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Humans. In. Spa-a-a-ace…

Humans. In. Spa-a-a-ace…

It’s sometimes easy to forget that we live in an age where there are always humans living in space, though still a select few. As I write this, there are three humans currently in space. Thanks to people like Sunita Williams and Chris Hadfield, us earthbound folks have unprecedented access to what that’s really like.

In fiction, though, there are lots of ways humans are depicted as living in space. Here are a few of the common ones:

Living aboard a spaceship

Space is vast, so it makes sense that a lot of our stories are about exploring that vastness. Living aboard a moving vessel is something that people have done throughout history, and many of those real-life ships inspired the visions of future long distance spacecraft.

The internal structures of military seagoing vessels, such as submarines and naval ships, are recognizable in fictional spaceships like Galactica or Enterprise. Their larger size however, allows for more common areas and roomier quarters — at least for people in high positions. Serenity, on the other hand, is more reminiscent of merchant sailing ships.

In stories set aboard spaceships, most of the characters are there because of their work, though in some cases families or civilians are also living aboard.

Follow Darusha Wehm’s board Life on a Spaceship on Pinterest.

Life aboard a space station

These are often reminiscent of remote research stations on Earth, or large malls. Many contain areas with plants or green spaces, as depicted on Babylon 5, and “town square”-like zones for commerce and community (the Zocalo on B5 or the Promenade on Deep Space Nine). Some are more commercial or military, like Space Station V in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Here, the people are depicted as mainly being there for professional reasons, although some stations are akin to airports — as waystations from one destination to another.

Follow Darusha Wehm’s board Life on a Working Space Station on Pinterest.

Space habitats – day to day life, but in space

Unlike spaceships or stations, the population on space habitat is mainly made of “ordinary people” who are living regular lives in an artificial environment. Here you see homes, parks, transportation — the same things you’d see in a city on Earth. These are the most imaginative of the three types of environment, as they have no direct model on Earth. They are also the most appealing to me, probably because the combine the familiar environment of Earth with the novelty and wonder of living in space.

Follow Darusha Wehm’s board Life on a Space Habitat on Pinterest.

Our imaginations take us beyond the gravity well of our home planet in film, television and books, just as those pioneering individuals like Williams and Hadfield take humanity’s first steps into orbit. I’d like to think that these fictional stories and images help to inspire our continued exploration of the cosmos beyond our atmosphere.

Interview with Rebecca Roland, author of Fractured Days

Interview with Rebecca Roland, author of Fractured Days

Today we have an interview with Rebecca Roland, whose new novel Fractured Days has just been released.

Malia returns home the hero of a war she can’t remember. The valley burning under the Maddion’s invasion, the fate of her late husband, the way she resolved the long-time distrust between the Taakwa people and the wolfish, winged Jegudun creatures–all of it has been erased from her memory. Malia hopes to resume training as her village’s next clan mother, but when the symbiotic magic that she and the Jeguduns used to repair the valley’s protective barrier starts to consume more and more of her mind, she’s faced with the threat of losing herself completely.

A powerful being known as “the changer” might hold the solution to her vanishing memories. But the Maddion’s new leader, Muvumo, also seeks the changer, hoping the being will cure them of the mysterious illness killing off his people. Meanwhile, Muvumo’s bride hopes the changer can bring about a new era, one in which she and the other Maddion women no longer need to hold onto their greatest secret.

Me: Can you describe your writing for someone who is unfamiliar with it?

Rebecca: My latest novel, Fractured Days, is fantasy with a wee bit of science fiction thrown into the mix. I tend to write fantasy most of the time, and sometimes venture into science fiction and horror. I enjoy writing fantasy the most, though, because I can play around with different settings, social constructs, organisms, and magic.

Me: Would you want to live in the world of your book? Why or why not?

Rebecca: I think I could be happy living in the world of my book, so long as things were peaceful. My main character, Malia, lives in a pre-technological world that looks an awful lot like the American Southwest. Although there’s no tech to make life easier, tasks are shared among many people and are therefore easier. Plus, she’s friends with the Jeguduns, who are small, winged, humanoid creatures that live in the cliffs surrounding her valley home. They’re intelligent, they have a good sense of humor, and they’re loyal. Plus, they know about chocolate.

Me: Why did you write this story? What is compelling about it for you?

Rebecca: Fractured Days is the sequel to my novel Shards of History. I wanted to write this book because I kept thinking about my characters and what they were up to, and because I wanted to explore how people recover after war, how people cope with issues with failing memory, and how people push for social change.

Me: What surprised you while writing it?

Rebecca: There was one relationship that sort of popped up and blossomed while I was writing, and I wasn’t expecting it at all. I feel like I’m not very good at writing romance, so I figured my subconscious was giving me a gift with this couple and just went along with it.

Me: How will reading it make people feel?

Rebecca: The book includes drama, adventure, magic, and romance. I’m hoping that readers not only find it a page-turner, but that it also gives provokes some thought about social inequality.

Me: Was there anything you did deliberately while crafting this novel (pacing, language, symbolism…)? Why?

Rebecca: One of the things I had to describe was how Malia’s memory was being eroded by the magic she had used in the previous story. That’s challenging to convey, so I described it as a fog rolling in, and slowly taking over more mental territory, so to speak. I find fogs and mists creepy, so a magic fog slowly consuming one’s mind seemed disturbing.

Find Fractured Days at World Weaver Press.

Headshot

Rebecca is the author of the Shards of History series, The Necromancer’s Inheritance series, and The King of Ash and Bones, and Other Stories. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Nature, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Stupefying Stories, Plasma Frequency, and Every Day Fiction, and she is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. You can find out more about her and her work at rebeccaroland.net or follow her on Twitter at @rebecca_roland.

The Clockwork Crown and Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread

The Clockwork Crown and Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread

Today we have a guest: Beth Cato of baking and steampunk fame. Learn about her new book, The Clockwork Crown, and a mouthwatering cookie recipe. Yum!

I’m the author of The Clockwork Dagger and the forthcoming The Clockwork Crown, due out on June 9th from Harper Voyager. The books are steampunk fantasy, set on an alternate world based on post-World War I Europe with some magical and technological twists.

Part of the fun of making my own world from scratch is that I get to create my own food culture. I do my own food blog every Wednesday, Bready or Not, so this is totally my element. I based the geography of my world on western Washington state where I used to live. Therefore, it was only right that my setting’s northern neighbor has a reputation for maple-baked goodies. I LOVE maple, which makes it all the more fun to write about in my books.

In keeping with steampunk sensibilities, I’m sharing a recipe for Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread. This is the perfect cookie for breakfast, snack, or a proper British-style tea time, and like most shortbread, it keeps for over a week and ships very well in all temperatures. Perfect for those long airship journeys!

Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread
originally posted at Bready or Not http://celestialgldfsh.livejournal.com/287005.html
Servings
1 batch
Servings
1 batch
Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread
originally posted at Bready or Not http://celestialgldfsh.livejournal.com/287005.html
Servings
1 batch
Servings
1 batch
Ingredients
Servings: batch
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
  2. Mix the softened butter and sugars until just combined. Add vanilla and maple flavoring.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and salt, then add to butter mixture. Mix on low just until dough comes together; if dough doesn't come together, add tiny amounts of water until it does so. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least thirty minutes (or freeze for future use). [I have kept it in fridge for two days without any problems.]
  4. Roll dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch and cut into individual cookies. If you want, sprinkle the tops with some additional sugar.
  5. Bake for 12-16 minutes, until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and cool before serving.
Recipe Notes

Shortbread keeps for a week or more in a sealed container, and also ships well.

OM NOM NOM!

Maple Sugar Shortbread5_sm

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To find out more about The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, please visit BethCato.com! You can read the first chapter of Dagger, follow links to order the books, AND get more recipes for delicious cookies.

BethCato-steampunk-headshot300x450

Beth Cato is the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy’s Picante Beans

Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy’s Picante Beans

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

I don’t know how the chili wars will play out in the future, so let’s not even go there. This dish definitely owes its heritage to the American Southwest, and happens to go very well with Camilo’s Corn Bread.

Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy's Picante Beans
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 24 hours
Recipes of Arkadia: Betsy's Picante Beans
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 hours 24 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans overnight in fresh water.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil, adding salt and spices. Add the chili and sweet peppers, and cook until soft.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and kidney beans, simmer until they are getting tender. Add the chick peas, and simmer until nearly done. Add more stock or water if the mixture sticks or dries out.
  4. Add the tomatoes, simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down.
  5. Garnish with chopped coriander leaf.
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Recipes of Arkadia: Camilo’s Corn Bread

Recipes of Arkadia: Camilo’s Corn Bread

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

Baking is therapy for Camilo Molina. No wonder he thinks of cornbead as a vegetable.

Recipes of Arkadia: Camilo's Corn Bread
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Recipes of Arkadia: Camilo's Corn Bread
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F/200C.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Melt butter, then beat in first the milk, then the egg.
  4. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients, mix until combined.
  5. Cut the kernels off the corn and add them to the batter. Mix well.
  6. Pour batter into a pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden.
Recipe Notes

Based on a recipe from The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas.

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Recipes of Arkadia: Chen’s Herb Bread

Recipes of Arkadia: Chen’s Herb Bread

Food — growing it, preparing it, eating it — is a central part of life in the Arkadia space colony. Over the next few weeks I’m sharing recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book.

Isabel Hernández isn’t like the other residents of Arkadia. Chen helps her figure out how some parts of this society works and keeps her coming back to his market stall with both his knowledge and the savoury smell of this bread.

Recipes of Arkadia: Chen's Herb Bread
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
Recipes of Arkadia: Chen's Herb Bread
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
Ingredients
Servings: loaf
Instructions
  1. Mix together the flours, salt, yeast and mixed herbs.
  2. Add 3 tbsp of the olive oil and the warm water. Stir together until it's too hard to work with a spoon, then knead with your hands until it's all elastic. The dough will be moist.
  3. Let it rise an hour or more, then punch it down and shape it into a rectangle. Place it on a baking sheet with about a teaspoon of oil rubbed over it. Let it rest about half an hour.
  4. Stretch the dough out to the edges. Let it rest another half hour. Preheat oven to 425F/220C.
  5. Poke some divots into the top of the loaf, then drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary. Reduce the oven temperature to 375F/200C and bake for about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack and cut into squares.
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