Tag Archives: sci-fi

Author Interview: Tracy Angelina Evans

I met Tracy via a writing group on facebook where we discussion the little details of marketing our books and the joys and frustrations of being an author. I’m happy to add a fellow science fiction writer to the list of authors being interviewed here on No Wasted Ink. I hope you’ll enjoy her interview as much as I have.

Author Tracy Angelina EvansMy name is Tracy Angelina Evans. I use the full name because many know me as Tracy, but some know me as Angelina. It’s a long, convoluted story. Besides writing, my greatest love is music and, to me, the two are really inextricably linked. My main character Cadmus Pariah, for example, was spontaneously born out of a song called ‘Deeply Lined Up’ by a band called Shriekback. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been one to have “causes.” If I am fond of something, I will do my best to persuade any and all that they should, too. My family have long contended that I should have been an Evangelical preacher because of this trait.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing during my first grade in school, mainly to cope with loneliness and with the bullying I endured beginning then. It was an escape into a better world for me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In the early 80s, when I transitioned from writing animal-based stories, to stories revolving around human beings. My fascination was with science fiction and fantasy, and that is what I began to focus on myself.

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

The third book, of the trilogy known as ‘The Vampire Relics,’ focuses on the third and last relic to be found and utilized in an attempt to redeem those Vampires who want to return to mortality and earn a place in what many would call Heaven. That book is finished and is being edited as we speak.

The book I’m writing now, deals with the remaining Vampires on Earth, including Cadmus Pariah, who has now been raised in power to the title of Plenipotentiary of the New Hive. It centers on his struggle to recapture the emotions abused out of him for decades, and what he does to each individual who brings out said emotion. The working title for the book is called The Harming Tree, which is an actual musical instrument created by Barry Andrews, who gave me permission to use the name.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have always had a love affair with Vampires, and began to properly study their lore in the late 80s. It fascinates me that so many different cultures hold the same myths and legends about a supposedly mythical creature. My aim was to bring that together and kind of explain their genesis by way of much older teachers, often called the Elfs or Elves. The development of Cadmus Pariah and why he does what he does was a major motivator for me as well.

Do you have a specific writing style?

A friend of mine quipped that I was a Method Writer, because I delve into each character as I write them. Sometimes that can be extremely painful, considering the fates of Cadmus and Faust the Confessor. Some would call it Purple Prose, but I prefer Poetic Prose. The noun-verb-noun style that Hemingway inspired, has always left me wanting. Russell Hoban outshines many modern writers because of his love of the word. His passing was a loss to us all.

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

Each book is the name of one of the three relics; thus, the Chalice, the Blood Crown, and the Augury of Gideon.

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

That there is a world unseen that roils around us, that is much older than we are, and is responsible for who we are today.

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

I tend to anchor some characters to real life people. I don’t know of any writer who doesn’t, but I know plenty who deny they do. Cadmus, for instance, if very heavily anchored to Barry Andrews. He know this, of course, and I think he’s a bit perplexed to have such a vicious entity be his “demon child.” They’re nothing alike really, so please don’t judge Barry by the dastardly deeds of Cadmus Pariah.

What authors have most influenced your life?

JRR Tolkien, Clive Barker, and Russell Hoban (schizophrenia anyone?)

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

I would give my left eye to be mentored by Clive Barker. He isn’t a mere writer, but a world creator. He paints his realms, then writes about them. I find that fascinating and I admit that I do covet his abilities.

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

Stacey Lucas drew the cover of ‘The Chalice’ simply because she was the absolute best at committing Cadmus to paper. For the ‘Blood Crown.,’ I wanted a bigger scope and to offer the reader a hint of both Cadmus and Orphaeus. Amanda Cook, an artist in Los Angeles, was responsible for that cover. She will also being doing the cover for ‘The Augury of Gideon.’

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write what brings you the most joy, even if that joy inspires a level of discomfort. Listen to your characters; they have a lot more to say than you give them credit for. They will often write it for you, if you only give them the chance.

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

Despite some of more extreme scenes in the books, I hope the overall essence of ‘The Vampire Relics’ gives you Good Dreams.

The Chalice Book CoverTracy Angelina Evans
Duncan, South Carolina

I try to interpret the myth that has intrinsically created our society, a myth that never died, we just choose to no longer see it or acknowledge it.

Publisher: Fey Publishing
Illustrators:
Stacey Lucas and Amanda Cook

BUY AT AMAZON

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Book Name: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
First Published: 1953

Ray Bradbury was an American fantasy, science fiction, and mystery fiction writer. He was known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction and horror stories gathered together in The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. Many of Bradbury’s works have been adapted into television and films and he has left his stamp on the science fiction and fantasy genres as one of the masters other authors set their own standards by.

Bradbury was born in the mid-west, but his family moved back and forth between Waukegan, Illinios and Tucson, Arizona for most of his formative years. When Bradbury was fourteen, his family settled in Los Angeles, California and he remained in the Southern California area for much of his life. Bradbury was a reader and writer throughout his youth. He claimed that he was inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and his John Carter of Mars series and even wrote a fanfiction based on those tales at the age of twelve. However, he cited H.G. Wells and Jules Verne as his biggest science fiction influences, followed by Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, and A. E. van Vogt. As Bradbury matured, he drew more from the style and works of Alexander Pope and poet John Donne. When later asked about the lyrical nature of his prose, Bradbury replied that it came, “From reading so much poetry every day of my life. My favorite writers have been those who’ve said things well.” He also has said, “If you’re reluctant to weep, you won’t live a full and complete life.”

Bradbury did not go to college and instead took a job selling newspapers once he graduated from high school. He said of this time, “Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.” In fact, Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the UCLA’s Powell Library where he rented a typewriter in one of their study rooms. The rental rate for completing the entire novel was around $9.80 since the rental of the manual typewriter was ten cents per half hour.

Ray Bradbury lived at home until the age of twenty-seven when he married his sweetheart, Marguerite McClure. They had four children together. He was an active member of Los Angeles Science Fiction Society where he made his first connections in the writing community of Los Angeles. From these connections, he began to meet publishers and gained a following for his work that now spans the globe. Bradbury is credited with writing 27 novels and over 600 short stories. More than eight million copies of his works, published in over 36 languages, have been sold around the world.

In his later years, Ray Bradbury became a well sought out speaker at literary events in the Southern California area. He never obtained a driver’s license and did not enjoy travel. It was well known on the speaker circuit, if you wanted Ray Bradbury to speak at your event, you had best arrange to have a driver come and get him. I regret that I did not take the opportunity to meet Mr. Bradbury in person before he passed away in December of 2011. He was a favorite on the literary speaker’s circuit in Southern California and I personally know many writers that consider him to be an inspiration and mentor, in fact, my own writing society meets in a public library room dedicated to his name. Mr. Bradbury’s burial place is in Los Angeles with a headstone that reads “Author of Fahrenheit 451”. This one novel was his favorite and the one that he was likely the most proud of.

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel that has many layers. On the surface, it is the story of Guy Montag. He is a fireman, but instead of putting out fires, his job is to seek out books, which are forbidden due to his society’s views as their being the source of all unhappiness and discord, and burn them to cinders. One day on the job, he picks up a book and instead of burning it, it reads it. His life is transformed. Now, instead of being a normal part of his society, he is a dissent who wishes to protect and preserve these ideas and words from the past until a new generation may come to pass that will appreciate these pearls of wisdom hidden in books. He discovers a group of people that have memorized the books of the ages and repeat them orally in order to preserve the words in a way that their society can not destroy.

However, is this really what this classic novel is all about? Is it all censorship and book burning? Bradbury predicted a future where people wore radios that plugged their ears to the world around them so that they would focus on the world of media only. A concept that is a precursor to iPods and smartphones where the world of social media becomes as important to us as the physical world outside. In the novel, walls of televisions soothed the souls of people that only wanted to be happy and not look too closely at what was happening around them. They did not think for themselves, but rather based their views on what was fed to them by their media. With our giant HD television sets and giant computer monitors, it could be a mirror of how people perceive the world of today. The burning of books by Fireman Montag almost seems a throw away plot to the theme that is placed under the fast paced action of this story.

Bradbury always claimed that this was not a book about censorship, which the burning of books suggests, but rather a social commentary about what happens when society presses in and takes away individual freedom and thought. In the world of Guy Montag books were ultimately banned because they made people feel “bad” or insulted some minority group. Individual expression or original thinking was not encouraged. I sometimes can see in my mind Ray Bradbury typing away at the public library as he writes this book. He was a child who could not afford to go to college, to be molded by society. He was an independent thinker who took his views from the tomes that surrounded him in his library setting. I can understand his love of books and the value of treasuring what went on in the past in the way that it was preserved by previous generations and taking from it ideas to change our own futures. To allow the quiet of a book speak to you in ways that social media can not.

Fahenheit 451 Book CoverFahrenheit 451 is not in the public domain, so you will need to purchase it at your local bookstore or online. It is frequently found at your local library to borrow for free. When the publishing rights for Fahrenheit 451 came up for renewal in December 2011, just before Bradbury’s death, he allowed that the work could be published as an ebook provided that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, would allow the novel to be digitally downloaded by any library patron. The title remains the only book in the Simon & Schuster catalog where this is possible.

Book Review: Starship Troopers

Book Name: Starship Troopers
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
First Published: 1959
Winner of Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960

Robert A Heinlein started his career as a writer by publishing short stories in Astounding Science Fiction, which was edited by John Campbell. He went on to write many more short stories and novelettes for Astounding Science Fiction, many of which later were republished as short novels. Heinlein’s first novel that was published as a book was Rocket Ship Galileo. It had been rejected at first because the notion of going to the moon was considered to be too outlandish, but Heinlein soon found a new publisher, Scribner’s, that began to publish a Heinlein “juvenile” novel once a year at Christmas. Eight of these first edition young adult novels were illustrated by Clifford Geary in a distinctive white-on-black style. The Heinlein Juveniles featured a mixture of adolescent and adult themes, the characters experiencing the sorts of personal issues that young adults commonly find themselves in, combined with fantastic futuristic machinery and complex ideas. Heinlein was of the opinion that young readers were much more sophisticated and able to handle more complex themes than people of the times realized and his writing reflected this.

Heinlein’s last “juvenile” novel was Starship Troopers. It is said that this novel was his personal reaction to the calls for President Dwight D. Eisenhower to stop nuclear testing in 1958. The novel met with great success and won the 1960 Hugo Award for Best Novel. It is still in print to this day.

Starship Troopers is a coming-of-age story about citizenship, duty, and the role of the military in society and is set during an unspecified time of the near future when humans have developed interstellar travel. The book portrays a society in which full citizenship, in order to vote or to hold public office, is earned by the willingness to place society’s interests before one’s own and in participation of government service. In the case of the young hero, this was military service. The novel is seen through the eyes of young Juan “Johnnie” Rico who narrates the story through a series of flashbacks. Johnnie remembers his enlistment and training in the Mobile Infantry and his part in the interstellar war with the Arachnids (the bugs) of Klendathu. Through combat and training, Johnnie begins as a lowly private, but eventually becomes an officer and decides that being a career soldier is his life’s path. Life in the military shapes him into the man he becomes.

Rico, through a series of conversations with Ret. Lt. Colonel Jean V. Dubois, his instructor of History and Moral Philosophy during his high school years, and Fleet Sergeant Ho, a recruiter for the Armed Forces of the Terran Federation, the political and military ideas of the novel are presented. This is the meat of the novel, the concepts of how this particular society sees itself and their version of manifest destiny. The ideas are robust, but controversial.

One of the main virtues of science fiction is to depict other ways that society and culture might organize and function, giving us the reader new sparks of ideas of how society might otherwise function. I am not certain if all the political ideas that this novel portrays would completely work, but it does give one plenty of room for contemplation. Even now, 50 years after its published date, Starship Troopers inspires heated debate about its core concepts. Somehow, I believe that Heinlein would have been pleased to know this.

While the development of powered armor is Starship Troopers most famous legacy, the novel’s influence into the concepts of contemporary warfare are myriad. The novel is on the official reading list of the US Army, US Navy and the US Marine Corp, the only science fiction novel to have that distinction. The all volunteer, high-tech strike force military of Heinlein’s book, a futuristic concept at that time since the armed forces of Heinlein’s day were filled by conscription forces serving a two year hitch, is now similar in style of our own modern day volunteer armed forces. I know of more than one young man that told me that he volunteered for service in the infantry based on reading this novel. The story is powerful and to some minds it might be disturbing.

Of all the authors that I read growing up, Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential on me, both as a writer and as a citizen. The ideas of libertarianism, of self-reliance, and of personal responsibility all came from reading the myriad of novels and short stories that this author wrote. His dead-on prediction of many scientific gadgets that we take for granted today, such as flat screen television, cell phones, and other everyday items was astounding. There is a saying among writers that “Heinlein was here first.” For good reason. His stories have shaped the genre of science fiction in ways that are incalculable. If you are to become familiar with science fiction in general, Robert A. Heinlein should be on your reading list.

List of Robert A. Heinlein’s Juvenile Novels:

    Rocket Ship Galileo, 1947
    Space Cadet, 1948
    Red Planet, 1949
    Between Planets, 1951
    The Rolling Stones, 1952
    Farmer in the Sky, 1953
    Starman Jones, 1953
    The Star Beast, 1954
    Tunnel in the Sky, 1955
    Double Star, 1956 — Hugo Award, 1956
    Time for the Stars, 1956
    Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957
    Have Space Suit—Will Travel, 1958 — Hugo Award nominee, 1959
    Starship Troopers, 1959 — Hugo Award, 1960




starship troopers book coverStarship Troopers can be found at your local library or any bookstore. It is not in the public domain, but often times you can find a used copy at a very reasonable price.

Book Review: Dune

Book Name: Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
First Published: 1965

Frank Herbert began researching and writing Dune in 1959. The idea for the novel originated from a magazine article he was writing on sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes near Florence, Oregon. He became involved in the ecological information about the dunes and how these sand structures influenced the animals and the town of people nearby and he ended up with far more raw material than was needed for an article. Instead of finishing and submitting the magazine article, the data and idea of the shifting sand ecologically became the seed for his novel Dune. It was the first ecological science fiction novel, embracing a plethora of sweeping, inter-related themes and multiple character viewpoints, a style of writing that ran through all Herbert’s novels

I will attempt to summarize the plot of Dune, but it is such a complex story that it is impossible to touch on all the concepts, the rich characters and the intrigue of this story.

Emperor Shaddam, head of House Corrino, has come to fear House Atreides due to the growing popularity of Duke Leto Atreides within the ruling Houses of the universe. Not wishing to do an overt attack since it would lead to a civil war, never the less, Shaddam decides to destroy House Atreides. He employs House Harkonnen and its Baron Vladimir who has been feuding with Atreides for centuries to trap and destroy his target. In order to remove Atreides from their home planet of Caladan where his royal navy protects him, Shaddam offers Leto Atreides control of the lucrative planet Arrakis, known as “Dune” for the vast desert it contains and for the “spice”, a prized drug that facilitates space travel, extended life and other benefits.

Leto Atreides accepts the Emperor’s offer and takes his concubine Jessica and son Paul with him to take charge of the planet. He is able to thwart the initial Harkonnen traps and complications while also building trust with the desert people of Arrakis known as the Fremen. However, when House Corrino’s troops ally in secret with House Harkonnen and are assisted by a traitor in the Atreides camp, the Atreides family is scattered and Duke Leto is killed.

Jessica and her son flee to the desert and are taken in by the Fremen. Jessica gives birth to a daughter named Alia, a full sister to Paul and becomes a Fremen Reverend Mother. As a Reverend Mother, she is able to protect her children as they live among the Fremen. Meanwhile, the spice in the air and water begins to effect Paul Atreides, evolving him into something that had been bred into his genes by Jessica’s Bene Gesserit religious order, but was not supposed to come to fruition in him, but instead to his progeny. Paul’s ability of prescience allows him to grow in influence among the Fremen. He and his mother teach the Fremen the fighting skills of the Bene Gesserit and the desert fighters grow to rival the warriors of both House Corrino and Harkonnen. He takes the name Muad’Dib (the mouse) among them and takes his place as their prophesied messiah.

Eventually, Paul Muad’Dib leads the Fremen to retake Arrakis and to force the Emperor’s hand. Using his power of prescience and his training of being a Duke’s son, he is able to avenge his father’s death, destroy House Harkonnen and wrest the title of Emperor for himself by holding the planet of Dune hostage. Paul Muad’Dib Ateides becomes the master of the known universe.

Honestly, I was afraid to read this book until I was in college. I had heard about it often and thought that I should read it, but it seemed wild and cruel to me, something that might shake my innocence. When I finally found the courage to crack open this Hugo and Nebula award winner, I was completely transported into a world of intrigue, sandworms, drugs, adventure, war, philosophy, and quotes that have become part of my vocabulary from that day forward. Perhaps fear is the little mind killer that we need to face after all? I know that I have not been the same since I read this novel.

Dune is a classic tale that draws from Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces for the first time in science fiction and on such a scale that it touches down into that basic core of mythos that we all spring from. Over the decades it has not dated itself, nor has the ideas and concepts at the core of the story. I believe that this is one of the science fiction classics that should be on everyone’s must read list, but it is not for children due to the violence and to the adult concepts it contains.

Iron Maiden’s song To Tame A Land:

He is destined to be a King
He rules over everything
In the land called planet Dune
Body water is your life
And without it you would die
In the desert the planet Dune

Without a stillsuit you would fry
On the sands so hot and dry
In a world called Arakis
It is a land that’s rich in spice
The sandriders and the ‘mice’
That they call the ‘Muad’Dib’


Dune Book CoverDune is not found by free download, but you can seek it out at your local public library or online at any book vendor of your choice. Chances are high that it will be there for sale in one form or another. Keep a copy in your digital or paper bound library. Dune is the first of a series of novels in the Dune Saga, not only by Frank Herbert, but continued by his son, Brian Herbert.

Book Review: The Warlock In Spite Of Himself

Book Name: The Warlock In Spite Of Himself
Author: Christopher Stasheff
First Published: 1969

Christopher Stasheff’s long love affair with television began at an early age. He started on staff at the University of Michigan as a paid student and moved up the ladder as his degree progressed into the Manager of the entire Student Staff. Once he obtained his M.A, he moved on to a position in the Broadcast Department of the University of Nebraska. At this point he switched his field of study and began to work on a Ph.D. In Theater Arts.

It was at this time that he read about a competition for unpublished writers of science fiction and fantasy and he decided to enter the contest. While he did not finish his manuscript in time for the contest, he ended up sending The Warlock In Spite Of Himself to Ace Publishers. They bought it and it was the start of a long career in writing novels. He has 44 titles to his name to date.

Stasheff continued to teach broadcasting at various universities for another fifteen years before he gave it up to become a full-time author. He is married with four children and with grandchildren on the way.

The Warlock In Spite of Himself, a title that plays on the old british novel The Doctor In Spite of Himself, begins when SCENT spy Rodney Gallowglass lands on the backwater planet of Gramarye in a spaceship that is disguised as an asteroid. Rod and his epileptic robot/steed/sidekick Fess discover a feudal world right out of a modern day renfaire. Sprinkled through the population are fantasy creatures such as witches, ghosts, werewolves, dwarves and elves that came about due to the psychic abilities of the people that settled on the planet. SCENT, a planetary democratic federation wishes for this world to be guided toward democracy and represented rule. Rod decides that the best way to promote this is to set up a constitutional monarchy that will foil off-world anarchists, a coven of home-brewed witches, and a man that wishes to become the dictator of Gramarye. Due to Rod’s use of technology that the natives do not understand, he is branded a warlock and uses this misconception to further his aims.

Sometimes you discover an author who has that perfect blend of interests and writing that simply comes together for you. I am a science fiction and fantasy buff with a radio/television/film degree. How perfect is it to find an author who was one of the first to combine a fantasy with science fiction elements, something that is commonplace now, but certainly not when this novel came out, but also an author who creates a fictional catholic saint of television producers and IT computer geeks? I adore the entire concept of St. Vidicon, an order of monks who wear a small screwdriver in a pocket of their robes. While there are customs and concepts about women and the way that Gallowglass behaves that seem right out of the 1950’s and might prove jarring to younger readers unaccustomed to old-fashioned ideals, still the story is charming and humorous. This is Stasheff’s first novel and the first of a long series of books about the Gallowglass clan. It is well worth checking out to see if you are ready for this unique adventure in reading. Prepare to be enchanted.

The Warlock Inspite of Himself Book CoverYou can find The Warlock In Spite of Himself at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local used book store.