Jody Wallace grew up in the present day United States in a very rural area. Okay, not present day, but, you know, in the past couple of decades. She went to school a long time and ended up with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing and loafing. Her meatloafs, in particular, are stellar. Her resume includes English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, and general, all around pain in the butt. Ms. Wallace’s approach to writing is to tell as many outlandish lies as she can get her readers to swallow. That trait is really on display in her SFR (Science Fiction Romance) spoof, The Adventures of Mari Shu.

About the series:

Mari Shu, a factory drudge in the year 4000-something, must choose how to protect her sisters, her purity, and her own conscience in a bleak futuristic society that’s been polluted by smog, rampant commercialism, tacky jumpsuits, sexual perversions, unjust socioeconomics, interstellar travel, and inconsistent use of the Oxford comma.

Parodies peel back the layers of a genre in interesting, and often hilarious ways. In the case of Jody Wallace’s The Adventures of Mari Shu, the laser-sharp focus is science fiction and sci-fi romance. This new series is an epic parody in the vein of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Only with more sexxoring and goo. The first two volumes, Earthbound Passion and Martian Conquest, have been unleashed throughout the galaxy.

So we could learn more about Jody Wallace’s new series, I met with her at the Olde Earth Parks and Rec Commission. While standing in a mile-long line to look at some grass, we chatted about widgets, *** seals, and criminal hovercycle gangs.
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MIND MELD: Books That Carried Us Outside Our Comfort Zone

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This week we asked our participants to talk about reading out of their comfort zone…

The right kind of author, and the right kind of book, can lure readers to try subgenres of fiction and genre fiction that they wouldn’t normally think to try. These authors and books lure unwitting readers into trying and embracing a new subgenre by virtue of being well-written, subverting genre expectations, and sometimes being a case of a favored author trying a new subgenre and following her into it.

Q: What authors and books have gotten you to try new subgenres of fiction and genre fiction?

Here’s what they said…

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MIND MELD: Our Dream Anthologies

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Everyone wants to be a anthologist, right? So we asked our panelists to put on their editor’s hats and create their very own anthology.

Q: What would your dream genre anthology be?

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Sharon Lynn Fisher writes books for the geeky at heart – sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance. She has a passion for world-building and twisty plots, and themes that recur in her writing include what it means to be human and symbiosis in human relationships.

Her latest release is The Ophelia Prophecy, a biopunk flavored, post-apocalyptic tale out now from Tor. A mix of light science, heavy moral conflicts, and sizzling sexual tension, The Ophelia Prophecy is sure to please the romance reader looking for something different, or the SF fan looking for something hot.

After Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express and Sharon binge-watched all 110 episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast-because, you know, Zorak-they chatted about The Ophelia Prophecy, freaky orange cats, and praying mantis sex.


Heather Massey: Describe a typical week for Sharon Lynn Fisher.

Sharon Lynn Fisher: I’m not sure there’s any such thing – a result of being a freelancer and a half-time single parent! My working hours (which can occur at any hour, any day of the week, in any state of dress) are divided between my contracted fiction, new writing projects, and my work as senior editor for SilkWords, a new “pick your own path” romance short story site. Whatever is left goes to my daughter, my boyfriend and HIS daughter, and one freaky orange cat.
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MIND MELD: Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2014

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It’s a new year and you know what that means…new book releases! So with that in mind, we’ve asked our panelists the following question:

Q: What upcoming book or books (to be released in 2014) are you most looking forward to reading? Why?

Here’s what they said…
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This week we asked our participants about 2013 genre movies:

Q: 2013 in Genre Cinema: Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, Oblivion, Ender’s Game…a plethora of genre movies are up to bat this year. What movies have caught your attention already? What movies are you going to avoid like the plague?

Here’s what they had to say:

Laura Resnick
Laura Resnick is the author of the popular Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, whose releases include Disappearing Nightly, Doppelgangster, Unsympathetic Magic, Vamparazzi, Polterheist, and coming soon, The Misfortune Cookie (November 2013). She has also written traditional fantasy novels such as In Legend Born, The Destroyer Goddess, and The White Dragon, which made multiple “Year’s Best” lists. An opinion columnist, frequent public speaker, and the Campbell Award-winning author of many short stories, she is on the Web at LauraResnick.com.

Although I was so bored I nearly fell asleep in the previous Star Trek movie, I’ll probably see Star Trek 2, which I’d normally skip, simply because Benedict Cumberbatch is in it. He’s among the actors for whom I’ll try watching a film I’d otherwise skip. (The list also includes Shah Rukh Khan, Alan Rickman, Kajol, Meryl Streep, Laura Linney, Aamir Khan, Sean Bean, Colin Firth, Tilda Swinton, etc.) He could make the film watchable, so I’m willing to try.

Otherwise, I don’t plan to see any sf/f feature films in 2013, simply because, in general, I avoid Hollywood sf/f movies like the plague. The majority of them focus on two things that don’t interest me at all: special effects and action porn. (“Action porn” is director Nicholas Meyer’s phrase for a movie that exists to convey a lot of action scenes, rather than a movie in which action scenes help tell a story.) Since I’m not a fan of either of those things, Hollywood sf/f movies tend to be boring for me. (See above: nearly fell asleep watching Star Trek.)

However, I do look forward to watching Season 2 of Game Of Thrones on Netflix (I don’t have HBO). I really enjoyed the characters and story in S1 (compelling characters and interesting story being high on the list of things that I -am- a fan of), and the S2 DVDs are in my queue. A GoT marathon will be my treat to myself after I deliver my next book!
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Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She also writes a monthly steampunk romance column for Coffee Time Romance.

Looking To The Future: Women on Top of the SF&F World

One day I asked myself, “What exactly would it take for a woman to direct a major motion science fiction romance film, one funded by a Hollywood studio?” (My mind works in fascinating ways!) The answer, of course, is an immensely complicated one. I can’t imagine how many stars would have to align for such an event to happen.

Let’s sample a few SF films with romantic elements/romantic SF from the past few decades. Who helmed them?
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Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author in the subgenre, her most recent title being Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts. In her spare time, she roams the sea of stars as an automaton space pirate.

Five Ways an Automaton Gunslinger Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Traditionally we think of money, a nice house in the suburbs, a good night’s sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet as ways to improve the quality of our lives. Nine times out of ten, those strategies are pretty effective. But another option exists…one that heretofore has flown under the proverbial radar.

I’m talking about automaton gunslingers.

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One of the hallmarks of genre is the way we distinguish books by means of awards. So we asked this week’s panelists…

Q: What is the value of awards to the science fiction and fantasy community? How important are they to you?

Here’s what they said…

Jo Walton
Jo Walton is a Welsh-Canadian fantasy and science fiction writer and poet. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in 2004. Her novel Ha’penny was a co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award. Her novel Lifelode won the 2010 Mythopoeic Award. Her newest novel is Among Others, currently nominated for a 2011 Nebula Award. She also writes many things for Tor.com.

I think awards are valuable in two different ways. In the present tense, they can draw attention to books and writers that deserve more attention — as when China Mountain Zhang was nominated for the Hugo. The Philip K. Dick award manages to find something I like and hadn’t noticed pretty much every year. This is good for readers who pay attention to them, and it can be good for a writer’s career — if they get award notice a publisher might decide to stick with them even though they don’t have great sales.

Secondly, they’re valuable as part of the historical memory of the genre — the awards of a year give a kind of snapshot of what people at the time thought was good. They judgements of awards are not always the judgements of posterity — I certainly saw that when I did my Tor.com “Revisiting the Hugos” series and looked at every year from 1953 until 2000. But they remain interesting. And what’s interesting to me isn’t ever the winner, it’s the shortlist. One book is one datapoint, a shortlist is a spread. The question I asked was not “did the best book win” so much as “do those five books give a good picture of where the genre was in that year”.
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MIND MELD: Current Politics In SF/F

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2012 is an election year in the United States and you can bet we’ll be inundated with all things political. Our question is –

Q: How should SF writers respond to the politics of their time, if at all?

Here’s what they said…

Heather Massey
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author: Her latest sci-fi romance is Queenie’s Brigade from Red Sage Publishing. To learn more about her published work, visit www.heathermassey.com.

For me, it’s very, very simple: I love a good wish-fulfillment fantasy. One of my favorites is the idea of a female President in a futuristic setting. Battlestar Galactica’s President Laura Roslin ranks right up there at number one.

The concept of a female President defies expectations, invites readers/viewers to question their assumptions about women, and serves up an empowering character.

It’s disheartening to think that in my lifetime, the only place I can experience a female President is in fiction. But I’m grateful that authors and filmmakers have dared to dream and have pushed those characters into the spotlight.
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MIND MELD: The Best Genre Crossovers

Despite what someone might initially think, genre boundaries are blurry, allowing storytellers to mix-and-match (intentionally or not) different genres, thus producing a story with an altogether new flavor.

We asked this year’s panelists this question:

Q: What are some of your favorite genre crossovers?

Here’s what they said…

Angela Slatter
Angela Slatter writes speculative fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Dreaming Again, Strange Tales II, 2012, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Shimmer. Her work has had Honourable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies and has been shortlisted for an Aurealis Award three times. She blogs at AngelaSlatter.com

Favourite genre cross-overs…I’m very partial to forms that mix crime noire with horror, sci-fi or dark fantasy…Blade Runner (the film) is the obvious example of a crime – sci-fi crossover. A newer one is Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch, a crime-dark fantasy crossover made of win, and Miéville’s The City & The City – which is kind of even more an expectation-breaker than usual.

I’m also a fan of things that are just plain weird – Miéville’s Perdido Street Station, a mix of science and magic and horror. Kelly Link’s mingling of fantasy, magical realism and some really creepy horror (e.g. ‘Some Zombie Contingency Plans’) is always a winner. I’m also a fan of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker detective series as it mixes ideas and legends drawn from the Apocrypha with a crime storyline and the books work really well.

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“Best of the Year” lists start appearing as early as November, so we are perhaps a little late in asking folks around the community:

Q: What were the best genre-related books, movies and/or shows you consumed in 2009?

[Also added was this note: They don’t have to have been released in 2009. Feel free to choose any combination of genres (science fiction/fantasy/horror) and media (books/movies/shows) you wish to include.]

Read on to see their picks (and also check out Part 1)…

Jack McDevitt
Jack McDevitt is the author of fifteen novels including The Devil’s Eye and Time Travelers Never Die, both from Ace. McDevitt has been a frequent Nebula finalist. He won for his 2006 novel, Seeker.

Books I most enjoyed:

  • WWW:Wake, Robert Sawyer
  • Mars Life, Ben Bova
  • Plague Zone, Jeff Carlson
  • Overthrowing Heaven, Mark Van Name
  • Rift in the Sky, Julie Czerneda

I’ve just started Galileo’s Dream, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Am hooked already.

We haven’t seen any SF films I can recall. A TV series that stands out: FlashForward.

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SF Tidbits for 8/14/09

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