Category: Uncategorized

The Scandalous Flap Book History

Nicholas C. Rossis

Mary Natalie reading with mommy | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Mary Natalie reading a story about an insomniac bear who bears (heh heh) an uncanny resemblance to her dad.

Mary Natalie loves her flap books so much that we now have an assortment of them. My personal favorite is probably Spot, although that was before I realized what a scandalous history flap books have, courtesy of Sarah Laskow of Atlas Obscura. To my great surprise, flap books were first conceived not as innocent children’s companions, but as titillating mementos of tourists’ good times in what can only be described as Renaissance Europe’s own Las Vegas: 16th century Venice.

What Happened In Venice…

Sixteenth-century Venice was a cosmopolitan, wealthy city, known for its diversity, romance, and relaxed mores. As a republican port city, it was tolerant of all sorts of people and all sorts of behavior in ways that other European cities were not. All this made the city a popular…

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When Book Covers Get Characters Wrong

Kristen Twardowski

Book cover design is often grand, but sometimes publishers don’t get it quite right. Take for example the case of Nnedi Okorafor.

Nnedi Okorafor is an extraordinary science fiction writer, and she has the Nebula Award to prove it. Before she was quite so lauded, however, she had a strange and terrible interaction with her publisher regarding the cover design for The Shadow Speaker.

The Shadow Speaker is a young adult novel that was originally published in 2007 and received a James Tiptree Jr. Award. The book is set in 2070 in a time after a nuclear war that occurred in the early twenty-first century. It follows the story of Ejii who lives in a Nigerian village and is the 14 year-old daughter of her tribe’s former chief. Ejii is Muslim, and though her family has a complex ethnic background, she is undeniably African.

Which is why it was…

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Time Travel Stories Never Account for This One Thing

Our Great Escapes

Don’t be surprised to see flashing lights behind you and hear a police siren while you read this blog post. And it’s not because that slightly illegal prank you pulled in your youth has finally caught up with you.

You’re speeding.

Yep. Sitting in your chair, sipping your coffee or munching on your favorite snack, you are moving at a pretty ridiculous clip.

We experience day and night because the Earth rotates. Being an inhabitant of the Earth and subject to its gravity, that means we are spinning along with it. Standing at the equator, you would be moving at the rate of just over 1,000 miles per hour. In the middle latitudes, where most of the human population resides, it’s roughly two-thirds of that, or six-t0-seven hundred miles an hour.

And your mom always complained about you being so slow to get ready for school in the morning!

We can’t…

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Not with a bang

Not with a bang

Dawnrigger Publishing

Playing with world-building snippets for my Restoration stories again…


The end of world was a global event, but it wasn’t an end. It wasn’t an event. It was a process, a slow collapse that only looks inevitable in retrospect. It was never seen as apocalypse even when cities burned and missiles flew. Perspective is tricky, and denial is a powerful force. If globalism was the theme of the twentieth century, the lesson of the twenty-first was that connections can transmit chaos as easily as commerce .

During the span of decades comprising the Revision Years, governments toppled and economies disintegrated, businesses failed and took governments with them, social and political institutions crumbled and billions perished. Bastions of political stability were eroded by surrounding conflicts, and alliances proved as deadly as enmity.  No place on the planet went untouched by the upheaval.

Some sciences progress by leaps and bounds in times of conflict, but others cannot be…

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Portrayal of Women in Science Fiction

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Have you noticed how the supporting females roles in science fiction television and movies have been portrayed, especially over the last 60 years? I found myself wondering what was going on. Female characters like T’Pol in Star Trek: Enterprise, and Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager were rendered as highly sexualized but with limited emotional range. T’Pol was a member of the famously emotionally controlled Vulcans, and Seven of Nine had her human emotions stripped away by the Borg. It seems that science fiction liked to portray females as nearly unattainable beauties with limited gender socialization.

This treatment, of female characters, has existed since the early days. In the movie Forbidden Planet (1956), the alluring Altaira is naive and inexperienced with gender relationships. She does not know what a kiss is, and must be taught by the male crew of the spaceship. Mission Stardust (1967), introduced the story of Perry Rhodan, a long-running science fiction series of books from Germany. Having sold approximately two billion copies of the books, in novella format, worldwide, it is the most successful science fiction book series ever written. In the book and movie, Thora is an advanced alien female who becomes the love interest for Perry Rhodan. She is, at first, cold and distant, with no thought of romantic connection to a primitive Earth being. Perry must show her what primitive relations are like. These type of portrayals continued over the following decades on TV and in movies.

I delayed writing my thoughts down about what I had noticed. I thought it was a social trait of the past, and less likely to be found in the future. But, 2016 saw the Suicide Squad movie, and Harley Quinn. She is shown at the beginning to be dressed in conservative clothing, with librarian glasses, and a hair bun. Afterwards, she will do anything, dressed as male fetish eye-candy, all for love of Joker. And don’t get me started on Enchantress! She shares a gorgeous model body with an innocent scientist, controlled by love. The Enchantress is controlled because her heart, is literally locked in a box. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) has a character Jadis, the White Witch who is beautiful, but is only evil and enslaves others. She turns people into statues in her palace of ice.

I think we have not seen the end of these alien ice princesses. We will see what happens with The Major’s role in Ghost in the Shell this year. I suspect a gorgeous cyborg woman will have similar traits to those I’ve discussed above. While I enjoyed all the shows I’ve mentioned, it is finally time to explore more rounded roles for females in science fiction, and we have to encourage the writers, directors, and producers to insist on them.

Umbrae Blog Tour: Character Interview

Welcome to Hell Bent

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((So, to help with this blog tour, I’d volunteered to host a character interview. However, I have a hard time asking questions, myself. So, I got one of my characters to do it. Also, due to my affinity for primates, the character I chose to go with was a chimp named Ian. So without further ado…))

Travis walked through the zoo, his tail flicking lightly behind him. He’d gotten a few weird looks from some of those visiting. It was like they’d never seen a half-monkey guy before. Granted, he took no measures to hide his opposable toes or prehensile tail. He wasn’t even walking on two legs, choosing a gait not unlike that of many primates. He’d stopped off to ask a few of those working there where he could find someone he’d been hoping to speak to. Word had gotten out about there being…

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Hawaiian Pidgin: Hawaii’s Creole Language

Nicholas C. Rossis

Kamehameha | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Photo via Atlas Obscure

What language do modern Hawaiians speak? The answer, as Dan Nosowitz of Atlas Obscura points out, is not nearly as simple as you might think. There are several languages co-existing on the Hawaiian islands: Hawaiian, the Polynesian language of the original Hawaiians that’s experienced a renaissance of late; English, brought to the archipelago by Americans; the various languages brought by immigrant workers, including Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, and Spanish; and something which is now called Hawaiian Pidgin.

A pidgin, which is not capitalized, is a form of communication that arises when multiple groups of people need to talk with each other but do not have a language in common, and for whatever reason choose not to, or are not able to, teach each other their native languages. They are not considered full languages, in that they generally have limited and simplified grammar…

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Another thing authors do for us

EMANDYVES

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Mom suggested I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my children when they were young. She read Little House in the Big Woods to her grade one students each year and assured me the children loved the story.

I went out and bought the first book in the series, couldn’t hurt to try, being my philosophy. Besides, didn’t want Mom nagging me—not that she would have. Well, maybe only a little.

Each evening we sat on the sofa and read a chapter before bedtime. Like my mother’s students, my children were enraptured by the story. I was too, and reading together offered me the opportunity to tell my children more about my childhood on the farm as I was able to relate many of my own experiences to the book.

At the time, we lived on the edge of the city with farmland and a creek across the street…

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Yes, But What Do They Eat?

Yes, But What Do They Eat?

Dawnrigger Publishing

Life in a super-powered world gets complicated. Speculation is an entertaining playground. Yes, there are big questions to answer, but I prefer to ponder issues that would affect people’s daily lives.  What kind of house paint would work for people who exhale acid gasses? How would the fashion industry cater to scales and tails?

Then there are the scientific conundrums. Elena is five feet tall.  Jack tops eight feet. Amy stands twelve foot-plus. They’re all humanoid, and that’s a problem. If they’re all built on the same framework of bone & sinew, supplied by the same nerve impulses and fueled by the same basic digestive system, the math doesn’t work. Physics and biology both shake their heads and say NOPE. Human bodies don’t scale up well.

And yet, no one would need proof that it works. They see it. They live it. So there’s no reason to explain in detail how joints have to be designed to…

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Librarians in Fantastic Fiction

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I like to write about librarians and libraries. Every story I’ve written contains library business or people who deal with libraries. Since Amazon does not provide a bestseller category for Library Fiction, I find myself searching and finding titles, one by one. There are many books published with library in the title, or having libraries as a major theme. Below are some titles I found.

Better Late Than Never (A Library Lover’s Mystery)

by Jenn McKinlay a cozy mystery:

Ink and Bone (The Great Library Book 1)

by Rachel Caine a teen steampunk story:

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library Novel)

by Genevieve Cogman a time travel steampunk story:

And of course, you should check out my books, which all relate to libraries in the future without modern technology. Like Asante’s Gullah Journey:

Enjoy your reading of fictional tales of Librarians and Libraries!