Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: Blogger Panel #4 – Favourite Alien

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Welcome to the final blogger panel for Sci-Fi Month! This is where we ask a group of bloggers a question relating to science fiction, and they are free to answer it in any way they wish. There has been four over the course of the event, alternating between my blog and Oh, the Books!. Today’s participants include myself, my co-hosts, and Cecily, who came up with our question! Today’s question is:

Who or what is your favourite alien, and why?

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Asti @ Oh, the Books!

Asti

I have to admit, I don’t have a great knowledge of aliens to pull from. The only book I’ve actually ever read is The Host by Stephenie Meyer, and while it was okay I wouldn’t say the aliens were my favorite. No, I think I’m going to have to turn outside of books for this one.

I’ve loved my fair share of movies with aliens – Star Wars, E.T., District 9, Mars Attacks!, The Fifth Element, Transformers, Men in Black, Superman, etc. etc. (seriously, I could go on and on) – but there’s one that will always hold a special place in my heart. And I must warn you, it’s probably a bit unexpected, especially as it comes from a movie that’s a Rated R cult classic released in 1975.

My favorite aliens are the transvestites from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. Now, if you haven’t seen Rocky Horror Picture Show that may sound incredibly weird – and it is. That whole movie is weird! But it’s the most entertaining and memorable musical comedy horror film I’ve ever watched!

Why do I love these aliens so much? Because they’re so outlandish and have such simple desires! They’re not after world domination or anything like that. No, they just want to dress up, party, love, sing, and, in Dr. Frank N. Furter’s case, make themselves a man! Seriously, if these aliens were to show up at my door step I would not hesitate for a second to invite them in. I would have to keep Dave in my sight at all time sot ensure he doesn’t get up to any trouble, and I’m sure his parents would freak the heck out, but the mere thought of doing the Time Warp with them just excites me to no end.

So yes, my less-than-conventional answer is the aliens from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you haven’t seen it, you won’t quite get it and I’m not sure it’s a film I’d recommend to everyone. But I watched this film regularly with my friends as a teen and learned all the callbacks and saw it performed in theatre and just YES! There’s no other choice for me.

Asti blogs at Oh, the Books! with Kelley and Leanne, having previously blogged at A Bookish Heart before joining up with the other two to make a superblog! She is the awesome creator of the Bookish Games, and the Sci-Fi Month Social Media Maestro.

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Kelley @ Oh, the Books!

Kelley

It’s actually harder than I thought it would be, to choose a favorite alien! Naturally, I tend to ponder all of the various aliens from Star Trek, but since so many of them are humanoid it somehow doesn’t feel completely fair. Strangely, though, I don’t seem to be able to think of many alternatives! So… I think I’m going to say that my favorite alien is Odo from Star Trek Deep Space Nine. To me, his character is one with a lot of depth and introspection, and I think his arc was very well done. He’s a changeling, which means he can take the shape of anyone or anything he desires, but he’s spent most of his life trying to figure out who — and what — he is. He struggles with a lifelong identity crisis, trying so hard to fit in, find where he belongs, and just to DO GOOD in the universe. And even when he found out what he was and where his people came from, he didn’t forsake everything he’d grown to be up until that point, and I loved that too. 🙂

Kelley blogs at Oh, the Books! with Asti & Leanne, having previously blogged at A Novel Read before joining up with the other two to make a super blog! She also has a super adorable three-legged cat.

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Cecily @ Manic Pixie Dream Worlds

Cecily

I have two (three, really) favorite aliens from my reading this year, and I think both are illustrative of the different ways that science fiction can be used to delineate the human condition.

The first are the two alien civilizations in Mary Doria Russell’s theological science fiction novel The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God. What’s really poignant about these alien cultures is how sapient species would have developed if they were, rather than one omnivore species like humans, two that lived in uneasy harmony: one carnivore and one herbivore. Russell explores the conflicts between the individualistic and pluralistic, the competitive and cooperative, if they were taken to their extremes in two separate species rather than internally in one. The author builds these two civilizations’ cultures into their linguistic systems — the language and culture inform each other in a recursive sense — and the resultant gaps in understanding are what drives much of the story’s conflict between the human explorers and the two species. The author’s background as an anthropologist shows.

The second I love for the opposite reason, which is how very realistic and unremarkable the aliens are. Solaris Rising 3, an anthology edited by Ian Whates, has several stories about aliens, the most refreshing and interesting of which is Alex Dally MacFarlane’s Popular Images From the First Manned Mission to Enceladus. The aliens in this story — discovered on one of Saturn’s tiny water-covered moons, and realistically ones that could be discovered within my lifetime — are microsopically tiny… and unlike in any other story I’ve read dealing with tiny aliens, they aren’t a virus or dangerous bacteria or erstwhile plague. They just are; the conflict of the story is derived from the discovery of the aliens rather than from the aliens themselves: from the tensions between science and business interests; from the harsh environment the scientists are exploring. This story, narrated via descriptions of space exploration propaganda posters as signposts, is the only one about aliens I’ve ever read where the protagonists say — paraphrased with great liberties, as this story is engagingly lyrical — “Holy shit, y’all: multicellular organisms!” Which is, you know, exactly how us nerds would react!

Cecily blogs at Manic Pixie Dream Worlds.

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Rinn @ Rinn Reads

Rinn

My answer to this question comes not from books, but from video games (although was that really a surprise??). There’s no question about it – my absolute favourite alien is Garrus Vakarian from the Mass Effect series. Whenever I play the game, he is always my love interest (when available…), and the conversations between him and Commander Shepard are wonderful. He’s motivated, driven, intelligent and not afraid to stand up for a cause he believes in. He rebels and protects the people, deviating completely from his Citadel security job to look after the hungry masses. To be honest, the entire Mass Effect series is a wonderful example of a range of humanoid and non-humanoid alien species, like the Elcor or Hanar, Asari or Turian. It’s full of a LOT of loveable aliens.

Oh, and Garrus’ one flaw? He’s always busy doing those damn calibrations…

Rinn blogs at… well, um, this blog you’re looking at right now, funnily enough. She created Sci-Fi Month in 2013 and desperately wanted to run it again this year, although she’s not been *quite* as good at it as she’d hoped. Thank goodness for the ladies from OTB!

Who or what is YOUR favourite alien?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: We Have Lift-Off!

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Eeeek, Sci-Fi Month is finally here! It’s been months and months of preparation, emails, spreadsheets, brainstorming, all mixed in with a very busy schedule for all of us co-hosts. But now it’s finally here, and thank you so much to everyone who has signed up so far. If you haven’t yet signed up, you can still do so any time throughout November – just take a look on the information hub.

As with last year, we encourage all participants to share an introduction post on the first day, just to tell us a little bit about why you decided to join in. Feel free to use this format if it’s easiest, or take a look at last years – I’m trying not to repeat myself.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Haha, it’s funny reading my answers to this from last year. Then I was talking about saving for my Masters – and here I am, finally doing it. So to answer the question properly: I’m Rinn, in my 20’s, and currently studying for my Archaeology Masters so I can go off and (hopefully) work as a museum curator when I graduate. I’m from the UK but right now I’m studying in the Netherlands and loving it. I came up with the idea for Sci-Fi Month in the summer of 2013, then I spoke to various bloggers and it snowballed into a huge event last November that I was SO proud of. So I’m so happy to be bringing it back this year, with the help of the lovely ladies from Oh, the Books!.

Just hanging out in Rotterdam with the infamous 'buttplug gnome'.

Just hanging out in Rotterdam with the infamous ‘buttplug gnome’.

2. How have things changed since last Sci-Fi Month?

Although obviously I was a big fan of the genre before, or I wouldn’t have organised an event around it, I feel I am even more aware of the genre now. It’s one of the first things I look at when I’m finding new releases, whether it’s books, films or games. It’s like I have this instinct that tells me I need to find ALL THE SCI-FI THINGS so I can share them!

3. Have you been to any sci-fi related events over the past year?

Yes, I visited the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, and also attended London Film and Comic-con. I was also planning on going to FACTs, a convention in Ghent, Belgium in October but sadly it was right around exam time and I thought revision was more important. Even though it basically melted my brain.

DON'T BLINK. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T BLINK.

DON’T BLINK. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BLINK.

4. What do you have planned for Sci-Fi Month?

Okay so I’m not posting EVERY DAY like last year. That was exhausting – well the whole event was, but it was totally worth it. I had tonsillitis for nearly two weeks of it last year, but I was still commenting and maintaining the schedule every day. Probably should have put my health first but… I’m fine now! 😉 I’ll be posting two or three times a week this month – I’ve got some lists, blogger panels, reviews, special editions of my usual features and some totally new ones. You’ll just have to wait and see…

I’m so glad that Sci-Fi Month is finally here! Are you participating? What are you most looking forward to?

Misc.

It’s My Blogoversary…

Yep, that’s right, Rinn Reads has now been going for two years! I’ve not got a giveaway to celebrate this time because I’m being super careful with my money now I’m at uni (especially since it’s orientation week and bound to be more expensive…), but I just wanted to talk about the past two years and thank some awesome people!

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Since I last celebrated my blogoversary I have…

  • Taken part in lots of events like Horror October, The Journey Home, Bell & Sword and Harry Potter Month.
  • Hosted my own blogger event, Sci-Fi Month, and it was really successful! It will be returning this year.
  • Met various authors: Sarah J. Maas, David Leviathan, Maureen Johnson, Malorie Blackman, Mary Beard, Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen.
  • Started lots of new features: Fantasy Friday, Museum of Literary Wonders, Prose & Pixels, Snapshots and Turning Off The TV.
  • Received some amazing review copies.
  • Been added to the blogger review copy list of several publishers, and been auto accepted by Harper Collins on Netgalley.
  • Gained more followers, much more traffic and generally felt a lot happier about the quality and content of my blog overall!
  • I also feel like I’ve connected with the book blogging community a lot more this past year. I’ve made closer blogger friends, and even got to meet some of them!

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My thanks go out to…

  • Asti, Leanne and Kelley @ Oh, the Books! – I always admired their blogs individually, but now they’ve teamed up to make one massive, amazing blog. They’ve been a source of inspiration, great friends and now my lovely Sci-Fi Month co-hosts!
  • Claire @ Bitches With Books – my fellow museum nerd, I finally got to meet Claire at YALC this July! It’s so fun to find someone who loves museums and books!
  • Paola @ A Novel Idea – my fellow Queen of Ferelden and Alistair lover! We bonded on Twitter over video games, and our love for the Dragon Age series. We then also found out we had loads of other things in common!
  • Amber @ Books of Amber – another book blogger that I got to meet at YALC, I often fangirl or talk nonsense with Amber on Twitter. I will never forget the new subtitle I once accidentally gave Spartacus when talking to her…
  • Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy – Charlene just has an absolutely gorgeous blog, with some great features, as well as an eclectic range of posts. From Jane Eyre to Star Trek, she’s got it covered.
  • Ana @ Read Me Away – another fellow blogger that I bonded with over a love of video games, Ana also interviewed me for her blog so we’ve exchange quite a few emails discussing anything and everything! I love how much we have in common.

I could list so many others – but thank you to anyone who follows, comments on or interacts with my blog in any way! It’s because of you that it’s been going strong for these two years! 🙂

Recap

London Film & Comic-Con and YALC Recap, Part 1

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For much of June and the first part of July, you may have seen me chatting on Twitter about LFCC/YALC, also known as London Film and Comic Con and Young Adult Literature Convention. I’ve always liked going to conventions, I’ve been to the London MCM Expo quite a few times, and I went to Bristolcon last October. So me and my friend Kerry (my frequent companion on these sorts of things, we also went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and the Doctor Who Experience together) decided it would be a great thing to do before I went off to university. We eagerly bought our tickets to LFCC, and then to my delight I discovered there was a new addition to LFCC this year: the Young Adult Literature Convention. And not only this, but many of my blogger friends were planning on going!

Cue weeks and weeks of Twitter chat, WhatsApp conversations and much fangirling. Then finally the big day arrived, and after getting our train at 8.05am, we reached Earl’s Court at about 10.15. And OH MY GOSH, THE QUEUES. Claire had been there since about 8.30, and had already warned us of the queues – but we thought that by the time we got there, on the end of the Early Bird ticket slot, the queues would have died down and we’d be fine. Oh, how wrong we were… the queues, of which there were many and it wasn’t entirely clear which one we were supposed to be in, snaked around and around Earl’s Court. Luckily, the Early Bird queue was constantly moving – but it still took us a good forty minutes to get in, which gives you some idea of how crazy it was. Not to mention that it was an absolutely boiling hot day, and there was no shade.

When we FINALLY got inside, Kerry went straight to the queue to buy tickets for a photo shoot with Finn Jones (Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. I took this chance to go and hunt down some book bloggers! I headed straight for the book area, where I spotted Amber and Tatum, and had a brief chat with them before they had to move on. It was already so packed in there, and absolutely boiling, and it was going to get much, much worse… I then found Claire over at the bean bags, and we grabbed some swag from the freebies table (Egmont tote bag, a couple of badges, a few samplers and some postcards) before meeingt up with Natalie quickly, and Claire gave her a ticket to the Dystopian panel (where Amber and Tatum had gone) because she didn’t feel like going.

Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)
Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)

Then it was time for a wander! We didn’t really go too far because it was just so cramped – they’d definitely let far too many people in, there were queues everywhere for various photo shoots and autograph sessions, not to mention the crowds around the dealers stalls – but we did manage to grab a sneaky photo with Adam Brown, who plays Nori in The Hobbit! We also bumped into Asti briefly! Mostly we just checked out which celebrities were nearby and tried to look at the stalls we could actually reach… We met up with Kerry again, who managed to get a ticket for Finn Jones, and also bought a ticket for me and her to meet Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor in Game of Thrones!

The three of us wandered around looking at the stalls, and when I went I was prepared to go in and pretty much spend all my money (‘sorry Leiden, I can’t pay tuition fees now, I spent all my savings on comic book merchandise and books’), but actually… well I only ended up buying the one thing: a Tyrion Vinyl Pop figure (I was going to get Magneto but he doesn’t exist…).

Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!
Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!

That’s the end of the first part of my recap, look out for the second part next week! Otherwise I think this post would get a bit too wordy…

Blog Admin, Sci-Fi Month

Announcement: Sci-Fi Month 2014

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Due to the amazing success of Sci-Fi Month last November, I am incredibly happy to announce that it will be taking place again this year! And… well, let this badge do all the talking…

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Yes, the lovely ladies from Oh, the Books! will be co-hosting it with me!

Yes, that’s right, this year Sci-Fi Month will be hosted by myself, along with Asti, Leanne and Kelley. We’re announcing it a little earlier this year because I will most likely be very busy in August, which is when it was announced last year. In fact we all have pretty schedules for the summer onwards, but we really want to make sure this happens. And now, onto the important stuff…

What is Sci-Fi Month?

Sci-Fi Month is a month-long blog event, that I hosted for the first time last year, created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction! From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms. It was such a success – and I honestly wasn’t expecting that many people to join in – that people were already asking in December whether it would be held again next year!

When is Sci-Fi Month?

Sci-Fi Month happens all November long, and takes place online – through each participant’s blog, Twitter feed, and other social media websites.

Who can participate?

Anyone! Bloggers, authors, readers, publishers – last year saw over fifty bloggers, twenty-five authors and three publishers taking part regularly, as well as plenty more commenting, Tweeting, discussing and sharing the love for sci-fi! Even if you’re not a blogger, you’re taking part just by reading, commenting and Tweeting!

How do I sign up?

Through this sign up form. When you sign up, you will be assigned a contact person (they will email you) and you will also be added to our mailing list. This is so we can easily keep everyone taking part in the event easily updated. As with last year, there is no deadline for signing up – if you only learn about the event halfway through November, you’re more than welcome to join!

What kinds of things should I post for the event?

We encourage you to let your imagination run wild! If it involves science fiction, then post about it! Last year, we had all kinds of activity, including:

  • reviews
  • interviews
  • discussions
  • quizzes and puzzles
  • bingo cards
  • top ten/favorite lists
  • giveaways
  • and more!

And it doesn’t have to be books. We had so many posts on TV shows, films, video games and all different kinds of things last year. You can see more information on post types etc here.

How do I add my posts to the schedule?

As with last year, we will be using a Google Docs spreadsheet – but this time, it will be embedded on our blogs, which means less updating for us! It does also mean that we ask that you follow our ‘guidelines’ when adding your post, just so it all looks neat! More information on this to come.

Is there a deadline for adding to the schedule?

Not strictly as you can edit the schedule yourself, but it’s easier for us if we know what will be going up each day!

Is there a hashtag I should use to promote this event?

Yes! Please use the #RRSciFiMonth hashtag on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and everywhere else! We also have an official twitter account: @SciFiMonth, which is being managed by the lovely Asti this year!

How do I get involved in the author/publisher interviews?

Last year, I did a lot of intermediary work between authors and bloggers, but unfortunately I just won’t have the time this year. It is therefore up to you to contact authors or publishers if you wish – although I’m more than happy to share some tips on how to approach authors or publishers!

Are there any official Sci-Fi Month graphics I can use on my blog?

Yes, and this year they’ve been created by the wonderful Kelley! I’ve made a separate page to display them, as she’s made quite a variety!

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

When you sign up, you will be assigned a contact person (Rinn, Kelley, Leanne, or Asti). Please get in touch with her first, either via email or Twitter. If you don’t get a response from her within three days, please contact another of us! Or if you haven’t yet signed up and want to ask a question first, feel free to leave a comment on this post.

I can’t wait for Sci-Fi Month 2014! Whether you joined in last year, or this is your first time – I’m excited to discuss and fangirl over science fiction with you! ❤

Recap

Glamour Book Club with Laini Taylor & Lauren Owen

On 30th April I had the privilege of attending Glamour Book Club, held in a very swanky private members club in London and featuring Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen!

If you’ve not heard of either of these lovely ladies before, then Laini Taylor is the author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy which comprises of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight and Dreams of Gods & Monsters. Lauren Owen has just released her debut novel, The Quick.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor days of blood and starlight
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor The Quick by Lauren Owen

I was excited before attending the event, because not only was I going to meet some wonderful authors, but also some fellow bloggers! Asti from Oh, The Books!, Kristy from Book Nerd Reviews and Daphne from Winged Reviews were all going to be there. Me and my friend Emily got there first, and I recognised Asti and approached her in my awkward way, and she introduced me to Kristy. We then proceeded into the event and got our free cocktails (gin and tonic). Daphne turned up a bit later, and we hung around chatting for a while – next to the goodie bags, trying to work out what was in them… – before the event proper started.

Thoughts from Laini Taylor:

  • Laini said she was currently reading the Expanse series of books by James S.A. Corey, which I was happy to hear as I recently read and reviewed the first book, Leviathan Wakes.
  • She has a new series and new standalone planned. And some science fiction – eeek!
  • When asked about how she starts to write, Laini said she starts writing in the middle of the book and works from there.
  • We spoke a little about the film adaptation of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It hasn’t officially been given the green light yet, but Laini was off to meetings about it a few days after the event, so maybe we’ll hear more soon. She said she doesn’t think it would be fair to speak about her fantasy cast, mostly because no guy could ever live up to Akiva’s looks!
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone came about when Laini was avoiding writing her current book at the time: a book about ballerinas in space!
  • She said that you just have to make as much time as you can to write – and don’t procrastinate too much!
  • Apparently Laini hasn’t had a single negative fan experience. Let’s hope it remains that way!
Me, Asti & Kristy!
Look who I found! (l-r) Myself, Asti & Kristy. Daphne disappeared off somewhere when we snapped the photo! I’d been walking around London since 10am so was pretty exhausted and flustered…

Thoughts from Lauren Owen:

  • Lauren said she was currently reading The House of the Vampire by George Viereck. I’ve not heard of this one before, it’s a Victorian Gothic horror novel.
  • She’s currently writing a sequel to The Quick. This was actually her original idea for the book, but she sort of ended up working backwards.
  • Lauren won a prize for her dissertation, and her professor then referred her to an agent who approached her interested in her work.
  • She urged budding writers to go out and talk to people, and discuss their experiences.
  • Her favourite books include Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and Watership Down.
  • She has mostly stopped herself from reading reviews online as she finds the constantly changing viewpoints and criticisms confusing – if one person loves part of the book and another hates it, I guess you don’t know what to do either way!
  • She did a lot of research to prepare for her book, and admits that sometimes she got distracted by it.

After the talk, we got the chance to meet the authors and get stuff signed. It didn’t take too long, as it was a fairly intimate gathering, and I had my photo taken with Laini:

Me with Laini Taylor!

They were selling books there, and I didn’t really want to buy The Quick at the time because I’m not a hardback person at all. I’m going to wait for the paperback to come out, so I asked Lauren to also sign my copy of Daughter of Smoke & Bone (as I had nothing else for her to sign) and basically made a huge, flustered fool of myself, and did not explain in any eloquent manner that I WILL be buying her book once it’s out in paperback. I still feel embarrassed when I think of that moment. Ugh. I’M SO SORRY LAUREN.

Guys. I'm forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??
Guys. I’m forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??

And that was the end of a great night! Me and Emily had to go and catch our train home (I live a ninety minute train journey from London) so we couldn’t hang around for too long, especially as our route back to the station was made difficult by tube strikes. But it was a great evening, despite the embarrassment I caused myself – I got to meet some awesome bloggers and fantastic authors, and the goodie bag was most definitely worth the ticket price! It included three books (Angelfall by Susan Ee, Dracula by Bram Stoker and Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little), some great headphones that I’ve already used lots for gaming (I like to immerse myself), some Hotel Chocolat chocolates, a candle, nail polish and some other beauty samples. I would definitely be up for attending another Glamour Book Club event! The only downside was when me and Emily received one of the dirtiest looks ever from a member of staff at the club for no apparent reason… probably because we’re not paying members, all dressed up for dinner!