Daughter of Necessity October 1, 2014 Daughter of Necessity Marie Brennan Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious heroine... Midway Relics and Dying Breeds September 24, 2014 Midway Relics and Dying Breeds Seanan McGuire Between the roots and the sky. The Golden Apple of Shangri-La September 23, 2014 The Golden Apple of Shangri-La David Barnett A Gideon Smith story. Selfies September 17, 2014 Selfies Lavie Tidhar Smile for the camera.
From The Blog
September 29, 2014
Powerful Words:The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Anton Strout
September 29, 2014
Slarom, the Backward Morals of Fairytales
Jack Heckel
September 25, 2014
After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride
Jo Walton
September 23, 2014
It’s All About the Benjamins in Sleepy Hollow: “This is War”
Leah Schnelbach
September 23, 2014
The Death of Adulthood in American Culture: Nerd Culture Edition
Lindsay Ellis
Showing posts tagged: writing click to see more stuff tagged with writing
Sep 25 2014 10:40am

Amtrak Residency Writers Include Fables Creator Bill Willingham and Other Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors

Amtrak Residency Program writers Bill Willingham

Amtrak has announced the winners of its inaugural Amtrak Residency Program. Over the next year, these lucky 24 residents will get a free Amtrak train ride during which they can compose their next (or, in some cases, first) great work.

While the full list includes a BuzzFeed editor and a former CIA agent, we took special note of the five writers representing for sci-fi/fantasy and geek culture. That’s about one-fifth of the writers—not too shabby. Read on to learn more about the Amtrak residents—one of whom has already decided what she’s writing about, and it sounds amazing.

[All aboard!]

Sep 22 2014 2:50pm

Can We Do it Better? Writing Last First Snow

Last First Snow Craft Sequence Max Gladstone

Fantasy is the genre of hope.

It’s the genre of the Grail Quest, where the King is the Land, where Lancelot can heal with a touch, where nine walkers just might stand against the nine riders that are evil, where a few farm kids set out from a small town between two rivers to stop the Dark One, where no man can defeat the Nazgul lord so good thing Eowyn’s on our side, where Aerin bests Agsded and Maur to free her city, where Tenar finds her name and Aang can save the world.

But if fantasy is the genre of hope, it’s also the genre of a particular kind of danger. To hope is to commit, and commitment’s scary because we’re never hurt so much as when we care. Saving the world is hard. You lose people along the way.

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Sep 18 2014 9:00am

Cultivating Wonder: Robert J. Bennett’s City of Stairs

City of StairsI’ve been trying to read Robert Jackson Bennett’s books for some time. He’s got one of the most entertaining Twitter feeds around—a blend of absurdist, weird, nonsensical , and occasionally on the edge of off-color humor (I’ll sometimes find myself laughing at a tweet while thinking, “I don’t dare retweet this”). But there are all sorts of writers I like in other venues whose fiction just doesn’t do it for me.

Bennett writes a variety of books in a variety of genres, and is a two-time Shirley Jackson Award winner and winner of the Sydney J. Bounds Awards for Best Newcomer. Yet I’m not much of a horror or gothic fan outside a few classics, and thus his previous work was not quite up my alley. I’m terribly particular about what I read: lush writing, secondary world or seriously far-out science fiction, strong worldbuilding, dynamic characters. I need to have it all for it to work for me.

So when I heard Bennett was writing a secondary world fantasy—City of Stairs—I was intrigued. When early reviewers compared its themes to those in my own new epic fantasy, The Mirror Empire, I was doubly intrigued.

[Read More]

Jul 22 2014 2:30pm

Lloyd Alexander’s Tales of War and Youth

Lloyd Alexander Prydain The Book of Three Long before I fell in love with writing I fell in love with reading. Sometimes, honestly, I feel like I’m cheating on my first love when I settle into my office chair to start work on the latest manuscript. Back in my younger years I read an average of a book a day. That was when I was going to school full time and working a job after school 30 hours or more a week. Even now, years later, there are stories that I remember vividly. Some of them I remember so well and love so deeply that despite never having enough hours in the day I go back and read them again.

One series that I’ve done that with several times is Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain, including The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King.

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Jul 21 2014 3:30pm

A Love Letter to Carl Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Darren McGavin Carl Kolchak the Night Stalker

Carl Kolchak: Anybody important here today?
Receptionist: No, just a bunch of reporters.

—from “The Energy Eater” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker

A lot of things contributed to me ultimately being a writer, but one of the most crucial was a guy in a bad suit and straw hat, with a camera and tape recorder slung over his shoulder. Yep, I mean the night stalker himself, Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin.

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Jul 10 2014 9:00am

Humorous Exposition: Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October

Roger Zelazny A Night in the Lonesome October

“I like being a watchdog better than what I was before [Jack] summoned me and gave me this job.”

When I encountered this line for the first time, on page 2 of Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, I cracked up. I didn’t get the line’s full genius, though, until I finished the book.

[Read More]

Jul 8 2014 5:00pm

How Did You Come Up With That?: Bygone Worlds as Springboards to Fantasy

Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza

When I was in fifth grade I had to do a social studies report on the Mayans. As a ten year-old my report, of course, included a hand-drawn map of the Yucatan peninsula, descriptions of Mayan architecture, government and money, religious practices, food and farming, their calendar, and maybe if I was lucky, I ripped a few pages out of a National Geographic with some pretty colorful pictures of their ruins being eaten up by the jungle. (Sacrilege, I know…)

It’s been a long time since I did that report and I can’t remember every detail about the Mayans, but I do remember one thing: my research couldn’t tell me what happened to them. It was a mystery which delighted my ten year-old self. It seemed that they had simply vanished off the face of the earth. There were even delicious musings that the Mayans had been aliens, and beamed up to their mother ship because they were done with Earth. An advanced civilization, pfft. Gone.

[Read more...]

Jul 8 2014 9:00am

Gallimaufry: Short Fiction and My Writing Process

Ellen Klages Imagine holding a small carved bowl, its weight and shape and size a perfect fit for two cupped hands. The grain of the wood flows with the bowl’s curves, the interplay of light and dark pleases the eye, the texture is silken against your skin. You turn it, admiring the craft, the artistry, the attention to detail.

“It’s lovely,” you say, handing it back to its creator. “Now when are you going to make something real, like furniture?”

Now imagine the bowl is a short story.

Why do so many readers—and writers—consider short fiction to be some sort of training wheels? As if writing a short story is just a way to wobble around until you find your balance and center of linguistic gravity and are ready for the big-girl-bike of a novel?


Jul 7 2014 2:00pm

Defining Character: The Opening Scene of The Clockwork Dagger

The Clockwork Dagger Beth Cato

“Octavia Leander’s journey to her new source of employment was to be guided by three essential rules: that she hide her occupation, lest others take advantage; that she be frugal with her coin and avoid any indulgences that come with newfound independence; and that she shun the company of men, as nothing useful or proper is bound to happen.

Not ten feet from being let out of her carriage, Octavia was prepared to shatter Miss Percival’s most strongly advised first rule.”

There’s an impressive and savvy opening scene in Beth Cato’s forthcoming debut novel The Clockwork Dagger that does at least three important things for a fantasy novel first chapter: present an immediate challenge, reveal character, and explain the magic system.

[Read More]

Jun 4 2014 1:00pm

Entanglement: Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial

Agelica Gorodischer Kalpa Imerpial translation Ursula K Le Guin Here’s the first sentence of Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire that Never Was, translated from the Spanish by Ursula K. Le Guin:

The storyteller said: Now that the good winds are blowing, now that we’re done with days of anxiety and nights of terror, now that there are no more denunciations, persecutions, secret executions, and whim and madness have departed from the heart of the Empire, and we and our children aren’t playthings of blind power; now that a just man sits on the Golden Throne and people look peacefully out of their doors to see if the weather’s fine and plan their vacations and kids go to school and actors put their heart into their lines and girls fall in love and old men die in their beds and poets sing and jewelers weigh gold behind their little windows and gardeners rake the parks and young people argue and innkeepers water the wine and teachers teach what they know and we storytellers tell old stories and archivists archive and fishermen fish and all of us can decide according to our talents and lack of talents what to do with our life—now anybody can enter the emperor’s palace, out of need or curiosity; anybody can visit that great house which was for so many years forbidden, prohibited, defended by armed guards, locked, and as dark as the souls of the Warrior Emperors of the Dynasty of the Ellydróvides.

[I quote it in full because what was I going to do?]

May 2 2014 9:00am

Balancing on a Precipice: The Gothic Reach

William Styron Sophie's Choice I was given a leather-bound embossed journal with cream-colored pages which I was quite reluctant to ruin with my scrawling draft work. Instead, I decided to use it for a learning exercise by copying, in longhand, one of my all-time-favorite novels. Initially, I intended only that, but what has developed is an engagement with the text, sometimes veering into David Foster Wallace-like ruminations. (Though I claim none of the brilliance of the authors mentioned here.)

My novel obsession is Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I was fortunate enough to read this story the first time with no prior knowledge of it; thus, Styron taught me the skill of misdirection with his deft telling of Sophie’s many choices so that when it came to the choice I was socked in the gut, though—and this is important—I did not feel tricked, because I was not tricked. Misdirection, done well, is an honest art.

[Read More]

Apr 29 2014 11:00am

Sleeps With Monsters: “It is Very Simple, but in War the Simplest Things Become Very Difficult”

Alice Sheldon James Tiptree Jr

“What makes for the most effective presentation and treatment of female characters in fantasy fiction?”

This is the text, more or less, of a question someone asked me recently. It’s a question for which I’ve been having some difficulty formulating an answer, because to me that’s like asking, What makes for the most effective presentation and treatment of human characters in fantasy fiction? It is a question so broad it has no effective answer, because it essentially asks Well, what are women like? as though that were one whit less dependent on context, and socialisation, and individual experiences of the world than Well, what are Germans like? What are South Africans like? What are Brazilians like? What are Americans like?

[Read More]

Apr 25 2014 9:00am

A Dream of Caeli-Amur: Finding Unwrapped Sky

Roman Forum

Last night I dreamed I went to Caeli-Amur again. It seemed I stood by the Ancient Forum, looking out over the spirit-haunted ruins where the gods Aya and Alerion fought, and for a while I could not enter. The way was barred to me, for I was only the author, and such a person does not belong in a world of Minotaurs and Sirens, of sorcerers called thaumaturgists. The writer can’t access their own city, in this case a city something like ancient Rome and something like St Petersburg or Turin at the start of the 20th Century.

Only readers can visit the city of Caeli-Amur the way it was intended, without seeing the foundations that hold up its walls. Most will discover it through my novel Unwrapped Sky. Its tagline—in the UK version at least—is ‘The Revolution is Coming.’

[Read more]

Apr 23 2014 2:00pm

“Trust the Story”: A Conversation with Sofia Samatar

Sofia Samatar I’ve been more or less obsessed with Sofia Samatar since I first read her debut novel, A Stranger in Olondria (2013). Her work is gorgeous and innovative, breaking new ground while evoking the best of classic SFF. And I’m not the only one to think so; Sofia has recently been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award For Best New Writer.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing, below.

[Read more...]

Apr 14 2014 11:05am

Tor Author Randy Henderson Wins the Writers of the Future Award!

Author Randy Henderson has won L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award for 2014! Henderson, who had previously amassed a series of honorable mentions, won with a story called “Memories Bleed Beneath the Mask,” which will be published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 30.

Henderson’s describes his debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, as “a one-two punch of Awesome by a robot gorilla wearing enchanted gloves of Happiness.” Look for it from Tor Books in February 2015! Find out more about the book below.

[Necromancy! Murder! Black Humor!]

Apr 8 2014 11:00am

The Contradictions of Diane Duane

Diane Duane The Door Into Sunset In all her genres, Diane Duane is one of my favorite writers.

She spreads her talents around, too. She writes in multiple genres and forms—scripts to novels, tie-ins to original fiction, young adult urban fantasy to historical fantasy to science fiction to second-world fantasy. And whether she’s writing Y.A., as with her Young Wizards series, or Star Trek media tie-ins, she always brings an inimitable playful voice and a startling sense of “Yes; that’s right; that’s just like people.” to her work.

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Apr 3 2014 11:00am

That Was Awesome: Tony Ballantyne’s Dream Logic

Dream London Tony BallantyneFrom Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London:

There used to be an underground station opposite my building. Over the past year it had metamorphosed twice: first into a railway station, then into an inn. I remember the landlord holding court with his customers, telling us about the staircase leading down from his cellar into the tunnels through which the trains had once travelled. The tunnels had shrunk, he said, tightened like sphincters. What remained of those narrowed, fat-filled arteries was choked with black and green beetles, walking back and forth in long lines beneath the city, preyed on by silver snakes and cock rats.

A piece of writing like this is a lot more difficult to achieve than it might appear. We can all generate weirdness, but it’s a much harder thing to be able to generate weirdness that feels convincing and right.

[Read More]

Feb 11 2014 2:30pm

Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is a Failure that Genre Fans Must Experience

Winter's Tale Mark Helprin

This book. Did you know it was a book? Did you know it’s going to be a questionable movie this week? There’s a magic horse in it.

Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is such an odd brick of a thing. It’s essentially a fantasy novel set in a New York City that isn’t New York City, except actually it’s a character drama steeped in magical realism and the actual character you’re following is the coming and going of New York City itself. And maybe not even that.

I think the magic horse is supposed to represent God?

[You can’t truly know it until you’ve regretted reading it.]

Feb 3 2014 1:00pm

Footnotes Done Right: Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke is a big, thick book. About a thousand pages, in paperback. I’ve heard several people say the size alone intimidated them. Some of those did start reading anyway, only to be put off by its other notorious feature: the footnotes.

Now, I personally enjoy a really good footnote.1 And it was clear from the first few sentences that Clarke knew what the heck she was doing. That first description of the Learned Society of York Magicians was enough to tell me not only what sort of a book this aimed to be, but also that Clarke had very likely hit her target—the period language, the gentle snark, all harder than it looks, and she’d nailed it. I was impressed before I finished the first chapter. I admit I paused a bit over the three-quarter-of-a-page footnote that’s essentially an anecdote about a pair of boots, with barely any connection to the matter at hand. Still, the anecdote was amusing, and the writing excellent. I was willing to keep reading, to see if the promise of the beginning would hold true.

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Jan 24 2014 3:00pm

Inspiration, Interrupted: Chiliad: A Meditation by Clive Barker

Chiliad Clive Barker

For more than twenty years, Clive Barker was terrifically prolific. During that period, a year without a new novel by the author seemed—to me at least—incomplete. Sadly, when Barker started work on the Abarat, that was that. Since the first part of the series was released in 2002 we’ve seen, for various reasons, just two sequels and one short novel in the form of Mister B. Gone.

That may change in 2015 with the belated publication of The Scarlet Gospels: a return to Barker’s beginnings by many measures. A sequel, indeed, to one of his very earliest novellas—no less than The Hellbound Heart, which found fame later when it became the basis of the film Hellraiser. Before that, though... this: an amoral meditation on humanity’s spiralling history of violence which certainly whet my appetite for more from the man who helped define dark fantasy.

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