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The World of The Children of Clay

by Ono Ekeh

The Children of Clay series is about a god, Queen Nouei, who is desperate for the respect of the other god in this world, Ryna. The series begins with the Queen declaring her intent to travel back in time, by reincarnating as a young woman, Bridget Blade. Her goal is to rewrite a few thousand years of history in two weeks (her time) to prevent her humiliation at the hands of the worshippers of Ryna.

The world of CoC series is very similar to ours. Queen Nouei is a god in a dystopian future, a couple of thousand years from the present. The world for much of the story, when she reincarnates, is the contemporary world. But if you look closely enough, you’ll see it is a very different world.

First, I should note that Ryna is the creator. But Nouei has done something ingenious. She has splintered Ryna’s world into millions of parallel worlds. Each world is indexed to different probability distributions. What does that mean?

In Icon of Clay, the third book of the series, Sister Kaypore explains the general idea. She asks Khzir Khan, what would be the probability of flipping a fair coin to get heads or tails. Khzir responds, “70-30”–a clue that this world is different. What this means is that if you flipped a fair coin a million times, you would get heads/tails seventy percent of the time and the other, thirty percent of the time. This is a 70-30 world. Which means the physics differs slightly from ours and the people are a little different.

The series begins with someone from the world of 100% probability index coming through to the world of zero-probabilities. I try to capture the uniqueness of the personality types of these separate worlds. The series, though moves quickly to the 70-30 world and that’s where most of the story will take place.

In terms of geography and culture, the countries are similar, there is a United States, China, France, etc. However, the history of the world is different, because in this world, there are two gods that are worshipped. At this point, Nouei/Bridget is not even on the radar as a god. Ryna is the god who’s been worshipped for millennia now, and in the past five hundred years, a new god has arisen, called Thysia. Ryna is a blood thirsty god in contrast to Thysia. So the series will see the decline of the worship of Ryna, whom the reader knows to be the actual true god.

Science and religion have no conflict in this world. In a 70-30 world, the people are more apt to be sure of themselves than not. For us, much of the conflicts between science and religion have to do with the degree to which evidence justifies belief in anything. In the world of this book, evidence functions differently. It is not necessarily a precursor to belief. So one does not need evidence to believe which means that there aren’t the sort of competing authorities claiming to be the source of knowledge.

The science and technology in this world is comparable to ours. In Books 4, 5, and 6, which are all partially written, we’ll see some significant technological differences, especially with autonomous vehicles and the infrastructure for such in place. The mathematics and physics differ from ours. I don’t address the physics much, but in Book 4, I hope to talk about the mathematics of the world a little more.

The series in the later books will move far into the future and there I’ll have to figure out how to create a highly sophisticated technological world in a dystopian context with its limited resources.

So this is the world of The Children of Clay series. I hope you’ve found it interesting.

Author Interview: LC Champlin

What genre do you write?

I like a lot of genres, so I tend to blend them when I write. My current book series is sci-fi, action-adventure, dystopian, thriller. There are creatures like zombies in it, but they’re not really zombies in the classical sense, so while I classify it as zombie fiction, it’s not your average hack- and-slash zombie series. The thriller-genre elements like the ticking clock and the web of intrigue surrounding the outbreak make the story appealing to more than just zombie fans.

Is dystopian and zombie apocalypse (zompoc) really sci-fi?

That depends. I think it’s subjective, but if you focus more on the science end rather than just gore and scary zombie attacks, it falls into sci-fi rather than horror.

Why do you write?

Well it’s certainly not to pay the bills! The series I’m writing now, I’m writing because I had a story I wanted to tell. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, and that’s fine. I think as a writer, there are primarily two reasons to write. One is you are trying to write the next hit. Two is that you’re writing a story you would like to hear and would like other people to hear.

When I write, I can make worlds how I like. Of course, it’s easier to base the story’s world in reality, the present day, and America, since that’s what I’m familiar with. As a writer, I have full control of what my worlds do. I just don’t have full control of what my characters do!

That’s another good reason to write: to see what your characters will do, how they’ll react in situations, and who they will become. I don’t know many authors who have a story and characters planned out from the get-go, then follow that plan to the letter. Even if they do, it’s after the plot outline went through a lot of evolution. When I write, it’s almost like I’m reading someone else’s book. Except I’m the one in charge of making sure everything makes sense, so I can’t take the easy way out and read the end!

What genres do you read?

I used to read primarily fantasy. But somewhere along the way, probably around when I was in college and didn’t have time to read anything but textbooks, I lost a lot of interest in the sword and sorcery genre. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still love the classics, such as Dragonlance and Lord of the Ring, but I prefer sci-fi. While I will read some “space sci-fi” from time to time if the characters are the source of the plot (“space opera”), rather than the tech (“hard sci-fi”), it’s not my real love. I like stories set on Earth, preferably close to the present day. It’s interesting to see how the world could be different, even in small ways. I like dystopian sci-fi as well. It shows where the world could go if left to the dark side. Then again, what we call dystopian, most of the world calls every-day life.

How likely is it that the zombie apocalypse could happen?

Depends what you mean! If you mean walking dead — as in animated corpses, not the series — then not likely. Scientifically it would be difficult to have a corpse behave in the way zombies do. While you can make muscles contract with electrical stimulation, they won’t do so indefinitely. But if you mean is there technology or organisms or medications out there that could turn people into a zombie, of course. Illicit substances already do it, just look at drugs such as Flakka. Certain brain injuries can reduce people to zombie-like behavior. And I have no doubt that at some point, scientists will invent a device that can control how the brain operates.

Bio

Writer, traveler, adventurer, prepper. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ. I write the Wolves of the Apocalypse series.

I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls.

Reading Science Fiction and Fantasy Makes Your Kids Smarter

by J. Philip Horne


Do you want your children to expand their vocabulary and, more importantly, learn to continue to expand their vocabulary in the normal course of life more rapidly? Give them science fiction and fantasy novels to read. Science fiction and fantasy novels overtly place demands on readers that are implicit and beneficial in all literature: namely, the skill of learning word meanings from context.

Children reading a novel set in a familiar time and place may gloss over words they don’t understand because the general setting and flow of the story isn’t compromised. The story, even the specific sentence, still makes sense to them, or makes enough sense, even if they don’t know the meaning of a particular adjective or even verb. The story remains enjoyable and engaging despite words passing by, unknown. Though they will still benefit from the gradual expansion of their vocabulary, they won’t necessarily be overtly challenged to wrestle with the context to find the meaning.

Science fiction and fantasy novels are in your face. They focus on strange new settings and employ vocabulary that is often new or even made-up. If the reader is unwilling to puzzle out the meaning of words from their context, the story will simply drag to a halt and the enjoyment of the story will evaporate. Young readers want to enjoy books and will find their natural curiosity pushing them to decipher these strange or made-up words.

Like any skill, the ability to learn word meaning from context improves with practice. In my experience, the overt practice of this skill forced on readers by science fiction and fantasy translates into an improved passive ability to harvest new vocabulary from other literature. The child practices the skill on behalf of their enjoyment of the The Hobbit, and goes on to more effortlessly expand their vocabulary when reading Where the Red Fern Grows.

You can find endless, helpful lists online of great SFF books for kids. Probably the most important series to me as a child was the Chronicles of Narnia. The seven books in the series get sorted in two different orders based on publication date and the chronology of the stories themselves. I strongly recommend starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. From there, either order will work.

Beyond that, I read voraciously from authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien (have you heard of him?), David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Robert Heinlein, and others. As I’ve read books along with my own children, I’ve come to love J.K. Rowling (you may have heard of her as well), Eoin Colfer, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and many more.

The goal is not to convince your child to read so that they improve their vocabulary. Rather, help them find books they love, and the process, particularly with science fiction and fantasy novels, will happen organically. Good luck!

You can check out J. Philip Horne’s books here.

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Aurora’s Tips for Naming Characters in Science Fiction Stories

by Aurora Springer

Starship Vista SP3 by Veronica Electronica


Some of the tips are recommended to make your writing more accessible to readers and apply to all genres, while others give suggestions for inventing names for characters from other worlds.

Tip 1: The names of main characters should be easy to pronounce in English. This suggestion will make your stories easier for readers to follow. An exception might be when you want to emphasize an alien’s differences from normal humans. For example, txolixi or 2xnl.

Tip 2: The main characters should have names look and sound distinct. Avoid using names like Sam and Sal, especially for a romantically involved couple. Again, following this tip will improve the readability of your story. An exception might be when you have a set of clones with similar names, or twins where you wish to confuse their identities. I prefer to indicate gender with the name, unless the character has a reason for an ambiguous name. Is Samantha called Sam because she is a feisty independent female? Does Salvatore hate Dali and prefer to be called Sal?

Tip 3: Alien names ought to look and sound unusual. When the aliens have two sexes, I prefer to use names with feminine or masculine sounds or endings, like Suzzaine (female) or Radekis (male) in my series Atrapako on Eden. You can use a similar designation for aliens from the same world or culture. The Zarnoths in my Secret Supers Series have names beginning with hard consonants, like the villains, Rigel Zentor, Croaker and the ambassador Zharkor. Names can reflect societal differences. Clones might be designated by numbers. Some siblings in my hive society of A Tale of Two Colonies are named Flower-one, Flower-two, etc.

Tip 4:
Names can be cues to the personality of characters or describe key features. For example, the Zarnoth assassin in my Secret Supers Series is called Karockis or Croaker. The giant planetoid in the Grand Masters’ Galaxy is called Amarylla after the flower. Amarylla is a pink, flower-shaped alien female. Names can add comic effects, like the villain, Mr. Sunshine, in Super Starrella.

Tip 5: You can use names derived from different countries or cultures to indicate diversity. You can find lists on the internet. I use names to suggest a multicultural society. For example, Lira Tong and Srinivasan are two friends of the heroine, Violet Hunter, in the Grand Masters’ Galaxy, and Veena Chandra is a friend of Estelle Wright, the heroine the Secret Supers Series.

Tip 6: You can create unusual names by modifying names of characters or places in real life or from other books. For example, I took the name Athos from the Three Musketeers, and adapted it into Athanor for the Griffin Grand Master.

Tip 7: Ask your readers to suggest names.

Tip 8: Keep a list of names you like or you think would make interesting characters.

You can find a list of Aurora’s books here.

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