Release Date: May 5th, 2015
On the heavily forested planet of Lumin, the Network has slept, dormant, for over six hundred cycles. Only a select few remember that it resides beneath the crust of the planet, waiting, and for them, the battle for Lumin’s future has raged in the shadows.
When Mia Jayne’s path crosses with an ancient volume in the Archives of the Order of Vis Firmitas, this ancient battle moves from the shadows into the light. Compendium opens up a world of knowledge, and, for the first time since arriving at the Order, Mia has the key to reclaim the freedom she has lost. To do so, she must choose between her conscience and her heart. Conceived against an ailing world of fantastical beauty where long-lost technology tips the balance between extinction and survival, Mia must remember that there is always a choice, and that makes all the difference.
The Modern Classics: Inspiring Literary Fantasy and Science Fiction
Hello everyone! I’m so glad to be here and to be contributing a guest post to Mythical Books. My name is Alia Luria, and I have been an avid consumer of fiction for as long as I can remember. I started off with children’s classics like The Phantom Tollbooth and Chronicles of Narnia and quickly graduated to Stephen King novels by the age of eleven. My mother read a lot of crime dramas, legal thrillers and horror, so I read anything she left lying about. When I started buying my own books, I diversified, reading everything under the sun, including romance, YA (which back then was pretty limited – I think I had everything by Christopher Pike), science fiction, fantasy, historical, and literary fiction. I have been trying to write a novel off and on since I was fifteen (which was… 23 years ago, ahem), but I finally got serious about finishing a novel a couple of years ago after getting that igniting spark while playing with a Kindle tablet. If you want to know how a Kindle inspired me, you’ll have to look at some of the other posts on my blog tour.
Although my debut novel, Compendium, is launching this week, the topic that I want to discuss while I’m here focuses on some of the authors that write speculative fiction that have inspired me and shaped my goals as a writer. Compendium may not share any plot points, any technical similarities or even any thematic similarities with the books described below, these authors and these books have each taught me something very important about the technical aspects of writing: world building, theme, character creation, and plot. These authors are all masters at their craft. My list is in no particular order, as all of these authors are amazing. They are all speculative fiction of some kind, whether fantasy, science fiction, or magical realism, and I highly recommend giving them a try if you haven’t had a chance to read them yet. Each of these authors has transcended their genres to mainstream and literary acclaim.
1. Douglas Adams. I started reading Douglas Adams when I was about twelve. My school library actually carried his books. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy blew my mind. The earth is destroyed to make place for a hyperspace bypass, and the only earthlings to survive is morose and neurotic Arthur Dent and the girl that rejected him at a party. It is laugh out loud funny science fiction, political satire, eminently quotable and ageless. Douglas Adams was a master wordsmith. To this day, I envy his ability to make the reader laugh at the tiniest description. RIP Douglas Adams. The world lost you much too soon!
Recommended: The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy (5 books)
Quote: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
2. Margaret Atwood. Every time I think about Margaret Atwood, I kick myself for not reading The Handmaid’s Tale years before I did, although I should really be grateful that she’s alive and well and still creating amazing novels. That said, The Handmaid’s Tale remains as relevant today as the day it was conceived. As birth rates become perilously low due to pollution, the United States government is overthrown by religious fundamentalists, and women’s rights are stripped from them and they are striated and classified as servants, wives, or handmaids. The handmaids’ job is to repopulate humanity by serving as vessels for impregnation. The most terrifying part of Atwood’s dystopian fiction is how plausible it is. She nudges humanity in a direction it could very easily head, and the results raise the hairs on the back of my neck when I read it.
Recommended: The Handmaid’s Tale, The Maddaddam Trilogy
Quote: “Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some” – The Handmaid’s Tale
3. Haruki Murakami. I started reading Haruki Murakami after a coworker who knew that I lived in Japan for a time suggested it to me. I started with Kafka on the Shore and most recently read 1Q84. Having lived in Tokyo and having an understanding of Japanese culture, perhaps Murakami’s books just hold something special for me. The plots are hard to describe, but they mostly focus on a mundane everyman (or everywoman) who is suddenly thrust into a warped reality. Whether he climbs down into a well and travels into another level of consciousness, or she climbs down an emergency exit of a highway and traverses to another universe where the Little People manipulate history, his books focus on the inner life of his characters even as the world around them becomes something confusing and alarming. I admire greatly his ability to weave the strangeness of fantasy directly into the strangeness of the human mind. Even though he sometimes leaves questions open and his books are not flawless technically, they inspire me greatly.
Recommended: Kafka on the Shore, The Windup Bird Chronicle, 1Q84
Quote: “If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.” – 1Q84
4. Ursula K. Le Guin. I purchased The Left Hand of Darkness on a whim when Powell’s Book Store was having an online sale, and I am very, very glad I did. This novel, while standalone with respect to the plot, is part of a series of related stories. In The Left Hand of Darkness, Genry Ai travels to a planet called Winter, where his job is to convince the planet’s inhabitants to join the Ekumen as a member of there interstellar trade group. Le Guin is a world building genius, but she is also incredibly adept at asking the question, “What if your gender didn’t determine your role in society?” She has also mastered the genres of both science fiction and fantasy. Her Earthsea series is much beloved as well.
Recommended: The Left Hand of Darkness, Wizard of Earthsea
Quote: “Yes. There's really only one question that can be answered, Genry, and we already know the answer....The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.” – The Left Hand of Darkness
5. Octavia E. Butler. Octavia E. Butler is another classic female science fiction writer. Where Ursula K. Le Guin excels at world building, Butler’s mastery of humanity is what makes her science fiction so chilling. When humanity nearly destroys itself during the cold war, it is “saved” by an alien race. Humanity goes from being the “benevolent conquerors” of the planet Earth to a subjugated species, very much like how we treat endangered species now. Butler’s ability to create empathy and discomfort simultaneously and on either side of the conflict is masterful, and I learn a lot from every word I read. Alas, we also lost Octavia E. Butler too young, along with Douglas Adams. I will savor each of her novels, knowing there will never be another.
Recommended: Lilith’s Brood (Dawn is the first book)
Quote: "Your Earth is still your Earth, but between the efforts of your people to destroy it and ours to restore it, it has changed." – Dawn
6. Neil Gaiman. Many people love Neil Gaiman, so I am not alone in taking inspiration from him. I’ve read a number of his books, including American Gods, Anansi Boys, Good Omens, and Neverwhere, and although I enjoyed them all, his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the book that really inspires me. Told entirely from the perspective of an un-named protagonist, much of it through the eyes of said protagonist as a child, this novel manages to weave a complex world of magical realism into simple, digestible terms. It is as if Gaiman gives us permission to be ignorant because the narrator is a child. When I read this book, I am amazed by how he balances the disclosure and withholding of information. It is often hard for an author to determine when too much is being said and when not enough is being said. Ocean at the End of the Lane does a beautiful job with this tricky element of plot.
Recommended: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neverwhere
Quote: “’Oh, monsters are scared,’ said Lettie. ‘That's why they're monsters.’” – The Ocean at the End of the Lane
7. JK Rowling. The Harry Potter Series is beloved by many, so perhaps the inclusion of JK Rowling on this list is a cop out. However, it’s my list, and the message of the Harry Potter books, the scale, and the ease with which Rowling weaves all of these together is truly inspirational for me as a writer. I particularly love how the voice of the novels grows as Harry grows. I really feel like I’m in Harry’s mind when I read Rowling’s books, and that is a skill that I have tried hard to develop in my own writing. I have heard amazing things about her mystery books as well, but they are at the moment still in my queue.
Recommended: Harry Potter Series
Quote: “You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Well, there you have my list of speculative fiction authors that inspire me when I sit down to write. I hope that if you write science fiction or fantasy or if you enjoy an amazing story, you will check out one or more of these authors or books that you may not have read yet. Each and every one of them holds a special place in my heart and mind, egging me on to achieve more with my writing. Happy reading!
About the author:
Alia Luria resides in Orlando, Florida with her partner and two Pembroke Welsh Corgis. When she is not busy writing her epic sci-fiction/fantasy series, she is very, very busy practicing law as a corporate mergers and acquisitions and data privacy attorney. Apart from writing and reading voraciously, she really enjoys travel and photography and mixing the two. She also spends an inordinate amount of time enjoying fountain pens.