Published by 48fourteen on 4-10-2013
Genres: Science Fiction
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Without an influx of human DNA, the utopian colony on Kipos has eleven generations before it reaches failure. With Earth over ninety light-years away. Time is short.
On the over-crowded Earth, many see opportunity in Kipos's need. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, Abby and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. Along with 750,000 other strong young immigrants, they leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs and the opportunity for higher education.
While these second-generation colonists travel to the new planet in stasis, the Kiposi, terrified that Earthlings will taint their paradise, pass a series of indenture and adoption laws in order to assimilate the savages.
When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin cannot be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. Indentured to breed, she is drugged and systematically coerced. To survive, Abby learns the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind. To escape, she joins a planetary survey team where she will discover yet another way of life.
Interview With Elizabeth Guizzetti
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Sure. Other Systems explores the loss of identity, friends and family due to a forced breeding program and time dilation.
Humans have begun to sprawl across the known galaxy, however, without an influx of human DNA, the planet Kipos has only eleven generations left before it reaches failure. It takes two centuries to get to Earth and back at near light speed.
Other Systems follows Abby, an Earthling, who sees opportunity in Kipos’s need. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, she and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. They leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs, kindhearted spouses, and the opportunity for a higher education. However, in the interim, the people of Kipos are fearful of what the Homo sapiens will bring to their utopia. They pass a series of indenture and eugenics laws.
When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin is nowhere to be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. To survive, Abby must learn the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind. To escape, she joins a planetary survey team where she learns yet another way of life.
What makes your book unique?
Other Systems is hard science fiction that deals with social issues. There is very little violence. People try to use their brains when dealing with problems.
My other emphasis was making the scientists act like scientists. It is a pet peeve of mine when I read books or watch movies where intelligent characters go around acting stupid. So I tried very hard to make the crew of the Revelation and Discovery act like scientists on a survey mission. Yes, that means they spend a lot of time collecting samples, just like our own astronauts. That also means sometimes they have to run away from danger!
Where did you get the idea for the book?
First, for anyone unfamiliar with my work, I have been writing and illustrating indie comics (Faminelands, Out for Souls&Cookies, and Lure) for the past five years with Maria Masterson. Maria needed family time and we were having some plot/character arc issues with Faminelands #3— so I was not working on anything. Then the concept for Other Systems really hit me when I was out walking the dogs: a young Earth woman goes to another planet and realizes she has become a slave. However, due to her intelligence, she will escape and become a ship’s captain while she rescues her siblings also somewhere lost on this planet. (Don’t worry, people who want to read the book, this is not what happens!) That very night, I saw an article about young, uneducated girls from India’s rural areas traveling into new cities and thinking that they are going to get factory jobs only to end up working as sex slaves. Suddenly, I knew the how Abby got caught up in all of this. Then I had another idea—breeding laws. They would be more expansive than just the bonded Earthlings. There would be more human species than Homo sapiens due to radiation and gene therapy. I realized people on the new planet would not consider themselves Earthlings. And I had the basic plot.
Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?
Personally, I love books that pull me into their reality so that is what I sought to accomplish in my writing. I didn’t really have a message when I wrote it, but my morals came through anyway. It’s a big universe. Humans have the ability for greatness, but we MUST stop dehumanizing and blaming each other.
How long did it take to write the book?
Nine months to write the first five drafts, then a few months to sell the manuscript, and nine months to publication.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Diane Richards. The head engineer enjoys her work without getting bogged down with paperwork like Harden (Captain) and Helen (XO). Like all the characters in the Fleet, her life has known pain due to time dilation. She remained young and outlived her husband and son who lived on Kipos’s largest moon, Argent. As a kind-hearted and intelligent divorced woman, she gets to have a lot of fun on shore leave without judgment from anyone. On the ship, she has a cat named Rockford.
While Helen mothers Abby, Diane is more like the cool big sister. I was sad that I had to cut two scenes with Diane and Abby. However, they were both “little darlings” and cut in draft two for redundancy and pacing. The first one was Diane showing Abby an engine system between Lathos and Kipos. The second one is about the correct way to approach men with confidence.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
Yes, I have an outline for my first draft. Once I have an outline. I generally write a chapter a day until the end. So for Other Systems that was about a month and a half. I don’t show anyone that draft and begin to rewrite, but having 60,000 words means I won’t be tempted just to trash it and start again.
In Other Systems, there was two really hard parts. The first one was writing and then editing the forced breeding scene. In my mind, Abby’s rape was integral to the plot. I wanted the reader to experience the horror of what she went through. In order to write it, I had to focus on what was important such as the clinical nature, how she was dehumanized and the pain Abby felt. Due to my speed I did not do it justice the first time around, but I am glad I wrote it so the next thing could happen.
When I was re-writing Chapter 28 in Draft 2, Mark said to me, “No, I wouldn’t do this. Write me out of the story if you have to, but I will not do it.”
So I gave it some thought, cursed him for his ethics, and then rewrote the chapter. Of course then I had to rewrite every chapter that followed. How Mark and Abby behaved towards each other changed drastically. Rover became more important. Pat, who originally was just going to be a minor character, re-entered the story. The best part about all this rewriting was how much the characters surprised me. The story became more like real life, which is what I wanted.
Before anyone thinks I was done, there were three more drafts (and three edits at 48Fourteen).
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
Nothing major. I sometimes worry about the foul language. (Oh, Harden and Cole, why do you have to have such potty mouths!) There are a few small mistakes in the novel. I just wish I had slowed down.
How did you come up with the cover?
That is a story within itself.
48Fourteen originally had another cover for the novel. It was cool looking, but very dark. I hadn’t done a novel cover before—but since I have a background in indie comics—I asked if I could do some mockups. The acquisitions editor picked her favorite for the e-book release. However, once after released, we realized a big problem with the cover. At conventions, only men seemed interested in the book. So for the paperback release, I went back to the drawing board with my publisher’s permission. We decided the artwork must have some representation of Abby, so it appeals to both men and women. I did another ten mockups. I also showed my publisher and people who followed my Facebook page. Everyone loved the blue.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was twelve, I decided I wanted to be an author.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
I’ve always made up stories, but I do remember the one about a princess who does not want to be married and goes off on adventures. Now plenty of stories follow that theme, but twenty plus years ago, I thought it was unique. It reads as if it were written by a child, because it was.
What is your favorite genre, and why?
Horror and Science Fiction. Because I like the “What if…” aspect of each genre. What if Vampires lived in Maine? What if we had robots walking around? What if….
Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?
There are lots of them, but since I wrote sci-fi, I’ll stick to sci-fi:
- Tau Zero by Poul Anderson
- Forever War by Joe Haldeman
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Otherness by David Brin
- Confederation of Valor Series by Tanya Huff.
What are you working on next?
I am in the rewrite stage of the second book in the Other Systems Universe: The Light Side of the Moon: This novel will explore what happened on Earth after the Kiposi leaves the space elevators. There are only two minor characters from Other Systems who make small appearances in The Light Side of the Moon: Abby’s boss, Mr. Alexander Johnson and her younger brother, Ray Boyd Lei.
It follows Ella Sethdottier whose father abandoned the family for the opportunities on Kipos when she was four-years-old. Seven years later, her mother succumbs to the flu and her brother “ages out” from his job. Fearing they’ll starve, he arranges Ella to be married to a man 43 years her senior. Seeking a better life, she runs away. The road is fraught with danger, but Ella follows rumors of plentiful jobs on the reconstructed lunar colony. Along the way, she meets a family of corrupted androids who accompany her.
The lunar station subsists of little more than a prison colony. Disheartened, she and the androids find work as servants and relative safety within the warden’s household. Ella forges an unlikely friendship with the idealistic doctor, Ian Whitlatch, who champions equality and rights for prisoners. Determined to help, Ella aspires to build a school for both children and prisoners alike, however the colony’s relentless hardships intensify. Despite riots, corruption, hunger, and the effects of low gravity, can Ella and Ian create a utopia?
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
In every major project I have done –often somewhere in the middle—I get a new idea. It feels like all the work I have done to this point on the current project is complete crap and I should just toss the project and focus on the new shiny idea. So what I do is give myself one hour to focus on it. I write and sketch as much as I can. Then put the new idea away in a file cabinet and get back down to work safe in the knowledge I won’t forget my new shiny idea later. I call this The Queue. Whatever you call it, do one project at a time. Finish projects. Each time you will get better.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
Juggling time was hard to learn to do—especially if I’m in the writing or art zone—because I want to keep writing and doing artwork. It feels so good to finish projects. I work anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week. I sometimes sacrifice stuff I want to do for my writing, but I try hard to keep it painless for my husband. Now I will point out, Dennis could not be more supportive. He loves that I am passionate about writing and he tells everyone that I am an author.
One thing that helped is I started keeping a pretty strict schedule for myself. I get up and exercise, then breakfast. Once my husband is off at work, I do an hour of “business”. Then I get right to work. I set alarms so I can do any household things I need to get done. I try to keep a meal plan so I don’t have to think about dinner.
Unless there is an author event, one day on the weekend is for hiking with my friends and one day is for my husband.