Exploring new worlds

My bookshelves are full of fantasy and science fiction novels…from my childhood days of traversing through Narnia, Middle Earth, and the Earthsea Archipelago. Then I moved on to stories by Isaac Asimov, J G Ballard, Brian Aldiss, William Gibson, Samuel R Delaney, and Ursula K LeGuin’s adult novels.

Rediscovering lesbian sci-fi and fantasy has been a fairly recent development in my reading habits. I do have some much loved books on my shelves from the 1990s…Jean Stewart’s Isis series and  the first two Aggar books by Chris Anne Wolfe which I reread occasionally.

The reboot of reading newer stories in these genres started a few years ago with Fletcher DeLancey’s marvelously envisioned world of Alsea starting with The Caphenon. I’ve now read all the books in the series, including the recently released seventh one, Resilience. (When we’ve got intergalactic space travel underway, I want to visit Alsea.)

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When I was at ELLCon this summer, I exchanged books with two other authors at the event, and perhaps it was just serendipity that both fall into the dystopian genre.

I started reading Chosen by Brey Willows during my four-hour return train journey from Bristol to West Yorkshire. Having read Brey’s Aftelife Inc series, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. I couldn’t tell you which stations we stopped at as I was totally engrossed in the story from the first page.

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A few days after getting back from the conference, I knew I would be spending a long afternoon in A&E so I took along May Dawney’s Survival Instincts. This seemed like an appropriate choice for the occasion to keep my mind off the tests I was undergoing for my breathing problem.

Both books deal with the aftermath of when humankind has succeeded in destroying the resources of the planet, and taking down civilisation as we know it. This could make for grim reading, but the message in both books contain the elements of hope and restoration at the hands of the few who have the courage and determination to rebuild something from the ruins.

It would be remiss of me not to mention another writer who has ventured into the dystopian genre, one of my fellow Affinity authors, Renee MacKenzie. The first two books in her Karst Series are available now, with the third on its way to publication next year. Renee’s New America is struggling to live up to the ideal of creating a better society than the earlier one (ours, I guess).

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When I was with the Affinity team at the 2017 GCLS conference in Chicago, Renee had been considering publishing the series under a pen name. Mainly because she felt they were so different from her other novels. However, when the first book, Kai’s Heart, was released, I was pleased to see that she had decided not to do that. Anyone who has read Renee’s other books shouldn’t be put off by the change. She is a fabulous writer and these books demonstrate her ability to deliver compelling stories in another genre. The second in the series is called Naomi’s Soul, published by Affinity Rainbow Publications in September and the third book, due out next year, is called Misha’s Promise.


Which two books of my own did I exchange at ELLCon…one each of the last two published:

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Available from:

Calling Home: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Changing Perspectives: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords /  Apple iTunes


 

My top 3 Sci-Fi/Fantasy books

I’ve read a lot of science fiction/fantasy books in my time. Earliest ones were The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K LeGuin (I’m a sucker for any books with maps – loved the hand drawn archipelago in these books), A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, the Narnia series by C S Lewis, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien (yay, more maps!).

So when I discovered there was such a thing as lesbian science fiction/fantasy, I was immediately in love with a whole new set of characters: female warriors, scientists, pilots…you name it…everything the boys could do, these women could do, and better!

So here are three of my favourites in this truly wonderful genre of lesbian fiction.

First up, Daughters of the Coral Dawn by Katherine V Forrest. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book. I even have a ‘first edition’ published in 1984 by Naiad Press. This book and the two that complete the trilogy have been re-released with new covers by Bella Books. And although the new ones have modern-looking science-fiction-y covers, I like this one…with the haunting coral eyes of the woman who becomes the colonists’ leader on their new planet when they escape from Earth, Megan. Not sure about the hairstyle, no doubt very 1980s – but the description of Megan in the book is that she is always dressed in black and white – black pants, mid-calf boots, and white shirt. Very sexy.

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My favourite character though, is the narrator, Minerva the historian. Especially when she finds love with a younger woman, when she thought the time for loving another had passed her by.

Second, Return to Isis by Jean Stewart, the first in the series of five, originally published by Rising Tide Press in 1992. One of my ‘go to’ series to reread on occasions when I want a good blast of lesbian sci-fi.

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On first reading, there seems to be a clear distinction of the tightly controlled male dominated hetero-normative world of Elysium in the eastern part of the US and the utopian-styled Freeland in the west. But, as with any human attempts at achieving Nirvana, there’s always a snake in the grass, as warrior Whit finds out when she returns to her home colony after a few years undercover in Elysium.

The women in these stories go through a lot as they try to survive in a hostile world, fighting against outside forces as well as contending with their own internal battles of jealousy and intrigue.

I was sorry that the author stopped writing at novel number five in the series. I certainly wanted to read more about Whit and Kali’s adventures.

Third, but not least by any means, is Fires of Aggar by Chris Anne Wolfe, published in 1994 by New Victoria Publishers. This is the second in the series and although I do enjoy rereading the first book, Shadows of Aggar, it’s Royal Marshall Gwyn, the main character in Fires of Aggar who is my favourite. Her bondmates are two sandwolves and the connection the three of them have is a big part of the appeal of this story.

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Chris Anne created a fantastic medieval type world with Aggar and the society of Amazons who come from another planet to help the citizens of Aggar through difficult times.

Unfortunately the author succumbed to cancer at a very early age. A group of her friends have continued the series using outlines and notes Chris Anne left behind. But they haven’t really managed to match the tone and style of the first two books, in my opinion.

There is now a vast array of lesbian science fiction/fantasy novels to choose from. But these are my first three picks from a time when lesbian books of any genre were hard to find pre-internet and Amazon. I was thankful for the Silver Moon bookshop in London and the mail order service offered by West and Wilde in Edinburgh, my main book buying sources for lesbian fiction in those days.

I haven’t ventured writing a science fiction/fantasy novel myself. So I do admire those who have managed to create compelling stories that draw the reader into other worlds.


6booksBuying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes