Posts Tagged 'speculative fiction'

Slaves of Greenworld

BY DAVID HOLLY

slavesofgreenworld_wallpaper

Slaves of Greenworld Poster

 

The Post

I’m excited to broadcast that Slaves of Greenworld, my latest novel from Bold Strokes Books, is coming out this very month. In fact, I’m brimming over with pride—which is revolting and messy—that I created Slaves of Greenworld. This novel involved complex world-building, mythological invention, and imagining an alien species quite unlike their human invaders.

 

Slaves of Greenworld is SF—science fiction, speculative fiction, and speculative fantasy—and then came the plot and the sub-plots that twist and weave through the narrative.

 

The Plot, Characters, and Setting

Slaves of Greenworld depicts an alien landscape with unearthly creatures, a lurking hostility from an extinct alien species, and environmental dangers. Human versus nature always makes for an interesting theme. However, as is typical in human activities, the greatest dangers to people come from other people. As a result, the most essential conflicts in Slaves of Greenworld involve human versus human, and the fights, skirmishes, and battle scenes in this novel are colorful, sad, glorious, and convincing.

 

Humans settled Greenworld more than a thousand years before the events of this novel take place, and at some undetermined point in that past, humanity lost its technology. No one living on Greenworld knows why they lost their science, nor do most even know that it was lost. Some texts from the old Earth exist, but the Greenworlders don’t possess texts that explain their downfall.

 

Greenworld is riddled with justice, and cruel capital punishment. Of course those are all human institutions, which are abhorrent to the two surviving native species. For reasons unknown to them, Greenworld’s humans have settled into a caste system and slave economy with the xeng, the slaves, being at the bottom (where slaves customarily end up). One of the several plot threads in Slaves of Greenworld involves a violent slave revolt.

 

Just prior to the beginning of that murderous slave revolt, the novel’s narrator emerges naked, after nearly drowning in a stream, only to discover that not only does he not know how he came into the stream, but also he cannot remember his own name or anything of his past.

 

When the narrator encounters Paun, an old and fanatical hermit, something prompts him to declare that his name is Dove, although he cannot imagine why. Paun rescues Dove, and by the next afternoon, Dove is claimed as a young lover by a wealthy woman, Lalayla. It is in her house in Rivertown (see map below) that Dove meets the great love of his life, a male slave named Raret.

 

Raret and others teach Dove about Greenworld’s society, while Lalayla teaches him the basics of commerce. Soon Dove commands a caravan of riches, with Raret as his choice of personal slave. Dove’s caravan must travel to New Marth on the south coast, but along the way, Dove increases his personal wealth and knowledge.

Map of Greenworld

Map of Greenworld

 

Dove and Raret travel together over much of Greenworld, sharing adventures as they seek out Dove’s origins. Along the way they gather friends and enemies, and they are surrounded by intricate webs of treason, trickery, and political intrigue. Dove, Raret, and their companions survive attempted assassinations, judicial malfeasance, and marauding sex slugs (orgasmic but unsexy).

 

Finally, Dove will discover his origins, his true name, and his destiny as this dramatic, sweeping, picaresque SF saga winds to its close.

 

Themes

Cruelty—I don’t like it, so I depict cruel acts as being as repulsive as possible.

Slavery—I’m against it, so I emphasize the ill effects of owning people upon both the owners and the owned.

Love and devotion—I’m all for them, and I show self-sacrifice and enduring affection.

 

Sex

Yes, sex happens. There is male/male sex, female/female sex, male/female sex (though he’s thinking about another male while he does her), solo sex by everybody, and even some interspecies sex (not disgusting, but joyous and contagious, while being ultimately tragic—if I’m not giving too much away).

 

More, More, More

I’d like to talk more about the battles, the courtroom scenes, the prisons and execution yards, the throne rooms, and the conclave, but further description might spoil it. I’d like to describe the lurid encounters and the horrific tortures, the strange and terrible beasts and the wondrous beauty, but those must be enjoyed in reading the novel.

 

In between editing, cutting, and proofing Slaves of Greenworld, I’ve read my own book three times in this past year. And as soon as I get a print copy, I plan to read it again for the pure enjoyment of this story. I hope that you will do the same.

 

David Holly

Happy Valley, Oregon

March 2016

Only the Most Refined Dust

By Shea Godfrey

Blackstone

 

I remember the first book I ever read on my own. My mother gave it to me and I sat and looked at the cover for a very long time. We were going out to dinner or meeting family friends, I can’t remember exactly. I believe I was four years old. Right before we were about to walk out the door, I announced that I was going to read it for her. I think she had a look of frustration, but then she smiled and sat me on her lap.

 

I remember running my hands back and forth over the cover and feeling so excited I could barely sit still. And then I opened it, and found the first page. It was filled with color and action, and I was filled with a curious joy. I had no idea what was going to happen. I had no idea what the words would say. I took a deep breath, and then I began to read it aloud.

 

“A little red hen had a seed…”

 

There was a rat involved and a lazy dog, and a cat that could not be bothered. There was a succulent ear of corn and a story I had never heard before. I don’t remember what the pages smelled like then, though I remember my mother holding the book up and smelling them, her eyes big and laughing as she looked over the edge.

The Little Red Hen

 

Straight cut pages. Hard cover. Soft cover. Small enough to fit in your pocket or so thick it weighs your backpack down and puts a crimp in your neck. Uneven page edges with a rough texture or smooth edges with gilt. Leather bound. Soft and seductive vellum covers. High gloss or matte, though the cover art explodes into your imagination from either one. This one smells like a bible. This one smells like the library. This one smells like oranges, though how is that possible? This font reminds me of my leather bound edition of Tom Sawyer. This font belongs to Jane Austen.

The pages of my Bram Stoker’s Dracula were actually cold, and so was the book itself when I held it in my hands. I wore soft knit gloves when I read it and a blanket draped over my shoulders. It smelled like the earth from our neighbor’s garden after it had been tilled and turned. I noted this before I even began reading it, and I found it somewhat disturbing. I still have the copy, never returned to my high school lit class. It is held together with a single, heavy rubber band.

 

I understand the lure of the eBook. I understand the necessity when you’re in school. Every bit of reading required is at your fingertips, weighing just under a pound. Much different than the complete works of Shakespeare I bought for a quarter from the university bookstore, much used and abused after twenty years had come and gone. Two strips of grey duct tape on the binding were all it needed. But I wouldn’t want to carry that bastard around all day. I know it. I see it, the eBook logic.

 

But there is a romance that comes with an actual book. There is the soft turn of the pages as your mind either sinks in deep with every line, or races ahead because you can’t stop it. Your fingers toy with the corners of the pages yet to come. Sometimes you give in and turn just a few, and perhaps you even read a sentence or two. Usually you regret it, though sometimes it makes you curse and smile and you force yourself to go back so you might get there honestly. Your legs tucked beneath you on your favorite chair, all the while knowing that an entire world waits just for you. It is singular and contains but one miracle all its own, deserving of a proper home on a crowded shelf among other miracles. And if it smells like oranges? Even better.

“All books wait… They sit patiently on their respective shelves, gathering only the most refined dust, until the day their covers are opened and their pages turned by the proper person.”

~ Robert John Guttke

Invention

BY DAVID HOLLY

The Raptures of Time, The Raptures of Time 300 DPImy latest novel from Bold Strokes Books, is coming out this month. In Raptures, my storyteller Mack and his friends explore a geologically impossible cave and emerge lost on another world. In the otherworldly realm of Qysteria, they explore cultures unlike our own with odd traditions and kinky sexual rituals.

 

The action shifts between the gynocratic customs of Qysteria and the societies of our Earth, past, present, and future. On Qysteria, villagers demand that the guys participate in gay sex rituals or subject them to sex slavery. In between participating in deliriously erotic acts, Mack and his friends must avoid outlandish creatures and a malevolent sorcerer from Earth’s future. While our Earth moves toward the totalitarian patriarchy of the twenty-fifth century, our heroes voyage to the Qysterian island of Absonia where they are dominated by towering island women with enormous phalluses and forced to emasculate themselves with a naturally growing island herb.

 

Without revealing more of the peculiar and tasty twists this novel takes, I’ll acknowledge that the story raises one obvious question about authorship: do you have to do it in order to write about it?

 

Does a mystery writer have to be a murderer?

 

Does a science fiction writer have to be a space alien?

 

The answer is simple. I’m a writer—I really am making this up. I can write from the perspective of another race or another gender, just as female authors can describe male on male sex or a black male can write about the experience of a white man.

 

Some writers write close to their own hearts and expose themselves and their relationships. Others write away from themselves. I belong to the second category. I’m not my characters. That first person I, Mack Frost the first person storyteller in this novel, is a voice I’m creating. Writing by the seat of my pants, I let my imagination and the developing characters carry me onward.

 

In The Raptures of Time, my characters travel through time and space in ways I’ve never done. They engage in oral sex with the hunky men of Tungon Village. They experience anal penetration in the village of Jekor, including getting pegged by women with strap-on dildoes. They are captured by underground troglodytes and held as sex slaves. They are emasculated by gigantic dominatrices, and eventually restored by Mack’s growing superhuman and paranormal powers.

 

I’m making up the story of The Raptures of TimeThe Raptures of Time 300 DPI—I’m a writer. I have done my upmost to give my readers a grand story in outrageous and enchanting detail. Raptures, like all that I write, is pure fiction and glorious invention.

Dressing Up the Truth

BY JILL SMITH

Growing up, I was terrified of being in front of people—terrified of talking, period. I tended to look mortally wounded in photographs, and I walked like I was trying to scoot to the Flashlight Freeze Tag base without being spotted. But when I was twelve, for reasons I can no longer recall, I tried out for a community theater show. After that, I couldn’t get enough of being onstage. I ended up majoring in theatre in college. I think having all my lines written out for me really appealed to me. I liked the idea that I could say and feel and do things without it really being me. And my favorite part of any rehearsal process was always the day we got our costumes.

I still play dress up a lot. Doesn’t matter if it’s just wearing a hat around the house, or modeling my increasingly extensive collection of Victorian formalwear—I feel less self-conscious in costume. I think part of the allure is disguise. But I also think that in a way, the disguise makes me more me. It takes away my nerves and allows me to smile or walk or sit or move with more confidence than I normally would.

 

I see something similar at work in my writing. I don’t really write autobiographical fiction. It makes me feel way too exposed. And given that I already have to spend every moment of my life with me, the idea of spending my escape time with imaginary people who act like me has very little appeal. But every part of my life is potential fodder for my fiction. Every character borrows traits or experiences from me. I just have to dress it all up a bit.

 

Using my life as a foundation—buried in the ground, out of sight—what I build on top is a warped, often more chaotic version of the truth. I select and delete, I rearrange events, I divide my feelings among characters who will hopefully make something quite different of them than I do. And in doing so, I probably expose more of myself than I ever would writing a memoir or an autobiography. The disguise makes me feel safer, bolder. I’ll share way more if I think people can’t tell it’s me.

 

In college, I got to see Anne Lamott give a reading and a Q&A. Someone asked her if, when she bases her characters on real people, the real people ever get mad. Anne Lamott just kind of waved her hand and said if you change the person’s hair color or nose shape in the story, they won’t even recognize themselves when they read it.

 

That stuck with me. The disguise doesn’t have to be elaborate. It only has to be enough to let me feel like I’m getting away with something. Like I’ve anonymously submitted my darkest confession to PostSecret.com, or called into a radio advice show using a fake name. I want to be able to recognize myself in my work, not because I wrote a play by play of an event from my life, but because one of the joys of fiction is that it often allows us to see ourselves in characters who, on the surface, have little in common with us.

 

I like to scramble my world and have it still look familiar.

 

Give my social anxiety to a forty-eight year-old man who’s been asked to speak at his brother’s wedding. My hometown to two teenagers who are the world’s last best hope in the zombie apocalypse.

 

Put me in a corset and bloomers, or in army fatigues, or in a clown suit, and send me onstage.

 

It changes something.

 

It’s like only by thinking I’ve hidden the truth do I relax enough to tell it.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 622 other followers


%d bloggers like this: