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Friday was a big day at World con. For me it was all about the Hugos as I was so honoured and delighted to be invited to co-present an award. And my daughter came in with me and also did my hair for World Con. We went with an Austenesque style but we had to do it in the morning with the hope that it would hold until the evening.

We were going to take the tram, but another tram had broken down and we couldn’t see how our tram was going to get through as there was only one track. After thinking about it for like 30 seconds we decided to catch the train in instead. The train and tram are so convenient from our location.

We had packed all our gear in case we needed to change on site. My first item was to go to the Hugo rehearsal session. I had arrived in good time but was so directionally challenged I couldn’t find the hall. In an act of desperation I ran up to a security guard. She said you can’t go there as it is shut. After I explained I was going to the rehearsals she directed me to an inconspicuous door. I would not have found it without help.

I made it in good time and watched a few of the run throughs, met people and then John Purcell turned up and we were able to go through some minor edits I made to the text and then it was our turn. Things were a little rushed and we had marks to move to. John and I did a vocal run through off stage just so we knew we could say it all. We needed one name, and Irish one, to be tutored. Lucky the Hugo Award administrator is Irish and could help out.

After that, there wasn’t much to do. We had lunch and hung out with Robert Hood and then Cat Sparks briefly. Cat has donated a signed copy on her Blue Lotus book for the fan fun auction.

The pre-Hugo reception was to start at 5.30 so my daughter suggested we take the tram back to our hotel and come back again. We were having vigorous discussions about shoes and in the end she decided to go to buy some.

I was going to rest but by the time we got back there wasn’t much time. My daughter went out to buy shoes and a big hand bag. We needed extra shoes because we couldn’t stand in high heels all night!

We made it to the reception with the aid of directions. This is the closest I’m ever going to get to a Hugo so it was a pleasure to be there. It was really quite crowded. I guess you can’t experience the impact of all those names until you see them gathered. There was rumours of food. I did see people eating but by 6.15 there was no more food, but some chocolates out for sweets. Lucky I wasn’t too hungry.

I was handed a cocktail/drink when I arrived. I think it was a long gin with Lingon berries (sp) and I had to make sure that was all I had. On an empty stomach too much alcohol is not a good thing.

I caught up with Carrie Vaughn, Paul Weimer, Nalo Hopkinson, Mihela and others. I met CE Murphy, from Ireland via Alaska she tells me. Then it was photos. I was going to get a photo with Jukka Halme, but I lost Paul Weimer so I had to scrap that idea. Then I lined up with Beans for a photo but just as it was nearly our turn, they announced they were taking official photos of the different categories of nominees so there went our chance.

Later though, Jukka grabbed me and said, come and have a photo with my official photographer and so I got my photo after all.

Then it was time to go in and take our places. We made sure to sit with John and Valerie Purcell (TAFF delegate and his wife) as we were presenting together.

This is the shot from inside the auditorium.

IMG_8392.JPG

There was type written script on the screen. It was for the hearing impaired I think but it had problems at times and some of the mispelt words were hilarious.

“I am slighted to be here” etc. I forgot most of them but really, 6000 delegates from 6000 countries. Hahahaha.

Then it was our turn to go on stage. The ceremony is on You Tube I believe and was webcast. We were in the beginning section. There was an International group of people presenting, South Africa, Poland, China, US and Australia. We had to sit on a sofa on stage and then after we presented we had a short interview. Amazing, John and I got to plug the fan auction to like 5000 people! They had John’s name wrong in the script so Karen Lord called him Jeff. We gave John a hard time. So Jeff what did you do with John etc.

After the awards ceremony we were invited to the Hugo Losers’ Party. There was a shuttle bus (a small one) so a lot of people took cabs. We waited with C E Murphy and ? (I’m sorry I forgot your name again) and Nalo Hopkinson, George RR Martin, Pat Catigan and others. A Finish fan guy leaped on the bus and Nalo can I come with you and did.

The venue was Helsinki’s steam punk nightclub. It was crowded by the time we got there. Winners turn up and are boohed and made to wear ridiculous head gear. There was an amazing steampunk cake. Lots of booze. Lots of food and desserts in mini containers. The music was good at first but then we tried to dance and the music went to shit. Go figure. I had a blast but wanted to go home. Beans, my daughter, wanted to party and dance and I didn’t get out of there until around 2 am. But I met people, talked to people. John and Valerie turned up late dressed in their steam punk gear. So cute.

Here is a collection of shots, including the steampunk cake. The steampunk couple are John and Valerie Purcell.

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And well today is Saturday and I must get out of here.

 

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Just sharing a snippet from Opi Battles the Space Pirates. The book is only available on Amazon and Amazon Unlimited for the moment.

The Blurb

Ms Opeia Gayens, head of AllEarth Corp, has a problem—her company is rotten with Space Pirates. She wants to get rid of them once and for all. An unexpected invitation to dinner challenges her plans to be the bait that will draw the nasty pirates out. It’s been forever since she’s been on a date—just been Opi. Somehow, Owain McDevitt, mild-mannered, potato farmer from the planet Islay 2 is drawn into the intrigue. Yet, no one is who they seem, least of all Owain McDevitt.

opibattlesthespacepirates

Chapter One

Explosive Personality

 

Opeia Gayens was having a bad day. She was tired, oh so tired, and a wee bit cranky. Running AllEarth Corp had its highs and its lows. So far today had been one of the lows. And it wasn’t getting any better. Not only had her daughter, Rae, just told her that she didn’t want to join the company or want her inheritance, this executive interview with Jors Finksy had taken a bad turn.

Finksy held out a hot pink, round object about the size of a tennis ball that looked suspiciously like a plastic explosive. ‘This is a bomb,’ he declared, waving at her. ‘I’m going to take you with me.’

Opeia let out a sigh, moved her knee to key her distress alarm. ‘That,’ she said, ‘is rather counter-productive.’

It had been a run-of-the-mill ethics appraisal. Obviously, the testing regime designed to filter out space pirates, or those likely to be suborned by space pirates, was more stressful than she anticipated for her employee to take such drastic measures.

Jors had standing-on-end, spikey, white hair and his red, sweating face sported puffy cheeks and very pale eyes. His burnished-silver body suit hugged his plump frame in a less than complimentary manner. Not the sort to bring a bomb to a meeting.

Her security chief, Mueller, was going to get an earful for his team letting this incendiary device through the screening procedures. It signalled a lapse that wasn’t acceptable. She eyed the bomb. It had no discernible controls or wires or lights. It looked like a lurid, ball of soft, mouldable plastic that a child might play with.

Finksy stood up suddenly, waving the ball around. Instinctively, Opeia leant back. Where was her security team anyhow?

‘You were going to dismiss me from my job. It’s all I have…’

Opeia blinked. She hadn’t been about to sack the poor fellow, but that outcome seemed inevitable now.

Distracted by security taking their time, Opeia was taken by surprise when Finksy thrust the bomb into her face. Instinctively, she slapped his hand and the bomb flew up. She leapt for it in case it would explode on impact. She caught it with one hand and with the other, punched her terrorist under the chin. The man wasn’t expecting it and went down.

Letting out a breath, she had one second of relaxation and then she noticed the bomb started to sweat in her hand and was slightly warm. Leaning down, she said into her intercom, ‘Polly where the hell is security!’

‘Oh? We thought you’d triggered it by accident.’

‘I have a bomb in my hand and an unconscious executive who will come around very soon. Get the team in here now.’

Polly didn’t answer but in about thirty seconds her door slid open. ‘Don’t move,’ the lead security guy said. ‘Smithy, get up here with the analyser.’

Opeia swallowed and looked slowly down at her hand. ‘Geez.’ Bubbles appeared on surface of the ball. There was a chemical reaction going on. The hot pink bomb was definitely giving off heat. Why had she tackled for the bomb anyhow? Was she insane?

Smithy, face covered in a shock proof shield, aimed the pointy end of the analyser at her. ‘Plastic explosive. DNA key.’

‘Can’t you get a bin or something. I don’t want it going off in my hand.’

Smithy backed up, head titled on the side. ‘Containment possible,’ he spoke into the mic.

A rumble from the back of the door and a trolley came in, bearing a two metre by two metre metal box.

Smithy keyed a small panel. ‘Now, mam, a drawer will slide out. Quickly place the device onto it and back away. It will shut rapidly and should contain the blast.’

Opeia looked up. ‘Should? Great.’

From the bottom end of the metal box, a square door opened up. It could hold a basket ball-sized object. With lips compressed, Opeia bent her knees, bringing the bomb closer. The bubbles on the surface of the bomb resembled boils now. The heat it gave off was starting to burn her palm. Carefully, she placed her hand near the bottom of the box and started tilting her hand to allow the ball to slide off.

Finksy sat up suddenly and shook his head. ‘Stop!’ he said. Opeia jerked her hand with surprise. The bomb dropped. She snatched her hand back. A security guard charged forward tackling her to the ground to shelter her with his body. The drawer shut with a snap. The containment box jumped and a loud boom sounded from inside. From where the little drawer had retracted, the metal had melted and fumes were rising.

The guard levered himself off her. ‘Pardon me, mam.’ The label on his hazard gear gave his name as Muri. He offered his hand and assisted her to stand.

‘Thank you, Mr Muri.’

Another security man came up and sprayed her hands. The burning stopped as the spray cooled her skin.

Two burly ones grabbed Finksy. They brought him in front of her.

Her hands were red and the skin had started to peel. Compared to what could have happened. No hands. Or no body. She had come off lightly. ‘Mr Finksy. I am sorry to have to tell you but you’re fired…and under arrest.’

The containment box was wheeled out. The security team followed, along with Finksy who was quite verbal in his resentment. When they left, Polly buzzed. ‘Chief Mueller for you.’

‘Send him in.’

‘He’s not actually here, sorry. On comms.’

Too chicken to face her. Damn the man. Walking to her desk, she keyed her comms. ‘Mueller what the actual?’ she yelled at him. He opened his mouth and kept it open. ‘Nobody responded to my distress alarm and how did that goddam bomb get through screening?’

‘Ms Gayens…Opeia…’

‘Don’t try to sweet talk me.’ Mueller’s bull dog face loomed on the viewscreen.

‘I won’t. The bomb was a new type of material,’ he rushed on before she could interrupt again. ‘We had rumours of it being in production but our screening wasn’t calibrated. It is now.’ He let out a breath. ‘The non-response is a bit more difficult to explain.’ He ran his fingers through his short cropped hair. ‘It had been reported to me that you accidentally set off your distress alarm seven times in the last month. My men advise that you were pretty pissy at them for the repeated interruptions when they responded as per procedure.’

Opeia nodded, recollecting the mayhem. The distress switch had been relocated to under the desk so she could call for help without anyone knowing, unfortunately she kept bumping it. Her annoyance at having important and confidential meetings and video conferences interrupted had been quite strong and verbal. May have involved threats too. She chewed the inside of her cheek. ‘Put the location of my distress alarm back on our regular agenda. I don’t want to be left vulnerable like that again.’

‘I’ll tighten security measures.’

‘No! Goddam it Mueller! They are so tight already.’ As it was she hardly saw normal people. Her children were exempt from the security procedures but not anyone else. At times it was a tad embarrassing. I hope the cavity search wasn’t too uncomfortable, Mr…

‘But not tight enough. Today is a good example.’

‘You’ve explained today. It won’t happen again.’ He opened his mouth to protest but she raised her hand. ‘Your hand to hand training came in useful.’ She thought this would divert him.

He growled. ‘Ms Gayens you aren’t meant to tackle people with bombs or grab the devices yourself. May I remind you that you could have died if it had been another type of bomb?’

‘I know. I’m sorry. I just reacted when he thrust the bomb in my face and no one had come to help.”

He let out a sigh and rubbed his hand through his hair. ‘I see.’

Opeia thought she could wrap this up with another diversion. ‘Say, can you send me an update on that bomb material. DNA triggered you say? Let me get across that.’

‘Very well. Done and agreed. The information will be sent to you by the end of the day. My advice is that you should not have ill effects from holding the bomb except for some superficial burns.’

She held up her hands. ‘I got that part.’

‘Although I wish you hadn’t tackled the man and taken it.

‘I know. I don’t know what came over me. Spur of the moment—panic. It was entirely stupid. It won’t happen again.’

Mueller grunted and she keyed off. Turning to her handheld, she entered in the information about Finksy’s dismissal and sent a memo to her personnel manager to start new recruitment activity. Then she slumped across her desk. She was sick to the bone of this. Over it. That’s why Rae’s message had gutted her. If she wasn’t doing this for her daughter why was she doing it? Essa, her other daughter, had already bailed a year ago.

Sometime later her office door chimed. ‘May I come in?’ Polly, her personal assistant, asked as she poked her head through the gap in the sliding door. Polly was a few years younger than Opeia and had such an easy going personality that Opeia thought of her as a friend. About five foot five, trim with a pixie-like face, she was a trendy dresser and was forever ribbing Opeia about her penchant for pantsuits for business or shapeless coveralls when travelling on space cruisers. Polly argued they marred her beauty, where Opeia thought they hid a multitude of sins, like a peach shaped butt, well-rounded belly, largish breasts and generous thighs.

‘Sure, Pol. What is it?’ Opeia sat up and self-consciously tugged at the tunic top of her pale lemon, pantsuit. The material was self-cleaning and wrinkle proof. What could be easier?

Polly raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips, then let out a sigh before continuing. ‘I have a priority-keyed message for you from someone called,’ she looked down at her handheld. ‘Owain McDevitt.’

‘Who?’

Polly sighed. ‘Owain McDevitt.’ She scrolled through the page on her handheld. ‘McDevitt Enterprises. You completed the takeover of his transport companies last year. All the official paperwork is completed.’

‘Refresh my memory. What did I do to him, actually?’


Intrigued? You can buy or download Opi Battles the Space Pirates here.

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It has been hectic here at Dweebenhiem! A lot happening on the publishing front.

First of all, new book!

opibattlesthespacepirates

Isn’t the cover wonderful?

Are you in the mood for a light-hearted romp through space? Forget POTUS! Take a spell from despair! Join Opi and her gravity problems. Opi Battles the Space Pirates is an adult SF romance, which features an older heroine and no explicit sex scenes.

Here’s the blurb

Ms Opeia Gayens, head of AllEarth Corp, has a problem—her company is rotten with Space Pirates. She wants to get rid of them once and for all. An unexpected invitation to dinner challenges her plans to be the bait that will draw the nasty pirates out. It’s been forever since she’s been on a date—just been Opi. Somehow, Owain McDevitt, mild-mannered, potato farmer from the planet Islay 2 is drawn into the intrigue. Yet, no one is who they seem, least of all Owain McDevitt.

Betrayal after betrayal threatens Opi’s existence and she must discover who the traitor really is before she can find her true path to happiness.

Opi Battles the Space Pirates is out on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited for 3 months. Then it goes wide to other retailers.

You can get your copy here US$2.99 Aus $3.99

Link is here

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Some of you may recall my first long form publication was Rayessa and the Space Pirates, which was picked up by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing (digital imprint) in 2013. Rayessa had been languishing my hard drive for a number of years. It started as a short story, maybe way far back as 2002. I was writing the story for Elsewhere. At the time the first 7,500 were the longest short I’d written and it still wasn’t done. When the space pirates turned up, well I knew it wasn’t going to be a short story anymore. It ended up as a novella, then a slightly longer novella. It took it out and revised it a couple of times. I gave it to a couple of people to read with some positive feedback. I submitted it a couple of places. Once it was forwarded to the children’s editor at HarperCollins Australia. It was rejected but the rejection was along the lines of we already have stories along these lines and sorry to take  so long to get back to you. Then it sat in the hard drive a little longer. Then I went to my first RWA conference in the Gold Coast (2012) where Penguin launched their Destiny Imprint and Harlequin launched Escape. It was actually at the launch cocktail party of Destiny that I clued in that Rayessa was also a romance. Chinking champagne glasses with Nicole Murphy I said that I thought I had romance arc in some of my stories. She was like ‘Dah, why do you think I told you to come here?’ The clue people was the slideshow they had playing on the walls. Science fiction scenes at a romance conference.

So Rayessa was published. Then I wrote Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures, which should have been titled, Essa Takes on the Space Pirates or better still. Essa Rescues Mum from the Space Pirates etc. Now Escape decided they didn’t want any more spate pirate stories from me when they took Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures (and also revamped the Rayessa cover). Not with this family at least. So I changed the ending to Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures so there wasn’t too much hanging. But I always had in mind to write Opeia’s story. Opeia (Opi) is the mother of Rae and Essa, the head of AllEarth Corp.

Now pesky ideas will keep bothering you until your write them down. I thought I’d dealt with Opi by writing some notes about the story in my ‘Notebook of Really Cool Ideas’ that Gillian Polack gave me when I started the PhD. It is meant as a place to park ideas so I can come back to them when the Phd is done. Well obviously Opi had other ideas.

Opi meets NaNoWriMo and viola! she is out there on paper! I tried to be more emotionally contemplative in Opi Battles the Space Pirates. My wonderful beta reader (who is a fan of the first two books) gave me feedback. I had to rewrite the beginning and the ending after that. That plot twist that I had come up with but abandoned because I was trying to address my plot addiction by being a bit more touchy feely, well I had to put the plot bit in. It’s just that type of book.

It’s fluff, it’s funny (I think so) and it’s light and possibly uplifting. (Complete opposite to the Dragonwine series). Opi Battles the Space Pirates is also longer than the first two books, just under 60,000 words, it’s adult, but not sexy, more sweet in keeping with the other two books. It features an older protagonist (42) and a space battle goddamit!

Stay tuned. Cover art is in progress. Proofreading is in progress. I’m going to self-publish this one for fun.

Just to refresh your memory, here are the covers of the first two books, which I adore. Not sure the wonderful covers sell as many books as they should, but they are pretty and swish.

Link to the Escape website here. The books are at all major e-retailers. You can also buy these books in large print format/hardcover for libraries I think. I can’t afford to buy myself a  hard back version. There are some copies in libraries in Australia and the USA. Here.

However, I plan to have a print version of Opi Battles the Space Pirates. Just for fun, for a laugh and maybe as giveaways. So watch out.

Oh and the moral of the story? Don’t throw anything out. Learn from rejections. Don’t give up. Keep writing. Follow your heart…and whatever!

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My indie published Argenterra, Silverlands book 1, is on promotion this weekend for 99 cents.

Argenterra is an epic fantasy novel, interweaving three romances over the three books. The story starts with Sophy and Aria and then joins up with Rae’s when Sophy and Aria are whipped into the world of Argenterra a land where everyone can use magic except Sophy. The story is YA appropriate.

Argenterra with subtitle

Argenterra is featured among around 100 books, from SF through to Fantasy so here is your chance to do some exploring. There are some very interesting books here for 99 cents.promo-jan

The link to the promo is here and you can select via your favourite retailer. For example, click on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo etc and you will see the books that are featured for 99 cents with that retailer. Links are also geocoded in understand.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for allowing me to participate in her promo weekend.

Oathbound, Silverlands book two is still with the editor but I hope to get that our in the next few months. The Ungiven Land is close behind that.

Ciao!

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I can’t believe it is six months already.

I’ve been at this gig for six months!

Do I miss work? No.

Do I miss the money? Yes, a bit, but not as much as I thought I would. I keep telling myself I will get a part time job, but I’m not desperate enough yet.

Do I miss my work mates? Yes, I do. The social scene at uni is different. You come to the study centre and you study. Occasionally you chat to people. It takes time.

As a PhD is self-directed research it can be difficult to judge your progress. If I sat around at home and did nothing, then I’d have the guilt meter out. But I’m on campus usually four days week and if I don’t then I’m working from home. If I consult my guilt meter it’s pretty good actually. No falling into the red zone there.

Actually, I’m just getting to the part of my study where I’m calming down. I won’t call it slowing down. Looking back I can see I approached this PhD like a bull charging a red flag. I was anxious. I was stressed. I was working like a maniac at times, dreaming up papers in my sleep. There was so much to know and I wanted to know it all. But that’s been settling down now for a few weeks.

I think there came a point that I thought I can do this. I can understand. A bit earlier than that I knew I had to dial it back as I couldn’t sustain the pace over three years. I was studying on my day off. Technically my day off is my writing day. My fiction not related to PhD writing day. It also doubles for catching up with friends day, which means I usually don’t get to write much when I do the social thing.

I’m enjoying it though and it can be absorbing. Some days on campus, I look up and see the time and think what am I doing here at 6.00 pm? Then I scurry home.

I’m coming up to my six months study. I am going to be doing my introductory seminar next week. That’s where I get to stand up and talk about my research topic, methodology and my creative project. I think my supervisor is optimistic that I won’t flubber, blubber…splat. This is a compulsory seminar, but it is not assessed. I have a bit of work to do before my first year is up as I have to do my confirmation seminar. Yes that’s right. I can be booted. I can’t see that happening but you know I have to get things up to scratch.

I’m heading for the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Adelaide this week. We are driving down because we’ve not driven to Adelaide before. We are driving over two days. I’m doing a signing there. Waves! There is an academic stream for the conference. I put in for a paper but didn’t get chosen. Apparently there was an over supply of papers. But I believe it is a truncated stream. I am putting in a paper for the conference proceedings. Well I will. I’m just waiting on some final comments from my supervisor. I’ve been working on this paper since March. But as it is my topic area, none of it’s wasted. It was probably a good way to get across the topic, having that paper to write.

When I get back from Adelaide, I’ll be reorganizing myself. I want to start working on my creative project. So far I’ve thought about it and drafted a short outline. However, I think I have to write it and see if it works, then change it if it doesn’t. This is a fiction piece I’m giving myself time to draft. I think I might have mentioned it will be SF with romance. The other task I have to complete for my confirmation seminar is my literature review. I still have stuff I need to read, most stuff I will read two or three times before I’m done. Then I have to read romances! This means dividing up my time so that I get things done. I like to be flexible of course, but still…Would you believe I’ve been tidying my desk today? I’m sorting my journal articles into alphabetical order and putting flags on them as to why I think they are important. I feel saintly and so unlike me. I think it’s because I’m treading water. I’ve done my prep for the seminar. I’m heading to a conference and I’m waiting for comments on a paper so I can send it off.

I also have a romance readers survey and a romance writers survey as part of my PhD and it’s ready to go. Give me a hoy if you want an invite. I’m going to kick that off in September post introductory seminar.

 

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Time just flits by so quickly. I’ve had a nasty bout of RSI this week and lots to do. I’m still in Audible mode as well as reading print and e-books. This not quite review is of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead. Older SF but still good. When I started on Audible I wanted to use it as a vehicle to read those books that I don’t already own and that I’ve wanted to read but for some reason haven’t. These books were recommended to me by a work colleague.

The Audible files for these two books were good. I haven’t seen the movie btw so I’m basing this on my listening experience.

Ender’s Game for me was an interesting book. I can’t say that I found it easy to identify with Ender’s situation or character. He is a six year old genius sent to military school to be carved into a tool. This doesn’ t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. I enjoyed the idea of the story, of the boy and his experiences. I enjoyed the craftmanship of the story. I enjoyed Card’s depiction of working in micro gravity and how it changes perceptions. We work in a space that has sideways and up but rarely do we conceive of down or no up. I believe the book had a profoundness to it, particularly the ending. If you haven’t read it I recommend you do.

In comparison though, the next book, Speaker for the Dead moved me greatly. Card says in his interview on Audible for Ender’s Game that he wrote Ender’s Game to set up the book he wanted to write, Speaker for the Dead. You wouldn’t necessarily have to read Ender’s Game to understand the next book or get the message, but after being on Ender’s journey it adds to the poignancy of Speaker for the Dead if you do.

What stood out for me with Speaker for the Dead was those elements of realness in there. Card did his Mormon  mission in Brazil and he used that experience to layer Lusitania, with a Portuguese, catholic culture. Despite him not being catholic himself, he used it quite sensitively and knowingly. The economic workings of the colony were very well thought out and solid.

The depiction of the Piggies, the alien race and their alienness was intriguing and fully- fledged. He’d really thought about this. No wonder that both books won Hugos and Nebulas.

The strength of the book for me was the characters. I felt them. They were very three dimensional. Something I admit I wasn’t expecting from an 1980s SF story. I’m not sure why but it was streets ahead of Ender’s Game on this point. I cried in parts of the book. I had to sit in my car and compose myself before going into my office.

The Piggie called Human touched me. I’m getting teary just writing this blog post.

Anyway, if you were thinking of some retro SF then try these books. I’m going to read/listen to the next one, Xenocide soon (after Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy gets its claws out of me).

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