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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 Feb. 22, 2014 :
This science fiction story of Mikrandra’s journey to find her true calling and true love was believable and fun to read. I enjoyed the characters in the book, the description of imaginary places and the growth of Mikandra as she learned to become independent while interacting with persons and places she would never have encountered or learned to know if she had not been willing to leave her parents’ home and pursue her goals. This is a standalone book in a series written by Patty Jansen. I had not read the first book in the series before reading Mikandra’s story and wondered if it would make sense – it did. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would like to read more stories by Ms Jansen in the future.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on May 25, 2013 :
Trader's Honour by Patty Jansen is a sort of standalone sequel to Watcher's Web. It takes place mainly on the same planet and some of the same people make appearances, but the main character is new and the main part of her story is entirely separate to the character's from Watcher's Web.
Mikandra has guts, something I like in a character (to the surprise of no one, heh). Instead of continuing to sit around in what she sees as a broken society, she takes steps to change her situation. First she applies for the Trader Academy, going to another Miran Trader family when her Trader aunt won't take her as an apprentice. Then, when it looks like her dreams will fall through because her sponsor family is in trouble, instead of running back to the relative comforts of home (if an abusive father can really be called a comfort), she sets out to help her sponsor's family. Helping in this case, involves travelling to another continent, when she'd never left the city before, and trying to track down her recalcitrant sponsor. Her mission turns out to be harder than she'd assumed but she sticks it out, even after being robbed on her first day there.
I enjoyed reading about Mikandra a lot. I was a bit hesitant to read Trader's Honour because I didn't enjoy Watcher's Web — I gave up about half way through mainly because I couldn't relate to the main character's reactions to her situation — but I decided to try the sample on SmashWords and was hooked. Mikandra is a very different character in a different situation. So if you haven't enjoyed Watcher's Web but the premise of Trader's Honour sounds like something you'd enjoy, I urge you to give it a shot.
Trader's Honour deals quite a bit with notions of how societies (should) work. The Mirani have two classes of people, the nobility (which includes Mikandra) and the working classes. The noble class not only limits the prospects of its women, but also believes that it's their duty to protect and care for the lower classes. As we learn quite early on, they don't do as good a job as they could. By contrast, Barresh, the other continent, is thought to be primitive and more or less useless. But when Mikandra arrives there she finds that, yes, it is very different (there's a bit of appropriate culture-shock on her part). Over time she learns that different does not mean worse, not the way the other nobles think, and starts to see a lot of potential around her. It made me think of biases against developing countries and how some are actually the world's fastest growing economies.
When the characters from Watcher's Web started showing up I felt a bit frustrated that I didn't have as much background information on them as if I'd finished the book, but it really wasn't necessary. It merely put me on the same level as Mikandra. And if I hadn't known there was another book, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't've cared.
Trader's Honour is an enjoyable science fiction read. It's low on technobabble and explicit sciencey stuff, although the worldbuilding is fairly solid. (If you're curious, Patty wrote about the worldbuilding here.) As such, I think it might also appeal to fantasy fans who don't mind a few aeroplanes and a spot of interplanetary travel in their fiction. I highly recommend it to science fiction fans.
4.5 / 5 stars
You can read more of my reviews on my blog.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)