Silence in the Library Publishing has partnered with Kickstarter and a host of renowned authors including names like Mary Robinette Kowal, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Rabe, Sherwood Smith, and many others in a new Kickstarter project titled Athena’s Daughters.
Athena’s Daughters is a collection of short fiction from some of the best female science fiction and fantasy authors in the industry. This anthology features stories written by women about women. We are also incredibly excited to have an introduction to the anthology by retired astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander Pam Melroy.
Here to tell you more about this great anthology is one of the co-producers of the anthology and also one of the author’s, Maggie Allen. BTW, she’s also one of the 3 co-founders of Silence in the Library Publishing!
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When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an astronaut. I went to Space Camp when I was in 10th grade, and I also spent my teenage years reading a lot of Heinlein juveniles. If you’re not familiar with these, they were adventure stories for young people (well, teenage boys, actually, it was the 1940s and 50s) written by well-known science fiction author Robert Heinlein.
My favorite of these was “Space Cadet,” about a boy who gets into an elite space academy where he is trained to be in the Space Patrol, an organization that ostensibly helps to preserve peace within the solar system. Written in 1948, I was always amazed that his characters cooked things with microwaves and had personal phones. Very prescient. Of course, the flip side of this, is that it was written in 1948 and rereading the book today makes me cringe at the sexism buried in what is essentially a great space adventure story.
But when I was in high school, and later on, in college struggling through an astrophysics degree, I related to the main character’s own difficulties with learning “astrogation,” and his stubbornness in pursuing something that was challenging.
When I would reread this book (which I did multiple times), I’d mentally put myself in the main character’s place, because if you strip away the few bits of dialogue that reek of male superiority, gender is actually pretty unimportant to the identity of most of the characters.
When I once complained about the above to my friend Mike, he pointed out that there were lots of other good books with space adventure stories that weren’t sexist. But for some reason, despite its flaws, I found it hard to let go of Space Cadet, and how Matt Dodson’s deficiencies in math made me feel better about my own.
My friend Mike was right, of course, there are many, many wonderful stories of space adventure that are less, how shall we say, of that time. One of my favorites was Laura J. Mixon’s “Astropilots,” which features a female main character, who is top of her class at a space academy. I also gobbled up Rick North’s “Young Astronaut” series, about teens training for a Mars mission. And then there was “This Place Has No Atmosphere,” a teen coming-of-age story by one of my favorite YA authors from the 70s and 80s, Paula Danziger, which just happened to be set on the Moon.
All this is to say that I’ve always loved Young Adult space adventure stories – so it was only a matter of time before I wrote my own. And they would feature female lead characters, of course.
My story for Athena’s Daughters is about a thirteen-year-old, African-American girl named Bee who spends her summer vacation at camp on the moon. Her passion is botany and anything to do with growing plants – so you can imagine her excitement at spending a summer learning about moon rocks. Lunar Camp ends up being way more than she bargains for in many ways.
I’ve written another story, which will be a gift to our first 100 Kickstarter backer, which takes place in the same world. A 16-year-old Bee has a cameo.
I am hoping to one day write a novel with these characters, but for now, I’m having fun finding out who they are. I hope you will like them too.
So, as for me, (spoiler alert!) I am, alas, not an astronaut. A couple of knee surgeries and other health issues have gotten in the way. But I did finish that astrophysics degree, and I do work at NASA. And I’m quite happy with where I’ve ended up, which is getting to explain the science that NASA does to the public.
Because I am still a big fan of space exploration, I was incredibly thrilled when Pam Melroy agreed to do the foreword for our anthology. She is a retired astronaut and one of only two female space shuttle commanders. I got to meet her once and what a thrill it was to talk to a woman who actually got to have real adventures in space.
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Maggie Allen recently started writing short fiction, but for her day job at NASA she has years of experience writing and podcasting about various non-fiction topics in astronomy and astrophysics. Maggie is a guitarist and singer in the rock band “Naked Singularity,” which released its first album of original music in 2013. She has also been a long-time member of the costuming community, and has run her popular costume research and resource sites (padawansguide.com and costumersguide.com) for the past 14 years. Her writer website may be found here: http://writermaggie.blogspot.com
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This is only a small portion of what is waiting for you when you visit the Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter project page. Please join us and become a part of the Athena’s Daughter’s journey by visiting http://tinyurl.com/athenasD and contributing today!