Lucina Press is named for the Roman Goddess of light and birth. It seemed appropriate for small press run by a woman with the surname of Light. The logo adds a futuristic touch the Goddess’ looks, perfect for a press specializing in science fiction pulp and space opera.
Sara Light-Waller is an author and illustrator living in southwestern Washington state. Her recent illustrated novelette, Landscape of Darkness, is a pulp story in the tradition of Henry Kuttner and Edmond Hamilton and has been compared favorably to a Captain Future tale.
Light-Waller has been a professional writer since 1985, working for magazines, science and education journals, newspapers, blogs, and for businesses as a content creator and copy writer. She’s written extensively for the children’s market, producing several books in her own name as well as a ghost writer. In 2018, she published her first adult novel, Landscape of Darkness. She plans to release several illustrated pulp-style novelettes, short stories, and novellas in 2018 and 2019.
She attended the prestigious Scientific Illustration program at the University of Arizona in the late 1980’s. She’s worked for large publishers such as McGraw-Hill and Lippincott and many small presses and independent authors. Her work has appeared in art collections, mainstream magazines, newspapers, trade and science journals and in educational materials, in print and online. She’s also an independent art teacher.
Ms. Light-Waller works in a variety of mediums including: watercolor, gouache, casein, and acrylic. She’s a specialist in pen & ink and scratchboard and enjoys reproducing the look and feel of old pulp style magazine art from interior illustrations to decorative drop caps.
An avid reader of pulp science fiction stories, space opera is a particular favorite. She chose to write in the old pulp style as she feels that it offers an enjoyable respite from the stresses of the modern world.
Along with her pulp book(s,) Light-Waller has created an old fashioned fan club — the Space Explorers Club — including membership card, club rules, and secret codes for her readers. She puts out a monthly newsletter called THE ROCKETEER.
AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR, WHAT’S THE PERCENTAGE?
It’s actually a 50/50 split. I have equal skills on both side of the fence.
STAYING TRUE TO THE FORM
Landscape of Darkness is an illustrated novelette of approximately 17,000 words. My next release, Anchor, is an illustrated short story. Two additional illustrated novelettes are planned for release later in 2018 and an illustrated novella in early 2019. Feedback from readers has been universally positive about producing short form stories.
WHY PULP SCIENCE FICTION?
In the pulp days the story was about the man in the armor. Today, the story is about the armor. That’s a very simplified explanation, of course, but it is accurate.
Compare Kimball Kinnison, E. E. Doc Smith’s Grey Lensman, with Marvel’s Tony Stark/Iron Man. Kim Kinnison also has high-tech armor. He’s a super-telepath and coordinates a galactic police force. He has a starship-of-war and an undetectable star speeder. Kinnison has fantastic weapons that he uses with immense skill. But these things are simple window dressing for the man. It’s his cunning brain, strong morals, and sense of duty to Civilization that we idolize. (As a point of reference, the first Lensman story was serialized in 1937.)
I don’t need to tell you about Iron Man or the Avengers. Watching the movies, or reading the comics, we imagine what it would be like to have super powers, be an alien, synthetic life form, or mutant. Tony Stark has a raft of psychological problems as do most other superheroes. Some characters are so alien or ambiguous that we don’t know what to think of them. But who cares? We want to see the amazing tech, fantastic costumes and cool battles.
I write in the pulp form because rooting for a suit of armor leaves me cold. Rooting for a good man (or woman), however, is something that I can get behind. Read more about Neotopia here.
CAN YOU REALLY CREATE OLD-STYLE PULP ILLUSTRATIONS?
I sure can! I can do interior art in pencil, coquille, pen & ink or scratchboard. Color art can be in casein, watercolor, or acrylic. Here’s an example of my pulp illustration skills.
Primarily because I’m creating something avant-garde which would be a hard sell to traditional publishers. My books are illustrated pulp short novels referring back to the 1940’s but with modern elements. The artwork and writing style are as close an approximation as I can manage to the best Golden Age authors and illustrators from the 1930’s to early 1950’s. However, stylistic tweaks, modern technology, and updated cultural concerns make them compelling to contemporary readers. It’s old pulp with new sensibilities.
Many publishing houses won’t take on illustrated adult novels. Mine are not graphic novels or comics but something straight out of Thrilling Wonder Stories, including the illustrations. My free newsletter, THE ROCKETEER, is even more like a magazine, including a letters column and various features.
Landscape of Darkness is an illustrated novelette in the manner of the old-style space operas from the 1940’s. But it’s more than an adventure tale of rocket ships and space cops, it’s about the future. It’s about our future. In 2017-2018, we’re seeing the beginning of a dystopian world, a horrific, inhumane place drained of resources and run by wealthy despots. It’s a story-line that’s been pushed on us for more than 100 years. But it’s only one possible future of billions. In Landscape of Darkness mankind once faced a crossroads as we do today. The path they took, and one that we can take also, leads to a brighter future.
“Right out of the pulp magazines of the 1930s & ‘40s, the author spins her tale of space opera as if she was writing for Amazing Stories in its heyday. …This was so much fun. I had to stop and check every so often to make sure I wasn’t reading a Captain Future yarn. Landscape of Darkness is a throwback to the glory days of the pulps, and the author’s writing shines as a fresh new face in an old formula. If you love space opera like I do, you’ll love this wild tale of adventure as mankind reaches outward to the stars while trying to save the human race from machines – the Cyborgs! Highly recommended.” — Tom Johnson
“When do we get the next one?!? This novella feels like it should be found between the covers of Astounding Science Fiction! It hearkens back to the age of interstellar adventures and larger than life heroes, and the characters would make Ray Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs proud. Sara Light-Waller’s take on AI is an interesting commentary on our current rise of AI and has elements of Frank Herbert’s Butlerian Jihad. This is definitely a must read and I can’t wait for more!” — Eugenie Graf
“Gripping creative science fiction story. I thoroughly enjoyed this novelette by Sara Light-Waller. It transformed me into a time and place far away. I found it gripping and did not put it down till I reached the end. It was creative and forward thinking. I hope she makes a habit or writing these as I cannot wait for the next one. — MML
“Five Stars for “Landscape of Darkness!” You rock! At the age of 9 or 10 I got addicted to sci-fi pulp, which I’d read under the sheets, with a flashlight. Very evocative of those times. A very good read!” — William Robert Smith
“A ‘new old-pulp-style’ SF novelette! Different, fun, and a really good read! Recommended!” — Paula Gill
The cargo ship from Terra arrived late, and port haulers hasten to unload her before the scheduled storm. Sam Mercury wonders if he should call weather control and demand a delay. It’s early afternoon. Through the long horizontal windows he surveys the landing field, where tri-fin rockets stab upwards and bulky cigar-shaped craft recline on launch cradles on the tarmac. His eyes rise automatically to the graceful skyline of Neohatten beyond…
When I started this book I had no idea what it would become. It began as an exercise in design. I’d recently drawn a black and white illustration of a woman in obvious distress hanging out of the window of a Soviet-style power station. I had no further plans for the drawing, so I pinned it to my easel and wondered about it for a few days.
On a lark, I decided to use it as the opening illustration for a old-style pulp story. All I knew about the story was that it took place in a sargasso in space.
I designed a page as if the opening for a Thrilling Wonder Stories tale from the 1940’s. The title illustration splashed across the top of the page with the title and subtitle beneath. I set up columns with drop caps and decorative chapter headers. It all looked great but I had no actual story. In frustration, I improvised a few paragraphs about a space cop and a lost ship. The backdrop was a fabulous, ultra-modern Art Deco city of the future. Satisfied, I pinned it up and thought that was the end of it.
How wrong I was!
As Landscape developed, I realized that there was more to it than just a simple adventure. Sure, you can read it that way, but there were intriguing concepts lurking beneath the words that I wanted to know more about. I’m one of those seat of the pants writers, you see. Most of the time, writing is as much of an adventure for me as I hope it is for readers. Where my ideas come from is anyone’s guess. It seems as if I’m recording the things I see in my head. These things feel very familiar and that I can see them in great detail. It certainly makes the illustrations them easier.
Sam Mercury’s futuristic world develops as the result of a game-changing world crisis, literarily-similar to the Big Blow-Up of the 1950’s. However, his is not an atomic or nuclear war, it’s the conflict between organic and inorganic life.