Friday, 29 May 2015

SFFS 30/5/2015 Before Sorrel

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

My snippet this week is an old piece I worked on, before I wrote Sorrel in Scarlet. There are a number of similarities - the central character is again a pilot, but here she is a charter pilot who suspects she is in big trouble. As I say, lots of similarities! This sequence never ended up in a final work - I might well rewrite it as a Sorrel short story. You have been warned!

I pride myself on being able to spot the early warning signs of impending trouble. Hints like screams, the odd orc spear slamming into the ground near my feet, and the sound of running feet are usually enough to give me two minutes' advance notice of danger.
Of course, it can take anything up to ten minutes to get the Duckling ready to fly.
I could seen movement on the trail down through the jungle towards the lake. Quite a lot of movement, actually. Not quite a herd of vinbani, but not far off. That had to be my passengers, and whoever was chasing them - most probably orcs - could not be far behind.
I flung myself up the flimsy gangplank like a startled djinn, through the cabin and into the cockpit. The Duckling's a good amphibian, dependable, with a high wing and two props. I hauled on the starters for both engines - four years ago I paid an exorbitant price to Charyk Venth, a dwarven engineer I know in Muugral, to build starter motors for the two engines. They've saved my life twice, since, and this looked likely to be a third time. Mind you, even saving my life three times the price was higher than it had any right to be.

As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 22 May 2015

SFFS 4th Birthday!

This is my snippet this week for SFFS. SFFS is 4 years old! Happy Birthday!

For the last four years SFFS has been a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and gives the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. I've been a part of SFFS for well over two years, but there are other authors who have been here from the beginning.

Please explore the other blogs that are part of SFFS - you can find the information here. Congratulations to everyone who has been a part of this group!

This week, I'm going back to Sorrel in Scarlet, the book I first posted from on SFFS. As is often the way, Sorrel, my pilot heroine, is in trouble again. She is in the clutches of a group of graalur - unpleasant, orc-like thugs...

The female graalur sergeant's eyes were on me, studying me coldly. "What use can you be to me?" Her voice was hard and final – I could tell without a doubt that my answer to the query would determine my fate. If I was not of any significant use to her, she would enjoy watching her minions torturing me, assuming she didn't decide to join in. What could I do to be useful?
Squum that! The critical issue was whether this lafquass could be useful to me. She was less than two paces from me, and her only weapon looked to be a long knife in an open sheath at her belt. I let my eyes flicker past the woman's right shoulder - just a fractional move, nothing so obvious as telling her to look behind her. Enough for an experienced soldier to think there was something there. She turned instinctively – I grabbed for the blade at her belt, jerking the slightly curved bronze out of the sheath and against her neck in a swift, smooth movement. At the same moment I slid my other arm around part of the vast expanse of her waist, dragging her to me – or more accurately me to her, so that her fat, flabby chest was pressed against mine. Not a pleasant experience – she really wasn't my type.
"Not a move!" I snarled at her minion, who had responded two heartbeats too slowly to my lunge. "Or your sergeant gets demoted to corpse!"

As always, comments welcomed!
(I can't claim credit for the cake, by the way - an image I borrowed from elsewhere on the internet, and adapted appropriately!)

Monday, 18 May 2015

Strong women

I understand the Mens Rights Association is up in arms about the presence of a strong female character in the latest Mad Max film. I thought I'd annoy them more by pointing out that strong female characters aren't new to the 21st century, just to show Charlize Therion's Furiosa is not a new phenomenon.

There are some very well-known strong characters, like Buffy, Xena, Ripley and Emma Peel – I've tried to pick out a few others who deserve more visibility than they currently get.

I'll start with Worrals – a female pilot I've mentioned previously in this blog. For the '40s, almost a revolutionary figure.

Then we have Cathy Gale. An Avenger before Marvel purloined the name, Honor Blackman's character was the first strong female character I know of on TV, and laid the groundwork for her successor, Emma Peel.

Still in British '60s TV, we have Sharon Macready of The Champions, another strong female character, with superpowers no less, well before Wonder Woman turned up on the small screen. Sharon wasn't always particularly well-served by the scripts, but with a good scriptwriter she was a force to be reckoned with.


I have a fondness for pilots, so I can't resist putting Destiny Angel into this list.


Doctor Who has a number of strong female characters (but also a fair number of not-so strong ones). I'm choosing Leela for this list simply because Louise Jameson's intelligent savage is the most obviously kick-ass of the Doctor's companions (again, when she has a good scriptwriter – some didn't know how to write for her, but others gave her exceptionally good scenes).


I'm also going to mention Sarah Kingdom, who appeared more than ten years before Leela, and is contemporary with Emma Peel – another strong female character who first turns up in Doctor Who setting out to kill the Doctor! Again, for her time she was a surprisingly strong and capable female figure. Unfortunately, most of her episodes are lost.


Next in my collection is Telzey Amberdon. An extraordinarily powerful psychic, physically fit, genius level intelligence – a very capable hero of her own novels, without a male lead in sight. James Schmitz wrote a number of strong female characters – Trigger McGee is another good example – but Telzey is the best, in my opinion.


I'm going to finish, unashamedly, with Sorrel Cheldaniss, the pilot heroine of my own novels. Sorrel is another female lead who can act for herself, who does not need a male lead to rescue her, and who is capable and competent without being a superhero. Yes, I know she's more recent, but I'm indulging myself!

 I've had to miss out a good many more recent characters - if you think there is anyone else from before the '80s I should have thought of, please add her in the comments!