Book Review: Earthman’s Burden

Book Name: Earthman’s Burden
Author: Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson
First Published: 1957

Poul Anderson is known for his larger than life adventure stories of political satire and in the direct and inextricable connection between human liberty and expansion into space. A great supporter of the space program, Anderson’s science fiction stories took great care in using provable science in its objects and settings, the only exception being the use of the theory of faster than light travel. Gaining his baccalaureate degree with honors in physics, Anderson made no real attempt to work in that field. Instead, he published his first story while still an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, and then began his career as a free-lance writer after his college graduation in 1948. In 1953, Anderson married Karen Kruse and left Minnosota with her to live in the San Francisco Bay area. Their daughter, Astrid, was born soon after the move. They made their home in Orinda, California, near Berkeley. After Poul’s death, his wife donated his typewriter and desk to the local bookstore in Berkley, where the author had given readings over the years.

Gordon R. Dickson was born in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1923. After the death of his father, he moved with his mother to Minneapolis, Minnesota. He served in the United States Army, from 1943 to 1946, and received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota, in 1948. From 1948 through 1950 he attended the University of Minnesota for graduate work. It is at the University where he met his fellow anthology collaborator, Poul Anderson.

At the start of Earthman’s Burden, Ensign Alexander Braithwaite Jones crash lands on a planet 500 light years from earth. He is rescued by a cuddly race of aliens that resemble over-sized teddybears. The Hokas have the ability to absorb any trace of Earth culture they encounter and reproduce it with devastatingly unpredictable and hilarious results. You’ll see the wild wild west, an Italian style opera featuring a teddybear Don Giovanni, an atmospheric Victorian England featuring a Hoka Sherlock Holmes, a science fiction space patrol featuring a Scottish accented Hoka space engineer, pirates and French legionnaires.

Underscoring the fun, is a witty satire about the burden to raise up these “primitive” aliens so that they can join the space federation as full citizens. Jones, the appointed ambassador plenipotentiary to Toka, begins to understand the complexity of his aliens charges and that they are not the silly innocents that they appear on the surface. It is a direct commentary on the concept that the English poet Rudyard Kipling wrote about in his poem The White Man’s Burden that he wrote for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and defined the English idea of imperialism that was commonplace during the 19th century.

I first encountered this novel in my early twenties when I was looking for a light summer read at the bookstore. With teddybear aliens on the cover, I did not expect anything of substance. Inside the book I discovered a world with more depth than I expected and a satire that made me think about I viewed the world and my place in it. Over the years, the novel tends to come up in conversation, especially among vintage science fiction buffs such as myself. It is a novel well worth reading and adding to your collection. It will delight you with humor and leave you feeling uplifted. My favorite story is the first one about the sheriff of canyon gulch.

Stories included in the anthology:

    “The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch”
    “Don Jones”
    “In Hoka Signo Vinces”
    “The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound”
    “Yo Ho Hoka!”
    “The Tiddlywink Warriors”

Earthman's Burden Book CoverEarthman’s Burden is not available as an ebook, but you can still find copies for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at your local used book stores.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

Welcome back for another installment of No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links! This week I have a nice selection of general writing tips, sales techniques and even saving money on writing supplies. Dig in and enjoy!


A Peek Inside the Notebooks of Famous Authors, Artists and Visionaries

Writing First Thing in the Morning

How Do You Know When Your Novel Is Finished?

A Short Quiz About Partial Quotations

WSG 13: Saving Money on Supplies

How Amazon Saved My Life

Using Social Media to Grow your Freelance Writing Business

How to Get a Grip on Plots and Sub-Plots When Writing

Find Fans’ and Followers’ Pain Points in 5 Simple Steps

$30,000 eBook Sales. In 2 Months.

Author Interview – Shelia Bolt Rudesill

After exchanging many tweets on Twitter, I became acquainted with Shelia and her artisan husband Bud. Shelia is a great example of a woman shifting into writing as a new career instead of retiring and lends to her novels a great deal of real life experience. I’m pleased to feature literary fiction author Shelia Bolt Rudesill here on No Wasted Ink.

Shelia Rudesill - AuthorMy name is Shelia Bolt Rudesill. For forty-five years as a pediatric and NICU nurse I dedicated my professional life to the well being of children and acquired a tremendous empathy for those burdened with unreasonable hardships. It’s from those experiences that I piece together my stories. As a nurse I was able to touch a life every day. I’d like to think that I can still do that through my writing.

Both my artist husband, Bud Rudesill, and I became accidental writers well into our fifties. It’s amazing how much we enjoy the craft and more amazing to realize how many writer friends we have.

When and why did you begin writing?

Writing came as a surprise. After many years of nursing, I burned out and Bud and I moved from North Carolina to Wyoming for a fresh start. The Oregon Trail interested me and I got to wondering about the kids who’d trekked across the entire country until the soles of their shoes wore away. My imagination went wild and I created three frontier dolls, each with a story of their own—the first as a journal, the second as a collection of letters, and the last as a novella. With the local success of that project I came up with a second idea to weave stories of my nursing career into a full-fledged novel. When I told Bud about my idea he told me that I’d never pull it off. Months later on a seven hour road trip, I drove while Bud read my manuscript, Child of My Heart. He cried all the way. The emotional aspect of the story had caught him off guard. That night the wife of the friends we were visiting stayed up all night reading. “It was so good,” she’d said, “I couldn’t put it down.” Believe me those are the words a writer wants to hear!

Once Child was published Bud told me that my Oregon Trail children needed to grow up and that my three children’s books needed to be an historical fiction saga. So, my second novel was born: Auspicious Dreams.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

While writing my first novel, “Child of My Heart,” I attended a writer’s conference. Part of the fee included a manuscript consultation and entry into a writing contest. My heart sank when I looked at the hundreds of red ink marks on my manuscript. I quickly put it away feeling like a failure. To my great surprise I was awarded the last of the five honorable mentions. On the plane home I pulled out my manuscript. The first thing I read was the last red mark on the last page, “My biggest disdain is having to put down this manuscript. The story is powerful. Nothing short of superb.” It was at that moment I considered myself a writer.

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

Transmutare is a story of three carefree young women who get caught up in some pretty terrible experiences. The protagonist is a former Orthodox Jew, the second is a Jewish agnostic, and the third is Roman Catholic. Together they attempt to define a god who has allowed their world to spin out of control. What I like about this story is that a lot of people will identify with their struggles.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m always inspired by people who overcome unbearable hardships.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Literary fiction

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

My protagonist, Shelli, changes from an almost perfect girl to one who no one knows. She “transforms” or undergoes a “transformation” or “mutation.” Transmutare is French for transformation. I liked the sound of it.

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

Definitely. Transmutare is ultimately a quest for the meaning of life, as well as a gritty struggle for physical and spiritual survival. How the characters deal with their conflicts allows each reader to interpret the spiritual directions the girls take within their own set of beliefs. In other words, the story doesn’t teach or preach.

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

I once had an acquaintance who went away for a weekend. When she returned she was a completely different person. I never found out what happened to her so I made up something I thought could have happened.

What authors have most influenced your life?

C.S. Lewis, Maya Angelou, Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Patchett, Toni Morrison, Cynthia Rylant, David Guterson, Arundhati Roy, David Wroblewski. When I read any of these authors I’m completely pulled into the worlds they create and most times transformed by them.

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

Maya Angelou because she’s so real and timeless. Her stories and poems come straight from the heart and she tells them with honesty. I think she could teach me to become more lyrical as well as a better person.

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

I did. The cover photo is my great-niece and was taken several years ago with her cell phone. I was attracted to the defiant expression. This is my protagonist in the depth of her transformation. The grainy resolution of the photo and the fading gray background added to the despair in the middle parts of the story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just write what’s in your heart. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself. Your writing is your legacy. Be true to yourself. Some of the first advice I received as an author was: Write what you know. That advice hasn’t failed me yet.

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

Just thanks for the applause and the criticism. I need to hear both. I appreciate every single person who has purchased one of my novels and it warms my heart when they write a review on Amazon or their own webpage.

Transmutare Book CoverShelia Bolt Rudesill
Pittsboro, North Carolina

“I’m not retired. I’m a writer.” After a long day of writing and editing or assisting Bud with photo shoots, I admit to a weakness for dry martinis and dancing with my cats The Artful Dodger and Q.

Novels:
Transmutare
Baggage
Auspicious Dreams
Child of My Heart

WebsiteBook Trailer

Transmutare, available in paperback at Amazon.com by Create Space and as an eBook at Amazon.com by Kindle

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

It is Monday and once again it is time for another batch of No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links. This week I have articles ranging from pulp fictions turned into novels, routines to help your writing, and strengthening the spiritual thread of your work. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Hack The Cover

13 Ways to Make Idea Generation a Daily Habit

Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer

Easy Five Step Plan for Editing Your Blog Posts

Writing a screenplay in Scrivener

Fixer-Upper (Needs a little work!)

How Routines Save and Ruin Your Writing

Strengthening the Spiritual Thread of Your Novel

What’s a Reported Essay?

Follow On To “How It Works”

NEC MobilePro 900 as a Writer’s Tool

Wandererchronicles Nanowrimo Writing KitBeing a member of the Alphasmart community, I have developed an appreciation for older electronics. I’m very happy with my Alphasmart Neo for writing rough drafts and it is my go to machine for NaNoWriMo in November. However, after the writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo is over, I generally have revisions to do. The small screen of the Neo is simply not suited for this. One day I was surfing the machines that other writers were using for NaNoWriMo on Flickr and I came across a photo of a tiny Nec Mobilepro 900 as part of a writer’s collection along with a Acer Aspire 5100 and a moleskine notebook. It was the smallest “netbook” I’d ever seen. I thought it was simply adorable.

What is the NEC MobilePro 900? I was determined to find out more about this tiny mini-computer. It is such an antique machine that most people have never seen one before. When NEC first developed this machine for the business market back in the early 90’s, it was considered the top-of-the-line pocket PC, a fore-runner to today’s laptop. Jet setting executives would sport this handheld device that cost over $1000 new and would be able to stay in touch with their offices via cable modem or wifi, computing for the first time on airplanes or in their hotel rooms. They touted its speed, the state of the art connectivity via its gold Orinoco card and the Microsoft pocket office suite that came pre-loaded. The machine would turn on instantly with seconds to bootup and the keyboard, while small and portable, was still large enough to be comfortable to write on. Not only did the MobilePro 900 come with two CF ports, but it had a USB slot, one of the first portable machines to do so.

Needless to say, I was intrigued by the device. I had considered purchasing a netbook to do my revisions at the coffeehouse, but after trying them out in the retail store I concluded that they were simply too slow to use, even for simple writing. Cost was also a factor. At the time I could purchase a used NEC MobilePro 900 with a case for around $60. Today, you can find them for even less. It made the NEC cost effective and portable enough that I was willing to give it a try.

The features of the NEC MobilePro 900:

    Instant on/off
    Keyboard is 92% of normal size
    Half sized VGA screen
    Pre-loaded with Microsoft Pocket Office
    Touch screen use with stylus
    Significantly lighter in weight than a notebook
    The unit measures 9.69″ x 5.05″ x 1.19″ and weighs 1.8 lbs. Very portable.
    Has USB connection, CF slot and PCMCIA slot – perfect for networking cards
    The NEC has 64 megs of RAM available to the user.
    A 32 meg flash ROM area where you can install programs, data and backup files.
    Battery life is around 5 to 7 hours

I’ve been using my NEC MobilePro 900 for over a year and love its portability and speed of bootup. However, it was not an instant turn it on and be able to write situation. I needed to research the antique software and old accessories that were needed to make it into a productive, non-distraction, writing machine. Once all of these adjustments were done, it has become an excellent inexpensive writing device. If you are a student or a writer without much funding to buy a full-fledged computer, I recommend that you look into purchasing a NEC MobilePro 900 on eBay. It could be the writing solution that you seek.

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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