Monday, March 28, 2011

Guest Author – Lory S. Kaufman

Earlier this month (March 16) Lory S. Kaufman debuted his YA science fiction novel The Lens and the Looker. This is the first book In a series to be called The Verona Trilogy to be followed by The Bronze and the Brimnstone (July 2011) and the third tentatively titled The Loved and the Lost.

This terrific YA novel centers around a 24th century History Camp. Lory says -
History Camp is planned as an ongoing series of stories where young people from the 24th century go back in time and have dangerous and exciting adventures. This is to help them learn to appreciate the almost utopian 24th century world they come from, until something goes horribly wrong.
I'd like to thank Lory for taking the time to prepare this guest post and spend time with us today. You can find out more about Lory and the series by visitng his website.

Lory Kaufman and Science Fiction

Lory-Kaufman-photoMy favorite science fiction novel? You’re asking me what’s my favorite science fiction novel? What a question. Asking that of a person who takes their futurism seriously is like asking a Sultan who their favorite harem girl is, or asking Carrie from Sex in the City which are her favorite pair of shoes.  It depends on the day and circumstances.

But seriously, very seriously, how does one separate and categorize 45 years of reading? And what are we talking about; most enjoyed, most influential, ones that stay with you for a few days, like fluff and then fade, or ones that linger for years. 
They all have their place.

Well, space is limited, and I’m a writer in his formative stages, so how about I pick the most influential and also what could be considered dystopian. After all, that's, more or less, what my work will be categorized with? I’ll pick three older than 25 years and two current.

19841984:  Like most baby-boomers, I read this as part of my high school curriculum.  A cautionary tale of bad guys who've taken over the world and how an everyday guy reacts.
What’s really amazing about this novel is how many phrases from it have become part of the modern lexicon. “Big Brother”, “thoughtcrime”, “doublethink” and “Orwellian”. It was well written, has strong characters, and over the years, has stimulated many discussions between friends and strangers. I remember, in the 1990’s, arguing that its publication helped make sure that 1984, or a totalitarian world, didn’t happen. I’m not sure about that now, but, although it wasn’t written as such, I do suspect that it was chosen to be part of a North American wide school curriculum as part of an anti-communist propaganda.  What do you think?

stranger_in_a_strange_land_coverStranger in a Strange Land,   Okay, I have to admit it.  I was a hippie. There are pictures of me, somewhere, with long hair down to my shoulders, a purple paisley shirt, bell bottom pants with three inch wide red, white and blue stripes and heavy leather boots. Robert Heinlein’s 1960’s tome played right into this crazy, wonderful and screwy counterculture movement. Or maybe it just reflected it. While his book was about individual liberty, sexual freedom, religion, and the breaking down old paradigms and personal responsibility, I’m afraid my experience with it line edited out the responsibility part. And I always got the impression that Heinlein just loved to see what he could get away with, pushing the boundaries of morality. 

lord-of-the-fliesLord of the Flies:  This is the book that made me want to be a writer, and I am still learning from it. It’s a psychological drama about people. The science fiction only gives the setting to the situation. There was a nuclear war which caused some kids from Britain to become stranded, without adults, on a jungle island. Story starts . . . we see what happens. Love it. Also, from a writer’s point of view, the story doesn’t become dated, except for one small detail. The book was written in 1954, when one cliché about people from Britain was they generally had a “stiff upper lip” attitude, or an unspoken social agreement to put up with hardship. This is exemplified in the way the boys are at the beginning of the book and their one rescuer is at the end. However, today, people from Britain are thought of as free thinkers and extremely creative in the arts. That aside, the story still stands the test of time.
Now for a few modern books.

unwindUnwind:  This is a wonderful, far-fetched story where unruly kids are harvested for their body parts, right down to the tiniest part of their brains. Two sections of the book really creeped me out. (that’s a compliment) One is where a young man is in a bad accident, and to repair brain damage, is given a piece of an “unwound” kid’s brain. What this forced him to do was an amazing piece of writing, but I won’t tell what it is. About the most creepy thing I ever read in my life was the description of another “unwind” being taken apart. It’s written from his point of view. Well done, Neal Shusterman.

the-hunger-gamesThe Hunger Games: I must end with The Hunger Games, which has become a phenomenon and for good reason. This trilogy by Suzanne Collins was published over four years and the third installment did not suffer from being written in a relatively short time frame. 

You see, if there’s one thing that really bugs me about the North American publishing business, it’s that books are usually written to deadlines. And in a series, this is a very dangerous thing. When reading some books, (not Ms. Collins) I get the distinct impression that it was outlined, okayed by the publisher and then fleshed out with very few changes. I perceive in them as having a distinct lack of plot twists and psychological depth, and very few secondary and tertiary plot threads. 

This did not happen in MockingJay, the third part of The Hunger Games trilogy. In fact, Ms. Collins not only kept the writing quality up, she took a few chances and deviated from what I think was expected. It got her some flack, but only from those who just wanted more of the same. She experimented a little and pushed the envelope. The vast majority of her readers followed happily.
There are, of course, many, many more wonderful modern books that have influenced me. I include old and new here and I guarantee, the list is longer; Brave New World, The Chrysalids, The Giver, Feed, Uglies and The Adoration of Jeanna Fox.
If you’ve like any of these, perhaps you will enjoy The Lens and the Looker, and the rest of what follows in my History Camp series.  You can read more about it at You can also “like” the History Camp Facebook page at:

Book #1 of the Verona Trilogy

It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences (A.I.s) have finally created the perfect post-dystopian society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.

In this first of a trilogy, we meet three spoiled teens in the year 2347. Hansum almost 17, is good looking and athletic. Shamira, 15, is sassy, independent and an artistic genius. Lincoln, 14, is the smart-aleck. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find his insecurities.

These three “hard cases” refuse the valuable lessons History Camps teach. But when they are kidnapped and taken back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy, they only have two choices; adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The dangers are many, their enemies are powerful, and safety is a long way away. It’s hardly the ideal environment to fall in love – but that’s exactly what happens. In an attempt to survive, the trio risks introducing technology from the future. It could save them – or it could change history.

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