Monday, January 30, 2012

She Bonded Me With Science Guest Blogger: Greta van der Rol

Welcome author Greta van der Rol
to the Book Boost!

She's here to discuss five books that made a difference in her life and here's what she had to say...

It's one of those questions you're asked A LOT when you write. Who influenced you? Which books did you love? The truth, of course, is there are so many. But I'll list five books I've loved. Did they influence me? Yes, they did.

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

I loved this book. After resisting the impulse to read it I decided to give it a whirl. I was hooked, sucked in and totally oblivious to everything until I'd finished it. Then I read it again. And again. And again. I loved the depth of the novel, the history of Middle Earth, the wonderful detail of all those different races, right down to inventing languages. Perhaps that's an influence on me.

Jingo – Terry Pratchett

I adore Terry Pratchett's books, any of them. I've picked this one because it epitomizes what I love about his work. It's a story about a mysterious island that rises from the sea and is promptly claimed by two countries, who come to the brink of war over it. The true nature of the island is discovered when it is inspected by submarine. As it happens, an incident involving a suddenly appearing island did take place, so it's based on a true, historical event. And the submarine in the story was invented by one Leonard of Quirm. He (of course) is based on Leonardo da Vinci who is up on the highest pedestal I can put him on. And he did invent a submarine. Pratchett tells fantastic stories based on fact. I love that.

The Foundation Series – Isaac Asimov

This is another man whose work I devoured. The Foundation series is just one example of his remarkable Science Fiction. Here again, though his story is set in the far distant future, one of the reasons it works so well is that he learned from common old Earth history. What happens to Empires when they decay? Even his psycho-history is eminently plausible. Even a cursory study of historiography (the study of the study of history) will show you that events such as revolutions usually follow a predictable pattern. Psycho-history just takes the idea one step further. And although Asimv was a scientist and his stories are, for the main, based on scientific principles and knowledge of the day, he still had 'planet-hopping', or space opera, in many of his books. Including the seminal Foundation series.

The Thrawn Trilogy – Timothy Zahn

These three books were, I think, the first venture into the Star Wars extended universe. They were released in the 1990s, not so very long after Return of the Jedi was screened. I was a Star Wars junkie, so what's a girl to do? The books are set in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Emperor (quite literally, as you'll recall) on the new Death Star. I reviewed the books in detail on my blog but suffice to say here, Zahn gave Star Wars depth. Like Asimov, he learned the lessons of history. What would happen when a dictator falls?

If you'd like a recent comparison, look what happened to Yugoslavia after Tito died. There is wholesale disintegration, warlords arise and the remaining fragment of the decapitated body fights back. And yes, I adore Thrawn. He's smart, ruthless, calculating, clever. You might find a hint of Thrawn in some of my admirals. But only a hint.

Slow Lightning – Jack McDevitt

It took me some time to get into this book because it has a prologue and I don't read prologues. In this case, as I discovered, that was a mistake. Never mind. When I got past the slow start (having not read the prologue) I was soon gripped by a spooky mystery about a cataclysmic event thirty years in the past. The books becomes totally gripping as the two main characters steal a spaceship and head for the belt of Orion to find out what happened out there 30 years before. The book has incredible detail in settings and grounding in made-up history. You care about the characters and the science is (for me) utterly believable. The tension ratchets up in such a way you're not sure if this is a horror story or just science fiction. Either way, it's a great read.

So there you have it. A quick analysis will no doubt show I love stories with depth, with believable science and believable history. And a compelling character or two and a great, absorbing, plot help as well. That's what I try to write.

A Note from the Book Boost: Greta, thanks for sharing your inspirational books with us. I'm not really up-to-star-date on the Sci-Fi genre but this gives me a great introduction. Please tell us more about your latest book.


He will use force if necessary to remind her of her place…

Autocratic, aloof, Admiral Ravindra wants to use the strange alien female and her gifts in his battle against an unknown force threatening to annihilate his worlds. Born to rule, a man of wealth, power and privilege, he will have what he most desires.

She will use courage and independence to carve a new future…

Morgan Selwood is a Supertech, bioengineered from birth to stand against the horrors of the Cyber Wars. Her abilities and appearance are the stuff of legend, exactly what the resistance needs to throw off the yoke of millennia of oppression. Caught in the crossfire Morgan must choose sides.

Together they will face a threat beyond imagining.

(edited for content):

Morgan and her companion, Jones, have tried to escape from the alien ship, and failed.

The ship jolted sideways hard enough to have her staggering against the hatch. Those fighters were firing and the shields were beginning to fail.

“F75 stand to or be destroyed.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she muttered, forcing her muscles to move.

The ship jolted again, from the other side this time. The whole squadron had caught up. The ship was surrounded.

“One last warning, F75.”

Her shoulders sagged. Jones stared at her, ashen faced. Sayvu implored with her eyes, the pupils dilated so far the yellow rim was barely visible.

“Sorry, guys. It’s over.” Morgan returned to the pilot’s seat. “Acknowledge.”

Sayvu followed her and leaned against the bulkhead, trembling, arms wrapped around herself.

“They’ll torture us. You don’t know what they’re like.”

Morgan swallowed. No, she didn’t. She fired a short burst with the forward thrusters to slow the ship down. But any other move was suicide. “Even if I fix the drive, in this configuration I can’t go to shift-space. There are too many of them and they’re too close, they’ll distort the matrix. We could end up anywhere.” And she’d already done that once in Curlew, thanks all the same.

“You will set this course to return to Vidhvansaka. Any deviation and you will be destroyed. We have missiles trained.”

A short burst of transmission transferred the coordinates. Morgan fed them in.

Jones squeezed into the bridge behind Sayvu. “Can’t you disable the fighters or something?”
She snorted under her breath. Idiot. Wave your magic wand, Supertech. “I’m a Supertech, not a magician.”

Sayvu seemed to have shrunk. But no tears. Maybe they didn’t do tears.

Shuttle F75 settled in the airlock, the bay doors closed and atmosphere began to fill the void around the ship. Jones and Sayvu returned to the crew quarters.

Morgan stayed in the bridge. Now the race was off and the adrenalin had drained away she felt cold. Afraid. They’d be wanting to chat with Sayvu, she expected, to find out how she’d organized their escape. Assuming, of course, they didn’t already know. She and Jones… maybe they’d overstayed their welcome. They wouldn’t kill them. Would they? The best bet was probably the university professors. Despair hovered over her shoulder, a thick, dark mantle ready to smother her. So close.

The status panel flashed pressure equalized. The bay’s internal door opened and a dozen armed troopers marched in.

Déjà vu.

She rose and went to meet them.

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