Sunday 31 March 2013

Guest Post - Across the Stars by Laurel A Rockefeller

Across the Stars:  Bringing music to Beinan

By Laurel A. Rockefeller

When most people think of music in science fiction or fantasy, odds are really good one of two things come to mind:  1) background scores for motion pictures and tele-pictures or 2) J.R.R. Tolkien.  Except in dedicated poetry books music is rather scarce in literature.  We just don’t typically see characters – in any genre – breaking out in song.  Until this year, I too never thought of music and novels as really going together.  Aren’t the two mutually exclusive?  Books might be adapted into operas or musical theater or films (Les Misérables is a nice recent example), but we just do not see regular books including music.

I am a singer songwriter.  I am also author of the Peers of Beinan series books and a long-time member of the Society for Creative Anachronism where I’ve been singing for over twenty years.  Medieval and Renaissance music from both Europe and Asia infuses my consciousness.  When I am feeling something strongly and need to express myself, I make up a song and sing.

The Peers of Beinan is science fiction/fantasy, but it’s also infused with my vast knowledge of medieval history.  Beinarian culture is a feudal culture based in part on Anglo-Irish history with a constitutional monarchy and “great council” that is a sort of melding of today’s modern parliament and monarchy in London with its medieval predecessor.  The so-called “high middle ages” saw the debut of the troubadour and songs of personal, romantic love.

Half way through writing my second book, “Ghosts of the Past” I found myself singing – or more exactly – my characters started singing.  The first songs in the novel appear in situations where culturally we expect to hear music:  a wedding, an inauguration, and a memorial service for those killed in a terrorist bombing.  Embolden by finding my voice in these very logical situations, more music followed.  A daughter finds her father murdered, pierced with five crossbow quarrels.  Not knowing how to react and with dozens of courtiers around her, she sings in response.  Those of you who have seen the trailer for “Ghosts of the Past” on ( have heard me sing this song,

“He was a strong and noble lord
With piercing eyes of grey
He sat upon his noble throne
Shining like the dawn
His sword flashed like the brightest star
He led our people well
Yet here and now he lays
In blood pierced with arrows

He was the friend of many knights
He loved the warrior games
His heart was won by a lady fair
For marriage they did wait
A kindly prince, his duty carried
Him to another's bed
And on her death true love returned
Finally they wed

He felt the grief of children lost
To murder and to pain
I was the youngest of his blood
I'll never be the same
Here lays my father and my lord
I know not what to say!
Except my father and my lord
Was slain here on this day!

Here lays my father and my lord
I know not what to say!
Except my father and my lord
Was slain here on this day!”

It is a song of sorrow, but it is also very much true to the medieval European tradition – Germanic and Celtic.  J.R.R. Tolkien gave me permission to write this song; certainly the Lord of the Rings is also filled with such ballads of heroism, love, and sorrow.

And yet it remains the great exception to the rule to write music into novels.  Is it for a lack of talent by authors to write lyrically? I think not; I know many fine musicians across the world, including published authors.  But it is perhaps more due to people not considering having their characters sing, especially in the science fiction genre where the idea seems oxymoronic.

Perhaps it is the history-grounded nature of my writing that makes it easier?  What are my songs but a continuation of Anglo-Irish musical traditions flowing through the same contexts that made our ancestors sing?  “Beowulf” was such a song, after all!

Perhaps it is time to re-think music and literature and realize, as our ancestors did, that music and stories go together like music and lyrics!

Until then, I hope you enjoy my songs from across the stars and across time and will, from time to time, allow me to indulge you with song and the melodies that never cease to flow through my mind and heart.

Laurel is also the author of 'The Ghosts of the Past':

The Ghosts of the Past
Planet Beinan is falling apart as healing centers across the planet are bombed by an unseen assailant. Only one knight of Ten-Ar can find the truth before all hope is lost forever.

And what of the new queen's youngest daughter, Princess Anyu? Will she escape before Lord Yelu can destroy her?

Spanning four generations and nearly two thousand Earth years, the fate of an entire planet hangs in the balance in this courtly epic of love, courage, murder, and mystery.

Book two of the Peers of Beinan series. Part two of the Anlei's Legacy arc.

Parental guide:
Language: no profanity
Sex/nudity: mild
Violence: non-graphic
Adult situations: murder, terrorism, sexual violence

ISBN: 1482794489

About the author:
Laurel A. Rockefeller was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. A natural singer-songwriter from an early age, Laurel's interest in physics and astronomy were inspired by both early visits to Lincoln's Hyde observatory and by the 1977 release of George Lucas' "Star Wars" which caught her imagination alongside with Arthurian legends and medieval songs and tales.

During her freshman year at the University of Nebraska, Laurel discovered the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, inspiring her to write her sonnet "Why Bilbo?" which the American Tolkien Society published in 1991. More publications followed as Laurel's skill for writing increased with her education and life experience.

Today, Laurel is mostly known for her non-fiction work, particularly for Yahoo Voices on everything from movie reviews to historical research to science, frugal living, politics, and beyond.

The Peers of Beinan is Laurel's first science fiction series.

To view more of Laurel's work, please visit: and

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