Guest Author Cathy Pegau
Five Reasons I Love Speculative Fiction
No matter what basic storyline pops into my head, I always seem to throw an otherworldly curve in it. A western becomes a story about demon hunters on the frontier. A women’s fiction about best friends becomes a ghost story. I love tales that have some kind of “otherness” in them, some twist on what we know as our normal reality. Why does my mind take these turns? I have no idea. But I can tell you why I love reading and writing them.
1) Bending the Rules—or even breaking them (my personal favorite ; ). If you can imagine it, you can write it into your world. As long as you can explain why the sky is green and the grass is blue, why not? Not only can it make a run-of-the-mill story different, but you get to do cool research too.
2) Get Lost—in your imagination. A story set on another planet, in another reality, is a great way to put your own reality aside for a little while. It’s like a mini vacation that costs only a few dollars. And the characters typically have much greater problems than our everyday issues. If the MC can handle alien invaders, I can deal with the evil day job.
3) Turn a Subgenre on Its Head—Space westerns. Elves in Manhattan. Automatons in a Victorian-era mystery. Subgenres and combinations abound in speculative fiction. Granted, too many categories can be a little cumbersome (space elves landing in Victorian Manhattan to solve a murder? Well, maybe…) but if the author does her job even that might fly.
4) Plot-tastic Tales—where the world-building lends itself to wild situations. As long as they make sense, just about anything goes. Hmm…I wonder what those space elves are up to?
5) Super Characters—sometimes literally. Some speculative fiction characters have super powers. Some have wings or pointy ears or pointy teeth. Some change form. Some have kick-ass martial arts skills or pulse weapons and jet packs. No matter what their attributes, skills, talents or tech, a good spec fiction character is a step above mere mortals while retaining traits that the reader finds relatable.
Those are my reasons for loving all manner of speculative fiction, from high fantasy and magic realism to science fiction and steampunk. What about you?
Cathy’s debut F/F Science Fiction Romance Rulebreaker is out from Carina Press now. Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt:
Liv Braxton’s Felon Rule #1: Don’t get emotionally involved.
Smash-and-grab thieving doesn’t lend itself to getting chummy with the victims, and Liv hasn’t met anyone on the mining colony of Nevarro worth knowing, anyway. So it’s easy to follow her Rules.
Until her ex, Tonio, shows up with an invitation to join him on the job of a lifetime.
Until Zia Talbot, the woman she’s supposed to deceive, turns Liv’s expectations upside down in a way no woman ever has.
Until corporate secrets turn deadly.
But to make things work with Zia, Liv has to do more than break her Rules, and the stakes are higher than just a broken heart…
From Rulebreaker, Chapter One:
One of the three masked men raised his rifle and shot a short burst of energy pulses into the ceiling of the First Colonial Bank of Nevarro. Fft-fft-fft-fft-fft. Plaster hit the wood floor in a staccato patter louder than the shots themselves. Ozone, dust and cries of alarm filled the air.
The shooter swung the muzzle toward me. “I said, heads down, lady.”
Gut tight, I complied, imitating the others who had been caught inside the bank when the black-clad men had entered just before closing time. It wasn’t often that I stared into the dark, deadly hole of a weapon. I don’t recommend it as a regular activity.
“Everyone stay down and stay quiet,” he ordered. “We’ll be outta here in two minutes, and y’all can go home alive.”
One of the men in black escorted the teller and the manager to the back of the bank where the vault was. The guard, an elderly couple, Calvin and I lay on our bellies, hands on the backs of our heads and cheeks to the rough wood. The elderly couple had come in to check on their savings.
Cal and I had come in to rob the place ourselves.
Despite the pulse pistol nestled under my clothes against the small of my back, and Cal’s gun tucked in a holster covered by his right pant leg, neither of us was inclined to play hero.
Cal turned his head away from the shooter to glare at me. “Only you, Liv,” he whispered fiercely, “would pick the exact same day to rob a bank as real criminals.”
Real criminals? I opened my mouth to loudly voice my indignation but snapped it shut.
I’d already drawn enough attention to myself. Instead, I returned his harsh whisper. “We are real criminals. This is just poor timing.”
Cal and I had been planning this job for a while. The Exeter Mining Company deposited its employees’ pay during an undisclosed period each month to avoid such actions as, say, robbery. But Cal had finagled the schedule and amounts from a friend. Seventy-five thousand in cold, hard cash had been delivered to this bank in Milchner the day before. Many small-op contract miners preferred hard money to electronic transfer—fewer slipped digits and short changings to worry about.
We chose this branch because it was the most remote, the least secure and had the fewest personnel. Despite its lower take than a branch in one of the larger cities, like Pembroke, it was the perfect hit.
Apparently the competition thought so too.
“We should have done this sooner,” Cal grumbled.
“It’s not my fault my car died,” I said.
This had not been one of my luckier days, or months, or years for that matter. The job was supposed to go down last month, but fast transportation was a must. Cal only had access to a slower model Airvan. A week before the original hit date, the lifters on my somewhat newer, sleeker and more sensitive light air car went offline. Part of this take was earmarked to pay that bill. Damn the void.