Friday, April 11, 2014

Guest Blog by Marie Bilodeau: A Community's Big Bang - April 11, 2014

Please welcome Marie Bilodeau to The Qwillery. Marie is the author of the SF space opera Destiny Trilogy: Destiny's Blood, Destiny's Fall and Destiny's War.

Destiny's Blood won a ForeWord Book Award (Science Fiction). Destiny's Blood and Destiny's Fall were finalists for the Aurora Awards.

A Community’s Big Bang
By Marie Bilodeau

Like many in the SF world, I often watch the latest internet explosion with part amusement, part terror, and a whole lot of confusion. Regardless of the issue of the minute, arguments back and forth often culminate into someone saying they are embarrassed (or, gasp, ashamed) of their community. And then, the very predictable axe always falls: some people start saying a variant of “I didn’t know we were a community.”


Part of me gets it. Growing up in a mostly pre-internet era as a geek, pretty much the only other geeks I knew were my own brother and mother. When we watched Riker say “Fire” at the end of the first part of "The Best of Both Worlds", followed by dramatic music and “To Be Continued” at the end of a freaking season, we didn’t have the internet to run to and moan about the INJUSTICE of being left in such suspense for MONTHS! Nor could we all meet on a forum and discuss theories and hunt up potential rumours of Stewart leaving the show. We only had the people immediately around us, or at cons (I wasn’t near any of them, so I never went back then). Maybe the comic book store, too, but still, there was little sense of a larger community.

Fast forward past dial-up and into the realm of social media and forums. Suddenly, geeks, often early adopters of technology, could meet up in a larger community. Friendships were forged, some turned into marriages, and the online community grew.

The internet gave us a place to unite, all of those little geeks and nerds who had been wandering alone in the vast landscape of SF-dom. Linked together by common interests and passions, we gushed, argued, laughed and wrote some stuff best never again mentioned.

This fledgling community had lots of outspoken folk in it – perhaps partly because many had been bullied in the past and now had a comfortable platform from which to bellow. The anonymity of the internet might have fueled the fire, though lately it seems a bit less of a secrecy net, with all the interlinking media and bots. It could also simply be that in a “real world “ community, people can just be present to be seen, to be a part of activities. But online, you need to speak to be “seen", which causes more speaking and chatting than strictly necessary.

Fast forward a bit more. Geekdom. Fandom. Our own little safe haven for years, exploded. If the internet was the expansion of the Geek Big Bang, then the popularization of geekness is like pointing a thousand Hubble telescopes into every region of space and being overtaken by astronomical splendor! Galaxies! Planets! Weird gaseous formations and unexplainable masses! And THEY’RE SUDDENLY ALL IN OUR SPACE AND WANT TO PARTICIPATE!

The community continues to explode in numbers while some try to make it implode on itself. Fake geeks everywhere! Because, you know, no one can just be trying something out – they’re fake if they haven’t been here forever. They haven’t accumulated the language, the in-jokes, the one-liners that require no explanation, the imagery, the proper threats and the knowledge of multiple franchises.

Many feel there are intruders in our midst, and people react as people always do when they feel threatened: they lash out. They call people out for no reason. They put up dividers where no dividers should exist. And, when push comes to shove (and they feel squished by the constraints of being part of a pop culture phenomenon instead of a safe, exclusive place where everyone knows everyone,) they pretend that they and others don’t belong... because it’s not a community.

But it is.

We’re a community going through a heck of a Big Bang, but it doesn’t make us any less of a community. It makes us a shifting entity, and maybe a bit more undefined than we’re comfortable with. But it’s still ours, and we define it not only by our passions, but also by our actions.

Like the universe, this community won’t expand forever. Sub-communities are already buckling and not as long-lived. The giant ComicCon types of convention will shrink and people who walked in for the love of superheroes or Jedi might leave the scene again. But many will stay, too, and enrich the conversations and help us work out our rumours and theories.

And let’s enjoy this growth while it lasts. Sometimes it’s kinda cool to make geek jokes that can be understood by people outside of cons and comic shops.

It’s all part of being a community. People used to move from neighbourhoods, now they move from online interests. We do ourselves no service by claiming we’re not a community, because we are, and by being aware of our impact on our own community, we can make it a better place.

Destiny Trilogy

Destiny's War
Destiny Trilogy 3
Dragon Moon Press, January 21, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 270 pages

She had given her up.

To save her daughter from a life of servitude to a silent First Star, Layela Delamores sent her only child away. Willing to miss the first decade of her daughter’s life, for a chance to reunite as a free family.

Ten years.
Now, a new First Star is ready to take over from the dying star Mirial, freeing Layela and her family from the clutches of duty and obligation.

But the star was silent.
When the new First Star fails to ignite, the failing Mirial is the only lifeline to the countless ether races across the galaxy. But not everyone wants to save Mirial, including Layela’s own daughter. Trapped between obligations and hopes, Layela must find a way to save as many people as she can, or learn to live in the dead world she helped to create.

Destiny's Fall
Destiny Trilogy 2
Dragon Moon Press, March 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 296 pages

A broken tradition.
A hunted child.
A rebellion that threatens to topple
the very fabric of the universe.

When Layela Delamores gives birth to her first child, the ether immediately rejects what should be its only heir. A wave of destruction sweeps the ether races and sparks Solaria’s ire and rebellion on Mirial. A new heir rises to take the throne of Mirial, one who wields tainted ether.

Unable to access the flow of ether, Layela is left with little choice but to flee Mirial, seeking answers that may no longer exist, prepared to sacrifice everything to free herself and her daughter from the clutches of the First Star.

Destiny's Blood
Destiny Trilogy 1
Dragon Moon Press, November 2010
Trade Paperback and eBook, 308 pages

A thief of valuable blooms, Layela’s dream is finally coming true with the opening of her flower shop on the small remote planet of Collar. But the disappearance of her twin sister leaves her with a difficult choice: to continue tending to her blooms and promising future, or to blend in once again with the shadows to find her sister.

She soon becomes the prey of two powerful assassins, of a colonel bent on revenge and of a mysterious sword-wielding stranger. Her only allies are Josmere – a feisty ether creature with the power to unlock the visions that assault Layela’s mind, or to keep them from her – and a smuggling rogue, Ardin, hired to protect Layela at whatever the cost, even if that cost is her freedom.

Their journey takes them across several worlds as Layela discovers who she and her sister truly are. And before them awaits the mythical First Star, on a path to self-destruction and the annihilation of all life.

Unless Layela finds a way to stop it. But to stop it would mean sacrificing her sister.

Or herself.

About Marie Bilodeau

Marie was born in Montreal (Canada) to a family with nomadic tendencies. As a result her childhood was spent roaming from town to town in Eastern Ontario. In 1996 she roamed further west in the province, attending Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Along with earning a Bachelor's Degree in Religion and Culture with a minor in Archaeology (fields she has never once come close to working in, although they do come in handy for plot development), she also served two terms as President of the school's Science Fiction and Fantasy Club, an honor that she will never live down. Not that she cares to.

When not writing fantasy novels, Marie can be found engaged in the act of storytelling in any location where two or more people have gathered. She tells mostly original stories of her own creation or adaptations of fairy tales and myths.

Website  ~  Twitter @mariebilodeau  ~  Goodreads  ~  Amazon  ~  Indigo


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