Friday, April 26, 2013

Great review of Embarkment 2577!

The website Bookworm Babblings has reviewed the Embarkment 2577 series. Here's the verdict:

In Book 1, Alex awakens on a Starship, and at first she thinks she’s dreaming.  After all, her doctor looks like a cat-woman, and her assistant looks like Alex’s favorite rockstar.  It has to be a dream, right?  She has no memories of the last year or so.  When she has fully awakened, they tell her the year, 2577!  Not only that, she died trying to save Adam.  Who is Adam you ask?  Well just the coolest non-human I know!  She now has to make this Spaceship her new home.  She’s 500+ years in the future, the Earth she knew no long exists.  As a matter of fact, she could easily be called an ancient artifact!

This was a really neat series of novellas.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and was so hooked; I read the entire thing in one day.  It had so many twists.  The action and adventure was exciting and nonstop.  The character descriptions were amazing; you could actually visualize these interestingly unusual aliens.  Some parts reminded me of Star Trek, which made it even more awesome.  There’s even romance mixed in, truly unique couples you fall in love with.  This is a must read for any sci-fi fan!

Thank you! Words that warm the writer's soul. =)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


One of the characters in Embarkment 2577 is an alien with snakes sprouting from her head. When she first meets our heroine, this is what happens:

The person entering made me sit up straight. It was a tall and slender woman with dark purple skin and light blue freckles spread over her nose and cheeks. Her eyes were big and yellow like a cat’s, and where a human would have hair, she had a multitude of small gray snakes, so shiny they glittered like silver. Every snake had bright blue eyes, making a stark contrast to her own.

She stepped up to the table and reached a hand out in greeting. It looked strong, and her long, light blue fingernails made it even more intimidating.

“Don’t tell me. You’re Medusa.”

The apparition laughed as if it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard. 

“You’re just as funny as people say. I’m Jia’Lyn, second in command and head engineer on this space-boat of ours.” 

The myth of Medusa always fascinated me. She was allegedly a beautiful young woman who angered Athena. They myths differ a little in how; some say she was too caught up in her own beauty and annoyed the Goddess who thought she should be the most beautiful. 

The more interesting version is that Medusa served in Athena's temple, and caught Poseidon's eye. The Lord of the Sea raped her in the temple, and this outraged Athena, who considered her beautiful temple soiled. (No empathy for poor Medusa.) As punishment for allowing herself to be raped by a God, and to make sure no one would be tempted to do the same thing again, Athena turned Medusa into a horrible monster with snakes for hair and a face so horrible anyone looking at her would be turned to stone. 

Medusa was eventually killed by Perseus. He tricked her to see her own mirror image and beheaded her. To make things even better, she was pregnant with Poseidon's child at the time, but Perseus didn't much care. He took her head and used it as a weapon. Poor Medusa.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Embarkment was a finalist!

Embarkment 2577 was a finalist in the 2013 TVME contest. It didn't get enough points to win a prize, but just being in the finals is fantastic!

A big warm Thank You to all Embarkment supporters.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Great reviews for High Gravity!

As a writer, little can make you want to jump up and down and clap your hands in the same way as good reviews. Having recently gotten two excellent ones for High Gravity, I hope you forgive my urge to brag a little. =)

Science fiction writer Robert Landry writes, "High Gravity: Embarkment 2577 by Maria Hammarblad is the continuing adventures of Alex and Adam that is simply irresistible. Alex could charm the pants off of anyone - Adam is a good case in point, and he's an android. Even wooden-hearted Tree People can't resist her. The cast of characters Ms. Hammarblad has created in her Embarkment 2577 series are a pure delight. They make you hope that if you ever find yourself on a strange spaceship 600 years in the future, you too will find friends like these. So if today's high gravity is getting you down, you've got to check this one out. A little levity in your gravity might be just what the doctor ordered"

C'mon, join me in saying YAY!

Browsing through the Embarkment pages on Amazon, I also saw and want to share this one from Mrs Michael: "High Gravity is full of jaw dropping moments! As always Hammarblad knows how to write an exciting adventure. This book not only packs a wallop in the action department, but also comes equipped with a bit of mystery, when an unpredictable character comes in and confides a dark secret to Alex. Will she tell her husband the one thing that could save their marriage at the expense of another, or will she let it destroy them all? As the story progresses you find yourself emotionally wrapped up in the lives of Alex and Adam, and I couldn't help but shed a tear as the energy builds toward a climactic finale. It's hard not to cheer for the good guys in this one, and silently urge Alex to reveal a secret of immense proportions to the one she loves."

Monday, March 25, 2013

How much is just right?

I sometimes blog about the balance of science and fiction in science fiction. Today, I read an interesting blog post about the balance of "real" science and fiction. That is, how much research writers should put into their material, and how factual any facts need be.

Interesting subject. I normally say that science must be real enough to be believable. The problem with that statement is, of course, that believable differs from person to person.

My point of view is this: as soon as we take just one step beyond the everyday knowledge most people possess, we’re all writers and readers; not scientists. 

With that I mean, we don’t know exactly how stuff works. The science we meet in TV, journals, and books is simplified to appeal to a layman, and reality is usually infinitely more complicated. To make it even more interesting, some “truths” don’t stay true, and others we pick up from media where someone else made them up.

I used to think I knew a lot. I have a high IQ, I read a lot, and I have a curious mind. The more I learn, the more I realize I haven’t even scraped the surface. Most the things I thought I knew are no longer true, were too simplified, or were fiction in the first place.

As an example, how many here thinks a human dies pretty quickly in space? I used to think so.

I’ve read about the swift and painful death of space in dozens of sci-fi novels, not to mention TV shows and movies where people’s eyes pop out and humans turn into popsicles within seconds. In reality, a human would survive around 90 seconds. That might not be plenty of time to send out a rescue team, but it’s significantly longer than I imagined.

Is there friction in space? Would a ship eventually slow down on its own? I used to say “no” but then I thought of solar sails and theories of travel between planets. That line of thought led me to this article.  Now I don’t know. Another example of all the things I don’t know.

Besides photons, there is matter between the planets and stars. There’s various debris of course, like rocks and asteroids, and space holds large amounts of molecules, they’re just spread out over a really large area. Traveling at the speeds we can achieve, this matter doesn’t pose much of a problem. At higher velocities, we don’t know. Will a bullet harm you if I toss it to you across the room? Probably not. Will it harm you if I shoot it from a gun (give it higher speed) and hit you? Definitely.

If writers were to be completely scientifically correct, the books would be boring enough to put readers to sleep within a page. It’s supposed to be science fiction, right? The word fiction implies “making stuff up.”

When looking at the sub genre of science fiction romance, large parts of it would be doomed if we were to stick to scientific facts. How many books have you read where a human falls in love with a funky looking alien and they have kids, just like that? In reality, assuming there are aliens and we met in spite of the vastness of the galaxy, this would be very unlikely. 

For two beings to have offspring, they have to be closely genetically related. (I’m not talking related as in a family, but as in a species.) Looking at the physiology behind romantic love, our happy little pheromones and stuff are based on the urge to procreate. An alien developed on another world without genetic connection to us would be so different we might as well try to fall in love with a jellyfish. 

Luckily, authors like myself write fiction, not fact, and we can ignore science when it’s convenient or fits the story. My heroines generally fall in love with aliens, but since taking a class in astrobiology I tweak it so they’re all fairly human, and we have common DNA somewhere in the background. I don't mind reading stories about a green being with tentacles making it with a human; it's still entertaining. I just don't find it believable. 

Don’t get me wrong. I think any writer is obliged to perform research for their books, whether they write something historical, contemporary, or set in the future. Science fiction is hard to research because it theorizes about things that hasn’t happened, and inventions that don’t exist. Truth is, we don’t know much about the world outside this planet. That’s a good thing; we can make it up. =)

Friday, March 15, 2013

What makes great science fiction?

In my opinion, there’s one basic premise that must be fulfilled to make an interesting story regardless of genre: it must make readers care what happens. Whether it’s science fiction, fantasy, a thriller, or something happening in a historical setting, the reader needs to be interested in the characters and their fate.

The forest can be immensely dark and scary, the palace vast with marble floors and tremendous chandeliers, or the spaceship engines so clever they could almost work, but if there aren’t any people there, who cares? I might stay up at night to imagine my own interplanetary drive, but I’m not likely to stay up reading about someone else’s. The hero in great peril is a completely different matter. In that situation I have to know if the heroine will arrive in time to save him, and with the character’s life at stake, logic dictating two in the morning is past my bedtime doesn’t stand a chance.

This sounds self-evident, but trust me, as a writer it’s really easy to get caught up in details. Also – in my opinion – this is where many science fiction authors stumble and fall headfirst. Sci-fi writers generally have a burning interest in science, the future, and space. If we didn’t, we’d be writing something else. This interest poses both a trap and an opportunity.

I know exactly what the spaceships in my books look like, I know what the worlds look like, how big a space station is in relation to the hero’s ship, and I have a general idea of how I want the ships and worlds to work. Most of my readers couldn’t care less. They want to know if the heroine will make it back home in spite of being abducted by a crazy murderer.

Here’s the thing though; whatever details about science and worlds make it into the finished story must be plausible. I’m not saying it has to be real or invented yet, but it must be somewhat credible. If nothing in the book sounds like it could be real, no one will believe it, and readers will lose interest without even knowing why they’re bored. If it does seem real, it can be both thought provoking and fascinating.

Remember I said the interest in science/future/space is both a trap and an opportunity? The interest will drive writers to learn more and perform actual research. Incorporating elements of reality will make a better story. On the other hand, it will also tempt writers to put too much theory in there. Everyone’s different, of course, but unless it’s woven into the story, page after page with details about imaginary artificial gravity would bore me to tears.

There’s much more to science fiction, of course. Many books offer provocative ideas, take readers to a dystopian future, show how new technology can impact our lives, or why not speculate in someone travelling back in time, changing history. The same basic ideas apply; whether gruesome or jolly, the story needs to be entertaining, and at least somewhat feasible.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Casting the characters: Alex

Blake Lively
Many authors make a dream cast of their characters. I'm pretty bad at it, but it's still fun to look at photos and try to figure out what the imaginary people really look like. 

I stumbled over this image of Blake Lively and thought, "Hey, she looks just like Alex in my head." The next thought was, "This girl looks familiar."

I just wished for her as Jenny in Undercover. Today. Having the same actress for two characters on the same day might be overdoing it...

Julianne Moore

Next try, I ended up with Julianne Moore, but I can't imagine her as terrified and out of place as Alex is most of the time. If she was lost in space and time she'd probably be lost in a dignified way.

Emma Stone
Take three: Emma Stone. I might change my mind again - or veer back to Blake Lively after a few days when I forget about the Undercover post, LOL, but for now, it's Emma Stone.