Sharon Lee has asked fans to do a little free hand signal boosting in antici-(see what I did there?)-pation of the new Liaden Universe® book that’s coming out in July, Alliance of Equals.  So, here goes:

As you know, Bob, I am a serious reader.  Serious as in committed to reading as an activity I will devote significant chunks of time to doing because I like doing it.  As you can tell by my “Books Read” posts, one of my favorite übergenres is science fiction. Now, there are those of you (and you know who you are) who say, “Oh, I don’t read science fiction.” Well, why not? You’re missing out on some great reads.

The poet and philospher Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the phrase “willing suspension of disbelief” in 1817, for crying out loud!  It’s not a new concept.  It’s been around since the dawn of time.  Coleridge just put grown up clothes on it.  It’s what happened when you were a kid and decided to play along with a game of “Let’s pretend.” It happens every time you listen to a story teller, open a book, go to the theater, see a movie, sit down in front of a television. It’s an open acknowledgement that you know what you are experiencing isn’t real, but that you’re willing to pretend it is for the sake of seeing where it goes because it might be fun, interesting, entertaining, instructive, or any or all of the above.

Fiction is about people and situations that aren’t real, but could be, with hardly any stretch of the imagination.  All science fiction asks of you is that you have a stretchier imagination and be willing to play in a much bigger playground.  Don’t let the “science” thing throw you.  The genre got started as a place to speculate about what influences 20th century scientific discoveries and developing technologies might have on human society and how human society might change and evolve to cope with it, but it’s gone way beyond that.  Science fiction allows you to play with some pretty big ideas, and to speculate about what makes human society human,  not just as it is now, but as it could be given certain situations.  Science fiction allows you to look at humanity, not just from the inside, but from the outside.  For example, humans can’t get along with each other; what would happen if they now have to deal with an alien species? (For a cogent and highly enjoyable exploration of that hypothesis, see Foreigner universe.)

Science fiction is just fiction with a lot more variables.  It allows you to play with ideas in a way you can’t if your playground is limited to the “real world.”  Science fiction is an exercise in imagination.  It requires you to juggle with more balls.  No matter what you’ve been led to believe, you do not have to be a geek to like science fiction. You just have to be willing to suspend your disbelief a bit more than you’re used to and put a little Spandex in your imagination.

Read the Wikipedia article about the Liaden Universe®.  Try it on your imagination for size.  The Liaden books are character-driven action/adventure type stories with suspenseful plots, peopled with well rounded, sympathetic and relatable characters who are more or less human.  They’re engaging characters that draw you in to their interesting culture.  They have cats.

Now, consider this:  You can test the waters of the Liaden Universe® for free.

Agent of Change is the book that began it all, the first Liaden Universe® book. You can get in on the ground floor for free from Amazon in Kindle (.mobi) format or from the Baen Free Library in all formats known to Man.

Fledgling is the story of the daughter of one of the main characters (my favorite character, as it happens).  It is available in Kindle (.mobi) format on Amazon and from the Baen Free Library in all formats known to Man.

Even if you don’t have an ereader, most of the ereaders (including Kindle and Nook) have free downloadable software available that enable you to read their books on your PC or smart phone.

There are 19 books so far in the Liaden Universe®, plus several books of novellas and short stories, so if you are a voracious reader (speaking), you’ve got plenty of fodder here.

The newest book in the series, Alliance of Equals, comes out in July, so you’ve got plenty of time to get up to speed.