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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Switching tracks from some classic SF book reviews I thought I would comment on some old movies.  Many of the old early color or black and white films are great fun and great science fiction.  There are movies from back then such as: Them, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Forbidden Planet that, for me at least, hold as much or more magic and excitement as the latest, special-effects-laden offerings where the effects have replaced both character and plot.
 

However this first one is not one of these and it is proof that mere ageing does not improve everything as it does wine.  TCM and DVR are a great combination and I pick up many an old film that I have not seen in forever, sometimes it is like being reacquainted with an old friend.  However Queen of Outer Space was more like being reintroduced to an ex-girlfriend who caused you to change your phone number.



Here’s the official plot:


Capt. Patterson (Eric Fleming) and his space crew (Dave Willock, Patrick Waltz, and Paul Birch) crash land on Venus and are captured. They learn the planet is under the dictatorship of cruel Queen Yllana (Laurie Mitchell), a masked woman who has banished men from the planet. In the palace, the astronauts are aided by a beautiful courtier named Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor) and her friends (Lisa Davis, Barbara Darrow, and Marilyn Buferd). The women long for the love of men again and plot to overthrow the evil Queen. When Patterson has the opportunity to remove the Queen's mask, he discovers she has been horribly disfigured by radiation burns caused by men and their wars. In a fury, the Queen decides to destroy Earth and its warlike peoples but she dies in the attempt. The Venusians are free again to enjoy the love of men.



This movie is so bad that it sits on its haunches and howls its awfulness at the universe, well maybe not that bad, but Lord it wasn’t good.  Originally written as a satirical idea of a female dominated planet, it was done with so little self-awareness that it doesn’t work as satire if in fact that was the intention.  Realizing that the movie was done in 1958 and that movies are a microcosm of their time and attitudes (Note that in the vastly superior Forbidden Planet the crew was not integrated as to race or gender- though the US military was) the sexism of the film is still enough to make someone not known for political correctness simply cringe.



“How could a bunch of dames come up with a weapon capable of destroying the Earth and how would they aim it?  You know what women drivers are like...”  Ouch!



Contrast this with the earlier, Them , where the female scientist, over the objections of her male colleagues, must lead the team into the giant ant mound to see if all of them are dead.  While still classically feminine and attractive she is intelligent and brave and the men’s attraction to her is genuine, respectful and not simply predatory.  Ditto the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and the original Howard Hawks,  The Thing.  The women here are not Ripley or Xena but nor are they empty headed dolls.  In short maybe being 1958 didn’t really excuse this one.



The only merit I could see to this film was if you were a fan of props.  This movie recycles the entire Forbidden Planet prop department.  The men wear the uniforms of the C57D with their dress hats, the women of Venus use the blaster rifles and pistols from that movie.  The male crew from earth use German Mauser pistols spray-painted gold, forgivable George Lucas used the same weapon for Han Solo’s blaster.



You know you are an SF geek was as straight male you recognize the dress Anne Francis wore is now on a cute blond on Venus.



The spaceship Stardust is recycled from several others movies including an Abbot and Costello film which does this plot so much better.  The giant spider attack thrown in is a duplicate of one in the superior World Without End.



The sets of this film are otherwise cardboard and cheesecake.  While every lovely, tall girl in Hollywood was given and blaster, miniskirt and heels and as delightful as that is to the eyes it can’t save this howler.  Some of the other props look like they came out of a Macy’s toy store of the period.



I am very forgiving of a movie that I believe tried, even if they could not make it, by virtue of money or talent, to make a good movie.  There is a true B movie called the Giant Heliah Monster for example that is chock full of decent professional performances by movie lot actors who were doing the best job they could.  It didn’t make a good movie but it made a movie that was the sum of their best efforts and I can respect that.



So in sum, unless you want to fumigate your TV to get rid of all traces of this stinker, pass it by, there are so many better period movies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Catseye by Andre Norton another classic reviewed





Catseye by Andre Norton
http://www.gpnp.net/backshelves.gpnp.net/001%20scifi%20ebooks/scifi%20fav%20authors/norton/Andre%20Norton%20-%20Cat's%20eye.pdf
Another classic reviewed





Catseye is a novel of the far future and the story of a young refugee, living in what has become a permanent refugee camp, the Dipple on the luxury planet of Kowar, a beautiful world that has made itself the home port for the wealthy and politically connected, at least in the settled portions of that world near the main spaceport.  Luxury and political intrigue go hand in hand as various power factions vie for influence in among the towers and palaces of the city of Tikil.





By Troy Harden refugee from a world converted to military use shares in none of those riches being of the Dipple.  His family was lost to war and plague and the young man, raised as a rancher seeks casual labor each day in his lonely existence.  His luck appears to turn when his country background lands him a place in Kyger’s exotic pet shop.



Kyger a tough merchant has specialized in importing animals from humanities old Home Terra, now fallen on hard times due to the war.  Immediately he is caught up in a web of espionage when his employer’s first shipment of alien animals, Terran cats is attacked.  Only Troy’s fast action in protecting the shipment and Zul, Kyger’s assistant save the cats.



Grateful Kyger hires Norden permanently a blessing that could raise him to the level of a sub citizen.  He begins additional duties for Kyger taking a hawk-like animal on an expedition with Rerne a ranger from the Wild.



Beyond the city lies the Wild an area preserved by the Rangers, descendants of the settle families who first landed on Kowar they jealously guard access to the Wild and to the ancient alien ruin of Ruhkarv, a vast underground city in which the a large party of scientists met an horrible end.   That alien installation is now warded with screens and automated weapons to keep the curious from harm.



Returning from his brief respite to the Wild, Troy quickly learns that the Terran animals are more than they seem.  For those who remember Andre Norton’s earlier Beastmaster series it will not surprise them to realize that the Terran animals that Troy meets and befriends are not mere pets.  The cats, fox and kinkajou have enhanced intelligence.  More they have been trained as spies forced to work for Kyger and his employers in espionage against the powerful of Kowar. 



But the animals are suspected after the death of a powerful former officer, ironically the one who banished Troy's people from their homeworld.  Kyger and his masters now seek to kill the Terran animals before the plot can be foiled but Kyger’s enemies catch up to him first.  He is murdered and Troy in the confusion escapes with the animals pursued by both Zul, the police and the Guild in the employ of the spymaster, Dragur.



Troy’s flitter crashes in Ruhkarv the one place, with its horrifying reputation he might temporarily elude his pursues, Troy and the five animals disappear into the depths of Ruhkarv, there to find many strange sights and traces of the unknown aliens.  Worse of all they find the site where the scientists had set up the recaller, a device to bring back images of the past, that instead brought back something monstrous.   The recaller was suppressed by remote control but is not off and the horror it unleashed once haunts the tunnels, not entirely alive or dead, here or not.



Fleeing in panic the group runs into Zul and the Guild, the Rerne and the rangers.  Troy with the animal’s help escape all of them into the Wild.  But Dragur captures Troy and Rerne.  Rather than employ torture or other crude methods he offers the young man a choice.  All that his family once held on Norden will be returned to him, if he will lead Dragur to the animals and call his four-footed friends out to their death.



Will Troy betray his friends?  Read on friends.



A powerfully written tale of a young man isolated from all human contact and love, living a hard-scrabble existence that marks him badly.  The story is devoid of female touch and impact, something not uncommon in the YA books of the 50’s and is poorer for that but it is that sort of “boy’s own” adventure tale that still has the power to move us with its unseen horrors and mysteries. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

An interview I did with Fiona McVie on Was Once a Hero



http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Hero-ebook/dp/B006UMTBY8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326144528&sr=1-1

Name  Edward McKeown

Age

EFM Ahem over the age of consent in a youth-obsessed culture ;-)

Where are you from-

EFM originally from NYC the Big Apple.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect

EFM A fascinating subject indeed  ;-)  I’m a writer living in Charlotte, NC USA.  I have a wide varierty of interests: I’m a black belt/sash with the Lai Tai Pung Style, a ballroom dancer (ok I am better at the kicking and punching)  I’ve had a life-long love of SF and Fantasy.  I have been married to the talented artist, Schelly Keefer for the best (in every sense) part of my life.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

EFM The big news for me is the publication of my first novel Was Once A Hero through Hellfire Publishing.  http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Hero-ebook/dp/B006UMTBY8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326144528&sr=1-1  We are out with the e-version now and print to follow soon.


Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

EFM I took it up seriously about ten years ago when I was inspired by my good friend Tim McLoughlin, who wrote a book called “Heart of the Old Country” which was made into the movie the “The Narrows.”  Knowing someone who had “made the grade” inspired me to try.


Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

EFM I would say when I got into the hardcover anthology Lowport by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller for my campy SF noir story, “Lair of the Lesbian Love Goddess,” which later grew into my most popular series.  http://www.amazon.com/Hot-read-collection-Lesbian-ebook/dp/B005POO1II/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326913195&sr=1-1


Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

EFM I love what I call the “Planet” story where a crew of diverse people of wildly different talents and motivations are cast into the crucible of a totally new environment.  I want starships, alien cultures and worlds, and adventure but I always leaven it with a strong romantic element.  It seemed that sort of book was growing uncommon.  So while in my short fiction I tended toward urban fantasy or humorous SF shorts (doesn’t that sound like a form of kinky underwear?) at novel length I wanted to deal seriously with questions of love and courage.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

EFM No, not that I am aware of.  The Robert Fenaday/Shasti Rainhell books (Was Once A Hero being the first in a trilogy) are in third person past tense.  The current books I am working on with an ancient alien android named Maauro and her newfound friend, the disgraced military pilot Wrik Trigardt, are in first person past tense for Wrik and first person present for Maauro to highlight the fact that she as an essentially deathless AI does not experience time the same way.


Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

EFM I wanted to touch on the fact that a man or being can be a Hero in one instance and something very different in another. Courage is a mutable quality

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

EFM  Too many characters in science-fiction are too heroic, too unafraid, and too matter-of-fact about danger.  Those of us who have faced danger and triumphed over it usually did it either with our hearts in our mouths, fighting to overcome fear, or it was over so fast that we didn’t have time for panic.  There are surely people of steely nerves and endless reserves of courage (check your local Seal Team) but they are not common.  Most of us struggle to find courage and apply it.  So I decided that my character would be a man, drawn from a more ordinary life, no Captain Kirk, no Captain Sheridan, but someone more like one of us.

Another them was the potential for violence in the best of men.  This came out of knowing some World War II vets, genial men, all heroes in my eyes, many who seemed like they would not harm a fly.  Yet these were the amtrac gunners at Tarawa, the crew in the B-17 from the mighty Eighth, the marine crouching in the darkness at the edge of Henderson Field when the banzai charges came in.  That geniality masked the fact that we ordinary men are capable of deeds that scar the soul.  However gentle and kind we are to friends and family, in the right situation we can be the instruments of immense destruction.  So this would be a theme that I would explore in my book.   There times in the trilogy that you will feel very ambivalent about Robert and or Shasti.  You should, they themselves do.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

EFM I try to have an underlying verity in all that I do.  Obviously not being a combat veteran or an astronaut, there is a limit to that.  But as a martial artist, I worked out most of the fights that in my books by having my class attack me in the same manner.

Fear on the other hand is as well known to me as to any man.  I have had a gun pulled on me and been shot at in that disinterested fashion people are shot at in NYC (i.e crazy person shooting at something else in the area.)  I captured a mugger, ok it was a small one, and the police threw it back a few days later but heck I pinned him in a doorway until the cops came.  I’ve lost friends and acquaintances to violence.

In the second Fenaday book he is parajumping.  I used my own parajumps for the sensations; the watery feeling in the gut before, the snapping of the chute and the sudden jerk of the harness.  How it felt to jump into the dark.  Ditto for flying belted onto the floor of a helicopter at treetop height or in a hang-glider.

In the love story, well I have both won and lost in love, been elated and uncertain and all that is used.

Regarding the science: I am not a scientist though I know several.  I take the minimum liberties with science that I must.  My starships have hyperdrive and AG, but once they get from star to star, they drive around a solar system by throwing reaction mass out the rear of their atomic engines in Einsteinien space.  Weapons similarly are extrapolations of current ones but with less emphasis on energy weapons.  It will always be cheaper to accelerate a piece of something whether by expanding gas or or electromagnetism, through an enemy than to disintergatet something.


Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

EFM  Only in as much as loneliness, loss, love, fear and triumph are part of all of our lives. 


Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

EFM Wow hard one.  The works of Andre Norton started me on this path and I retain my love of these tales of otherworld.  The characters are usually the loner, the uncertain young person facing a hostile world, these spoke to me clearly in my childhood.  I would cite Star Gate, The Stars our Ours and the Zero Stone as big influences.  C J Cherryh with her Morgaine series introduced me to a serious minded and strong heroine who did not have to outmuscle the boys to outplay them.  No one does aliens better than Niven in his Known Space Work.  In Fantasy the Lord of the Rings vied with the Robert Howard Conan works for supremacy.  I have a copy of Jack Sutton’s the Beyond that was one of the first books I felt a powerful connection to.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

EFM I have been helped a great deal by a number of people:  Orson Scott Card with his bootcamp class, Mike Resnick as generous a grandmaster as lives, Catherine Asaro who is proof brains and beauty can travel together and C J Cherryh an occasional correspondent who has offered encouragement at opportune times and Janet Morris who wrote an introduction for me..

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

EFM Actually for a break I am reading one of Kathy Reichs, “Bones” series I try to very my reading out of the genre but rarely read other fiction.  I am a history buff because the weird stuff that real people do is more interesting. Ins’t that true, General Custer?


Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

EFM This is something I am kind of grappling with, most of the authors I know or read are older and I am looking for some new ones to follow, yet Steampunk does not appeal to me and it seems like there are about 300 leather-clad, bare-midriffed hot girls boffing vampires while dating werewolves or vice-versa.  I even satirized that trend in the second Sha’daa anthology Last Call that I wrote in the piece “I Kill Zombies” with the character of Raven Blackstone. http://www.amazon.com/Shadaa-Last-Call-Michael-Hanson/dp/1936021307/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_10

I would love some recommendations to keep me in touch with the current New Wave.  I am finding a lot of the game tie in SF and Fantasy just… without flavor.  So who do YOU like?


Fiona: What are your current projects?

EFM I am writing the second Maauro novel, looking at a Shasti Rainhell novel (she’s the gorgeous girl with the muscles on the cover of Was Once a Hero) and some more short stories based on my recent trip to Europe.  The first one of these “Death in Venice” is being offered for sale now

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. 

EFM  The Brinkers Writing Group:  Laura Jean Stroupe, Kim Wright (Love in Mid- Air) Paul Barrett (my own discovery who I have put in two anthologies) Leigh Jenkins, Alan Jenkins, Mark Kust, Shontelle MaQueen all fine writers in their own rights who make me a hell of a lot better than I would ever have been on my own

Otherise  it has to be Hellfire Publishing, Keira Kroft aka Dawn Binkley who is running with the Fenaday Trilogy, a wonderful and encouraging lady with a boundless source of energy and enthusiasm.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I do but as a means of making a living it is like acting, for every one person making a living at it, 100 have day jobs and write on the weekend or holidays

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

EFM  Like every writer you always want to improve something but as with cooking, you have to stop before you ruin the dish by destroying its spontanaeity or you never get to the next work either.


Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

EFM I think like many it was a moment of ego reading a book, putting it down and saying, “Heck , I can write better than that!”  You mercifully don’t find out right away that you were wrong by then you may have developed some skills.


Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

EFM How about an excerpt from Was Once A Hero to whet your appetite?

“There’s Gigor,” Fenaday said.  The sun cleared the horizon and its rays lit the tops of trees and buildings, leaving the field still cloaked in purple shadow.  He heard Shasti’s seat creak as she leaned forward to look beyond the backrest of his seat.  Fenaday put the Wildcat in a slow circle at a height of four hundred meters.  Shasti and he looked out at the devastated base.  Gigor base extended for tens of kilometers.  The beige and yellow Enshari buildings in the distance had the squat and unlovely utilitarian look favored by governments.  Beyond them, toward the city proper lay the domes and half-domes preferred by the Enshari.  Shattered glass in those buildings splintered and threw back the sunlight. 

“Looks worse than it did from orbit,” she said.

“Yeah,” Fenaday said.  “No question that the base was attacked.  By what I can’t imagine, the pattern of destruction doesn’t resemble that from an airburst nuclear weapon.  Nothing else I know of—not even a mass driver—creates destruction like this.”

“Only a few military spaceships were based at Gigor,” Shasti said.  “Most Navy traffic used the port at the capital city of Barjan.”

Fenaday pointed.  “There’s the Navy area.  It’s completely destroyed.”  They had seen all this from orbit, but it lacked the effect of viewing it with their own eyes. 

“Notice something?” asked Shasti.

“Yeah,” Fenaday replied.  “Those shuttles on the apron look like they were cut down by a laser fired from ground level.  See that neat slice on the metal of that green and white hospital shuttle?  It’s cut almost in half.  Whatever it was started striking the ground at a low angle, bubbling the apron.”

“Energy weapons don’t work that way,” Shasti said.  “Why use massive quantities of power to cut metal when a kinetic weapon does it cheaper and faster?  Lasers are for burning flesh, starting fires and damaging sensitive instruments—-”

“These are a few of your favorite things,” Fenaday murmured.

Shasti ignored the comment, “Well, this isn’t Conchirri work.  If they had energy weapons like this, we would all be dinner.”

Fenaday brought the Wildcat to a hover near the edge of the apron close to the barracks.  The sun had risen enough to light the field.  A brilliant, dark-blue ground cover, reminiscent of pansies, dotted some of the nearby tarmac.

“Let’s get this over with,” he said tightly.  “Are you ready, Shasti?”

“Locked and loaded,” she said, putting her tri-auto in her lap. 

“Telisan, this is Fenaday.  I’m going in.  Keep circling.  If anything happens, run for it.  That is an order.”

“Of course,” replied Telisan.  The Denlenn’s easy answer made Fenaday suspect Telisan was simply humoring him.

“Fenaday to Sidhe, we are landing.”

The fighter landed smoothly, blowing dust and debris away from the Wildcat.  Fenaday throttled back the engines, but didn’t cut them off.  He kept the HOTAS stick, which controlled thrust and weapons, in his right hand.  Fenaday looked to starboard, Shasti to port.  The fighter’s swivel-mounted guns followed the motion of his eyes.  The Confed shuttles from the first expedition landed only sixty-three seconds before being overwhelmed by whatever killed their crews.  Fenaday didn’t look at the clock.  He scanned every shadow, dreading the sight of a dust cloud similar to the one that enveloped the Confederate shuttles three years ago.  Telisan circled above, equally vigilant.

From Perez’ station aboard Sidhe, the engineer announced, “Thirty seconds.”

Fenaday kept his eyes on the ground.  His heart pounded and his mouth felt dry.  “Nothing in sight,” he reported.  To his own surprise, his voice sounded calm.

“All clear here,” Shasti said.  She didn’t even have the grace to sound concerned.

“Same,” Telisan reported.  “Nothing on motion sensors.”

“Forty-five seconds.”

For an instant, Fenaday thought about saying something to Shasti, something about the night before.  He snapped a quick glance into the one of the mirrors.  She stared out the canopy, catlike, intent, totally focused on here and now.

He returned his attention to the field.

“Sixty seconds.”

Fenaday held his breath, his finger on the trigger.

“Seventy seconds, Captain.  Congratulations on a new world record.”

The breath left his body in a whoosh.

“Okay,” he said, voice shaking slightly.  “I’m heading into overheat, initiating engine shutdown.

“Telisan, keep circling.  Perez, start the shuttles down.  Tell Karass he is to abort if at any time we lose contact before landing.”

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

EFM Plot.   I can find characters to fill an auditorium and can write reams of dialogue.  Finding a strong and viable plot for them to inhabit is where the heavy lifting comes in.


Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

EFM  Not so far but it is early days yet.  I plan to do Concarolinas and Libertycon.


Fiona: Who designed the covers?


EFM I have a friend who is a glamor photographer, Michael Church, occasionally I tear him away from photographing beautiful women and he does a cover for me.  I will include a couple below.  Michael can find a good angle on anyone and is interested in doing more covers and I cannot recommend him highly enough.  http://www.michaelchurch.com

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

None of writing the book was hard, critiquing is slightly more difficult, marketing it is where suffering comes in.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

EFM I learned that when you really love doing something, it’s not work.  I actually do not feel well if I go for too long without writing.  I hope it always stays that way.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

EFM The difference between the pro and the amateur is that amateur gave up. You have to have the hide of a rhino to do this and you have to write. Don’t try to produce perfect work or you will never produce anything. Line up words and get moving. But the best advice I got was from Orson Scott Card and it’s a mistake a lot of us make early on. We go for the action, the big bang. It’s more important to make us CARE about people and what is happening. Otherwise the big bang means little if all it is doing is taking out faceless stormtroopers or other “red shirts” (Star Trek geek reference). If I care what is going on and to whom it is happening, a paper cut can have the significance of an atom bomb

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

EFM Yes, thanks.  It is an astonishing experience to become part of other people’s lives in this way.  If anything I write ever encourages you, eases a heartache, or makes you feel less alone, well then it was all worth it.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?

EFM A full time martial arts instructor, I discovered the art as an adult.  Had I found it as a child I think it would have made a huge difference to my life not that I am unhappy at all about how it has gone.  Roads not travelled always beckon but who knows where they lead?

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?





See you around the galaxy,

Edward McKeown




=

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When the wombat comes, he’ll find me gone.Outtakes Dan Coulter has lost his girlfriend, and cannot find anything to look forward to in life any further. He’s considering putting an end to it once and for all. At that moment, with gun in hand, he sees a rather unusual want ad. The only caveat? Whoeve...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

http://www.inspirationforum.co.uk/showthread.php?tid=2131

Our Interview with Edward McKeown
Name Edward McKeown

Age
EFM Ahem over the age of consent in a youth-obsessed culture ;-)

Where are you from-
EFM originally from NYC the Big Apple.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect

EFM A fascinating subject indeed ;-) I’m a writer living in Charlotte, NC USA. I have a wide varierty of interests: I’m a black belt/sash with the Lai Tai Pung Style, a ballroom dancer (ok I am better at the kicking and punching) I’ve had a life-long love of SF and Fantasy. I have been married to the talented artist, Schelly Keefer for the best (in every sense) part of my life.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
EFM The big news for me is the publication of my first novel Was Once A Hero through Hellfire Publishing. http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Hero-eb...528&sr=1-1 We are out with the e-version now and print to follow soon.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
EFM I took it up seriously about ten years ago when I was inspired by my good friend Tim McLoughlin, who wrote a book called “Heart of the Old Country” which was made into the movie the “The Narrows.” Knowing someone who had “made the grade” inspired me to try.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
EFM I would say when I got into the hardcover anthology Lowport by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller for my campy SF noir story, “Lair of the Lesbian Love Goddess,” which later grew into my most popular series. http://www.amazon.com/Hot-read-collectio...195&sr=1-1

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
EFM I love what I call the “Planet” story where a crew of diverse people of wildly different talents and motivations are cast into the crucible of a totally new environment. I want starships, alien cultures and worlds, and adventure but I always leaven it with a strong romantic element. It seemed that sort of book was growing uncommon. So while in my short fiction I tended toward urban fantasy or humorous SF shorts (doesn’t that sound like a form of kinky underwear?) at novel length I wanted to deal seriously with questions of love and courage.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
EFM No, not that I am aware of. The Robert Fenaday/Shasti Rainhell books (Was Once A Hero being the first in a trilogy) are in third person past tense. The current books I am working on with an ancient alien android named Maauro and her newfound friend, the disgraced military pilot Wrik Trigardt, are in first person past tense for Wrik and first person present for Maauro to highlight the fact that she as an essentially deathless AI does not experience time the same way.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
EFM I wanted to touch on the fact that a man or being can be a Hero in one instance and something very different in another. Courage is a mutable quality

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
EFM Too many characters in science-fiction are too heroic, too unafraid, and too matter-of-fact about danger. Those of us who have faced danger and triumphed over it usually did it either with our hearts in our mouths, fighting to overcome fear, or it was over so fast that we didn’t have time for panic. There are surely people of steely nerves and endless reserves of courage (check your local Seal Team) but they are not common. Most of us struggle to find courage and apply it. So I decided that my character would be a man, drawn from a more ordinary life, no Captain Kirk, no Captain Sheridan, but someone more like one of us.
Another them was the potential for violence in the best of men. This came out of knowing some World War II vets, genial men, all heroes in my eyes, many who seemed like they would not harm a fly. Yet these were the amtrac gunners at Tarawa, the crew in the B-17 from the mighty Eighth, the marine crouching in the darkness at the edge of Henderson Field when the banzai charges came in. That geniality masked the fact that we ordinary men are capable of deeds that scar the soul. However gentle and kind we are to friends and family, in the right situation we can be the instruments of immense destruction. So this would be a theme that I would explore in my book. There times in the trilogy that you will feel very ambivalent about Robert and or Shasti. You should, they themselves do.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
EFM I try to have an underlying verity in all that I do. Obviously not being a combat veteran or an astronaut, there is a limit to that. But as a martial artist, I worked out most of the fights that in my books by having my class attack me in the same manner.
Fear on the other hand is as well known to me as to any man. I have had a gun pulled on me and been shot at in that disinterested fashion people are shot at in NYC (i.e crazy person shooting at something else in the area.) I captured a mugger, ok it was a small one, and the police threw it back a few days later but heck I pinned him in a doorway until the cops came. I’ve lost friends and acquaintances to violence.
In the second Fenaday book he is parajumping. I used my own parajumps for the sensations; the watery feeling in the gut before, the snapping of the chute and the sudden jerk of the harness. How it felt to jump into the dark. Ditto for flying belted onto the floor of a helicopter at treetop height or in a hang-glider.
In the love story, well I have both won and lost in love, been elated and uncertain and all that is used.
Regarding the science: I am not a scientist though I know several. I take the minimum liberties with science that I must. My starships have hyperdrive and AG, but once they get from star to star, they drive around a solar system by throwing reaction mass out the rear of their atomic engines in Einsteinien space. Weapons similarly are extrapolations of current ones but with less emphasis on energy weapons. It will always be cheaper to accelerate a piece of something whether by expanding gas or or electromagnetism, through an enemy than to disintergatet something.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
EFM Only in as much as loneliness, loss, love, fear and triumph are part of all of our lives.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
EFM Wow hard one. The works of Andre Norton started me on this path and I retain my love of these tales of otherworld. The characters are usually the loner, the uncertain young person facing a hostile world, these spoke to me clearly in my childhood. I would cite Star Gate, The Stars our Ours and the Zero Stone as big influences. C J Cherryh with her Morgaine series introduced me to a serious minded and strong heroine who did not have to outmuscle the boys to outplay them. No one does aliens better than Niven in his Known Space Work. In Fantasy the Lord of the Rings vied with the Robert Howard Conan works for supremacy. I have a copy of Jack Sutton’s the Beyond that was one of the first books I felt a powerful connection to.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
EFM I have been helped a great deal by a number of people: Orson Scott Card with his bootcamp class, Mike Resnick as generous a grandmaster as lives, Catherine Asaro who is proof brains and beauty can travel together and C J Cherryh an occasional correspondent who has offered encouragement at opportune times and Janet Morris who wrote an introduction for me..

Fiona: What book are you reading now?
EFM Actually for a break I am reading one of Kathy Reichs, “Bones” series I try to very my reading out of the genre but rarely read other fiction. I am a history buff because the weird stuff that real people do is more interesting. Ins’t that true, General Custer?

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
EFM This is something I am kind of grappling with, most of the authors I know or read are older and I am looking for some new ones to follow, yet Steampunk does not appeal to me and it seems like there are about 300 leather-clad, bare-midriffed hot girls boffing vampires while dating werewolves or vice-versa. I even satirized that trend in the second Sha’daa anthology Last Call that I wrote in the piece “I Kill Zombies” with the character of Raven Blackstone. http://www.amazon.com/Shadaa-Last-Call-M..._ep_dpi_10
I would love some recommendations to keep me in touch with the current New Wave. I am finding a lot of the game tie in SF and Fantasy just… without flavor. So who do YOU like?

Fiona: What are your current projects?
EFM I am writing the second Maauro novel, looking at a Shasti Rainhell novel (she’s the gorgeous girl with the muscles on the cover of Was Once a Hero) and some more short stories based on my recent trip to Europe. The first one of these “Death in Venice” is being offered for sale now
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

EFM The Brinkers Writing Group: Laura Jean Stroupe, Kim Wright (Love in Mid- Air) Paul Barrett (my own discovery who I have put in two anthologies) Leigh Jenkins, Alan Jenkins, Mark Kust, Shontelle MaQueen all fine writers in their own rights who make me a hell of a lot better than I would ever have been on my own
Otherise it has to be Hellfire Publishing, Keira Kroft aka Dawn Binkley who is running with the Fenaday Trilogy, a wonderful and encouraging lady with a boundless source of energy and enthusiasm.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do but as a means of making a living it is like acting, for every one person making a living at it, 100 have day jobs and write on the weekend or holidays had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

EFM Like every writer you always want to improve something but as with cooking, you have to stop before you ruin the dish by destroying its spontanaeity or you never get to the next work either.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
EFM I think like many it was a moment of ego reading a book, putting it down and saying, “Heck , I can write better than that!” You mercifully don’t find out right away that you were wrong by then you may have developed some skills.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Quote:EFM How about an excerpt from Was Once A Hero to whet your appetite?
“There’s Gigor,” Fenaday said. The sun cleared the horizon and its rays lit the tops of trees and buildings, leaving the field still cloaked in purple shadow. He heard Shasti’s seat creak as she leaned forward to look beyond the backrest of his seat. Fenaday put the Wildcat in a slow circle at a height of four hundred meters. Shasti and he looked out at the devastated base. Gigor base extended for tens of kilometers. The beige and yellow Enshari buildings in the distance had the squat and unlovely utilitarian look favored by governments. Beyond them, toward the city proper lay the domes and half-domes preferred by the Enshari. Shattered glass in those buildings splintered and threw back the sunlight.
“Looks worse than it did from orbit,” she said.
“Yeah,” Fenaday said. “No question that the base was attacked. By what I can’t imagine, the pattern of destruction doesn’t resemble that from an airburst nuclear weapon. Nothing else I know of—not even a mass driver—creates destruction like this.”
“Only a few military spaceships were based at Gigor,” Shasti said. “Most Navy traffic used the port at the capital city of Barjan.”
Fenaday pointed. “There’s the Navy area. It’s completely destroyed.” They had seen all this from orbit, but it lacked the effect of viewing it with their own eyes.
“Notice something?” asked Shasti.
“Yeah,” Fenaday replied. “Those shuttles on the apron look like they were cut down by a laser fired from ground level. See that neat slice on the metal of that green and white hospital shuttle? It’s cut almost in half. Whatever it was started striking the ground at a low angle, bubbling the apron.”
“Energy weapons don’t work that way,” Shasti said. “Why use massive quantities of power to cut metal when a kinetic weapon does it cheaper and faster? Lasers are for burning flesh, starting fires and damaging sensitive instruments—-”
“These are a few of your favorite things,” Fenaday murmured.
Shasti ignored the comment, “Well, this isn’t Conchirri work. If they had energy weapons like this, we would all be dinner.”
Fenaday brought the Wildcat to a hover near the edge of the apron close to the barracks. The sun had risen enough to light the field. A brilliant, dark-blue ground cover, reminiscent of pansies, dotted some of the nearby tarmac.
“Let’s get this over with,” he said tightly. “Are you ready, Shasti?”
“Locked and loaded,” she said, putting her tri-auto in her lap.
“Telisan, this is Fenaday. I’m going in. Keep circling. If anything happens, run for it. That is an order.”
“Of course,” replied Telisan. The Denlenn’s easy answer made Fenaday suspect Telisan was simply humoring him.
“Fenaday to Sidhe, we are landing.”
The fighter landed smoothly, blowing dust and debris away from the Wildcat. Fenaday throttled back the engines, but didn’t cut them off. He kept the HOTAS stick, which controlled thrust and weapons, in his right hand. Fenaday looked to starboard, Shasti to port. The fighter’s swivel-mounted guns followed the motion of his eyes. The Confed shuttles from the first expedition landed only sixty-three seconds before being overwhelmed by whatever killed their crews. Fenaday didn’t look at the clock. He scanned every shadow, dreading the sight of a dust cloud similar to the one that enveloped the Confederate shuttles three years ago. Telisan circled above, equally vigilant.
From Perez’ station aboard Sidhe, the engineer announced, “Thirty seconds.”
Fenaday kept his eyes on the ground. His heart pounded and his mouth felt dry. “Nothing in sight,” he reported. To his own surprise, his voice sounded calm.
“All clear here,” Shasti said. She didn’t even have the grace to sound concerned.
“Same,” Telisan reported. “Nothing on motion sensors.”
“Forty-five seconds.”
For an instant, Fenaday thought about saying something to Shasti, something about the night before. He snapped a quick glance into the one of the mirrors. She stared out the canopy, catlike, intent, totally focused on here and now.
He returned his attention to the field.
“Sixty seconds.”
Fenaday held his breath, his finger on the trigger.
“Seventy seconds, Captain. Congratulations on a new world record.”
The breath left his body in a whoosh.
“Okay,” he said, voice shaking slightly. “I’m heading into overheat, initiating engine shutdown.
“Telisan, keep circling. Perez, start the shuttles down. Tell Karass he is to abort if at any time we lose contact before landing.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
EFM Plot. I can find characters to fill an auditorium and can write reams of dialogue. Finding a strong and viable plot for them to inhabit is where the heavy lifting comes in.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
EFM Not so far but it is early days yet. I plan to do Concarolinas and Libertycon.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

EFM I have a friend who is a glamor photographer, Michael Church, occasionally I tear him away from photographing beautiful women and he does a cover for me. I will include a couple below. Michael can find a good angle on anyone and is interested in doing more covers and I cannot recommend him highly enough. http://www.michaelchurch.com

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
None of writing the book was hard, critiquing is slightly more difficult, marketing it is where suffering comes in.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
EFM I learned that when you really love doing something, it’s not work. I actually do not feel well if I go for too long without writing. I hope it always stays that way.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
EFM The difference between the pro and the amateur is that amateur gave up. You have to have the hide of a rhino to do this and you have to write. Don’t try to produce perfect work or you will never produce anything. Line up words and get moving. But the best advice I got was from Orson Scott Card and it’s a mistake a lot of us make early on. We go for the action, the big bang. It’s more important to make us CARE about people and what is happening. Otherwise the big bang means little if all it is doing is taking out faceless stormtroopers or other “red shirts” (Star Trek geek reference). If I care what is going on and to whom it is happening, a paper cut can have the significance of an atom bomb

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
EFM Yes, thanks. It is an astonishing experience to become part of other people’s lives in this way. If anything I write ever encourages you, eases a heartache, or makes you feel less alone, well then it was all worth it.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
EFM A full time martial arts instructor, I discovered the art as an adult. Had I found it as a child I think it would have made a huge difference to my life not that I am unhappy at all about how it has gone. Roads not travelled always beckon but who knows where they lead?

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?
http://www.sfreader.com/authors/edward-mcKeown/
http://emckeown-edwriter.blogspot.com/20...dward.html

See you around the galaxy,
Edward McKeown

The Hellfire Herald: Keira Kroft and Edward McKeown Writer to Writer Wednesday

The Hellfire Herald: Keira Kroft and Edward McKeown Writer to Writer Wednesday: The difference between the pro and the amateur is that amateur gave up. You have to have the hide of a rhino to do this and you have to write. Don’t try to produce perfect work or you will never produce anything. Line up words and get moving. But the best advice I got was from Orson Scott Card and it’s a mistake a lot of us make early on. We go for the action, the big bang. It’s more important to make us CARE about people and what is happening. Otherwise the big bang means little if all it is doing is taking out faceless stormtroopers or other “red shirts” (Star Trek geek reference). If I care what is going on and to whom it is happening a paper cut can have the significance of an atom bomb

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Was Once A Hero by Edward McKeown Now for sale

http://www.prlog.org/11771900-join-the-adventurelive-the-romance.html

Join the adventure—live the romance

Was Once A Hero written by the extremely talented Edward McKeown has been released and is available on Amazon & Smashwords and will be coming soon to other outlets.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Was once a hero cover Small
Was once a hero cover Small
PRLog (Press Release) - Jan 13, 2012 -
This is not Edward’s first dance with Hellfire Publishing and it will not be his last. Look for his Lair of the Lesbian Love Goddess series of short stories. The first installment in that series showed up in the top ten, on Critters reader poll in the best science fiction short category.

Warning: This is one of those books you just can’t put down. So buy it, pull down the shades, fire up your reader, shut off the phone and cancel all your appointments and enjoy.

The forward was written by the very awesome, Janet Morris. The cover was done by Michael Church and as you will see here, Mr. Church knocked it out of the ball park with his eye catching and professional cover art.

Synopsis
Reluctant privateer Robert Fenaday searches the stars for his lost love, Lisa, a naval intelligence officer whose ship disappeared near the end of the Conchirri War. He’s joined by the genetically engineered assassin, Shasti Rainhell, whose cold perfection masks her dark past. Both are blackmailed by government spymaster, Mandela, into a suicidal mission to the doomed planet Enshar. Leading a team of scientists and soldiers, they must unravel the mystery of that planet’s death before an ancient force reaches out to claim their lives.
The classic Planet Stories of S/F have suffered abandonment, without a rescuer, until now. Edward McKeown's "Was Once A Hero" combines adventure and romance with the dark humor and human complexities absent from a more black-and-white age. Robert Fenaday and Shasti Rainhell are real people. They make mistakes, they hurt, they stumble in the dark emotionally, and they save the world. They are flawed, wounded heroes, and they make you realize, as you hungrily turn each page, that the best fiction contains excitement and passion; and the best aspect of life is the possibility of personal redemption. Was Once a Hero provides both." Tim McLoughlin, author of "Heart of the Old Country" (Movie Title: The Narrows) and Editor of "Brooklyn Noir"

Buy it now http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Hero-ebook/dp/B006UMTBY ...


For more information on Edward and his works, check out his author page.
http://www.hellfirepublishing.com/hero.html