Guest Post: When Worlds Collide: Science Fiction and Physical Therapy by LJ Cohen

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LJ (Lisa Janice) Cohen is a poet, novelist, blogger, ceramics artist, local food enthusiast, Doctor Who fan, and relentless optimist. She lives just outside of Boston with her family, two dogs (only one of which actually ever listens to her) and the occasional international student. When not doing battle with her stubborn Jack Russell Terrier mix (aka “other dog”) or hanging out with her lab/hound mix (aka “good dog”), LJ can be found writing, which looks a lot like daydreaming. She writes SF, Fantasy, and YA novels under the name LJ Cohen.

LJ is a member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and Broad Universe, a national organization promoting women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

She also is a member of The Scriptors, an indie and hybrid author collective, where she blogs monthly on topics related to the writing life.

Once in a Blue Muse is LJ’s personal blog, where she has been posting about her life, work, publishing, and random observations since 2004.


When Worlds Collide: Science Fiction and Physical Therapy

by
LJ Cohen

I started writing stories when I was a child. At the time, I devoured anything even remotely related to science fiction or fantasy, so of course, those were the kind of stories I wanted to write.

The usual advice came my way from well meaning teachers and from my parents: Write what you know.

But what does any ten or eleven year old know? Like many kids, I lived in a world of imagination where the ordinary took on eldritch meanings. So I wrote about UFOs, magical talismans, and portals. But I didn’t have the lived experience or the knowledge to match the stories that seemed so brilliant in my mind.

I spent a long time believing this advice meant I couldn’t write what my imagination dreamed of writing.

Fast forward about three plus decades until I was a young mother with a rewarding career as a physical therapist. I still gravitated to reading SF&F and I still had the desire to write. So I returned to story ideas I’d had as a child and started writing again, but this time, I had the perfect rebuttal to my elementary school teachers: I took what I had been reading over a lifetime, added my professional knowledge to it, and linked them both to the emotional truth of my lived experiences.

What I knew wasn’t only the events of my day to day life; it was much richer and deeper than that. And my stories began to reflect it.

So what did I know best? I had studied anatomy, physiology, neuroanatomy, kinesiology, communication and teaching methods, pain management, exercise and movement analysis, and differential diagnosis. I had some skill with early computers and programming. But I also had experienced love and loss, disappointment and good fortune. And change. Always change. 

Technology, medicine, and injury braid together to help drive each plot arc across all five of the volumes that make up the Halcyone Space series. Among my ensemble cast are characters with injuries, impairments, and disabilities. They also each have specific talents, interests, strengths, and struggles. These elements are not merely plot points, but are part of how each character reacts to external events and internal needs. This is particularly evident in ITHAKA RISING.

While the books take place in a near future world, there is still no perfect cure for brain trauma and Jem Durbin, a young computer genius, is overwhelmed with headaches, vertigo, and nausea, made worse when he tries to focus his vision. Desperate, he is willing to risk his life to get a black market neural implant. 

Lieutenant Commander Emmaline Gutierrez is an upper extremity amputee. She lost her left arm in the war that ended forty years before the events of the series. It is part of who she is that she makes the choice to use what appears to be a fairly primitive artificial limb with a claw hand, rather than a more anatomical and cosmetic one. That choice resonates with every other choice she makes in the books. 

Rosalen Maldonado is coping with PTSD from years of emotional abuse by her father. This, too, colors all her choices and actions. It especially makes acting as Halcyone’s captain and trusting her crewmates a challenge. There are times when Ro’s fear of trust and intimacy places them all at risk.

Barre Durbin, Jem’s older brother, wrestles with his guilt over Jem’s head injury. Jem would never have been hurt had he not been trying to help Barre escape the consequences of illicit drug use and their parents’ threats of forced commitment. 

Jem disappears. Ro and Barre attempt to rescue him. And because all choices have consequences, their actions lead to a planet that shouldn’t exist and decades-old secrets that could very well ignite a new war.

I’ve never uncovered conspiracies or fought in covert wars. I don’t understand the physics of wormhole travel and artificial gravity. But I do know a fair amount about people and some of the many ways we cope with adversity. 

For the rest, I rely on imagination, which is something we all know something about.

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*** Ithaka Rising is available to purchase TODAY as a part of the SFWA Scince Fiction Buyndle!!! ****

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Buy the Book:

StoryBundle


About the Bundle:

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Welcome to the largest, grandest and most out there bundle SFWA has ever done: the Sci-Fi SFWA Space Bundle! With 17 books that range from hardcore military sci-fi to character-focused alien encounters, we might have gone through the wormhole and out the other side.

SFWA serves authors at all points in their careers and we’ve embraced that diversity for this bundle. First, the Self-Publishing Committee reached out to a number of sci-fi authors throughout the genre who we know have enthusiastic and diverse fanbases. Then we opened the bundle up for submissions to our entire membership. We received far more submissions than we could actually put in this bundle, but after some rousing debate, we settled on a total of 17 spectacular titles.

Some of the proceeds of the bundle go to support SFWA in its mission to support, promote, inform, defend, and advocate for professional fantasy and science fiction writers. For more about the organization, see sfwa.org. For its grants program, see http://www.sfwa.org/2017/09/call-grants-2017/ – Daniel Potter

Not only that, but during our 3 week run, all StoryBundle newsletter subscribers get Qualify – The Atlantis Grail Book 1 by Vera Nazarian for free. Make sure to get that so you can enjoy Compete – The Atlantis Grail Book 2 by Vera Nazarian, available in the bundle!

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!


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