Monday, 28 May 2012

Why I love writing in my genre

My novella, Unsecure Connection, is a cyberpunk romance, but to me that falls under the broader umbrella of sci fi. The funny thing about me and sci fi is I love more science fiction TV shows, movies, and video games than I do books. And yet when I sit down to write, I gravitate toward stuff that takes place on spaceships and grungy space stations (or grungy future cities). I like to think I’m writing the books I want to read—but haven’t found yet.

I blame this partially on the sausagefest that appears in a lot of science fiction books. I tend to get bored when a book doesn’t have female characters. Or worse than bored, I get mad and start to rant about how stupid it is. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was my first exposure to science fiction… I think. I can’t remember. Before that, I was more into fantasy. But like Kaylee says in Firefly, I can’t help it—I like ships. I like the idea that there are other worlds out there, and people cris-crossing space between them. And I love that I’ve recently discovered more romantic science fiction, as well as a greater variety of SF written by female authors.

Another reason I like writing science fiction is I seem to gravitate toward “outlaw” characters. I guess this is Han Solo’s fault for being so awesome. But I think it’s a lot easier to suspend your disbelief about a character being likeable while living a life of crime when they’re living in an unfamiliar world or fighting an evil empire. In Unsecure Connection, my female character Riley makes her living doing some pretty illegal stuff, but she lives in a future where corporations basically control everything. If you write a smuggler, hacker, or thief in the here and now, I think there’s more of a tendency for the reader to think he or she is kind of a dick.

I’m going to finish this up by sharing my Top 5 Sci Fi Universes (in no particular order):

1)      Star Wars

2)      Battlestar Galactica

3)      Mass Effect (video game series)

4)      Firefly

5)      Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series

6)      And for a bonus, because I figured I should throw in some cyberpunk, my favourite cyberpunk is by Richard K Morgan, starting with the book Altered Carbon

Riley is one of the best hackers around. She’s always kept her online identity separate from her real life… mostly because she doesn’t have much of a real life. But someone is stalking her through the network. Someone who knows about the big job she just pulled off and won’t stop till he finds out who she is.

Two years ago, CJ was a hacker at the top of his game, until he got caught. Now the prisoner of a ruthless corporation, he is forced to hunt down his former friends and colleagues. He finds himself irresistibly drawn to the woman he knows only by her alias, Samantha, as he traces her from virtual nightclubs to the dark streets of the Manhattan sprawl.

But when Riley and CJ’s relationship crosses over into real life, things get dangerous.
But he couldn’t see her again. That would be a mistake.
Mistake. He snorted. He’d already made his mistake when he went after her in real life. Should’ve turned her in, like the others. Shouldn’t have taken it into his own hands. Then he wouldn’t have had to look her in the eye. You could do all sorts of things to people you never saw, he’d learned. It was just simpler that way.
CJ realized he’d been subconsciously rubbing the skin of his right forearm. He glanced down at it and swore.

Confiscated. That was how they said it, casually, like they were the principal taking a dirty magazine you’d stashed in your locker, instead of a bunch of men in white smocks ripping things out of your flesh in a waking nightmare. But they’d left him a gift.
He fingered his arm, tracing the tiny bump of the microchip that floated right under the skin. It was a tracker. So they knew where he was.
They always knew where he was.
He’d tested it. Of course, that was the first thing he’d done, when they “released” him. (It was like confiscated—another word they liked to use with the meaning twisted.) They’d left no guards outside the apartment they set him up in, put no locks on the doors. So CJ took off. As he skimmed the shadowed alleys through the dilapidated buildings, he wanted to laugh. It was this easy? And yet something seemed unbelievable about it, so he stayed wary. He kept his senses alert and glanced over his shoulder as often as he could without being too obvious about it. He doubted his old apartment was still vacant after all this time. No doubt, he thought bitterly, SpectreTek had confiscated all his equipment, too. It was just as well—scavengers would certainly have gotten it.
They caught up with him a few blocks later, pulling up in an unmarked hovercar.
The next day, testing a theory, he tried again. This time he went in the opposite direction. And he timed himself. About twenty minutes later, he heard the whine of engines behind him.
After six days of this, they finally sent one of their exasperated suits to meet with him. The implant, they explained, tracked his movements. He was allowed to go wherever he wanted, within a one kilometer radius of his apartment. “And don’t even think about having it removed,” the man said, a self-righteous gleam in his eye. “It has a defense mechanism. If any instruments touch it directly, or if it is exposed to the air in any way, it will emit certain toxins. You’ll be dead within minutes, or if not dead, very ill. So you see, when we said we owned your life, it wasn’t a figure of speech, Mr. Benson.”

Okay, so seeing her again was out of the question. Just being in the same room with her would be putting her into danger. He’d told her he was letting her go, and he’d done it. That should be enough to assuage any guilt he felt about tracking down his former colleagues. You saved one, a barely audible voice in his head nagged him. One. And you handed over thirty-six. You’re a real hero.
Alanna Blackett writes science fiction and fantasy with a side dish of romance. Growing up, it annoyed her that she always had to be Princess Leia when they played Star Wars, because there weren’t any other female characters. She would much rather have been Han Solo or Indiana Jones. She immediately set out to fix that through her writing. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and two cats, and has a weakness for video games, NBA basketball, and books about chicks who blow stuff up.
Twitter: @AlannaBlackett
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