Astrogator's Logs

New Words, New Worlds
Artist, Heather Oliver             


Traveler from afar who sailed to our shores –
ask the Sea Rose for a gift…


Most of my friends know that I write fiction.  Publication started fifteen years ago, when five of my stories (collected in the file In the Realms of Fire) appeared in After Hours, a venue pointed out by my friend and fellow writer Calvin Johnson.

Since then, in addition to writing The Biology of Star Trek and the essays here and elsewhere, I spun six novels in an alternative universe where the Minoans survive the explosion of the Thera volcano.  The saga starts in the Bronze Age and extends into the far future.  A small press is interested in the first novel in the series, Shard Songs, which gives me strong motivation to finish it.  The trouble is that the entire opus needs global editing – a full-time job that requires focus and calmness of mind.

Several friends saw parts of the saga as it unfolded.  It inspired two of them (Heather D. Oliver and Kathryn Bragg-Stella) to create the beautiful artworks that grace the site’s cover, blog logo and gallery.  However, none of it had officially seen the light of day till this August and I had serious doubts about its publication potential.  This was in part because it doesn’t fit into any category and ignores several recipes… er, rules.

In it, legends, songs, vision quests and geasa intertwine with genetic engineering, wormhole travel, planetary settlement and sapient aliens.  Some portions have multiple narrators, the cultures are not Anglosaxon and an invented language whispers through it: my version of the lost Minoan tongue.  Worse yet, in an era where dismemberments earn a work a PG rating, kudos and awards whereas glimpses of a nipple earn it an NC-17 rating and snide sniggers, my saga contains as much sex as it does war – and though it’s not romance, love is a powerful engine in it.

Then, in August, Crossed Genres accepted Dry Rivers, a brief story from the  saga that takes place in Minoan Crete.  The just-released issue 13 of Crossed Genres contains Planetfall, a much longer braid from the saga’s tapestry.  Planetfall consists of five linked stories whose human protagonists are descendants of the characters in Dry Rivers and Shard Songs.

BasinI don’t know if any of these novels will ever get published.  But these two green shoots have given me great joy and hope.  It was my tremendous luck to have devoted friends who urged me to keep writing the saga; to meet Kay Holt and Bart Leib whose vision of Crossed Genres focused exactly on hard-to-categorize works like mine; and to enjoy the unwavering certainty of Peter Cassidy, who’s convinced that one day the entire saga will emerge from its cocoon and unfurl its wings.  Dhi kéri ten sóran, iré ketháni.

7 Responses to “Planetfall”

  1. Caliban says:

    I knew this was coming but am delighted to see it out! And fairly quickly, too–the print mags often take a year or more between submission and publication.

    As all dedicated writers know, it’s a long, difficult path to publication. I stumbled upon a blog where a writer was approaching her 300th rejection (along with numerous publications).

    Persistence, dear friend, persistence, though I know how hard that can be to find at times….

  2. Athena says:

    Thank you for the wonderful words, Calvin! You have been a decisive contributor to this activity — your support, critiques and example have all been crucial. But we scientists are trained for persistence. Sometimes, it’s all we have.

    Crossed Genres is a particularly gratifying venue for a writer of speculative fiction: not only is it broad-minded in connection with subgenre, it also has no slush pile. You submit for the next month’s issue, and once your work is accepted it pops up instantly! A powerful way to motivate more writing.

  3. intrigued_scribe says:

    Though I’ve said this elsewhere, it’s wonderful to see this published! And I agree; persistence is crucial.

  4. Athena says:

    Thank you, dear Heather — for everything! You, too, were a vital contributor: your art created a potent feedback loop for my writing and it never ceases to give me joy when I look at it.

    On the heels of this, I just heard from Calvin that Crossed Genres accepted his story The Tree. I saw this work develop and I’m very happy it (deservedly) found a home.

  5. intrigued_scribe says:

    As ever, I’m very glad to know that my art helps and brings happiness. 🙂

    I’m also glad Calvin’s story was accepted; excellent news!

  6. carlos says:

    Tell me what inspired your first novel, and how was that process like? Im asking because being that I have nothing but time on my hands these days, Ive started to write a novel of my own. Though I’ve never attempted to do anything like this before and I don’t consider myself a writer at all its becoming a fun activity. Ofcourse it’s also about futuristic science fiction, (transhumanism/singularity) but with a touch of magick. 😉

    On a side note have you considered editing your book on google wave with a collective of your fans. Also if you did this would you retain ownership?

  7. Athena says:

    I wrote a whole collection of shorts first, mythic and urban fantasy. My first novel arose out of insomnia, when my postdoc stint was stalling. It’s about a scientist who can’t/won’t fit in academia and gets recruited by intelligence. They end up hunting her after she goes AWOL, when she figures out the goals of the biological nanotech project that she steered to success. If you read Planetfall, she’s the person who launched the Reckless (not named in the Crossed Genres standalone version, but she will be if the novel version is ever published).

    I cannot write a piece, short or long, unless I know the end: launch and landing are crucial for building the arc between. Also, I tend to write in bursts. As for editing, I suspect that right now I need a serious writing group. And lots of time, energy and focus…

    Good luck with your novel!