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Interview with a Fangirl: Lois

I am continuing with my series of interviews with Fangirls that I have met through social media!

Today, it is a great pleasure to interview fellow Fangirl, who also happens to be my favorite author of all time, Lois McMaster Bujold!

I became aware of Lois when my husband and I rented the audiobook version of her story, Shards of Honor, back when these were published by The Reader’s Chair. However, I became more aquainted with her, not only as an author, but as a fangirl, via her blog, which I have been following since she first started posting on MySpace.com.

Welcome Lois to The Adventures of The Everyday Fangirl. You are an inspiration to other fangirls, like me, and it is an honor that you took the time to answer these questions about being a Fangirl.

EFG:

When do you realize you were a Fangirl?

LMB:

Before the term “fangirl” was invented. I started reading science fiction for grownups at about age nine, because my father, an engineering professor, used to buy the magazines and books to read on the plane when he went on consulting trips, and they fell to me. Got my first subscription to Analog Magazine at age 13. So when Star Trek came along in 1966, when I was in high school, the seed fell on already-fertile ground; it was an addition, not a revelation. At last, SF on TV that was almost as good as what I was reading, a miracle! I would have just called myself a fan then, or a reader, ungendered terms I note.

In my entire high school of 1,800 students, there was only one other genre reader I knew of (later we expanded to 4 or 6), my best friend Lillian, and she only because we traded interests; I got history from her, she got F&SF from me. So there was no one to be fans with, for the first while.

Lois McMaster circa 1968

Lois McMaster, Star Trek fan, photo circa 1968 by Ron Miller. There were no posters to buy back then; I made the one you see on the wall myself, with tempura paint on a poster board, gridding up from a picture in TV Guide. The model I made from a kit

 

EDF:

How has social media helped or hindered you?

LMB:

It has provided a great way to reach my readers with the latest word about my works, and vice versa; it’s also an enormous distraction and time sink. What I learn from it all makes it come out pretty even, I think. But due to the distraction issues, I keep my e-footprint small, mainly my Goodreads blog. Goodreads has also provided a handy way for fans to ask questions.  280 answered questions so far, so if you want to read more Bujold blether, there you go.

EDF:

When did you first see Star Wars or other favorite fandom, such as Star Trek, Lord of The Ring, etc. and did you love it right away or did this grow on you over time?

LMB:

Saw Star Wars in the first week, Star Trek (not yet TOS) and The Fellowship of the Ring on the first nights.

But that you say “see” is telling. I first read The Lord of the Rings at age 15, in 1965. I didn’t fall in love with the first volume, which (long story) I had mistaken for the only one; it took finding the other two, by chance in a wire rack, to enchant me. I was also about that age when I fell in love with the Sherlock Holmes books. Prior to Star Trek, there was short-lived TV series called The Wackiest Ship in the Army (for all the recent DVD re-releases, why not that one?) that Lillian and I glommed onto, and prior to that there was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In all of these cases, I observe in retrospect, there was a brainy character that I imprinted on, almost never the lead except for Sherlock. (Strider, Major Butcher, Illya, Spock… I sense a trend.)

Star Wars came along later, when I was in my late 20s and early 30s, deep in booting up a family and my early writing career, so though I loved the first trilogy, it didn’t hit with the same impact, and I didn’t follow up on the fandom or mountain of spinoffs. Although another early movie pair, the Richard Lester The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, with Oliver Reed as Athos, managed to hit my buttons hard; again, I’d been a Dumas reader already. Pre-adapted, so to speak. (Skip the 1993 Disney remake – it was execrable.)

The greatest suspense for me, watching the Lord of the Rings movies, which had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, was the question, “Are the moviemakers going to screw this bit up?” and the greatest thrill was when the answer was, “Yay, they didn’t!” Star Wars, being original to film, didn’t have that problem of competing with a prior tale in my head, fighting like two cats in a sack.

EDF:

What have you learned from the Star Trek fan community or other fan communities that has had a positive impact on your life?

LMB:

Well, I have for the past 30 years made my living as a science fiction and fantasy writer, so I’d say the impact has been huge.

It was mainly through the very early fan community – both Star Trek (through the earliest fanzines like Devra Langsam’s Spockanalia), and general, through the Central Ohio Science Fiction Fan Club, which I discovered just after high school (22 guys and me meeting in Ron Miller’s parents’ basement, later to be this Ron Miller – that I learned I was not alone in my interests.

Oh, and BFF Lillian? Now this: Lillian Stewart Carl and we are still friends, 55 years and a few million words later.

The “SF community” used to mean, quite narrowly, attendees at SF literary conventions (media fandom was constructed as another, if allied, beast.) The arrival of the internet has changed it all, as an acquaintance of mine put it with respect to fanfiction, “like throwing a gasoline tanker truck on a campfire.” Good times. Break out the marshmallows.

EDF:

What else do you Fangirl about?

LMB:

Lately, I have gotten fairly deep into anime and animation. (And, peripherally, manga.) My first brush with anime was at SF conventions in the 80s, when it was presented in a room on a screen with a fan standing beside it doing verbal translations on the fly – early modern fansubs, as it were. The very limited selection on VHS in video stores (remember video stores?) intrigued me further, but also frustrated me. The Modern Age, and Netflix DVDs, opened up that world to me at last.

Yes, I realize everyone else is switching to direct downloads now. Just give me a minute to catch my breath…

I have a bunch of fave anime. Paprika is probably my favorite feature, though of course I also like most of the Studio Ghibli offerings. Series include but are not limited to Mushi-Shi, Otogi Zoshi, The GokuSen, Wallflower, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi, Antique Bakery, Junjo Romantica, Mirage of Blaze, Shonen Onmyoji, The Story of Saiunkoku… Also many of the works of CLAMP, in both forms, manga and anime. As a general rule I have no use for giant fighting robots in any form, fighting samurai (Samurai Champloo excepted), ultra-violence, grimdark, or horror, though sufficiently Japanese folklore horror sometimes gets a pass, such as Mononoke. (Not to be confused with Princess Mononoke, although that one’s good, too.)

EDF:

Anything else you want to say to others about being a Fangirl?

LMB:

I think the above pretty much covers it. For all that people go on about the Golden Age of Science Fiction being some moving target of decades ago, I think the golden age is now. We’re all rather like Scrooge McDuck, rolling around in his giant vault of coins, with more fiction at our fingertips than anyone can take in.

Thanks again Lois for answering these questions and letting us to get to know you and your fandom better. This fangirl really appreciates this!

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Lois McMaster Bujold today

Lois McMaster Bujold today, photo by Paul Bujold. Signing tip sheets for my 25th novel.

Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children. She began writing with the aim of professional publication in 1982. She wrote three novels in three years; in October of 1985, all three sold to Baen Books, launching her career. Bujold went on to write many other books for Baen, mostly featuring her popular character Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, his family, friends, and enemies. Her fantasy from HarperCollins includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife series.
Ten times nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, she has won in that category four times, in addition to garnering another Hugo for best novella, three Nebula Awards, three Locus Awards, the Mythopoeic Award, two Sapphire Awards, the Minnesota Book Award, the Forry Award, and the Skylark Award. In 2007, she was given the Ohioana Career Award, and in 2008 was Writer Guest-of-Honor for the 66th World Science Fiction Convention. A complete list may be found here: http://www.sfadb.com/Lois_McMaster_Bujold. Her works have been translated into over twenty languages.
More information on Bujold and her books is archived at www.dendarii.com and her blog at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16094.Lois_McMaster_Bujold/blog.

Books, stories or series that influenced me

I have been challenged by few of my friends on Facebook to name 10 books that changed or influenced my life. However, I have so many books, stories and series that changed or influenced my life that I cannot possibly only name 10. Therefore, below is my attempt to limit this list to only the top books, stories or series that changed or influenced me throughout my life so far!

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

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This was actually one of my Mom’s favorites. It influenced her so much that she made a gift of this book to me as an adult. My Mom told me, when she gave me that gift, it was to remind me that there is always a silver lining no matter how dire things are. Now that she has passed away, this story is even more precious to me and will continue to remind me of her for years to come.

Poky Little Puppy A Little Golden Book

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This was a favorite story when I was in elementary school. I am not sure how it changed or influenced me, but I read and re-read this book so much that I wore the binding out and pages fell out of the book.

Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene

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I was first introduced to these stories in elementary school, by the school librarian. The first story of the series I read was The Hidden Staircase. These were first set of stories that I became obsessed with and just had to read!

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

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I first read an excerpt of this story in Middle School as part of an overall reading assignment in the textbook. However, it was the scene where Mr. Collins proposed to Elizabeth and her response to that proposal. The character of Elizabeth was just so powerful in that short scene that I just had to find out more about her and her life. It influenced me to seek out the novel and of course all of the other iterations and adaptations.

Once and Always by Judith McNaught

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This is my very first adult historical romance novel. The story, characters and the steamy romance scenes really caught my attention. For a long time, this is the historical romance story I used to measure all the other stories I read in the same genre!

LONG, TALL TEXANS SERIES by Diana Palmer

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This series has been a part of my life since 1988 and I mentioned that this was one of my favorite series before. I bought the first story in the series, Calhoun, with money that I earned working part time at a local Kmart store. I was so proud that I was able to not only read such an amazing story with great characters, but that I was able to buy it new with my own money!

Mallory-Anderson Series by Johnanna Lindsey

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This is another series that I have mentioned before and has been a part of my life for over 25 years. The first story in the series, Love Only Once, introduced my favorite male character, James Mallory, and I was NEVER the same since.

Legacy by Jayne Ann Krentz

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This is the first story that I found by one of my favorite authors, Jayne Anne Krentz. I found this at a used book store one Saturday afternoon. The book was so good that I went to find all her previous books. In addition, because all the other books were just as good as the first, Jayne Ann Krentz became a must read and buy author from that time on.

Flirting With Trouble by Cathie Linz

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This is my first signed book by the author! I met the author through an online Bulletin Board while I was in College. The members of the Bulletin Board decided to have a meet up in Cathie’s home town. Not only did I get to meet this amazing author and have this book signed, but it found a life long friend as well.

A Night In the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny

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This story is one that my husband and I re-listen to every year during the month of October for Halloween. Each time we listen to it, it feels like brand new all over again. In addition, we have the rare audio version of this story narrated by the author himself!

And, but definitely not least…

Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

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I have mentioned this series before. Every single story in the Vorkosigan Saga constantly changes and influences me, even in small ways. However, if I had to choose one book from this amazing series to list it would be Shards of Honor!

Ultimate Mom in Romantic Science Fiction

There are so few Moms in Science Fiction, even this top 10 list added a Fantasy Mother. There are even fewer in Romantic Science Fiction. However, Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan from the Vorkosigan Saga written by Lois McMaster Bujold, stands out among them.

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Cover with Cordelia in the foreground

I am not the only one who believes this either. A recent blog article proclaims that Moms Can Have Their Own Adventures, Too using Cordelia as the example.

She’s an adventurer and a leader, and she has the uncanny ability to figure out how other people work and what they need and want. As a mother, she gives her son room to explore while still providing boundaries and a safety net.

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In the Omnibus Cordelia’s Honor, which combines Shards of Honor and the companion story, Barrayar into one volume, not only shows her growing romance with Aral, but also Cordelia in the first stages of motherhood.

What makes Cordelia the Ultimate Romantic Science Fiction Mom?

Throughout the saga whether they appear in the story or not, Aral and Cordelia are shown to still be very much in love with each other, even after 30 years. Now that is a romantic science fiction story that continues to live on even “off-stage”. In addition, Cordelia has continued to pass on, as a mother would, her outlook, concepts and philosophies in life and politics, not only to her offspring, but to EVERYONE she interacts with! These are established through quotes, many contributed to be influenced by Cordelia, used by various characters throughout the saga. Some examples of these are:

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
“Let’s see what happens!”
“When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.”

It is the continuing romance and her influence on the various characters, as a mother even when she is firmly “off-stage”, that establishes Cordelia as the Ultimate Romantic Science Fiction Mom, in my opinion.

10 favorite fandom couples

Topic: 10 favorite fandom couples

I am a sucker for a good romantic story. Lucky for me, many of my favorite fandoms include a romantic story either as a major or minor part of the plot. Therefore, today I decided to share with you 10 of my favorite couples from some of these fandoms…

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Sailor Moon & Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon
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Rick Hunter & Lisa Hayes from Robotech

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Belle & The Beast from Disney’s Beauty & The Beast

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Westley & Buttercup from The Princess Bride

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Lee Stetson & Amanda King from Scarecrow & Mrs King

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Cordelia & Aral Vorkosigan From The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

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Kenshin & Kaoru from Rurouni Kenshin

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Ren & Kyoko from Skip Beat

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Elizabeth & Darcy from Pride and Prejudice

And finally…

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Princess Leia & Han Solo from Star Wars

June #FangirlPhotoADay Challenge: Day 20

I have accepted a challenge from Twitter User @kim_love who challenges all fangirls to answer one question a day via photos with the #FangirlPhotoADay hash tag.

The following photos answer the question for Day 20:

Question 20) What fandom universe or world would I most like to live in?

I have so many fandoms I would love to live in that it is hard to choose just one. Therefore, I will list a three of these fandom universes that I would love to live in!

The Vorkosigan Universe

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The Star Wars Universe

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The Sailor Moon version of Juban District in Tokyo, Japan

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June #FangirlPhotoADay Challenge: Day 16

I have accepted a challenge from Twitter User @kim_love who challenges all fangirls to answer one question a day via photos with the #FangirlPhotoADay hash tag.

The following photo answers the question for Day 16:

Question 16) Favorite book character

I have so many characters from books that I consider my favorite, but if I have to choose one it would be Cordelia Naismith

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June #FangirlPhotoADay Challenge: Day 8

I have accepted a challenge from Twitter User @kim_love who challenges all fangirls to answer one question a day via photos with the #FangirlPhotoADay hash tag.

The following photo answers the question for Day 8:

Question 8) book you wish was made into a movie

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Cordelia’s Honor, which is the Omnibus of Shards of Honor and Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold!

“Sidelines” by Lois McMaster Bujold

“Sidelines” by Lois McMaster Bujold

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I pre-ordered “Sidelines” for my Nook and it is currently on my To Be Read (aka TBR) list for future reading! I think it will be interesting to hear Lois’s opinions and to see how her views have changed over time. I encourage any of her fans to buy this ebook. If this is of interest to anyone, especially any new writers, please check out the links below:

#AtoZChallenge Vorkosigan Saga, Recommended Reading Order

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A-Z Blog Challenge Topic: Vorkosigan Saga, Recommended Reading Order


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Picture courtesy of Tor.com

As I mentioned in a previous post, I love the stories of the Vorkosigan Saga. Since it is a long series of stories, I thought that I would share a recommend reading order to this wonderful saga, especially for new readers. Below is an excerpt from a Goodreads post, called The Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order Debate: The Chef Recommends, by the author herself, Lois McMaster Bujold:

Many pixels have been expended debating the ‘best’ order in which to read what have come to be known as the Vorkosigan Books, the Vorkosiverse, the Miles books, and other names, since I neglected to supply the series with a label myself. The debate now wrestles with some fourteen or so volumes and counting, and mainly revolves around publication order versus internal-chronological order. I favor internal chronological, with a few caveats.

I have always resisted numbering my volumes; partly because, in the early days, I thought the books were distinct enough; latterly because if I ever decided to drop in a prequel somewhere (which in fact I did most lately with Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance) it would upwhack the numbering system. Nevertheless, the books and stories do have a chronological order, if not a strict one.

It was always my intention to write each book as a stand-alone so that the reader could theoretically jump in anywhere, yes, with that book that’s in your hand right now, don’t put it back on the shelf! While still somewhat true, as the series developed it acquired a number of sub-arcs, closely related tales that were richer for each other. I will list the sub-arcs, and then the books, and then the caveats.

Shards of Honor and Barrayar. The first two books in the series proper, they detail the adventures of Cordelia Naismith of Beta Colony and Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar. Shards was my very first novel ever; Barrayar was actually my eighth, but continues the tale the next day after the end of Shards. For readers who want to be sure of beginning at the beginning, or who are very spoiler-sensitive, start with these two.

The Warrior’s Apprentice and The Vor Game (with, perhaps, the novella “The Mountains of Mourning” tucked in between.) The Warrior’s Apprentice introduces the character who became the series’ linchpin, Miles Vorkosigan; the first book tells how he created a space mercenary fleet by accident; the second how he fixed his mistakes from the first round. Space opera and military-esque adventure (and a number of other things one can best discover for oneself), The Warrior’s Apprentice makes another good place to jump into the series for readers who prefer a young male protagonist.

After that: Brothers in Arms should be read before Mirror Dance, and both, ideally, before Memory.

Komarr makes another good alternate entry point for the series, picking up Miles’s second career at its start. It should be read before A Civil Campaign.

Borders of Infinity, a collection of three of the five currently extant novellas, makes a good Miles Vorkosigan early-adventure sampler platter, I always thought, for readers who don’t want to commit themselves to length. (But it may make more sense if read after The Warrior’s Apprentice.) Take care not to confuse the collection-as-a-whole with its title story, “The Borders of Infinity”.

Falling Free takes place 200 years earlier in the timeline and does not share settings or characters with the main body of the series. Most readers recommend picking up this story later. It should likely be read before Diplomatic Immunity, however, which revisits the “quaddies”, a bioengineered race of free fall dwellers, in Miles’s time.

The novels in the internal-chronological list below appear in plain text; the novellas (officially defined as a story between 17,500 words and 40,000 words, though mine usually run 20k – 30k words) in quote marks.

Caveats:

The novella “Weatherman” is an out-take from the beginning of the novel The Vor Game. If you already have The Vor Game, you likely don’t need this.

The original ‘novel’ Borders of Infinity was a fix-up collection containing the three novellas “The Mountains of Mourning”, “Labyrinth”, and “The Borders of Infinity”, together with a frame story to tie the pieces together. Again, beware duplication. The frame story does not stand alone, and generally is of interest only to completists.

Note the following:

Since I was introduced to the Vorkosigan Saga via the audiobook format, all the links go straight to the audiobook publisher’s pages of these stories. However, these stories can also be found on other sites as well, such as Audible.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.com, Baen eBooks and the Apple iTunes Store.

Happy listening or reading!

#AtoZChallenge Babylon 5 Re-Watch – Observations

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A to Z Blog Challenge Topic: Babylon 5 Re-Watch – Observations

Recently, my husband and I started re-watching the sci-fi TV Show Babylon 5 that we acquired on DVD. We have completed re-watching Season 1 and have continued on to Season 2. While re-watching these episodes, my husband and I have observed some connections with another fandom.

Now, I realize that those in the “know” may believe that I must be talking about either Star Trek, which it has been compared quite extensively, or Star Wars, which I mention on this blog quite frequently. However, the comparison we made was to a series of books by Lois McMaster Bujold, The Vorkosigan Saga, which I mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts. This is fitting since J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, has stated many times that it was created to be a “Novel for Television”.

A few of the connections we observed between Babylon 5 and The Vorkosigan Saga, while re-watching season 1 and part of season 2 are:

*Babylon 5 and The Vorkosigan Saga are not only part of the sci-fi genre, but are military space operas.

*The Centauri and The Barryarian people are both ruled by an emperor.

*The Centauri Great Houses and the Barryarian Vor Clans have a similar place and role in their respective cultures.

*The Narn and The Barryarian people suffered occupation by off-world planetary governments and then chased these occupying governments off after a long period of time.

*The unknown nature of The Vorlons is similar to the unknown nature of The Cetigandian Haut, especially in the use of a technology to limit contact.

We are not sure if the creator of Babylon 5 read these series novels or was influenced in any way by Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga in any way. However, As stated above, these are just some of the connections we observed so far. We are not sure if we will observe any more connections as we continue the re-watch the rest of the Babylon 5 seasons.

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