Over the past few months, as I’ve struggled to write the fourth and final book in my epic fantasy series, Earthsinger Chronicles, I’ve thought a lot about endings. Recently, popular culture has seen the end of several long-running series: Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Two of those series ended in ways that were wildly disappointing to many fans and should serve as cautionary ...Read MoreRead more
When I was sixteen, I skipped my appointment to get sworn in as a U.S. citizen because I was taking an Advanced Placement exam.
The instant the test was over, the Principal spoke over the intercom and called me down to his office, where I was mortified to see my mom waiting for me and mystified to find her in a rage. How could I miss that appointment? What was ...Read MoreRead more
When I got serious about writing in my teens, my literary opinions involved a lot of eyerolling.
Black and white false dichotomies attracted me, as they do many thirteen-year-olds eager to become Serious Artists™. One creed I held to be especially dear was that fake writers treat stories like games of pretend, and real writers remain conscious of their task—making art—at all times.
Adulthood shrunk my head a few sizes. ...Read MoreRead more
Genres and sub-genres are always tricky things to pin down, and never more so than with works that live at the boundary between two categories. Ashes of the Sun has been called, among other things, “science fantasy”—it’s not the only way to describe it, but it definitely fits. (Aside—as with all genre discussions, your terms and definitions may vary! There are many different lenses with which to examine these categories. ...Read MoreRead more
Writers are in a retelling frenzy, borrowing from what already exists to pay homage or lend perspective, to modernize or fracture or fanfic. I believe it’s an act of love to take a story that’s in danger of disappearing and make it new, provided you have something to add to the mix. But what happens when the inspiration for your current novel is and has only ever been a movie? ...Read MoreRead more
Black women have always contributed significantly to the horror genre, though our roles have been massively downplayed and overlooked by the larger genre fiction community. As a result, Black women have had to carve out a space and make a way out of no way. Our relationship to trauma, our storytelling culture, our willingness to show that everyday life has the potential to be a horror in and of itself ...Read MoreRead more
Note: This piece was written before the murder of George Floyd.
Hello. I’m back. After nineteen years—but who is counting and those years went by really fast—I’m returning to Locus to reach out to the science fiction community from New York City during a crisis. When I was traumatized during 9/11 because I was looking out of my apartment window at the Empire State Building expecting it to be ...Read MoreRead more
Worldbuilding is like a jigsaw puzzle. You start with the edges, the essential outline and framework, and then work in, spiraling and spiraling until you find the last, perfect piece. Without the edge, the outline, you have no direction to go in. You start grasping around, putting together little groups of pieces here or there, hoping to find something that connects, but it all feels rather futile. And makes it ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
Write a trilogy, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
“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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more