SciFridays: Jules Verne

From the Earth to the Moon

Image via Wikipedia

Jules Verne is my parent’s favorite science fiction author, and though it’s not obvious, is a partial namesake of mine (the other namesake being Liza Minnelli, which I hope is kinda obvious).

For most of my life, I didn’t appreciate my name as I should. Chalk that up to the constant butchering of said name (correcting people who think they’re pronouncing my name correctly gets really tiresome), and also that dreadful Ernest TV series/movie(s). However, the older I got, the more I appreciated my parent’s thoughtfulness in naming me. I like having an instant connection to the foundation of science fiction.

A little too recently (*cough like a few weeks ago cough*), I’ve come to admire Verne’s science fiction because his stories go a step beyond extrapolating current scientific trends to an imagined, yet inevitable, future. Verne seemed to prophesy when he wrote his stories. I mean, come on, From the Earth to the Moon? He practically predicted (or paved the way for?) the international space race that would come 100 years later, even placing the rocket’s launch site in Florida. In a world before gas-powered automobiles were invented and mass-produced, he imagined a story wherein his characters manned a rocket into space and orbited the moon, somehow navigating the gravitational field.

Of course, Verne didn’t just dump a bunch of scientific facts into his works. He wrapped them nicely into charming adventure stories, sprinkled with bits of romance and intrigue. Actually, the adventure aspect of his stories is really what hooked me to read his work, especially since several of them are similar to some of the motifs that run through my current work in progress (WIP2). Notably, The Child of the Cavern, The Propeller Island, The Aerial Village, and The Mysterious Island*, which also happened to be the main inspiration to my beloved TV series, Lost.

I’m happy to know that I have a lot in common with my namesake. Even though I’ve only scratched the surface of his life and works, it’s somehow motivating to me to know his writing journey and career. And, I’ll admit, even though, for all intents and purposes, we have no other connection other than our names, I’m oddly proud of the fact that Jules Verne is my namesake.

Has anyone else experienced this? Have you ever felt proud of a connection to someone you didn’t even know, yet has inspired your life choices?

{*I put links to these works just so you can read their summaries. And, I also thought WIP2’s alpha readers would get a kick out of it. Or not. *shrugs* 😉 }

Share the Love (this time with a giveaway!)

Cover of "The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)&...

Cover of The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

I’ve read a lot of good books since my last Share the Love post. Let’s see, there’s…

  • The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa
  • Darkest Mercy, by Melissa Marr
  • The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

I’ve actually read more than these books, but I list these specifically to showcase the inordinate amount of fantasy that  I’ve been reading lately. I wonder if that was a conscious decision on my part or not. I know I picked up Eon and Eona specifically to inspire me about an aspect of WIP2. And, I also picked up Ender’s Game (which I know is science fiction, but has fantasy elements I enjoy) and Among the Hidden for that reason, too. I know that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, my muses are tinkering with a post-apocalyptic fantasy, and I wonder if they’re hungry for more fantasy?

Maybe it’s a combination of the available e-galleys and ARCs that came my way, coupled with my need to read meatier works? After all, the fantasy genre does lend itself to intricate world-building, and often uses sociopolitical power dynamics to add conflict and tension to the narrative.

For example, take, The Girl of Fire and Thorns (newly released September 20). The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)This book is full of political intrigue, magic, and adventure. Set in a world reminiscent of medieval Spain, the story centers around Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza (aka Elisa), Orovalle’s second-born princess. Though she is royal, her privileged status comes less from her royal lineage, and more from being a Godstone-bearer.

Once a century, God chooses a bearer during a baby’s naming ceremony by placing a Godstone (a living jewel) on the baby’s navel. The Bearer is destined to perform an Act of Service, and the mythos surrounding the Bearer sets in motion harrowing challenges that Elisa must overcome.

What appeals to me the most is the sheer amount of terrain that Elisa covers throughout the story. I loved the big-ness of this world. I loved experiencing the lush climates of Orovalle; the seaside of Joya d’Arena; and the desert mountains of the rebel stronghold. I loved the concept that all these various countries and people groups are on the precipice of war. But, what I love most? Carson weaves these settings and power plays brilliantly through the narrative, making the countries so unique they were almost characters in themselves. (Interested in reading the full review? You can read it HERE.)

Honestly, though, now that I think about it, this year’s obsession with fantasy probably started after reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. My initial Good Reads reaction to it was…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone“Holy. Crap.

This book was AMAZING!

I loved Every. Single. Word.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautiful example of what YA literature could be, and what I strive for in my own fiction. I wish books like these were available to me when I was a YA, but at least I can appreciate them and revel in them now!

Brava, Laini Taylor, for crafting such a remarkable story!”

…and, since this book is holy-crap-amazing, I wonder if I just wanted to keep experiencing that awe, thus glutting myself on more fantasies. Hmm.

(BY THE WAY, Daughter of Smoke and Bone will launch on Tuesday, September 27, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC of it back in June, thanks to my dear friend and crit partner, Kayla (which I talk about HERE) and I remember gushing about it to my friend, Carol, that she was awesome enough to give me a signed ARC (which I talk about HERE.))

I plan on putting up a full review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone next week, because, DUDE, you all need to read this book. For reals, yo.

 SO, have YOU read any good books lately??