Posts Tagged micro-genre

Excellent aliens

Aliens:  an author can invent an alien culture so vivid and believable that you re-think what is normal in the world.  Or, the invention just has a particular quirk that is special and noteworthy.

Here are my favorite examples.

Well-known aliens

Sometimes we’re treated to a view of life from inside the aliens’ point of view.

  • C.J. Cherryh’s Atevi in the Foreigner universe have a culture of assassins, finesse, and numerical felicity.
  • Vernor Vinge wrote a pair of novels loosely linked across millenia (longer). Each book features parallel story lines, at least one taking place amongst the resident aliens.
  • David Brin’s Thennanin – in the Uplift War books.

Aliens – first contact or not-well understood

  • C.J. Cherryh’s Hisa in Downbelow Station, etc. I love the phrase “You make warm we eyes” – the way they speak is great.
  • Elizabeth Moon natives  in Remnant Population – right-foot drumming vs left-foot drumming as a way of reaching consensus.
  • Janet Kagan – natives in Hellspark – I recommend you look up a copy of  this 1988 book – there used copies out there. No, you cannot buy my copy. The natives communicate by rippling feathers.  I am sad that there will never be a sequel to this.
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch – Disty – – Retrieval Artist novels.  I can’t think of another series that explores the concepts of alien law and justice like this.
  • David Brin’s Episiarch in Startide Rising and The Uplift War, and probably other novels in that universe.  Can create rips in the fabric of space-time because it can disbelieve so strongly in its current situation: “The Episiarch, in its outraged rejection of What Is, had created the passage for its Tandu masters. The opening was held by the adamant power of its ego – by its refusal to concede anything at all to Reality.”  …  I’ve been on a project or two managed that way…

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Babes with Blasters – genre guide

Front cover

Dont mess with Kylara Vatta

What I mean by Babes with Blasters is:  science fiction with a strong female protagonist, with a military context. The alliteration was too fun to pass up.

  1. Number one in my category – the Vatta’s War series by Elizabeth Moon. Pure fun!  Military science fiction, and excellent covers in the copies I’ve seen.
  2. Hammered, Scardown, Worldwired – Elizabeth Bear. I think the middle book is the best of the series. Here we notice the bizarre trend in this genre to crop the heads off female cover models who wear tight space-suits.
  3. Babe number three is Tanya Huff’s Sergeant Torin Kerr, in the Valor series.  The first books are: Valor’s Trial, Valor’s Choice, The Better  Part of Valor Torin wears a reasonable space-suit on that cover.
  4. Sauscony Valdoria kicks butt as a Jagernaut and heir to the Skolian Imperial throne – Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro launched her many-book sago on that universe.
  5. Women of War is actually the anthology that inspired me to collect this list. Some of the shorts in this anthology are AMAZING. Some, well, not so much. I was hoping it would lead to more authors for this list, but many of the writers were very new.
  6. C.J. Cherryh’s Jago, e.g. in Destroyer. The Foreigner Universe by C.J. Cherryh features a strong female alien character – Jago – a member of the assassins’ guild. Read the rest of this entry »

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Another notch in my lipstick case – genre guide

Mata Hari

In 1917 Mata Hari was executed in France for spying.

Sex and the sneaky – using her wiles to solve the case

The femme fatale as undercover agent is in no way a new idea – Mata Hari as the iconic 20th-century example. Nonetheless, this concept has been used in a few fun fantasy froli series.  It’s an excellent excuse to blend steamy scenes with romance and intrigue and fantasy.

  • Jaqueline CareyKushiel’s Dart – Phedre Delaney. Carey has written quite the series featuring Phedre as a young woman trained as a spy in a France-analogue country which lives according to the motto ‘Love as thou wilt’.  Since Phedre has been touched by the god who governs sadomasochism, her adventures are not for the squeamish or straight-laced.  The series has continued across literally generations of characters now, all following the successful formula of at least two major conflict/crisis arcs, thwarted love, and many titillating scenes.  Generally Phedre is uncovering threats to the monarchy by finding information, or locating a mystical token.
  • C.E. Murphy – The Queen’s Bastard – Belinda Drake. This is a more recent series, as yet only with two books, and the superficial details of character and setting are quite similar to the Carey series.  The main character comes from an England-analogue, but spends a lot of time in ‘France’, and uses her feminine wiles in many undercover antics.  Belinda is actually an assassin more often than spy, and let’s just say the magic is not coming ‘from the gods’.

Honorary list members

These series have a similar strong female protagonist with a mystery to solve, and Read the rest of this entry »

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