Science fiction, today’s reality and all the rest

coverforvfaScience fiction was the first “genre” fiction that I fell in love with. As a kid, I can remember reading everything the school and local library had with space ships and faraway planets as part of the plot. I dragged my parents to every SF movie to hit the local theater. Lost in Space and Star Trek were must sees on the TV. Why did these books, movies and TV shows call to me? Because they offered a look at a future that was exciting and a bit dangerous and they let my imagination run wild. Looking back, I can see just how true that was. When my friends and I played and decided we’d be the characters in our favorite shows or movies, it was almost always science fiction related. And why not? We got to play with really cool laser guns and fight aliens and explore planets and fly in spaceships. What more could any kid with an overactive imagination want?

Of course, there came a time where, for a few years, science fiction wasn’t as much fun. Those were the middle grade years where the books we had to read were more focused on making sure we were getting the right vocabularies and focused more on non-fiction than fiction. Then, one day while digging through stuff at my grandmother’s house, I found some old copies of If Magazine and those flights of fancy started again and they have never stopped.

What has always called to me in science fiction has been the story. I’ve never paid attention to whether or not a man or a woman wrote it. Nor has it bothered me if the tech in a book written fifty years ago is outdated by today’s standards, much less what might exist in the far future. None of that matters, in my opinion, as long as the story is there.

However, I will admit that I’ve become more aware of how others look at science fiction since I began writing Vengeance from Ashes and now that I am about 1/3rd of the way through the sequel, Duty from Ashes. I looked at issues ranging from how I wanted the military in my military science fiction novel to be set up and operate to what name I would use when I published the book to how detailed I’d be in the technical aspects and much more. What I have learned is that there is no absolutely right answer to those questions and more. No matter what I — or any other author — do, someone is not going to like or agree with what we write.

What brought this home to me was a thread I saw a week or so ago where someone asked if, in the not too distant future, the USAF or the USN would be in charge of the ships our military sends to space. My instant knee-jerk reaction was that it would be the Navy. After all, we were discussing “ships” and that’s what the Navy has. I’ll admit to a bit of pre-programming along that line to by authors like David Weber and his Honor Harrington series. But then I sat back and watched as the others in the thread started hashing it out. As I thought more about it, I decided it would probably be the Air Force with some blending of Navy traditions, jobs and possibly even ranks. But that is just me.

Going hand in hand with that thought exercise is what roles the traditional Army and Marine Corps would play. I can see the Marines being the driving force, the “go in, find the target and get it done” prong of an invasion — remember, we’re talking space right now — and the army being the occupation force. Marines, since they would be assigned to our space fleets — a hold over from the Navy and part of the mingling of traditional roles — would also be the ones who would be the initial boarding parties after space encounters. However, because square footage is at a premium on a spaceship, Marines would be cross-trained to handle jobs also held by the Air Force/Navy crew so they could step in in an emergency.

Of course, that is all in my head and, as a writer, it is up to me to make it believable for my readers. But, as I said earlier, I won’t be able to satisfy everyone, no matter how hard I try. In a way, I think that it is especially difficult to do so with military science fiction. Why? Because everyone has his or her own view of the military and how it operates and how its members act and react. Those views are colored by their own experience with the military — and with which military they might have served in. But that is also true no matter what sort of genre fiction you write. There will almost always be at least one character or character’s profession that will strike a chord — good or bad — with a reader that will color the way they view the entire book.

I’ll admit I’m guilty of that. If I read a police procedural or legal thriller, I will be very vocal — at least in my own room — about how the details are wrong. Why? Because I’ve had some experience in both the law enforcement and legal fields. But I also try to remember that my experience isn’t within the parameters of the story I’m reading and I can usually hold my frustration in check — unless we’re talking something like The Client which went sailing against the wall before I was halfway through the book.

Anyway, back to the considerations I kept in mind while writing VfA — and which I think many writers do when writing military science fiction, especially if their lead character is female.

My next concern was to make my main character, Ashlyn Shaw, something other than a “man with boobs” without making her a wimp. She’s a damaged character and in a situation many of us might react to with upraised middle fingers. Some folks have criticized the book because she didn’t do just that. To me, she couldn’t because honor is a very strong part of her as is her sense of duty. However, running almost as deep is her need to find answers and get justice — or revenge and she’d really prefer revenge when the book opens — for what happened to her and her people prior to the opening of the book. That makes her dedicated and could have made her hard. Maybe it did. I don’t see her that way. But she is also a mother and daughter, worried about her family and those she cares about. I hope I made her into a believable character.

I’ve never liked the “man with boobs” critique when talking about science fiction. Part of it is because I’ve always thought that, by the time we reach that point in the future, a lot of the attitude some folks have about women not being fit to command will have disappeared. No, women and men aren’t the same. So they shouldn’t be written that way.  But there are a lot of similarities between a woman in command — whether of a boardroom or a spaceship — and a man in command. The differences shouldn’t come out in their command decisions but in their personal lives and thoughts. But then, you should see those same sorts of differences between different characters, no matter what their sex, color, creed or whatever.

Nor have I liked the critique you see from some folks about the female main character being a superwoman. Again, there are and always will be differences between men and women. But, in the future, there will be implants or genetic modifications or drugs or whatever to help with reaction time and stamina and who knows what else. So it is possible for a woman to do more physically then than we can now.

But my objection to the term comes from something more basic than a belief that there will be “enhancements” for both sexes in the military to make them into better soldiers or Marines or sailors. It is the fact that most of those complaining about the woman being a superwoman wouldn’t bat an eye if Captain Jane Smith had been written as Captain John Smith. It isn’t that those complaining are evil white men who think women should be kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Far from it. They are simply judging by what has come before and by what they know to be true — today.

And that is the biggest hurdle we have when we write science fiction of any sort. The readers’ perception of today will color what they read about the tomorrows to come.

The final “big” issue I considered before releasing Vengeance from Ashes was whether to put it out under my name or the pen name I was also using. I thought long and hard about it and I talked to folks I trust in the industry about it. Part of the consideration was did I want to publish under what is obviously a woman’s name in a field where the readers are predominantly male and so are the writers? There is a preconceived notion that the readers won’t give a woman writing military science fiction the same chance they would a male author. Then there are those who say that is exactly why you should publish under a female name. After all, how are you going to beat back all the evil white readers (and, yes, the snark is on with that, as in full sarcasm mode is on) if we don’t have more women writing in the field. Honestly, my only real concern was that my readers would pick up the book thinking it was something it wasn’t simply because of the name — or pen name — used. I hadn’t published any science fiction before. Everything up until now had been urban fantasy, romantic suspense and paranormal romance. That is a far cry from military science fiction. So I chose a new pen name, one that could be seen as being male or female. I didn’t try to hide that it is a pen name. I’ve been open about that from the beginning.

I guess the whole point is this — if you want to write something, write it. Think about what the concerns are and how you are going to handle them but don’t let worry about them keep you from doing it. It may take more research than some of your other work. It may mean taking some lumps. It also means you are stretching your abilities as a writer and that is a good thing. Just remember that you aren’t going to be able to make everyone happy.  But, as long as you are making more happy than not, you’ve done your job. At least that’s the way I look at it.

Now, before I go off in search of another cup of coffee, I have a countdown going on over at Amazon this week. Hunted, the first book in the Hunter’s Moon series, is currently 99 cents. If you like shapeshifters, a little romance — yes, yes, I know it’s labeled paranormal romance but I still believe plot is more important that sex in a book — and some suspense, I’d appreciate you giving it a try.

Ellie Ferguson

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what. Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

53 thoughts on “Science fiction, today’s reality and all the rest

  1. I think what makes science fiction so appealing is that it’s a) amazing, and b) it kind of, maybe, please, please, please, *could* happen.

    For the philosophy majors writing science fiction, I recommend Wayne Lee’s To Rise from Earth for basic orbital mechanics. As a reader, I don’t want technical explanations so long that they interfere with the story. I do want sufficiently clear explanations that I know what the heck is happening. Conversely, as a writer, I don’t want my not-too-technical descriptions of what’s going on to be inconsistent with what *can* go on. Research and knowledgeable beta readers really help, and the research is mandatory.

    1. (the research is mandatory so your beta reader doesn’t look at you like you’re a big dummy)

    2. Laura, you’re right. Of course, I’m still waiting for my aircar and food synthesizer so I don’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen. Oh, and can I please have Rosie from the Jetsons to do my dishes and clean the house?

      And here’s the link to the book Laura recommended for anyone who might be interested —

  2. The basis of workable fiction is whether the reader can be induced to suspend disbelief. I don’t see that as a gender issue. Anyone who was read Elizabeth Moon or Lois McMaster Bujold knows women are just as capable of writing a tightly composed story as any man.
    And men are just as able to write credible female characters. The requirement in each is a keen sense of observation and the ability to communicate effecctively.

    1. Doug, I agree. That’s why it bothers me to see anyone say a writer can’t write something based on their sex — or, frankly, religion, race, etc. However, it is still an unfortunate truth that there are those folks out there and you have to consider if they are a large enough part of the market you are targeting. The good thing is that we are moving past that being a consideration, in part because of the fact the legacy publishers don’t have the same stranglehold on what gets printed that they once did.

  3. My thought on “Air Force model” vs “Navy Model” for a military Space Force is that it may start out with the “Air Force model” but would evolve into the “Navy model”.

    Your Starship Commander could/would find himself/herself in the same position as an Age of Sail British Navy Captain.

    IE in danger and having to make decisions without “input” from Higher Command.

    Of course, the danger may not be from “enemy forces” but from the environment.

    1. Another reason it will evolve to the Navy model is the nature of combat. Large ships required to remain in battle space for long periods after taking damage will need damage control. The Navy is much more experienced at such activities.

      That said, I suspect relatively early we’ll just get a new junior service that culls from the existing four those with relevant experience and uses their academies for junior officers for a period in the same way the Air Force did.

      I also suspect the use of the phrase “Air Farce” for the junior service will decrease as will those of us who still sing “Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps” instead of the debased lyrics preferred by the Air Force. While it will be a tiny factor I suspect no longer being the junior service and subject to the abuse that come with it will nudge the Air Force to support a separate space force before the Navy.

        1. So you don’t think it’ll be renamed the Staaaaaar Force?

          Sorry, having a Starblazers moment. (Ironically, it’s one of the most naval-oriented sf series ever.) Star Force does seem like the obvious name for an Air Force future… but yeah, I can’t really see it either. Not with today’s Air Force command structure, anyway.

          1. Well, it could be called “Star Force” to keep the Air Force happy but still be based on the Navy. [Evil Grin]

            1. Wait, wasn’t Star Force a really good wargame in the 70s about combat between fleets of telepath controlled space ships that gave the band The Human League their name?

      1. It is going to be interesting to see the service branches jockey for position as the space “fleet” comes into existence. 😉

      2. John Ringo and Travis Taylor answered that one pretty definitively in Vorpal Blade: Only the Navy has evolved the procedures, regs, and culture over the centuries for taking a group of relative strangers, packing them into a confined space, and sending them out for weeks / months / years through a dangerous environment where you can’t get off the ship and are out of touch with not only higher command but family, friends, home culture, etc. The Air Force has never had a mission over 96 hours (They flew some B52s around the world in the 50s, with in-flight refueling).

    2. Paul, you may be right. I have a feeling it is going to become a hybrid. There will be some things that will have their roots in the Air Force and others in the Navy. It’s one of those questions without a right answer — right now — but it is a fun thought exercise, especially when you consider that the Army and Marines also have pilots. So would they have their own ships, piloted and crewed by only soldiers or Marines, especially for special ops? As I said, it makes for some interesting thinking.

      1. I’ve known some Navy pilots. Also, the AF has a strong space presence on the unmanned side for orbital launch, and provides range safety/public safety for NASA. People don’t like to give up what they’ve got.

  4. The book Vorpal Blade by John RIngo and Travis S. Taylor had some very good reasoning about which military would manage the spaceships in a space going military. I tend to agree with their reasoning that the Navy would manage the vessels because the Air Force is used to dealing with fixed bases in friendly(er) locations. The AF flies a mission then returns to base to refit and rearm. I could see the AF being in charge of bases on orbital bodies and planets for system defense/attack purposes but not in long term space ships.

    The Navy in the form of their ships takes the base with them in most cases, not really counting the smaller boats. The limiting factor, outside of ammunition, on how long a nuclear submarine can stay deployed is food and crew morale as an example. I only spend a few weeks on a nuclear sub but during that time I didn’t see the Sun at all. It wasn’t that big of a deal but I’m sure if it had been a few months rather then a few weeks that would have been different. The sub makes their own air and water from the seawater and the life of the nuclear plant is measured in years.

    Btw, I have not read VoA yet but I have purchased it so I’m curious to see how you further developed this theme.

    1. As a submariner I figured we’d be the source for long term space crews over pilots. The isolation and lack of space and privacy inherent in long term space flight are much closer to a deterrent patrol or an under the ice run than pretty much any aviation mission or even non-aviation surface fleet activity.

      In fact, when I was in I thought about writing military sci-fi that was heavily based on my experiences.

      1. I agree that making the transition from submarine to spacecraft makes much more sense then aircraft/ship to spacecraft. Granted, it was fun reading about Orion Drives ie: Footfall, but it doesn’t really make much sense in the long run. There are too many atmospheric issues that need to be taken into account.

        Herbn, my wifes uncle retired as a COB from fast attacks.

        While I only did a middie cruise on the Alabama. It was a great experience as I was only the second Marine the crew had had onboard. So while I was asking them quesitons about how/why they were asking me about the Corps.

        1. If I were traveling in space, I think I’d rather have paranoid-about-safety, okay-with-no-sunlight submariners in charge. I’d like to live, yup….

          1. That’s a good part of the reason I think the “Space Force” will be more Navy based than Air Force based.

            Navy ships can sink. Air Force bases can’t sink.

        2. If dolphins came with any degree of the self-discipline needed to be a writer I would have 20 years ago.

    2. I appreciated the way Ringo and Travis set it up in Vorpal Blade. Still, I like trying to figure out other ways things might “work”. As for VfA, it is pretty much a Navy runs operates the ships, Army is the occupying force and the Marines go down the throats of the enemy.

  5. I’d say Navy. Mainly from a personnel and Logistics point. Navy commander is responsible for their crew, from a few to over 5000 on a carrier. Air force deals with squadrons and wings, but never all in the same target.

    1. One series had the line “air force bases can’t sink”. [Evil Grin]

    2. True, but that is also applying today’s standards to something in the future — which is why I like the thought exercise. How would the standards we know have to evolve to become something different to fit a future situation?

  6. Something to consider:
    Regardless of which service did the initial training, by the time a senior officer is prepared to fight a war, he will likely be commanding a joint force that includes not only soldiers and marines but airmen and special operations forces. Joint-force command has now become doctrine in the US armed forces; allied units are often included as well.
    I think we’re beginning to move beyond the issue of service parochialism, except for budget battles.
    As an illustration, look at the major subordinate commanders during Desert Storm. As CENTCOM commander, Schwartzkopf (US Army) had subordinates who commanded Air Force, Navy, and Marine units, as well as Army ones.
    This is a clip:
    U.S. Commanders, U.S. Central Command, Operation Desert Storm
    Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, USA, commander in chief
    Lt. Gen. Calvin Waller, USA, deputy commander in chief
    Maj. Gen. Robert B. Johnston, USMC, chief of staff
    Lt. Gen. John J. Yeosock, USA, Army commander
    Lt. Gen. Walter Boomer, USMC, Marine commander
    Vice Adm. Stanley Arthur, USN, Navy commander
    Lt. Gen. Charles Horner, USAF, Air Force commander
    Notice that officers from other services worked directly as part of Schwartzkopf’s staff.
    That’s common now; it doesn’t make sense to operate without close command relationships among the services. That’s the operative word, command. Schwartzkopf gave orders to those subordinates and expected this orders would be obeyed. Did he listen to their counsel? Certainly. But in the final analysis, he made the decisions, to include whether Marines would invade across the beaches, which targets Air Force and allied aircraft would strike, etc.
    Marines too have changed; they often go into combat a long way from the nearest Navy ship or even the ocean. SEALs, those famed warriors, also do missions a long way from water, and they get to where they’re going via parachute or Army SPECOPS helicopter as often as they do by boat. They’ve come a long way from being underwater demolition specialists.
    I see no reason why this should change. One reason why it would remain the same: ambitious officers wouldn’t accept a career where they wouldn’t be eligible for top command at some point; that’s what drove the Air Corps to separate from the Army, the knowledge that airplane drivers were never going to command field armies or even corps. If they wanted those stars on their shoulders, they needed to be something more than aerial artillery deliverymen.

    1. You said it much more eloquently than I did either in my post or in my comments so far. I think what we will be seeing not only in the distant future but in the near as well is a growing dependence on these sort of joint operations and command structures.

      1. Mutual dependence will continue to grow.
        That said… The various branches will nearly always prioritize their own interests over the good of the whole. You’re seeing it now with Close Air Support
        Then there’s the fiasco of military acquisition, which only gets worse when you have several services all trying to steer a joint program in a direction that’s useful to their individual missions. (And the final program may be useful to none of them. The F-35 being a prime example.)

        This is not going to make conducting battles or wars more efficient.

        Heck, the example of Desert Storm you used involved the Marines getting actively screwed over. The Army General in charge threw them into the teeth of the enemy’s defenses. And then ordered them to halt when they had breached those defenses and were overrunning the enemy.

  7. This was from a looooong time ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be, but David Weber was the GoH at our convention and one of the other authors asked him something to the tune of, Honor Harrington is great but how do you feel about writing a woman character in a women’s role instead of a woman in a man’s role… and Weber, to the best of my recollection, said something like… he felt that military command involved those traits and skills we consider “female” and that the men who were very good commanders were the ones with a lot of female attributes.

    The argument could be made that the various sex specific “attributes” aren’t accurate at all, but I thought he had a pretty good point. If it’s the difference between a tactical mindset and a strategic one… a linear goal-oriented mindset is a necessity… but so is a non-linear relationship-oriented mindset. I don’t mean *personal* relationships, but rather how everything fits into a larger inter-related whole. And Weber (again, IIRC) did add personal relationship skills to the “things that make a good commander.”

    In any case, I don’t often see an issue with characters being a “man with boobs”. I think that if the character doesn’t seem real, that the character would probably still not seem real if the boobs were removed.

    1. I agree completely. As far as I’m concerned, the character, like a person, is the sum of their backgrounds, experiences, education, etc., and what their personal plumbing and orientation might be shouldn’t have that much bearing on the job they do.

  8. Besides which, at the end of it all… military training exist for the purpose of replacing our normal reactions with the ones that work for the military, and that includes teaching a management style. Ric Locke talked about this some and I’ve got it on a printout somewhere… there are great leaders… and then there is military training that shows normal people how to *fake* being a great leader by adhering to these particular cultural expectations and the result is that even pretty hopeless people can do a relatively good, or at least effective, job. There are still great leaders, but the whole point is to remove the need for people to have to *discover* what works or what doesn’t.

    It’s not at all the case that… this is the military and we all do what comes naturally to *men*.

    None of it comes naturally.

    1. Yep. Ric was right, too. That is one reason why the service academies and organizations like Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets work so hard on instilling the tradition and the mind set into their students. That training, that ability to fall back into the mind set that has been drilled into them, has saved more than one soldier over the years and has helped them save others as they’ve stepped up to do what needed to be done.

      1. The subject had come up on usenet because this guy had posted about some interaction that he’d witnessed and how it illustrated just how alien military culture was and how unquestioning and immediate the obedience he witnessed was. Ric and I both read the description and we both said, uh… hate to break this to you but they were “putting on a show” for the natives. And then tried to explain that what he *thought* he saw, wasn’t what was happening and would *never* happen without the cooperation of both parties.

        1. I’m interested in the details of the “show” you mentioned, as well as the contents of the printout, if you’re willing. Or resources saying similar things.

          1. And in case those links don’t work (or the ones in moderation don’t get released)…

            “Real, high-quality leaders are extremely rare — so much so that we
            have records, going back millenia, of who the good ones were and what
            they did. Those records can be studied, and the behavioral aspects —
            what they _did_, not what they _were_ — can be extracted. The list of
            those is what is taught as “command.” In essence, the military
            commander is taught to pretend to be a leader, to behave as a leader
            would behave.

            It’s also known what the people who followed leaders did, from a
            behavioral rather than a motive standpoint. That, too, can be taught,
            and that part of it is called “discipline.” Those who must be
            followers are taught to respond to command as if they were following a
            leader. It’s an act.

            Irrationally, illogically, astonishingly, it works.”

  9. When I designed the Norstar Fleet for the Sequoyah books I thought a lot about this (and expected much more shrieking than I got). Given the circumstances, attacking alien forces, I posited a complete amalgam of all the branches of the armed forces — and not just the US, either. It was an emergency situation and “we’ll fix it later”. I even figured out what all the O-levels were, years in grade, etc. Marines lost their capitalization and returned to their origins, i.e. the (small) armed component of a ship. I didn’t have ground warfare so the Army wasn’t that much of an issue.

    I was very amused to learn that “thinking purple” to indicate cohesive intra-branch cooperation (the color, allegedly, was the amalgam of all the uniform colors) was a Real Thing in the military. I made Fleet dress uniforms purple for that very reason, but I hadn’t known it was a concept that already existed.

    Lacking an imminent threat, though, I still think there will be convergence of the branches. At least at first we won’t be able to afford any duplication in functions or equipment. It might be easier to simply create a Space Corps, allow transfers from all branches, and invent functions and traditions from scratch vs. retconning what we already have….

  10. Like any author who writes about spaceships in large groups, I thought about Navy versus Air Force long and hard. In my novel Kinsella things start off as a Space Force on the Air Force model. It’s really true — organizational structures have to reflect reality and the reality if that spaceships will be a home away from home not for days, but months and maybe years. The Air Force has no need for a BuShips — but a space faring race will need one. Air Force crews are small — spaceships (IMHO) will need large crews. They will need ship doctors and dentists, chaplains and the cold hard facts are that spaceships will need crews who can maintain the ship’s functions — they will need spare parts and crew competence to pretty much be able to hand most emergencies. In my story the Space Force quickly morphs into the Fleet, because while there is no reason that the Air Force couldn’t adapt to a new mission — oxes would be gored in the process of adapting an existing organization. It would pretty much have to be built from the ground up on a different model. A naval model. 😀

  11. Air Force, or Navy — why does it have to be either? (from the _BattleTech_ universe). Short version: This is what happens when a nation which really didn’t want a military needed one, and never quite got around to replacing it with something more formal….

    That said: A ship is just a base which moves, and the AF has all the same branches the navy does, *plus* it’s trained to think and act at speeds many multiples faster than any mere wet-navy captain; so….

    (God damn the traitor Roddenberry for calling Kirk “Captain” rather than “Colonel”….)

    1. How many Colonels of an Air Force base have to take their base into a fight with another Air Force base or have to worry about their base sinking due to a storm? [Evil Grin]

      1. I donno… maybe one.

        (And granted, it wasn’t during a *fight* but I think that Clark AB could be said to have “sunk in a storm.”)


  12. A minor point about ignoring the political in favor of the practical. The ‘world military in space’ is going to be made up by the political power brokers of that time. Some are going to think ‘space going troopers like Starship Troopers and make it primarily a mobile army force, think Patton. Then there are the Admiral Perry committee, the Air Force general assembly. These advocates will bribe, harass, intimidate, and whatever is necessary to obtain their goal. So it comes out for a writer today to use whatever he/she feels comfortable with. Any argument over branch can be won with- Well, Admiral Whitter and his forces in the UN General Assembly was ahead with… Until 10 star General Xrie of the Chinese Marines countered with…
    Man with boobs, like all typecasting never worked.

    1. Three questions for any solution to a world building problem:
      1. Is it fun?
      2. Is it practical?
      3. Is the justification on the same level as others in the project or story?

      So, anything from the Roman Army to the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

      To have men with boobs crewing your future military space ships, the FTL drive can require modifying recruits starting from puberty, and one can use that sort of option.

  13. Psst? The first Hunted link works fine. The one beside the jpg, Hunted by Ellie Ferguson? It seems to be the text of the blurb, rather than a link to the book?

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