Tag Archives: Alma Alexander.

[GUEST POST] Alma Alexander on The Collision of High Science with High Fantasy


Alma Alexander‘s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website (www.AlmaAlexander.org), her Facebook page or her blog.”

High Science and High Fantasy Walk Into a Bar…

by Alma Alexander

I have a science degree. Well, I have three, actually. I got my basic undergraduate BSc back in 1984, and then followed that up with what in South Africa at the time was a stepping-stone half-undergraduate and half-postgrad degree known as BSc (Hons.) In my Honours year, there were five of us – three young women, two young men, all eager-beaver young scientists all dewy fresh and enthusiastic. At our post-graduation-ceremony celebration, gathered together at the worst-kept secret at my University (a watering hole called Spanish Gardens…you might have heard about it…I used it as a setting for a novel I wrote back before the Mayans said the world would end…), the five of us were joined by one of our lecturers, himself a young postgrad, probably closer in age to us than he was to the elder echelon of the other academic staff at our department. On this occasion, he prophesied for us – he looked at each of the five of us and told us what our scientific futures would be. This one would go on to earn a PhD and end their lives in the halls of academe…this one would probably go into industry…this one this…this one that…and then he came to me.

He looked at me for a long time, and then said, “You…you are just misguided.”
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MIND MELD: Our Non-Writer Influences

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

We asked this week’s panelists about their influences outside of the literary world.

Q: Who are your non-writer influences? And how have they influenced your work?

Here’s what they said…
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MIND MELD: Rebranding Fiction as Young Adult

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week we asked about rebranding adult novels as YA:

Q: What genre novels would benefit from a re-branding as Young Adult? Which YA novels should not be branded as such?
This is what they had to say…
Gail Carriger
Gail Carriger is a New York Times Bestselling author writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She survived her early years by reading most of her local library and memorizing Greek battles. Her YA book Etiquette & Espionage, the first in the Finishing School series, releases Feb. 5, 2013.

I’d like to hope they already have been rebranded, but two of my favorites are part of larger series. Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen trilogy is possibly the most YA of her early Valdemar books. And Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong trilogy is a great introduction to the Pern universe. I’d like to see both reissued with updated cover art, in hardback, for a YA audience.

I’d also add two books that are the first in their respective series but stand well enough alone as YA. Mary H. Herbert’s Dark Horse, and Cherry Wilder’s A Princess of the Chameln both include one of my favorite plot points: a girl disguising herself as a boy.

Last, I think The Forgotten Beasts of Eld would make a great rebranded YA book. Although the protagonist isn’t technically young enough, she has an isolated innocence that makes her seem young. Also Patricia McKillip’s writing style is so atmospheric, like a fairy tale, I think younger readers would really appreciate her style.

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MIND MELD: What Book Introduced You to Fantasy?

We’ve already covered first science fiction books, now it’s time to flip the coin with this week’s panelists. So we asked them:

Q: What book introduced you to fantasy?

Check below to see their responses. And tell us what book got you hooked!

Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson is the author of Elantris and the Mistborn trilogy.

Brandon was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. That book, The Gathering Storm will be available in October 2009 and can be sampled on Tor.com.

The first fantasy I was ever given was Tolkien. For many, perhaps, that would be the end of the story. But I wasn’t a terribly good reader at the time, and though I read and enjoyed the The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings was like a big brick wall. I slammed right into it and couldn’t get past the barrow scene.

And so, I figured fantasy was boring stuff and went back to video games. (Atari 2600–state of the art.)

The real breakthrough came when I hit 8th grade. A teacher assigned me to do a book report, and I tried with all my conniving little heart to get her to let me do mine on one of the Three Investigators novels (which I’d enjoyed reading in second or third grade.) The result of this little power struggle was me, sullenly slinking to the back of the room where she kept her cart of books, bearing the instructions that I HAD to pick one of those to read.

And there, sitting in full Michael-Whelan-Covered-Glory, was Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. I think angels might have sung (though it was probably the school choir class next door.) Anyway, that was beginning of the end for me. I LOVED that book; and right next to it in the card catalogue at school was a listing for Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey.

Eddings, Melanie Rawn, and Williams came next. I was thoroughly a fantasy super-geek by the time 1990 rolled around, and Eye of The World was published.

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SF Tidbits for 9/16/09

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