Friday, June 11, 2021

Mind Meld : One Spot Holodeck

For years, the essential sci-fi blog SF Signal published Mind Meld, a regular column I and others created that featured a weekly roundtable discussion of the tropes, themes, politics, and future of genre fiction. The Mind Meld solicited answers from writers, editors, readers and fans on a rotating basis. After the closure of SF Signal, this feature was picked up and continued for a time by the Barnes and Noble Sci Fi Blog. I am delighted that I have resumed the feature here at Nerds of a Feather.

Today’s Mind Meld question is the following...

Congratulations. You have been given a Star Trek style holodeck, fully capable otherwise,you can bring in anyone you want, hold a roomful of people but not an entire Worldcon in it,  but you can only program it to be fixed to one time and place or the verse of one fictional work or series. 

Where/what do you program your holodeck for? (Star Wars and Star Trek are off the table!)

Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the Green Bone Saga, consisting of Jade City, Jade War, and the forthcoming Jade Legacy, which releases on November 30. 

Assuming I can program the holodeck to also give me the illusion of powers in said fictional world, I’m definitely heading to the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Who wouldn’t want to travel in style on a flying bison to visit the different kingdoms? Myself, I quite like the idea of striding down the deck of a Fire Nation warship in Azula’s boss outfit and and bending the elements to my will. 

Beverly Bambury

Beverly Bambury is a publicist who promotes and markets SFF, horror, mystery and more. Find her at

I would set my holodeck for Themyscira. Who could be better personal trainers than the skilled and strong Amazons? I mean, maybe if I hung out on the island and followed their routines I could get the buff shoulders I’ve always wanted. It's not all about fitness, either. Time spent in Themyscira would be time I’d never have to worry about any men sending unsolicited, um, photos. What’s not to love? Anyhow, I am the furthest thing from a badass warrior, but I like to think I’d learn a thing or two from the Amazons. 

Cora Buhlert

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in Bremen, North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. She has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines, and is a two-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer. Visit her on the web at or follow her on Twitter under @CoraBuhlert.

I've decided that I'd like to program my holodeck for the solar system as it was imagined in the pulp science fiction of the 1930s and 1940s. 

There are plenty of fascinating places to explore, whether it's the dying desert world of Mars with its canals and ancient ruins, the fog-shrouded jungles and misty oceans of Venus, the twilight belt of Mercury, the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn and of course the asteroid belt with its floating casinos and pirate hideouts. Every single world in this version of the solar system is not just habitable, it's also full of fascinating alien lifeforms. You can hop between planets in gleaming finned rockets and enjoy an early 20th century idea of futuristic luxury.

The pulp science fiction shared solar system is a fascinating place I've always wanted to explore, so that's what I'd program the holodeck for.

Arturo Serrano

Arturo Serrano, is translator for Constelación Magazine, and reviewer for Nerds of a Feather Flock Together, currently querying an alternate history novel. 

I would travel to the DCAU, which is still the unsurpassed interpretation of the DC heroes (and the work that introduced me to Vixen, the best superhero ever). What struck me about the DCAU is how seamlessly it handled varying scales: one day you could have a massive spacetime anomaly and the next day you could dismantle a weapon smuggling mafia, and it would still feel like the same universe. Plus the characters were masterfully layered and you never felt you were done knowing them.

Mikaela Lind

Mikaela Lind is a Swedish fantasy author who started to write in her teens. She is somewhat surprised that she is still doing it, and equally surprised that people actually read her books. You can find her on twitter as  @mikaela_l , on Facebook  and on where she irregularly blogs.

 When I read the subject for this MindMeld I immediately knew where I wanted to go. Maybe in a time of my life I would have picked something else, but right now I really, really need a vacation. So I am taking a bunch of my friends and going to a beach. Which beach? I am leaning toward the Shifting Sands resort, which is a fictional resort in the Caribbean catering to shifters. What can I say, after the last year I need sun and warmth and a frozen daiquiri. 

Hannah (H. M.) Long 

Hannah (H. M.) Long is the author of the Viking-inspired epic fantasy HALL OF SMOKE, the upcoming TEMPLE OF NO GOD (01.18.22), and numerous other works of fantasy and science fiction. She lives in a ramshackle cabin in Ontario, Canada, where she writes her books, reads too much and tries not to get eaten by the local wildlife. You can visit her online at and find her on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook @hmlongbooks, as well as on Twitter @hannah_m_long. 

I feel like it’s telling that I didn’t even have to think about this... I’d go to Skyrim, Elder Scrolls V style. I’d lock that holodeck in on my own epic quest as Dovahkiin, bring in my family and nerd friends as trusty companions and *fus* a path to glory from Helgen to Sovngarde. The weapons! The enemies! The settings! The music would be a must too – some Jeremy Soule to back climbing snowy mountains, riding dragons and fighting draugrs in ancient tombs. 

Claire O'Dell

Claire O’Dell is a writer, a reader, a mother, and a geek. Her latest works include her Janet Watson series from Harper Voyager, and the re-release of her epic fantasy series, A River of Souls. Check out more details at

Oh gods, there are SO many wonderful worlds to choose from. Okay. Plucking my first idea from the air…I choose Heather Rose Jones’s historical fantasy series, set in the mythical country of Alpennia, and taking place in first quarter of the 19th century. The books are all about women—women with swords, women as scholars, as friends and lovers, as scientists, seamstresses, and politicians. 

Maurice Broaddus

Maurice Broaddus is an exotic dancer, trained in several forms of martial arts–often referred to as “the ghetto ninja”–and was voted the Indianapolis Dalai Lama. He’s an award winning haberdasher and coined the word “acerbic”. He graduated college at age 14 and high school at age 16. Not only is he credited with inventing the question mark, he unsuccessfully tried to launch a new number between seven and eight. When not editing or writing, he is a champion curler and often impersonates Jack Bauer, but only in a French accent. He raises free range jackalopes with his wife and two sons … when they are not solving murder mysteries. He really likes to make up stories.  A lot.  Especially about himself.

You should already know my answer is going to be Wakanda. The great thing about it is the depth of it as a world and how it sets a great context for all sorts of interesting conversations. It is a culture of stories and how they relate to one another. A people’s history embedded into all of the traditions within it. It’s the intersection of art and science impacting its look, including its architecture. In short, every aspect of Wakanda as a setting reinforces and is defined by the worldview of the people. A place I’d be excited to explore. With guests.

Catherine Lundoff

Catherine Lundoff is an award-winning writer, editor and publisher from Minneapolis, MN. Her latest book is Blood Moon: A Wolves of Wolf’s Point Novel (Queen of Swords Press, 2021).

I waffled around on my responses to this because while I normally go for adventurous fun times, real life has been awfully exciting of later. So I’m picking Lois McMaster Bujold’s Beta Colony as my holodeck destination and all of you who want to join me can come along.  Why? It’s so very civilized, with its relative calm and its earrings that signal one’s romantic and sexual interests, its emphasis on consent and art and beauty. Sure, there’s that pesky weapons-development thing, but it can be ignored, at least for a time, in favor of other scientific wonders. Maybe Cordelia can give us some pointers on what to go see.

K.B. Wagers

K.B. Wagers is a whiskey-drinking, non-binary author of science fiction whose latest NeoG adventure Hold Fast Through the Fire, drops July 27th. 

If I had access to a holodeck, I'd gather some of my closest friends to go spend the day sailing the open seas during the Golden Age of Piracy. All the joy of the wind in your hair, the salt in the air, the horizon stretching on forever, (okay and maybe some plundering as well *grins*) without the risk of scurvy or hanging! Who could ask for more? 

Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the Hugo, Sturgeon, Locus, and Astounding Award winning author of around 30 novels and over a hundred short stories. Her most recent novel is MACHINE, a science fiction adventure about a trauma doctor who specializes in deep space rescue.

Because a holodeck is for recreation, I would pick a lovely laid back vacation spot, a pleasure garden of lush trees, sandy beaches, a constant mild warm temperature, and an array of great recreational opportunities. 

I think that leaves me with the Southern Continent of Anne McCaffery's Pern series, where you can go swimming, you can go horseback riding, you can lie on the beach and eat fruits named after primary and secondary colors, you can fly on dragon back or laze around on the veranda and as long as interstellar parasites aren't falling from the heavens, the skies are blue and full of telepathic lizards.

Camestros Felapton

Camestros Felapton is a blogger and a 2018 Hugo finalist Fanwriter. He and his cat can be found at His current work in progress is a history of the Sad Puppy controversy entitled "Debarkle".

I'm going to assume there is some massive and very creative AI behind this holodeck that can extrapolate the fictional universe it replicates and fill in the gaps. I'm going to go and visit the enigmatic Sisterhood of Karn from Doctor Who. There's only a small bunch of them but in theory, they are the most likely people to have the foggiest idea of what is going on in the crazy timey-wimey mess of Doctor Who continuity. They also look like a cool bunch of people to hang out with for a bit.

Andrew Hiller

This is the second time Andrew has melded minds. He now knows things he shouldn't. Andrew was named author of the year in 2019 by the Baltimore Faerie Faire for A Halo of Mushrooms and his first picture book, Pitter Patty Finds Another Day is scheduled to be released in 2022. You can find his work in print, on canvas, and on the radio at

When Geordie pulls off his visor to become Lavar and asks, “What world would you like me to read you into?” be careful. Being asked to enter a world created by a holodeck is as dangerous as parsing out how to phrase a wish a genie has just offered.

I mean do you want a house to fall on you? Do you want a Lost Boy to stab you? Are you going to risk indigestion at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe after the chef realizes that Yelp ratings don't matter once the universe ends?

Do your homework. Be specific. Don't blurt. 


I might choose Catherynne Valente's Fairyland after the shadows were returned. Imagine the food, the celebratory magic, the creatures, and all that exuberant music.

Mind you, I'm getting out before the next book starts. 

K.B. Spengler

K.B. Spangler lives in North Carolina with her husband and two completely awful dogs. Her most recent book is The Blackwing War.

Before the pandemic, I would have said my Holodeck adventure was set in Pern, or Narnia, maybe even standing alone with my sword in a tulgey wood. An adventure! Something new, something novel, something beautiful and terrible and, most of all, beyond!

Now? I want to go back to Disney World with my family. It was our first vacation together since my niece turned old enough to have a personality. She loved it, experiencing all of these pieces of fiction that were recurring characters in the background of her daily life.

To me, Disney is a slick streamlined package of forced nostalgia and commercialism which exists to stripmine both intellectual property and bank accounts. Before the pandemic, I gritted my teeth and endured the crowds, commercialism, and Florida. Clarification: Florida in late July.

After the pandemic, I don’t want anything more than to see my niece lose her shit over Rapunzel.

I want to be there as my niece enjoys her Holodeck.

Nancy Jane Moore

Nancy Jane Moore’s fantasy novel For the Good of the Realm is coming June 1 from Aqueduct Press.

The Murderbot ’Verse. Not only am I, like many others, obsessed with Murderbot, but Martha Wells has created a universe with a huge realm of possibilities for play. For starters, people could run The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon along with many other shows from SecUnit’s media storage. You’ve got the Corporate Rim contrasted with Preservation, ART’s missions, and alien contamination. The minute I saw Amena pursuing the catalogue for the Pansystem University of Mihira and New Tideland, I wanted stories about her as a student there. Plus all the nice moral dilemmas about who counts as a person.

Shelley Parker-Chan

Shelley Parker-Chan is an Asian-Australian former diplomat who worked on human rights, gender equality and LGBT rights in Southeast Asia. Raised on Greek myths, Arthurian legend and Chinese tales of suffering and tragic romance, her debut novel She Who Became the Sun owes more than a little to all three.

One of the most frustrating things about being a fan of Chinese danmei (queer) TV dramas is how productions have to bend themselves in knots to comply with China’s strict broadcast rules. Queer content, time travel, reincarnation: banned! Given that the source novels are full of disallowed content, TV adaptations can end up like Swiss cheese. One of the worst cases of a great novel turned incomprehensible show was Guardian (2018), which involves a mild-mannered professor who’s actually the King of Hell, and his cop boyfriend who’s the reincarnation of an elder god. I’d materialise the incredibly charismatic cast of that show—then I’d feed the original webnovel into the computer, and get myself a faithful, uncensored adaptation. With kissing.


POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.