Social media. Is it bringing the world together, or tearing us apart? I can’t say, and this post definitely isn’t about trying to figure out the answer; you can decide for yourselves.
The reasons why some of you may be considering leaving Facebook or Twitter (or have already done so) would take the rest of this post to list, so I’ll spare you. Google+ is dead come the end of April. Tumblr is in the middle of a cringe-worthy identity crisis that may well kill it. Instagram was comparatively unscathed by 2018, but it’s always one bad redesign away from disaster.
The point is, social media platforms come and go (raise your hand if you had a MySpace page). They change their design and their rules and inevitably rise and fall. As omnipresent as Facebook feels today, it’s transient like all the rest.
So, what to do? I plan to continue being present and active on the most popular sites of the day, whatever those are, so don’t worry - I’m not going anywhere. But if you are, it shouldn’t mean we have to stop sharing our enthusiasm about space and tech and sci-fi with each other. This is why I’m creating a place where I will always be sharing my enthusiasm about those topics - a place I will always control, and where you are always welcome.
I give you SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLES: Breaking News & Random Musings On Space, Technology, Sci-Fi & The View From A Writer’s Window. At SMBH, I’ll be cross-posting all my Facebook posts, as well as notable posts of mine from Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. At SMBH, you can not just comment but join and follow the conversation, without worrying about Mark Zuckerberg mining your data for an army of ad bots or Twitter shadow-banning you. It’ll be fun!
If you’re an RSS feed person, you can add the blog to your reader of choice: https://www.gsjennsen.com/supermassive-black-holes?format=rss. If you’re an email person, subscribe to the blog here. Note: this is completely separate from my primary author newsletter, as I don’t want to be spamming people who only want to hear about book news. So subscribe to SMBH if you want to get email digests of new posts 2-3 times a week, and never miss a conversation.
The other day I was cleaning out my notebook collection (which is shockingly extensive, considering I use a PC/tablet/phone for nearly everything). In checking the contents of each notebook before sorting it into the “keep” or “toss” pile, I was surprised to discover pages and pages of handwritten notes in one innocuous looking little notebook. It took me a moment to realize that this was the notebook I took on our cross-country drive from Colorado to Georgia in 2014 for Thanksgiving.*
The drive where Aurora Renegades and Aurora Resonant came to life.
November 2014 places this drive two months after Vertigo was released, which means I was heavy into writing Transcendence. I’d had the broad brush-strokes of the full 9-book saga in place from the very beginning (yes, including the ending!), but up until this point I’d forced myself to focus on Aurora Rising—because if Rising wasn’t a success, there would likely be no 2nd and 3rd trilogies. But by November, Starshine had taken off and Vertigo was doing very well; I was collecting an enthusiastic fan base, and I had started to accept the notion that this writing gig was something I could do. As in, forever.
So it was time to get serious about the rest of the story.
When man and machine are one and the same, there are many crimes but only one sin: psyche-wipe. The secrets it has buried could lead to a civilization's salvation, or to its doom.
The Asterion Dominion is at peace with its neighbors and itself. Its citizens enjoy great freedoms and all the luxuries their biosynthetic minds can imagine, design and create. But beneath the idyllic veneer, something is going wrong. People are going wrong, driven to commit inexplicable crimes without motive or purpose. And once imprisoned for those crimes, they simply vanish.
Psyche-wiped and dumped in an alley 5 years ago, awakened into a culture where ancestral memories stretch back for millennia, Nika Tescarav's past is a blank canvas. But if whoever erased her did so in the hope of silencing her, they should have tried harder.
Someone must speak for the lost.
Someone must uncover how and why they became lost.
Someone must find the lost.
Nika is that someone.
After more than a million words, how does one begin to capture the essence of the Aurora Rhapsody saga in a mere few hundred? Three years, 9 months and 10 days ago, I promised to the world that it would be "an epic tale of galaxy-spanning adventure, of the thrill of discovery and the unquenchable desire to reach ever farther into the unknown. It's a tale of humanity at its best and worst, of love and loss, of fear and heroism. It's the story of a woman who sought the stars and found more than anyone imagined possible." I hope it has become all those things and much more.
Aurora Rhapsody is science fiction, an imagined future, space opera, adventure, mystery, romance, action. It's exploration of space and exploration of what it means to be human. What it means to be alive. It's love and lasers, battles with the characters' internal demons and star-exploding space battles. It's an optimistic vision that dares to believe humanity will prove to be both stronger and better than we believe ourselves to be today. It is, I suspect, something different for each one of you. It can't be defined by numbers, but what the hell - I will anyway.
1. A Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.
2. A musical composition setting parts of a requiem Mass, or of a similar character.
3. An act or token of remembrance.
Origin: Latin, accusative singular of requiēs, meaning “rest” or “repose.”
I've always held a certain appreciation for the word “requiem.” It's lovely to the ear, conveying consequentiality and reverence without being overly long or convoluted. It's a musical term; the Requiem Mass has inspired hundreds if not thousands of musical compositions, including pieces by some of the greatest composers who have ever lived. It's fitting that the last novel in a saga called Aurora Rhapsody bear a title steeped in musical sentiment. And, yes, it is an appropos title for the book, but as has been common with my book titles, perhaps in some unexpected ways.
Re/Genesis: Schrödinger’s Cat and Sleights of Hand
Before I dive into Relativity’s secrets and grand reflections on this new trilogy, a few words on the Re/Genesis short story.
If you haven’t read Re/Genesis as part of the Beyond the Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge anthology, your excuses are now at an end. Re/Genesis is free on Amazon (in the U.S., possibly elsewhere), Nook, Google Play and Wattpad. You can also download a .mobi, .ePub or PDF version directly; you can even read the story right here on the website. It’s a quick read, yet so important. Get to it!
Much like Apogee did for Aurora Renegades, the events of Re/Genesis will play a vital role in the unfolding story of Aurora Resonant. It takes place concurrently with the end of Abysm, serving as a bridge between Abysm and Relativity in more ways than one. It zooms in to give us our first real glimpse of Amaranthe, seen through the eyes of someone who wants to blow it up (as it were).
Ah, yes, Eren. In Re/Genesis we meet Eren asi-Idoni—Anaden, anarchist and dashing rebel. He will play a huge role in Relativity and all of Resonant, and Re/Genesis provides quite the dramatic introduction for him.
We're going to mix things up a bit this time. As I mention below, Dissonance is a Pivot Point, and that means this is a great time to pause and take stock for a minute.
A mere two years ago, I wrote a little blog post called “Asking Less (and More) of Others.” (Aside: Best, most insane two years of my life). To all of you who arrived a little later as a result of promotion efforts, or simply because you found and enjoyed my novels, a most sincere welcome. I’m truly glad I deserved it.
You know what the most wonderful thing is, now, two years later?
The Author's Note in Sidespace got a shiny new coat of paint for Aurora Renegades. Among a few other things, in it I say the following:
Sidespace was an independently published novel, written by one person and worked on by a small team of colleagues. Right now there are thousands of writers out there chasing this same dream.
Go to Amazon and surf until you find an author you like the sound of. Take a small chance with a few dollars and a few hours of your time. In doing so, you may be changing those authors’ lives by giving visibility to people who until recently were shut out of publishing, but who have something they need to say. It’s a revolution, and it’s waiting on you.
In the spirit of the Author's Note, Thanksgiving and the impending Christmas, Hannukah and New Years, I want to take the opportunity to express my thanks for the success I've enjoyed by spotlighting other authors.
Twice makes a routine (according to my dogs anyway). With the release of SIDESPACE: Aurora Renegades Book One coming up in one week, here’s a peek behind the scenes of the book – we’ve got facts and figures, trivia, musings, numerous awards, several secrets, and one tattoo.
Relatedly, be sure to check out the teaser quotes, which I'm sharing with increasing frequency as release day approaches. See them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social media sites. Also, I shared the back cover blurb in this news update.
Sidespace is divided into seven parts. Seven, you repeat, incredulous. But isn’t this book shorter than the first three, and they only had four parts each? Yep. Sidespace is structured a little differently than the previous books (more on this below); I think it enhances the storytelling, but you’ll have to tell me. So seven parts (plus a Coda!) titled and quoted thusly:
We're going to be visiting a lot of new worlds in Aurora Renegades. While we're by no means leaving the planets back home in Aurora behind, now that Aurora Rising is complete I thought I'd share some of the spacescapes and futuristic art* that I drew on for inspiration in imagining the varied colonized worlds visited in Aurora Rising - for your enjoyment and as a 'thank you' to the fantastic artists who help fuel my imagination.
The links go to Deviant Art pages (you don't need an account to view the images on DA), where you can see the pieces in gorgeous high resolution and learn more about their creation. If you particularly enjoy a piece and are a DA member, show your appreciation by favoriting it, following the artist, or even leaving a comment.