Category Archives: science fiction

Worst Martian Playlist: A short novel of space exploration and survival

My latest science fiction offering is live on Amazon! It was a ton of fun to write this summer (harder to get further from lockdown than Mars), and its been a lot of fun to get it ready for publishing. As always, much thanks to Gabriella at Edit for Indies who did the copyediting. Hyphenated words and adjectives are the bane of my existence, and she helped me get all the spaceships and terms consistent. I tend to get excited and little details like NAMES get lost in the mix, which is no good for the poor reader.

So what is it about? In my head, I’ve been describing it as a mashup between The Martian (by Andy Weir) and Smart House, a fun campy Disney movie from my tween years. Lol, make of that what you will! It took a lot of twists and turns from the original premise, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Here’s my description from Amazon:

If you love tense, survival sci-fi, join a pair of shell-shocked astronauts on a catastrophic day of dangers in Worst Martian Playlist, a short novel exploring trust, identity, and loyalty.

The first caverns of the new Martian base were dug by rovers, but when the first long-term crew is on its way, catastrophe strikes. Miranda Oceveda and Caleb Wexler are the sole survivors.

In the caverns and tunnels that comprise the new base, Caleb and Miranda have soldiered on for months, but it’s frustrating and exhausting with only two people. Their AI assistant helps with day to day tasks, but it can’t replace a living crew.

And Miranda isn’t at all sure that Caleb hasn’t cracked under the pressure–he’s angry and aggressive in a way he never was before. Of course, she isn’t sleeping well either, and they both probably have PTSD and adrenal fatigue… But they only have to hold out until the Respite crew arrives.

But with only two weeks to go, one fateful day of storms, solar interference, and human error, their survival will depend on trust and intuition… and neither has much to spare.

Thanks for reading, go check it out!

Interview over at Poseidon’s Scribe

Thanks to Steven Southard for hosting me for a guest interview over at his blog! He had some good questions that made me think and some that made me laugh. Go check it out!

Meanwhile, I’m getting closer on publishing Best Martian Playlist, coming December 1, and working on an untitled Emma/Pride and Prejudice mashup. Good times!

Best Martian Playlist — My Latest Sci-fi Story!

After finishing An Austen Ensemble, I was ready to venture back into the world of speculative fiction. I love carriages, phaetons, barouches, curricles, tumbrils, and farm wagons, and all the details that go along with historical novels, but I was more than ready to MAKE SOME STUFF UP by the time I was done.

So… Thus came about my near-future story on an underground Martian base (as I blow a kiss to Elon Musk!) which takes place on a single terrible day in the lives of two astronauts.

I just got the book back from my wonderful editor, Gabriella West over at Edit for Indies, so I am just whipping it into shape before publication. I am also learning how to use Adobe InDesign for covers, because writing a novel for NaNoWriMo this month was not enough. (I peer dubiously at the schedule written on my hand… Was this the plan?)

Anyway, cover and blurb to follow soon! But here’s an excerpt while I get things ready.

Thanks for reading,

Corrie

Best Martian Playlist

Tenacity Base, Tharsis Montes, Mars

“You should allow yourself to rest,” the AI assistant said, “as the vehicle is in crawl mode. You can close your eyes. Caleb is taking a surface walk to the solar array.”

Miranda half-reclined on the driver’s seat of one of the huge rovers, her feet propped on the locked steering wheel, her head tilted back. She stared at the line between the foil sheeting that partly coated the Martian tunnel and the raw rock beyond, her eyelids heavy. A few feet further and the tunnel disappeared into blackness. She tapped her tablet and spoke to the AI, Ero, through a painful yawn. “Shouldn’t I use the time he’s gone? You said you had a list of options…”

“Steps may be necessary today, but you’ll need to be rested. Shall I begin another album? I can make suggestions based on your profile.” Ero was originally one of Amazon’s proprietary personalities, so he was always trying to get them to try new music or binge-watch new series.

“No, just play the mix I listened to last night.” Miranda felt her shoulders ease and she relaxed for real, getting as comfortable as possible in the bucket chair as she sipped citrus-flavored water out of the tube in her suit. Her position would be ridiculously uncomfortable on Earth, but in the low Martian gravity, it was workable.

The tunnel was twenty feet tall; that was the current calibration on the digger machine that had gone through this tunnel first. And the walls, though still lined from the teeth of that machine, were relatively smooth, half-melted from the high heat that was used to fuse rock and dust into firm walls.

If the caves were natural, they’d be considered quite beautiful. Parts of the rock seemed to hang in long, vertical folds like the finest drapery on a Michelangelo statue.

The thick layers of magnetic foil sealed themselves to the magnetic crust of Mars and crinkled faintly as soft wheels pushed them into place. She could hear it in the pause between one of her songs and the next.

The rock wasn’t perfectly smooth, and the aluminum sheeting wasn’t shiny like kitchen foil, but Miranda could make out the wavy image of her own red and white insulated suit reflected back from the roof of the tunnel. Her reflection was surrounded by that of the huge maroon construction rover, which she affectionately called Ironman.

Miranda felt a sneeze coming and wiggled her nose futilely before sneezing three times in succession. She tried to point her face down to avoid splatter on her faceplate, but having just reclined, she didn’t entirely make it. Ugh…

Miranda released the double-locking ring at her neck with guilty pleasure, rotating it counterclockwise, and gratefully removed her helmet. These suits were streamlined, vastly improved from the first bulky EMU suits early astronauts wore, but a mask was still a mask.

Her hair was in a ratty ponytail, sweaty, and she used her hand to flick a little water from the reservoir tube over her face. She rubbed it over her forehead and cheeks with her gloved hand. Relief. Without the connection to the helmet, the purified air blew from an open valve past her neck. She used the tablet to shut off the suit and preserve its store of liquid oxygen.

With a low rumble, Ironman jolted sideways like a crab, repositioning further down the tunnel. Its spotlights illuminated the front and back rollers applying the foil sheeting up the walls and across the ceiling. Its flat center held the cylinders of aluminum foil like colossal rolls of metallic wrapping paper, and a large robotic arm slotted the next roll into place while magnetic clamps unwound a new section.

“You shouldn’t have your helmet off,” Caleb called down the tunnel.

Miranda flinched. As he came into the lights from Ironman, she saw he was suited in neon green, one of the upper-surface suits which were easier to spot on satellite or in the dark. “Shouldn’t you be at the array?”

“No. Ero just had me servicing tanks in the basin this afternoon.” He came down the tunnel like a lightning bug in the dim glow of her machine, his walk the weirdly bouncy one that they’d grown used to in Mars’s light gravity. His reflection bounced along with him on floor and ceiling as though he were skating on ice.

Miranda gripped the steering wheel, wondering why Caleb would lie, or if she truly was just going crazy.

With her helmet off, she couldn’t ask Ero, but even as she thought the question, her tablet lit up. A brief message from Ero read, “I apologize. I did not realize he chose to ignore the array assignment. Drones are recharging.”

Yeah, Ero would have told her if he knew Caleb was coming her way. She wished she could hit the gas on Ironman and drive away. Or maybe drive right over Caleb. “Do you need something?”

“Yeah. I need you to put your helmet on.”

Miranda used a rag to wipe her face shield before putting the helmet back on.

“Thanks,” Caleb said. “Ero’s telling me there are three new messages, but he won’t display them until you’re there.”

Astronaut in a space-suit looking at starry sky

Good short stories

I don’t know exactly what makes me love a short story, but it has something to do with humor, surprise, and a “real” ending. I wish I could write them that way! Humor especially seems to escape me, and all too often my short stories turn into first chapters (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but sometimes they don’t have the ending feel that I want.

Anyway, that being said, I finally got to read the stories in 20,000 Leagues Remembered! And just in time for the Facebook launch party for the paperback.

There’s too many to write about every one, but here are my favorites, in no particular order:

At Strange Depths by Jason J. McCuiston – so clearly written, forgot I was reading. An eerie extension of the book just after Professor Arronax escapes.

The Maelstrom by Maya Chhabra – fantastic character study, dark and moody and richly textured. It braids Nemo’s former life with the present and has a satisfying end emotionally, possibly the best of the bunch for me!

The Silent Agenda by Mike Adamson – ha! A curiously engrossing fireside chat between a publisher and a translator as they plan to edit Verne’s work to oblivion. Great dialogue, makes a writer and book lover and historian just cringe! In a good way.

Fools Rush In by Allison Tebo – Cracked me up. The would-be thieves have great chemistry as a group. I wanted more! Juliette with her single-minded balloonist goals, Lopez depressed and fatalistic, Casper making glorious speeches at inopportune moments… probably the funniest of the lot.

Homework Help From No One by Demetri Capetanopoulos – Okay, wait, maybe this was the best of the bunch for me! I really tasted the ingenuity, danger, and wonder of the original with this one, and a great ending!

I enjoyed others as well, Raise the Nautilus by Eric Choi is great, particularly for hard sci-fi readers, Leviathan by Michael Winkle went all in from a sperm whale (cachalot’s) perspective which was super creative…

Short story appreciation is definitely a matter of personal preference, but it seems like there’s something here for most to enjoy.

Cheers!

Corrie Garrett

Free day for Manipulate, and a Jules Verne anthology

Manipulate SMALL slap a spaceship on it

The first ebook in my Alien Cadet series is free today (ends at midnight!) so grab a copy if you haven’t read it yet!

Also, I am excited to have a story included in an anthology celebrating 150 years since Jules Verne published his famous novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. That book was published June 20, 1870, and it has inspired countless scientists, engineers, and explorers. And Captain Nemo, with his tragic past, murky motivations, and terrorist tendencies, is a conflicted (anti?) hero who honestly fits right in to our world in 2020!

20KLeagues_Front CoverThis anthology is full of stories that pay tribute to Nemo and/or his ship the Nautilus, and it’ll be available June 20, exactly 150 years to the day! You can pre-order now on Amazon.

In other news, I hope everybody is hanging in there with lockdowns and quarantine. In the US, it seems like a lot of places are opening up and I hope that will mean more jobs will return, and hopefully we have learned enough to control any major Covid-19 spikes! Here in Los Angeles, things are a little slower to open, so I will continue to sit tight with my four kids while we make mazes, sketch pretty doodles, or watch the Holderness channel and laugh.

Don’t forget to pre-order soon! Happy reading, everyone!

Corrie Garrett

 

Still Waters Release!

unnamedPhew, time to move on from Kindle Scout to other news! I’m so happy to have my Little Mermaid retelling included in the most recent anthology by C.J. Brightley. If you love J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and other uplifting fantasy writers, this anthology is for you.

“Noblebright fantasy is fantasy with a thread of hope even in the darkest hour, with characters who strive to do the right thing, even when it costs them everything.

In this exciting collection of noblebright fantasy, fresh new fantasy voices and award-winning authors explore grief and hope, sacrifice and heroism. Rediscover the best aspect of classic fantasy – the noblebright ideals that made heroes heroic, even when the world grew dark around them.”

My fairy-tale adaptation is called “The Ice of Heaven” and was actually inspired by my nine-year-old daughter. She wrote a fun little story about Galileo traveling to one of the moons he discovered and finding life. (She totally has the heart of a historical fantasy writer, if I do say so myself!)

Check out the anthology, you’ll love it. Links for all retailers below:

Amazon B&N/Nook Kobo | iBooksGoogle PlaySmashwords

facebook for stillwaters

 

How Not to Write a Novel

From personal experience. (Sobs quietly over her smoothie.)

1. Re-start it once a year for three years.

2. Decide to switch main characters more than once.

3. Write it all on your phone and lose a significant chunk when your toddler gets the app open.

4. Get distracted by new shiny ide- squirrel!

5. Have a baby. (Actually this one I recommend. It just delays the writing a TINY bit.)

6. Tell your sister or your best friend the whole idea and lose all motivation.

7. Swing wildly between manic confidence and utter revulsion in what you’ve written.

8. Take three years to write it.

9. Get feedback on early chapters and lose all motivation.

And 10. Blog about writing instead of actually WRITING! 🙂

 

The Officer – coming June 28

Summer is here! Do you have a good book to read?

Well, I’ve got one for you! The Officer is almost here. Eleven science fiction stories examining the duties, challenges, and downright chaos of authority in strange places. It’s available for pre-order now, and drops on June 28.

From the back cover:

“Being an officer means balancing many conflicting demands. Making the wrong decision can have serious consequences. It takes a special kind of person to cope with the responsibility.

The stories are:

Duty by Alasdair Shaw
Patchworker 2.0 by M Pax
Totaled by Benjamin Douglas
Lucky Star by A R Knight
There Comes a Time by J J Green
Red Fortitude by Eddie R Hicks
Pithos by Mark Gardner
A Step on the Path by Tom Germann
Rituals by Rick Partlow
First Generation by Adrien Walker
The Grape Thieves by Corrie Garrett ** That’s me! 🙂