elliott author photoMore About Kate

Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. She is the author of over twenty science fiction and fantasy novels, including Cold Magic, Spirit Gate, King’s Dragon, Jaran, and her short fiction collection, The Very Best of Kate Elliott. Forthcoming books include YA debut Court of Fives (August) and epic fantasy Black Wolves (October). She lives in Hawaii with her spouse, paddles with outrigger canoe club Ka Māmalahoe, and nurses along an aging schnauzer.

 

More About COURT OF FIVES

Watch for Part 2 of our Kate Elliott interview in the coming weeks, where we talk more details on worldbuilding!

THIS SHATTERED WORLD: Nicole’s Review

This Shattered World CoverTitle: THIS SHATTERED WORLD

Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Publisher(s): Disney/Hyperion

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 400

Genre(s): YA Fantasy – Space Opera

Release Date: Dec. 23, 2014

Synopsis:
Last year, I unexpectedly fell in love with the YA space opera THESE BROKEN STARS, so I was excited to see where Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner took the story next in THIS SHATTERED WORLD.

The story introduces two new main characters, Jubilee “Lee” Chase—a stone-cold military captain at age 18—and Flynn Cormac—the peace-desiring leader of the local revolution. After Flynn kidnaps Lee from her base to gain information, the two discover not only an undeniable chemistry but the memory residue of a secret base on Flynn’s world of Avon.

Flynn believes it has something to do with why Avon has failed to fully terraform; Lee worries it could be a trigger for what the military calls “the Fury,” the sudden snapping of a soldier’s brain with disastrous consequences.

The truth ends up being even bigger than they suspect, with alien entities, corrupt galactic corporations, and the reappearance of Lilac and Tarver, the MCs of THESE BROKEN STARS.

Review:

While this book veered further into the predictable YA realm than the first one did, the tight pacing kept the action coming throughout. The pure sci-fi elements are, perhaps, also a little lighter in this one, though I think the main reason for that is the authors’ decision to go deeper in areas we’re already familiar with from book 1, rather than introducing entirely new aspects.

Part of what I liked in book 1 was the conflicted perspective and understanding of humans among the “whispers,” the series’ alien essences. The whispers aren’t fully good or evil, and THIS SHATTERED WORLD showed us that delicate interaction and surprising connection with humanity once again. I’m excited to see how Kaufman and Spooner weave the pieces together for the trilogy’s final installment.

In THESE BROKEN STARS, Kaufman and Spooner used a brilliant between-chapter scene ploy to foreshadow the outcomes for their main characters through the lens of a military interrogation. They apply a similar approach in THIS SHATTERED WORLD with Lee’s dream flashbacks/flashforwards. As with the first book, these between-chapter snippets have a world of meaning—throughout the story, we’re told Lee cannot and does not dream—and it was fun to see that revelation come full-circle by the novel’s end.

But the most delightful surprise in this book was the creativity of the worldbuilding premise. I say premise because I actually wish the authors had carried it a little further and delved a little deeper, but the mash-up they created for Avon was excellent. Environmentally, it’s a pioneer world, suspended in early terraform stages with seemingly endless swamps and a constant cloud cover that blocks stars and messes with radio signals. Culturally, it’s steeped in Irish myth and legend—from its language to its storytelling traditions. The rebels are known as the Fianna, soldiers are trodairi, and a handful of other references hearken back to the era of the Troubles in Ireland.

I loved the juxtaposition of Irish history with a space opera. It’s like my loves of history and reading collided! Throw in Chinese traditions via Jubilee and the base’s bartender, and it’s got a fun cultural flair that’s a bit reminiscent of Firefly.

Overall, THIS SHATTERED WORLD is a solid second book and I’m looking forward to the next.

4 Stars

-Nicole

(Originally posted on FantasyFaction.com)

Find this book on Amazon.