Tag Archives: Science fiction writing

A Story at the End of the Universe

True to the laws of thermodynamics, the expanding universe keeps cooling down. Now, the last transformed humans linger near the black hole at the center of our Galaxy.

The UnAttached, who count their age in billions of years, feed on the powerful X-ray emissions and rail against Entropy, that selfish cousin who sucks leftover energy. The Attached, recently forced to leave their ruined worlds, live too fast.

As the stars around them wink off one by one like in a dying city, what can they hope for ?

A short and crunchy hard-SF story set far, far in the future, told by multi-award winning author Michèle Laframboise, translated from the French by N. R. M. Roshak.

Accolades

The short-story published in Future SF had received several accolades:

“Cousin Entropy”… has a wonderfully Stapledonian scope. –Locus Magazine

The hardcore physics fans out there will certainly enjoy this.” –Kat Day, for Tangent Online

“…a far-flung space opera reminiscent of Liu Cixin’s book.” –Alex Shvartsman, Future SF

“...a wonderful piece of Science Fiction, full of physics and feeling.” –Eamonn Murphy, SF Crow’s Nest (link underneath)

My inspiration for this story

My father Jacques- E. Laframboise had a fine telescope, and I recall many summer nights where he would adjust the position with patience, to point at this or that star, or planet. I still have the 1970’s astronomy books he had bought and, with another telescope, I search the skies, when said skies are not obscured by clouds or the luminous pollution of cities.

I always pondered the fate of our (pear-shaped) universe. The heat death of the universe linked to the ever-growing Entropy, does rarely make for an upbeat story, but add the transformed, long-lived remnants of humanity, and a pinch of spicy black energy, a tiny bit of humor, and voila!

I wrote the story in a short form, so it makes for a thin paperback, be warned. However, I allow my readers to share the paperback and give it to someone close, so you commpose your own chain of friendly atoms.

The translation had been done and edited by N. R. M. Roshak, to whom I owe a lot of gratitude. French is my first language, but a growing part of my public understands and read in English.*

Get your own End-of-the-Universe Story!

Fresh from my indie house Echofictions, Cousin Entropy has come out on several platforms. You can even order a paperback on Amazon.ca.

About the the nice cover image: it is a NASA/ESA pic taken by the Hubble Telescope, showing two colliding galaxies nicknamed The Mice, located 300 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices.

* The French version, La cousine Entropie, is also available.

I fell down a rabbit hole… (The joy of researching)

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I did it again!

I am researching for a SF novel in preparation (the specifics I keep to myself for now) and, one interesting site after one fascinating site, found out that time compressed itself and most of the afternoon had fled down the rabbit hole!

I do not know if my scientific formation aggravates this time-sink habit. I hold a Master degree in geography, and so many aspect of macro-ecology do hold my interests!

Plus, even the very day-to-day concerns penetrates my Serious Writer mode.  From the over-usage of single-used plastics that keep turning up in the remotest places or the oceans, to the waste of my own pens and stylus, to the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count, and my own, heart-warming geek love Valentine day short-story…

So, all those tiny bits cluttered like a planet aggregation process, dissolving my focus. Already 16h00?

As I mentioned previously, most of what I ‘m noting right now won’t ever make it to the novel you’ll read somewhere in the next year. Some of those, if I can’t place it in the novel, will turn up, greatly compressed, in one or two exploratory short-stories, set in the same universe.

What I will NOT do is integrating all that painstaking-ly gathered tidbits into the novel itself, under the form of some extra-large infodump, (or a rather lengthy explanation by a secondary character that will get killed in the next chapter).

Research as an iceberg

See research as the hidden part of the iceberg. What floats if what the reader experiences. If you tried to pull more of the iceberg over the water level, like I did in my first books (fortunately Daniel Sernine, my editor of the time, detected it) you would end up with an indigestible lump of details that weights down the storytelling.

Yes, I was one of those very interested in sharing all those cute details!

Yes it is soooo tempting to have your characters stop on a ridge and describe the wondrous landscape in excruciating details, over two or four pages! It is more palatable if the description is shorter, and punchy, like this one from a WIP:

The dunes went on and on, a pale sandbox barely contained by a row of angry mountains, each chipped and corroded summit vying for predominance.

Most of the research iceberg must stay invisible!

Solution is not dilution!

To keep our focus, it’s good to set limits, to avoid diluting our attention.

One solution in time management is to do the research after you complete writing a certain set number of words for the day. This is Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s method to limit the time spent in research. She also manage to get her research done before writing the novel, while she’s finishing the previous book.

Not the way of Dean Wesley Smith, who does his research as he writes, because some cool factoids will influence the story telling. I know it happened to a short-story I was researching for.

One obvious solution is to restrain the time passed on the social platforms. Or retire completely from social media in a period of rush. Julie E. Czerneda mentions it.

My own is setting a timer. Sometimes the amount of time is not enough and I prolong the time. Still work to do.

Or I use this experience to write a blog entry.

 


TL;DR : I lost time surfing the web for my research. Some remedies may apply


Flash news:

I had the joy of discovering that my last published SF story in Galaxies 60 (in French!)  is on the selection for the Grand Prix  de l’Imaginaire 2020.

Losing Ursula

LOST: a formidable, witty, science fiction and fantasy writer.

IF FOUND: please send her back to Portland, Oregon.

REWARD: millions of readers expecting her next stories!

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A quick 2007 ink sketch I made in her presence, and that she approved and signed!

In person, I had the chance to met Ursula at the 30th Wiscon convention. We had approached her as a monument, a conception that her good humor shattered. I remember, after we had complained about the difficulty of getting published, that she told us “You know, it has always been difficult“.

Reading The Dispossessed, I felt like coming home. A sense of peace, rightness arose from the pages as I discovered how people lacking comfort and material possessions could live and achieve a reasonable happiness (with the small imperfections of life, because Ursula was a no non-sense writer).

Changing Planes is a beautiful collections of short-stories, a perfect introduction to paradoxal societies, like Those who walked away from Omela who turns on its head the maxim (the needs of the many prevail on the needs of an individual); here the happiness of a whole city hinges upon a price so horrible that some chose to walk away.

She transformed the landscape in SF by writing from a woman’s point of view; her heroes and heroines achieve their goals by more creative means than outright violence. And if they don’t achieve their goals, they discover that even an imperfect way of life can give them happiness as in The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, Four Ways to Forgiveness. I recommend the latter to show how a positive social evolution can come unexpectedly, getting there by side roads.

This citation, as she had to battle for her words in a mostly male literary environment.

“We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

Her writing had compassion and wits, lots of wits. I still have many books from her to discover, to get a better understanding of humanity (both halves of it, and more than the halves with the Left Hand of Darkness!)

Her blog gave visitors funny anecdotes about her cat Pard, reflections, poems and more. Some recent books available at the Bookview Café.

I leave the rest of this post to her voice. Here: a link to her extraordinary discourse at the national Book Award, where she denounces the expulsion of science fiction from the island of Literature.

The Guardian article reporting Ursula’s passing
The bookview café blog article, that she contributed to found. A group of authors that publish their ebooks independantly.

Margaret Atwood, an author who sometimes disagreed with UKL about science fiction, wrote this eulogy in the Guardian.