Thursday, July 7, 2016

Science With and Without Science

Science Without Science

Only a handful of days left for the awesome SF Storybundle The Cauldron is featured in. I figured I’d take another stab at promoting the book and the others offered with it. I love science fiction, and I’m currently reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Buried Deep, and plan on starting Charles Gannon’s Fire With Fire next. Oh, I’ll read all of them. I love science fiction.

Take a look at the collection:

I have a science background, but nothing that helped much writing The Cauldron with Gene DeWeese, who was freakishly brilliant and indeed a scientist. He wrote technical manuals he called “Spaceships for Dummies” and classic SF, including Star Trek novels that hit the New York Times bestsellers lists.

So when he asked me to coauthor The Cauldron with him, I laughed. My science background is in geology and geography, with a dash of geographical spatial analysis thrown in the mix. I can tell you about all sorts of rocks and earth layers, and a little about earthquakes, volcanoes, rivers, and landscape features. Space?

He said it’d be easy.

It was an education in writing science fiction.

“Don’t delve too deeply,” Gene taught me. Keep the science light when you’re not an astrophysicist. Make the science do what you need it to, and never go into so much detail that your readers will discover what’s wrong, what’s impossible, and what’s baseless.

The ships in The Cauldron are amazing, and how they navigate the stars is something I can’t tell you…it could spoil the book. The bridge is someplace I could wrap around me…and nothing is technical. The controls do what they need to, and there is a mystical quality to everything.

The aliens are plausible and complex and interesting, and nothing about them is so detailed that it would be wrong. Just enough details to be right.

There’s real science in the book, too. I love to research, and so working on The Cauldron gave me a good fix of that.

There’s DARK MATTER. This is awesome stuff.

There’s a world famous historical astronomer:

There’s also an elephant, a circus, the Civil War, a Salem witch hunt, and a Wisconsin fishing resort transplanted in the middle of Indiana. Oh, there’s also a high school yearbook. And all of them have nothing and everything to do with science and fiction.

And if the world had been kinder, Mr. DeWeese and I would have written another science fiction novel. We’d already started to plot it.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Piece of the Bundle

Big Sand Lake, Transplanted

The Cauldron is only one of the many titles available in the current and MOST AWESOME SF bundle of books. So much reading for so little money…and some of the proceeds are set aside for charity.
So while The Cauldron is only one of the titles, it is the one I am most familiar with, as I wrote it with esteemed NYT Bestselling author Gene DeWeese. And so I’ll tell you about a little piece of that book.
Gene insisted on a vacation resort smack in the middle of Indiana and smack in the middle of the book. He remembered a resort in Indiana and attached fond memories to it.

Well, I remembered a fishing resort near Spooner, WI. And I had fond memories, too. Me and my parents vacationed there for one or two weeks every summer from the time I was seven until I graduated from junior college. Lots of years. Same place EVERY SUMMER. My parents’ friends owned the place, and they gave my dad a good deal on the cabin and fishing boat rental.

So I told Gene “of course there will be a vacation resort in The Cauldron.” But since I’d never been to the place he regaled me about, I took the Birch Haven Resort of Spooner, renamed it, and plopped it down in the middle of our manuscript. The characters stayed in one of my favorite cabins…it afforded probably the best view of the lake.

I can still feel the sand between my toes.
And I can picture the place so vividly in my mind, like I could step out my back door and be there.
The lake was the kind of blue you imagine heaven being…dark, bright, shiny, smooth like glass when the wind stopped, looking like silver pieces had been tossed to float when there was breeze and a faint chop.
It smelled clean and wonderful, and when you stood at the shore, your heels in the sand and the water lapping at your feet, you pulled the scent to the bottom of your lungs and held it as long as you could…before breathing it deep again.
Best of all, it smelled like summer.
Big Sand Lake had sounds too, the shush of the water, the cries of children running up and down the beach, the purr of motors on fishing boats, the cries of birds swooping low. Sometimes dogs would bark…rez dogs they were called, beautiful mixes covered in ticks. And you’d sit on the docks with a pair of tweezers, culling the ticks and trying—desperately—to talk your parents into letting you take one of the dogs home. They were friendly dogs.
And, every once in a while, parents relented.
The lake was so big you couldn’t see the other side of it, and it was a hundred feet deep at the center. Occasionally a college student or two would swim across…usually with someone in a boat following because it was a very big lake. One day me and some buddies—all the kids who vacationed at the resort instantly became friends—decided we would try it. Didn’t even get halfway. But we were age twelve or thereabouts, had no business attempting such a thing, and didn’t have anyone in a boat following. Of course we never told our parents. Back in those days parents let their kids run from sunrise until it got dark.
We got out pretty far, though. Exhausted, we treaded in some lily pads and squealed when fish brushed our legs. We knew there were some darn big fish in the lake…really...lunker pike and muskellunge. We made it back to shore and lay in the shallows, having a good laugh at our foolishness and vowing to try it again next year.
And we did.
And we turned back again.
But in my dreams I made it to the other side.
The Cauldron is about “the other side.” I am so very proud of that book. Gene DeWeese taught me that it is possible to put an elephant, the Civil War, spaceships, and a transplanted fishing resort into a science fiction tale about the fate of our planet.
There’s something amazing about that.
And now my mind is focused on that impossibly blue lake and sand between my toes. A cold orange soda slipping down my throat. I can hear the water lapping.
Join me, won’t you?