Earth and Beyond – Fall Science Fiction Picks - The Melting Pot
Science fiction is my first love, my default setting, and my ‘go to’ section of the bookstore. I cut my sci-fi teeth in high school on Frank Herbrt’s Dune Series then devoured Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series. I’m sad to admit that I didn’t discover diverse sci-fi authors and stories until rather recently.
There have always been diverse writers and diverse science fiction, but with the advent of social media these authors and their stories are building communities, finding their audiences, and making some major waves in the often stoic and exclusive halls of the science fiction elite.
As I discover new authors and stories, rest assured I will feature them here. In the mean time, feel free to share your favorites with me via the comments.
Let’s add the exotic spicy flavors of new planets and new worlds to the melting pot.
In the future, gifted humans have the ability to visualize math and wield it like a magical force of nature; talented youth are tested for entry into the prestigious off-world Oomza University; and humans are at war with squid like beings that communicate via vibrations. Binti is a novella with a beautifully drawn world and a super smart heroine. I only have two complaints about this story. First off, I want more! I loved the main character and her world. I want to learn more about Binti’s culture (Himba) and the otjize (red clay and oil mixture the heroine uses on her skin and hair). I want to discover what she will learn at Oomza University and see how her relationship with her new friend grows and changes. Second and last, the story ended rather abruptly…but I’m not sure if that is how the story was meant to end or if it’s a bug in the Kindle formatting. Either way, I still highly recommend this quick read. While I wait to see if more of Binti’s world will be made available in other books, I will pick up my copy of Ms. Okorafor’s Who Fears Death (an even more awesome story) to escape the real world for a while. J (PS: Beautiful cover, TOR! Well done!)
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.
Full disclosure: I am a big Chuck Wendig fan. Not only is he a superb writer, he is also just an all around genuinely nice guy. Plus, if you are a writer with publication career aspirations, I highly recommend his books on writing. I am also a big fan of the Star Wars movies, especially the original trilogy. However, until now, I hadn’t read any of the books, played any of the games, or otherwise explored the extended Star Wars Universe.
Ok – now let’s discuss Aftermath. Ignore the one star reviews. Most of the folks who wrote those reviews are either upset about the amount of diversity in the story and the pending movie or angry about the decisions made by Disney with regards to the overall world building / story bible for the Star Wars Universe. [I won’t get into the details of the kerfuffle here. Google it if you want learn more.] Either way, the bulk of the reviews on many sites have just about nothing to do with the book or the story.
As for me, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! As a Star Wars fan eagerly anticipating the December 2015 movie, reading Star Wars: Aftermath felt like visiting and catching up with an old friend. Aftermath picks up just after Return of the Jedi and the Battle of Endor (remember the Ewoks?). It was fun for me to learn more about many of the movie’s secondary characters like Admiral Ackbar (the fish guy who yelled, “It’s a trap.”), meet new characters, and see new perspectives on some of the events in the movies. Super strong, diverse, and extremely well developed female leads take the helm on both the Imperial and Rebel sides of this story…I mean, really, why should the guys have all the fun in a galaxy far, far, away?
Aftermath: Star Wars: Journey to The Force Awakens by Chuck Wendig
The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire, and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.
As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.
Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.
Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies—her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.
Columnist: C. Morgan Kennedy
I have a confession to make. I’m a time traveler. I love flinging myself into the future, then hurtling fast to an alternative past. In my usual time-space-dimension, I’m a mechanical engineer and business woman. So, I have a natural penchant for hover cars and steam or aether powered engines. Though I was born in the wrong era, I’m actually a child of the sixties – 1860, 1960, 2060.
My stories feature strong women, who know how to wield their minds like weapons. Their men are smart and often controlling….but, rest assured, my female leads give them a run for their money. They strive to follow their hearts and dreams for the betterment of themselves and their loved ones. Like my life, all of my stories feature a diverse cast of characters.
With my business partner, Therese Patrick, I work to demystify marketing principles for my author friends. Our first book, Author Marketing 101 Guide & Journal, was published by Gazebo Gardens Publishing and released in October 2013.
Steampunk, futurist, blerd, artist, author, and marketing maven…a real creative force of nature – that’s me in a nutshell.
Keep tabs on my adventures via my blog, Morgan’s Mix Tape, on my website: http://www.cmorgankennedy.com.