Damien Angelica Walters Guest Post–“An Orchestra of Scars”

Truth: I’ve been sitting for two hours in front of this blank page, unsure where to start or what to write about. There may have been a few side trips to Facebook and Twitter during that time, but I was wracking my brain trying to come up with a subject as opposed to just talking about my short fiction collection.

Non-fiction doesn’t come easy to me, and every topic I ...Read More

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia Guest Post–“Say No to Strong Female Characters”

I was not a fan of The Book of Life. I will not elaborate too much on this point except to mention that when I watched it I recalled a bit from an article by Sophia McDougall published in The New Statesman:

I remember watching Shrek with my mother.

“The Princess knew kung-fu! That was nice,” I said. And yet I had a vague sense of unease, a sense that ...Read More

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Una McCormack Guest Post–“Writing Within Boundaries: The Challenge of Franchise Fiction”

I often think of writing as a process of entering into a contract with your readers: when you persuade someone to read your work, you’re making promises to them that your work will deliver in certain ways. Certain genres, it seems to me, make specific contractual demands on a writer–for example, I doubt that Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light is going to end with Henry VIII abdicating and ...Read More

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Alex Shvartsman Guest Post–“The Art and Science of Anthology Editing”

Now that I have five completed anthologies under my belt, the number of questions I get–from friends and strangers alike–about various aspects of anthology editing has turned from an occasional drip to a steady trickle. And while I would love to presume it’s because I’m such an awesome anthologist, the truth is, there’s fairly little information on the web regarding this niche topic. I thought it might be a good ...Read More

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A Cheery Holiday Roundtable

In December 2014 I approached our esteemed panelists with the following:

On his blog Michael Swanwick recently addressed a reader-inspired question: “How do I cope with the despair endemic upon being an unpublished or little-published writer?” In an essay first published in 1991, Robert Silverberg wrote about spending his adult life as a successful professional writer but still facing the “long despair of nothing well.” The word “despair,” and related ...Read More

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Roundtable on 2015 Releases

Being close to the end of the year, it occurs to me it might be interesting to talk about some of the books we’re most looking forward to in 2015, and why. I will mention three to get the ball rolling. Daryl Gregory’s Harrison Squared (March 24, 2015). I love Daryl’s writing, and this Lovecraftian teen story promises to be dark, comical and poignant all in one. Kit Reed’s Where ...Read More

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Three Recent Associational Items

While the print and online versions of this magazine do an excellent job of monitoring and reviewing new SF/F/H texts, and non-fiction books closely tied to SF/F/H, it occurs to me that at times there might be other “associational” books that are worth bringing to the attention of readers. This is one of those items.

First, a book related to Christopher Nolan’s latest movie, Interstellar (2014), reviewed here by Gary ...Read More

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A Note About Asimov’s Essay “On Creativity”

In late October various fine publications (including this one) reported that a previously unpublished essay by Isaac Asimov had appeared in the MIT Technology Review. In a prefatory note to the essay, Arthur Obermayer describes how he was the one who suggested, back in 1959, that Asimov be approached to join a group of “out of the box” thinkers on an ARPA-related project. Asimov participated briefly, and wrote the piece, ...Read More

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Brad R. Torgersen Guest Post–“What Value the ‘Traditional’ Path?”

An aspiring writer recently asked if there was any value in doing short fiction, as a way to break into SF/F publishing. Versus merely penning novels and pitching them at the editors in New York.

Once upon a time, doing short fiction was the established path. From the 1920s through the early 1980s, almost everyone who was anyone came up through the magazines first: short stories, novelettes, novellas, and serialized ...Read More

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Jennifer Brozek Guest Post–“The Anthology Balance”

Sitting down to write this article was a debate between expressing an observation and my willingness to be metaphorically punched in the nose if I didn’t express myself well enough. This is because diversity is a hot topic and there are vocal opinions on both sides. There are two looming concepts that I’m looking at: “How do you make an anthology that actually sells?” and “Making sure that the anthology ...Read More

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Roundtable on Lucius Shepard

On March 18, 2014, Lucius Shepard passed away. Since then a number of touching tributes have been penned, focusing on his life, personality and accomplishments. I thought it would be fitting for our Roundtable group to celebrate Shepard’s rich literary body of work. What are some of Shepard’s finest pieces, and why are they worth visiting and revisiting? Overlooked or out-of-print gems we should hunt down? Where should readers unfamiliar ...Read More

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Mike Allen Guest Post–“Stranger than Strange”

At no point during the slow learning curve of my writing career have I ever said to myself, “I want my writing to be the weirdest anyone has ever seen.”

At first glance my influences seem quite mundane by the standards of a genre writer: as a kid I did, after all, read The Lord of the Rings, The Foundation Trilogy, numerous novels by Stephen King.

And yet somewhere along ...Read More

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Anton Strout Guest Post–“The Eternal & Epic Struggle of Novels vs. Short Stories”

Years ago, long before I was published, my writing group the Dorks of the Round Table coined a very insightful and totally unique motto: “Writing is hard.”

The whinier it is said, the better. Especially if you drag out the last word and it devolves into a sobbing cry. At best, short stories are annoying buzzing insects set upon this world to distract us fantasists from our BIG BOOK DEADLINES. ...Read More

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Jonathan R. Eller Guest Post–“Ray Bradbury Unbound”

In writing about a life as rich and varied as Ray Bradbury’s, a biographer quickly learns that not everything in the notepads or the interview tapes will make it into the final book. It was a difficult challenge for both Becoming Ray Bradbury (2011) and Ray Bradbury Unbound (2014), where I had to make decisions to condense and even eliminate some of the detail of an incredibly fascinating life. Many ...Read More

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Roundtable on Ten Exciting Writers

At the 2014 Cannes film festival press conference, film-maker Quentin Tarantino talked about how he periodically puts “the state of film under a microscope.” Riffing off an e-mail exchange he describes, I’d like to pose the following forward-looking question to this group: Who are the ten currently working writers that most excite you today? To be more specific: these should be writers about whose every new work you feel genuinely ...Read More

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Anna Tambour Guest Post–“Service Providers”

I recently asked writer X to point me to X’s fiction. X replied:

“Based on the tone/handling of your story Y, the only one of my recent stories that I think may speak to you is, possibly, ….”

As one of Wodehouse’s characters once said, “?”

The tone/handling of every story I write has much more to do with the story, I’d like to think, than the teller (me), for ...Read More

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Daryl Gregory and James Morrow in Conversation

Daryl Gregory: We’re having this conversation by email, but I’m going to pretend we’re sitting in a bar. Even though we live in the same town, and not even a very big one — that’s State College, Pennsylvania, for you readers — I think we see each other more often in other cities, at cons. Is that sad, or just typically science fictional?

James Morrow: I think it’s both sad ...Read More

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Karen Haber Guest Post–“My First”

You always remember your first time.

My first short story — “Madre de Dios” — came about through what might be called an act of spousal self-defense, although he wasn’t quite my spouse at the time.

It was 1986. I had just moved to the SF Bay Area. After a decade of working as a journalist–a newspaper reporter and, later, senior editor at an art magazine–I had kissed my old ...Read More

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Marissa Lingen Guest Post–“More Please: the Short Story Mosaic”

Last weekend at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention, a would-be short story writer cornered me with a question. His critique group keeps telling him that his short stories read more like chapters from a novel, he said; does this mean he is just not cut out to write short stories? I gave him a quick set of diagnostics for things that might actually be wrong (too much exposition, not a complete ...Read More

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Greg van Eekhout Guest Post–“The Middle-Grade Question”

My career is just weird. I write books for adults, and I write books for middle-grade readers (generally defined as aged 9-13). From time to time I get asked by other writers what the difference is. Some are just curious about a field outside their own. Some want to try their hand at middle-grade because they have fond memories of the books they read when they were kids. Or they’ve ...Read More

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Lydia Millet Guest Post–“The Statesman and the Mouse”

Once, waiting to go up to the office where I worked in Manhattan, I was reading a paperback when my boss stepped into the elevator. He was an elder statesman type in the environmental movement and I was junior fundraising staff, so he rarely spoke to me and didn’t need to know my name. Still, after a few seconds he broke the groggy morning silence by asking, aghast, “Isn’t that ...Read More

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Christopher L. Bennett Guest Post–“The Problem with Sherlock in a Post-Elementary World”

The recent return of the BBC’s Sherlock from its long hiatus gave television audiences our first chance to see new episodes of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’s modernization of Sherlock Holmes airing alongside new episodes of its American counterpart, Robert Doherty’s Elementary. The two-year gap between Sherlock‘s second and third seasons may have acted in Elementary‘s favor, because it allowed the CBS series a season and a ...Read More

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Two Mini-Roundtables: Award Jinxes and “The Future of the Mind”

1) Award Jinxes

The 2014 Academy Awards made me think of various “curses” that have become associated with the Oscars over the years—the “F. Murray Abraham syndrome,” for example, named after the actor, on failing to develop a high-profile career after winning the award, or the “Oscar love curse,” a superstition regarding the Best Actress categories that foretells an imminent divorce after receiving the statuette. Are there any such jinxes ...Read More

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Elizabeth Bear Guest Post–“The Worm in the Apple”

I have… opinions.

That probably won’t come as a shock to anybody who has ever met me, or seen me on a panel, or read my blog. Or read one of my books.

Those opinions are the reason I write those books.

Specifically, I write books in order to have arguments with myself, or with other books, or with the world at large. While there’s certainly a place in the ...Read More

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Eileen Gunn Guest Post–“Quick! Act Without Thinking!”

Locus Online has very kindly asked me inaugurate their new series of guest blog-posts by talking about my just-released short-story collection, Questionable Practices.

The stories, of course, concern well-intentioned but highly questionable decisions on the part of people who act faster than they think. If they’d thought twice, or maybe three times, they would never have followed the sasquatch into a cave, or gone bowling with frozen turkeys, or set ...Read More

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Roundtable on Samuel R. Delany, Grand Master

In December 2013, Samuel R. Delany was named Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by SFWA. Delany has influenced science-fiction and fantasy, and literature in general, in different ways—as fiction writer, critic, theorist, memoirist, editor, teacher. How has Delany influenced your own work or views on writing and literature? For readers who haven’t read much by Delany, is there such a thing as a Delany “gateway” story, novel or essay?

Rachel ...Read More

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Roundtable on “Planetary Writing” and SF in 2014

In The Economist‘s recent “The World in 2014” issue, Jonathan Ledgard writes:

“Dystopian literature will lose out to more optimistic fare in 2014. In part this shift is attributable to readers’ fatigue with mutant, vampire and (particularly) zombie stories. Mostly, though, it reflects a move in the popular consciousness from civilisational angst to the question of preserving biodiversity.”

Later, Ledgard concludes, “2014 will mark the rise of planetary writing: high ...Read More

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Roundtable on "Planetary Writing" and SF in 2014

In The Economist‘s recent “The World in 2014” issue, Jonathan Ledgard writes:

“Dystopian literature will lose out to more optimistic fare in 2014. In part this shift is attributable to readers’ fatigue with mutant, vampire and (particularly) zombie stories. Mostly, though, it reflects a move in the popular consciousness from civilisational angst to the question of preserving biodiversity.”

Later, Ledgard concludes, “2014 will mark the rise of planetary writing: high ...Read More

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Interview with Nancy Kress and Jack Skillingstead

Here’s one final interview from ICON 38, with two guests of honor, Nancy Kress and Jack Skillingstead.

[Alvaro Zinos-Amaro] What’s been the high point of ICON 38 for you?

[Jack Skillingstead] I liked DreamCon, the workshop for high school and college students. It was fun sitting there talking to the students. I also liked getting to know Ellen Datlow better. I’vet met her a few times, but hadn’t spent a ...Read More

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Interview with Joe Haldeman

Last month I had the pleasure of attending ICON 38, Iowa’s long-running science fiction convention. After closing ceremonies, I sat down with SFWA Grand Master and ICON co-founder Joe Haldeman, and his wife Gay, and asked him some questions.

[Alvaro Zinos-Amaro] How has ICON changed over the last 38 years? Has it changed?

[Joe Haldeman] It has. Oddly enough, not the people. The people are the same. But it’s much ...Read More

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Roundtable on the Zen of Organizing Books

One last spin-off from yesterday’s discussion on organizing books…

Jonathan Strahan

It probably says something deeply disturbing about me, but there is something incredibly satisfying, almost on at a DNA level, about putting books in their place. When I finally amalgamated a lot of shelves and for the first time all thirteen volumes of The Collected Stories of Theodore Sturgeon sat together I felt a zen-like calm descend on me, ...Read More

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