In a genre dominated by pointy-eared Vulcans and guys with lightsabers, people will soon have a new branch to focus on: anthropology-based science fiction.
Sharlotte Neely, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Northern Kentucky University, has stepped into the world of science fiction writing with her new book, “Kasker.” The book, set in the future, is the first sci-fi work for Neely, who has written two other books. One which she authored herself is called “Snowbird Cherokees;” the other she co-authored was the fifth and sixth editions of “This Land Was Theirs.”
“I always loved sci-fi,” Neely said. “When I’m writing non-fiction, I like to write in the mornings when I’m rested and really on top of all the facts I need to keep in mind. I do most of my sci-fi writing from sunset on. Since I’m making up a world, I do not have to keep checking on other people’s facts, and writing sci-fi for me is a jolt of energy at the end of the day. It’s a lot more fun to write.”
“Kasker” focuses on the future and the main character named Shandra-Trax. The title takes its roots from the Kaska Indians, whom Neely learned about from John Honigmann, her professor from the University of North Carolina. Neely likened the Kasker Nomads in the book to the American Indians in terms of name and the events that occur to them.
In the book, the Kasker Nomads are in danger of being wiped out if they do not move to allow the book’s Imperium to claim the flashstones. Trax attempts to assist the Nomads over the course of the book.
Neely grew up watching and reading science fiction. She is a big fan of shows such as “Star Trek” and movies such as “Star Wars.” She acknowledges that the original “Star Trek,” which she watched years ago, loosely influenced “Kasker.” Neely also drew her influence from other anthropologists who had become writers, such as Chad Oliver, chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas. Other influences included the book “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury.
Neely’s book was published through Airleaf Publishing, a small company near Indiana University. Before she ended up there, she felt the book might not make it to print.
She first tried a west coast agent, who failed to secure a deal. She tried again, this time with an agent from Florida, and managed to get her manuscript sent to a small publishing company. However, this happened just before the company filed bankruptcy and closed.
Neely’s next course of action was to contact an old colleague, Ernest L. Schusky, Ph.D. Schusky turned her on to co-publishing, which allowed her to get her book in print.
The book will be out near the end of the year in various bookstores, including the NKU Bookstore. Neely has begun to work on her sequel to the book, but is unsure of its release date.