Tremor Warnings

Two recent events have shaken my routine. One a post and one a game. Nothing earth shattering, more tremors – warnings of what might or will occur.

This post about ‘diversity’, Social Justice Warriors, and the withdrawal of Amélie Wen Zhao’s Blood Heir set me thinking about my current WIP, Fevered Few and what I was attempting.

I’m a WASP hetero male trying to write a novel with a female queer protagonist in the North Wales Police. Am I heading for the pillory or worse – even if I am trying to use diversity readers?

I had already realised I needed to tread carefully after a somewhat different controversy arose over the sexuality choices in the game Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m making my protagonist Welsh with a deaf sister, since I’m English and I’ve never even committed a crime – other than parking illegally or speeding. Okay, I’m disabled, with Quaker abolitionist ancestors and splashes of Latin and Scottish blood. But none of those are qualifications.

Okay, SF writers write about aliens but aren’t from another planet. However, we don’t see the aliens protesting; or is that why there are abductions and experiments?

Is the solution to stop writing my Welsh police procedural series and tackle a topic that I know about? Horses?

Dang, I’ve done that and got criticised for my lack of knowledge.

Falling? My life-story could be fictionalised, but who is inspired by that? Not me.

Insecurity 1. Meltdown imminent.

Later the same day, I went into Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and got thrown into a quest that required me to press/punch/mash keys in quick succession.

Fail. Retry. Fail. Retry.

Fail. Retry. Fail. Retry.

Fail. Retry. Fail. Retry.

The fingers on my left hand locked up, and my hand became a useless claw while my head thumped.

Insecurity 2. Meltdown imminent.

That was not the first time that my hand and my reactions failed.  I had the same problem in Shadow of the Tomb Raider last week. Plus, it occurs when I type so when I’m working on a novel or a post – like now.

Meltdown

The harsh reality is that my multiple sclerosis is threatening to disrupt my life again – if I let it. I need to amend the rules…move the goalposts. Or change rackets.

Well, keyboards.

But not the typing element as half the keys are missing.

  • Step Two – Dictation software. I’ve ordered Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 13 – arriving on Saturday. However, training my Dragon will take time, especially as my speech is slurred – MS side-effect. It will mean that in a few weeks, I might get to write as fast as I talk.

Even after spending this money, I still need to decide if I’m writing the right novel – the one that will cover all these extravagances.

MS is a frustrating MonSter, and I must learn to roll with its punches and fight back. There will be other rounds, but I’ve got this one.

Yes, I need to consider Audible as my eyes are at risk – not just from reading. Double vision was my initial symptom back in 1999, so the warning is there.

More rabbit holes beckon.

Ascension – a review

As my current WIP explores diversity and minority rights issues, my reading expands to understand the issues better. This novel was an inspiring insight and a great read.

Ascension

Ascension (Tangled Axon #1)

by Jacqueline Koyanagi (Goodreads Author)

Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.

Review 5 stars

The blurb for Ascension hooked me as did most of the reviews. As an SF addict, I wasn’t disappointed, and the ‘diversity’ themes worked, although I am, I admit, an outsider in many ways.

Ascension had a great opening with subtle info and backstory from the family finances and the planetary economics – familiar inequalities – through to the disease that afflicts the protagonist. The thoughts, words and actions ensure that I was immediately attracted to Alana Quick as she stowed away on the Tangled Axon and gradually began unravelling things about the strange and diverse crew.

What drives the starship captain Tev? That was a question that kept being answered and yet only layer by layer. She was as intriguing to me as she was for Alana. All the crew were complex with carefully revealed backstories and motivations, and the characterisation was well-crafted.

Just like the jewellery which provided me with one of many puzzles, although I laughed as the reveal was not as I expected. The novel was filled with little details that both added to the world-building and set it apart.

The stakes were raimped-up at a crucial point and I found myself asking ‘Did that really happen?!’ Somebody was motivated to raise the danger-level, but why? Wearing my mystery-reader glasses, I had suspects, but the curveballs kept me guessing – and reading. The threat to the crew, the starship and Alana produced some great writing. The structure and the placement of the key moments felt spot-on.

Alana sensed so much and her words evoked so many feelings. I am a fan of deep POV and Ascension worked for me as it drew me into the protagonist’s mind – a mind torn by events, her attachments, her feelings, her fears and her declining health.

With so much to bear, her senses became even more emotive as the novel developed. I felt the chronic suffering in my own diseased body – yes, I have two chronic diseases – and Jacqueline Koyanagi did an excellent job capturing that. In fact, she caught the disease suffering so well that I was sure that the other ‘sensitivity’ issues were dealt with as carefully.

Alana unravels reality, not always making or taking the right moves, but as all the best protagonists do, by seeing through another’s eyes – except that moment is a revelation like no other. And we all need to learn why love burns, although for Alana it goes so much deeper. But I’m toying with you, avoiding spoilers. Suffice to say, that an unexpected twist leads to the clever climax and the hint that there will be more to enjoy.

A highly recommended read, especially if you want SF with a twist – a diverse breath of plasma.

Story – five stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars