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Hi Everyone! I’m super excited to have debut author Joshua David Bellin here to share about his YA sci-fi story SURVIVAL COLONY 9, which releases September 23, 2014. It sounds like a fantastic story. And Joshua is a long time follower so it makes it sweeter to help him celebrate his debut. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

Here’s Joshua to share his advice on creating a new sci-fi world.

When we think about science fiction world-building, the first thing that comes to mind is the physical world: climate, topography, and so on. Next, we might think about human (or quasi-human) social organization: technology, government, relations with other races/species.

All of these things are important. A physically incoherent world will sink a sci-fi novel like nothing else. Vague or illogical social arrangements will make readers roll their eyes (or throw the book aside). When I wrote my debut novel, Survival Colony 9, I paid close attention to both physical and social characteristics of my future world.

But effective world-building doesn’t include only tangible aspects of the invented world. It also embraces intangibles: things like knowledge, and belief, and the gap between the two. Those intangibles are a huge part of our world, and they need to be a part of any fictional world too.

In our world, there are certain things we know, and other things we believe. Sometimes our beliefs are confirmed; other times they aren’t. For a long time, most people believed the world was flat. They were wrong.

But before we feel too superior to those poor, benighted flat-worlders, let’s recall that even now, with all our science and technology, there are things we don’t know about our world. Some of these things we’ll learn in time. Others we might never know. That won’t stop us from believing, though. In fact, some beliefs will persist even in the face of knowledge that disproves them.

To give one example, we know that bee populations are declining worldwide. But we don’t know why. The leading culprit is neonicotinoid pesticides, perhaps in conjunction with parasites. But that’s still disputed, and it may remain disputed, perhaps even after the bees are gone.

In Survival Colony 9, small groups of people who have survived devastating wars travel a desert waste, searching for food while trying to evade the predatory creatures, the Skaldi, that mysteriously appeared on the planet at wars’ end. And it’s the word “mysteriously” I want to focus on. Here’s my narrator, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn, talking about the Skaldi:

No one knows how they do what they do. You’d think after a half-century of being hunted by them we’d have a better idea of what we’re up against, but the sad truth is, we’re no closer than we ever were. No one knows how many of them there are, why they tend to attack singly, why their attacks have always come from the west. I’ve heard that the cities, what’s left of them, are overrun by Skaldi, and that’s why the colonies fled to the desert fifty years ago. But it’s all rumor. No one’s ever seen Skaldi outside the bodies they steal, or at least no one’s ever lived to tell the tale. No one even knows how they got their name. They’ve always been called Skaldi, and I don’t think anyone’s ever figured out where the word came from.

And no one knows where they came from either. Everyone has a theory of Skaldi origins. Radiation, evolution, outer space. But no one knows.

All anyone knows is that they’re here.

In the case of my novel, this dearth of knowledge can be explained partly by social collapse: much of
modern technology (and memory) has been erased, and the survival colonies lack the means to understand their own world. But even without this history, it was important to me that the Skaldi not be well understood. They’re a part of the world no one can escape, but at the same time a part no one can fully grasp. That makes them more scary, and it also makes the world they haunt more real.

As author, you have to know your world from top to bottom. But leaving your characters—and readers—partly in the dark can be one of the keys to building a complete and effective world.

Thanks for sharing your advice, Joshua. You can find Joshua at:

Website: http://www.joshuadavidbellin.com
Blog: http://theyaguy.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheYAGuy
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393959.Joshua_David_Bellin
Survival Colony 9: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18457362-survival-colony-nine
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Survival-Colony-Joshua-David-Bellin/dp/1481403540/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1393982949&sr=1-1&keywords=survival+colony+9

Here’s a blurb about SURVIVAL COLONY 9 from Goodreads:

In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to--because heat, dust, and starvation aren't the only threats in this ruined world.

There are also the Skaldi.

Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they're not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity.

Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi--and now he can't remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can't, he's their next victim.

Joshua generously offered a copy of SURVIVAL COLONY 9 for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through October 4th. I’ll announce the winner on October 6th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Tomorrow I'm doing a Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great book choices to choose from and will continue offering a $10 Amazon Gift Card if you don't like my choices. Look for this to post Thursday afternoon.

Next Monday I have an interview with debut author Kendall Kulper and a giveaway of her YA historical fantasy SALT AND STORM. I really liked the 19th century setting and Avery is a great heroine.

The Monday after that I’ll be interviewing debut author Elissa Sussman with a giveaway of STRAY, her YA fairytale retelling. I really enjoyed her unique spin of fairy godmothers.

Wednesday that week I have a guest post by debut author Andrea Pyros and a giveaway of her MG contemporary MY YEAR OF EPIC ROCK

And don’t forget Casey’s Thursday Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you tomorrow!


Robyn Campbell said...

Your book sounds so good, Joshua. And so real. Books like tht stay on my mind for a long time. I love your thought on intangibles. I've read books where that was not big on the author's to- do list.It's nice to know it was on yours. Congrads. Can't wait to read Survival Colony 9.

Joshua David Bellin, Sci-Fi Author said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M Pax said...

Sounds like a juicy sci-fi, Joshua. What is happening to the bees is explained in Dr. Who. They're aliens, dont' ya know :)

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. There are definitely so many unexplained phenomena out there, and thus fodder for our imagination. I'm stoked about the book and excited to get a copy of it for both myself and my 13 year old who would probably love the book.

S.P. Bowers said...

How interesting to have so much of the world be a mystery. Could make for some interesting times. Sounds like it will be a great read.

Cherie Reich said...

Your book sounds excellent, Joshua! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

I'm totally up for reading this!

Carl Scott said...

Great-sounding debut, Joshua, I'm totally up for it. Please enter my name in the draw.
I also tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/512463553656156160
and pinned it for good measure: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336573772125704988/

Kaye Baillie said...

I'm hooked on Querry finding his memory. Congratulations on your fab sounding novel, Joshua and I hope your launch is the first of many.

_Sandra_ said...

This book would be a perfect read for me, thanks for a chance to win it! :)
*following via GFC: Sandra K
*email: sandra.zg.13 @ gmail.com
*twitter: https://twitter.com/_Sandra_R_/status/512559168708812801
*Google+: https://plus.google.com/107598100375357110332/posts/NoS9hjQjjg4

Danielle H. said...

I've read other reviews on this book and it sounds like a page-turner with vivid, make-you-feel- as-if-you-are-there language. Many sci-fi fans in my house! Thanks for the giveaway and interview!

Rosi said...

It is always interesting to read an author's interview. Thanks for that. Please let someone else win. I have a tottering TBR pile.

Unknown said...

I love sci-fi and a sci-fi with monsters - so much the better! I enjoyed Joshua's post and wish him much success. I wouldn't mind winning the book either! ;)

A. B. Keuser said...

Sounds like an awesome story.

Jessica Lawson said...

This one sounds riveting! Congratulations to Joshua :)

Unknown said...

You can count me in because the reviews for this book are really good. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Congratulations and thanks for the awesome giveaway!!!!

Joshua David Bellin, Sci-Fi Author said...

Thanks for all the comments and best wishes, everyone! And thanks to Natalie for having me on the blog!

Anonymous said...

This sounds intense. I'll add this to my wish list.