Tuesday, March 19, 2019

An Alien Take on the Familiar by @CassChandler

by Cassandra Chandler

I’ve loved Science Fiction for as long as I can remember and devour it in any form I can find. Books, short stories, movies, TV shows. I have a special place in my heart for B-Scifi movies—where you can see the threads holding up the hubcaps and almost smell the corn syrup and red food coloring (or grape jam, with some of the black and white movies).

It never mattered to me if the effects sometimes just kinda…did their best. My imagination could fill in whatever I needed it do. Nothing could compare to the wonder of those shows, the feeling of infinite possibility. I actually enjoyed the cheesey dialogue, over-the-top performances, and weird outfits that I sometimes recreated with my mom’s old sewing machine. But there was one thing that I adored more than anything else.

The rubber monster suits.

I loved the aliens in those movies. There’s something about the characters created by a person wearing a big rubber suit that has always fascinated (and sometimes terrified) me. Practical effects have a different feel than CGI, and the artistry that went into sculpting and animating many of the costumes from the earliest Scifi movies adds to my enjoyment of the stories.

The variety and imagination at play with some of the weirder creations has always delighted me, but I’m most drawn to alien takes on the familiar. I’ve been playing with this quite a bit in my Scifi romcom series—The Department of Homeworld Security.

It started in Entry Visa, with a four-armed, white-furred, gorilla-like humanoid named Craig. I envisioned Craig and his mate, Barbara, as Space Sasquatches (but don’t tell them I said that). I had a blast writing them, especially the first scene where Craig meets the human hero, Henry, and learns about weird human body functions like “sneeze.”

 Of course, with my love of all things reptilian, I had to create a race of lizard people. I had so much fun with the Space Sasquatches, I decided to make these my take on “little green men” (and women). Thus, the Vegans were born.
The most recent addition to my non-human characters are the adorable Antareans—giant ant people. The Antareans have been building in my writer’s mind for a long time. When they first popped into my imagination, they were terrifying (because, you know… giant ant people.) But as I learned more about them and their culture, I realized that they are actually what I would consider the most “human” of all the aliens I’ve introduced in this series. They’re the most loving and compassionate and the most connected to one another (hey, I’m an optimist). I was so happy to have them show up in Export Duty.

I love it when new characters, new planets, and new cultures just grow from my writer’s mind. And the best thing about using them in books? I’m not limited by rubber monster suits or hubcaps on strings. The only limits are my imagination. That’s the very best part of writing Scifi.

The Department of Homeworld Security #9 — Export Duty

Her next delivery will be out of this world!

Lily’s main priority is to steer her family’s import/export company toward altruistic pursuits. That is, until her Nana starts talking about doing yoga with a little lizard person from outer space. Lily’s new goal is to help her Nana see through her delusions. But then, the alien in question actually shows up in the green-scaled flesh, dragging along a doctor that Lily would love to have examine her.

As field medic for the Coalition soldiers stationed at the Earth base in Florida, Rin is pretty non-essential. His job is to smile and distract people while med-tech takes care of whatever issue they're having. So why is a Vegan—the creators of that technology—coming to him for help?

Throw in some desperate Antareans wanting to start a trade agreement with Lily, and an attack by dozens of fanged, furred Earth-monsters called “cats”, and Rin’s going to need some of that med-tech for himself. Or maybe he’ll just let Lily tend to his wounds Earth-style…

Buy it on Apple Books: https://books2read.com/u/mqVgnO

Author bio:

Cassandra Chandler spent her preschool years daydreaming that she was an android from the planet Mars sent here to observe humans. She's not entirely sure this isn't true. She uses her vivid imagination to make the world more interesting, spawning the ideas she turns into her whimsical Science Fiction romcoms and darkly evocative Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Romances. Fast-paced and funny, lighthearted or dark, her stories will introduce you to characters you want to be friends with and worlds where you'd like to build a vacation home.

Let’s stay in touch!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Society in the Morgan Selwood Universe

One of the great things about writing science fiction is you can ask the most marvellous 'what if' questions and explore ideas that don't exist on planet Earth, but may well be extensions or exaggerations of something that is found here.

That's what I did with my Morgan Selwood series.

As a result of a spaceship malfunction, Morgan finds herself in a distant part of the galaxy where very human aliens have created their own society. The people there are closely related to humans but they have been genetically modified. The most important modification is that each of them belongs to a particular class, as follows:
  • Mirka - These people are the leaders. Military command officers, presidents and senior politicians will be found in their ranks, as well as police.
  • Vesha - Vesha form the business class. Merchants, traders, layers, accountants and the like. Some of them are very wealthy.
  • Hasta - These are the technical people. Engineers, technicians, chemists, scientists, doctors.
  • Shuba - The working class. Laborers, foot soldiers, farmers.
Genetic engineering has made it impossible for people from the four classes to create offspring with a member of another class. Manesai culture is heavily based on the Indian caste system. But even if it wasn’t, point a finger at any part of the world and you’ll find classes, castes, restrictions on marriage and the like. The daughters of merchants would marry the sons of other merchants. Princes married princesses. Common serving men didn’t bother lusting after the daughter of the house. Although, in male dominated societies, men in authority thought nothing of having a bit on the side with the serving wench. Marriages were (and still are) very often arranged by the families.

And folks, this is still, by and large, true. I have simply taken one small step further in my science fiction and had idealistic genetic scientists make matches between classes childless. A place for everyone and everyone in their place. That’s sure to make for a peaceful society. </sarcasm>
Since humans are essentially tribal and we love to belong to groups, each class has developed sub-classes. Shuba are the foot soldiers, but one group was deliberately modified to make them bigger, stronger, more fearless than the rest. They are the Fleet's elite troopers who also fill civilian roles as security police and body guards. Admiral Ravindra is a member of the Darya sub-class within the Mirka. It is an elite group which produces most Manesai admirals. And the children of admirals (of course) tend to marry the children of admirals.

My three Morgan's Misfits are

  •  Jirra is a Hasta ex-Fleet engineer who is in love with a Mirka officer. She refused to marry the man her parents had picked for her, so they hired an assassin to kill her.
  •  Chet is Mirka and was a detective who was framed for the murder of her partner, the man she loved. She's out of a job.
  • Toreni is an elite Shuba who did time in the Union Fleet as a marine. But she doesn't want to be a security guard, she wants to be a chef.

It’s space opera (of course). Three women from different backgrounds share adventures in space. These books are a spin-off from my Morgan Selwood novels, set in the same Universe. The women in this society are restricted in several respects. There’s a rigid, paternalistic class structure, which means they often can’t choose their own partners, and they often don’t have much choice when it comes to jobs, either. The three ladies who make up Morgan’s Misfits don’t fit the social mores.

While the books are action/adventure (with a little bit of romance), they’re also about the women interacting within their society, and with each other. I’m sure you’ll notice some parallels in 21st Century Earth.

The first book, Kuralon Rescue, tells the story of how the ladies save a couple of men sentenced to work to death on a prison planet called Kuralon. It’s how the ladies get together and how they acquired their name.

The second, Rescuing Romila, sees a little discord in our group of misfits as they become involved in drug smuggling and other nasty goings-on.

The third, just published, is Escape from Shar Burk. Jirra, Toreni, and Chet are at a restaurant on Shar Burk when Marisa drops in — literally. She'd been thrown from a hotel window, no longer required to report for duty as Shar Burk's governor's mistress. At first, they're just helping a fellow female escape a brute, but it doesn't end there. 

Of course it doesn't.

You’ll find all of the Morgan Selwood books listed here.

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