Thursday, October 09, 2014

Princesses in SPACE!!!

I read my favorite novel of 2014 two years ago. It's called Stardancer and it's the first novel in a cycle called The Song of Forgotten Stars. And it was written by my friend Kelly Sedinger, aka Jaquandor of Byzantium's Shores.

I was honored to be one of Kelly's test readers. I admit, I took my sweet damn time with it. It was just too good to tear through so quickly; I wanted to savor it, spending afternoons sitting on the floor, petting my bunny and snacking while he transported me to a far off planet, alongside two young princesses who find themselves stranded in an unfamiliar place and facing destinies they never imagined, and responsibilities they aren't sure if they can bear.

I don't know if anyone's ever noticed, but 90% of the science fiction I read was written in the 1960s or earlier. I don't know where to begin with a lot of modern SF; I'm a bit intimidated by book covers that seem like near-identical painted scenes of spacecraft, so I tend to stick with what I know. I find a lot of modern everything a little too grim and hopeless, and I don't need to invite more of that into my life when so much of it is done so poorly and I'm suffering with incredible bouts of depression and anxiety in my daily life. What I love so much about Stardancer is that it's... I want to say lighthearted, but really I think I mean that it's optimistic. It's much braver--and harder, I think--to tell an optimistic story rather than a cynical one. Optimism takes courage. (And didn't the success of Guardians of the Galaxy prove that (a) we're all ready for more fun in our stories of heroes, and (b) that you can have just as much depth of emotion and character in a fun story as you can in a dark one?)

The heroines of the novel, sisters Tariana and Margeth Osono, are just kids. They want to do the right thing, but don't always know what that is or how to accomplish it. The hope for one world's future is placed on their shoulders, and one of Tariana's constant worries is just how she can live up to the dreams of a people she never even knew existed. That she even tries to bear that at all is heroic. I like that the characters are flawed but try to find the path of hope. It's touching and these characters mean a lot to me. And it's all against the backdrop of outer space, fantastic creatures, and one of my favorite spaceships in all of fiction. Through it all, Kelly captures the wonder and the possibility of the stars themselves. It's emotionally real, and that's thrilling.

I love the book and I've been dying to read it again, this time with my wife, and I'm thrilled that Kelly is self-publishing in just five weeks. Right now, he's got a website for the book (Forgotten Stars) where you can see the cover art and a clever video trailer; he's going to be releasing the first three chapters, one each week, until the book is actually released.

I have to tell you, I'm a bit envious. I've had a novel kicking around inside of me for about the last 25 years that I started writing a long time ago and put aside. I've given in to despair a lot in the past decade. I applaud Kelly's courage and his faith in himself in self-publishing, and his dedication to finishing the work and telling one of the stories that was inside of him. And I thank him for sharing it! His example shows me that, despite how I feel about myself, it's not too late to tell your stories.

I can't wait for the movie.

Well, I'm getting ahead of myself.

For now, go to the website. Check it out. I can't recommend it enough.


Black Jack's Carol said...

I'm so sorry that there is anxiety in your life but applaud you for some fine writing about "Stardancer" that had me hanging onto every word. Perhaps, that will be our next read. I'll be back for your next post. Lots of interest here :)

Kelly Sedinger said...

I'm sorry, I tried reading this post, but halfway through something went awry with my eyes. I need to go wipe away this weird salty discharge that started bursting from them.

Joking aside, thank you for the plug! I can't believe it's getting this close, either. (And the bits and pieces of PRINCESSES III are starting to accrete in my brain....)