Archive for the ‘Liaden Universe®’ Category

Eye candy

This just in from Madame the Editor.

-- art by David Mattingly

— art by David Mattingly

This is the eighteenth novel detailing the adventures of Clan Korval and other residents of the Liaden Universe®.

The hardcover will be in bookstores in June 2015.  For those who treasure a passion for eArcs, count backward four months from June for your probable release date.  No word yet on whether there will be an audiobook edition.


More news as it becomes available.

Sunday Cat Spam

This was the scene of debauchery we discovered in our living room, yesterday afternoon:

How many coon cats are in this picture?

How many coon cats are in this picture?



This morning, we slept in somewhat, in celebration of the fact that tomorrow heralds the return of The Schedule.  Steve made us asparagus omelets with hollandaise sauce for breakfast, after which I retired to the couch to elevate my foot and finish the book I was reading.  Those tasks now accomplished, I will turn my attention toward speech-writing, and laundry-finishing, as Steve has dealt with the dishes.

For those playing along at home — we’ve gotten feedback from a fan on Dragon on Exile, which I reproduce here:  “Wow.”

So, that’s coming in June 2015.

. . .and I think that’s all the news that’s fit to print.


In which the author continues to goof off

So, yesterday was various errands, including the Getting of the Flu Shots, and tomorrow there are more errands.  Today, I believe there is cleaning, including post-writing disaster control of my office.  Which, to be fair, is Slightly Less Awful than it Often Is in terms of Sheer Volume.  On the other paw, I can’t just sweep stacks of paper into trash bags, either, because there are Large Swaths of at least one other book interleaved with the pages that finally came to make up Dragon in Exile.

Speaking of Dragon in Exile, or at least, speaking of Val Con and Miri, who are more-or-less major actors in the novel, something went past my eyeballs a while ago, regarding characterization in the Liaden Universe®. The assertion of the writer was that while the authors get positive points for writing strong female characters, those points are crushed under the number of  negative points the authors get for pairing said strong, intelligent females with a male characters who are even stronger and smarter.

It probably goes without saying — but I’ll say it anyway — that I don’t see it that way.  Speaking specifically of Miri  and Val Con, what I see is two smart, capable people who have had vastly different lives, and who therefore have different strengths, and weaknesses, who happen to complement each other.

As a question of craft, I’ve always felt that it’s a cheat to demonstrate that one’s female character is strong and intelligent by deliberately pairing her with a weak or venal, less-intelligent male.  Just as it’s a cheat to demonstrate that your hero is strong, smart, and morally upstanding by pairing him with Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes.

Also, just personally, I wonder why a strong, smart character of any gender you like would partner with a dummy (OK; maybe in terms of muscle or money).  But, generally, in terms of survival, wouldn’t you want the smartest, strongest, most sympatico person you could get for your partner?

So, anyhow, that’s what I think.  What do you think?

One good thing about cleaning out file drawers

. . .is that you find the coolest stuff.

I, for instance, found an outtake from Crystal Soldier which (1) I had forgotten I (I was writing Cantra at that point; Steve was working with Jela) had written and (2) is Actually Really Nice.  Too bad it wouldn’t fit in the book as it came to shape up.

It has now been published to Splinter Universe, here.

There’s also a small, generally incoherent, author’s intro, here.

Oh.  And here’s a picture of what’s left of yesterday’s Big Pile of Typescripts:

Yes, those folders are EMPTY

Yes, those folders are EMPTY

She’s so mean, but I don’t care; I love her eyes and her wild wild hair

We’ve got some catching up to do here, so let’s get to it!

First!  Quicksliver Chapter Five is now on the web, for your perusal.  Here’s your link.

Second! The Science Fiction Romance Brigade Summer Blog Hop is on!  Talk about your favorite Science Fiction Romance, get suggestions for lots of great reading, and maybe win an Amazon gift card.  Here’s your link.

Third! AsyouknowBob, Steve and I are looking to move out of our house here in the country (which is harder to contemplate in this season than in, oh, Deep Winter), and Into Town. Which town is still up in the air.  We have to seriously consider Waterville which is, after all, where our doctors and the vets and most of the people we know are.  On the other hand, I’m still trying to finagle, if not a $400,000 condo oceanfront, at least a move that gets us closer to Old Orchard Beach, Portland, the train outta town &c.  So, it’s being a dance.

We have been talking to a real estate agent, who kind of ran us through how this was going to go, from the buyer side and the seller side.  One of the things she went over was putting down earnest money, when we found the House of our Dreams (which, honestly, we’re not likely to do, but give her a break; she’s never been to Liad).  And she said something like, “So, you’ll put down a couple hundred dollars in earnest. . .”  At which point I looked at Steve and Steve looked at me and we did not laugh, even though we were recalling that when we found this house, we put down two dollars in earnest money.  Steve put down his silver dollar that he always carried, and I put down mine.  Our agent at that time had been a social worker.  He took the coins, and wrote us out a receipt as it it were perfectly unexceptional.  Shame he’s long retired.

One of the things this agent said to us, when she came out to look at our house was something to the effect of how much STUFF we had.  A couple weeks later, the contractor echoed that.  Now, I don’t disagree that we have stuff — books and papers, mostly — but I didn’t think we were out of line for writers, really.  I said something to the effect that creativity is messy, and kind of got a Look.  Today, however, Trulia search service sent me this house as possibly of interest.  It’s in Rockland, which isn’t actually near Portland, or OOB, or the train, but does abut the Atlantic Ocean, and is home to several museums, and has a robust summer music program.  Here’s the link.

By golly, creativity is messy.

Let’s see, what else?

Oh!  I bought some socks (don’t judge me! I had a coupon), which have, so Socks Addict tells me, shipped.  They have shipped via the United States Post Office second-day priority, with insurance, and will require an adult’s signature when they arrive.  I mean, I knew they were stripe-y socks, but I didn’t know they were as racy as that.

. . .I think that may be all the news that’s fit to print at the moment.  Which is good, because I need to get to work.


Today’s blog title is brought to you by Escape Club, “Wild, Wild West.”  Here’s your link.

* * *

Progress on One of Five
70,000/100,000 OR 70% complete

“Our Rys bids fair to become a poet.”

He laughed again, feeling his cheeks warm.

“I fear I am eloquent only on subjects dear to me.”

“Well, that’s as should be, isn’t it? But tell me now, Rys Silvertongue, are these grapes jam or are they supper?”

In which there are announcements among the raindrops

I am remiss in announcing that Chaz Brenchley’s guest story, “2 Pi to Live” is now available for your reading pleasure on Splinter Universe.  Here’s your link.  Remember that the donation button at the bottom of the story goes direct to the author, if you wish to show your appreciation for their work.

Also, the three newest Liaden stories on Splinter Universe will be coming down sooner rather than later, as they will be among the sweet fruits collected in A Liaden Universe® Constellation, Volume 3See this, in case you missed that.  So!  Read ‘em while they’re free.

Regarding Splinter Universe in general, and those stories in particular, I want to thank everyone for their generosity.  Very much appreciated.

In other news, it’s raining (boo!  hiss!), so we have canceled the trip to Portland to tour the ferry, window-shop and generally goof off, and you know what that means, right?

Right.  It means today is a working day.

Also?  There was a Cooper’s Hawk perched in the ravaged pine tree nearest the deck yesterday afternoon (and me without a camera!), obviously shopping the bird feeder for lunch.  He flew off when he encountered my ill-bred stare, but I fear he will be back.   Sigh.  It’s a jungle out there.

So, what’re you doing today that’s fun?

And not only that!

Steve reminds me that today! is Book Day for the mass market edition of Necessity’s Child!

So, those who’ve read/listened to previous editions, you want to tell people who may have been hanging back, not sure that they want to read a book that’s not in the “main line” why they should give Necessity’s Child a chance?  No spoilers, please.


So, Today I Read Agent of Change

Agent of Change (it says here) was completed in October 1984.  It was acquired by Del Rey Books in December 1986, and published on February 1, 1988.

That’s like. . .wow.  Written thirty years ago.

According to this list here, 1,496 science fiction and fantasy novels were published in 1988.  Lee and Miller were responsible for two of those — Agent, and Conflict of Honors (completed in 1986, a mere 28 years ago).

Now, what you need to understand about Life, and Science Fiction, and All, back thirty years ago, is that. . .Things Were Different.  It’s rather amazing, how many things/ideas/cultural norms have changed in a mere thirty years, including science fiction, how it was written, and who it was written for.

The happy proliferation of women kicking ass that we enjoy today; stories of strong relationships between passionate equals. . . that’s a recent development.  Thirty years ago?  We didn’t have that.

We were starting to have it.  Lois Bujold had already published Ethan of Athos, Shards of Honor and Falling Free (among others, but those especially), by the time Lee and Miller got their break.  And of course, Anne McCaffrey had been doing her particular thing since 1967.

What Agent of Change, and Conflict of Honors were, back a quarter-century ago?  They were ground-breaking.

And the thing is?  We meant to do it.

We meant to tell stories about strong, capable, smart women.  We meant to tell stories about men who weren’t threatened by strong, capable, smart women, and who were themselves strong enough to accept the vulnerability that comes with being in touch with their own emotions.

We meant, in short, to effect change.

We intended, ourselves, to be agents of change.

And! Because we were determined to write science fiction, we had to do all this, like Ginger Rogers, while dancing backwards, in heels.  We had to write a science fiction adventure story that would appeal to the audience science fiction was at that time written for — that mythical fourteen year old boy.

On all those levels, Agent still succeeds.

There are car chases and gun fights and bar brawls and Interesting Aliens and All Kinds of Exciting Things Going On, and even a Girl In Trouble.

However.  Miri Robertson is a self-directed woman who is more than capable of taking care of herself and, as needed, her less-than-completely-sane partner, and the other women in the book are equally powerful: Suzuki Rialto is the senior commander of a mercenary unit; Liz Lizardi is retired from the same business.  Even the daughter of the local mob boss has moxie and self-worth, and, frankly?  Angus is not gonna be wearing the pants in that family.

And the struggle of Miri’s less-than-completely-sane partner?  Is the struggle for his integrity, and his soul.

So, my thoughts upon reading the child of our youthful ambition?  Am I ashamed of it?  I am not.  Do I think we could have done better?  Not at the time.

I think Agent still stands.  Yes, it was written thirty years ago, by young and possibly too earnest writers.  And, if it’s no longer a subversive work; it still stands as an adventure story, with heart.

. . .If you’d like to read Agent of Change, you may download it, for free, from the Baen Free Library or from Amazon.


On the topic of space leathers

NOTEThis is not a call to seek out the review cited below and castigate the reviewer, who is, after all, entitled to her opinion.  Indeed, I’m grateful to her for presenting a viewpoint that would have never occurred to me, and for presenting me with an opportunity to explain the origin of an important part of the Liaden Universe®

This is a riff off of a reader review of Carousel Sun.  I do read reviews, and sometimes I riff off of them.  Consider yourselves warned.  This particular review took exception to the appearance of the word “leathers” in Carousel Sun, when, if I understand the argument correctly, “leathers” had already been co-opted by the Liaden Universe® and ought never appear in any other work written by me or by Steve.

Even, apparently, when it is the correct word (i.e. the protective clothing worn by motorcyclists are referred to as “motorcycle leathers,” or “leathers.”  Here’s an example of cycling leathers.) used in the correct world, by the correct people.

Which is, IMHO, a. . .really interesting viewpoint.*

But!  It got me to thinking about the origin of “space leathers” in the Liaden Universe®.

Steve and I grew up in the 1960s, when the Great Public Mind was in the process of mythologizing World War II.  That meant that we saw a lot of war shows on television, including:  Combat!, McHale’s Navy, Twelve O’Clock High, The Rat Patrol, Hogan’s Heroes. . .among others, and a whole stack of movies:  The Longest Day, Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, Bridge on the River Kwai, von Ryan’s Express, &c, &c

My dad used to make it a point to take me to see war movies, as a father-daughter bonding thing.  Most, if not all, of these movies, featured pilots.  And the pilots were. . .heroic. They wore their leather jackets with pride and with attitude.  The other characters might have reservations, but even those who did honored the pilots for their courage, derring-do, and amazing ability to pull things out of hats.

When it came time to write the Liaden Universe®, and fill in Clan Korval’s pilots-by-intention lineage, with a birthright of attitude, courage, and over-the-topness — we dressed them as they deserved — in space leather:  protective gear that was instantly recognizable, even by those who were not pilots (or Scouts), which not only protected them, but illuminated and increased their mystique.


*Leather has, of course, been used throughout history as protective clothing; after all, it’s tough.  Conquistadors wore leather; American Indians wore leather; Vikings wore leather.  I speak here only of the leathers that influenced us.

For Hugo consideration

It’s silly season in the SF/F world; the season when All the Writers remind All the Readers, and especially those who vote on the Hugo Awards, which of their works are eligible for Hugo consideration.

The 2014 Hugo Awards, for works published in 2013, will be presented at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, LonCon 3, to be held in London, England, August 14-18, 2014

If you’re not sure if you’re eligible to nominate and/or vote in the 2014 Hugo Awards, here’s the link to the rules.

If you are eligible to nominate, I will now mention that Sharon Lee and Steve Miller published several works in 2013, which are eligible for consideration.  They are:

Necessity’s Child, Baen, February 2013
Trade Secret, Baen, November 2013

“Eleutherios,”, January 2013
“Moon’s Honor,” Splinter Universe, February 2013

Short Story:
Out of True,”, October 2013

When nominating, please keep our work in mind.

Thank you for listening.