Archives for posts with tag: the Sixties

Lisa Mason Talks Time Travel With Laura Vosika (Part 3)

Welcome! We’ve asked authors Lisa Mason and Laura Vosika to talk with us about their time travel books.

Lisa Mason is the author of Summer of Love, A Time Travel, on Nook and Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel, on Nook and on Kindle. Summer of Love was a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book. Locus Magazine said, “Remarkable. . .the intellect on display within these psychedelically packaged pages is clear-sighted, witty, and wise.” The Gilded Age was a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book. The New York Times Book Review called The Gilded Age, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.” Visit Lisa on the web at Lisa Mason’s Official Websiteor  Lisa Mason’s Blog.

Laura Vosika is the author of Blue Bells of Scotland, on Kindle, Nook, itunes, and at Smashwords, lauded as a book in the vein of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and earning many five-star reviews. Nan Hawthorne, author of historical fiction, called Blue Bells of Scotland one of her favorite books of the year. The praise was echoed by Robert Mattos of Book and Movie Reviews, adding that it is a must-have for the book shelves of any serious reader. The Minstrel Boy, Book Two in The Blue Bells Chronicles is also out. Visit Laura on the web at www.bluebellstrilogy.comor

Q: How do your characters time travel?

Laura: Like the four siblings in In the Keep of Time, Shawn and Niall originally switch times in a Scottish tower. As the series progresses, some other elements and conditions are discovered, as to what opens that gap in time. I leave it to the characters and reader, however, to decide if they believe this, or if there are simply ‘thin places’ where such things can happen.

After spending the day at a re-enactment event at the castle, Shawn and his girlfriend Amy go up into the tower. He gets her angry enough to walk away, leaving him stranded in the castle, fifteen miles from his hotel.

An hour later, he finished his third beer and looked out over the walls again. Mist boiled on the loch’s surface and filled the courtyard, like a fog machine at an abandoned rave. The castle walls and buildings floated, ghostly, above the bubbling stew. Tendrils of mist shaped themselves, into a man, into a horse, and melted away again. He blinked. Maybe he’d read too many ghost stories himself.

In the morning, he’s quite drunk.

He leaned against the parapet, but the floral scent wrapped around him. Voices reached out again, from far away. His head spun. He risked opening his eyes. There were no cars in the lot. Funny. Whose voices had he heard? He crossed to the east side of the tower, reeling as the rising sun speared his eyes. He raised a hand against the glare, and squinted down at the pebbly beach below. Two women, in full skirts, ambled along the shore with a man in a gray tunic. The water glittered under the rich greens of the mountains behind it. He swore. What was with these damn reenactors? Didn’t they have a life, that they were out this early in the morning playing dress up?

Of the various time travel methods used in fiction, I decided against science and machinery and went with the idea of the miraculous and mysterious, things outside man’s control, things that Shawn and Niall and Amy must seek to understand throughout the series, so they don’t have a time travel method on their hands so much as a mystery.

Lisa: I wanted to present time travel as a technology that could actually happen in the far future. I’ve always been partial to H.G. Wells’s machine, probably because of that very cool sleigh-like contraption in the 1960 movie. My time machine is a “tachyonic shuttle.”

I researched how, specifically, my travelers could make their journeys over the centuries with the help of three books: Time Travel by John W. Macvey, Time Machines (Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction) by Paul J. Nahin, and Time Travel and Other Mathematical Bewilderments by Martin Gardner. After some thought, I decided you would require two technologies working in concert—the first would translate matter (including a human being) into pure energy for an instant and the second would transmit that bundle of energy through the timeline to a targeted destination via faster-than-light technology. Hence, “translation-transmission” in a tachyonic shuttle is how Chiron travels from 2467 to 1967 and how Zhu travels from 2495 to 1895. Piece of cake!

From The Gilded Age:

Out of a tense and arid darkness she steps, her skirts sweeping across the macadam. Her button boot wobbles on the bridge over the brook in the Japanese Tea Garden. “Steady,” the technician whispers. The shuttle embraces the ancient bridge in a half-moon of silver lattices. The air is susurrous, tinged with menthol, cold. The shuttle hums. High overhead, the dome ripples in a fitful gust. Zhu Wong listens for final instructions. None come. Dread quickens her pulse. She closes her eyes and waits for the moment it takes to cross over.

And then it’s happening–the Event sweeps her across six centuries.

Odd staccato sounds pop in her ears. The Event transforms her into pure energy, suspends her in nothingness, then flings her back into her own flesh and blood. And she stands, unsteadily, her button boot poised on the bridge over the brook in the Japanese Tea Garden. A brand-new bridge. The scent of fresh-cut wood fills her senses.

Q: Can your time travelers return to their own era?

Lisa: Oh, yes! But only if they survive. Both Chiron in Summer of Love and Zhu in The Gilded Age each must return to a designated location where the Luxon Institute has in the far future set up a tachyonic shuttle and return at a specifically designated time or they’ll remain trapped in the past.

Laura: Shawn and Niall do have the ability to return to their own time, but in Blue Bells of Scotland, they don’t know that. It’s all guesswork. Even when they have a better idea, in The Minstrel Boy, they’re not at all sure how to control it. Being from different eras, they have very different means of seeking that answer, and throughout the series, they’re never sure when or if it will really work.

Thanks to Lisa Mason and Laura Vosika for a lively and thought-provoking discussion. If you, the reader, wish to join the discussion or have any questions or comments for our authors, feel free to contact them. And please buy their books!

Summer of Love, A Time Travel, on Nook and Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel, on Nook and on Kindle,by Lisa Mason.

Blue Bells of Scotland, on Kindle, Nook, itunes, and at Smashwords, and The Minstrel Boy, Book Two in The Blue Bells Chronicles by Laura Vosika.

New! For your holiday reading pleasure, Bast Books is releasing Summer of Love Serials on Nook and Kindle. We know everyone is on a budget these days so Bast is offering affordable installments. You can read your way through the summer over the year-end holidays.

Summer of Love, Serial 1: Celebration of the Summer Solstice

On Nook and Kindle.

Summer of Love, Serial 2: Festival of Growing Things

On Nook and Kindle.

Summer of Love, Serial 3: A Dog Day

On Nook and Kindle.

Summer of Love, Serial 4: Rumors

On Nook and Kindle.

Summer of Love, Serial 5: Inquest for the Ungrateful Dead

On Nook and Kindle.

Summer of Love, Serial 6: Chocolate George’s Wake

On Nook and Kindle.

Summer of Love, Serial 7: A New Moon in Virgo

On Nook and Kindle.


If you’re writing contemporary fiction, you need only know your own culture. If science fiction, you need to have your technical talk nailed down or, if it’s pure imagination, keep your neologisms consistent. But if you’re writing any kind of historical fiction, you must talk the talk of the era. There’s nothing more irritating than reading historical fiction and bumping into a glaring anachronism (I don’t want to criticize other authors, but some of the worst offenders have been big bestsellers. Enough said.) If your characters live in the Sixties, it’s okay for them to say “groovy.” Groovy originated in 1937 among early jazz musicians, referring to the grooves in a phonograph record, and is the functional equivalent of “awesome.” But you wouldn’t want a character to be watching “happy talk” on TV; that expression didn’t originate till 1973.

Your first best research resource is good ol’ Webster’s Tenth Dictionary, which provides a word’s date of origin right in the definition. Next, a book like New Dictionary of American Slang or Thesaurus of American Slang both by Robert L. Chapman. I collect slang dictionaries, and I think my favorite for sheer fun is The Surfin’ary, A Dictionary of Surfing Terms and Surfspeak by Trevor Cralle. Sadly, I haven’t used it yet because I haven’t written a surfing story but, you never know, that could happen.

Often you’ll find the best slang in magazines and newspapers of the period, which is why you must search for and collect those invaluable resources. I think my favorite slang for 1967 is “knickknacker” (noun) or knickknacking (verb) for a shoplifter/shoplifting. Found that gem in a 1967 issue of The Berkeley Barb. And what was the functional equivalent of “awesome” in 1895? Distillers of fine liquor cast their names right in the bottle, while cheap distillers merely glued on a paper label. So if something, anything was awesome in 1895, you said it was “blowed in the glass.” Found that gem in my bound volume of The Argonaut from 1895 through 1897. Yes, the real newspaper, not a facsimile!

For all my science fiction and fantasy books, stories, and screenplays, including Summer of Love, A Time Travel on Nook and Kindle, The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on Nook and Kindle, Tesla, A Worthy of His Time, A Screenplay on Nook and Kindle, and brand-new projects such as my big new urban fantasy, The Garden of Abracadabra just released on Nook and Kindle with a print edition to follow in 2013, visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Web Site. Tomorrow, Researching The Gilded Age.

I’m a student of history (not some superannuated ex-hippie yearning for the good old days), and as one studies the progress of the decades of the 20th century, the Sixties leap out as a clear demarcation between the Victorian attitudes of the nineteenth century and modern society as we recognize it to this day. Yes, the civil rights movement made headway against Jim Crow laws and grandfather clauses, but it wasn’t till the Sixties that America began to allow African-Americans into mainstream culture. Yes, women won the vote in 1920 and staffed the war industries in the 1940s, but feminism finally clarified issues of workplace opportunity and women’s roles in the home and in the bedroom only in the Sixties. (And feminist issues are hardly resolved today. Witness the December 2011 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, stating that only 13 % of directors and screenwriters of top movies are women, and that hasn’t changed in 40 years. 13%) And yes, there always existed a gay underground among the demimonde, but the Sixties were truly when people began to come out of the closet and into mainstream culture.

For all my science fiction and fantasy books, stories, and screenplays, including Summer of Love, A Time Travel on Nook and Kindle, The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on Nook and Kindle, Tesla, A Worthy of His Time, A Screenplay on Nook and Kindle, and brand-new and forthcoming projects, visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Web Site. Tomorrow, I’m transitioning from Summer of Love to the Gilded Age to blog about Talking the Talk in Historical Fiction.

There are, of course, numerous sanctions and restrictions that must be placed on time travelers, starting with the classic “grandfather paradox,” which goes like this: if you traveled back in time and killed your own grandfather(or grandmother), you wouldn’t exist in the first place to do the deed. Then there’s the “butterfly principle,” in which a time traveler goes back to a primordial jungle and accidentally kills a butterfly, changing all of ensuing reality. Like many authors before me, I played with these concepts and their ramifications, adding some actual quantum physics into the mix. Under the Uncertainty Principle, the observer changes the observed, proven in the famous experiment in which a photon appears as a wave or a particle depending on how the experimenter sets up her observational apparatus.

I wanted to add another favorite trope of science fiction authors—that a sweeping and seemingly beneficial technology can go terribly wrong. Consider the automobile, a technology which has given us freedom and mobility unprecedented in pre-car history, reliable distribution and delivery of goods, and a lot of enjoyment. Cars have also blighted the landscape, caused us to be dependent on foreign oil, caused pollution, injury, and death, and alienated people. I explored the notion that the far-future technology of “tachyportation,” which could be employed to colonize planets and tweak historical wrongs, had sweeping unintended consequences. Tomorrow, why were the Sixties such a pivotal era? Summer of Love, A Time Travel on Nook and Kindle. For all my books, stories, and screenplays, including brand-new and forthcoming projects, visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Web Site.

Writing an historical novel was not my entire concept for Summer of Love, A Time Travel. I wanted to juxtapose a far future dystopia that could have followed that era as a commentary about the Sixties and our present. What was most striking to me when researching the period was the virulent sexist attitudes toward women. But it can be difficult to dramatize that without another point of view providing an analytical lens to give the drama context. And that’s what my far future time traveler does. Other issues on which Chiron provides perspective are recycling and the consumption of resources, overpopulation and how the world could respond to that, even suntanning.

But writing about the future can be tricky, exposing the writer’s hidden attitudes or assuming that certain aspects of reality will stay the same. Witness the mini-skirted stewardess (as flight attendants were called then) working for Pan Am in the film “2001.” Not long after that movie was made in 1968, Pan Am went bankrupt and disappeared! Or Isaac Asimov speculating that astronauts on an interplanetary journey could raise rabbits for meat when we know very well that people can survive, and even thrive, on a vegan diet. The real question is how astronauts could grow rice on board! As for me, I speculated that a woman would be elected President of the United States, but not for another hundred years or more. One of my critics accused me of being sexist. No, I’m pessimistic! It’s 2012 and we don’t have a viable female presidential candidate from either party, do we. Tomorrow, the pleasures and perils of time travel. Summer of Love, A Time Travel on Nook and Kindle.

The overwhelming majority of readers who have appreciated Summer of Love, A Time Travel, those folks who were adults or young adults the summer of 1967, always ask me, “Were you there?” The answer is no, I was safely dancing ballet, swimming, and climbing trees back in Ohio. When, years later, I was drawn to write about that unique and pivotal period, I set out to capture the sights, sounds, attitudes, and culture from the inside out. I started out with The Haight-Ashbury, A History by Charles Perry, a book he worked on for eight years. From there, I read the daily San Francisco Chronicle from June 21, 1967 to September 4, 1967 on microfiche at the Santa Rosa Public Library (the only place in the Bay area where I could find such an archive). I acquired the gorgeous facsimile edition of The Oracle published by Regent Press and found a complete archive of The Berkeley Barb at the Berkeley Public Library. At Walden Pond Books, Bibliomania, and the now-vanished Holmes Book Company (all in Oakland) and Shakespeare & Company and Moe’s (both in Berkeley), I found rare books such as Lenore Kandel’s infamous Beat poem, Love Needs Care by Dr. David E. Smith who founded the Free Clinic, and Notes From Underground. I borrowed people’s home movies, studied Making Sense of the Sixties, which featured the famous Harry Reasoner clip, and watched Star Trek episodes (no, I’m not a Trekkie, but that research was fun). I acquired Life and Time magazines for June through September, 1967 from online bookstores, as well as a privately published corporate history of Marinship for details on Ruby Maverick’s mother’s experience as a war worker (found that gem at a military books specialist in St. Louis). I spoke with, met, or corresponded with Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Katharine Kerr, Allen Ginsberg, and Allan Cohen, and even spoke by phone with Lenore herself. She told me that the bus fare in 1967 was fifteen cents (not a quarter, as I’d thought) and that there was no Sausalito ferry operating in 1967. We shared a laugh over the fact that her brother wrote some scripts for Star Trek (she proofed the manuscript for me and loved the Star Trek riffs). And, of course, I visited the ‘hood itself and walked through the Portals of the Past. What an education! But an historical novel was not my entire concept for the book. I wanted to juxtapose a far future, a dystopia that could have followed that era, as a commentary on our present. More about that tomorrow. Summer of Love, A Time Travel on Nook and Kindle.

Summer of Love, A Time Travel is once again up and running on Nook and Kindle with some new, improved format issues in place. This is a re-edited version of the book I published with Bantam years ago and is, I think, now a much better book, which I will publish in print again sometime in 2013. I clarified the main characters’ relationships and streamlined the time travel theme. Yes, the story is a bit controversial! I dramatize the birth of feminism and don’t shy away from the issues of promiscuity, child abuse, and drugs, exposing both the wonders of that time and the horrors. I was not There. Instead, over two years, I exhaustively researched those four months in the summer of 1967. I’ll talk more about that—and the people I contacted and met—tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you’ll give the ebook a try. We’re looking into publishing a Smashwords edition for everyone with an ereader other than a Nook or Kindle.