SFN Guest Post | Julie E. Czerneda introduces her Web Shifters series which is blessedly quirky with a heap of sci-fi quirks! #RRSciFiMonth

Posted Tuesday, 15 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

Guest Contributor and/or Reviewer of JLAS banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Welcome everyone who is following the wicked joy of Sci Fi November courtesy of #RRSciFiMonth, this lovely November! Today, I have a special guest for you to introduce you to her newly re-released Web Shifters series Ms Julie E. Czerneda! Last November, I was introduced to the series which I happily continued reading at the end of this Summer: The Clan Chronicles. This time around, her quirky and delightful series focusing on those interesting “Quebits” is the focus of the hour today!

I haven’t read this particular series, as I am starting her Fantasy series which begins with A turn of Light. The interesting part about this particular series is how much it reminded me of why I loved reading A Wrinkle in Time and Flatland due to how dimensional space and the proponents of a person’s biometrics and biomass can be altered or affected by proportional controls! It sounds rivetingly quirky with a new lead character who has her own issues to work through whilst giving us a unique perspective of her world in the process!

I am delighted to bring several excerpts from the novels today along with a companion piece by the author who explains the heart of the Web Shifters series to each of you! If this is your first time hearing of the author or if your a lover of her collective works, I look forward to hearing your commentary after you’ve read the guest feature!

On a personal note, I am *loving!* the artwork all over again by Mr Royo!

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Concerning Quebits

by Julie E. Czerneda

Creating aliens is fun. When it comes to my Web Shifters series? It’s hilarity. These books and short stories are such a treat to write, I consider them my vacation.

Some of you are familiar with the main character: Esen-alit-Quar, Esen between friends, Es in a hurry. The semi-immortal blue blob of goodness who, with diligent effort, can alter her physical structure into that of another sentient species’. Unless or until she blows up from stress. Which happens.

Before then, Esen grants me—and readers—a singular perspective: the alien from the inside-out. Her inner self remains constant and true, you see, but she’s different. Different senses. Different patterns of thinking, ways of feeling. New appetites and even esthetics. Manners or lack of—all right in the open where she must struggle and we get to chuckle, as often as not.

(I love my life. And Esen’s.)

Many know the effort I put into my alien and world-building. In fact, most of the weirder alien senses and behaviours Esen has to deal with come straight from real life biology. I collect every strange but true bit I can find, just for her.

That said, not all my alien-building starts with the same rigour. Far from it. For #RRSciFiMonth, I invite you to journey back with me to a time when I’d sold my first novel, and was writing the second.

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Beholder's Eye by Julie E. Czerneda
Published by DAW Books; cover by Luis Royo. This is the just released trade paperback edition.

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Beholder’s Eye was my second novel from DAW, and Esen’s debut. I wrote on Thursdays, having a full time job. I loved writing Esen so much, two things happened. First, as my Hugo-winning editor (love that!) Sheila E. Gilbert doubtless remembers with a grin, I called her in a panic to request DAW set aside my first novel, A Thousand Words for Stranger–well into production, mind you—because I knew Beholder’s Eye—which I hadn’t yet turned in–was immensely better in every way.

To this day, I can’t believe I actually did that. Sheila merely suggested I trust her experience in the matter, so I did.

Second thing that happened? I quit my day job as senior science editor for a major educational publishing house. If I could get paid for writing like this, that regularly had me  laughing until I could barely type? Bring it!!!

Esen was responsible for my courage to make that leap. And a significant amount of Kraft Dinner ™ but that’s for another post.

So. Concerning Quebits. Here’s where they show up.

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Excerpt from Beholder’s Eye:

…There weren’t many non-Humans aboard, just Sas, the Modoren, and a couple of dozen Quebits floating in the null grav parts of the engine room when they weren’t climbing around the exterior of the hull. Sas didn’t trust me and I already knew Quebits had the conversational abilities of doorknobs…

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In other words, Quebits started life as filler. I wanted to populate a starship with non-interactive beings who did their work and ignored everyone else. The grunts who did the underappreciated, essential tasks. Cleaners. Fixers.

But I didn’t stop there, of course. That would have been boring.

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Excerpt from Beholder’s Eye

…the Quebits, dear little doorknobs that they were, had their own set of airlocks, several on each level. The tiny beings needed access to all areas of the ship, inside and out, in order to carry out their assigned tasks of maintenance and repair. I’d overheard Lawrenk Jen complaining that off-duty Quebits liked suiting up, plastering themselves to the outside of the ship, and admiring the display caused by venting pressurized plasma. Since her staff were responsible for the plasma stores, she was understandably less than impressed by this evidence that Quebits weren’t quite as dull as everyone believed.

Having been a Quebit on one less than memorable occasion, I could reassure Lawrenk that they really were the most boring of species. One day in that form and I’d felt as though my brain was solidifying. Ersh hadn’t thought much of my reaction. She’d wanted the Quebit form to teach me patience and devotion to duty.

There. I spotted a pair of Quebits in a branching corridor and started following them. They softly whistled and popped in conversation, oblivious to my presence. Typical. Well, I didn’t need their form; I needed their door.

The two I’d followed met a third, this one already half-stuffed into an evac-suit. The suit made the little creature even more closely resemble an animated sausage topped with a bouquet of budding flowers. The suited Quebit exchanged some whistles with its crewmates before expressing a second pair of foot appendages, the suit material stretching easily, and trotting away.

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As you can see, I’d developed something of a fondness for Quebits. Enough to give them a smidge of personality as well as shape. What shape? Surely I went into my folder of strange biology—

Not quite. My parents had had a vacuum cleaner shaped like an Art Deco sausage. They’d also a bouquet of gaudy plastic flowers in their basement—to this day I don’t know why, only that dust and pet hair stuck to every petal I was to clean like obscene lint—so I gleefully stuck the “flowers” on the vacuum cleaner. I mean, Quebit.

A 1940’s era Electrolux vacuum like the one I grew up using.

By Photo: User:FA2010 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Photo: User:FA2010 (Own work) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Inordinately pleased with myself, I inflicted being a Quebit on poor Esen. Why? For the fun of it, because her best moments come when her choice of form proves to be, let’s say, problematic.

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Excerpt from Beholder’s Eye

I really hated being a Quebit.

Still, I thought as I puttered with a loose fitting on the rear com panel, the Quebit mentality didn’t allow one to panic, fear, or even speculate about the future. And I had lots to keep my appendages occupied. This shuttle was overdue for some fine maintenance.

“Are you going to stay like this much longer, Es?” The Human had to go on one knee to talk to me. My Quebit-self was annoyed at the interruption in my work. I quelled it.

“Need msssss,” I admitted.

“Mass,” Ragem said quickly. “You need to increase your mass.” He disappeared for a while and I gratefully went back to my repairs.

“Here.” He gently pulled the wrench from my upper appendage and offered me a tray piled high with various types of food.

Obediently, I nibbled on some chocolate, a Quebit treat. “Not thisss mssss.” I said when I was done, pushing the rest away. “Live msss.”

My senses were marvelously tuned to fine detail and observation, so I easily detected how Ragem’s face went pale, then slowly grew determined. He stood and began working feverishly at the sling holding his arm to his side. I watched, quite intrigued. Was he feeling better?

After the sling, off came the upper half of the space suit and the underlying shirt with a muttered expletive or two. “There. What could be easier?” he said, a funny undercurrent to the words as though he were talking more to himself than to me.

Then Ragem sat on the shuttle’s carpeted floor and held out his bare arm to me. “Mass.”

I extruded an extra pair of leg appendages and scurried under the nearest bench. “No msss! No msss!” I squealed in a most unQuebit-like display of near-hysteria. “No msss!”

“Look, Esen,” he said, still in that odd voice. “I’m not happy about this either. But I don’t think you can stay as something so — small — for long. If you need…if I can help you, let me.”

“No mssss.” I hissed as firmly as possible, trying to hold my Quebit mentality on what mattered.

The light coming under the bench was cut off by his shadow as Ragem crouched to the floor to continue his argument, one cheek pressed to the carpet so he could see me. “We don’t know what’s happening out there,” he insisted desperately. “I need you, Es…There’s no time to be squeamish.”

Squeamish? I narrowed my vision field, magnifying my view until I could see the pores on his skin, the tiny bumps raised by the relative chill of the cabin — or reasonable fear of what he was proposing. I knew the makeup of his every cell and tissue. Perhaps, I thought, I could be surgical about this. Perhaps it would only cost Ragem an arm. Perhaps wasn’t good enough. All I remembered said there was no such restraint when assimilating living mass. One took what the basic web-form demanded and thought about it later.

“Plantssss,” I hissed…

Light again as Ragem hurried away, just as glad as I was to find another option to explore. Meantime, I let my Quebit-self worry about the corner of the carpet under the bench, removing then reinserting the holding pins to stretch it properly.

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Esen’s preoccupation with “live mass” has to do with the constraint I placed on her kind, the Web Shifters of the series’ title. To replace body mass they’ve either shed or expended as energy to change and hold shape, only living tissue will do. Being as cautious as they are long-lived, their sensible preference is non-sentient living tissue such as cabbage, the sort that won’t hold a grudge, call you murderer, then hunt you across the galaxy. Which happens.

Also, while Esen may not be known for her caution, she does care about her friends. Having her stuck as a Quebit, one of the smallest species with brains, gave me the chance to show all I needed of the quality of those friends and the dear little blob.

In Esen’s next adventure, I took the opportunity to expand a little more concerning Quebits.

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Changing Vision by Julie E. Czerneda
Published by DAW Books; cover by Luis Royo. This is the just released trade paperback edition.

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Excerpt from Changing Vision

Quebits took the art of manual writing to such extremes, legend held the first Human scholars who’d tried to decipher their written language had spent a lifetime working through what they’d hoped would be a definitive piece of Quebit culture. No one was quite ready to say it wasn’t, but the huge ancient text had proven to be a manual for installing a sewage system within a city. Quebits were methodical beyond a fault.

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And yes, Esen takes that shape once more.

I couldn’t help it.

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Excerpt from Changing Vision

…It was still a very undignified way to arrive on a ship…On the plus side, I thought, pulling tiny fragments of lint out of a seam, my current self wasn’t easily bored. Quebits tended to be of-the-moment, busy creatures.

I really hated being a Quebit.

Although this ship could likely use a few of my sort. I extruded an extra ear to analyze the message contained in the faint squeal of mechanics in the lift. Probably hadn’t received proper maintenance in decades, if then. I knew precisely how to clean and lubricate those moving parts, and harbored dark suspicions of pitted bearings. I poked at the top of the bag suggestively with an upperpod only to have Paul tap quite firmly, and dismissively, back.

I sighed and returned to the lint.

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There are a multitude of other aliens in Esen’s life, including those she becomes, all I’ve had the fun of creating. As for Esen herself? I couldn’t imagine a better character to write. Best of all, she still makes me laugh myself silly. Expect more Quebits in her future, because this spring I’m starting my next vacation! ::drumroll:: Yes, I’m back to writing Esen again and there’s no way I’d resist the chance to inflict those annoying little doorknobs on her. Among other things. After all, my folder is bulging with weird biology. Stay tuned!

Though, isn’t it amazing what you can do with a vacuum cleaner
and a plastic bouquet? Hmmmm.

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P.S. Esen’s third novel, Hidden in Sight, is also out in one of those shiny new trade editions.

Hidden in Sight by Julie E. Czerneda
Published by DAW Books; cover by Luis Royo. This is the just released trade paperback edition.

No Quebits, but she does get to have my favourite alias: “Esippet Darnelli Swashbuckly.”

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Converse via: #RRSciFiMonth, #scifi & #sciencefiction

About Julie E. Czerneda

Julie E. Czerneda Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

Since 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series.

She began her first fantasy series: Night’s Edge with A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel. A Play of Shadow followed, winning the 2015 Aurora. While there’ll be more fantasy, Julie’s back in science fiction to complete her Clan Chronicles series. Reunification #1: This Gulf of Time and Stars, came out in 2015. #2: The Gate to Futures Past released September, 2016. Volume #3: To Guard Against the Dark, follows October 2017.

An award-winning editor as well, Julie’s edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, including the Aurora winning Space Inc. and Under Cover of Darkness. Her most recent anthology is the 2017 Nebula Award Showcase, published May 2017, a singular honour.

Next out will be an anthology of original stories set in her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis, out in 2018. When not jumping between wonderful blogs, Julie’s at work on something very special: her highly anticipated new Esen novel, Search Image (Fall 2018).

Biography updated November 2017
Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

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I love hearing from readers!

As an author one of the joys is receiving feedback about my stories from readers who love reading Science Fiction or Fantasy; therein I’d love to hear your thoughts about this particular post if you answer these questions in the comment threads below:

  1. What is the hardest part about maintaining your personal body dimensions in the Web Shifters world?
  2. Why were flowers used in the description of Quebits?
  3. What has helped you become excited about reading the Web Shifters series after reading through this Guest Post and the Excerpts from the novel?

I look forward to seeing what you’ll be sharing!

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 Follow my bookish journey:

{ in my blog’s footer}

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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

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This post is part of Jorie’s participation within the blogosphere event:

Sci Fi November 2016 banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Follow her sci-fi adventures via this main hub of the 2016 event!
Curiously, Jorie is reading the Nebula Award Showcases for 2015 + 2016 this #RRSciFiMonth!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Beholder’s Eye”, “Changing Vision”, “Hidden in Sight”, book excerpts from “Beholder’s Eye” and “Changing Vision”, author biography, author photograph of Julie E. Czerneda were all provided by Julie E. Czerneda and used with permission. Electrolux image courtesty of WikiMedia Commons is being used with attribution as listed on it’s page. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Guest Post Banner, Sci Fi November Banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie

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Posted Tuesday, 15 November, 2016 by jorielov in Author Guest Post (their topic), Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Spotlight & Announcement, Sci-Fi November, Science Fiction




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2 responses to “SFN Guest Post | Julie E. Czerneda introduces her Web Shifters series which is blessedly quirky with a heap of sci-fi quirks! #RRSciFiMonth

    • Hallo, Hallo Andrea!

      I was going to tag you tomorrow in case you hadn’t spied this post – what did you think? Have you read the Web Shifters series yet!? I’m moving into her Fantasy and then swinging back into her sci-fi; when I first read this post, I was happily smirking into big smiles and fits of laughter! For some reason, the Quebits just affected my funnybone in such a clever way! I had a feeling you might love reading this post! :) Wicked sweet seeing you travel through and finding it!! #sohappy

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