Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog: Fairy tales, Star Wars influence latest book in ‘Lunar Chronicles’ series

The other night I read a ten page science fiction story from 1957. The piece was called “The War is Over,” and it was written by a guy named Algis Budrys.

In a short span, Budrys created an alien world of centuries-old cybernetic organisms that were following an apparently human-introduced instinct to build a rocket ship to transport one of their fellow beings into the stars, carrying a small rusted metal box of unknown contents. No one in this world, including the rocket pilot, who, by the way, admitted to not knowing how to even fly a rocket, knew the reason for this endeavor.

Which got me to thinking, where did Budrys get the ideas for this story?


Marissa Meyer, a science fiction writer from Tacoma, Wash., may have part of the answer.

Meyer is about to release “CRESS,” the third book in her young adult “Lunar Chronicles” series, and she cites some surprising sources, at least to me, for the influences.

First, she talks about a genre that, to me, is outside the realm of sci-fi — the fairy tale. Second, rather than mentioning authors like HG Wells, Clarke, and Asimov as direct sci-fi influences, Meyer cites the pop culture entities Star Wars and Star Trek — movies and TV shows that happened 10 and 20 years before Meyer was born.

It’s interesting that aproximately 50 years ago Star Trek was on TV. And if you subtract 50 from 1957, that puts us at 1907, which is in the ballpark of the first American edition of “Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.”

Would I find any correlation to Budry’s short story in any of Grimm’s stories? Did he meld the beginning of the space race (Sputnik was launched in 1957) with one of them?

Is there time to read every sci-fi story ever published to find out? Probably not, but it’s always interesting to learn where things came from and to think todays sci-fi might become inspiration for somebody 50 years down the road.

Interview with author

Marissa Meyer

What do you want to accomplish with your writing workshop on Feb. 5?

At my events I like to talk about the inspiration behind my books and my path of becoming a writer. I talk about fan fiction, something a lot of teens are into today, how that helped develop my voice and gave me confidence in sharing my writing with other people, which led to me becoming a professional writer.

I also like to talk about fairy tales and their influence on our society and how that has changed, over the course of hundreds of years. I always find the fairy tales very fascinating, and something that people don’t always know about is those original stories are where we get a lot of our archetypical characters from. The workshop will also be a book discussion and Q&A session.

What made you choose Hood River to do your book tour (it’s your only stop in Oregon)?

My publisher actually chose it for me and I’m looking forward to visiting. I’ve driven past Hood River but I’ve never stopped in before. I live in Tacoma, so it’s only three hours away for me!

Do your social media sites indicate a big fanbase here – should people dress up as characters in your book?

I have seen some response from the Gorge on Twitter and from fan emails.

And as far as the dressing up, we like to have a different theme for each tour, that we base that on the book cover. With my previous book “Cinder,” it was a red shoe event, but for this tour, it’s Rapunzel themed, so it’s red hats or hair accessories. Fans can choose from hats, ribbons, bows, and barrettes to represent Cress, or hark back to Cinder and Scarlet with red shoes or hoodies.

“CRESS” is based on Rapunzel – what do you want readers to take away from your books?

My goal, first and foremost, as a writer, is to entertain. Reading for me has always been an escape, and I spend my time enjoying it.

I always hope people enjoy reading a good story. Beyond that, I gravitate towards having strong heroic female characters as my main characters, based on fairy tale heroins, but with cool twists. Cinder was a mechanic, Little Red Riding Hood was a spaceship pilot, and Rapunzel is a computer hacker. I don’t know if that empowers my readership, but if it does, that’s an added bonus.

Did any books inspire you to write this series?

Growing up I was much more a fantasy reader, rather than a science fiction reader, and that has largely influenced this series.

“The Lunar Chronicles” is science fiction but they tend to be more focused on moral building and character dynamics as opposed to the hard technology that a lot of classic science fiction focuses on. That’s largely based on my fantasy influence.

But as far as the actual science fiction influences it was the huge movies, Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, I grew up with these huge science fiction pop culture influences, and I know a lot of my readers did, too.

What was the process like for getting on the New York Times bestseller list and how has that helped you as a writer?

My first two books did hit the NYT bestseller list, and my new book “CRESS” is going to be released Feb. 4, so I’m hoping it follows in the same path.

The process for getting on that list is actually secretive (laughs). I know there are certain bookstores throughout the country that report to the list, and it’s based on number of sales per week, and how they correspond to other books on sale that week, but there’s really no “magical formula” for how it happens.

“Cinder” was my first novel, and it hit the NYT list it’s first week out, which is a huge fantasy for any writer. It was mind blowing for me and it showed me that there was a market and interest in these books, and it’s super exciting to see how this will develop.

How can people contact you and what are the online fan resources?

There’s www.marissa meyer.com and Facebook, Twitter, and there’s a Lunar Chronicles Tumbler page that has a lot of really cool fan art.

Which authors do you enjoy reading?

These days I focus on young adult fiction, because that’s what I write, so I want to stay on top of what’s happening in that market. There’s so many fantastic authors in the young adult genre right now, and it’s an exciting genre to be in.

My personal favorite — I’m completely smitten with Leigh Bardugo and her “Shadows and Bone” series. I’m on the edge of my seat for the third book due out this summer

Kristen Cashore with the “Graceling” series is fantastically written and wonderful, and one of my all-time favorites is the “Book Thief,” which is now a movie, which I haven’t seen yet…

I see that you are in talks with making a movie out of your series….

We are, the rights are sold, and the last I heard that there is a script written and they’re looking for a director. It’s not a guaranteed thing but my fingers are crossed.

How has the phenomena of E-books factored into your business?

When “Cinder” came out, I expected there to be a large market portion in e-books, and it wasn’t, it was maybe 8-10% of the total. I had expected it to be higher.

But with the second book came out, that seemed to jump up significantly. I think you’re seeing that in all markets now, since e-readers are becoming more accepted. I personally read e-books and physical copies, both have pros and cons.

I would have guessed the young adult market would gravitate toward e-books.

That’s what I would have thought too, but when “Cinder” came out, the feedback I got was that the teen-agers aren’t reading them as much because they can’t afford the e-reader itself. But I think more and more e-readers are being given as birthday and Christmas gifts and it’s becoming more popular.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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