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March 12, 2013

Greetings:

This month, we're delighted to bring you Janet Edwards' Earth Girl, a Young Adult adventure in a future where Earth has been reclaimed after humanity was forced to scatter--except for the handicapped, born unable to leave Earth. Janet Edwards joins us to discuss future history.   
Exclusive Q&A with Janet Edwards!

Rene Sears: The human Exodus away from Earth has led to different cultural mores in different sectors, which means some interesting interactions as Jarra meets people from other worlds. What were some of your thoughts going in to making the cultures of the different sectors?

 

Janet Edwards: Earth Girl is set in the late 28th century, when humanity has colony worlds in 1200 star systems scattered across six sectors of space. I adore world building, so I created a whole future timeline of events between now and 2789, and the cultures of the different sectors came from that, shaped by historical events.

 

Basic portal travel was invented in 2206, and interstellar drop portals a century later. There was an Exodus century that emptied Earth and led to huge loss of knowledge when the Earth data net failed, and a near total collapse of civilization. For two hundred years, the original three sectors were isolated from each other, so there was a lot of cultural divergence. In the late 28th century, humanity is still trying to recover lost technology and heal cultural divisions between the sectors.

 

Alpha sector is seen as unfairly privileged by other sectors. Their worlds were the first to be colonized, they had the most resources from Earth to begin with, and grabbed more when Earth collapsed. Beta sector built a clan based society, and borrowed a lot of ideas from ancient Greece and Rome in an attempt to compete with 'cultured' Alpha sector. With Alpha and Beta rarely agreeing, Gamma became politically powerful through its casting vote. Delta sector was colonized in the 27th century, and there is a whole back story behind why it has a science focus. The remaining two sectors are the frontier, with newly settled colony worlds.  

 

At the start of Earth Girl, Jarra sees all off-worlders as her enemies, and her understanding of the different sectors is limited to some very basic stereotypes, especially about Beta sector. Betan standards on things like nudity are similar to western standards now, but other sectors (and Earth) have become stricter, so Jarra regards Betans as sexually permissive. She has a lot to learn in Earth Girl and subsequent books.


Rene Sears: Jarra has a very distinctive voice. The slang she uses is especially fun. What led you to write her with such a colloquial voice, and how did you come up with the slang?

 

Janet Edwards: It was an obvious decision to write Jarra's story in the first person, so the reader can feel all her bitter anger and frustration at her immune system imprisoning her on Earth when others have the stars, at her parents for abandoning her, and at society for treating her as less than human.

 

That meant writing with Jarra's voice, a casual teenage voice, the voice of a girl who was raised with a host of other abandoned children in the residences of Hospital Earth. Those children grew up watching the off-world vids, and envying the normal children with real families. They copied the slang of off-world teenagers, desperately trying to be like them, in the hope that one day their parents would want them back. I tried to keep my future slang simple for the reader to understand, often just abbreviating words or using a slightly different phrase.


Rene Sears: The mechanics of doing an archeological dig in the 28th century were fascinating to read about. What inspired the technology of your future historians?

 

Janet Edwards: In the 28th century, every vast sprawling city on Earth has been abandoned to fall into ruins. Within those cities are precious clues to lost knowledge and technology, preserved by chance or stored in special stasis boxes. The future historians are on a dangerous treasure hunt, racing to retrieve what they can before time destroys it, so they wouldn't mess about working delicately. They'd use the equipment used on future construction sites, the equivalent of cranes and bulldozers, and high explosives. Working in long ruined cities, with abandoned toxic waste, walls falling on them, and the ground liable to collapse under their feet, they'd need protective suits and safety measures.

 

Rene Sears: What are you reading right now?

 

Janet Edwards: I'm currently reading some short stories nominated for the Nebula awards. The two books I read before that were Fair Coin by E C Myers (I'm a fan of books about parallel universes and how different decisions can change people), and Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan (I started with doubts about a book with angels, but this one won me over).

 

Many thanks to Janet for joining us! 

 

Earth Girl

Earth Girl
Just because she's confined to the planet, doesn't mean she can't reach for the stars...

  

"Action, rich archaeological detail and respectfully levelheaded disability portrayal, refreshingly free from symbolism and magical cures, make this stand out."

-Kirkus Reviews starred review

  

"I can't wait to share [this book] with other readers stateside.... Jarra's chatty voice carries the tale, but the unusual universe--each space colony has its own social mores and language--is what distinguishes it. It's also a college story, complete with dorm room canoodling and incipient romance. Great fun, and truly innovative."

-The Book Smugglers

   

"This top-notch young adult tale will appeal to readers of all ages as it deals with prejudice on an impressive, believable scale.... The world and character building are imaginative, the storyline inventive and the action will hold your attention to the last page."

-Monsters and Critics

 

"[N]oteworthy for its unique and moving storyline, a well-developed world full of its own history and culture that stands out, and a character so different from any others I've read before....Earth Girl  is still one of the most remarkable YA books I've read, and I thought it was very well done."

-Esther's Ever After 

"[The protagonist] was a firecracker and one of the best teen characters that I've read. She's impulsive, aggressive, and angry to the point that I wanted to throttle her, but she was also very sympathetic... Earth Girl is truly unique and worth reading. Trust me."

-Bibliophilia, Please

 

2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can't travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She's an "ape," a "throwback," but this ape girl won't give in.  

 

Jarra makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they've been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn't expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.

 



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News from Pyr


Congratulations to E.C. Myers, whose debut novel Fair Coin has been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy! Check out this interview with E.C. Myers at SF Signal, in which Myers discusses his writing process, parallel worlds, and what got him interested in science fiction.

Editorial Director Lou Anders joins Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing for their 200th episode! They discuss the state of short fiction, changes in publishing, and more.

 

Coming Next Month!

 

"Lebbon has an artful way with words. He pens descriptions and moments that one must pause to consider and absorb. The style works really well with this dystopia, as readers really come to inhabit Lebbon's destroyed, scary world. A great read."
-RT Book Reviews, Four stars (Compelling - Page-turner)

 

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a large force of soldiers (known as Choppers), while those in the rest of Britain believe that their ex-capital is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. Jack and his friends know that the truth is very different. The handful of survivors in London are developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving. Meanwhile, the Choppers treat the ruined city as their own experimental playground.

 

That's it for this issue. As always, please check out our website and drop by our blog.

Happy Reading,

Rene Sears
Editorial Assistant, Pyr

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