deborahjross: (Default)
I begin with an excerpt from my last post on Thinking About Gender:

In writing Collaborators, I wanted to create a resonance between the tensions arising from First Contact and those arising from differences in gender and gender expectations. It seemed to me that one of the most important things we notice about another human being is whether they are of “our” gender. What if the native race did not divide themselves into (primarily) two genders? How would that work – biologically? romantically? socially? politically? How would it affect the division of labor? child-rearing? How would Terran-humans understand or misinterpret a race for whom every other age-appropriate person is a potential lover and life-mate? Not only that, but in a life-paired couple, each is equally likely to engender or gestate a child.

We humans tend to think about gender as binary, and the concepts of fluidity (changing from one to the other, not necessarily once but perhaps many times during a lifetime) or being both male and female (or neither) are fairly recent additions into conventional public discourse. Fluidity is not the same thing as being transgendered (which is where a person’s gender – their identity – and their sex – their biological/genetic category) are not the same. Both are different from sexual orientation, which has to do with attraction to another person. All too often, if a species that does not fit into the female/male division is portrayed in media, they’re shown as sexless, not only androgynous but lacking in sex drive.

I take exception to this. I see no reason why sexual activity should not be as important to an alien race as it is to human beings. We have sex for lots of reasons, reproduction being only one of them. It feels good – no, it feels great. It creates bonds between individuals, whether as part of lifelong commitments or otherwise. It’s physiologically good for health, both physical and mental. So for my alien race in Collaborators, I wanted sexuality to be important.Read more... )
deborahjross: (Collaborators)
As the concept for Collaborators took shape, I realized that one of the key issues was power: power that comes from advanced technology, power that comes from military superiority, power that comes from idealism, power that comes from love, and power that comes from political advantage. But also and especially, power that relates to gender. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to address the issues of power without talking about gender.

People – that is, we Terran-humans -- often confuse gender, sex, and sexual orientation. Sex identification arises from biology, and most of us are either male or female genetically and phenotypically. That is, we possess either XX or XY chromosomes, and our genitals conform to the norm. These are not the only possibilities (you can have XXX or XXY, for example) and problems arise from the societal demand that every person fit into one or the other category. This has nothing to do with “masculine” and “feminine,” which are cultural interpretations, or with who a given individual is sexually attracted to. The binary division of male and female, while appropriate for many people, does not work for everyone.

Gender, on the other hand, has to do with how you experience yourself, a personal sense of being a man or a woman (or both, or neither). Each of these is distinct from sexual orientation, which has to do with an enduring physical, romantic, and emotional attraction to another person. Gender has been described as "who you want to go to bed as, not who you want to go to bed with."
Read more... )
deborahjross: (Shield #1)
Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop needs your help to continue! If everyone who's attended chips in $100 or $10, we can do this. Even if you can't donate money, spread the word to those who love fiction with excellent science.

Support the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Science Fiction Authors | RocketHub
deborahjross: (Jaydium)
For all you faithful Jaydium readers, a peek into my writing and revision process, with a rather embarrassing first draft of the opening for you to enjoy!

Deborah J. Ross: SPECIAL: Jaydium - Revising a False Start
deborahjross: (Default)
New from Book View Cafe:

Eleven original stories by recipients of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship (2007 through 2012), plus a reprint of "Speech Sounds" by the scholarship's namesake, Octavia E. Butler. This anthology also includes a brief memoir of Butler by her Clarion classmate Vonda N. McIntyre and an introduction by Nalo Hopkinson. Edited by Nisi Shawl and published by the Carl Brandon Society, the administrator of the Butler Scholarship Fund.

Nisi Shawl is reviews editor for The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a member of the Clarion West board of directors, and a founding member of the Carl Brandon Society, which administers the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund. Her collection Filter House won the 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.
deborahjross: (Default)

The What We’re Reading Wednesday meme is making the rounds. True to form, I offer up some reflections on what I have been and am reading Not On A Wednesday.

I’ve been slowly working my way through two series: Bernard Cornwell’s “Richard Sharpe” books and the Sookie Stackhouse “Southern Vampire” novels of Charlaine Harris. Each of these is a story in itself, about which more is forthcoming below. I say “slowly” because I want to make them last, so I ration them out a chapter here, a book there, with breaks for other reading.

The Cornwell is undoubtedly Ioan Gruffud’s fault. When my younger daughter still lived at home, we watched the A & E “Horatio Hornblower” series together (a precursor to her inflicting Dr. Who upon her unsuspecting mother, who then retaliated by knitting her The Scarf, but that’s another tale entirely). Years later, my husband – who normally does not care for movies in general and anything with fighting in particular – expressed willingness to indulge me with Friday night videos. We noodle around with every dramatization of the life of Queen Elizabeth I we could find and then advanced to Horatio Hornblower, both the series with Gruffudd and the movie with Gregory Peck. From there, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to the infantry’s role in the Napoleonic Wars. Sean Bean’s “Richard Sharpe” to the rescue. Having watched the series, I of course grabbed for the books. They are interesting in many ways. For one thing, they aren’t written in order. The series begins in the early middlish part, when Sharpe has already saved the life of Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) and become an officer “up through the ranks,” an elevation much frowned upon by both his fellow officers and the common soldiers he is to command. Then, after quite a number of adventures, Cornwell goes back to the beginning, as it were, fills in a lot of background, so you can read them in the order in which they were written or in chronological order. For another, each book centers on one battle. One battle! And has not a speck of flab anywhere.
After several books, the principles of warfare of the time – such as the relative advantages and weaknesses of infantry, cavalry, artillery – become part of the dramatic landscape. It was certainly nice to imagine a much younger Sean Bean when I read about Richard Sharpe, but I find I like the written character better.

That’s true as well for the Sookie Stackhouse books. I’d read a few before I caught the television series on DVD and found the casting choices interesting, not to mention the way bits of different books were conflated and put in a different order. In the books, Sookie has such a strong, distinctive voice that even her describing getting dressed is entertaining. I was a fan of Harris’s “Lily Bard/Shakespeare” and “Aurora Teagarden” mysteries and love the way she hooks me with the surface of the story while weaving in deeper, darker stuff.

deborahjross: (Default)
Over on my blog, I host Warren Rochelle to talk about what he's working on -- not one but three projects. Here's the skinny on what he's up to:

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Golden Boy: Can Gavin, part-fairy and gay, keep his true self secret, be true to himself, and survive in a country that wants to kill people like him?
The Werewolf and His Boy: Henry, a werewolf, and Jamey, a godling, must find the key left by Loki before it is too late and magic explodes in the world, and at the same time, sort out their love for each other.
Happily Ever After: Everyone deserves the chance to have a happy ending.

Novel sale!

Oct. 2nd, 2012 03:16 pm
deborahjross: (Jaydium)
Some of you may remember the science fiction novel I read from at 2004 Gaylaxicon (and have been asking me ever since when it's coming out). To connect it with my previous science fiction, it'll be under the name Wheeler.

Here's the press release: Dragon Moon Press Continues Gender-Exploring Tradition with a New Science Fiction Novel from Deborah Wheeler

Collaborators: a complex tale of occupation and resistance, conspiracies, rebellions, gender, and power.

We’re pleased to announce the acquisition of Collaborators, a new science fiction novel by Deborah Wheeler. Noted for numerous short stories, two novels, and, as Deborah J. Ross, her continuation of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series, Wheeler now offers a deep exploration of the gendered gaze and takes the reader behind the eyes of the other, from both directions, in a fast-moving tale of occupation and resistance.

A crippled Terran spaceship makes orbit around Bandar, a planet whose gender-fluid native race teeters on the brink of international war. As misunderstandings mount, violence escalates. Ultimately, it is up to the people on both sides who have suffered the deepest losses to find a way to reconciliation. About Collaborators, acclaimed writer C. J. Cherryh wrote, “This is first-rate world-building from a writer gifted with soaring imagination and good old-fashioned Sense of Wonder.”

“We’re really excited to work with Deborah, and proud to publish Collaborators,” says managing editor Gabrielle Harbowy. “It’s an intimate exploration of power, gender, and sexuality set in a richly-imagined world.”
deborahjross: (Jaydium)
If you've been following along with the serialization of my science fiction novel, Jaydium, here's the next installment. (All the previous chapters are available; there's an index under "Read A Story").

Our heroes arrive at the rainbow city (from the cover):

"Lo-o-ok at that," Kithri said.

Eril leaned forward across her shoulders, straining for more, hardly daring to breathe least the city shimmer and evaporate like a fever-born mirage. Even at this distance, he could distinguish individual structures. A ruby spindle shone in the late afternoon sun, dwarfing a flat rectangular block of pearlescent lace and a chain of smaller towers linked at every level by bridges of the same translucent material. A series of causeways, sapphire blue and turquoise, wound through the forest of towers.

As they drew nearer, Eril realized that the city was not nearly as large as it first seemed. He was accustomed to the scale of artificial satellites or ancient mega-cities like New Paris or Terillium City, where ten thousand might live and work within the same self-contained scraper. These shining buildings before him could not be more than three or four stories high. It was their slenderness and composition that made them seem so elegantly tall. Judging by Fifth Fed standards, he put the city=s entire population at fifty thousand people, no more.

Or perhaps they aren't human. Perhaps we've discovered a new race of intelligent aliens!
deborahjross: (Default)
Come read along with the serialization of my first novel, Jaydium. We're up to Chapter 4, in which Eril learns to chip jaydium, and Kithri learns he has quite another objective.

"The war's officially over," he went on, "but we're still scrambling to keep order in the settled worlds. You've been lucky here on Stayman‑‑not like Pandora or Albion or half a dozen other worlds that somebody considered easy pickings. The Fed protected you better than most because of the jaydium."

Eril paused. Stayman could barely feed herself as it was, and it had been nothing short of criminal to abandon the scientists and their families here. He didn=t want to appear to be defending the Fed. "I'm not on a pleasure trip, I'm recruiting."

"Recruiting?" Her eyes got even bigger.

He smiled. "Hank told me about this brushie he'd run jaydium with. He said she could fly circles around him in her sleep. I had to see for myself."

"Hank said that? About me?"

"You got any other candidates? I didn't come five parsecs across space to fly duo with that old sourbug in the tavern."

Kithri choked down the last of her bread, lowering her eyes so he could no longer read in them. "Entrance," she repeated. "To what, exactly?"

"Courier Corps."
deborahjross: (Jaydium)
... haven't gotten to the gigantic silver slugs or the time-traveling spaceman yet, but today there's a touch of romance, not to mention lust...

Deborah J. Ross
deborahjross: (Jaydium)
In a fit of benevolent insanity, or maybe just summer wanting-to-dosomething-cool, I'm offering my novel, Jaydium in free serialized chapters on my blog.

The first chapter is up now, and others will follow, most likely on Fridays. If you're coming in later, there's an index and links under "Read A Story" so you can catch up. Enjoy! (And of course if you simply cannot wait to find out what happens next, you can get your very own copy from Book View Cafe, in a format that will play nicely with your Nook or Kindle or whatever.)
deborahjross: (Default)

John DeNardo posts on Kirkus Reviews about the books George R. R. Martin wrote before "Game of Thrones." He points out, quite rightly, that Martin was already an established author and editor, respected in science fiction, well before his work broke big. I won't repeat this list of his achievements here -- you can go read DeNardo. My personal revelation after reading the article was, "Oh thank goodness, I'm not the only one who loved Martin's work, gave up on "Game of Thrones," and hope Martin returns to writing stuff I can read." Not that DeNardo said that (he didn't), but that I no longer feel I have to justify myself.

I think the first of Martin's books I read was Windhaven (1981), co-written with the amazing and wonderful Lisa Tuttle. (And if you don't know her work, you should immediately seek it out.) It was good solid science fiction, full of action yet thoughtful, and as a woman reading it in the early 1980s, the heroine who wanted to fly spoke right to me. The book marked both authors as "look out for their work." Then followed (not in publication order, in reading order) was Fevre Dream. Steamboats and suitably scary vampires, not the current angsty sparkly kind. Think gothic, think Mississippi River in late 1850s, think seriously creepy.

I've read other work by Martin, but the one that lingers in my mind was his first published book, Dying of the Light (1977).

First, he gives us a planet that, due to its disturbed orbit, is headed so far from its sun that life cannot be sustained. In other words, a long slow journey into endless night. During its time of habitability, people from all over have established a temporary civilization, a sort of "be merry, for tomorrow we, go home." Now shadows are falling, the plants and animals are struggling to adapt to reduced sunlight, and scientists are studying the whole process. And hunters are using it for their private and very bloody playground. That in itself, for me, is worth the price of admission. But Martin uses it as a backdrop for examining cultural conflict, love and betrayal. Pulls it all together, he does, with lots of twists and nifty stuff. Some of the images were so vivid that I still remember them years after reading the book, as lonely and sorrowful as the city, where the wind over the rooftops plays a haunting lament.


"Game of Thrones," on the other hand, simply didn't work for me. Or rather, the first book and a chapter didn't work for me. Characters I really don't want to read about, getting ripped out of every interesting story line time and again... just about the only thing I cared about was the dire wolves, and them only because my ex used to volunteer at the Page Museum (La Brea tarpits) in LA. And those were way cooler than Martin's wolves. Sigh.

Now I am reminded that I can enthuse of Martin's work and simply ignore all the hoo-hah about the ones I don't like. What, you like "Game of Thrones" -- great! There's more than enough cool stuff to go around. I'll stick with Dying of the Light and Fevre Dream.

Mirrored from my blog.
deborahjross: (croning)
I grew up with a love-hate relationship with short fiction. Having to read short stories in school almost ruined them for me. Actually, the reading was fine; it was the having to answer the brain-dead, pointless, intellectually insulting questions about those stories that made me want to throw the books across the classroom. I had no idea what criteria the textbook authors were using, but if this was what short fiction was about, I could not understand why anyone would voluntarily read it.

And yet, as soon as I got a library card, I checked out volume after volume of Groff Conklin's anthologies. I read the few digest magazines in my possession so many times, I wore them out. I could almost recite some of those stories word for word. I decided that the field of short fiction was divided into two parts: the dry, tedious stuff that no one in her right mind would have anything to do with; and the cool stuff - the stories that grabbed me right away and swept me into worlds filled with surprises, nifty ideas, and no-holds-barred excitement. I could indulge myself for an entire afternoon, or sneak in one of my favorites and still have time to finish my homework. Although the prose was not of the elevated literary sort (a good thing, in my opinion) and the characters might be cardboard supporting actors for the above-mentioned Incredibly Nifty Ideas And Situations (I didn't care), these stories got the most important things right. They didn't muck around with showing off the author's vocabulary; the "point" wasn't dreary and obscure. They were complete stories, single-minded of purpose, with well-defined beginnings, middles, and ends, and the characters had actual goals and perils. These were stories I wanted to read, and hence they were what I attempted to write.

Two academic degrees and a kid later, I embarked upon a serious writing career. The conventional wisdom of that time, still held by many, was that you began by writing short fiction and then "graduated" to novels. This was supposed to teach you the fundamentals of writing. Short fiction, you understand, contains all the necessary elements, only in condensed form, like literary Campbell's Soup. Why anyone thinks it's easier to make every sentence accomplish three things when in a novel-length work it has to do only one, I don't know. In this case, short does not equal simplified. In addition, at that time there were quite a few markets for short fiction, and new ones popping up all the time (and disappearing, so it behooved the beginning writer to keep track of current listings, an art in itself).
It turned out, however, that short stories were no more difficult for me than those of any other length. It was easier to send off a short story for critique than an entire novel, not to mention the savings in copying and postage. Having to create a new world for each story gave me lots of practice. The clincher came when Marion Zimmer Bradley, with whom I'd been corresponding, told me she was going to edit an anthology of women's sword and sorcery and would I like to send her a story, no promises. My fate as a short fiction writer was sealed.

Print markets for short fiction have come and gone, editors have come and gone, and yet people persist in reading the darned things. Clearly, I'm not alone in loving good short fiction. But one of the enduring challenges has been the ephemeral nature of most magazine publications. The issue comes out one month and all is rapture and celebration. A few short weeks later, that issue has been replaced by the next, and the availability of back issues shrivels rapidly. Unless a story is reprinted in an anthology, it may be impossible to find (or to find at a price one can afford for a collector's copy) a decade or two hence. Those anthologies I loved contained reprints, "The Best Of...", but these have largely given way largely to originals. (Not that I'm complaining. I've had the pleasure of editing a number of original anthologies.)

I think that electronic publishing may be the best thing to happen to short fiction in a long while. Most of your favorite authors have backlists of those ephemeral stories. (I say most because some writers are natural novelists, and they are no less wonderful, they just don't have long bibliographies of shorter work.) Epublishing is a great way to make these available again. Shorts are usually priced so a reader can pick up one or four to explore an author's work without having to invest a great deal of money.
And shorts still offer the advantage that you can read a whole story in one sitting. In the airport or doctor's office, on your lunch break, at bedtime. Just load up a couple of dozen on your ereader and you're set. Sometimes you want the length and complexity of a novel, to spend hundreds of pages exploring a world and hanging out with characters who have become your friends. But other times, you want to jump into a story and jump out again with the full satisfaction and sense of completeness that a short story can bring.

At Book View Café, I'm embarking on an experiment in short fiction publication. Today, I offer you not one but four for your delectation. Three are fantasy, and one is science fiction. I had a wonderful time writing each of them, and I hope you'll enjoy reading them, too.

"Take two, they're small." And only $0.99 each.

mirrored from my blog.
deborahjross: (Default)
David Brin's list of science fiction for young adult (teen) readers, with comment about each one. He also suggests some authors as the next step toward more challenging reading. What else would you include? Or leave out?

My favorite part of the list is the repeated comment, "Any book by this author will please a bright teen."

Contrary Brin: Science Fiction for Young Adults: A Recommended List
deborahjross: (Default)
Katharine Kerr is perhaps best known for her "Deverry" fantasy series, but I first discovered her as a science fiction writer. Polar City Blues, Freeze Frames, and Palace (written with Mark Kreighbaum) are some of the best, and sadly often overlooked. They've got all the juicy stuff I love and they're not only rich in ideas, they're emotionally intelligent as well without being in the least mushy. They're all out of print, which is a terrible loss.

Now Kit has reissued Polar City Blues as an ebook from Book View Cafe.

An alien spy turns up dead in Hagar, capital city of The Republic, a pitiful handful of worlds stuck between the powerful Interstellar Confederation and the huge Coreward Alliance. Police Chief Al Bates needs to solve the murder fast before the political ramifications destabilize the precarious balance between the three. Unfortunately for him, the one person who can help him plays by her own rules: Bobbie Lacey, one of the infamous information brokers who exist on the margins of his authority.
deborahjross: (piano)
My story, "The Price of Silence," appears in the April/May issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction! It was such a joy to return to science fiction. Needless to say, I'm very proud of this story. If you're a SFWA member and would like to consider it for Nebula recommendation, please let me know!

Here's the line-up, and a place to comment:



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Deborah J. Ross

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