Hundreds of years into the future humanity has developed portal technology that allows them to travel anywhere instantly. We are now spread throughout the universe on countless worlds – but there is a small percentage of us that cannot survive outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
I adored Earth Girl and Earth Star by Janet Edwards, so I’m very happy to say she agreed to one of my interrogations. Don’t poke through the bars folks.
*zooom, zip….vroom…kersplat* Tabitha here! Oh so sorry to have kept you waiting I had to travel the old fashioned way you know…no teleportals for me.
Thanks so much for joining us today Janet! I have to tell you I absolutely adored your book Earth Girl. The idea of it all was fascinating! I think it really stands out among the other science fiction young adult books I’ve read.
What do you think about the science fiction ya genre? Have you read any titles that you’d recommend?
Well naturally I think that YA science fiction is wonderful! I’ve read and loved so many books that my head always blurs when people ask me for recommendations. If I limit the books to recent YA science fiction, and ignore the obvious ones that everyone already knows about, then . . . I’d recommend Fair Coin by E.C. Myers.
Everyone has moments when they wonder how different their lives would have been if they’d made a different decision or dated a different person. I’m always a fan of books that play around with the idea of alternate worlds existing where all those different choices were made, and how people’s lives and personalities were changed as a result. Fair Coin isn’t just one of the books that does that very well, but had a start that grabbed my attention.
I think many people I know are more apt to try out sci-fi YA then they are adult sci-fi because well lets face it – it can be a bit intimidating. I love science fiction movies and anime but when it comes to books often I find myself thinking “that looks like hardcore sci-fi” and might be too much for me. What do you think makes something ‘hard SF?’
Trying out YA SF first seems very sensible to me. When I was writing Earth Girl, I was well aware that this would be the first SF book some of my YA readers had ever read. Since I actually wrote the Earth Girl books with both YA and adult SF readers in mind, my job was to try to make sure that SF elements were introduced clearly and understandably for brand new SF readers, without boring people who’d been reading SF for years. I’m pleased that seems to have worked, because I’ve been absolutely delighted to hear from an amazing range of readers who’ve enjoyed the books. From people who’d never read SF before, to those who’d been reading it for five decades!
As for ‘hard SF’, some SF books set in the near future focus very heavily on current real life science and technology details. For some readers that could well be a bit intimidating, but many SF books take the same approach I did in Earth Girl. For example, my main character has a set of hover bags. She clicks a key fob to make the bags hover in midair and start chasing after her. She doesn’t think or talk about the science behind them, any more than the average character in a current day crime thriller would get into a car and start thinking about the workings of internal combustion engines.
That is an excellent point – I loved how that was done and its true. I’ve seen it done the opposite way in some SF books where they feel the need to explain every bit of science behind how their gizmo works and that just gets boring after awhile. I don’t care how they hover! They hover!!
There was a wonderful theme of equality running through Earth Girl. Do you care to tell us a little bit of your thoughts on that?
The funny thing is that I never even thought about the equality until after I’d finished writing the first book. Earth Girl is set in the 28th century. It just seemed natural that all the equality issues we’re currently working on would have been an accepted part of life for centuries. Women would have an equal role to men in all areas, including the future Military. Same sex marriage would be totally accepted. Most people would have ancestors from several different cultures.
Of course, people don’t just solve problems, but create them too. In the 28th century, there are some new equality issues. My main character belongs to a group that doesn’t even have the right to vote, and triad marriages are still controversial.
Now lets move onto Twoing contracts – oh these just sounded so interesting!! For those who haven’t read the book yet could you tell us a bit about the contracts? I’m sure the teens would be interested since it sounded a bit like a very official boyfriend/girlfriend status.
You’re perfectly right that Twoing contracts are a very official boyfriend/girlfriend status. In the 28th century world of Earth Girl, you can’t just get married to someone. The law says you have to prove the stability of your relationship first, by successfully completing several Twoing contracts.
The law intended Twoing contracts to be a preparation for marriage, but teens started using them for dating as well. Twoing contracts aren’t that big a commitment. In theory they last for either three months, or six months, or a full year, but they can be broken at any time if both parties agree, or if one partner behaves unreasonably. The only really legally binding thing about a Twoing contract is that you can only have one at a time.
That’s why 28th century teens adopted Twoing contracts as part of their dating culture. If you’ve been dating a while, then you move on to having a Twoing contract and wearing Twoing rings to show you’re serious about a relationship. If a boyfriend or girlfriend refuses a Twoing contract then it can be a warning sign they’re dating someone else as well. There’s social pressure on teens not to let a relationship get too far physically without a Twoing contract, but naturally some teens rebel against the social rules.
I noticed the book seemed to have a whole lot of respect given to military personnel. As a prior service army veteran I absolutely loved this aspect and indeed one of your scenes even got me all teary eyed. Do you yourself or family members have military experience? Did this hold any sort of significance for you?
Neither I nor current family members have military experience, but there is some personal significance. It’s a bit hard to explain because it comes from several different events and experiences, including research for the Earth Girl books. The 28th century military jobs include making new worlds safe for colonization. Some things, like the names of their ranks and their Remembrance Day ceremonies, have roots in the armed forces today. Other entirely new traditions have developed over the centuries.
Most future military are born into military families, and with improved 28th medical care joining the military is a commitment for life, so their traditions are very important to them. For some scenes in the book, I did research into current military traditions that led me in a host of very varying directions. Medal ceremonies. Military funeral service rituals. The people of Wootton Bassett lining the streets as a gesture of respect when the cortege of fallen service personnel passed through.
Oh goodness this is a much more serious set of interview questions than I normally ask. Lets get personal now – what did you eat for breakfast!? Come on this tells oodles about a person!
What I usually eat for breakfast is . . . lunch! You see, my subconscious works on my writing in my sleep. When I wake up in the morning, my head is full of scenes I have to madly write down. Eventually, either I finish writing it all down, or the screams of distress from my stomach get my brain’s attention, but by then it’s more lunchtime than breakfast. On some days, after my subconscious has had an especially busy night, it’s been 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Incidentally, I think you’re quite right. This question does tell you oodles about a person!
Also, when the big magical whammy hits the earth, which it shall you know because I just can’t go out by zombie death. What creature do you think you would morph into!?
I’d really like to be a dragon, but I have this obsession with meerkats, so I’d probably morph into one of them instead. Maybe a compromise between the two. A giant, winged, fire-breathing meerkat!
Lastly, because I’m all about collecting embarrassing tidbits about authors, give us a secret. You know – something that would turn your ears red thinking about it! Ok I’ll trade you, thinking, thinking….thinking…ok I lied I’m fresh out of anything witty, embarrassing or confession like – guess that means you’ll have to cover for me and give me two. Be a sport and help a girl out would you?
The confession about what I eat for breakfast isn’t embarrassing enough for you? Well, I’ve just got back from keep fit, so how about the fact that I don’t just write in my sleep, but during keep fit exercise sessions as well. This is deeply embarrassing, because we’re all copying the leader, working through the exercise sequences, and my mind happily drifts off into thinking about the scene I’m currently writing. Suddenly I realize everyone’s giving me funny looks because I’m still doing the exercise before last.
I’ve tried to explain to the rest of the class that the problem is my brain is in the 28th century, but then they give me even funnier looks.
Thanks so much for joining us and I seriously enjoyed both Earth Girl and Earth Star – I hope there are more books to come.
Janet Edwards grew up in prosaic England, but also shared the lives of amazing people in fantastic worlds. She explored the past, the future, the paranormal, the alternate Earths, and the worlds beyond the fields we know or hidden in the shadows of our own reality. Her guides were books, some written by authors still famous and others by authors already forgotten. Those authors have hundreds of individual names, but they have one title in common. They were all Expert Dreamers.
After growing bored with work involving tedious technical facts, Janet made a break for freedom through a magical wardrobe and is now training as an Apprentice Dreamer. She has a husband, a son, a lot of books, and an aversion to housework.