Speculative Fiction

Have You Heard of It?

Speculative Fiction. No Vampires Here!

We are all familiar with the popular reading genres such as romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, and horror. Those are further divided into subgenres such as paranormal romance and historical romance, cozy mysteries, YA, etc. While fantasy has become popularly accepted as a major genre, it is still considered a subgenre of science fiction.

Have you heard of “Speculative Fiction”? Most readers have not. In fact, if you were to look in Amazon’s categories, as wide-ranging as they are, you will not find speculative fiction anywhere. However, it is a type of fiction which encompasses genres such as futuristic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and many others.

In its simplest elements, it is any fiction that “speculates” as to possibilities. These possibilities may be future, present, or past. For example, The Man in the High Castle is speculative fiction because it speculates on what may have happened if the Nazis had won WWII. Jurassic Park also is speculative fiction because it explores the possible results of bringing creatures that nature chose for extinction into the present.

Anytime a work of fiction “speculates,” when it explores the “what if,” it can be considered speculative fiction. Some writers, such as Margaret Atwood, have gone a bit further into their definition of what constitutes speculative fiction. She held that speculative fiction must be plausible. She felt it was fiction that “could happen.”

In this view, science fiction that deals with Martians is not speculative because it could not happen as we now know for sure that Mars has no inhabitants. Fiction that speculates on humanity settling Mars and terraforming the planet would be speculative.

You might be tempted to ask: why is this type of genre necessary or important? It is necessary because some works of fiction do not fall into any other simple genre. Case in point is my Future-Past (Daniel’s Fork) series, in which I constructed a society ruled by lords as Europe was centuries back. The people of Daniel’s Fork (a village) speak in simple, formal English. They live with technology that dates back to the colonial times.

Many of my readers have asked why I chose to do that.   A good friend, when she first read the Hunter’s Snare (previously Daniel’s Fork), was very angry and insulted. She argued that Americans, with such a history and fierce love of democracy, would revert back to being ruled by lords in the future.

Of course, 2020 was still seven years in the future, when the danger of losing our democracy became too real. In the future, possibility is the key word! It is understandable that my friend was doubtful of the possibilities. However, if you read the book I wrote after, Fire Dance, you begin to see the very real possibilities in Hunter’s Snare.

I have been working, (between other projects) on the first novel, time-line wise, of the series. It is called Lords, and it takes place three years after the pandemic. Needless to say, I have a great deal of rewriting to do after lessons learned in the present-day Covid pandemic.

In Lords, the following questions are answered: Why did I choose stilted, formal language? Why are there bathrooms and not aqueducts? Why are there lords and not presidents? Why use blades, bows, and shotguns too?

Some readers have observed that Hunter’s Snare reads like historical fiction. Others feel it reads like fantasy. While I made a creative decision to use simplified, formal English, the novels are not historical fiction. In fact, they are futuristic! 

They depict a future society that has inherited knowledge of our present, a history of technology, but an inability to maintain or create the technology anew. In many ways, I was influenced by the world that Anne McCaffrey created in her Pern novels.

Anyone who has read Hunter’s Snare can see that while it takes place in the future, eighty years after a pandemic, it does not fit well into science fiction. It might be called dystopian by some, but it lacks the elements of the dystopian genre in that the society works rather well and is not disaffected

The biggest hurdle in classifying Hunter’s Snare is that it is, at heart, a mystery! It is the tale of the new alpha male in town, arriving to replace the beloved, dead lord. His first task is to catch a serial killer who has run amok for years. Still, selling the novel as a mystery would target readers who expect cozy mysteries or police detective stories. They would not be happy.

Finally, there is the erotic side to Hunter’s Snare. There are strong sex scenes, one that includes two males having sex. This causes some promo sites to categorize the novel as “erotica,” and many sites refuse to promote it because of those few scenes. You can now understand the problem of genre categorization for some works of fiction.

In fact, my Future Past series can only be categorized properly as “Speculative Fiction.”  It is totally possible if in a few years from now, a pandemic decimated our world, and a few survivors opted to re-form society by keeping that which was tried and true. 

Coming soon: Roses & Thorns (Vampires in the Mist- Vol 6)

Much has happened to Rose since that fateful party at South Beach. She’s been seduced by vampires, hunted on a moonlit shore, abducted to a private, hidden island,  chosen as a companion of the blood, and sent as a novice to a convent full of witches. 

She was abducted by the legendary witch Ygraine, and almost killed by the mad vampire monk Savilla. In between the hair-raising adventures, she often finds herself in very interesting, romantic situations. After all, she is surrounded by lusty vampires, sexy witches, and  red-hot Scots!  

Rose returns to the convent, only to be once again swept away into the most incredible adventure yet, as secrets long kept by her family come back to threaten her life and her sanity. But Rose is not the naive, young girl she once was, and now she has something bigger than herself to fight for.

Come, join Rose in her world of  vampires, witches, monsters, magic, and steamy passion. Forget your troubles as she faces and conquers hers. Let the magic of paranormal fantasy  take you away! 

 

 

Baffled!

I received a few emails from readers telling me that a post I wrote back in 2018 had popped up in their blog mail. Honestly, I have no idea what happened or why it happened. I did clean up my list of back posts a few days ago, deleting those which related to old “new” releases of my books.  I must have clicked on the wrong button, prompting the pushing of an old post. Please, disregard it as the topic is probably no longer relevant.

I hope you are all doing well. I have been pretty much house bound since the Covid situation began. With Christmas around the corner and the thought of spending it alone weighing on my mind, I decided to take a chance and travel to my grandchildren in Miami. I have not seen them in a year, and my granddaughter keeps begging me to come. 

Of course, I protect myself as much as I can, but it’s a serious risk I take. For one, my grandchildren went back to physical school last week. They will come home eager to hug and kiss and sit at my side to watch TV and play video games.  At school, as hard as the administration tries, it is impossible to keep the students  apart.  There will be increased positives, and the chance of contagion will rise for me.

I am over sixty. There will not be ten doctors waiting hand and foot on me or an entire ward dedicated to me. I will not be cared for in the top military hospital in the world. There will be no experimental drug for me. If I die, I will do so alone,  drowning in my own fluids, without the comfort of a hand to hold my own.  I do worry.

I do believe the situation will get better soon because a vaccine cannot be far off. I don’t care what anyone says; I will be first in line for it. It’s not the idea of dying that scares me. I am not as terrified of death as  you might think.  It’s the idea of dying in such an agonizing, lonely way which scares me. 

New topic: I am now working on Volume 6 of my Vampires in the Mist series.  Things are changing by leaps and bounds for Rose, the main character, and getting  intense! You know me: no topic is off limits. One thing I can guarantee: you will hate the villain. 

Visit Zeecé Lugo’s Online store to buy her books. It’s the only place you’ll get her books at a discount.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT!

Reflections On Our Times

I just took this picture. It’s the view I have from my terrace at the moment. What is normally a beautiful sweep of mountains in the distance,  has been reduced to a film of white dust which totally  eclipses the mountains. It looks like a shot of southern Florida when you’re away from the water.

The phenomenon is caused by Sahara dust. You might be wondering what does Puerto Rico, a small island in the Caribbean, have to do with anything in the Sahara, especially its dust. The answer lies with the whims of climate.
 

Now, I must  emphasize at this point, that never  until I returned to the island ten years ago, had I heard of Sahara dust. My mother, who taught me everything I learned about the island and my ancestry, never mentioned it. She did talk at length of the terrifying thunderstorms of summer and of the northerly spring showers named for the “Pigeon Peas.” She also mentioned often the great killer hurricanes of her father’s youth and the earthquake of 1918.

 

Yet, never did she mention any Sahara dust. During the few years I spent in the island as a child and the many times I visited over the years, I never saw or heard of Sahara dust.  Baffled by this, I asked several of my neighbors and most of my cousins and friends about it.  All of them claim that the phenomenon was not seen in their youth, but began appearing a few decades ago.

 

It turns out this is not true. These Sahara dust  episodes have been happening for thousands of years,  but they were light, and no one noticed. Now they are really heavy and  strongly visible.  This week’s episode is expected to reach the southern USA.

 

What exactly is it? As I understand the issue, dust from the sandy Sahara is lifted into the upper wind currents of the atmosphere and is carried halfway across the world where if finally falls to blanket our island. Obviously, our island is only a small part of the recipient lands.

 

We, Puerto Ricans, see this as insult added to injury. In the recent past (last three years,) we have been assaulted by a category 5 killer hurricane,  the Financial Oversight and Management Board, a series of earthquakes which began last Christmas season and are still being felt, the overthrow of the previous republican governor under a juicy scandal,  and the Covid 19 pandemic which brought about a complete shutdown of the island.

Now, Puerto Ricans are, as a people, deeply optimistic and resilient, but there are limits. Many tend to see every little misfortune as a precursor to the end of the world. One of my closest neighbors and dearest friend is fully convinced that the end of the world is here. She preaches to me daily, wearing her mask, of course.

 

She watches the news of the mainland (USA) and points to the news coverage of race riots and rising pandemic numbers, and crumbling economy as proof that the end of the world is near. She might have a point.  I believe I can identify the anti-Christ. I refrain from telling her my suspicions because she is a staunch republican, and I’d hate to lose her friendship.

 

As an author, this is all very depressing to me. If the world comes to an end, who will read my books? Should I keep writing? Should I leave out all the sex, violence, and supernatural characters that I may be judged more kindly? I have tough decisions to make.

 

I hope you read between my lines and grasp the underlying humor.  I am attempting to prove that I am optimistic and resilient. I spit in the face of adversity.  It could be worse: we can still get a volcanic eruption or a meteor strike. We should count our blessings!

 
 
 

If you have not read my Vampires in the Mist series, now is the time. The 5th volume, Bloodstone, is now available.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Living Alone During Corona Virus

Dear Friends and Readers:
 
I am, like many of you, living isolated.  When I retired and moved to my beautiful little place in the mountains of Puerto Rico, it was the achievement of a long-cherished dream.  I saw myself rising to a breath-taking view every morning, drinking my morning cup of coffee in bliss, and writing for hours without distractions or time-consuming responsibilities. It was exactly like that for several years.
 
My grown children, grandchildren, and brothers stayed in Florida, living their lives, managing their careers, and enjoying their retirements. I did not see living away from them as an obstacle to closeness. After all, I flew to Florida several times a year, and if there was a family emergency, I stayed there to help as long as they needed me. We always keep in touch with calls and text messaging, etc. Sometimes, I talk to my children more in one day than I ever did in one month when I lived fifteen minutes away from them.
 
The last month, however, has been one I never thought I’d live through. In Puerto Rico, we’ve managed to keep the Corona virus under control with very strict measures. You must understand that we’re one of the highest populated areas in the world. We have over three million inhabitants squeezed into an island measuring thirty-five miles wide by ninety miles long. We had, at one point, over four million people, but many moved to the mainland in the last ten years.
 
Since a large part of the island is mountainous, most of the three million people live in the highly populated metro areas where work is more likely to be found. A virus can rip through these areas like a bullet through paper, as we’ve seen in New York City. Our governor, fresh from the earthquakes of last January, took immediate action. We’ve been on lockdown for a month now, and we take it seriously.
 
There are close to fifty houses on the street where I live. If you sit at my veranda, with a wide view of the entire countryside and network of roads, you might see a car moving in the distance once every fifteen minutes. My neighbors stay home. They put out their trash and wave at me from afar. Only essential businesses can open: hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations and banks. Hardware stores can open two days a week, as well as auto repair shops.
 
For the last week, only cars with license plates ending in even numbers could be out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays: odd numbers were allowed on the road on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. All vehicles are grounded on Sundays, and all businesses closed. A driver caught breaking the rule, will have his or her car impounded and must pay a pretty steep fine to recover it.
 
I have not been out of my house for a month. I have not had a visitor for a month. I stocked food and supplies before the lockdown began. I made an online-shopping order at the local supermarket to be delivered in the next few days. I have a mask and gloves and plenty of disinfectant.
 
How do I spend my days? I am physically alone every day and night. I rise, as usual, by eight o’clock. I make it a point to put on makeup and make myself presentable as I always did before the pandemic. I go through the daily rite of “opening” the house. I open all curtains, turn on the computer, the coffeemaker, the local tv news. I drink a cup or two of coffee while watching the latest on the virus around the world. Then, I put on some gloves and go outside to water my plants and do some pottering outside. I wave or talk across the distance to my neighbors.
 
My phone rings often because I have a large family about half of which lives here also, mostly first and second cousins. My Florida family calls as well. My granddaughter, eight-year-old Jasmine, calls me daily. She loves to Facetime. I sometimes spend twenty minutes watching her do her school work! I guess she feels she has company if I’m watching.
 
I spend hours at my writing and a few more hours also reading. I try not to read drama or anything depressing. I stay with authors and series I love. For example, I am now reading Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series- again.
 
I have also made a commitment to spending forty-five minutes on my elliptical exercise machine on a daily basis. I go to the Accuradio website and play the K-Pop station. I find that K-Pop music is excellent for working out. As a result, I’ve fallen in love with 2PM and EXO and lost ten pounds.
 
I downloaded an app on my iPad to teach me German. I lived in Germany for three years back in the eighties, but I forgot all the German I learned back then. I spend thirty minutes each day listening and repeating. I find the language app is very relaxing. I play Solitaire and Temple Run on my iPad. Today, I mopped my entire house after Gigi, my Roomba sweeper, finished sweeping. Gigi is my make-believe pet. 
 
As you can see, I have no problem being alone or keeping busy. At first, I fought the idea that social isolation was needed. I doubted the extreme measures the island was facing were necessary. I did not want my personal rights curtailed. I worried about the economy. I thought it was all a media ploy. After watching images from Italy, Spain, and New York, I am now grateful and willing to make the sacrifice. I feel healthy, safe, and luckier than most. I have absolutely no worries about myself or my neighbors.
 
I am, however, terrified about my family in Florida. I don’t get a sense of urgency from them. I get the impression they don’t see the incredible seriousness of the situation. Is it because they’re young and do not feel vulnerable? Yesterday, my son was cooking on his new, state-of-the-art grill. It was his anniversary present from his wife. She got it at Walmart the day before!
 
Four days earlier, my grandchildren and an older cousin were also at Walmart, and then they went to pick up food at McDonald’s. My son works for the government, and he says several of the workers in his building have tested positive for Corona virus. My daughter works at a prison. She says no visitors are allowed, but the workers coming in daily are a hazard. Neither she nor he has been tested.
 
I hear these stories, and my stomach turns into a knot. I live in terror of losing one of my children or their spouses or my grandchildren. The worst part is that when I try to get them to understand my worries, they get annoyed at me and brush me off. They don’t seem to realize that if they died, I’d want to go with them too. 
 
You must be wondering about the point of my rambling. My point is that if you have someone you love, do the right thing for them, to save them heartache and worry. Stay home for them. Take precautions for them. Social distancing is one step, but it’s not enough. Stay away from crowds and groups. Go out only when absolutely necessary. That’s the best way to say I love you.