Aliens in sock kilts

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My in-laws gifted my 8-year-old daughter her own digital camera and her bedroom is now a sound stage, complete with “Quiet I’m filming” sign on the door. She’s made several movies starring her dolls. Most of these independent films revolve around Barbie’s rockstar career and/or Barbie’s trip to the mall. I don’t know how I birthed a mallrat. I’d rather go to the dentist than the mall. I’ve never liked Barbies in my life (those were another gift from her grandparents). Oh, and, in case you hadn’t guessed, I’m not a rockstar, either.

But I do have some strange qualities in common with my offspring. We both loved to spin in circles until we fell over, whirly drunk, when we were 5. At age 6, we would lay upside down on the couch, hanging our heads off of the edge of the seat, and pretend to walk on the ceiling. We still believed in Santa and the Tooth Fairy at age 7, no matter what anyone said.

Then, there’s this.

A few months ago, peanut asked me to edit her latest cinematic masterpiece and share it with her Facebook audience – her dad, the aforementioned grandparents and a few aunts and uncles. I popped the SD card into my laptop and began viewing.

She opened with an overhead crane shot of a naked Ken doll riding a “ferry” (box) and finding a sword and some “clothing” — one of her socks, tied around his lower half. Thus girt in trusty sock kilt, he hied hence to a “town,” (box) where he parked himself in front of Barbie’s “house” (another box) and started begging for money on her porch steps.

“Oh, hello,” said Barbie, in my daughter’s girliest of girly voices, which is pretty dang girly, considering that she’s an 8-year-old girl. Barbie conversed with the scraggly-haired Ken, whose very visible plastic package peeked out from beneath his ill-fitting sock kilt, reminding me of a vagrant I encountered once upon a time in a Los Angeles toy store. One of us had been going “commando” in a pair of Daisy Duke shorts at the time, and it wasn’t me.

I stopped the movie. “No. No. Just. No.” And then, as gently as possible, I instructed her about the ills of talking to strange men who beg for change while half dressed on one’s porch.

“It’s OK, Mom. He ends up being rich.” Yes, she’s seen Disney’s Aladdin. What can I say?

“It doesn’t matter. Barbie doesn’t know that. All she knows is that she’s got a bum in a sock kilt darkening her doorway, singing a Jem song from 1986. If you ever see anyone like that in real life, you call the police. You don’t say hello. We’re not going to finish this video. Please, honey, make a different story.”

Spurned by her studio executive like so many directors before her, my child returned to her room. Meanwhile, I returned to the final edit of my latest novel, Stellarnet Prince. and the following scene:

Belloc tossed shirts into an open case. Duin entered the bedroom and eyed the stack of crates beside the closet. “Do all of these contain clothes?”

“Some have shoes or musical instruments. I haven’t packed the pillows and blankets, yet.”

“When I met you, you were barefoot with one shitty wallump suit.”

“Thanks. My mother made that suit.”

“When you were what, eight rain seasons? The pants hardly covered your knees, and the shirt didn’t close in the front. You, bugloim, were a ragamuffin.”

Duin was right. Less than a year ago, Belloc didn’t understand why J’ni would buy more than one dress. When he left Meglin, everything he had would fit in a single sack. Now, he had a closet full of clothes.

“But J’ni loved me anyway.”

“Yes. Because you are attentive, sensitive and handsome…”

I should also add that in the first book of the series, Stellarnet Rebel, Belloc sat in the heroine’s doorway and played music on a flute. She’d saved his life, and Belloc had no family and no where else to go.

And that’s the kind of weird thing. My daughter doesn’t know anything about my books, other than the fact that I’ve written them, and she won’t be allowed to read them for at least another eight years. But I guess the acorn really doesn’t fall far from the tree. Who knew that an attraction to musical diamonds-in-the-rough on one’s porch was a genetic trait?

I’m still telling her not to talk to strangers… unless they’re hot sapphire-skinned alien strangers who are built like Michael Phelps. Maybe then.

To celebrate the release of Stellarnet Prince, book two in the Stellarnet Series, I’m giving away a r’naw eye pendant designed by Gypsy Moon Art Studio and handmade by me. This is in homage to the giant alligator-like creature who attacks our heroes in chapter two.

To enter the drawing, tell me: If you could have anyone on your front porch, who would it be and what song would they sing to you? I doubt it’s this one.

* * *

J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012), and a regular contributor to the Contact-Infinite Futures SF/SFR blog. Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART.

Sci-fi is for women, too

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J. L. Hilton, circa 1978

I remember when the first episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” aired, and Patrick Stewart declared that the crew of the Enterprise would “boldly go where no ONE has gone before.” In the original Star Trek, they were only going where no MAN has gone before.

As a girl who grew up with Star Wars and Battlestar Gallactica toys instead of Barbies, that difference meant the universe to me. But guys didn’t get it. They would say, “When Captain Kirk said ‘man’ he meant the whole human race, OK?” OK. But with ST:TNG, I finally felt included in the ranks of sci-fi geekery.

Science fiction continues to be viewed by many as a man’s genre. Women, in their Federation-issue miniskirts and skinny cylon hotness, are just there as fanboy eye-candy. Did Han Solo ever end up in sexy slave garb? No, he did not.

It was important to me, when I wrote STELLARNET REBEL, that I created SF for everyone.

There’s technology, video games, lasers, aliens, fights and explosions. But the main character, Genevieve O’Riordan, is a woman. Not a man’s idea of a woman, like Robert Heinlein’s “Friday,” who felt just fine after being brutally raped and tortured. But an individual with realistic feelings, reactions and faults.

And Genny’s fellow heroes are not “typical” men—since they’re not men at all, they’re aliens. Duin and Belloc are Glin, a race in which the sexes are the same size and gender characteristics only appear after puberty. This not only shapes the dynamics of their culture, but affects how they relate to Genny throughout the novel.

My heroine is not just eye candy. Her genetic modifications might make her attractive by human standards. But that doesn’t mean much to aliens derisively called “frogs” because of their skin colors, large eyes and webbed fingers. It’s her personality, intelligence and loyalty that make her desirable. She’s no damsel in distress but saves her own butt and the butts of others—usually by some combination of wit, resourcefulness and courage, not just brute strength and a gun.

Who is your favorite SF heroine and why? Is SF still dominated by men, or is this changing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. One lucky commenter will receive promo items including your very own labradorite nagyx pendant on recycled sari silk cord—designed to look just like the “soul stone” necklace that plays an important role in STELLARNET REBEL—and a $10 gift certificate to ThinkGeek. Recipient will be announced in the comments on January 11.

***

Welcome to Asteria, a corporate-owned, deep-space colony populated with refugees, criminals and obsessive online gamers. Genny O’Riordan has shifted in from Earth determined to find a story that will break her blog into the Stellarnet Top 100, and even better—expose the degradation of the colony’s denizens.

Duin is an alien—a Glin—a hero of a past revolution against the Glin royal family, yet branded a terrorist. Duin speaks every day in the Asteria market, hoping to spur humans to aid his home world, which has been overtaken by the evil, buglike Tikati.

When Genny and Duin meet, what begins with a blog post becomes a dangerous web of passion and politics as they struggle to survive not only a war but the darker side of humanity…

Read an excerpt of STELLARNET REBEL or buy it now.

Follow Genny and Duin on Twitter. Belloc will join them at the appropriate point in their timeline.

Follow the author at JLHilton.com or Facebook, Twitter, deviantART, Goodreads and Google+.