Sisterhood of Suns

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What the Sisterhood Is--and isn't--and Why

Posted by martinschiller76 on January 13, 2013 at 12:35 AM

Now that the Sisterhood series has been ‘out there’ for a while, and people have had the opportunity to read it, certain criticisms have arisen. I feel that the time has arrived to reply to some of the most significant of these, and to offer explanations.


Book Length


One of the more common complaints is that the books are too long. There are three reasons for this.

The first are my personal reading tastes. When I find a story that I like, I enjoy reading about it, and at length. “Dune”, “The Dragonriders of Pern” and the “Temeraire” series are three examples of this, and they are all quite long. I never once regretted this feature about them, and I was sorry when they eventually ended. Therefore, when it came time to write the Sisterhood books, I simply went with what I prefer.

The second is product integrity. I feel that I have an obligation to my customers; if someone is willing to spend $20 on a hard-copy book, or $3 on a Kindle version, then it is only right that they get their money’s worth.

The third is an obligation I have to the story itself, and its characters. In my mind, to describe a universe and individual lives, and do them justice, is to give them the time that they deserve. While some might argue that this can be done with greater brevity, and might even be correct, I write as I write and even with an editor I would still tend towards the lengthy. As a side-note there are just as many readers who have felt that even more detail was needed, and wanted more sightseeing in the Sisterhood universe. I will tend to default to this faction until a paying publisher says otherwise, and even then, the fight will be on.


Character Count


Another issue that has come up is the feeling that there are simply ‘too many characters’. In fact, while there are scores of what could be called ‘supporting characters’, there are really only seven major players moving throughout the storyline; Lilith, Sarah, Maya, Kaly, Jon and later, Ellen n’Elemay and Erin taur Minna. This remains consistent.

And it must be pointed out that the Sisterhood universe is just that—a universe. Such places have the nasty tendency to be populated with many individuals, and it only stands to reason that any group of characters would also encounter a host of new personalities as they go about their adventures. On a personal note, I recently read “The Game of Thrones” and saw this same thing occurring; it is a vast and complicated world, and there were points where I became lost in all the personalities—but I accepted their existence and soldiered on, ultimately enjoying the book.

I would also offer up a parallel from daily life. Many of us have gone from one job or residence, with one set of employers and co-workers/neighbors and friends, to another, and in the process, have been forced to become acquainted with a new set of unique people. In creating the Sisterhood, I reflected this condition. The Athena is a good example of this; with over 10,000 crewomyn, it is quite likely that its Commander (having served for years aboard her) would be compelled to become familiar with more than just a handful of subordinates, and to develop relationships with them.

So, yes, there are many characters, and there will continue to be many characters.


The Sisterhood is Not a Utopia


Some readers came to the series expecting this, and were disappointed. My answer to them is no, it is not, nor was it ever intended to be one. While there are those who earnestly believe that an all female government would create a paradise for its populace, the fact remains that people—regardless of their sex or race--are still people—with all of their flaws and weaknesses.

Many political groups throughout history have promised that their philosophy would usher in an era of fantastic prosperity, happiness and peace. But to date, none have ever fully delivered on this and I do not believe that this condition will change as we move forwards (despite the glib claims by the ‘Star Trek’ universe that we will somehow ‘solve all of our problems’---without ever providing any concrete examples of exactly how this little miracle was accomplished).

My personal theory is that governments will remain governments, and that they will do business as they always have, which is not always in the best interests of their citizens. The government that I created for the Sisterhood was realistically fashioned, with all of the subterfuge, manipulation, political maneuverings and corruption that we find in the real world.

There is also another factor involved. The Sisterhood government is part of a social satire; it is actually a snapshot of ourselves. In the beginning, I only had eyes for the story line, but as it developed and I spent time with it, I began to realize that what was emerging was actually an image of our own modern culture. A culture that while technically advanced and militarily formidable, still possesses glaring flaws, towering arrogance, and ingrained prejudices that are either only partially addressed, or completely ignored.

Only an outside observer can appreciate the full extent of such weaknesses. In our world, this role is played by the citizens of other countries, but in the case of the Sisterhood, it is the reader who performs this function.

Like us, the Sisterhood believes itself to be on the side of good, even though this may not actually be so. And just like today, there are good individuals within its ranks, but its government is another creature entirely. I have only to point out the contemporary examples provided by the nations of China, the former Soviet Union, the United States, and England, to make the case. To those who came expecting utopia and didn’t find it, I deeply apologize, but utopia was not my intent. Honesty was.


Too Much Magic


The final issue that arose was that there is allegedly too much magic in the books and that I am straying into a genre that has been labeled ‘science fantasy’ as part of some kind of inner conflict. In my defense, the presence of the supernatural is deliberate and not the product of any creative confusion.

The human experience is more than our technology. Since our very earliest days, we have always had the capacity for wonder and a perception of the mysterious. Ghosts, superstitions and spirituality have played just as significant a role in our evolution as our inventions have. Even today, in our computerized world, the supernatural still occupies a vital part of our lives, whether we are believers or debunkers. I do not believe that this condition will change ‘one nano’ as we move into space. We will still see ghosts, we will still believe in luck, and we will still pray to deities. This will not change.


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