Today we're going to look at a genuine Science Fiction Romance with what seems to be Fantasy elements -- that turn out to be alien-advanced-science. This series is popularizing mixed genre.
Alien Series Book 11 from DAW Science Fiction, ALIEN SEPARATION by Gini Koch. (534 pages of small print)
Last week and the week before, we looked at Why We Do We Cry At Weddings.
While I was writing those two posts on why we cry at weddings, I was itching to cite Gini Koch's series because it is a case in point.
In 2011, the 3rd in Gini Koch's Alien Series was all about The Wedding after two of the hottest Alien Romance novels you will ever read, and was aptly titled Alien In The Family. I loved the Wedding Dress on the cover.
Here is Gini in 2011, Gini in the foreground and me in the background, at the con where we first met in person. Photo curtesy of Marsheila Rockwell.
|Gini Koch and Jacquelne Lichtenberg|
Yet, she turned this galaxy-spanning tapestry into a follow-your-nose page-turner plot using elegantly simple techniques but orchestrating them into a symphony.
These novels illustrate how a text-only writer can use the techniques developed by camera-directors for big screen cinema to create close-up reader engagement.
The tight use of Point Of View enhances the emotional impact because all the things that happen, and all the consequences of actions taken by Kitty-Kat (the main POV character - a human woman with morphing genetics) are felt sharply by the reader.
As I've noted previously, the novel writer's medium is not "words" but "emotion." These 11 novels are crafted of the emotional spectrum that a modern, well educated, intelligent woman would experience when hit by the inexplicable, the bewildering, and the confounding.
Kitty-Kat's theme song is, "But What Is Really Going On?"
Think about that theme -- This Is What I See, But What Is Really Going On?
That is the seminal question of our everyday lives right now.
Last week, we looked at several scientific reports detailing the 7 Primal Emotions or Primary Emotions as in Primary Colors. And we looked at one list that reduced that 7 emotions to 4. None of these lists pinpointed LOVE. Then we contrasted those scientific lists with a different list that started with LOVE and used love as the driving force behind all the other 6 primary emotions.
In other words, we did a Kitty-Kat exercise of "What is really going on here?"
We look at the world as it is painted in the News, at the "excuses" employers use for hiring/firing/promoting/transferring workers, at the kinds of cars everyone in your current traffic jam are driving, at what your neighbor's house just sold for, at what your doctor just billed your insurance for, at the endless lists of declared Presidential Candidates, and we think, "Wait a minute! What's really going on here?"
So we all relate to Kitty-Kat's double-takes and we wish we could penetrate the blurry flog surrounding us the way she solves galactic riddles.
The close following of Kitty's Point of View gives us the perspective on our own problems, and makes each of these novels a treasure of a Good Read.
The real delight in the series as a whole, a long series of long novels, is how the Romance starts with Love At First Sight, continues through harrowing adventures and desperate combat to the Wedding, and then after the Wedding the Romance continues to get more intense, the "tall, dark stranger in Armani suits," more mysterious and more dear.
As noted in Why We Cry At Weddings, the typical Romance ends before the Wedding Planner is hired. Gini Koch has crafted a MARRIAGE which is a continuous, ongoing, cliff-hanger Romance (complete with amazing sex scenes).
Kitty-Kat, a human woman from a human family, marries an Alien -- native to Earth, yes, but of off-world ancestry. The off-world in-laws take a real-time interest in the Wedding, and their political situation on their planet continues to change Kitty-Kat's life, right on through the birth of her first child, and the boomerang genetic effect gestation of that child has on her body.
Here in Book 11, ALIEN SEPARATION, for the second time, Kitty-Kat and her alien husband are targets of assassins. That's another theme that runs through Kitty's new life -- she has a very happy marriage still shrouded in Romance, but there's always someone (several someones, usually, and never who you'd expect) trying to kill her, her husband, her daughter, or others who matter to her.
Sometimes, what seems to be an attack actually turns out to be help-in-disguise, or perhaps a cry-for-help. It gets complicated because there are pure-energy-beings, beings who are native to the inside of worm-holes, hybrid-beings of various types, clones, and mechanical beings. And you can't quite tell which are "just" animals.
ALIEN SEPARATION starts out with Kitty, her husband, her daughter, and an ensemble cast of her friends and allies being swept up and transported in a "beam" to an Alice-In-Wonderland-Fantasy world complete with talking animals (or are they animals?). They land separated from each other, scrambling to survive as they hunt for each other.
Again, as in the first novel, TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN, the environment and events give the reader the definite impression that this is a Fantasy Series -- when all of a sudden, what is "really going on" begins to re-arrange your assessment of the difference between science and magic.
If you want to write Alien Romance that reads like Science Fiction to science fiction fans, like Fantasy to fantasy fans, like a Videogame to videogamers, and at the same time, like Romance to romance fans, then make this series your textbook.
Here are some previous posts I've done mentioning or featuring the Alien Series by Gini Koch.
In most of those mentions of Gini Koch, I have noted that absolutely everything about her Alien Series makes it a Must Read, whether you are studying how to blend genres or just looking for a good read.
But every time, I have noted that some readers may find the text wordy in spots, which makes the pacing un-even in an annoying way. Most readers have a "fast-skim" mode and just skip over of fly through sections where there are too many words used to tell a brief part of the story.
When you write a novel, you have to just let the words flow -- and there will always be too many words here and there. Second draft sees about 10% cut, and third draft -- or the editor's blue pencil over the manuscript -- soaks another 10% out. If those cuts are well done, the result is easier to read, and more fun to read, and re-read.
When you have a long story to write and a tight deadline, very often there's no time to do those careful cuts. To know what to cut, you have to let the manuscript sit for a few months, then re-read it and cut as you go. If you do not have the time to let it sit, then wordy-structures will get into print.
There is one other way to prevent wordy-structures from making it into print -- don't write them to begin with. Make a habit of crafting your sentences tightly -- of constructing dialogue without loops and repetitions, without one character recounting to another what the reader already knows (except where a character is lying to another character and you want the reader to know that.)
I don't know how she did it, but Gini Koch achieved a huge reduction in wordy-constructions and looping dialogue with this novel. The published version would not benefit from another 20% cut.
Every page is filled with purposeful, plot-advancing, story-enhancing words and nothing else.
It's not terse writing, yet, but it is very different from the previous 10 novels.
For that reason alone, I recommend that you read these 11 novels in order. This series is not like Sime~Gen, where you can read in any order. This is an ongoing saga, a story that unfolds in chronological order, and all about the same characters you get to know in depth.
December 2015 has book 12 scheduled for publication -- ALIEN IN CHIEF.
Go to Gini Koch's Amazon Page and on the upper left, click the button to FOLLOW her. Amazon will email you when the next book comes out.
I love that FOLLOW button! I follow a lot of series this way.
All in all, Gini Koch's Alien Series is a classic in the making. It breaks new ground, gives a new perspective, and heralds the shifts in modern publishing and audience taste.