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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Kameron Hurley: The Future Is Intrinsically Hopeful

I recently finished the first draft of a long-overdue fantasy novel called The Broken Heavens, last in a trilogy. Instead of celebrating, however, I found myself filled with post-post weariness. Endings are bittersweet, and this one was especially so. While I began writing this series in earnest about ten years ago, the kernel of its idea – a world where the invaders were alternate versions of the protagonists – ...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 mewhat opened my mind to the imaginative possibilities of time travel ...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....Read More

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Horror Round-Up 2018 by Ellen Datlow

As usual, I mostly read short horror fiction, but among the novels I read I found several good ones to recom­mend: Unbury Carol by Josh Maler­man (Del Rey) is a weird, deeply dark western about the eponymous woman, who has suffered from a condition since childhood – she periodically falls into a deep coma-like state during which she appears dead. Only a few people know, and one – her husband ...Read More

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Firsts and Lasts by Graham Sleight

As ever, the exercise of trying to infer grand themes from a year’s books (or, more exactly, a year’s read­ing) is a bit of a lottery. If nothing else, writing and publishing lead-times mean that very few books were a direct verdict on the year in which they were published. But I’d note two themes that struck me. Firstly, it felt like a year when there were more than the ...Read More

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African SFF 2018 by Geoff Ryman

Calendar year 2018 was dominated by the over­whelming success of the movie Black Panther, which drew a whole new audience to cinemas in cit­ies like Nairobi and Lagos. It inspired a sugar-rush of love, a hastily retitled Nol­lywood rip off, and a small mini-backlash from those who rewrote Wakanda’s history to make it more credibly African. Elsewhere in film, the Nigerian short Hello Rain, adapted by CJ Obasi ...Read More

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2018 in Listening by Amy Goldschlager

Howdy, listeners! It’s been another year when audio­books seem ever more robust as a medium, plus another year of the inter­minable online argument about whether listening to the audiobook has equal weight with reading the book (hint: yes, yes it does).

But, as is my wont at this time of year, I’m using this space to discuss the listening time I spent being unfaithful to audiobooks, and talk about the ...Read More

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Half a Year Online by Karen Burnham

At the beginning of 2018 I had no idea that I would end up reading so much short fiction from so many different venues that I would need a spreadsheet to keep track of it. Since I started reviewing online short fiction for Locus in the August issue (after the sad passing of Gardner Dozois – I very much wish I could read his 2018 year-end column this year) I’ve ...Read More

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Year in Review: 2018 by Paula Guran

These days I don’t read much horror other than short fiction. It’s not what I turn to for pleasure-reading fiction. So my “year-in-review” article does not specifically discuss the dark side. Maybe not surprisingly, though, many of my favorite reads have more than a thin stream of the tenebrous trickling through them. Outside of personal inclination, this may be an indication of what seems to be becoming more of a ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Terra Nullius

In 1660, John Locke published his Two Treatises of Government, where he set out to resolve the seeming conflict between individual property rights (which he valorized) and the Bible (ditto), which set out the principle that God had created the Earth and its bounty for all of humanity. How could a Christian claim to own something personally when God had intended for everyone to share in His creation?

Locke’s ...Read More

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2018 Year-in-Review by Carolyn Cushman

There wasn’t much that really blew me away in 2018, but some entertain­ing titles turned up. At the top of my SF read­ing this year are Martha Wells’s Artificial Condi­tion, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy, the last three novellas in the Murderbot Diaries quartet featuring the deadly yet oddly endearing android Murderbot, a corporate-owned security guard that apparently once went berserk and killed humans (hence its chosen ...Read More

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Memories of 2018 by Rich Horton

Sadly, what sticks most with me about 2018 is how many greats we lost. Two SFWA Grand Masters, and two more who very plausi­bly could have been named Grand Masters.

On January 22, the in­comparable Ursula K. Le Guin died. She was perhaps the best writer in our field, and was plausibly men­tioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. On March 8, we lost Kate Wilhelm, who ...Read More

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Competing Against Trump by Ian Mond

Nothing in 2018 can possibly compare to the breadth of imagination, range of tone, and unconventional spelling present in Donald Trump’s tweets. His early morning tantrums proved to be the most riveting, most extraordinary, most majestic fiction I read this year. It says something about authors around the world that when faced with Trump’s prodigious talent they never dropped their heads; they continued to write and publish the most astonishing ...Read More

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2018: A Year on Edge by Paul Kincaid

It’s been a hard year. The rule of ignorance and self­ishness in Trump’s Amer­ica; the wilful destruction of economic probity at the behest of perceived (and probably illusory) political necessity in Brexit Britain; the continued rise of the far right in Hungary, Poland, It­aly, France, and elsewhere. All of this is, at some point, going to feed through into a wave of fictions built around the ongoing sense of fear ...Read More

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Year in Review by Katharine Coldiron

By the time the clock hits 11:59 on December 31, my list of books read for 2018 will tally about 150. Because I review a wide variety of books, a small minority of those books will have been SF/F (only about a dozen, in fact). I like reading and reviewing genre books, and I especially like doing so for Locus, but it’s just a sliver of what I do ...Read More

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2018: The Triumph of “Only Different” by Russell Letson

It’s the most summarizing time of the year, and I’ve been at it long enough that I’m tempted to just summarize my old summaries, looking for meta-trends or shapes in the clouds (very like a camel, indeed) that impose order on the squirming facts of a field that is neither singular nor unified but (to plagiarize myself from a quarter-century ago) “a set of fields with readerships that only occasionally ...Read More

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2018 in Review: Translations, Continuations, and Deviations, by Lila Garrott

2018 has been a good year for the offbeat in speculative fiction. In fact, one of my top books of the year was released as a mainstream literary novel, even though the speculative element is central and necessary: Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation has to contain imaginary pharmacology in order for the protagonist to black out for the lengths of time she considers desirable, without having real-life ...Read More

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2018: Comfort Reading in an Uncomfortable Year, by Tim Pratt

My reading was weird and scattered this year even by my usual weird-and-scattered standards, and the Goodreads shelf I’ve labeled “comfort re-reads” has a lot more entries than usual, as I retreated from the various unpleasant aspects of this year’s reality into old, be­loved fictional worlds. I wasn’t sure I’d read enough new SF, fantasy, and horror to even justify a year-end round-up this time, but going over my list ...Read More

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2018 in Review by Liz Bourke

Looking back on 2018, the year feels rather longer than mere chronological time can account for. I don’t imagine I can remember all the books I’ve read this year – a year in which I became engaged, hunted for a house, moved house, and most recently, acquired a pair of very boisterous bouncy kittens: the mere quotidian logistics of living have absorbed rather more of my energy and memory than ...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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SF Crossing the Gulf—in Conversation with Ted Chiang

Episode 23: In conversation with Ted Chiang: “The Great Silence”
Most people may know about Ted from “Story of Your Life” which was filmed as Arrival, but his reputation with readers and writers as a top tier craftsman of the short form was well established before then. We had the pleasure of asking Ted some questions about a short (very short!) piece of his from 2015, part of an
...Read More
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These are the days of miracle and wonder, don’t cry baby, don’t cry; or (mostly) short fiction that I read in 2018, by Jonathan Strahan

The way we read fiction is changing. We’ve been told this repeatedly. Where once we had a single medium – ink on paper – to deliver new stories to us and only a few ways – face-to-face discussion, mail, reviews etc. – to discuss them, now we have many. Print is not dead; digital is not king. Instead, we read the way we like and when we like: in printed ...Read More

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2018 Year-in-Review by Adrienne Martini

These end-of-the-year lists always make me uncom­fortable, if only because I know I haven’t read even a plurality of titles published in any given 365 days. Not only that, I haven’t yet read a bunch that have been highly praised, like Blackfish City, Revenant Gun, and Unholy Land. Having said that, what I do feel comfortable with is flagging a few titles that I’m mildly infatuated with, ...Read More

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A Year of Looking Backward by Gary K. Wolfe

I’m not sure this is prog­ress: 2018 began with The Handmaid’s Tale, Nine­teen Eighty-Four, and Fahrenheit 451 back on the bestseller lists, and a fair number of folks re­marking on how prescient Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower suddenly seemed.

Toward the end of the year, just before Thanksgiv­ing, Vintage decided to re-release, for the first time in decades, Fletcher Knebel’s Night of Camp David, the 1965 ...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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Kameron Hurley: Are You Overthinking It?

I write messy, incoherent first drafts. It sucks. But most of the time I’m okay with it. It’s my process, and it’s why revision exists.

Drafts aren’t what readers see. After getting that first blush of the book on paper, I spend each subsequent iteration fleshing out worldbuilding details and refining dialogue and fixing structure. Few people want to read about a bunch of characters expositing about the plot over ...Read More

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