Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Guest Author & Giveaway: Tricia Sullivan on Inspirations and Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free reign so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.

Today’s guest is Tricia Sullivan, SF author, winner of an Arthur C. Clarke award for Dreaming in Smoke. Tricia’s books were highly recommended to us by the Extraordinary Karen Mahoney and when we learnt about her upcoming SF YA novel Lightborn we were more than excited (and the book is great -review later today) and invited the author to talk about some of her Inspirations & Influences.

This is what she has to say – please give it up for Tricia!

When Ana and Thea offered me the opportunity to write a piece for Inspirations & Influences, I jumped at the chance—and immediately froze. I knew that at the root of Lightborn were my experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding—but how could I say that? Shouldn’t I be talking about technology, or worldbuilding, or the cultural conditions of 21st Century America as a psychopharmacopia? After all, the actual text of Lightborn? has nothing to do with pregnancy.

The lightborns, or ‘shine’ of the title are agents of psychological change that are delivered on light waves. In the story, two teenagers try to save their city and themselves from the ravages of a disaster in which dangerous lightborns wreak havoc on the adult population. Thematically, Lightborn also deals with what it means to hold on to your individuality in the face of massive pressure to join the group-think. And it’s about some implications of the ideas Stephen Wolfram introduced in his giant tome A New Kind of Science, in which he discussed possible characteristics of emergent intelligence, including the likely incomprehensibility (to us) of alien or artificial life forms.

Linking all of this to having babies seems like a tough one on the surface of things, but really it’s pretty straightforward. To start with, being pregnant can be a fairly science fictional trip to take. Each time I did it, strange things happened to my body and mind. Sickness, exhaustion, loss of focus, fear of stepping of a curb. Crying at really lame but maudlin TV ads. Loss of focus. Inability to see my feet, obviously. Varicose veins, near-blackouts anytime I stood up, unseemly cravings for bacon, loss of balance, forgetfulness, loss of focus. Did I mention loss of focus? And forgetfulness? Oh, yeah.

The changes weren’t limited to me—pregnancy actually morphed the world into something unfamiliar. The outside world was completely different. Hazards and intrusions were everywhere. Noises were louder, cars drove too fast, people were ruder—in fact, totally insensitive. The news was so appalling I couldn’t watch it.

It’s not just pregnancy. In fact, stuff gets funkier when the offspring arrive and start controlling ur mind from w/in with that biological bonding thing they do.

Science fiction has a pet fantasy about technology that goes something like this: sod our bodies! We can reconstruct them, rebuild them, mechanize them! Better, faster, stronger! And plus? We can, like, upload ourselves for virtual partytime lasting into the indefinite future. Yay!

I’ve always had a few itty bitty probs with this mind-over-meat paradigm. I mean, sure the brain’s a physical construction, but the mind exists in communication with the rest of the body and (through our senses) with the world, as well as with previous iterations of itself across time. Neurologically speaking, our perception of the world is shockingly indirect. So the idea of a technology that would attempt to abstract our intellect from our physical form is incredibly uninteresting to me.

But I am interested in Wolfram’s law of computational equivalence, in which humanity’s ability to perceive other orders of intelligence is shown to be limited by our failure to identify patterns beyond a certain level of complexity. I am interested in the idea that other intelligences could be among us, even, and we might not know it.

All of that stuff I just said is theoretical, speculative in the extreme. In Lightborn I wanted to get at the things I could feel and sense. During my years as a new mother I was certainly conscious of the loss and alteration of my individual identity in the presence of the needs of others: my babies. So I focused on the question of what would it feel like, to interact with a new intelligence that came from us but was not us? What would it be like to actually bring it into the world, personally?

And there you have it. Science fiction, Mama-style. That’s where I’m coming from with Lightborn.

You can learn more about Tricia here.

Giveaway details:

Lightborn, better known as ‘shine’, is a mind-altering technology that has revolutionised the modern world. It is the ultimate in education, self-improvement and entertainment – beamed directly into the brain of anyone who can meet the asking price.

But in the city of Los Sombres, renegade shine has attacked the adult population, resulting in social chaos and widespread insanity in everyone past the age of puberty. The only solution has been to turn off the Field and isolate the city.

Trapped within the quarantine perimeter, fourteen-year-old Xavier just wants to find the drug that can keep his own physical maturity at bay until the army shuts down the shine. That’s how he meets Roksana, mysteriously impervious to shine and devoted to helping the stricken.

As the military invades street by street, Xavier and Roksana discover that there could be hope for Los Sombres – but only if Xavier will allow a lightborn cure to enter his mind.

What he doesn’t know is that the shine in question has a mind of its own …

Courtesy of Orbit, we have THREE copies of Lightborn up for grabs! The contest is open to ALL and will run until Saturday, October 9 at 11:59 PM (PST). In order to enter, leave a comment here letting us know what YOUR favorite Science Fiction novel is. Only one entry per person, please! Multiple or duplicate entries from the same IP address will be disqualified. Good luck!

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  • Calamity Jane
    October 5, 2010 at 2:01 am

    It’s hard to tell what’s my absolute favorite, but
    “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card is one of my top 10 🙂

  • Cait H.
    October 5, 2010 at 3:29 am

    My favourite sci-fi novel would probably be Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, or Air by Geoff Ryman.

  • Mieneke
    October 5, 2010 at 3:51 am

    Oh I can so relate to this being a new mom myself. It’s amazing how everything changes just because there’s some hormones ruling your body and a little one growing inside to boot!

    My favourite Science Fiction novel would be any on the Kris Longknife books by Mike Shepherd. I know that’s not one, but I can’t choose between them 😀

  • Amanda Isabel
    October 5, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Hm …. hard one. Probably “Moving Mars” by Greg Bear … Thanks! 😀

  • Jenni
    October 5, 2010 at 4:05 am

    It has to be Flood by Stephen Baxter. Such an amazing book. 😯

  • Emily
    October 5, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein would, at the moment, be the only book in the sci fi genre sticking in my mind.
    Awesome post!

  • Monica Espinar
    October 5, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Certainly, Dune by Frank Herbert. Although Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is also in my top 10.

  • Ann
    October 5, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I guess it would be “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card or Dune by F. Herbert. 😯

  • Ginny
    October 5, 2010 at 5:52 am

    You can’t beat The Hitchicker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it might not be the most hardcore serious si-fi book, but it’s hilarious (& British).

  • Sandy G
    October 5, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I’d have to go with Stranger In A Strange Land

  • Karalynn Lee
    October 5, 2010 at 6:33 am

    So excited to hear about Lightborn — I’ve been a fan of Tricia Sullivan since Lethe.

    One of my favorite sf novels is Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh — all twisted and compelling.

  • Audra Holtwick
    October 5, 2010 at 6:43 am

    My favorite would have to be Dune – thanks for the insight into your writing.

  • Megan
    October 5, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Too hard to answer! Right now I’d have to say Forever War.

  • Stacy
    October 5, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe for sure!

  • Shveta Thakrar
    October 5, 2010 at 7:33 am

    This sounds absolutely wonderful, and I love the inspiration beyond it. Please enter me. 🙂

  • Shveta Thakrar
    October 5, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Oops, please count this one as my entry, since I forgot to include my favorite sci fi novel. I really loved Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

  • Marie
    October 5, 2010 at 8:44 am

    oooo! tough question!

    – Any Miles Vorkosigan novel by Lois McMaster Bujold
    – Dayworld by Philip Jose Farmer
    – The Ship who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

  • Nikki Egerton
    October 5, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I haven’t read much sci fi to be honest, although I love Prey by Michael Crichton. I love the sounds of this novel and it comes hightly recommended by Karen Mahoney. Please count me in!
    Nikki xxx

  • Sarah Olson
    October 5, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Anything by Vonnegut!

  • rachel
    October 5, 2010 at 9:12 am

    House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer.

  • Casey
    October 5, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I can never pick just one. So there is Shades Children by Garth Nix. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I am also a huge Card fan, but my favorite is Children of the Mind. Not sure if all of those are strictly science fiction – but I love them all the same!

  • Jen
    October 5, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Hmm, it would have to be, Tanya Huff’s Valor books. I guess this might have been my introduction to sci-fi so I always think of these books as my favourites.

  • Katy
    October 5, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Definitely The Hunger Games.

  • Autumn
    October 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Probably anything by Michael Crichton! Prey freaked me out, but I loved Jurassic Park. Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien is good too.

  • MeganS
    October 5, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow remains my favorite SF novel and my favorite novel, period. Though I would happily make a case for nearly anything Connie Willis, Kage Baker, or Lois McMaster Bujold have written for being favorite SF as well.

    Lightborn sounds really interesting. I look forward to reading the review here!

  • alana
    October 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

    For some reason I feel like this is a really cheesy answer, but the Deathstalker series by Simon R. Green has a special place in my heart. Space opera has a special place in my heart.

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Joint Review: Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan
    October 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    […] book and we have a giveaway still going on: three copies of the book up for grabs, open to all. Go here to […]

  • Caitrin
    October 5, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    My favorite Sci-fi novel is Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. It made me laugh out loud several times and I devoured it. <3 I don't read a lot of sci-fi, preferring fantasy. I also love Armor by John Steakley.

    liathiano at gmail dot com 😀

  • draconismoi
    October 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Sometimes the questions are almost hard enough that I consider not entering in favor of trying to puzzle it out.

    But I really love Tricia’s work….so I guess I have to give it a try.

    The Gate to Women’s Country by Sherri S. Tepper.

    But only because The Screwfly Solution is just too depressing to be my number one right now. And the Andrea Cort series just irritates me in my perpetual state of unemployment.

  • Louise
    October 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I’m a fan of lots of subgenres of sci-fi and currently I’m doing a full month of Steampunk, but that’s besides the subject.

    One of my favorite scifi novels so far has been Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin. It’s not exactly hard scifi, but more philosophical, sci-fi, IMO.

  • fairy_morgaine
    October 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I haven’t read all those books that I really can make a tough choice, but I have to say Dune from Frank Herbert.
    It’s a classic anyway 🙂

  • Kelly
    October 5, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks so much for this giveaway and interview!
    I had never though pregnancy could be viewed as science-fiction, but omg the way Ms Sullivan describes it, it is exactly that! *g*

    I think that my favorite science fiction book is The Host by Stephenie Meyer.


  • BlueFairy
    October 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Read the review, and am somewhat intrigued.

    Science Fiction is too large of a category for a single favorite, I think. I adore Bujold for her sci-fi/space opera, for more traditional sci-fi I’ll go with either Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles or Asimov’s short stories…

  • Mary Catherine
    October 5, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I would have to say Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost, but that’s probably only because I just read the book. :mrgreen:

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    October 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I haven’t read alot of sci-fi novels but I am interested in reading this book. I like reading all different types of books. Please enter me in contest.

  • Inspired Kathy
    October 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

  • Lillian
    October 5, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    To be honest, I don’t read a lot of hardcore sci-fi but my favorite would have to be The Hithiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was the first one I ever read and remains one of my favorite books today.

  • S.S. White
    October 5, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    My favorite SF would be WARCHILD by Karin Lowachee. It’s a wonderfully visceral read. 🙂

  • Tiah
    October 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Dune is a really good SF read. Great post!

  • Nonie
    October 5, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I don’t read much science-fiction, but I guess my favorite sci-fi novel is…Jurassic Park…

    Thanks for the contest. 🙂

  • Rachel
    October 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    My favorite science fiction novel is, hands down, “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell, which is a gorgeously written story about mankind’s first contact with alien life. The author is an anthropologist by profession, and her imagining of an alien culture is complex and fully believable. It’s an amazing book.

  • Adrienne
    October 5, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Probably the Summer Queen and Winter Queen…they are out of print but I was able to find two gentle used and the covers are beautiful

  • Melissa Gilleland?
    October 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series! Not the most serious, but great for a good laugh.

  • Carol Thompson
    October 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    There are so many god science fiction books I have read that it is impossible to just select one.

    I will however nominate a series that has a great influence on me, namely Isaac Asimov’s Robot series.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for openi8ng it up to International entries.

  • Moridin
    October 5, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    My favorite science fiction novels are the Tripods series by John Christopher.

  • Giada M
    October 6, 2010 at 1:07 am

    My favorite science fiction? anything written by Kage Baker!
    Thank you for this chance! 😀

    Giada M.

    fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Dovile
    October 6, 2010 at 5:40 am

    My favorite novel is Nightlamp by Jack Vance.

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Ceilidh
    October 6, 2010 at 6:20 am

    I wouldn’t classify myself as a science fiction fan (although I am a huge Star Wars nerd) and I don’t read a whole lot of sci-fi books, but my favourite one (and this is sort of cheating) is the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s the best dystopian novel I’ve ever read and still feels fresh and relevant (and terrifying) today.

  • Gerd D.
    October 6, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Favourite SF novel, and one of the first “serious” SF novels I read, is 2001 – A Space Odyssey.
    I just re-read it a couple months ago, and I still love it.

  • Su
    October 6, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I’d have to say The Snow Queen by Joan D Vinge. While it might not be the best book in the world, it certainly had a strong impact on me as I was growing up.

  • Li
    October 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Good question; my favourite sci-fi novel has to be Frank Herbert’s Dune. He really took world-building to a whole new level in the sci-fi, space opera genre. Very memorable =)

  • Mary
    October 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Lois Lowry’s The Giver is a favorite of mine. Hard to choose only one. Looking forward to reading Lightborn.

  • Clare
    October 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I think I’d have to go with 2001: A Space Odyssey. 🙂

  • Priya
    October 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Definitely “Enders’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, or “I-Robot” by Asimov. Literary geniuses!!

    Thanks for the opportunity. =]


  • ritu
    October 6, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    My favorite is I-Robot from Asimov also. Awesome book!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Jennifer
    October 6, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    So You Want to Be a Wizard, by Diane Duane probably….or maybe another book in the series….but probably SYW…

  • Elizabeth
    October 6, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Honestly I’ve never read a Sci-Fi novel. Sci-Fi movies are my absolute Fav!!! I hope I am given a chance to make this one my first!!!!

  • greyz
    October 7, 2010 at 12:35 am

    This is a tough question but I can say that it would be Dune.

  • Hann1bal
    October 7, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Okay, I’m pretty sure I haven’t entered already. The review makes it sound interesting.

    Hmmm, sci-fi that I like. Well, off the top of my head, I’ll just pick David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Because I can.

  • Jasmine A S
    October 7, 2010 at 6:02 am

    One of my favourite SF novels? But how can I pick just one? AUGH.

    Okay, deep breath. And Elizabeth Moon’s Hunting Party showed me there was a world beyond Star Trek and Star Wars. Which I also still love passionately, but they’re in a different mental box.

  • Bookworm134
    October 7, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I have to say The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld. I just love the idea of hoverboards and computer interactive tattoos. It feels like it could be where our world is headed. I also love The Host for the same reasons. If we ever got invaded by an outside race, I just hope they are half as nice as the Souls in that book.

  • Tatiana
    October 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I would have to say the first book from the Maximum Ride novels. I just adored the idea of having wings and it was amazing seeing how people really would be able to handle that.

  • Arceli
    October 13, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Some of my favorite sci-fi books are the lesser-known ones, like The Sky So Big and Black by John Barnes.


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