SciFi Encounters with High Fantasy and Steamy SFR

HEAFor my column on USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog this week I’m covering a new High Fantasy release, first in a trilogy, and a very sexy Science Fiction Romance, the second in that series.

But before we get there, had some very exciting news today  – my novel ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE is a Finalist in the National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards!!!

OK, now that I’ve had my moment to squee, back to the column….

First up is Jeffe Kennedy’s Mark of the Tala: The Twelve Kingdoms. The trilogy is going to deal with the adventures of three sisters and there’s  a great deal of intrigue, worldbuilding, magic and romance in this first book. I used to love Andre Norton’s “Witch World” series but I always felt there must have been a lot of fascinating history that happened on Witch World before we-the-Readers got there, you know? She oh-so-cleverly would plant hints and sometimes even tiny scenes where theAndre-Norton-Year-of-the-Unicorn2 long ago past was touched upon but the books always left me wanting more details. (Year of the Unicorn is my absolute favorite in that series and I’ve worn out multiple copies over the years, by the way.) Well, with Jeffe’s book, I had the feeling  I was reading the cool stuff on that world as it was happening, the way I’d always wanted more of Witch World’s hidden past. Does that make sense?

Yes, Jeffe does terrific world building and obviously her Twelve Kingdoms have a TON of backstory to be revealed, but the current events she covers in the novel are so fascinating and attention-grabbing, that I was riveted and can’t wait for the next sister’s story to be told.

Switching gears, the other author I’m interviewing this week at HEA is Cara Bristol, who writes very sexy erotic romances and has now turned her talents to very sexy science fiction romance. The first book in her SFR series, Breeder, established the male-dominated world of Parseon and now the second novel, Terran, builds on that foundation, with the story of another strong couple who must find a way past their differences to reach the HEA.

krullAnd for a movie I’m recommending 1983’s Krull, which blends fantasy and science fiction, plus one of Liam Neeson’s very first movie roles (a small part) and the Awesome Fire Mares, as seen in this clip. (I’ve talked about Krull on my blog before because I love it!)


Friday Favorite Flicks – Ice Pirates and Krull

Occasionally on Friday I like to talk about favorite old movies of the VS household. Two of our all-time favorites are Ice Pirates and Krull, both examples of what passed for science fiction in the 1980’s. We never saw them in the theaters, only on video and wore out multiple copies of each.  (Note to all: we love both movies so no snark from us! SPOILERS maybe LOL.) Of course there were some other terrific SF movies in the ‘80’s, like my all-time favorite Aliens…

 But back to Ice Pirates. Start with the truly amazing cast – the late Robert Urich as Jason – always a favorite, good looking, didn’t take himself too seriously, maybe the only guy who could do justice to the role of a spacegoing stealer of frozen water, wearing frilly shirts open to the waist, pretending an old video game was his ship’s weaponry. He romances the obligatory beautiful Princess Karina, played with fire by Mary Crosby, an actress perhaps best known as The Actual Person Who Shot JR.

Add Angelica Huston playing a kickass no nonsense pirate before she got her Oscar (not for this movie); Ron Perlman looking short beside John Matuszak the NFL player; John Carradine; Bruce Vilanch (mostly just his head)…our personal tenuous connection to this movie is that once we stood in line at a store to check out right behind Michael D. Roberts who played Roscoe, Jason’s right hand pirate & robot expert. My girls used to looove this movie and they recognized Mr. Roberts right away but he had that hunted rabbit look that actors and celebrities get sometimes when out in public so we didn’t bother him. Another autograph that got away!

This movie parodied, spoofed, riffed, made fun of and generally saluted EVERY other, more serious SF movie of its time, starting with the actual metal swords instead of light sabers. What’s not to like? There are even unicorns ridden by scantily-clad ladies with a lot of cellulite. I particularly enjoyed Crosby’s Princess Karina, who was a lot tougher than she seemed at first. The whole seduction-in-the-rain scene is over the top, including her asking Jason, “Shouldn’t you be at the controls?” Or we can discuss his stiff….belt…..(Would I make this up????) I enjoy the dinner that Chef Ron and the Ship have prepared, right up till the point the Space Herpe makes its appearance. The final battle, with the time warp and characters fighting, aging, dying, coming back, having kids etc., is FUN.

But as a romance writer, my favorite moment is when Princess Karina is in despair over finding her father and Jason gives her a big hug while vowing to find him for her. Awwww!

Krull was meant to be taken more seriously, although even my little girls had a problem with a space going alien sending its laser-spear equipped minions out on horses. But hey!  The story –  about a handsome prince in smexy tight pants and the beautiful princess (whose sultry voice, we were shattered to learn, years later, was dubbed by someone else), madly in love after one short meeting, trying to fulfill ancient prophecies, fend off her impending forced marriage to the aforesaid alien and generally save the galaxy – is FUN. Along the way Prince Colwyn gathers up the expected ragtag group of more or less expendable helpers, including Liam Neeson in his first film role!

Krull features a fabulous score by James Horner (some of which we think we heard again in Wrath of Khan but we’re not musicians…); a Cyclops, the awesome flying FIRE MARES, a giant stop motion spider, the sands of time (read the fine print before you touch those, I warn you!), quicksand and the Weapon, known as the Glave. I still crave a Glave, not that I want to fish it out of molten lava barehanded like Colwyn did. In their review of the movie when it was first released, the New York Times described the Glave thusly: “… a five-pronged bejeweled gadget that looks like a kitchen utensil with talons and is capable of spinning like a forked Frisbee.” Someone else commented in their blog years later that it should have had a nonstick coating….picky, picky.

Favorite moments too many to mention but I love the ending (only the scene was too short – I wanted more time to savor the Happily Ever After).

One character in Krull is given to sonorously pronouncing “THAT… TRUE.” About every five minutes. If you want to get a rise from my younger Daughter, just utter that phrase in her presence. Not a fan.

Out of words and time for this blog post – many more movies we can talk about later. What’s your favorite SF or Fantasy movie?