Thursday, 23 March 2017

Guest Post: What is a sci-fi, time-travel, steampunk romance? by SBK Burns #scifi #romance


Wow, so many paranormal romance subgenres. My books are definitely non formulaic. That is, they don’t fit in any single genre. That can be a problem if an author wants to start their career out with a bestseller. A non-formulaic author may not be able to take advantage of a readership audience for any particular genre. They will be searching for that very small niche audience, and not writing to necessarily make money, but to make a point, present a theme, perhaps something besides romance that, like much literary fiction, seeks to say something about the times in which they live, maybe solving some problem we face as a civilization.

Today, many sci-fi authors write about spaceships and base their stories on books written by others about science and sci-fi topics in the general knowledge base. Many of these authors have made their mark, just as have historical romance authors, doing their homework and bringing facets of history together realistically, so their readership can suspend disbelief as soon as possible. However, readers sometimes enjoy focusing more on the meat of the romance and not always on the true, but many times unbelievable, scientific details.

I love historical romance. I learned more from that then I learned from all of my history classes in school. (Not a very good history student.) Real historical romance that takes us into the past is very difficult and requires great perseverance and time to write, if it is done well. It can shine a new light on past events. Scientific history, as set forth in the Ages of Invention Series is much the same—requiring knowledge both of the evolution of science and of history. As a multi-degreed scientific generalist and a sci-fi romance author, this is the type of sci-fi I enjoy writing.

Each of the novels in my AGES OF INVENTION SERIES shows a scientific history of a year, a slice out of time. In FLY LIKE AN EAGLE, I bring science and history directly into the developing relationship between hero and heroine. Today many use buzzwords to make the readers think they understand science, most of the words having been invented and accepted as part of our scientific world back in the mid nineteen hundreds.

In order to organize my thoughts and invent non-formulaic steampunk themes, I base stories on my own research (see link below).

My characters travel into the past on something called The Flow. Most people including undergraduate scientists have not thought much about the concept of the flow, which is the time dependent movement and change of the world, similar to the Easterly and Westerly winds of the rotating Earth.

If we could only ride this flow in a focused way, could our minds take us to different places at different times? Some cultures in history have done this. We call it spirituality, but as a former applied mathematician, I know that The Flow is just another way of seeing the world, and it has a discrete mathematical basis.

Algonquin speaking Native Americans have many words to describe the flow of life like the flow of a river. I chose the Algonquin word Bimijiwan. The hero, Eagle, or Migizi, has developed the capacity to travel The Flow into the past and future. In Eagle’s world, everything travels on the flow—certain rare individuals, hang gliders, dirigibles, and the technically complex, time-traveling quantum computers that show up in AGES OF INVENTION.

Excerpt from FLY LIKE AN EAGLE:

1824 Philadelphia, PA, upon the heroine first seeing the hero flying his hangglider

A hawk’s cry came from the distant hillside. Oh, if she could only get a glimpse.
She felt inside the skirt of her gown to the hard outline of opera glasses in one of a number of special pockets she’d had the dressmaker sew.
Glancing to her right and left, she dropped the shawl on a marble bench next to the kitchen entrance and, lifting her skirts, stepped off the gardener’s path into the briars.
 Excited to see what had caused the birds’ anxiety, she shook off the sounds of tiny rips and tears—thorns grabbing onto the skirt of the gown and her finely knit stockings.
One step at a time, Samantha distanced herself from the manor. She squinted up toward the highest eastern hill to see the hawks she’d earlier observed through her window. They cried out, chasing a much larger bird.
The enormous flying creature took to the air, lifting itself ever higher over the peak. Might it be related to those monsters leaving their giant bones to be unearthed by explorers? Must be a real living bird. The way it swoops up and down over the hillside. She fumbled for the opera glasses, brought them to her eyes, and adjusted the lenses.
The full moon, just rising and reflecting off the clouds, backlit the scene as the giant avian-like creature flew above the hill and into the moon’s disk, across Tycho’s crater, down over the distant clouds, and up again.
Below its wings—no, it couldn’t be—it looked like it had captured something in its talons. She distinguished what she thought might be a human silhouette each time the harpy crossed the moon’s bright disk.
Unable to get enough air into her lungs, she lowered the glasses and returned them to the pocket. Stepping back into the briars she heard a monstrous rip of fabric and nearly fell.
“Samantha, come back. Where have you gone?”
“Aunt?” The spell of the mystical bird broken, she’d never felt so overjoyed to hear her aunt, tipsy or not.
Barbs dug into her ankles and hands.
Her curious mind had gotten her into this state of confusion. And now she’d seen things so unbelievable, if she shared them, no one would ever take her, or her scientific ideas, seriously. Like that young British woman, Anning—she thought that was the scientist’s name. The discredited girl had claimed to have discovered enormous fossils from some monstrous creatures.
Perhaps the water Samantha had recently swallowed was infected.
Yet, her observations had always been sound.
There is no monster. There is no monster, she thought, attempting to quell her anxiety.
But there was a monster. She’d seen it.
She let her breath out slowly, almost afraid there’d not be enough air outside to take another.
In the fuzzy distance, the moon had risen higher. Hands shaking, she fumbled into another pocket for her wire-rimmed spectacles and nervously placed the stems over her ears to stare one last time at the scene, maybe to convince herself she hadn’t dreamed the giant bird.
No birds, but a tiny oval skimmed slowly across the face of the moon, disappearing into the darker evening sky. Shaped like an egg, it lacked wings. Without wings, how did it not plummet to the earth?
Hearing Tallulah’s cries of concern, Samantha froze, suddenly realizing how far she’d wandered toward the hill. Through the pungent odor of the lyreleaf sage and the rapid cricket chirps of the heated evening, gashes on her arms and ankles prickled where barbs had torn at them, bringing her back to reality.
Between her and her aunt stood a tall thistle, its budding artichoke-like fruit bathed in an aura of moonlight. She reached out, grabbing at the halo formed of the softest silk. From my frayed gown? Or the monster’s talons?
The strangely ethereal fibers were exceedingly thin, unlike the ragged edges of fabric she’d seen at the seamstress’, or on the many dresses she’d destroyed while climbing trees as a youth. She stuffed a handful of fibers into her pocket and followed her aunt’s voice to the kitchen door.

End of Excerpt

Following is the cover of FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. My cover artist, Fiona Jayde, is a Paranormal Romance Cover Artist winner in the latest JABBIC contest. I love her work, and she’s helping me with my other covers. The book’s cover is up for voting as best cover in the Ultimate Fantasy Books Cover Contest, the first round going until March 29. Please press the VOTE button and vote for number 37. Thanks. 

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