Brenda Cooper

Apr
12

Cluelessly Excluded / Helpfully Included

Just last month, I got invited to a CIO convention in Seattle as part of my job.  The electronic flyer contained multiple pictures of the speakers – maybe ten or twelve speakers on all the usual CIOish topics like security and cloud computing and the like.  Every face on the panel was male. It could have been worse – only about half were pure white.  But still, I sent them an email and said I had no interest in attending a conference with no gender diversity (they did have one female speaker, whose name was not on page one, and who wasn’t talking about a technical topic). They wanted me to call them back and explain more about what I wan’t coming. I didn’t bother. I’m too busy to explain the obvious to fools, and I don’t want to hear about why they couldn’t find any women. There are women in technology.

Well, just last week, an interesting blog post by Owen Abroad about men not being willing to sit on panels of all men came up fairly viral on the Internet. He has a pledge. I’m not a rabid feminist (I have many male friends and family members who I love dearly and who have been nothing but supportive and helpful to me. I don’t bash men as a group, although the occasional individual has earned a few comments here and there), but I thought it was a sweet gesture, and left it at that. I think I even chose not to share it.

Zero World HoughSo then I arrive at the Emerald City Comic Con (which is working hard on diversity, inclusion, and respect). I ran one panel on creating fascinating characters (which went fabulously – and I had an almost-even gender split of three women and four men until one of my speakers dropped out). I was on the next panel about the science in science fiction.  In a conversation with the fabulous Jason Hough I learned that he had asked the panel organizers to include me because there were no women on the panel.  This had to have happened before the article went viral. So here I was, with an opportunity because someone had noticed no women had been given access to it.  I’m grateful.  I also had a blast – the panel was interesting and the room was full.  We had many people in our signing line.  Roughly half of the audience was female. It might have mattered to them that I was there, whether they noticed it or not.

I’m a forgiving soul. I believe that men get scheduled into technology and science fiction events because there are rather a lot of them in both fields, and the audiences are also very male.  It happens by accident.  I don’t believe we are actively excluded very often. I think we are cluelessly excluded.

I’m grateful to Owen (who I don’t know) and to Jason (who I do know) for not being clueless.

Apr
06

Final Cover Released for Spear of Light

Here is the final cover for Spear of Light. It’s a great compliment to Edge of Dark.  Both covers are by the fabulous Stephan Martiniere.

Spear of Light Cover Image

Apr
05

I’ll be Appearing Emerald City Comic Con!

Edge of Dark coverAfter going to Dragon Con for the first time ever last year, I’m convinced there is a growing, young, interesting vibe at media cons.  So this year, I signed up to be a pro at Emerald City Comic Con.  I’ll be moderating a panel Sunday at 11:00 about Writing Fascinating Characters.  I have some fascinating characters on my panel – so this will be really fun.  Stop by to see me, John PittsJames Sutter, Cat Rambo, Josh Vogt, and Bishop O’Connell.

After that, the whole panel will do a signing. Then I’ll be on a panel about the Science in Science Fiction, and then available for another signing.  🙂

You can also catch me, John Pitts, and James Sutter on the Live-stream on Saturday from 11:00 to 11:15.

I’ve heard great things about this event, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Be sure to stop by the University Book Store to grab a copy of Edge of Dark or Cracking the Sky, my two 2015 releases.

John Pitts will be releasing his next Sarah Beauhall book, Night Terrors, at the Comic Con, so stop by the Wordfire Press booth for that.

 

 

Mar
31

Edge of Dark now available as an audiobook!

TEdge of Dark Audiohe Audible audiobook version of Edge of Dark is now available!  It is narrated by the wonderful Soneela Nankani, who has read quite a variety of books also available on the site, and clocks in at just under sixteen hours.  As with most other books on Audible, it’s available both as a stand-alone purchase and via site membership, depending on how you prefer to handle your audiobooks.  You’ll definitely have plenty of time to enjoy the audiobook before the sequel, Spear of Light, comes out in June!

Audible.com – Edge of Dark Audiobook

Have you enjoyed a book read by this narrator before?  What do you think of how she did with Edge of Dark?  Leave a comment on Audible!

Mar
21

Norwescon Schedule

These are the places where I’ll be easily available at Norwescon, a Seattle-area convention March 24th through 27th.
The Art of Writing It Again
Fri 4:00pm – 5:00pm – Cascade 5&6
Dean Wells (M), Peter Orullian, Randy Henderson, Brenda Carre, Brenda Cooper
Philip K. Dick Awards
Fri 7:00pm – 8:30pm – Grand 2
Fundamentals of Worldbuilding 
Sat 12:00pm – 1:00pm – Evergreen 3&4
Brenda Cooper (M), Dean Wells, Peter Orullian, Gregory A. Wilson
The Greatest Questions in Science Fiction
Sat 1:00pm – 2:00pm – Cascade 7&8
Brenda Cooper (M), Brooks Peck, Jude-Marie Green, Douglas Lain, PJ Manney
Droning On
Sat 2:00pm – 3:00pm – Cascade 3&4
Brenda Cooper (M), Daniel P. Lynge, Ramez Naam, Dave Davis
Autograph Session 2
Sat 3:00pm – 4:00pm – Grand 2
With:  Amber Clark, Annie Bellet, Brenda Cooper, Carol Berg, David J. Peterson, H.M. Jones, Jeff Sturgeon, Jude-Marie Green, Julie Dillon, Katie Cord, Lawrence M. Schoen, Megan Kelso, Nina Post, Peter Orullian, Raven Oak, Stephen L. Gillett, Todd Lockwood, Marguerite Reed, Adam Rakunas, PJ Manney, Douglas Lain
Reading
Sat 6:30pm – 7:00pm – Cascade 1
Philip K. Dick Award: What It Is, What It Means
Sun 10:00am – 11:00am – Cascade 7&8
Gordon Van Gelder (M), Brenda Cooper, Adam Rakunas, Marguerite Reed, PJ Manney

Feb
28

Reading Recommendation: Archangel, by Marguerite Reed

ArchangelI’m continuing to listen to some of the PK Dick nominee books in audio format.  This may be my last one as I need to start gearing up for the Hugos and Nebulas, and Norwescon is now coming right up.

I highly recommend Marguerite Reed’s complex far future novel Archangel.  I’m not quite sure whether I should describe it as a futuristic re-telling of Beauty and and the Beast or as an ecologically sensitive adventure/space colony story.  It doesn’t really matter….a book can be many things.  This one is good.

The writing is splendid, the world-building solid, and the story compelling. If they award the PKD based on the beauty of the line by line writing, I suspect Marguerite may have the rest of us licked (no small feat – these are good books!).

Since I listened to this rather than read it, I want to mention that the narrator was a near-perfect match for the main character’s voice. Dina Pearlman did very nice work here.

Archangel is set on a colony that may be the last hope for a version of mankind that can walk freely on a planet. There are ecological tensions, questions of genetic engineering, a great lost love, and political intrigue. These are all reader/writer cookies for me, and the themes (but not the story/characters) are very resonant with my own Fremont’s Children series where my debut won the Endeavor award years ago.  I always enjoy seeing how other writers handle similar ideas, and how we as science fiction writers hold what almost feels like indirect — and sometimes direct — conversations through our novels.

Since Ramez Naam (Apex), PJ Manney ((R)evolution), and I (Edge of Dark) all had transhumanist themes, I was curious about whether or not the other books did.  I would say yes for Archangel, as one central tension is about the humanity of a genetically modified character. But it is not as much the main theme as it is for the other three books.  At any rate, a reader interested in the next steps for mankind could read these four books and find four different, plausible, and fascinating answers.

Reminder — you can hear all six of us talk together at a great podcast put together by fellow nominee Douglas Lain. You can enter to win a copy of all six Phillip K. Dick nominated books on a website assembled by nominee Adam Rakunas.

Feb
16

Reading Recommendation: (R)evolution by PJ Manny

revolutionSo I’m on a quest to listen to the other PKD finalist’s books, particularly the authors who I’ve never met. I’d read them but I don’t have time – I’ve been sadly turning down requests from good friends to read their books, and I even have favorite authors whose books make me consistently and reliably happy lying untouched on my TBR pile.  So I’m consuming the PKD nominated books via Audible on my commute and when I walk the dogs, and I probably won’t get through all five before the award. So keep in mind that I don’t know how they look on the page.

I just finished (R)evolution and I wanted to hop online and recommend it.

PJ’s novel is fast paced, almost breathless at points.  She has a lot of complex relationships, twists and turns, and some memorable and completely over-the-top characters (I particularly liked Ruth). The book would make a great movie — so maybe with luck she’ll sell the rights for that. There were a few times I had to swallow a bit of dis-belief, but I think that often happens when writing about the future. I didn’t mind.

PJ really did a nice job hitting the tropes about transhumanism without lecturing – (R)evolution was such a well-told story that by the end I was wanting to come up with reasons to jump in the car and keep driving.

Exploring the ethics of the future is an important thing that good science fiction does well, and that this book did well.

I’m also intrigued that at east three of us wrote transhumanist books.  PJ has a transhumanist hero, I have them as kind of villains and kind of heroes (its complicated), and Ramez pretty much turned almost everybody transhuman in the course of his series, and then shows how that might work.  All three books are very different one from another. All three are hopeful.

I recommend all three if just for the different approaches to the same topic…I already recommended Apex (Ramez Naam’s nominated book) but readers would do best to start with the first book and read the whole trilogy — that’s Nexus, Crux, and Apex.

Now, I’m off to start listening to Marguerite Reed’s Archangel. I’ll let you know if it’s also about transhumanism.

PS – remember that you can enter to win your own copy of all six nominated books.

Feb
12

Finally, a Promise Kept: Wordfire contracts for The Making War

Silevr shipMany years ago, I put out my first series of novels. It began with The Silver Ship and the Sea.  As often happens with new children, not everything went well.  The Silver Ship and the Sea came out to good reviews and sold well for an SF debut by an unknown author.  It won the Endeavor Award.  The second book came out on Black Thursday in 2008, or the day the stock market fell. Car dealerships closed.  Banking and investment institutions teetered. No one cared about my second book, especially not in hardcover at about $30.00 a copy.  I suspect two copies were purchased on release day – one by me and one by my mom. Not the publishers fault, not my fault, and worse things happened to many other people.  I didn’t even – really – have any room to complain. We didn’t lose our house or our jobs. But bad sales of book two (Reading the Wind) meant low orders for  book three (Wings of Creation), and so the series was cancelled one book shy of completion.

There it languished.

When you start telling a story, and people read your story, they want the end. It’s like a promise between a writer and a reader.  But I didn’t have any practical way to put out book four.  Each book has a whole story in it, but this series also has a clear meta-story that goes across all the books, and I plotted it as a four-book story.

I didn’t despair. I kept writing.  Prime Books published Mayan December, which did better than I thought it would.  Pyr bought the duology the  The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep and then the related duology Edge of Dark and, soon, Spear of Light.  They may buy two more books set in a different world. Fairwood Press put out my first collection, Cracking the Sky. With the help of  five friends, I kickstarted a short fantasy collection, Beyond the Waterfall Door.   Edge of Dark was recently shortlisted for the PhillipK. Dick award.

Writing careers accrue to those who persevere. 

But in spite of the fact that my new books are doing well, the last book from that first series is still in me.  From time to time I dream of it.  Every once in a while a fan emails and asked where it is.

I’ve had contracts in hand since I was in Maine in January, and now it can be told.

Wordfire Press will reprint the first three books, and they will publish book 4, The Making War (which exists as a rough draft, about half done. So it needs more work…).  I’m also going to clean up the first three – without changing the story or the characters, who I love dearly. I’ll make it stronger, although with a light touch. I know a lot more now than I did ten years ago when I wrote Silver Ship in the first place.  They’re going to be great.

I don’t have pub dates yet, and those of you who follow me closely know how busy I am.  But I will get this done.  I will be able to keep my promise.

Feb
09

PKD Nominees Join Forces to Giveaway Books

I was lucky enough to have a book nominated for the Philip K. Dick award in a great year for it.  The competition is stiff – I recommended Ramez Naam’s Apex long before we all got nominated, I read and loved an early version of Adam Rakunas’s Windswept (the current version is still on my TBR pile, and I’m not at all surprised it is doing great). I’m enjoying PJ Manney’s (R)evolution when dog walking and commuting. I’m hoping to get to the other two (Archangel, by Marguerite Reed, and After the Saucers Landed, by Douglas Lain) before the award, although my only chance is probably audio given all the required reading I have right now.  But liking the other nominated work is only one dimension.

Some sic fi awards have been awkward over the last few years.  But we are all working together to bring you something cool:

  • Adam Rakunas built a great website.PKD Image
  • Ramez Naam put all our covers together into a great graphic.
  • Douglas Lain orchestrated a podcast and then did a fabulous job making a keystone-cops level connectivity challenge sound great (really – six people in six different places with different background noises and people dropping and off the call for strange reasons, one person who could hear two people but not the others …Douglas amazed me and the finished podcast is quite fine).
  • Our publisher’s all backed us. Thanks to Angry Robot, Pyr, Arche Press, 47-North, and Nightshade.
  • Everyone helped with ideas and emails and support.

And you win!  We’re giving away six sets of the six books. Head on over to our giveaway site, and enter for a chance to win.

Good luck.

Feb
06

Reading Recommendation: The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette DeBodard

House-of-Shattered-Wings-coverI mostly read science fiction, but every once in a while I’ll dig into fantasy, especially by certain favorite writers.   Aliette DeBodard is one of my favorites.  Her House of Shattered Wings didn’t disappoint. This dark fantasy set in an alternate Paris turned out to be an excellent read, full of flawed and magnificent characters, real threats, powerful magic, and small intrigues.

I highly recommend it.

Note that there are multiple breathtaking cover images of this book. I consider that a testament to the powerfully evocative imagery in the book.

About

I am a writer, public speaker, and a futurist. I’m interested in how new technologies might change us and our world, particularly for the better.

I’m excited about my most recent book series, a duology called “Ruby’s Song” which includes the books The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep, both published by Pyr.  I’m also doing a non-fiction blog series, Backing into Eden, which comes out roughly twice a month and explores ways to care for the world, now and in the future.

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