Excerpts liberations kiss robotics faction science fiction romance

Earl Grey, Hot!

Jean-Luc drinking tea“Earl Grey, hot!” my husband likes to say as he makes his favorite cup of tea. He’s referencing Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s order to the Enterprise’s food synthesizer on Star Trek: The Next Generation. But is Captain Picard really drinking the same thing as my 21st century husband?

Star Trek TNG takes place around the year 2364 (we are assuming it is BCE rather than “star date” – a true fan will correct me) which is approximately 350 years from today. Judging by 350 years ago, food looked somewhat different from the way it looks today. The great Columbian Exchange of agriculture from Old World to New and vice versa was still underway, countries such as the Dutch controlled spices like nutmeg, and Florida did not grow oranges. But even in 1660 if you couldn’t get a Florida orange, you could still find one elsewhere.

The real interesting thing is how different certain foods are today.

Carrots, for example, were not their current color until after the 1700s. A carrot pre-1700 had many varietals, but they were usually purple, white, or “mutant” yellow. From the mutant yellows, the now-ubiquitous orange carrot was later derived. [From the Carrot Museum – bet you didn’t know there was one of those, did you?]

Even more recently we have had surprisingly drastic shake-ups of the food chain. In the 1950s, the top banana imported to the United States was the “Gros Michel” variety. It is a richer, creamier banana but was susceptible to Panama Disease. The failure of the crop crashed the world market. The current banana in grocery stores is the blander, disease-resistant “Cavendish.” You can still get Gros Michels in places that don’t suffer from the disease, such as Thailand. I once ate five bananas in a row on a boat ride in the Philippines because they tasted so unusually delicious. I just thought they were super fresh. Now I know that I was eating an entirely different banan variety.

In my own lifetime as a Washington State resident, I have often lamented the fall of the Red Delicious apple. What was once my favorite as a very young child in the early 80s, well, changed. By the 90s I found the skin so tough and the fruit so mushy that it was literally inedible and remains so to this day.

Which brings us back to the original question. If carrots can change color in a few hundred years, bananas can change varietals in less than a century, and one apple cultivar can trade cheap beauty for flavor in a couple decades, exactly what kind of tea is Captain Picard enjoying in his cup of “Earl Grey, hot”?

I play with this concept in Liberation’s Kiss:

“You found something to eat,” he said.

“The unit is like new, so everything tastes just great.” She offered a flake of pink coconut, but he shook his head. He only needed a small amount to feed his small percentage of biological components, and he’d get weeks’ worth out of the plums he’d eaten on the boat.

She considered the pink flake. “I read somewhere that coconut used to be white.”

He made a grunt of interest.

“And hard, with a brown outer shell full of hair. And it grew on trees.” She bit into the succulent pink fruit, licking the dripping juices. “If it’s so different now, I wonder if this is how coconut used to taste.”

He could watch her eat all day. “Like how?”

“Creamy, sweet, rich on your tongue, like it’s really filling your mouth. Kind of…I don’t know. Coconut-y.” Her dreamy look gave way to practicality. She chewed the pink fibers and swallowed. “I just wonder if it tastes the same as the original.”

“The original on Rigel?”

She shook her head. “I wonder if it really did originate on Rigel. You know?”

– From Liberation’s Kiss: A Science Fiction Romance (Robotics Faction #1)

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What do you think? Would we recognize food in 350 years, whether or not it comes from a synthesizer?

liberations kiss science fiction romance

Android Inspiration from Andromeda’s Fall

3d bookBefore Liberation’s Kiss was a twinkle in my brain cells, I enjoyed the military science fiction novel Andromeda’s Fall. It’s about a high society woman whose family runs afoul of political powers and she discovers new strength as a kick-ass member of the futuristic French Foreign Legion. As one of the last survivors of her important family, she is hunted by androids employed by the political rivals. Ironically, her family was the very ones who created the androids, and she has plenty of fight to give them (when she is not being a mercenary for the Legion, of course).

I really enjoyed this book. You can read my full review on GoodReads.

One of the things I couldn’t get out of my mind was the intriguing inhumanity of the androids. They are an important but minor plot point, at least in this first book. I got an almost “uncanny valley” feeling from them, which is a great accomplishment in a written medium, and it worked to emphasize both their similarities and differences to the human charactres. There is a part when an entirely inhuman android requests not to be shut down, and a human soldier tells it, “Welcome to how the rest of us feel, buddy” before pulling the plug. And it really got me to thinking about desire.

Human desires. Android desires. The universal desire to live longer and not to be shut down.

As I was doing regular training jogs for a half marathon last summer, and I suddenly had several hours a week of free mental space on my hands while my legs were in motion, a story about androids and desires began to form. It was about a high society woman sought by a mysterious Robotics Faction, the android sent to kill her, and an agent that gives the android free will to choose his own destiny.

That story has since become Liberation’s Kiss, book one in the Robotics Faction series.

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Cover Reveal – Liberation’s Desire

I have a cover for the sequel! Liberation’s Desire features sister Mercury and the sexy android assassin Yves|Santiago. What do you think?


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GoodReads Giveaway!

I’m giving away a signed print copy of Liberation’s Kiss. Check it out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Liberation's Kiss by Wendy Lynn Clark

Liberation’s Kiss

by Wendy Lynn Clark

Giveaway ends July 21, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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Guest post at SFRB (Brigade)

Please enjoy my guest post at SFR Brigade! I am talking about the Future or Time. 🙂 There are lots of great authors to check out on this blog, plus a list of free reads and plenty of book reviews.

Here is a sneak preview:

If you are a world traveler, there’s nothing worse than accidentally calling up your loved ones in the middle of the night. They just can’t be as interested in your weird lunch of barbecued octopus eyeballs at 3am. Faster-than-light travel amongst the stars will only compound this problem. If you are trying to coordinate an attack on a death star, how do you make sure everyone shows up before the attack and not a week after?

Read the rest at the SFR Brigade!

Excerpts liberations kiss science fiction romance

Mudpuppies and Hellbenders

3d bookI feature a variety of flora and fauna in my science fiction romance, Liberation’s Kiss. One of the most fun scenes to write was my heroine Cressida skinny-dipping in an isolated island lagoon. I wanted to populate the island with interesting-sounding flora and fauna. What says tropical better than palm trees and orchids? When it came to fauna, however, I wanted to push the boundaries without making up something completely fictional.

And that’s when I learned about two real animals: mudpuppies and hellbenders.

To the people who live near these creatures, they are completely ordinary, but to my foreign ear, even their names sound unique. They are two species of salamanders. The hellbender is a species of giant salamander native to eastern North America, and the mudpuppy is a smaller aquatic salamander from much the same area.

Now, the salamanders where I come from are tiny. It’s exciting to see one because they are usually scooting off into the foliage, visible for only a few moments in the muddy forest.

Giant salamanders, though, can really look strange! This is a YouTube video of a giant salmander in Japan: And here is a guy holding one: giant salamanderImagine taking a swim with one of these?

Here is Cressida, taking a swim:

She scooted out of bed, sliding from the thick rumpled sheets down to the polished wood, and padded to the closet. Several different types of outfits hung in the closet, most of them optimized for her size range. Well, she’d always known she was the General’s type, even if she didn’t ever interest him enough to be invited here. She slid into a morning robe, fastened the belts, and walked down the stairs as the clothing stretched and shrank to fit her body. She ate a large breakfast of creamy fried banana cakes with date muffins and sliced fruit glace. It had only been three days of starvation. Would she never be full again?

She put away her dishes – tidy, tidy – and stepped out on the back terrace.

Decking led to mossy steps in the soft forest floor. She waded through a crowd of purple butterfly-catchers, ducked beneath a curtained fig tree, and emerged in a sheltered lagoon. Water flashing as a green coin ebbed against silver rocks, gently rocked by a tinkling waterfall. Paradise-birds flittered over the water, tempting brassy fish and harrying the gentle hellbenders and smaller mudpuppies paddling below the shadows of the rocks. She dipped in a toe. Warm and gently fizzy on her skin.

Well, there was no posted sign warning her off of swimming in a secret lagoon…

She undid her robe, eased into the water, and glided gently into the center of the pool. The water slid up around her legs and armpits, into her unfamiliar places. Home bathing was restricted to mist showers or reclaimed orbital standing-baths that swished the water around her in a claustrophobia-inducing tube. Nothing like the natural luxury of this freedom. She flipped over on her back and stared at the sky. Overhead, the wind whipped the trees, but here it was a pocket of calm.

Somewhere up there, in the almost-visible stars, were her parents.

Also somewhere up there were the robot empires satellites.

She ducked beneath the water, feeling the bubbles tingle on her skin. Once, she had believed all robots to be her guardians, like a child looking up to familiar uncles. Among the many things, she longed for that naivete again…

 – From Liberation’s Kiss, available July 1 (Pre-order now for a special price 80% off!)