science fiction

My Top Five Sci-Fi Cosplayers from Fan Expo Dallas 2019

I had a great time at Fan Expo Dallas 2019, where my friend Sarah Mensinga and I had a table together (signing and selling books and having tons of fun!). I thought the con was tons of fun, and I especially loved seeing all the amazing cosplayers! Seriously, the creativity and care that go into some of these costumes really blows me away. I saw probably dozens of incredible looking cosplays, but for now I’m limiting this post to science fiction characters and I picked just five. Without further ado, check out these amazing customes!

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1.Hazel and Cha Cha

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s Umbrella Academy, I’d recommend it. Hazel and Cha Cha are fascinating characters, especially Hazel, who has a fascinating and touching emotional arc of his own.

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2. Deadpool

This is my favorite Deadpool cosplay I saw at the con, and I love that I got a picture of him with Spider Gwen, too!

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3. Fiona and Prince Bubblegum

I love Adventure Time! One of the funnier stories on the show is the long running references to a gender-bent comic version (or perhaps an alternate reality version? Both?) of Finn and Jake, which the Ice King obsesses over. I have some of the Fiona and Cake comics, and they’re so cute!

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4. Padme Amidala

Just…wow. The effort that must have gone into this costume—I had to pick this as my favorite Star Wars cosplay, although there were so many people in wonderful costumes, this was a hard decision.

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5. Cable, Wolverine, and awww!

Yes, those are cosplaying dogs. Deadpool doggie and Negasausage. Just, so cute. Squee!

If you’re visiting from OSW CyCon 2019, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter using the Subscribe box below, and check out my author booth!

Odin Oxthorn Shares Their Greatest SciFi Gadget for OWS CyCon 2019

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Welcome to another fantastic stop in our Greatest Gadgets blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting awesome Scifi tech, and you can find a full list of participating authors and topics for this hop on the OWS Cycon Website. Let’s dive in!

Welcome Odin!

Hi there! Thanks so much for having me!

Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, what is Sleepless Flame about?

Sleepless Flame is a fast-paced mission style cyberpunk thriller featuring a nonbinary protagonist. You follow the exploits of Nara, an alien war criminal that made a new life for herself as a mercenary in the Undercity of Arcadia.

Things get interesting for her when the unconscious body of the heir of the largest Biotech conglomerate lands at her feet. The same company that also has the largest price on her head. Oh what to do?

What can you tell us about the piece of SciFi tech you’re featuring today?

Let me introduce you to the InSpec Araknyd Visualization Assistant. Ranked number 1 in reconnaissance and user experience.

This tiny AI will give you the power of sight from another camera’s eyes! Just switch it on then drop it, and  this ingenious piece of machinery will do the work for you! No more depending on open wireless ports to risky security systems.

The Araknyd will automatically seek out the nearest surveillance device and infiltrate its systems, handing off the device’s visuals directly into your Augmented HUD in YOUR preferred platform. Its eight output connectors are not only its mode of transportation, it is also guaranteed to interface with every type of port on the market! (And some off market too.)

Don’t be cornered on your information gathering excursions without taking one of these with you!

NOTE: InSpec is not held liable for actions that violate trade agreements and local law. The Araknyd is used for in-house corporate surveillance and not to be used to gain access to unauthorized property.

Here is an excerpt from Sleepless Flame describing it in action:

She extracted a tiny mechanical spider from a pocket, turning it on its back to reveal a switch on its abdomen. With a gentle push, the critter twitched to life, flailing its tiny needle-like limbs excitedly as she set it on the ground.

           The critter darted over the floor, racing up to the ceiling with an eager tempest of pointy feet. Consumed by its hunting instinct, the creature accelerated toward its hapless victim, stalking a vigilant surveillance unit monitoring the corridor. The predator encircled the base of the camera, rearing back on its hind legs as it sized up its foe. Having uncovered the device’s weak point, it lunged onto its prey, ramming two of its wiry projections into the base of the camera. After a moment, it let off a victorious chirp, alerting Nara of a successful connection.

           Proud of its achievements, the critter summoned a display into Nara’s screen, showing off the perspective of the conquered camera. As she zoomed in on the screen, she reached her hand out past the elevator door, watching her fingers disappear in a hazy mist of warping light as the bug worked its illusory magic.

Where can people find you on the web?

Thanks for having me! I have a booth over at OWSCyCon where you can check out my work and come chat with me:

https://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/forums/topic/odin-oxthorn-author-booth/

As well as my Books here:

https://www.amazon.com/Odin-Oxthorn/e/B07B546XXR

But you can also follow me around the internet here:

https://www.odinsmusings.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OdinsMusings/

https://twitter.com/OdinsMusings

https://www.youtube.com/user/odinsmusings

https://www.instagram.com/odinsmusings/

Hope to see you there!


For more stops on our World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website. You can also find more great SciFi authors and books on our main Sci Fi event page.

Also, if you’re visiting from OWS CyCon, don’t forget to subscribe to my Lunarian Press newsletter using the Subscribe box below!

Yes, even more Scifi/Fantasy Very Short Stories!

Yes, I wrote even more science fiction and fantasy Very Short Stories! These appeared on Twitter on the hashtags #scififri, #satsplat, and #vss365! I hope you enjoy them!

  1. "WILLOW! Bring me that antidote!" His slave stumbled into the room, tripping over her feet. He poked her with his cane.

    "Hurry!" Her hands shook as she poured a drink into his mouth. He cursed.

    "Wrong one, stupid girl!" He fell, his mouth foaming.

    Willow smiled.

  2. Water poured out of the sea caves and frothed at the bottom of the cavern, tearing at the rock with hungry force.

    "They call this place Charybdis," he said. "If someone fell down there, they'd be torn to pieces."

    Was that what had happened to her sister? she thought.

  3. She dropped her eyes and blushed, looking pretty and demure. It gave her the opportunity to give surreptitious glance at their guests' weapons. The milk-faced boy carried a fine sword, Damascus steel. His fingers drifted to the hilt like he knew how to use it.

  4. The cauldron boiled and seethed. Frothy black effervescence floated to the top. She sprinkled a couple of milky eyes into the brew. At last, when the smell burnt her nostrils, she poured him a tumbler full.

    "There," she said. "The strongest hangover cure I can make."

  5. The delicate butterflies flit over the surface of the lake, their wings silver and blue in the moonlight. They float around the waterfall and vanish in the mist.

    "Where do they go?" I whisper.

    "No one knows," Gran says. "But mayhap the fairies."

Five SciFi/Fantasy Very Short Stories

I’ve been writing so many very short stories, I’ve decided to blog them by genre:). Here are some SciFi/Fantasy Very Short Stories that I wrote for either #vss365 or #satsplat on Twitter (I’m @TheWiseSerpent).

  1. Her people had only a vestigial stinger, a tiny hooked nail that curled underneath her big toe. Mostly, it made shoe shopping annoying. But sometimes, she thought, easing one foot out of the rope they'd bound her with, it did come in handy. She wiggled off her socks and waited for her kidnapper to return.

  2. He smiles wide enough that she can see his tongue drifting over teeth too sharp. Her hand trembles around the wooden cross she's holding.

    "It's not enough just to hold it," he says. "You have to be vehement."

    She plunges the sharpened end of the cross into his chest.

  3. No wonder magic was so difficult, she thought. The spells were all horribly vague, completely unlike the clear scientific language she was used to. Twelve cattails? She squinted. The tails of actual cats, or the water plants? No way to tell. She sighed.

  4. The veil parted to reveal his new-bought bride, still inactivated. He lifted her hand and pressed the button beneath her knuckle to enter the code. Her eyes began to flutter, and he leaned in to give her a kiss.

    "Husband?" she asked. "

    “Yes, something like that."

  5. He eyed her food, his lip curled. "Are you actually eating that?"

    She smiled and licked the juices off her lips.

    "I thought you were a vegan."

    "Most of the time. But tonight is a full moon."

    "Well, I'm leaving."

    "If you were smarter," she said, "you'd run."

My Favorite Robots

In my book, Sapience, I write about many different kinds of robots in stories like “Husk” and “Swan.” Like many science fiction writers, one of the things I like about robots is how easy it is to imagine thousands of variations of them, some good, some frightening, and some funny. What’s more, there are tons of real life robots now, some of which look like they stepped straight out a scifi convention! Here’s a list of some of my favorite robots!

  1. Roomba/Eufy

    I hate vacuuming, so when the first roombas came out I was super excited to have a robot that could clean a floor. True, they were too expensive for me to get one at first, but the concept was there, and over the years roomba-type robots have improved in quality and come down in price. We actually have a Eufy now, which is in fact Amazon’s version of the roomba, and I love it! Honestly, the biggest problem is my toddler, who seems determined to single-handed prevent the robot apocalypse by banging the Eufy to an early grave.

  2. Marvin the Paranoid Android

    I love Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and Marvin the Paranoid Android is one of the reasons why. Although, is it fair to call Marvin paranoid, when it seems like people sort of are out to get him? Or that they at least forget about or ignore his feeling pretty much constantly? Nonetheless, he’s very funny, and I think he represents an interesting interpretation of robots. Marvin could likely takeover the Universe or at least rule the people around him, and yet for some reason he doesn’t. Instead, he decides to save them, even when they treat him like a bummer most of the time.

  3. GIR from Invader Zim

    Invader Zim is still one of my favorite cartoons/comic books, and GIR is a big reason why. He’s enthusiastic, funny. and joyful, even if he can be a bit stupid (or is he happy because he’s stupid? It’s definitely possible Jhonen Vasquez intended to make that point).

  4. BB8

    Definitely the cutest orange soccer ball robot I’ve ever seen. My daughter calls him “Baby 8,” and he’s so charming and enjoyable to watch! Personally, I think they could give BB8 a spin off Star Wars show for kids.

  5. Atlas from Boston Dynamics

    Have you seen the videos of what Atlas and Cheetah from Boston Dynamics can do? Wow. The future is now. Robots that were once a part of science fiction are becoming more possible everyday. And that’s why I think science fiction is so important. We need to imagine the future, and think about all the possible impacts that new technology, from robots to AI, could have on human beings. Certainly, there’s a possibility that robots could help us build a better, safer world. But there are great risks, too, and science fiction can help us figure out what those are before we have to welcome our new robot overlords.

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Review: Tales from Alternate Earths

In honor of Indy April, I decided to read and review several books by independent authors or small presses. I chose Tales from Alternate Earths form Inklings Press to review because I’d read an enjoyed some of the Leo McBride’s Altered Instinct. Full disclosure: Altered Instinct gave a great review to a story I contributed to Red Sun Magazine.

Once I started reading this, I actually tore through many of the stories pretty quickly. I thought that the theme of the anthology, which was imagining alternative events or outcomes in human history, was quite interesting. That said, like many multi-author anthologies, the styles and interpretations of the authors included were wildly variable. In fact, if I had a criticism, it’s that it was actually too variable. Every time I felt I had a grasp of the events and alternate history in one story, I’d move on to another one that was incredibly different in time period, characters, and theme. Sometimes that worked, as I found the new story as interesting as the one I’d left. Sometimes, not quite so much.

A few stories stood out as particular good. I liked the subtle tension set against the domestic calm of Terri Pray’s “One More Dawn,” and the interesting twists of history in Jessica Holmes’ “September 26th, 1983.” My favorite stories, though, were the last three. I liked Leo McBride’s “The Secret War” because its shell-shocked and traumatized main character really spoke to me, and I enjoyed twist at the end. Daniel Bensen’s “Treasure Fleet” had a richly imagined world and interesting characters. I think more science fiction and fantasy writers should look at 14th century China’s domination of the seas!

But if I had to choose one favorite, I’d have to pick Maria Haskins’ “Tunguska, 1987.” Haskins’ characters had great depth, and her world had some fantastic science fiction elements—the mysterious metal invaders, their incredible powers, and the fact that some people could sense the alterations that time travel produced, all of it made a good story. What’s more, her reveals at the end were as subtle and fascinating as her earlier writing, and left me with as many questions as she’d answered.

A couple of the stories really weren’t to my taste. I felt that while “Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon” had an interesting premise, the story felt like it had too many elements, some of which didn’t feel like they went together. The story had two authors, so I almost wondered if it was a “too many cooks” problem. I didn’t care for “One World,” because honestly it read a little like a conspiracy theory gone amok, and I just couldn’t relate or sympathize with the main character (for most of the story, he seemed more like an observer than a protagonist). “Stargazing on Oxford Street” had an interesting setting and a good premise, but I felt that the main characters didn’t really accomplish anything or do much.

Overall, I felt that Tales from Alternate Earths was a good indie anthology and a good way to discover lots of new sci-fi authors. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in alternate history or science fiction.

Seven More Very Short Stories

I’ve mentioned my very short stories earlier, which I’ve been posting on Twitter, usually under the hashtag #vss365. Here are a few more I wrote, including a couple of my favorites I’ve done so far. A couple of them are related and form a somewhat connected story!

1.There are caution tapes draped around the playground, and a quick outline scrawled in white chalk. A very small outline.

2."Mama?" says a voice that melts my heart. He's less than two years old, sweet-faced and baby soft. I pick him up and cuddle him, pressing my cheek to his.

"Not Mama!" He struggles against me, straining away. I keep holding him tight. He'll learn soon enough.

3.She swims along the reef, allowing the detritus of human occupation to collect in her yawning maw. Her scrubbers sifted plastics, cans, even harmful chemicals from the water, leaving it clean and pure. At least until the next holiday.

4. She dusted the keyhole for fingerprints, carefully collecting the smeared marks and recording them in her log. Only then did she unlock the door. The inside of his shed was spotless, and smelled of bleach. There was a rusted chain bolted to the floor.

5.The glass was shattered and the wood so splintered it took her a second to realize she held the remains of a picture frame.

"Who is this?" she asked. A gentle faced woman smiled at her through torn paper.

"His mother. She's dead. Suicide," the officer said.

6. The blue-green ink shimmered on her tentacles, the pattern of dots indicating her lineage and the proximity of her estrus cycle. One of the males danced above her, his red dot pulsating to show his interest. She floated up to join his dance.

7. Kerta turned off the propeller of her submersible, letting it float along in the currents above the sea vents. Above her, the amorphous shapes of the Europan jelly-flowers began their swirling mating dance, the epitome of grace.

Neil Gaiman: One of My Favorite Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors

I've love reading Neil Gaiman's books since I discovered Sandman. I listened to The Ocean at the End of the Road on audible last year, and enjoyed his short stories in several different anthologies. So I listened closely on my way to work when I heard Gaiman giving an interview on NPR. As part of the interview, he read aloud part of The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, and I was entranced. I found the book on one of my trips to the library I could read it.

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains is a graphic novel with haunting illustrations by Eddie Campbell. It feels shorter than a typical novel--more like a novella or a short story in terms of word count. Yet each scene has an intensity and dread that builds to a harrowing climax. The  main character is a man the size of a dwarf, but he reveals that he can run faster and longer than a normal man, and he's far stronger than he looks. He opens the story with a heart-rending monologue about whether he can forgive himself for the things he's done, and he can, except for the year he spent hating his daughter. The mystery of the man's daughter and her cruel fate hang over him as he journeys to a cave filled with cursed gold. His guide, a wolfish man, is a former reaver with dark secrets of his own. He warns the dwarf about the curse, which made life seem duller, colder, and less beautiful after he took the gold.

This book is excellent for anyone who enjoys dark fantasy or graphic novels. It's creepy psychological horror at its best--a treat for all Neil's fans.

Smoke and Mirrors

After reading The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, I decided I'd like to read more of Neil Gaiman's short fiction. On my next visit to the library, I found a copy of his short story collection Smoke and Mirrors, so I decided to check it out. While a few of the stories fell flat for me, most were creepy and brilliant, and one or two stand out as incredible works of art. 

In particular, I loved Gaiman's "Snow, Glass, and Apples," a memorable and terrifying retelling of "Snow White" from the point of view of her perhaps-not wicked stepmother. Likewise, though I originally avoided reading "Murder Mysteries" (I'm not a fan of the mystery genre), once I read it, it became one of my favorite stories in the book. The story within a story is deeply compelling, and once it starts to fit within the larger picture and the two stories merge, it becomes a haunting tale of love, death, and regret. Gaiman has a gift for drawing a reader into a story only to reveal that the true story is far deeper than the one you originally thought you were reading.

The only stories that didn't work for me seemed ones with a strong masculine point of view. For example, while I appreciated the writing and the story from "Looking for the Girl," it didn't move me all the much, perhaps because I just don't relate to the male gaze it depicts. Still, several stories did give me a interesting glimpse into a man's POV, including "Foreign Parts" and "Mouse." This last story is another great example of the true story not being what you think it is. The main character agonizes over killing a mouse, yet is coldly unsympathetic to his wife after she has an abortion at his behest. It takes talent to make such a selfish and unlikable character conflicted and sympathetic, suggesting that he's buried his emotions so much that he uses symbolic acts to express what he can't even allow himself to consciously think.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes dark, yet whimsical fantasy or horror with a touch of comedy. 

Fragile Things

This is another short story collection that I checked out from my local library. I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman, and I really enjoyed reading Smoke and Mirrors, so I figured I'd read another of his short story collections, Fragile Things. Besides, I've been writing a lot of short stories lately, so I thought Gaiman's stories would be a good inspiration. 

Overall, this collection is even stronger than Smoke and Mirrors. Every story hooked me, and many of them left a lasting impression. I loved "October in the Chair" which had all the ethereal beauty of Gaiman's best stories, yet with a creepy, unsettling note that felt more terrifying for being understated. Likewise, the bizarre, surreal world of "A Study in Emerald" left me deeply uneasy (in the best kind of way), all the more so for the main character's placid acceptance of a horrifying status quo. Other stories, like "Feeders and Eaters" or "Bitter Grounds" had more overt horror.

Not all the stories were creepy, however. "The Problem of Susan" addresses the casual cruelty of C.S. Lewis' dismissal of Susan at "The Last Battle." It's a thoughtful story that manages to call into question the entire "Narnia" series, or at least C.S. Lewis' intentions with it, while telling a haunting story of survival. Fragile Things finishes with a novella featuring Shadow, the hero of Gaiman's American Gods. The novella is easy to follow even if you haven't read American Gods, though it definitely leaves the reader wanting to know more about Shadow and his past. 

I'd definitely recommend this books to anyone who enjoys dark fantasy and science fiction. As I've mentioned before, short stories can be great to read if you feel you don't have the mental endurance to dig into a novel, and this book has a wide variety of fascinating tales.

An Endless Bookshelf

I love books. I probably love them a little too much, because there’s so many in my home that Marie Kondo would have to devote a very special episode to sorting through them with me. Just kidding! I’d never let her near my books. Seriously, if she showed up at my door I’d drive her away with the power of salt and burning sage. I love books!

I may not ever read through all the books I own (though I’ve read most of them, and I certainly intend to try). But I love having enough books that I will always have one available to read or reread, and enough variety to suit my mood at any given moment. I particularly love science fiction and fantasy, but at any given time I’m also drawn to literary classics, nonfiction books about history, science, politics, and folklore, and even occasional thrillers. As a parent and a teacher, I also read lots of picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction.    

My bookshelf seems even more endless when I consider the different formats of books that I enjoy. I love traditional reading, but I love listening to audiobooks on my commute or other long drives, and while I primarily like physical books, I also get eBooks from time to time. I’ve discovered many comic books and graphic novels I love as well.

Given my love of books, perhaps it was inevitable that I’d try to write a few. I started out writing short readers’ theater plays for my 8th grade students to read out loud in class (a great way to encourage them to read and develop their fluency, and an eye-opening exposure to very ruthless and honest critiques for me). Then I wrote my first novel, tried to pitch it, and went...nowhere. But I didn’t give up. I went on to write a ton of short stories, and I started having much more success and interest in those. After a while, I decided to compile my science fiction stories into a book, which become Sapience.

I’m continuing to read and write as much as I can, and my next book, Saints and Curses, should be available later this spring. My current work in progress is a middle grade science fiction/fantasy novel that I’m very excited about. I hope to finish a first draft by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I’m hoping to focus this blog on the books that I’ve discovered and read, with occasional updates about author events I’m attending and other book stuff. I hope you enjoy reading!