Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.

16Feb/14Off

Dialogue on Dark & Light

Dialogues: Perspectives from two authors of SF on Dark & Light.

Topic: Dark & Light in SF

Krista D. Ball Krista D. Ball tells lies for a living, according to her mother. She is the author of several short stories, novellas, and novels. Krista incorporates as much historical information into her fiction as possible, mostly to justify her B.A. in British History. Krista enjoys all aspects of the writing and publishing world, and has been a magazine intern, co-edited four RPG books, self-published several short stories and a novella series, and has been a slush reader for a small Canadian press. Whenever she gets annoyed, she blows something up in her fiction. Regular readers of her work have commented that she is annoyed a lot.

Lynda Williams Lynda Williams is the author of the Okal Rel Saga originally published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy and the publisher behind Reality Skimming Press. Part 10: Unholy Science will conclude the series in 2014. Lynda's work features larger than life characters contending with radically different attitudes to sex and social control surrounding space warfare and bio-science. Drop into the scene at Reality Skimming Press at http://facebook.com/relskim. Lynda works in learning technology and teaches applied computing.

1) What's your position on dark and light in human nature?

Krista: Many people like to think of humans as inherently good creatures. We have the capabilities for such kindness and compassion that, underneath our dark natures, there must be something that makes us want to be good. I do not believe this. I look at the world and see a struggle between good and evil, what is right and what is selfish, and the disregard for humanity. Unless raised to be compassionate, caring, and an upstanding member of the global community, people need to be taught how to be such individuals. It's no wonder that fiction reflects that darkness.

Lynda: I discovered the depths of man’s inhumanity to man as a previously innocent teenager by joining Amnesty International and volunteering with a crisis centre. I've been working on coming to terms with it ever since, because my gut reaction to darkness is to fight it. How to be sure it's really darkness and to what extent one personally can or should fight back are details I'm still working on. Theoretically, at least, I finally found the math to support my instincts in a biography of the statistician who uncovered the mechanics of why a sense of ethics is the only non-genetic trait that can be selected for on the basis of group dynamics -- provided the ethical group is in competition with unethical ones. Which is fascinating when one looks at the way bad guys are so essential to a good story in SF. The book is The Price of Altruism by Oren Harman.

2) Should there be darkness in YA books?

Krista: There weren't really "young adult" books when I was a teenager. The few books that existed specifically for teenagers generally preached to me about the evils of sex, why pregnancy would ruin my life, how guys all wanted to rape me, and how smoking a cigarette would cause me to end up addicted to heroin and prostituting myself for my next hit. (This is not an exaggeration, by the way). Now, YA is full of depressing dystopias where violence reigns. And I'm ok with that. I think there is a need for all kinds of YA works, from adventure stories that are fun and suspenseful, without any true threat or danger, to the extreme end that looks at the dark underside of the world of teens, to the capabilities of teens under extreme circumstances. Bit just because one teen wants to read about the brutality of child soldiers does not mean the next wants to. I think we owe it to everyone to provide both options.

Lynda: I used my characters to process my teenage reaction to darkness, pushing them to their limits in their Okal Rel Universe adventures. Later, my characters had an even worse time of it because I introduced handicaps and imperfections. But no matter how I tortured Amel or drove Horth to the breaking point, they remained heroes because they hung onto the good things that they strove for. Darkness in fiction, for me, lies not in what happens to a character but how the story influences the reader. If we come away thinking it’s smart to be the bad guy, it gives me shivers because we can’t afford to build a world where people are either too afraid, or too cynical, to even aspire to be heroes. By heroes, I don't meam perfectly unselfish paragons. I don't believe in those kinds of heroes. Stories should strive for the light, even if they transverse darkness, exactly to help us recognize heroism when we see it, and celebrate it as something it takes courage to champion. Something that lifts us all above the day-to-day concerns of life to aspire to make the world around us just a little bit better, when and where we're able.

3Oct/12Off

Why SF #8: Krista Ball

Why SF? Asking kindred spirits in the SF community the story of why they give back and create forward.

Krista Ball

Krista Ball

According to her mother, Krista D. Ball tells lies for a living. That’s not a lie, but Krista does incorporate as much historical information into her fiction as possible, mostly to justify her B.A. in British History.

Krista enjoys all aspects of the writing and publishing world, and has been a magazine intern, co-edited four RPG books, self-published several short stories and a novella series, and has been a slush reader for a small Canadian press. Krista has published two novels (with another one coming late 2012), and has written a non-fiction writer’s guide/comedy skit/historical cookbook called, "What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank."

Whenever she gets annoyed, she blows something up in her fiction. Regular readers of her work have commented that she is annoyed. A lot.

Interviewed by Tegan Lott

How long has you been writing? What inspired you to start?

In terms of the general playing with fiction, I’ve been writing since I was around twelve. Professionally, where I finally decided to give this a go with the aim of becoming published, five years or so. I’d like to say some glorious inspirational event happened to turn me to writing, but the truth is nothing really inspired me to start. I was given a typewriter for my birthday, sat down, and realized that writing stories came easy to me. Then, as time went on, I realized that writing was pretty much all I was good at in terms of profession, so I decided it was perhaps the best career choice for me!

What is it that you write? Science fiction, and more?

It might be easier to ask what I don’t write. Under my real name, Krista D. Ball, I write primarily science fiction and fantasy, along with historical and non-fiction (and, historical non-fiction!). I have other pen names that write Gothic lesbian vampire tales, literary angst stories, and even erotic comedies! But most of my work is under my real name.

How do ethics and lessons play a part in your writing? Do your stories have obvious or hidden educational aspects?

I don’t set out to say anything intelligent in my stories. There are some authors who do that and I’m totally jealous of them. I am often told by readers that I’ve addressed an issue in my writing; I didn’t consciously do it, but since my beliefs fall in a specific area, I ended up exploring the notion.

Ethics is an interesting one, since I wrote an entire book about the ethics of self-defense. The question I ask (and explore) in Road to Hell is, “What role do personal ethics play when dealing with the survival of one’s own people?” So I looked at how gray things could become when putting aside one’s own ethics and morals to pursue the greater good.

I believe it’s easy to say you believe one way or another. It’s easy to say you are against capital punishment, for example. From personal experience, I can say it’s a lot harder to then still be against capital punishment after your friend is murdered. I’ve gone through that decision process and it was a tough thing to still say I believed it was wrong – even as I picture my friend’s face each time I say it.

So that struggle is something I like to explore in fiction. In life, ethics can be very inconvenient, and they can get in the way. I want to ensure my characters are inconvenienced by their ethics and beliefs as much as possible. Sometimes, they stand by them (as in my epic fantasy series, Tranquility’s Blaze). Other times, my characters wander so far from their ethics that they can’t find their way back, as in Road to Hell.

Both are valid approachs to how people explore their own ethics, and I like writing both.

   
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