Summer Theme Excerpts – Travel #2

June 29, 2016 at 11:05 pm (Elliot, Fervor, Royce, Sam, Sarah, writing) (, , , , , , )

trans1As I gather my gear and ready for my trip, I thought I’d share an excerpt where some of my characters are doing the same…only I don’t have to steal any maps.  Today’s excerpt is from Transcendence, Chapter 7 – Recruitment:

As soon as Nathan returned, they started out towards the combination storage unit/residence. They travelled in pairs so as not to attract any significant amount of attention, with Sam and Angela leading the way, well ahead of the others and Royce at the rear, glancing over his shoulder as he went.

As they neared the building Sam searched the connection to see if Elaine and Elliot were inside. Fortunately, they weren’t. He and Angela slipped inside and he sent her up into the loft to throw down the storm gear while he searched for the records he knew Elliot had stashed somewhere around. He found them in a crate that had been hidden underneath the table where he had first seen the maps. The maps were no longer spread across the tabletop, stored in a plastic tube off to the side. Sam slid out the one with the route to Transcendence on it before pulling the file box out into the open.

“I hope these are one size fits all,” Angela said as she tossed down her fourth set of gear, trying to move as quickly as possible.

“I don’t think it matters. It might be a problem if they’re too small, maybe for Malcolm and Nathan, but otherwise we’ll rig them to fit,” he answered.

He flipped through the records, pulling out the files relating to everyone in his alliance, as well as for Katrina, Anthony and Grace. Then he noticed that Elliot had added to the collection. There were files about the Littles and various house families, information that Royce had retrieved from the Hub. Sam grabbed anything relating to the people in his alliance that was in those files as well. He didn’t get a chance to read any of it, because of the rush, but he thought it might be useful later.

“One more,” Angela informed him. “Then we pack it all up and we’re out of here. In and out, clean as…” She paused in mid-thought, and Sam didn’t think anything of it, partially because he had just made a discovery that had him perturbed.

“The blueprints, they’re gone! We need those. They show the layout of the buildings. They can let us see the security systems. How are we supposed to get Sarah out of Transcendence without them? They were here, with the other files. Where did they go?” Sam leafed through the papers a second time, searching frantically, but to no avail. He started to go through the entire box again, hoping that the records had been reorganized or maybe shuffled around for some reason. That proved futile as well.

“Sam…” He heard Angela descending from the loft, but didn’t stop long enough to look at her.

“I saw them with my own eyes at Elevation. Where could they have gone?” He was tempted to dump the entire box out onto the floor. He was certain that they hadn’t been left behind.

“Never mind them; we’ll just have to wing it. Be quiet, Sam. We have to go, we have to…” He heard rustling as Angela hastily shoved what she had gathered from the loft into a canvas bag, but she stopped suddenly and sucked in a quiet gasp. “Oh no.”

She had sensed trouble before she had heard it, which was why she had alerted Sam to danger a few moments before he would have known it was there by other means. When he stopped rustling through the papers he could make out the sound of voices raised in hostility. He felt around in the connection, easily identifying Nathan, Malcolm and Royce. He detected anger, frustration and defensiveness on their part along with some apprehension. He also noted the distinct presence of Elliot, the lone Connected latent, and one of the ghostly minds he suspected belonged to Elaine. Their diversionary tactics were in play.


That’s it for today.  I’m that much closer to my departure to France.  I’m looking forward to seeing family and the beautiful sights of Eymet. – More tomorrow.

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Women in Horror – Shared Pages: Gail McAbee (aka KG McAbee)

February 10, 2015 at 3:36 am (fantasy, horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , )

GailMcAbeeI chose this female horror writer for my spotlight because her story “Tempest in a Sewer” in the Vampires Aren’t Pretty anthology really captured my interest with its post-apocalyptic/dystopian sci-fi feel. I found it good and scary, with old-fashion thrills despite its futuristic setting.

In addition to being a woman in horror, she is also a comic geek and a writer of steampunk, fantasy and science fiction. She tutors English and Algebra, runs workshops, and says she is an avid reader in her free time.

Find out more about Gail here: http://kgmcabee.blogspot.ca/

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April Submission Blitz – Disconnect

April 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm (writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Today’s a hard day for me. It has been exactly one year since I lost one of my best friends and real-life muse, Barb, to cancer. Without her the world is a bleaker, lonelier place. She was one of my few positive ties to the world at large and one of the people who made me feel like the fact that I’m different from the norm is more of a good thing than a bad one. On days like this I really get a sense of that disconnect and I’m less inclined to want to share with others. When I’m in that state of mind, the rejections hurt more, like the one I got today.

Yes – I know, I’m supposed to have a thick skin. But just because I know this doesn’t always make it so, especially when I’m raw for other reasons.

“Gaia’s Gift” is a bit of a mystery to me. It’s one of those stories I liked enough to base a novel on its post –apocalyptic ideas (Sifting the Ashes – unpublished) and I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from my test-readers, but response from submission editors has been lukewarm at best. I’ll often see my favourites, stories well-liked by those who read them before I began to submit them, rejected far more often than the ones I’m not as fond of and which get a so-so response from test readers. This may be because I’m more inclined to submit the ones I prefer to pro-rate venues, who always say no, but “Gaia’s Gift” got a no from a semi-pro venue and a charity anthology too. I’m starting to wonder if it’s destined to remain on the shelf.

Today’s feedback for “Gaia’s Gift” is that the submission editor did not find it compelling. I can’t fix that. I wrote it with a lot of heart and I thought the story was touching. Others who have read it have agreed with me on this, but there’s no guaranteeing that what appeals to you or your friends will have the same effect on anyone else.

I’ve also gotten the feedback that there’s too much background to the story. It’s hard not to set the stage for a post-apocalyptic dystopian tale without presenting background. The story wouldn’t make much sense without it. You need to know what has caused the damage and despair before you can move the characters towards new hope and find that glimmer in the gloom. At least, that’s how I see it, but maybe other people prefer to be left in the dark.

Then again, this is one of the things I’ve always wrestled with with short stories – why I used to think I couldn’t write them at all. Despite the fact that short stories pinpoint one event, when I start writing the characters become real people with extensive histories in my head. I can see all of the happenings that led up to the primary plot of the tale and can anticipate some of the consequences to follow that would never be addressed in the story. That means I often get test-readers saying “there’s so much to this – you should write a novel based on this.” I’ve written more than eighty short stories to date…that would be an awful lot of novels in four years.

I would only write novels if it were easier to get them published, but it’s not. I envy well-established writers like Robert J. Sawyer who have discarded short story writing because their novel writing is more lucrative. Not so for me. Of course, it’s not really about the money for me. If so I’d spend all my time writing erotica. It pays really well. The hubby suggested it’s because there aren’t as many people out there who can write it well, who are willing to write it at all. Maybe, but I prefer writing the tamer stuff and since writing isn’t my day job I’m going to concentrate on writing what I love…

…Like “Gaia’s Gift.” And I’ll draw consolation in the fact that Barb found it compelling.

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10 Simple Questions – WWW Edition – Leigh M. Lane

September 27, 2013 at 10:31 pm (horror, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , )

Another of my fellow Wicked Women Writers is joining me here today (perhaps the last for this year’s run). She has an impressive amount of work out there, and apparently doesn’t procrastinate as badly as I do:

1) Who are you?

My name is Leigh M. Lane, and I’m just another creative mind looking for a place in this world (I’d be happy with a place in any world – CB).  I write speculative fiction spanning from science fiction to horror, with thirteen novels under my belt and too many short stories to count.  Six of my novels have been published through a small press under Lisa Lane, and I’ve published four through my own independent imprint, Cerebral Books.  I’m married to editor Thomas B. Lane, Jr., and we have a very spoiled Maine coon mix named Kadie. (Sweet – CB)

2) What have you written and in particular, what have you written that’s wicked?

Nearly everything I’ve written is wicked in one way or another.  My Lisa Lane novels are all very twisted erotica, most notably erotic horror (double sweet – CB),
and my speculative works all have a disturbingly dark side to them.  I’d say my most wicked novel is Finding Poe, which I wrote as sort of a tribute to the master of Gothic horror.  It contains a couple of scenes that creeped me out when I wrote them, and the underlying theme is jarringly surreal.  Of my short stories, the most wicked is unquestionably “The Descent Upstairs,” which is a part of the Mirages: Tales From Authors of the Macabre anthology.  It’s about a woman driven into a homicidal rage by relentlessly loud upstairs neighbors (I’ve had loud upstairs neighbours…CB).

3) I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but why do you write?

I write because I have to.  The muses fill my head with ideas, characters, and alliterative phrases, and if I don’t release them onto the page, they build like steam in a tea kettle.  While it is doubtful that I’d start blowing steam from my ears, it sure feels like it sometimes.  I also write to express my thoughts on the various evils over which I have no control; I can’t stop them, but I can write about them and maybe make a difference that way.  Some of the worst monsters imaginable are people, you know (do I ever – CB).

4) Do you have a preferred theme or topic (zombies, serial killers, demons, etc…)?

My preferred theme is social evils, although insanity is also up there.  I write a lot of third-person dystopian literature (I’m starting to see why this year’s WWW appealed to you – CB), but I do also make good use of the first-person unreliable narrator.  I like to play with readers’ perceptions, really take their minds for a spin.

5) Are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

Both.  I like to be organized when I write, so I begin with as detailed of an outline as I can manage before I sit down to write the actual story.  With that said, the muses often have their own ideas as to where a given story should go, so usually I find myself working around their changes, ever revising my outlines in an attempt to stay one step ahead of them (although they’re always at least two or three steps ahead of me).

6) What do you like most about writing?

Writing is the ultimate form of self-expression (for those of us who can’t dance – CB) and, as I’m often too timid to express myself outside my prose, it’s the outlet I need to feel like I’m putting myself out there.  It is satisfying in a way few other activities are.

7) What challenges you the most about writing?

I’m a terrible procrastinator, often dropping a manuscript for several days—sometimes weeks—at a time.  I allow discouragement and health issues to get the best of me, which is a bad place for anyone—not just creative types—to flounder through.

8) Who or what inspires you most?

Exceptional writing in any format—prose, television, film, music—inspires me to work on raising my own bar.  I love art for art’s sake; it refuels my muses.

9) What are your plans for the future?

I have no plans beyond continuing to write the best stories I possibly can.  I’ve found life often gets in the way of even the most carefully laid plans, so I’ve learned to let life lead me where it will and to do my best to enjoy the ride (but don’t forget your seatbelt – CB).

10) Why Wicked Women Writers?

I love a good challenge.

Excellent! If you want to learn more about Leigh, check her out at: http://www.cerebralwriter.com/

and don’t forget to listen to her story and all the others in the challenge at: http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/wicked-women-writers-challenge/

– and vote for your favourite!

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Genre for the Holidays – Celebrating 2012!

December 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm (dark fantasy, fantasy, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

The Blog of The Year Award

I am grateful to receive The Blog Of 2012 Award from a fantastic blogger/storyteller, Cheryl Moore. Cheryl is an amazing artist and a fascinating raconteur and you can find her brilliant work on her site, Unbound Boxes Limping Gods. I will now award this to three very deserving recipients, who are all talented and prolific.. Their names will be revealed after the rules.

1. Select another blog or other blogs who deserve the ‘blog of the Year 2012′ Award.

2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Awardhttp://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/
and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.

5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘join’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.

6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

7. There are stars to collect! Yes, there are stars to collect! Unlike other awards, which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different! When you begin you will receive the 1 star award, and every time you are given the award by another blog, you can add another star!

8. There are a total of 6 stars to collect. At which time your “badge” will look like this:

You can check out your favourite blogs, and even if someone else has already given them the award, you can still award them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

Now for my nominations and the criteria for my decision:

To go with my genre theme, and because I think he deserves all 6 stars, I’m voting for Ren Garcia, who writes the best steampunk space fantasy out there (IMHO). His blog, The Temple of the Exploding Head, offers details from his well-integrated world-building and samples of the artwork from his books. A must see!

I’m also voting for the blog of the talented Bruce Blake who writes incredible fantasy and urban fantasy (although he grabbed me with his short stories – wicked good). He’s heavily involved in the indie writing scene and celebrates writing and genre fiction on his blog.

Lastly is Blood Skies, the blog of Steven Montano. He is a fellow creative accountant who also writes dystopian dark fantasy. He has some holiday content from December 8 – another way he fits my theme. Maybe it’s something in the water that makes us this way…

Anyway – I highly suggest check their blogs out. If you do, you’re in for a treat.

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Genre for the Holidays – Do They Know it’s Christmastime at all?

December 8, 2012 at 1:46 am (fantasy, Fervor, Links, The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Holidays are centred around some form of religion or another (not necessarily the actual celebration, but the original concept that spawned it.) And since my fantasy novels are otherworldly, there is no Christmas or earthly equivalent. In fact, since my books tend to target specific events, those kinds of festivities don’t appear in them at all. Not that my Masters & Renegades series isn’t without ritual or celebration, but those celebrations are not focussed on family gatherings, religious ceremonies or traditions. Instead, they involve more spectacle-oriented festivities. Although it has yet to be published, the fifth book in the series does offer an example of this:

When they were finished their drinks, Peter led them out to Anthis’s town square where the festivities had already started. The square was draped with ribbons and flowers and a crowd had gathered there to watch the entertainers. There was a wide assortment of street performers, ranging from simple jugglers performing basic tricks, to elaborately costumed stilt walkers who weaved and teetered through the many people who had come to watch them. Peter and Rosemary wandered towards a group of acrobatic dancers, and Nolan was about to follow when he noticed Dee had stopped to watch a fire-eater present his display. This was the way with those with natural inclination, he knew. Once aware of their ability, an affinity for the element would develop; a lingering fascination. If not careful, this affinity could grow into a full-fledged obsession. This would be even more awkward in Dee’s case, considering her parents had died in a fire.

With soft words and gentle touches, Nolan coaxed her away from the flames, so that they could reunite with Peter and Rosemary. He soon had her distracted by a series of musicians playing spectacular drums and woodwinds in a mesmerizing fashion, not far from the acrobats. When both acts finished, the two couples rejoined one another and started looking around for their next diversion.

There is no mention of holidays at all in my Fervor series, and not just because my protagonists are glorified lab rats in a controlled environment. It is also because within that dystopian society, science has substituted for religion. Instead of church and state, it is scholarship and state, with just as many complications and conflicts when the two mix. People worship knowledge, some of them at all expense. What this means, however, is that there aren’t any rituals or traditions celebrated as part of a holiday. The world is actually quite sterile and pleasure is usually drawn from everyday events and small victories, friendships and isolated incidents.

The religion in The Snowy Barren Trilogy is an animistic one involving spirits and shamans. They have their traditions, but more tied to the cycle of life than anything else, like the Rites of Passage central to the story. Other celebrations include things like the choosing of a spirit animal for a shaman-in-training, or the taking of a mark for the transition to full shaman.

Would it be better world-building to include alternates to Christmas in my stories? Perhaps, but I firmly believe in not introducing anything superfluous to the story, and so far, none of my novels have called for this, so you won’t find it there. After all, something can’t be missed if it doesn’t exist to begin with.

On a last note, the 17th Chapter for Trading of Skin (first draft) has now been posted to Scribd.com, at this link:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/115980761/The-Trading-of-Skin-Chapter-17

Only three more chapters to go!

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Genre for the Holidays – I’m Dreaming of a Bleak Christmas

December 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm (writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

I don’t write a lot of science fiction and when I do, it’s typically cross-genre and dystopian. My only “sci-fi” Christmas story falls into that category as well. I don’t think I’d have much luck writing a convincing science fiction story that did not suggest a bleak future, not without feeling like I’m lying. My days of idealism are long past me, and I honestly just hope I make it to my own end of days without seeing the end of the world. From what I’ve witnessed over the last few years, society seems to be degrading pretty quickly.

That being said I’m not a complete cynic. I still like to hang onto hope as much as the next person, so you’ll find that in my stories as well. As long as there is something worth fighting for, you’ll see some fight from my characters, a striving to better the world even when the odds are very much against them.

Here’s an excerpt from “Gaia’s Gift” – a Christmas-ish post-apocalyptic tale:

There were a few other deaths that Rhys tried not to think about anymore. The last share of the mortality rate caused by Cascade could be attributed to those who just couldn’t take it anymore. Some Cascade survivors had succumbed to despair, just as Rhys would have if Allie hadn’t come along when she had. He probably still would, if he were to lose her again. He couldn’t bear to think what he might do if complications with the pregnancy or childbirth stole her from him. Just a hint of such thoughts made his stomach do somersaults.

That was where the second reason for this scrounging trip came into play. His thankfulness for having her in his life was his other reason for this particular outing. In addition to scrounging food and water, he was looking for a gift, an extra-special gift. Beyond just celebrating their love and the anticipated addition to their family, Rhys had another motive to find her a present. Unlike most survivors, he had insisted on keeping track of every day that passed. He was probably the only person left who still followed the calendar. It was one of his ways of clinging to the past, and of holding onto his sanity. He wanted to know what he would have been doing from day to day if things hadn’t changed. Like today, a week before Christmas, he likely would have been out shopping for gifts. This was the closest substitute he could muster.

The wind picked up a little bit, dousing him full in the face with the bluish-grey ash, one of the side effects of Cascade. Rhys was forced to close his eyes and readjust his facemask. While Cascade had failed to kill him in its typical way, it had brought him to the brink of starvation on more than one occasion, and its “dust” would readily suffocate him if he didn’t protect himself.

Rhys felt around blindly for a rock to sit on and then rummaged around in his bag until his fingers made contact with his goggles. He slid them over his head, blinking rapidly to dislodge the ash from his lashes. It took a few moments before his vision cleared. He sighed, his eyes teary and stinging.

Joy to the world – even a bleak one. J

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Flash Virus

October 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

Flash Virus: Episode One – by Steve Vernon

I was pleased to get the opportunity to read this before it was made available to the general public. Steve Vernon is a talented writer, with a quirky and dark sense of humour and a great way with words, so I didn’t care that much if this was a young adult novel when I normally prefer adult fiction. I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this, however, because of its dystopian/apocalypse spin. I was pulled in from page one when Billy Carver’s butt started ringing.

I was struck immediately by how well he captured the thought patterns of a teenage boy – the first person protagonist one with a very odd name, Briar Gamble. His thoughts are sporadic and all over the place, a reflection of a short attention span and an inclination to following impulse. That and Steve provides us with little glimpses of strange things that had happened and that would happen in the story to come – a bit of a tease.

The story opens with tainted cell phones, ones that can be used to subjugate a person’s will, handed out by the Black Masks. The popular kids are targeted, and pick up, first, the sheep follow suit, but the free thinkers recognize a bad thing when they see it and discard their phones, rebelling. From there, the story follows Briar and his other classmates who haven’t been “possessed”, in the face of Captain Albino (aka Mr. Millett) and the Black Masks, their fishbowl sunglasses, and their oddly translated phrases.

The story was fast paced and intriguing, with a goodly amount of humour and action. It does drift a little too much into “silly” for my tastes at times, but the characters are interesting and diverse, and I think the story would have a lot of appeal for the average reader of young adult fare. I enjoyed it, which says a lot considering it would not be my typical reading selection.

Of course, being the first episode in a serial, the story doesn’t end with this episode. In all, this episode includes seven chapters, enough to get you into the story proper and a fun read.

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – HIGH-OPP

June 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

High-Opp – by Frank Herbert

I actually had the opportunity to proofread this novel, an experience I wasn’t about to miss. I mean how often to you get the chance to give feedback on a work by a master (I only wish he were still around to receive it himself)? I loved Dune, and considering that dystopian fiction is one of my favourite genres, I was fairly certain I would enjoy this book.

It is surprising and fantastic when a dystopian novel written decades ago seems to be in tune with what is currently happening in the world, be it the voyeuristic and controlling government in “1984”, or the entertainment-drugged masses, bred to their social status in “Brave New World”. “High-Opp” offers this kind of precognitive insight, a hint of “Future Shock”-esque vision from Mr. Herbert.

As with the typical format for a dystopian novel, the story begins with an attempt at a utopia gone wrong. What was originally intended to be the ultimate of democratic processes where everyone has equal access to resources so that no one is left wanting and no voice is ignored, has become corrupted. The survey voting system that was supposed to allow everyone an equal say in government has been secretly usurped and is being manipulated by a handful of now high ranking officials or “High-Opps”, the majority of which are now in their current position because of the family they were born into, just like royalty. There are exceptions, like one official who was clever, ambitious and resourceful enough to rise from the bottom ranks to the top, Daniel Movius, and the story begins with his downfall, once an abuser of the corrupt system, and now a victim of it.

Not surprising, feeling slighted and vengeful, he is willing to join the resistance, the “Seps ” and the book follows his struggles from there: his alliances, his manoeuvring and his attempts to use the way the system works to counter his antagonists.

I really enjoyed this book, with a great deal of detail woven into the narrative, delightfully flawed characters – the protagonist is not always all that likable, enhancing the sense of realism in the book – and plenty of action and intrigue surrounding the politics and the posturing. If I had only one complaint, it was that I found the very ending of the book a little unrealistic and over-the-top. Other than that, the story was an entertaining and enlightening read.

I’d like to give this a 4.5, but with the limitations of a 5 star rating system, I’d have to say I’m more inclined to give it a 5 than a 4. I’d recommend it to anyone who would appreciate a stimulating dystopian tale that mirrors many current-day events.

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Where Did the Hope Go?

May 26, 2012 at 12:09 am (Fervor, Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Or… Why I Embrace the Dystopian Novel

I’ve had the good fortune this week of being presented with a special opportunity – I volunteered to proofread a dystopian novel by Frank Herbert, called High-Opp, from Wordfire Press: http://www.amazon.com/High-Opp-ebook/dp/B007JDN9RM . So far, 40+ pages into the proofread, I’m really enjoying the story. It revolves around class warfare, an attempt to standardize lifestyles and ways of thinking, stamping out individualism, and the notion of governing society on the basis of surveying public opinion. As is typical with most dystopian societies, it’s the result of an attempted utopia gone wrong; the idealism didn’t translate into reality. In this case, there are too many ways the baser nature of humankind, the desire for status and wealth and the transferral of these things to our children, corrupt the processes involved in putting theory into practice. That, and the idea that an “average” is preferable, that general opinion knows best, is flawed to begin with.

Considering when the story was written, I was surprised how relevant it is to modern day circumstances, and how the Separatists in the novel are reminiscent of the current Occupy protestors. This is a notably disturbing story, with very grim undertones and oodles of social commentary, both common traits of dystopian novels. These characteristics are also partially why I love dystopian tales as much as I do, and the reason why I started my own dystopian series, beginning with Fervor (http://www.amazon.com/Fervor-ebook/dp/B004RZ28FE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337862257&sr=1-1 ).

But there was a brief time in my life where I preferred happier tales and looked for utopian books instead. I wanted to read stories that supported my optimism.

If I had to approximate, I’d say that this “head-in-the-clouds” period lasted from the time just before I turned 15 to about the time I started university, newly turned 18. I was a proper dreamer then, an extreme idealist, believing in promise for my own future and greater hope for the world as a whole. I was aware that there was strife, war, injustices, cruelty – but trusted that these things could conceivably be rectified. I loved the optimism of Roddenberry and lived for books like The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant. I lost that somewhere along the way, when life hit me like a sledgehammer. Once I made my way into the unsheltered real world, it slammed me with cold hard reality, beating me down and tamping down my dreams. Suddenly dystopian novels made a lot more sense. They appealed to me then because I trusted their message more than I did those of the more optimistic books. Life had let me down…hard. And perhaps I was to blame, for being so hopeful in the first place.

I stopped reading utopian books at that time, and I haven’t read them since. They seem too fragile and unrealistic to me now, based on the concept that everyone would give over to whatever ideal is at the centre of that society. I know by now that this just doesn’t happen.

And where did the hope go? It’s not dead. It is still there, but it is hidden beneath disappointment, despair and other forms of negativity – sort of like Pandora’s Box. I still believe in heroes, in struggling for the greater good, in striving for your dreams even if the likelihood of reaching them isn’t all that great. I’m just wary now about the darker side of things, the inescapable darker side that will always make that struggle necessary. That buried hope? – It’s why, while I embrace dystopian novels, I keep looking for the ones that despite their grim outlook, still have a glimmer of hope suggested to the very end, a hint of the bittersweet that says “all is not lost.”

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