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Tag Archives: Karina Fabian

On Tour: Mind Over Psyche, by Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian

It seems to be Karina Fabian Week here in the Frederation, as I’m trying to chip away at the backlog of much-delayed reviews and book blogs I’ve piled up over the past several months.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Karina’s work. If you do a quick search for her name on this site, you’ll find a variety of articles, interviews, and book reviews. I’ve even set a couple of my own stories in universes she created. She’s a fresh breath of lightheartedness and humor in a genre that takes itself far, far too seriously.

Dragon detectives, faery mischief, zombie-hunting reality shows, and nuns in space all find their place within her curriculum vitae, as well as some wonderful non-fiction about the Catholic expression of the Christian faith. She’s also a leading light in the Catholic Writers Guild and married to a recently-retired Air Force officer, which, if it doesn’t qualify her for sainthood, at least requires the patience of a saint, as my own Lovely Wife can testify.

Mind Over Psyche, by Karina FabianIn lieu of a fireworks show or pie-eating contest, we’ll cap off the celebration of one of my favorite authors by showcasing her latest novel, Mind Over Psyche. It’s the sequel to Mind Over Mind, a star-spanning adventure of psychic warfare on the razor’s edge of sanity.

There are voices in Deryl’s head.  They call him from consciousness, make him do odd things, overwhelm him with their needs. After five years in an asylum, he had a tenuous hold in his sanity, but no hope of a normal life–and he’s only 18. Joshua, a talented but arrogant psychiatric intern, is hired to befriend Deryl.  Not content with a “buddy” role, Joshua uses neuro linguistic programming to help his troubled charge.  His methods work, but that’s when the true danger begins. Here’s a taste:

As soon as Roger left, closing the door behind him, Malachai spoke. “You honestly think you will be leaving our institution soon, don’t you, Deryl?”

Deryl smirked and crossed his arms. He didn’t think it; he
knew it. Thanks to Joshua and his unique way of helping Deryl “tackle his issues,” he’d learned to control his powers and shield his mind from others—even the Master. Even Tasmae, but he couldn’t think about that now. Not if he was going to have to prove his sanity.

“I agree,” Malachai affirmed.

Deryl forced his jaw not to drop at the chief psychiatrist’s
statement, but he didn’t trust himself to speak.

Malachai continued, “You need to keep one thing in mind,
however: Our star intern has made remarkable progress with you, but Joshua will be gone at the end of the summer, either finishing his degree or pursuing that music career he’s so set on. Meanwhile, I remain the ultimate authority at South Kingston Mental Wellness Center. Further, your family has trusted my judgment for years.”

He paused, letting Deryl draw his own conclusions.

Deryl stomped to the chair in front of the desk and sat down.“What do you want?”

“What I’ve always wanted, Deryl. To better understand your unique abilities.

Deryl isn’t crazy; he’s psychic. Desperate to escape the insane asylum, he teleports to Kanaan, a world of telepaths who regard him as an oracle. But freedom comes at a price. The Kanaan expect their oracle to teach them to use their powers to wage war. Meanwhile, he’s falling in love, but to be with her means to share his psyche, which could drive her insane. Most dangerous of all, he hasn’t escaped the Call of the Master, enemy of the Kanaan, whose telepathic manipulations were why Deryl was committed in the first place. Now, the Master will forge Deryl’s powers into a weapon to kill all he loves or destroy his mind trying.

He found himself in the small glen Tasmae had imagined for them the first time they’d actually “spoken” together in the Netherworld. The canopy of branches and leaves shrouded them in privacy. It cut off the view of the sky, yet somehow there was plenty of light to see by. It didn’t matter; Deryl only cared about seeing one thing.

“Tasmae!”

She ran to him, and they embraced. Then he pulled away. “Terry said I’d hurt you—”
She touched her fingers to his lips, and he understood that Terry didn’t know everything, and that the only pain she felt was at their separation.

Then she flooded into his mind, and where she touched, waves of cool healing washed over his psychic wounds. He sighed with relief, and actually swayed a little. She caught him, and he wrapped his arms around her, first for support, then for something far more intimate. This time, they would be alone.

A familiar voice, a voice from nightmare, interrupted them. I WOULDN’T BE SO CERTAIN ABOUT THAT.

As one, they turned toward the intruder and blanched.

“Alugiac?”

“Master!”

They turned and stared at each other. They knew him?

The Master, once known on Kanaan as Alugiac, laughed. A triumphant satisfaction flowed from him like the thick fog that was slowly rolling from where he stood at the glen’s edge.

AT LAST I RETURN TO YOU, DERYL—AND LOOK AT THE GIFT YOU’VE BROUGHT ME!

“Tasmae, run!” Deryl shouted. A sword was suddenly in his hand, but though he held it at the ready, he was shaking so hard the blade quivered.

The fog had surrounded them now. The trees, moss, even the rocks had eroded at its touch. Colors fled, leaving them in a gray and black world, with only an indeterminate ground and low fog as landscape.

I’ll post a review of Mind Over Psyche at a later date, but don’t wait for me to finish cleaning off my virtual desk—pick up a copy yourself and enjoy.

Purchase Mind Over PsycheHardcopy  Epub  Kindle

Karina Fabian’s Author Page

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Book Reviews, Writing

 

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Book Review: Greater Treasures, by Karina Fabian

Greater-Treasures, by Karina FabianIt’s a hot, muggy night on the mean streets of Los Lagos, the kind of night that keeps you indoors, clicking through 200 channels of televised dreck with one hand while you hold the icebox door open with the other and dream of Saskatchewan. Inside the loosely-defined offices of the Dragon Eye Private Investigations Agency, draconic gumshoe Vern d’Wyvern and his better-looking partner, Sister Grace McCarthy, are jolted out of their video comas by a knock at the door.

She’s a timid little thing in designer rags, an uptown dye job, and a pair of legs that would do anybody’s mama proud. Her brother’s in trouble, and if Dragon Eye tops her list of available options, so is she. This job won’t pay stale beans, but business has been molasses-slow. When you’re contemplating which bodily fluid to sell next to make ends meet, you take the work you get.

It’s a cakewalk, a routine tail, until Grace catches a poison dart in the back—a dart meant for Vern. Something bigger than a wayward sibling is afoot, and with his partner’s life in the balance, Vern races against time to solve the mystery, find the shooter, and obtain the antidote.

The odds are good somebody’s going to end up a side order of dragon chow along the way.

In Greater Treasures, the latest extract from the steadily-expanding case files of DragonEye, P.I., author Karina Fabian takes her wisecracking, pun-popping private drake to a place he’s never been before, an investigation driven by the very personal threat of losing the person he loves more than anything in both his worlds, Faerie and Mundane. It reveals a new facet of Vern’s character, one that proves decisive to the story’s outcome. You can find a discussion of the deeper implications of Vern’s character arc in my previous review of Ms. Fabian’s novel, Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem. He’s much more than a smart-aleck dragon who solves magical mysteries.

Greater Treasures draws explicit inspiration from the classic Dashell Hammett detective tale, The Maltese Falcon, and fans of Vern and Grace will find all the noir-ish sly asides and witty zingers they’ve come to expect from the Dragon Eye stories, though this one takes a more serious and urgent tone as Grace hovers between life and death while Vern puzzles out the mystery by himself.

This is a novella (or novelette, depending on where you choose to draw the line), stepping smartly from beginning to end in about 14000 words, a nice length for a long lunch or a short flight, and it’s a fun read.

Purchase Greater Treasures (print or e-book)

Karina Fabian’s author website

Dragon Eye P.I.

Don’t just take my word for it…read an excerpt from Greater Treasures here.

>>This review is based upon an electronic copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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Christmas Spirits

Author Karina Fabian, whose worlds of imagination I have been privileged to play around in once or twice, has started a little project for this year’s holiday season. She’s raising money for the nonprofit charity Food for the Poor, which provides resources for impoverished families in the Caribbean and Latin America regions (Remember Haiti? Oh, right…)–everything from baby chicks, to fruit trees, to livestock, to houses, to water projects, to education, and a lot more.

Toward that end, she’s serializing a Christmas story, “Christmas Spirits,” featuring one of her most popular fantasy characters, dragon detective Vern de Wyvern, a.k.a. Dragoneye, P.I.

Here’s the deal: Karina publishes a new episode each week on Tuesday and Thursday, contingent on a minimum collective donation of $5.00 (yes, that’s a mere five bucks total) from her readers. The story will continue so long as this modest level of donation keeps flowing. There are extra goodies available for folks donating $20 or more (check the sidebar on the story page). Every cent goes to the charity.

Naturally, she’d love to collect as much as possible–her goal is $600, which will provide a milk cow to a hungry family. Her dream outcome is $3682, which will build a house, complete and ready to use. Donating is easy–just read the story and click the big yellow DONATE button.

So far, she’s got enough for a flock of baby chicks and a fruit tree. I think we can help her do better than that.

"A fine excuse for picking a man's pocket every 25th of December."

<< Don’t be this guy. Have a heart, enjoy a fun story, toss a buck in Karina’s tin cup, and help some people living in extreme poverty. Check it out at http://christmasspirits.karinafabian.com/.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in General

 

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Interview: Mind Over Mind, by Karina Fabian

Today, we welcome author, lecturer, martial artist, pundit, and all-around bon vivant Karina Fabian to the Frederation’s fortified bunker, hidden somewhere deep in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas. This isn’t Karina’s first visit to our command center–we’ve previously had delightful conversations over bottled water and Spam sandwiches about zombies, nuns, dragons, and secret societies.

This time, the topic is mental telepathy and alien conspiracies, as detailed in her new novel, Mind Over Mind.

Fred: Hi, Karina! Pull up a crate of MREs and give me a quick synopsis of Mind Over Mind. What’s it all about?

Karina:  “It’s the classic tale of man gets phenomenal power; phenomenal power drives him insane; man regains sanity; man falls in love with an alien.  You know, the usual.

F:  Yes, I’m sure everyone can find parallels to their own life experience in this story. I know I do. It seems a bit of a departure for you, though. I’ve come to expect lighthearted stories laced with tongue-in-cheek humor, but Mind Over Mind sounds like more classic science fiction with a serious tone. Was this a calculated choice?

K: Nope, just timing. Mind Over Mind is based on the first novel I ever wrote, and is the second novel I ever wrote as well.  It just took longer to find a home than my lighter stuff.  I have several ideas for more serious SFF; they just haven’t found their time and place yet.  If I had to stick to a particular style, I’d get bored pretty easy, I think.

F:  Telepathy has been a staple of science fiction almost from its inception. Does Mind Over Mind do anything unexpected with Deryl’s abilities?

K: They drive him insane, make him lose control of his own mind, doubt his identity, blur his self-image, make him vulnerable to several forms of torture, make him the tool of aliens…in short, they really screw up his life. Maybe it’s the sadist in me, but that’s what made the story so interesting. Everybody thinks telepathy is cool, but the reality is much darker, in my opinion.

F: Yes, it is. Thank heaven for aluminum foil, though I seem to have misplaced my hat today. Moving right along…Many of your stories have a spiritual thread running through them. How about this one?

K: There are a few strong themes:  redemption, finding God’s purpose, sacrificing yourself for others–even those you don’t especially like. When you think about it, though, these are very human themes, but of course, my worldview includes an omnipotent and loving God, so that translates into my fiction as well.

F: Did you need to do any special research for this story?

K: As a matter of fact, I used a lot of techniques from neuro linguistic programming (NLP) to “cure” Deryl, most of which came from a very interesting book called Frogs into Princes. I also had a wonderful and patient NLP practictioner read it over to make sure my applications were plausible if not fully accurate.

F: What am I thinking about right now? Just checking.

K: Your thoughts are your own. I do not want to be in your head, although I love the stories that come out of it. I’m thoroughly enjoying Odd Little Miracles!

F: I appreciate the compliment, though I note you’ve deflected my implied question about your psychic abilities. Well played, madam. The correct answer was “Kung Pao Chicken,” for anyone who’s wondering. Ahem. We’ve had some heated discussions over at Speculative Faith about what might be lacking in Christian fiction today. From your perspective as a Christian author, where do you think Christian speculative fiction in particular could stand some improvement?

K: You have to have a strong story first. If your purpose is to proselytize, then write non-fiction.  Never use your characters as a voicebox for your beliefs; they need to be their own people or the reader will know and feel talked down to. Also, stay balanced. No one is totally good or totally evil–otherwise, they are totally uninteresting.

Today's Guest, Karina Fabian

F: You attend several writing and spec-fic conventions each year. How are people responding to your books?

K: I get more enthusiasm than I do sales, but I’m not much of a salesman.  However, I do tend to get loyal fans, so that’s nice.  I love telling folks the idea twists that make my books and seeing their reaction.

F: I see that Mind Over Mind is the first volume in a trilogy. Can you tell us something about where the series is headed in the second book?

K: Deryl escapes the asylum, quite by accident, taking Joshua with him. They end up on Kanaan where they meet Deryl’s nemesis and love interest, Tasmae, in person. But there are some secrets about Tasmae even she doesn’t know, and Deryl will once again be fighting for his sanity–and hers.

F: “Nemesis and love interest…” That sounds intriguing all by itself. What’s happening next in the many worlds of Karina Fabian?

K: Finally!  Live and Let Fly, the second in the DragonEye, PI, series, comes out–April 2012. To prepare, I’ll be running some serial stories on my website. I’ve also got a story in Mother Goose is Dead, which came out from Damnation Books this month (September). For those who want someone to lead them through marketing, I’m reviving my “30-Minute Marketer” newsletter as a serial on my website. That starts in January. On the writing side, I’m submitting Discovery, a Catholic sci-fi, to Ignatius Press, then will finish I Left My Brains in San Francisco, the second Neeta Lyffe book.  I need to tour an oil refinery for the finale.

F: Sounds like fun. Hey, if it’s not too much trouble, bring back a couple of barrels of diesel fuel for me. The old generator’s down to a quarter-tank…but you probably already knew that (thunder rumbles ominously). Good luck on your future projects and best wishes for the success of Mind Over Mind.

Purchase Mind Over Mind
Visit Karina Fabian’s website

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Book Reviews, Writing

 

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Story Published–”Beatitude” in Residential Aliens

A couple of years ago, while reviewing Leaps of Faith, an anthology of short Christian spec-fic edited by Robert and Karina Fabian, I discovered a short story by the Fabians titled, oddly enough, “Leap of Faith,” concerning a community of Catholic nuns providing search and rescue services to spacefarers in the Asteroid Belt: The Sisters of Our Lady of the Rescue.

Nuns in space? Okay, they had my attention. What really struck me, though, was the Fabians’ portrayal of the Sisters. These were dynamic, courageous young women doing a complex, dangerous, selfless job a long, long way from home–and their faith in God permeated their work.

I only had one problem. There weren’t enough stories! So, with Robert and Karina’s gracious permission, I wrote a couple of my own. The first, “Of All Things, Seen and Unseen,” was published in Residential Aliens online magazine in 2009, and told the story of Sister Claudia, who survives a terrifying mishap that forces her to reevaluate her calling–and shows her that God has a plan for her life beyond anything she could imagine.

Now, another Sister, Monica, re-lives a tragedy from her past that threatens to destroy her, as the Rescue Sisters return to Residential Aliens in “Beatitude.”

 “How many rescues have you done?”

She shrugged. “I stopped counting after a hundred. The miners and cargo pilots are living on the ragged edge of safety out here, and things go wrong. A lot. They need us, and it helps them, knowing we’re always nearby, watching over them.”

“Mmm-hm, you Rescue Sisters are practically legends back home. Still, doesn’t it seem a little prideful to think you’re the only ones capable of doing this job?”

“It’s not pride if it’s true. Nobody knows this space and the people we serve like we do. To think you can just waltz in here and take over is…naive.”

“Every member of our team is a SAR expert with experience under fire. We can do anything you can do. Maybe better.”

That tore it. “How can you do better? Because you’re men? Because you’re corporate soldiers? Because you practice the right religion?”

Ty stood up. “I told you, it’s nothing personal. I like you, Sister Monica, and I respect what you and the other Rescue Sisters have done, but I’m going to give everything I’ve got to help my team win this contract…and I’m very, very good at what I do.”

He paused, staring down into his tray, knuckles white against the dull grey aluminum.

“And another thing. Nobody came out of the war clean, but I’m proud of the work I did for Auradyne. I’m going to use that experience to save all the people I can.”

He turned on his heel and took his tray to the recycler.

Every eye in the cafeteria was on Monica, but she was oblivious to the gasps and stares. A single word was caroming around inside her skull.

Auradyne.

Dear God, no. He’s one of them.

Read the whole thing at Residential Aliens

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Writing

 

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Odd Little Miracles: My Favorite Kids

My daughter and I have a little ritual we re-enact from time to time. She’ll be exasperated with me about something, and I’ll tell her, “You’re my favorite daughter.” She replies, “I’m your only daughter.”

Which is true, but it doesn’t make her any less special. Things get a little more interesting when all three of my kids are arguing about something, usually why one of them was allowed to do something the other two weren’t. They turn to me for justification, and sometimes I’ll say, “Because they’re my favorite child.”

I wouldn’t recommend this as a parenting technique, but my kids are all into or past their teens and know me well enough to correctly translate my statement as, “You’re being ridiculous.” I love them equally, and proposing that I’d favor any one of them like that is silly, though the two boys might argue that I spoil their sister, just a little bit.

Likewise, it’s hard to look at a collection of my short stories, like Odd Little Miracles, and choose “favorites.” I like them all, for reasons as different as they are different. Some of them were easier to write than others. Some involved tackling a difficult idea and making it work inside a story. Some were just fun–they made me laugh as I wrote them.

Anyhow, here are three–no, four–I particularly enjoyed, in no particular order:

“The Silver Tree”

At the time I wrote this, it was the longest “short” story I’d yet attempted. It was anchored around a few vivid images that had been bouncing around in my head for a while–a graceful, willowy tree made of metal, a giant, corroded spaceship partially-embedded in a cliff, and a gloomy, clouded planet. I’d also been thinking a lot about long-distance space travel in generation ships, what might motivate such a journey, and what a colony established by the survivors might look like. Eventually, all those elements coalesced into a story. I was delighted when it was picked up by Kaleidotrope, a small print periodical that has garnered critical praise over the years, and not an easy magazine to get into.

It’s probably the most secular story I’ve written, and depicts a future I don’t find either ideal or likely. If there’s a message, it’s in the fact that the story presents two extreme positions on the merits of technology, neither fully satisfying. For the characters, something’s lost, and something’s gained, but I tried to find them a little island of hope in an impossible dilemma.

“Rubes”

I don’t like the circus, but it fascinates me. This is a story that came to me as I was driving a long, straight stretch of Interstate 70 in eastern Kansas, paralleling a railroad track, traveling between sun-scorched, rolling hills. The hills were  just high enough to make me wonder what might lie on the other side. I imagined a circus train broken down in that place, on a side track, and the story grew from there.

“Rubes” gave me a chance to play around with the circus world and turn the setup of Ray Bradbury’s classic, Something Wicked This Way Comes, on its head–with a tip of the hat to Zenna Henderson. The thing I love most about this story, though, is the way it transformed itself into a very human tale about broken people in need of a miracle, and a callous businessman who learns something about what it means to be a leader.

“Of All Things, Seen and Unseen”

The idea for this story came to me as I was driving home from visiting my son at college in Illinois. I’d recently read one of Karina Fabian’s Rescue Sisters stories, and the idea of nuns doing search and rescue in interplanetary space was simultaneously preposterous and brilliant. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Knowing search and rescue of any sort to be an extremely dangerous job, I wondered what it would be like for a member of that sort of religious community, both contemplative and max-adrenaline active, to be sidelined by a severe injury.

It was a daunting task. I had to write about a Catholic person, from a Catholic point of view, but I wasn’t a Catholic. I would be working in a setting and culture created by another author, so I had to ask permission to proceed. Fortunately, Ms. Fabian was both gracious and helpful. She provided a wealth of information about her stories’  universe, and kept me from drifting into misrepresentation of the Catholic viewpoint. In the process, I discovered a character, and a community, with more depth and emotional resonance than I expected. The title is an excerpt from the first line of one of the most ancient statements of Christian faith, the Nicene Creed.

“A Quiet Afternoon at the Alabaster County Ladies’ Sewing Circle and Patchwork Society”

First of all, I like the title of this one–it’s ridiculously long, but it sets the mood, and it’s truth in advertising. It was fun writing the banter between the two older ladies as they worked on their weekly project. I’ve experienced enough family reunions and church socials that the conversation felt comfortable and homey, with a little edge of sarcasm and amiable rivalry that always happens when old friends or relations get together.

And then, the story veered off into a very different place…but I’ll let you find out about that when you read it.

This concludes my reflections on Odd Little Miracles. I hope you’ll have a chance to read it sometime. If you do, come back and tell me what you think. For me, that’s the best part of writing.

Odd Little Miracles is available from Splashdown Darkwater via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords.com.

And here’s a cool video trailer for the book, courtesy of the talented folks at Newsome Creative.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2011 in Writing

 

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Odd Little Miracles: It Came From the Laboratory

Since this anthology spans several years, and most of my short story work during that time, you can see a lot of experimentation going on. Any writer will tell you they throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall, hoping for something to stick. Not every story idea works. Some show bright promise at the beginning, only to finish in blind alleys or vanish down rabbit holes halfway to completion. Some inspire fanatical devotion in the author but don’t quite connect to the reader.

Some ideas are best not explored at all.

Odd Little Miracles, happily, represents ideas that worked, or at least worked well enough to induce people outside my family to publish them–and pay for permission to do so. It was still a struggle, even for the best ideas. For every acceptance, there were many rejections. Some stories went through several submissions to different markets before finding a home.

I learned a lot in the process. I began to get a feel for magazines that were a good fit for the stories I liked to write, because a rejection often doesn’t mean a story is bad. It may just mean that it doesn’t work within the framework of a particular magazine or alongside the other stories in a particular issue. Feedback from editors helped me figure out why some things worked and other things didn’t. So, you’ll see a mix of styles, voices, and character points-of-view. There’s science fiction, fantasy, and horror, mingled with humor, romance, adventure, and satire.

Yep, I’m all over the map.

Of course, I’m still learning, still trying to master the skills that will help me write even better stories that will be able to compete for publication in the most visible, selective markets. I hope this collection reveals some of my growth as a writer. On the credits page near the front of the book you’ll find publication dates for the stories, though there was a longer gap between completion and publication for some of them than for others, so it’s not a perfect timeline.

I’ve also explored some different ways to present my writing and make it more accessible. After “A Taste of Honey” was published, I re-imagined it as a “kinetic novel,” a multimedia form blending the text with pictures and music, and modified the ending a bit. It’s a much different experience than just reading the story, though I like both versions. “The Time-Share” was republished by WilyWriters as an audio podcast which I think is even more chilling than the original.

“Of All Things, Seen and Unseen” was inspired by Rob and Karina Fabian’s Rescue Sister stories and inhabits that universe with their permission. I’ve since written another Rescue Sister story that will appear in Residential Aliens later this year. These are unique because they force me to write from a Catholic point-of-view, which is challenging, not being a Catholic myself. I’ve had to do a lot of research into the Catholic expression of Christianity, and that’s demolished some prejudices and stereotypes I collected over the years.

Expression of my own Christian faith in my stories is something I’ve experimented and struggled with since I began writing. I don’t typically set out to write “message” stories, though you can probably find a message or moral in quite a few of them. If a character happens to be a Christian, his or her faith will probably come up in the discussion at some point. In “Pilgrimage,” an alien ambassador abruptly inquires about my heroine’s belief in God, and she stumbles through a brief summary of the Gospel as she tries to collect her wits. I hadn’t planned for this to happen, but sometimes characters take matters into their own hands. Perhaps it’s a form of divine inspiration. I hope so.

Anyhow, that’s enough time in the lab. If you find one of my ideas worked particularly well, and you’d like to see it again, let me know. Next time, I’ll talk about some of my personal favorites among the stories in Odd Little Miracles.

Odd Little Miracles is available from Splashdown Darkwater via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords.com.

And here’s a cool video trailer for the book, courtesy of the talented folks at Newsome Creative.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2011 in Writing

 

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Interview: Karina Fabian on Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator

I’m blogging today from a fortified bunker somewhere in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas. I’ve received intelligence that the zombie apocalypse is upon us…or maybe it’s just the release of Karina Fabian’s latest novel, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Either way, it never hurts to be prepared.

It seems like it was just a few days ago that I interviewed Karina about her science fiction anthology, Infinite Space, Infinite God II.

Karina Fabian, author...and fearless zombie slayer.

Oh, wait…it was just a few days ago. That being the case, we’ll skip the formalities and, ahem, cut right to the meat of the interview. You can stow your chainsaw in that empty corner over there, Karina, right next to the crate of Spam.

Fred: Zombies are a staple of modern pop culture. We’ve got books, movies, music videos, even literary mash-ups of classic literature with the zombie mythos. How did you manage to find a fresh perspective on the walking dead?

Karina: I like to think I applied some logic to the whole zombie contagion situation. Zombie-ism is traditionally passed on via the sharing of bodily fluid. (Let’s go with bites here, because the alternative is too gross to consider, thank you.) So it’s a disease, and even when we can’t find a cure for a disease, we generally can find a way to control its spread. Look at the swine flu scare of some years ago–we did not have a plague as some predicted because we know better how to prevent virus spread and we have superior science. Or consider the AIDS scare–some predicted that by this time, half the population would be dead or HIV-positive. Again, that hasn’t happened because we’re smart, we’re organized, and we have a great information dispersal system via broadcast and the Internet. (For those that might argue: I know not all nations are as fortunate as the US in avoiding AIDS, but that’s a fault of poverty, bad governments, etc., not because we humans cannot fight or contain it.)

So, it took awhile for my world to recognize zombie-ism for what it was. After all, who believes the teen calling 9-1-1 because a zombie pulled her boyfriend out of the back seat while they were parking? Once they did, however, they worked fast to research ways to fight it, to control the re-emergence of the dead, and to battle those that come back, anyway.

Of course, simple human nature makes it great fun to play with–there are conspiracy theorists, people in denial, political action groups who have found a new “edge” with the undead. Oh! Don’t forget governments’ needs to regulate everything to death and beyond–and, of course, Hollywood’s need for new exciting material. (Incidentally, they are called “undead” by government regulation. They can’t be called “dead” because there’s residual brain activity, but they aren’t alive, either. “Undead” makes it legal to re-kill them as well. Very important distinction there.)

Then I threw logic out the window and tossed in some elements of the ridiculous. Zombies are naturally repelled by common household cleaners. I don’t know why; it was just funny. And they react to culturally-ingrained stimulus. Most zombies are distracted by television, for example, and most can still read and react to what they’re reading. However, they can’t be taught, and people should not try to predict how they’ll react. You might get that zombie who grew up in a TV-less household, for example.

Fred: There’s been a lot of speculation lately on the nature of the coming zombie apocalypse. Give us a quick description of the world of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Karina: In 2040, zombie-ism has become an international problem. While some look for the cause and others look for the cure–and still others try to use it for their political advantage–quickly enacted regulations have kept the contagion at bay. In fact, once it was made clear that zombies are not the miraculous resurrection of your loved one (unless said loved one really enjoyed ripping your limbs off and lunching on your gray matter), many people consider zombies just another dirty pest. A new specialty of exterminator has risen: the Zombie Exterminator.

So what you have is our world in 30 years, with all the usual political and cultural diversity and craziness, with a fun new foil–zombies. (And that’s a fun foil for me and the readers–not the characters.)

Fred: What inspired you to write this story? You’re certainly doing the world a service by publicizing the zombie threat, but did it spring from humanitarian motives, or perhaps something darker, like a childhood trauma or undead in your extended family?

Karina: Like with so many works of service, I was asked. When Damnation Books was putting out an anthology called The Zombie Cookbook, Kim, the publisher, asked a bunch of us to write stories for it, and my friend Becca Butcher, hounded me until I came up with a funny story about Neeta taking out an infestation in a Korean restaurant. “Wokking Dead” was a lot of fun. Then another writer and friend, Kim Baccellia, suggested a novel, and Kim got on me about that, too, until inspiration struck.

I realize I’m missing the opportunity to spin a tale of a tragic childhood, but truth will out!

Fred: I’m well-familiar with your love of wordplay from previous novels such as Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem, and the title of this book leads me to believe we’re in for another round of pun-ditry. True?

Karina: There’s plenty of humor, but more of the twist-on-cliché and satire variety than puns. Neeta isn’t into word play like Vern, my dragon in MM&M, is.

Fred: Your stories often feature characters from the religious life playing a prominent role. Nuns, monks, and priests aren’t known for their effectiveness versus zombies, though they are very useful if you’re up against a vampire or demon. Does Neeta seek out spiritual guidance in this story, or does she pretty much rely on chainsaws and shotguns?

Karina: Chainsaws and supersoakers full of toilet bowl cleaner, actually. There’s not a big religious element in this story. However, it is acknowledged that zombies are soulless shells. Also, a small thing: Roscoe says “oh, gawd” a lot, but when he’s really talking to God, he speaks and spells His name correctly.

Fred: Zombie stories often end on a note of despair, with the dead conquering Earth. Does Neeta Lyffe offer us some reason to hope for the future?

Karina: Oh, definitely! It’s not dystopic to begin with. The contagion is for the most part contained, laws (like spinal severing before burial) are stemming the emergence of new zombies, and there are a lot of government and private agencies that protect and educate citizens on zombie defense. On a character note, the Zombie Death Extreme cast emerge as heroes, and go on to re-kill the shambling undead for truth, justice, and $75.95 an hour.

Fred: As an author-under-construction, I’m always looking for new outlets for my writing…while there are still humans around to read my stories. Damnation Books sounds rather intimidating. What was it like working with them to publish Neeta Lyffe?

Karina: Kim Richards, the publisher, is ambitious, imaginative, and fun to work with. She asked me to write this novel and kept at me until I agreed. When I decided to play with formats, like having forum excerpts and documentary script notes, she was all for it. She even commissioned icons for the forum goers (done by my daughter, Amber Fabian, (http://amberfabianart.weebly.com/). Then she decided she wanted a forum for Zombie Death Extreme, and a website to go with it! (Did I mention Kim is ambitious?) Now she’s decided the next Neeta novel should take place in San Francisco–she already has ideas for me. (Depending on what happens in my life, I might start it next year, but 2011 has to be a slow one for me.) Kim has also purchased Eternal Press and Realms of Fantasy. So, despite the name–and, as one reader told me, the “creepy” website–they have been terrific to work with, and even though they are new, I think they’ll be around a long time.

Fred: What’s coming next from the braaaains of Karina Fabian?

Hey, I was kidding! Kidding! Put. The. Chainsaw. Down. Please.

Whew. Sorry about that. Your novel sounds like so much fun, I forgot for a moment that zombies are not a laughing matter. Where was I? Oh, yes, coming attractions…

Karina: Time to slow down and take care of some family issues at home. On the writing front, I have a story coming out from MuseItUp in May: “Perfect Ten.” If you like my DragonEye, PI, universe or you like stories about Coyote the Trickster, you don’t want to miss it. I also have a serious fantasy coming out from DragonMoon: Mind Over Mind. Deryl’s psychic powers drive him insane, as not only the unwanted thoughts of others invade his mind, but alien leaders from warring planets try to use his mind to their advantage. Can 19-year-old intern Joshua Lawson teach him to control his powers and save his sanity?

Fred: Exciting stuff! Well, the ol’ atomic clock on the wall says it’s time to check the security perimeter, but thanks for stopping by, Karina, and best wishes for the success of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, and all your other projects.

Link to purchase Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator

Karina Fabian’s website

Damnation Books

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2010 in Book Reviews, Writing

 

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Book Review: Infinite Space, Infinite God II, edited by Rob and Karina Fabian

What does God have to do with science fiction? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

Infinite Space, Infinite God II is a collection of twelve stories that reject the “conventional wisdom” that Christianity is inherently irrational and anti-science, that a spacefaring mankind will shed its religion, like a butterfly discarding its chrysalis, and that any intelligent life we discover will not be religious in any meaningful sense.

Ultimately, though, these are stories about people–ordinary people of faith thrust into extraordinary situations. Their faith guides their actions, and it makes a difference in their world. It’s a practical faith that guides them to serve others, sacrifice their own ambitions, and endure suffering with patience and hope.

This anthology is also unique in that it showcases the Christian faith from a Catholic point-of-view. This means that you will encounter a Church whose structure and practice remain intact and consistent into the future, adapting to change while tenaciously preserving and applying the lessons of its heritage. Human frailty and divine intervention meet in the act of prayer, and wonderful things happen.

I enjoyed this book very much. Rob and Karina Fabian have assembled a nice variety of imaginative tales, serious and lighthearted, introspective and action-packed, from near-space to the other side of the galaxy. Some could happen tomorrow, others are set thousands of years in the future. There’s something for everybody here.

A brief summary:

The Ghosts of Kourion, by Andrew M. Seddon - A lovely, bittersweet story about a time-traveling researcher who discovers the difference between changing history and becoming part of it. I liked the way Seddon dispensed with all the usual tropes and paradoxes of time travel to focus on the human story at its core.

Antivenin, by Karina Fabian - I’m a big fan of Ms. Fabian’s Rescue Sisters stories, about a community of nuns performing search and rescue along the hazardous frontiers of interplanetary space. This time, we meet Sister Rita, an anomaly even within her order–a “dirtsider,” raised on Earth, struggling to fit in, whose experience becomes vital when a simple space rescue is complicated by a very terrestrial threat. If you think the words “nun,” “action,” and “suspense” don’t belong in the same sentence, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

An Exercise in Logic, by Barton Paul Levenson - Sister Mary Julian must match wits and parse theology with stubborn aliens to prevent a planet-busting disaster. Levenson shows us that logic isn’t necessarily the final answer to every dilemma, and gives us a strong, savvy heroine in Sister Mary Julian. He also pens my favorite line in this anthology: “You can’t pray to your god in here! This is the Ecumenical Temple!”

Cathedral, by Tamara Wilhite - A disused church provides sanctuary and inspiration to a dying, genetically-engineered prodigy. A darker story than most in this collection, it provides a haunting narrative of the struggle to find meaning and redemption at the end of a misspent life.

Otherworld, by Karina Fabian – A priest battles old ghosts and new temptations as he attempts to evangelize a virtual world that will be familiar to players of Second Life and World of Warcraft. This story poses intriguing questions about the nature of life, death, sin, and salvation in the context of a simulated reality.

The Battle of the Narthex, by Alex Lobdell - Treachery faces off against the power of God (and Saturday night spaghetti) when an unsuspecting congregation is caught in the crossfire of alien assassins hunting a disguised prince. Both fun and thought-provoking, we see events unfold through the eyes of the prince’s bodyguard, a cynical old soldier who may have finally found something to believe in.

Tenniel, by Colleen Drippe – A moving, complex story set in a hostile world, a human colony that has collapsed into tribal barbarism. To prevent genocide, a Catholic bishop must engage in single combat with a vicious warlord, but how can committing sin serve God’s purpose? Ms. Drippe doesn’t provide any easy answers, but does provide a gripping tale with strong characters that showcases the challenge of evangelism on the frontier, where physical and spiritual threats go hand-in-hand, and martyrdom is the rule, not the exception.

Tin Servants, by J. Sherer – Sherer flips conventions when a priest goes undercover as a humaniform robot on a mission of mercy to war-torn Ghana. A powerful story of faith, courage, and perseverance in the face of seemingly-impossible obstacles.

Basilica, by John Rundle – Father Carpizo recounts his role in the hijacking and destruction of a spaceship. A simple repair project goes bad very quickly and both the spaceship and the priest are much more than they appear to be in a story that’s equal parts mystery and action/adventure.

Cloned to Kill, by Derwin Mak - A priest provides sanctuary to a young girl, who’s actually a genetically-engineered killing machine. Is she human? Does a clone have a soul? When her creators come to claim her, we learn the limits of humanity are about more than genetics, as prayer battles programming. I found it a bit predictable, but still moving and thoughtful.

Frankie Phones Home, by Karina Fabian - An epilogue to a popular story from the original Infinite Space, Infinite God. Short and sweet.

Dyads, by Ken Pick and Alan Loewan - A religious and political crisis ensues after a human radical executes an act of terrorism at an alien shrine. The alien society, composed of foxlike vulpinoids and a variety of other sentients reminiscent of animals familiar to us, is presented in lavish detail, as is their religion, which the Catholic Church in the story recognizes as an analogue of Christianity. The story missteps a bit in its portrayal of the fanatic terrorist, which comes dangerously close to caricature, and the novella-length story may discourage some readers, but those who persevere will be rewarded with a moving portrait of forgiveness and redemption at its climax.

I think Infinite Space, Infinite God II stacks up quite well against any collection of short spec-fic you’re likely to find on the shelves this Christmas season. It would make a great gift for any science fiction fan on your list. This is a good read with a unique perspective and will linger in your mind a long time after you’ve finished it.

Amazon link to purchase Infinite Space, Infinite God II

My interview with Karina Fabian about Infinite Space, Infinite God II

Karina Fabian’s writing website

>>This review is based upon an electronic copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2010 in Book Reviews, Writing

 

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Interview: Infinite Space, Infinite God II, with Karina Fabian

I’m always happy to hear about something new and wonderful from the creative imagination of Karina Fabian. Today, I’ll be interviewing her about the debut of Infinite Space, Infinite God II, an anthology of science fiction stories with a Catholic flavor that she co-edited with her husband, Rob. Regardless of your religious persuasion, these stories demonstrate that speculative fiction and a Christian worldview can coexist quite happily and tell thoughtful stories with incredible emotional resonance that everybody can enjoy.

I’ll post a review of Infinite Space, Infinite God II tomorrow. On to the interview! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Karina and her writing, here’s a short bio:

Today's Guest, Karina Fabian

After being a straight-A student, Karina now cultivates Fs: Family, Faith, Fiction and Fun. From an order of nuns working in space to a down-and-out faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, her stories surprise with their twists of clichés and incorporation of modern day foibles in an otherworld setting. Her quirky twists and crazy characters have won awards, including the INDIE book award for best fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering). In May 2010, her writing took a right turn with a devotional, Why God Matters, which she co-wrote with her father. Mrs. Fabian is former President of the Catholic Writer’s Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.

Fred – Infinite Space, Infinite God (ISIG) garnered quite a bit of critical praise and the 2007 EPIC Award for science fiction. How do you think ISIG II stacks up against the original?

Karina – At least as good in storytelling, but different in content.  This time, the focus is more on individuals and adventures.  There’s a great variety of subgenres, including a very nice historical/time travel story.  We also have an incredible novella by Ken Pick and Alan Loewen, who wrote for Infinite Space, Infinite God.  The book definitely stands on its own.

Fred - You’re a very busy author, and it would have been easy to rest on your laurels and focus on other projects. Why a second volume of ISIG? Will this be a continuing series?

Karina – Rob and I did it because the publisher asked, which is really very flattering and encouraging.  However, I can’t say if there will be another until we see what happens with this one.   I think if we should do another, it will be a little easier to find terrific stories, because the subgenre is growing, and because I’m better connected in the Catholic writing world than I was two years ago.

Fred – This anthology is unique in that it focuses on Catholic writers and topics. What is distinctive about the Catholic voice in speculative fiction?

Karina – Actually, not all of our authors are Catholic.  I can’t even tell you for certain how many are–we didn’t ask.  What mattered to us was that the story itself have significant Catholic elements and a respect for the Catholic religious institutions and beliefs.  So, I can’t really answer your question about the Catholic voice as it applies to ISIG II.  I do think that in general, a Catholic voice in speculative fiction has some common elements:  a living of the faith (even if there’s none of the “obvious” signs like rosaries or Mass); a respect for life in all its forms; an understanding that science and faith are not mutually exclusive, but each have a part to play in understanding God’s creation.  This is not exclusive to Catholics, mind you, but I think they are necessary for truly Catholic works.

Fred - Has anyone in the Church hierarchy noticed ISIG I or II and given you any feedback?

Karina - Other than as casual readers, no.  It’s not the kind of book that gets an Imprimatur or other kind of official recognition.  Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican astronomer who has been in the news over the years speculating on the faith life of aliens, wrote an endorsement for ISIG I, but I’d lost track of him for ISIG II.  I’m going to send a copy of each to Pope Benedict this month.

Fred - What was the most difficult challenge you faced producing ISIG II?

Karina - Waiting!  The economy tanked right around the time we were going to publish, and our publisher was waiting to see how the financial winds blew.  A couple of contributors had to cancel launch parties at conventions, although Derwin Mak is having one at Futurecon on New Year’s Eve.

Fred - As with ISIG, you’ve edited this anthology in partnership with your husband, Rob (note to readers, Rob’s an Air Force officer). How does that process work? Do you handle different tasks or just divide the workload?

Karina - Rob was busy in the Pentagon when we were putting this together and this is my job, so I did the bulk of the work in putting out the call for submissions and being the first reader.  Rob was my sanity check on stories I had doubts about and had great suggestions when something needed a tweaking from the science or politics side.  I secured the contracts (and his salary paid them!), and we went out to dinner and figured out the order and introductions by candlelight.

Fred – I won’t put you on the spot by asking which story in ISIG II is your favorite, but tell me about one or two stories in the anthology that typify what you were seeking as you gathered submissions.

Karina - “Cathedral” by Tamara Wilhite is probably the least obviously Catholic of the stories.  The main character isn’t even religious, but is using the cathedral to throw the people tracking her off her trail.  The only clergy we see is the priest who escorts her out.  But what we liked about it (aside from the story itself) is that the priest didn’t have a problem with who she was (unlike the rest of the population), but did admonish her for the things she had done.  I think a lot of people, even Catholics, forget that the Church can love the sinner, but that doesn’t mean they accept the sin.  “Dyads” by Ken Pick and Alan Loewen is on the other side of that scale.  This story incorporates Mass and the Litany of the Saints (with a few made up ones since it’s millennia in the future); it looks at the Vatican’s role as a political as well as spiritual entity–and the delicate balance it maintains–and it has a strong, intelligent, compassionate priest as the hero.  It also has an incredibly detailed universe populated with delightful “furry” aliens (“furry” in the genre as well as the fact that they’re furred and feathered and scaled), two complex languages and the most incredibly developed alien religion I’ve ever read.

Fred - I was happy to see another Rescue Sisters story in ISIG II. You’ve featured this community of spacefaring nuns in several short stories, but I understand we’ll be seeing them in their own novel soon. Can you share some more details about that?

Karina - The team of Sisters Rita, Ann and Thomas are in the story, “Antivenin,” which is Rita’s first rescue.  Ironically, she has to confront her fear of snakes when they find the shuttle they’re checking out full of venomous ones.  These three ladies star in Discovery, my novel which is being developed.  They’ll join a team of researchers and miners on a mission to explore and recover a crashed alien ship.  They’ll find the ship has a wing full of mysterious devices that affect human minds.  Only Sister Ann understands what they’re all about, but who’s going to believe when Little Sister insists that God is giving them the gift of seeing their own souls?

Fred – What else are we going to see from Karina Fabian in the next few months?

Karina - In December, my next novel, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, comes out from Damnation Books.  Yes, I appreciate the irony of a Catholic author writing for Damnation. It’s a comedic horror about Neeta, a zombie exterminator who is training up apprentices on a reality TV show.  Can she get her bills paid, keep her ratings up and her trainees alive, and still maintain her sanity?  I had a lot of fun writing this one, and I’m looking forward to telling you more about it next month.

Fred – Sounds great. I’ve been compiling notes on the zombie apocalypse for some time now, just in case. Thanks for stopping by today, Karina, and best wishes for the success of ISIG II and all your other projects.

For lots more info and news about Karina Fabian, check out her website: http://www.karinafabian.com/

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 26, 2010 in Book Reviews, Writing

 

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