Molly Tanzer Guest Post–“On Getting My Ears Involved”

Last year, I read the same passage from my book, Creatures of Want and Ruin, for four different events: the Fantastic Fiction Reading Series at KGB Bar in New York City, at NecronomiCon Providence, at Noir at the Bar in Denver, and finally at Writers with Drinks in San Francisco. Given the reception to the readings, I can say with confidence that my performance improved every time—but it wasn’t ...Read More

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Jon Skovron Guest Post–“Why We Read Epic Fantasy During Times of Turmoil”

On a September morning in 2001, I watched from my fire escape in Brooklyn as the second World Trade Center tower fell. In the hours and days and weeks that followed, as the ash and debris rained down from the sky, as the stench of death permeated my neighborhood, as the countless hand-written missing person fliers went up, as soldiers with machine guns began to appear in train stations, I ...Read More

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Justin T. Call Guest Post–“Forging Literary Artifacts “

When we speak of forging, it is usually one of two types: the first is when we create something new out of disparate materials— the type of forging usually associated with blacksmiths—but the second type is one we often associate with thieves, charlatans, and mountebanks; the kind where we create something that is fake with the intention of duping or deceiving others into believing that what we have created is ...Read More

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Rachel S. Cordasco Guest Post–“Legend of the Galactic Heroes”

Yoshiki Tanaka’s Sieun Award-winning Legend of the Galactic Heroes (LotGH) series is simultaneously a work of science fiction (specifically space opera) and an in-depth historiography. Multiple texts exist within its two-thousand-plus pages, with a single unnamed narrator drawing on (fictional) memoirs, autobiographies, and other histories in order to craft their own interpretation of the galactic conflicts of the thirty-sixth century. Originally published in Japan between 1982 and 1987, LotGH was ...Read More

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Eric L. Harry Guest Post–“How Does the World End? Let Me Count the Ways”

Before we get started, let’s define what we mean by “the end of the world.”

Extinguishing all life on earth would be difficult. Every day, 800 million viruses and tens of millions of bacteria rain down from the troposphere onto every square meter of the planet’s surface. Extremophile microorganisms flourish at unimaginable pressures in the depths of the Marianas Trench. Russian cosmonauts claim to have found plankton surviving the vacuum ...Read More

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Katie MacAlister Guest Post–“The Old Lady Gamer’s Guide to Writing Fantasy”

In April 2005 I was well settled into my career as a romance novelist, writing everything from paranormal romances to adult and young adult contemporary fiction for New American Library (now Penguin Random House). My life was simple: I wrote books, lots of books. And then one day I heard about a new massively multiplayer online role playing game called World of Warcraft (WOW), and my life changed. Not only ...Read More

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John Andrew Karr Guest Post–“The Allure of Mars”

Observe Mars in the night sky. Depending upon its distance from Earth, Mars varies in brightness and clarity— but it is always unique. No other celestial body reveals itself so red to the naked eye. Certainly, it is the color of roses and poppies and wine, but those comparisons are not what early stargazers had in mind when they referred to the Red Planet.

To them, it was the color ...Read More

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Michael Burianyk Guest Post–“Ukrainian Gods: Slavic Myths and Legends for Fantasy Writers”

My gratitude and appreciation to Natalia Burianyk, Anastasia Rohoza, Natalie Kononenko, Christine Worobec, Rachel Cordasco and Svitlana Taratorina for their input and support. All misunderstandings and misinterpretations are mine.

In American Gods, Neil Gaiman has Mr. Wednesday say of Czernobog and his family, “They’re not Rom. They’re Russian. Slavs. I believe.” Why would they be confused with the very un-Slavic Rom (“gypsies”)? Why is Czernobog, more often associated with ...Read More

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Tyler Hayes Guest Post–“Rescued From the Trunk”

The week before I got an offer on my debut novel, I made the decision to give up on it.

The Imaginary Corpse was a labor of love: a noir-flavored fantasy cobbled together from childhood memories, my experiences in therapy, and a million literary and ludological ancestors. Writing it felt right in a way that no other manuscript had before. I built this world in a matter of hours, the ...Read More

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Tade Thompson Guest Post–“The Unworthy: The Nature of Virtue in Jason Aaron’s Thor”

At first glance you might think this topic is too comic-nerdy for you, but I promise there’s a universal theme that applies to any reader. Oh, and comic nerds? Spoiler alert.

For the uninitiated, Thor is a character from Marvel comics, created in 1962 by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby. The easiest thing to say about the origins is that Thor was inspired by Norse mythology by way ...Read More

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Christopher Brown Guest Post–“Truth and Reconciliation and Science Fiction”

The best science fiction I have read this year came in a series of emails from the future.

The Training Commission is a collaboration between authors Ingrid Burrington and Brendan C. Byrne, produced with sponsorship from Mozilla. It’s an epistolary work, a fragmented narrative in the form of electronic correspondence from a character on the run in a near-future USA that is both familiar and incredibly strange. Rich with worldbuilding ...Read More

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Reese Hogan Guest Post–“Music, Art, and Connection: How Artists Benefit One Another Through Creation”

All ideas come from somewhere. For me, a book really starts taking shape when I have three separate ideas that come together. These ideas come from all sorts of places, but at least one of them is almost always from another piece of art. For example, for one of my novels, I found a gorgeous picture on Deviant Art that filled my mind with possibilities, and brought my story in ...Read More

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David Wellington Guest Post–“The Race for the Soul of NASA”

NASA had a plan. A plan that would put people back on the moon by 2028. There we would build a base camp from which we would take the first steps toward landing human beings on Mars. It was a bold plan built on decades of science and experience, and it would have probably taken a few miracles to pull off. NASA, of course, has always been in the business ...Read More

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Angela Slatter Guest Post–“The Pleasure and Pain of Finishing a Trilogy”

Write a trilogy, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

*sigh*

I should start by saying that the Verity Fassbinder series began as a standalone short story. “Brisneyland by Night” was written at Clarion South in 2009 and caught the eye of someone who helpfully suggested it would make an excellent series if I could manage it.

Ignorance is not only bliss but also a kind of protective Teflon coating ...Read More

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Seanan McGuire Guest Post–“Not a Prison”

What’s a genre, anyway? Some have very firm, rigid rules, and deviation is so easy that it’s easier to say what isn’t part of the genre than what is. The dictionary definition states that genres have socially agreed upon conventions, developed over time (this is why, for example, the goalposts of science fiction and urban fantasy are forever moving).

Well, we know when something isn’t part of a genre. HEA (short for “happily ...Read More

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Jack Skillingstead Guest Post–“Crisis Points”

Your life, whether you know it or not, has been shaped by crisis points. They come in all shapes and sizes, from personal life decisions—whether to divorce, who you choose to trust in a dangerous situation, what seat you pick when you purchase tickets on a flight you didn’t know would crash—to geopolitical events with staggering consequences. You can also think of crisis points as pivot points, a moment or ...Read More

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Taran Matharu Guest Post–“Creating the World of a New Book Series”

My name is Taran Matharu, and I am the New York Times bestselling author of the Summoner series, a high fantasy saga that has sold over a million copies.

The Chosen (Contender #1) is my first foray into science fiction, combining my passion for history, palaeontology, unsolved mysteries and outer space. Here’s the blurb:

Throughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A group of teenagers are about to discover ...Read More

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Brenda Cooper and Joey Eschrich Guest Post–“From Guilt To Hope: Why We Write Climate Fiction”

In the shadow of several years of climate chaos, from devastating hurricanes and unforeseen droughts to migrant crises, climate fiction is experiencing a surge of popularity in speculative and other literature. There is an emerging global consciousness that climate change is present and urgent, and that it affects all of us even if its impacts vary wildly depending on who and where you are.

Climate fiction often depicts people who ...Read More

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SF Crossing the Gulf—In Conversation with Nathan Ballingrud

Episode 24a: In conversation with Nathan Ballingrud: “The Good Husband”

In a follow up to our previous podcast, we had the very great pleasure of chatting with the lovely Nathan Ballingrud, author of “The Good Husband”, about the themes and inspiration for his story about a marriage gone awry, and his new works (both film and text) in 2019. Best to read “The Good Husband” first or, if you must ...Read More

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SF Crossing the Gulf—Transformative Horror

Episode 24: Transformative Horror: “The Fruit of My Woman” by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith) and “The Good Husband” by Nathan Ballingrud

Ballingrud’s work is frightening, Kang’s is surreal, and both are disturbingly beautiful in their portrayal of how a person’s radical transformation can destabilize their marriage… or are they about how marriage can precipitate a radical transformation? Tune in to hear us tease out the nuances of these ...Read More

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Ken Liu Guest Post–“Is It Possible to Learn About China by Reading Chinese Science Fiction?”

As a child, I was first exposed to life in the West through Chinese translations of American science fiction. While I couldn’t see E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (because back then Hollywood films weren’t shown in China), I did get to read the Chinese translation of Kotzwinkle’s novelization. To this day, I have fond memories of the nigh-incomprehensible footnote explaining Dungeons & Dragons to the reader—just try imagining accomplishing this feat in ...Read More

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Alastair Reynolds Guest Post–“The Past and Future of Time Travel”

I owe a lot to Doctor Who, but not my enduring affection for the time travel story. In my formative years, the Time Lords had grounded the Doctor, the Tardis confined to a corner of the laboratory while an endless parade of monsters kept trying to invade or blow up nineteen-seventies Earth.

What did it for me—what opened my mind to the imaginative possibilities of time travel—was HG Wells. ...Read More

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Cinda Williams Chima Guest Post–“Can a Pantser Find Success Writing Series Fantasy?”

“Writing a novel is as if you are going off on a journey across a valley. The valley is full of mist, but you can see the top of a tree here and the top of another tree over there. And with any luck you can see the other side of the valley. But you cannot see down into the mist. Nevertheless, you head for the first tree.” — Terry ...Read More

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Jasper Fforde Guest Post—”Genre, Speculative Fiction and the Cradle of Ideas”

I’ve often struggled over giving my books a genre label, partly because I’m not sure that labels are a great idea, nor, to be honest, is genre—which I’ve often decried as “the measles of the book world”. Sure, genre is useful to publicity and marketing, but it’s of no real use, I contend, to readers, and may in fact narrow reader choices rather than broadening them. I’ve often heard readers ...Read More

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Shahid Mahmud Guest Post–“Alternity Squared”

As was recently announced, Phoenix Pick will be publishing a new Robert A. Heinlein novel later this year, likely in November.

The Heinlein Prize Trust and Phoenix Pick have collaborated to piece together a complete novel based on fragments of a typewritten manuscript and notes by Heinlein.

The completed novel is about 187,000 words long. It shares the first one-third of its text with the published The Number of the ...Read More

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Derek Kunsken Guest Post—”Whither Go Labor and Workers with AI and Robots?”

I’ve never worried about the future over some Terminator scenario, although I will admit that the Boston Dynamics dog creeps me out. My concerns about the future my son will inhabit are a bit more mundane, mostly on the technological labour market disruptions.

AI and robotics are poised to drastically reduce a number of labour market needs in the next 10-30 years. Everything from car and truck drivers, to airplane ...Read More

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Weston Ochse Guest Post–“Found Footage Fiction”

Despite the earlier revolting Cannibal Holocaust in 1980, The Blair Witch Project firmly established found footage as a film genre in1999. The shaky-cam unreliable narrator film about three students who disappeared in a Pennsylvania forest opened the door for the immensely popular Paranormal Activity franchise. Seeing events unfold on a second internal screen somehow made them feel more real to the viewer. The horror we felt while watching was predicated ...Read More

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V. M. Escalada Guest Post–“The Good, Not Just the Bad and the Ugly”

You want to know why romance is the most popular genre? With more romance novels sold than all other novels put together? I have a theory. It’s not about all the kissy-facing (ok, it is a little bit): it’s because every book ends with hope.

Have you noticed how many versions of Sherlock Holmes there are extant? Looking at movies and TV alone, at least three, right? And probably more ...Read More

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Resisting and Persisting: An interview with the contributors to “Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler”

The Hugo-nominated and Locus award-winning anthology Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler contains essays and letters to the beloved pioneer of science fiction, many of which were written in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.

The timing of this collection is particularly poignant; many of the contributors made direct reference to recent events and the contemporary political climate, drawing parallels with Butler’s work. Her influence is keenly felt. ...Read More

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Roundtable Guest Post by Christine Feehan, with Charlaine Harris, Gena Showalter and Melinda M. Snodgrass–“The Evolution of Acceptance of Women Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction”

As women writing fantasy and science fiction today it’s exciting to see so many female writers of this genre, to see more support for women and continued successes. As a writer of paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction since the 1990s, I’ve found a welcoming home in this genre over the years. I’ve invited some of my friends and colleagues to join me in discussing what it’s like to write in ...Read More

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Jonathan French Guest Post–“MFA vs…D&D?”

A vagabond, a pit-fighter, a noblewoman, and a dung-collector stand in a crowded square to witness the execution of a dissident madman. Though strangers before that overcast day, the condemned man’s final ravings upon the scaffold will bind them inextricably. Marked to deliver his body safely to a doom-cult, the four hapless individuals discover that failure risks their sanity. And their souls.

That was the story hook for a roleplaying ...Read More

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Warren Hammond Guest Post–“Why I Took the Indie Route (This Time)”

I was between projects when Joshua Viola of Hex Publishers bought me a beer and pitched me his idea for a new science fiction franchise called Denver Moon. To this point in my career, I’d been fortunate enough to have four novels published by big-five publishers. I’d done many of the things aspiring writers dream about: book signings, media interviews, responding to fan mail. Nobody would confuse my career ...Read More

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