Book Review: Glory Season

Book Name: Glory Season
Author: David Brin
First Published: 1993
Nominated: Hugo 1994 and Locus 1994

David Brin is an American scientist and writer of hard science fiction novels. His works have been New York Times Bestsellers and he has won multiple Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Campbell awards. Brin was born in Glendale, California. He graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a degree in astrophysics. He followed this with a master of science in applied physics and a doctorate of Philosophy in Space Science from the University of California, San Diego. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and children.

“A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist.”
― David Brin, Glory Season

To understand the basis of the culture of Glory Season, you must go back three thousand years when a scientist named Lysos, the founder of the human colony on the planet of Stratos, used genetic engineering to change their local strain of humanity so that their reproduction was based on seasons. Men are sexually receptive in the summer and women are in the winter. When a woman conceives in the summer, she produces a mix of her own genes and that of the male, having an equal chance for a boy or girl child. When a woman conceives in the winter, she always produces a female clone of herself. Finally, the men of Stratos have been changed so that they are less aggressive during the times that they are less sexually receptive. The result is that most of the people of Stratos are successful group of women clones.

Into this feminist social backdrop, a pair of twins are born to a “hive” of clones called “Lamatia”. They specialize in commercial import/export banking. Maia and Leie are welcome to remain with the hive of their birth, like all variants born of the clone sisters, until they reach their majority. Then they will be thrust out into the world to survive as they will. The twins create a plan to pass themselves off as two members of a larger hive and hope to work as sailors on the seas of Stratos to make their fortunes. As “vars” (variants) they would be considered social inferiors, but as sisters of a “hive” they would lose the stigma.

Events prevent the two sisters from carrying off their plans. They are separated by the ship masters to work on different ships instead of remaining together. Leie is lost at sea and Maia, is injured while battling pirates. Maia leaves the sea and instead takes a job on a railroad while she tries to reconcile the loss of her sister and heal from her wounds. During this time, she becomes involved with a plot by “Perkinites” to eliminate men from an isolated valley and later the entire world of Stratos. Maia attempts to inform the planetary authorities and is put in prison by the Perkinites for her efforts.

Maia remains in prison a long time and discovers that her fellow prisoner is a male interstellar visitor from an untampered branch of humanity. This visitor is seeking a devise known as a “Jellicoe Former”, it is an advanced manufacturing facility that can act as a 3D printer for complicated, technological devises. On Stratos, a pastoral and low-technology society, the Former’s existence would be an eruption of new ideas that would change its stable society forever. Renna wants the machine in order to create items that would repair his spaceship and allow him to return home.

In the end, a climactic battle between political radicals, freed vars and a group of virtuous male sailors will determine the fate of the world and Maia’s personal destiny.

World building is an aspect of speculative fiction that sets it apart from more traditional genre. The author takes an idea of making an aspect of their world different from our own and uses it to explore new ideas of society and technology. To me, this is what sets great science fiction apart from the pretenders. David Brin is a master at this skill. Before he started his story in Glory Season, he had looked at the reproduction cycle of aphids; they reproduce clones of themselves during times of abundance and sexually reproduce during times of stressful environmental change. This gives them a reproductive advantage. Brin applied this concept to humans, using the pretext of genetic engineering to create humans who use this cyclic idea of reproduction, then applied the concept to their world and culture. What I found intriguing about his idea is that instead of making the clones part of a mechanical process, which is how traditionally cloning is displayed in science fiction, he made it a new biological process where sex and relationships took on new forms with his redesigned humanity. Since only women have wombs, they rise to predominance in his stable fictional society.

Glory Season Book CoverThe plot of Glory Season is decent, but not stellar. I still would recommend the book despite this. The culture that results from this new innate biologic process is alien in feel and yet retains enough humanity to allow the reader to feel sympathy for the characters and the problems that they face in the plot. It is worth exploring. My only real regret is that Glory Season is a stand alone novel. I would love a sequel so that I could return and see more of this unique and intriguing world.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

It is Monday morning and time for another batch of No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links. Mixed in with the general writing tips are articles about review swaps, using twitter as an author and how longhand can be of benefit to writers. Enjoy!

A bit on Literary Techniques

9 Things You Need To Know About Review Swaps

3 Secrets of Writing Longhand

Types, Archetypes, and the Occasional Human Being

A QUICK GUIDE TO TWITTER FOR NEWBY AUTHORS

WHY WORDINESS KILLS YOUR WRITING

The Secret to Writing a Protagonist Who’s Both Unique and Universal

Describing Setting: An Exercise

Despite Tough Guys, Life Is Not the Only School for Real Novelists

Layers and Layers of Plot, Oh My!

Guest Post: 6 Lessons For Making It As An Indie Publisher by Daniel J. Dombrowski

Nonlocal Science Fiction Magazine

Next month, the first issue of Nonlocal Science Fiction, a quarterly short fiction anthology, will launch. Publisher Daniel J. Dombrowski has been working on the project since last summer, and finalizing the last piece of the puzzle for Issue #1 is a Kickstart campaign currently underway. I’ve asked Daniel to come to No Wasted Ink and tell us a little about what goes on during a kickstarter to fund a magazine.

During the first half of 2014, I was floundering. I had been working on starting a topical editorial magazine with a nonprofit in Pittsburgh, PA for about four months. Long story short, the whole thing fell apart because my partner, who had come up with the idea and recruited me in the first place, had failed to find any funding while I had managed to assemble about 70% of the first issue without spending a penny.
I walked away from that project with one thing: knowledge. I would never again throw myself at a project without fully knowing what I was getting into.

It has been a long and winding road since that miserable day when I was forced to shelve a project on which I’d spent hundreds of hours. I’ve detailed that journey on my blog and elsewhere, but the point for today is that I didn’t let my initial failures stop me. The only way to truly fail is to stop trying. And that isn’t just some stale platitude. It’s the nature of working with startups.

Doing things my way

I knew that if I was going to be successful, I’d have to take full possession of a project. Maybe that sounds controlling or egotistical, but it’s harder than you’d think to find a reliable partner. If you don’t have a history with someone or they don’t have past experience on similar projects, you probably don’t want to jump into a long-term project with them.

I thought about what I wanted to do, what I thought I could do. I toyed with a few different ideas before settling on Nonlocal Science Fiction as an initial project of a new digital publishing company, 33rd Street Digital Press, a decision that seemed fairly safe at the time as I knew the genre and I’d been working as a freelance editor for a large self-publisher for six months by that time.

The important bit here is that I didn’t try to identify a project that I thought would be instantly popular. I didn’t try to adopt someone else’s idea as my own to try to duplicate success. I came up with an idea that I liked, and I ran with it.

Success by any means necessary

Every person who starts something new hits the same wall eventually. It happens when you realize that no one else (or at least not that many) has ever really done what you’re trying to do. There’s no manual, no how-to book, no helpful blog post. There’s just you, and you have to be able to improvise while acting like you know exactly what you are doing. I had a boss as a crumby sales job years ago who used to say it as, “You’ve gotta’ fake it ‘til you make it.”

So I threw up a website and posted a call for submissions anywhere and everywhere. My biggest success was with Craigslist, where I had a daily ritual of canvassing half a dozen “Writing Gig” pages across the country. The submissions were a trickle at first. Then they picked up speed. My best month was November when I averaged more than one submission per day.

And some of it was good. Really good. At that point, I began to think that my plan might actually work.

Crossing the finish line?

All told, I received close to 60 submissions before I filled the slate for Issue #1. Once the stories were collected, I moved onto the hard bit, the stumbling block I’d hit once before: funding.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Kickstarter will go anywhere. Perhaps by the time this article is published, the outcome will be a bit easier to predict. Online crowdfunding is a marvelous modern invention that has helped many thousands of projects get off of the ground, but you can’t just expect a project to take off on its own. Nothing worth having is ever gifted to you. You have to go out and earn it. (Another platitude, I know. But it’s true.)

DanProfileDaniel J. Dombrowski is a writer, editor, and upstart indie publisher. He studied anthropology at Penn State, graduating with an MA in 2009 and for some reason believing that “Indiana Jones” was a valid career path. He got married to his high school sweetheart, moved to Pittsburgh, and decided he would be a writer while stocking shelves at a Petsmart at 5:00 A.M. to pay the bills while his wife finished grad school.

He has written for startup magazines and entertainment websites, edited thousands of pages of raw manuscripts from self-publishing authors, and worn out three keyboards in five years. He is a halfway decent blogger, recently a podcaster, and a student of Guerrilla Marketing. His long-term goal is to impact digital publishing in some meaningful way and to help indie authors thrive.

Author Interview: R.A. Baker

R.A. Baker is a science fiction and fantasy author. His books include: The Beast at the Gate and Two Merchants and a Thief. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author RA BakerHello, I’m R.A. Baker and I’m a speculative fiction author for JK Publishing. I live in the great state of Virginia and I’ve written science fiction, fantasy, paranormal short stories, and several books. I’ve been writing stories since the age of seven and I’ve been writing professionally as a published author for about 15 years. During this time I’ve also juggled the responsibilities of being a dad to two great kids, and a computer analyst for a day job that pays the bills between royalty checks.

When and why did you begin writing?

For me, writing was a bit of self-discovery—a long, meandering process that eventually made me the person I am today. In grade school (third or fourth grade, I believe), I loved writing stories. After one of my teachers had gone over Aesop’s Fables, there was something about those stories that connected with me on a deeply creative level. I proceeded to write my own fables, patterned in a similar Aesop style. My stories so impressed my teacher, she entered one of my fables in a local short story contest. I became a finalist and got my story published by the school. That was my first taste of what it was like to be a writer, and I liked it! At the time, I didn’t realize what I was writing was dancing on the edges of what would be considered speculative fiction or fantasy; to me, they were just expressions of my imagination. Soon after that, I would discover the Richmond Public Library with its rich assortment of science fiction and fantasy authors. Reading these authors’ books made me hungry to create my own characters and fantastic worlds…and rest is history. I was officially hooked.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

To be honest with you—at the risk of sounding cliché—in my heart, I was a writer for as long as I can remember. As soon as my small, clumsy fingers first learned how to put words together on paper to form sentences and eventually paragraphs, I somehow knew that writing would always be a critical part of my life. However, it was on a subconscious level at first. It took a while before I affirmed in my mind, ‘hey I am a writer—that’s my true calling’. I think that’s probably true of many professions, whether it be athletics, or art, or religion. It’s intuitive. It’s instinct. And yet, it draws you in slowly, assimilating you over time, from childhood to adulthood. For me, it wasn’t one defining moment, but rather a series of events that told me I always was and will always be a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’m currently working on the second book in an epic scif-fi/fantasy trilogy; the first book is titled, The Beast at the Gate. In a nutshell, it’s about a young, modern-day woman, Rayna Powell, who suddenly finds herself in a strange pre-industrial society called Taren. It’s a land divided by war, years of mistrust and social prejudice. Needless to say, Taren is a bit of a shock for Rayna. Part of the reason for this is that some Tareners possess magic-like mental powers they call “psi-magic”. To add to the problem, Taren is currently ruled by Nephredom—a bitter, cruel man with a questionable grip on sanity. Nephredom commands many forces, most notably the Red Robes. They are an elite unit of psi-mages who increase their powers greatly by combining their thoughts—allowing them to think and act as one. Using the Red Robes, Nephredom has systematically bent the people of Taren to his will—or at least most of them. This takes us to Princess Keris. She was the rightful heir to the Taren throne, but was framed for murder by Nephredom’s aide, and forced into hiding. Soon after Rayna arrives in Taren, she meets the princess and they agree to join forces in an attempt to overthrow Nephredom. In exchange for this help, the princess says she will take Rayna to see a group of “scientists”, who may know how to return Rayna back to her world. In the The Beast at the Gate, I address a variety of topics such as unrequited love, social prejudice, and the moral dilemma of human cloning.

What inspired you to write this book?

I always wanted to write an epic sci-fi/fantasy series, and after reading a few great examples I decided to take the plunge myself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve been told I have a very descriptive, fast-paced style. I just try to write in a way that pulls my readers into my world and not let them go until the last page is read.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The original title for the book was Rayna of Nightwind, and that was the title it was published as, under my own imprint, when I self-published. Rayna Powell was the protagonist of the story, so it made sense to me to include her in the title. However, when I was picked up by a traditional publisher (JK Publishing), they decided to re-publish the first novel as The Beast at the Gate.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes: welcome to my world—have fun!

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not really. Granted, every author brings something unique to their writing based on their culture and how they grew up. But I think the whole appeal of writing science fiction and fantasy is the ability to escape reality for a while. So you will see very little of my personal life in my books, which—if you read my work—you will find extremely reassuring.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

So many authors have influenced me, it would take me forever going through the list. I will say most of my favorite authors are science fiction and fantasy authors.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I consider almost every speculative fiction author I’ve read a mentor, because I learn something new in my craft whenever I read a book by a new writer. However, Steven Barnes, Terry Brooks, and Stephen Donaldson stand out in my mind. Sorry, I can’t narrow it down further than that.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Jess Buffett is an illustrator who works for my publisher. She designs most of the book covers and does a great job.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It’s popular to say, ‘don’t write for yourself, write for your audience’ or ‘write for the market.’ I beg to differ. If you write for yourself, your passion and love for what you are writing will shine through. That’s the best way to gain and keep readers, in my opinion.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I would like to thank all my readers for their support. I have a modest but dedicated fan base that has consistently encouraged me over the years. And yes—book two in my Taren trilogy is nearly complete!

Book Cover The Beast at the GateR.A. Baker
Chester, Virginia

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COVER ARTIST: Jess Buffett
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