Immortality: A review by Charles Saunders

charles_saunders_photoimmortal 2

This is an excerpt of a review of Immortal and Immortal II: The Time of Legend written by world renown writer Charles Saunders, creator of Sword and Soul, and author of the Imaro series, the Dossouye series and Damballa.

So without further aideu here is Charle’s amazing review: Immortality.

“Consider a world that is much like our own, but better in a ways that matter most, especially considering the ecological chaos, economic malaise and ethnic discontent.

Consider a world that is post-racial, but still acknowledges racial differences.

Consider a world in which shape-changing and sorcery co-exist with advanced technology.

Consider a utopia on the brink of disaster…

Author and poet Valjeanne Jeffers has considered all these things and more, and has synthesized them in the form of two novels: Immortal and Immortal II.

These are novels of magic and multiplicity. Their setting is New World Tundra, which may or may not be an alternate earth, or our earth in the future. The time is the year 3075 — four hundred years after a spasm of war, crime, and pollution came close to destroying the planet. In the wake of this warfare, known as the Time of Legend, Tundra’s population pulls itself back from the brink of destruction and transforms itself in a Great Society.

Here’s how Valjeanne describes it:

‘But in the year of our One 3075, war, crime and pollution didn’t exist.

Contamination of the environment was illegal. Recycling was mandated by planet law. Weapons had been outlawed and purged from New World Tundra.

Only a few remained on display in museums. Prisons had become behavioral clinics where inmates were taught the life skills they needed to be mainstreamed back into society.

It was illegal to have homeless living within one’s borders, and cities were punished with heavy fines if they didn’t house them in private living quarters.

Junkies were the exception to this rule, since so many of them lived in dormitories; and they were locked out if they missed curfew. It was forbidden for a citizen to be unemployed if he could work. Tundra law dictated that every able-bodied man and woman must be given a job, and it was forbidden to pay a citizen less than she needed to buy both necessities, and a few luxuries.

Racism and sexism were also relics that the New World had discarded during the Time of Legend, when everyone had been fighting to survive the holocaust. Then, they were luxuries the planet couldn’t afford.

Now, like the chemical waste that had once poisoned Tundra, they’d been forgotten.’

Race is still recognized on Tundra. But the labels are different. Blacks are ‘Indigos.’ Whites are ‘Fuchsias.’ Native Americans are ‘Coppers.’ Asians are ‘Ambers.’ Hispanics are ‘Bronzes.’ The words are different, but the melody lingers on.

Addictive drugs — an upper called ‘rush’ and a downer called ‘placid’– are legal in the New World. At the same time, admittance to government-sponsored rehabilitation clinics is free.

The protaganist of the Immortal novels is a young, Indigo woman named Karla. She works as a caretaker (healer) at a clinic called CLEAN (Clean Living Experiences and No Chemical Dependency). She’s a former addict who is now helping others to kick their habits.

Karla’s personal life should be as ideal as that of her society. But it isn’t. She is plauged by dreams and hallucinations involving a mysterious Indigo man, a seductive figure who seems to want to take her out of herself.

This dream-man is not a figment of Karla’s imagination. He is real, though his reality is not the material, rational, world of Tundra.

His name is Tehotep. His is Other. And he spells trouble, not only for Karla but also for the benevolent-but-rigid underpinnings of the New World.

Change is the operative word. Karla and her new friend and lover, a Copper artist named Joseph, discover that they can transform themselves into werewolf-like creatures that are immensely fast and powerful, but retain their human intelligence. In the meantime, Tehotep is collecting acolytes and remaking them into nightmarish monsters that obey him without question…

In Immortal II, the shape-shifting lovers find themselves transported to the Tundra of the past…the Tundra of the Time of Legend, ‘The most violent era Tundra had ever known.’

The wars are not only occurring on Tundra. There are another ones as well, between Tehotep and beings known as Guardians–and an incarnation of Karla from another time…

The Immortal novels are multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-dimensional. Valjeanne is adept at writing about relationships,everyday activities, conflicts, near-future technology technology, and mind-boggling magic. She can also snap a plot twist on par with the best of the thriller writers. These books are a wonder and a pleasure.”

To read this review in its entirety vist Charles Saunders site and click on Recommended and then Immortality. And check out the rest of Charles’s awesome reviews.

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Animals in Science Fiction: The Newest Nonhumans on the Block

My decision to write about shape shifters and animals—especially werewolves— was first met with shock…by me. When I was growing up, and until say the last ten or so years, the cast of animals in science fiction/fantasy was pretty limited. You had your choice of evil and doomed or tragic and doomed. Either way somebody, usually your animal, was doomed.

Remember the “salt monster” from the original Star Trek series? It was a beast with no other desire than to assume the shapes of the crew—like a deadly chameleon. All the better to suck the salt from your body until you’re dead. That was pretty much the fare of traditional SF films and books.

Whenever I sat down to watch a werewolf film, I already knew the beginning and the end. I already knew the skinny. It definitely wasn’t cheerful. Some poor man or woman got bitten or scratched and went through a period of: “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” Then eventually, like The American Werewolf In London, they all turned into hairy, psycho killers and proceeded to murder anyone unlucky enough to get in their way—including their own family members. That was the traditional SF nonhuman. That was his or her fate.

So why would I chose such a tragic protagonist? Now the plot, as they say, thickens. There is a nontraditional SF animal, oftentimes also a shape shifter, that has made his/her way into the SF/fantasy genre. These new animals or shape shifters can be loosely grouped into two categories: a thinking being that thwarts the heroine or hero, or one that helps them on their journey.

In The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, a science fiction/horror odyssey, there is a whole host of supernatural creatures: werewolves, were-goats, lizards… some good, some malevolent, but all with human intellect—a sharp break from the traditional werewolf formula. In fact, “Wolf,” a gentle, werewolf is pivotal to the hero’s success. When Wolf runs with the moon, he too becomes a killing machine, losing his human ability to think and reason. Yet Wolf’s humanity, unlike that of his literary forefathers, conquers this brutal calling.

But animals such as the talking familiars of A. Jarrell’s Detecting Magic With Dick Hunter,
and the magical crow of Balogun Ojetade’s Once Upon a Time in Afrika showcase animals that completely belong to a new breed of SF/Fantasy animals.

In Detecting Magic… the animals guide and assist the hero in his quest—they in fact are essential to his success.

In Once Upon a Time In Afrika a magical bird, or a creature that looks like a bird, the “Crow,” gives the hero and heroine direction. In both cases these are thinking creatures. Gone is the mindless beast controlled by his or her transition into an animal.

Which brings me back to my original question: why would I choose to write about werewolves? Frankly, as I discovered, they fascinate me—always have—along with other shape shifting folk, like vampires. And because historically, in films and books, they’ve always been the underdogs: the unfortunate man or woman who was infected, suffered, killed and came to a horrible end. The underdog, the oppressed, the abused, the victim, who by the power of their spirit rises to become a heroine, has always been near and dear to my heart.

Another one of my motivations, is that in animals we glimpse one of the most glorious aspects of life. They will fight to death to protect those they love. They never kill for pleasure or greed. And the wolf is among the most noble, and beautiful creatures to walk the earth. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from these “cousins?”

The shape shifters, Karla, Joseph and others, that I’ve brought to life in my Immortal series, in the alternate world of “Tundra,” are definitely nontraditional. They are humans, whose birthright forces them to become more. Not because they were bitten or scratched, but because they are Immortal Other, entrusted with the survival of their world.

They challenge the power structure of their planet imposed by a sorcerer, who also happens to be a megalomaniac. Not fearlessly (For who among us is fearless?) but with great courage, drawing upon their bestial natures to fight and protect their planet. There is eroticism. What is life without love? Violence, for the Others are nothing if not revolutionary. And growth. If you live you evolve. Or you stagnant and die. There is whole cast of preternatural humans and daemons in the Immortal series—some good, some evil—and all with their own agenda (whether working for themselves or some other entity) for who will rule Tundra.

Immortal II: The Time of Legend

Indeed, the world of science fiction animals is no longer a realm of star crossed creatures. No longer are werewolves and other meta-humans ruled by harsh literary plots, their bloody death predetermined by their nature. This new world is rich and multi-layered. Shape shifters are free to think, live and love—both as humans and animals—to chose their own path, whether benevolent or evil.

And this brave new world is where I’ve found my writing home.

Immortal III: Stealer of Souls <

Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds

The Switch II: Clockwork (includes The Switch 1 and II)

Cover art and design for Immortal III, Immortal IV and The Switch II: Clockwork by Quinton Veal.

Valjeanne Jeffers is an artist, poet and the author of The Immortal and The Switch series. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Genesis: Science Fiction Magazine, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear (in press), Possibilites (coming in September to Smashwords) Steamfunk!Anthology (in press). Valjeanne’s novels can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Nubian Bookstore, Morrow GA, and Eljay’s Used Books Bookstore, Pittsburgh PA.
You can also preview or purchase her novels at:

Sir Charles Saunders’s Spectacular Review

The legendary Charles Saunders (The acclaimed Imaro and Damballa series) just dropped a spectacular review of my novels, Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch II: Clockwork. And I am on cloud nine :)!! Here’s an excerpt:

Valjeanne “Sister Moon” Jeffers continues to rise in the ranks of speculative-fiction authors with the release of her latest novels in her interlocking Immortal/Switch series. her writing weaves vivid threads of science fiction, fantasy, horror and erotica into patterns as intricate as those in a kente cloth… read the rest here (click Recommended then Sister Moon Rising)

And you can read excerpts from both novels on wordpress or my personal site

Launching Our New Site

I’m pleased to announce the launch of Quinton Veal and my new site. I’m a science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal saga and The Switch series. Quinton is an erotic poet, graphic artist and the author of Her Black Body I Treasure and United Souls: Stories and Poetry of Seduction. So it’s a really nice mix. Stop by and browse through our titles, read the spicy excerpts, purchase or just hang out :).