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A couple of years ago, Patty Jansen was told by a very large publisher: "This book is well-written and well-plotted, but no one will publish this". The manuscript in question was book 1 in the Ambassador series, and to say that Patty was a little taken aback and shaken is an understatement.
But, against conventional wisdom, she kept writing similar stories, and had some success in the short story market. She won the Writers of the Future contest and took part in the amazing workshop in LA, hobnobbing with big-name writers like Kevin Anderson, Larry Niven and Greg Benford. She sold some stories to Analog. But she prefers to write novels.
She was getting good industry responses to the Icefire trilogy when the GFC hit, and the publishing industry crawled into a hole. She would like to tell the agents who still have the manuscript from back then that it has been published, so they can remove it from their desks.
Patty didn't set out to become a vocal supporter for self-publishing. In real life, she is not a very controversial person, trained as scientist. She loves writing science bits into novels, whether the genre is science fiction or fantasy.
When she was told by yet another publisher not to bother submitting hard science fiction because she is a woman, she finally decided that maybe the publishing industry was not for her.
She might be stubborn, but she believes that people should allowed to be themselves:
- Women should be able to write science fiction (high-tech and space opera, no naked torsos), even though 95% of the bestseller lists in those genres are male.
- They should do so under their own name.
- Writers should write in their local type of English, and not be "required" to make all their spelling and idioms US-centric.
- Writers have the right not to be held to ransom by publishers who take their manuscripts and then take years to make a decision, or grabbing rights (like movie rights, creative rights) which they are not going to use.
With this in mind, Patty, who lives in Australia, writes science fiction and fantasy about people who also believe in those things, or fight for those things.
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Patty is on Twitter (@pattyjansen), Facebook, LinkedIn, goodreads, LibraryThing, google+ and blogs at: http://pattyjansen.com/
on Aug. 03, 2013 :
Shifting Reality is a science fiction novel set in ISF-Allion Universe that Patty Jansen has been developing over the last couple of years. Other works in the series are Luminescence (novelette), His Name in Lights (novelette) and Charlotte’s Army (novella).
I mentioned in my review of Luminescence above that I wanted longer works set in the ISF- Allion Universe and while I don’t think Patty was specifically listening to me, she has steadily delivered, writing Charlotte’s Army and then Shifting Reality.
Shifting Reality is the tale of Melati Rudiyanto the granddaughter of expat Indonesians who form the labour force on the aging space station of New Jakarta. The space station comes under ISF(International Space Force) jurisdiction and Melati joined the an ISF training program to repay a debt to the Doctor who saved her and to give herself a chance at a better life. Her family sees her as betraying them and her people. She sees them as stuck in the same cycle of poverty, unwilling to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.
He job is to train/teach human constructs (clones) through their accelerated growth period. The action begins when one of the clone children displays an understanding of adult concepts and language that he should not have yet developed. Melati’s concern and care for the children in her charge leads to an unravelling of a larger station threatening plot.
What I particularly like about Jansen’s science fiction (she writes hard–sf as well) is that it’s rare that the tech or the science is the reason for the story but when it does surface, it’s well thought out, realistic and logical. It makes for a quick immersive read with no oddities to drop you out of the immersion.
What I particularly like about Shifting Reality is the choice to have a person of colour and a woman as the central character and that she is a teacher. It’s refreshing to have a protagonist who is not military special forces in high tech spandex.
I don’t know enough about Indonesian culture(s) to know how well Patty has transported it to the life on board a space station but she does a convincing enough job of playing off tensions between family, work and the wider community for me.
While Shifting Reality sits somewhere within the sphere of military science fiction I like the focus on the other aspects life at New Jakarta Station : tourism, refugees, organised crime and human trafficking.
I also like the way in which Jansen slowly builds her “world” with each outing, enabling the attentive reader to pick up on actions and outcomes that occurred in earlier works.
If you are looking for something less over the top than space opera, but still with a broad scope. If you are looking for something with a solid scientific under pinning that’s different to all the “square-jawed Marines save space” narratives, then I think you should check Jansen’s Shifting Reality out. But I'd also recommend reading the entire ISF-Allion series of works to appreciate the scope of the “world” Jansen has devised.
This book was provided by the publisher.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)