If, like me, you have watched countless kung fu movies, then you’ll recognize this story: a boy goes with his father and elder brother to a local village festival. An ardent fan of Peking Opera, the boy goes off by himself to watch the festival performances. Hearing some commotion, he investigates and sees his father confronting a man who has accused an elderly woman selling steamed buns of cheating him. The boy’s father warns the man to leave, but, instead, the scoundrel strikes the woman. The father defeats the man in three blows and tells him to leave, which he does. The father notices his son and says, “You shouldn’t have seen that.” Continue reading…
I like a clean, focused narrative as much as the next person, but there’s an undeniable entertainment value in the messy and sprawling kind too. Science fiction has a long history of welcoming the second kind of book, and David’s Brin’s Earth, an ecology epic from 1990, is a fun example of this type.
Let’s smash some genres together! Today it’s urban fantasy meets the murder mystery, and, at first glance, it’s a meeting of true minds.
Two great scifi writers, Robert J. Sawyer and Robert Charles Wilson, just published concluding volumes in their respective trilogies. Other similarities: both are Canadian, both have won Hugos, and their latest books are quite intriguing.
Call me an online oddity: I ran out of steam, years ago, on doing the whole harsh-criticism thing in my review work. For a couple of reasons, summarized as “enthused librarian who points elsewhere for sad talk.”
I just finished re-reading A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin’s first volume in his (currently very hot) fantasy series, and I quite enjoyed it. Looking back on my notes from my first read-through ten years ago, I was startled to discover that I found it ho-hum and/or offensive! What gives?
A confession: I’m having trouble making my way through Stephen King’s Under the Dome. I must also confess I’m a bit puzzled by this. I’m definitely a fan of King’s work. And from what I’ve read so far, this book sticks pretty closely to high points of his career. What gives?
Lately I’ve noticed a few examples of a trend: authors who got their start writing science fiction have switched to writing fantasy. Why might this be? Probably because it’s become a bigger market!
An iconic character in the earliest pulp novels and the latest multiplex blockbusters: the heroic space explorer, striding manfully forward, saving the natives, grabbing the treasure and the babes, and so on. What’s going on inside his head?
Since April is our wacky month, I decided to venture far afield, basically into the scariest minefield of cultural contempt that I can think of: reality TV.
Ever had one of those crazy months? I’m reposting an old article for that reason, with a few extra comments at the end… The dinosaur craze seems to be over, sorry to say. One last hurrah: Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, the latest entry in the Dinotopia series, is out now. James Gurney wrote and illustrated […]
What do a riddlemaster on a quest, an undersea utopia gone wrong, and sexual perversion in Sweden have in common? The answer: nothing! But I don’t have a big thing to talk about this month, so I’ll have to make do with a mishmash.
The most fertile opening-book-in-a-series is not necessarily the most tight, coherent book, writing-wise. Doing any one thing well is difficult, and takes up tons of narrative energy – a series needs interesting places to go next, and some loose ends to follow later. Primary Inversion, Catherine Asaro’s first Skolian book (of many), is a good […]
The Thing is coming for you! But you don’t know which one of your friends is The Thing! Paranoia… gore… body horror… and all of the above recently retold from The Thing’s point of view.
Scifi movies are usually the realm of big-budget blockbusters – think of Avatar, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But can you make a credible/entertaining science fiction movie on a low budget?
A new Ted Chiang story always feels like a gift from the universe. Even better, “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” is available both as a fancy book/art object and as a free online version!
Piers Anthony has been writing his popular Xanth series for a long time, and I’m fascinated by the fact that he has never walked away in an artistic snit. Thirty plus books later, he still works hard to keep the faithful readers happy.
The director’s cut is a familiar term in the world of film, but an equivalent “author’s cut” in the realm of books is not a widespread notion. Why might that be?
Let’s say you’re the newly-sentient internet. How would you decipher the meaning of all the bits and bytes whizzing past you? And what about the real world outside your electronic realm?
Some types of stories are so familiar that the only way to tell your own version of, say, a detective yarn is to find an interesting new angle. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series makes the title character a wizard who solves supernatural crimes in Chicago. Additionally, Harry has feelings, which seems like the more interesting […]
Let’s say you’ve just invented a time machine. Your hand is on the dial, ready to master the energies of the fourth dimension. Depending on when you’re living in the history of the universe, this might be science fiction or just the latest invention. Spaceships, atomic bombs, the internet, all were once wild speculative dreams.« go back — keep looking »