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.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is perhaps the worst epic fantasy I have ever read. Where are the dragons? The violent decapitations with a magical sword? All the author seems to care about is witty rich people making smart remarks to each other.
I have a theory that television shows get a lot of practice in the cliff-hanger, in hooking the viewer to come back next week, but almost zero experience in creating satisfying endings. Structurally, commercially, the need for such a thing just doesn’t compute. A few genre shows in the throes of concluding long-term stories right [...]
I recently burned through all seven books in Christopher Rowley’s Bazil Broketail series. What I liked best? The broad strokes, literally (here is our hero with a sword, there goes the head of the bad guy, flying through the air) as well as metaphorically.
Time to check in with a few small-press books. This is where where a lot of people get their start, and it’s also where the books can live quite happily apart from the concerns of multinational conglomerates.
Your first book is a classic that essentially creates the modern era, or at least that’s what people are saying. What do you do for an encore? In the case of William Gibson, you can just follow the same interests in a different form.
It’s one of the best adventure novels I’ve read lately: the original Redwall by Brian Jacques. Talking animals, an evil threat, a perilous quest, a sympathetic hero, and some suitably gruesome moments… the book has it all. And with a mouse as a hero, the view of carnivores is one of fear and loathing.
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