Kameron Hurley: Writing is Hard, and That’s OK

On winning the Oscar Award for best original screenplay, Jordan Peele admitted that he started his winning script for the film Get Out at least 20 times. Why 20? Because he just didn’t feel he could get the script to work, no matter how many times he tackled it.

Author N.K. Jemisin relates a similar struggle in the writing of her masterful novel, The Fifth Season. In her acceptance speech ...Read More

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African SFF 2017 by Geoff Ryman

2017 was a year of small watersheds and consolida­tions, rather than break­throughs for African specu­lative fiction.

Roughly 40 short specu­lative fiction stories were published in magazines and anthologies, according to Wole Talabi’s database on the African Speculative Fiction Society website.

In some ways it was a year of sales to international markets. Wole Talabi, Cat Hellesin, and Dare Segun Falowo had important stories published in F&SF. Jordan Ifueko wrote “Os­hun ...Read More

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2017 in Listening by Amy Goldschlager

Here are a few loosely connected thoughts about the previous year in audio, and what we might expect in 2018.

Old Favorites

This past year, new audio productions allowed us to revisit freshly relevant classic works of science fiction. George Guidall, himself a classic voice in audiobook publishing, lent his gravitas to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, which raises issues about the devastation of climate change and ...Read More

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SF Short Fiction, 2017 by Rich Horton

How to view the state of the field now? SF (and fantasy) are in some sort of pop culture ascendance – the rapturous reception of The Last Jedi on the one hand, and Wonder Woman on another hand, and even The Shape of Water (a more ambitious film than the more popular pair I mentioned, and yet also an hommage of sorts to 1950s monster movies) is surely evidence of ...Read More

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2017 Year-in-Review by Gardner Dozois

Last year I mentioned that most of the stories I was seeing were of short-story length, with few long novelettes or no­vellas. Although perhaps most of this year’s stories were still of short-story length, this year saw a dramatic resur­gence of novellas. By one count, there were over 80 novellas published in the SF/fantasy/horror genres in 2017. Most of these were published as standalone chapbooks, and the ambitious new pro­gram ...Read More

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Dark Fiction in 2017 by Ellen Datlow

2017 has been a good year for dark fiction. Here’s a mere taste of the good stuff:

Some novels I enjoyed: Kit Reed’s Mormama is a marvelous southern gothic about a cursed ancestral home with three elderly sisters living within. When a divorced relative and her young son move in and an accident victim with no memory hides out in the basement, the haunts become active, whispering ugly secrets. Alas, ...Read More

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When It Was 2017, It Was a Very Good Year, by Graham Sleight

I’ve been writing these year-end summations for over a decade now, and I find it hard to think of a year when there’s been more really good science fiction and fantasy to record. (Of course, I’ve also read a few duds – omitted below – but then that’s always the case.) I’m not sure why 2017 has seen so many strong books. There aren’t many unifying themes across the works ...Read More

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On the Border by Paul Kincaid

More and more, as I look back each year on what has caught my eye, I find myself drawn to works of genre uncertainty, work that plays with what had been safely familiar tropes, and results in fiction where we cannot convincingly say: that is science fiction, or that is fantasy, or that is mainstream. It is here, it seems to me, here in these borderlands, these debatable lands, that ...Read More

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Discomfort Reading by Tim Pratt

I didn’t read much new SF and fantasy this year. I spent a lot of time being anxious for reasons outside the scope of this essay (cough politics cough), and in times like that, I tend to revisit old beloved books, so I spent some time returning to works by Connie Willis, and Terry Pratchett, and Joe Abercrombie (I know, Lord Grimdark might seem an odd choice for comfort reading, ...Read More

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2017 Year-in-Review by Carolyn Cushman

Usually the bulk of my reading is fantasy, but some noteworthy SF titles snuck in this year. I particularly enjoyed Jim C. Hines’s Terminal Al­liance, a humorous military SF adventure featuring zombie janitors in space – but they’re wonderfully dangerous janitors, and the gradual revelation of the truth about how hu­manity came to this state is a gripping part of this first volume in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. ...Read More

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2017: A Year Inside the Tent by John Langan

I’ve always subscribed to the big-tent view of horror fiction. While I don’t go so far as to say that horror isn’t a genre (it is), the edges of the field can be difficult to map, especially if your view of it is rooted in its concern with (to paraphrase Stephen King) a pervasive sense of disestablish­ment, a feeling that things are in the unmaking. 2017 provided a fine example ...Read More

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2017 Year-in-Review by Adrienne Martini and Tom Whitmore

2017 by Adrienne Martini

Adrienne Martini (2015) by Anita Buzzy

Speaking only as myself (rather than for Locus as an entity), 2017 has been the year when reading anything too full of conflict or featur­ing dark and complicated conspiracies hit far too close to home. When the non-fictional world starts to read like fiction, it’s hard to have much resilience left for the same in a made-up world. Again, I’m ...Read More

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2017: The Year in SF by Russell Letson

[Editor’s note: part of our 2017 year-in-review essay series from the February 2018 issue of Locus]

But Serially –

Perhaps more emphatical­ly than usual, this annual reflection should be labeled My rather than The Year in SF, since the sample is not only smaller than usual but skewed: only four of the 2017 novels I reviewed are free-standing (and two of those might not count as fully such – see ...Read More

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2017 in Review by Liz Bourke

[Editor’s note: part of our 2017 year-in-review essay series from the February 2018 issue of Locus]

How do you sum up a year like 2017? It feels like it was a longer year than usual – and as I write this, it isn’t even over yet.

I don’t like writing about my favourite books, even my favourite books in any given year. At the time of writing, I’ve read 209 ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Let’s Get Better at Demanding Better from Tech

Photo by Paula Mariel Salischiker

At long last, the techlash has arrived, and not a minute too soon. I have been involved in the tech industry since I got my first programming job in 1988. I’ve been a sysadmin, a CIO, a trainer, a software company founder, and an activist. I’ve argued against terrible laws and argued for good ones. I’ve dreamed of the promise of tech and been haunted ...Read More

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2017 and Other Years That We Barely Survived (in Fiction) by Jonathan Strahan

[Editor’s note: part of our 2017 year-in-review essay series from the February 2018 issue of Locus]

The best science fiction of 2017 fell into one of two camps: tales of cli­mate change or stories of colonizing our solar system. Kim Stanley Rob­inson’s magisterial New York 2140, a personal pick for best novel of the year, showed everyone a way forward on how to discuss climate change and our collective future ...Read More

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Saving the World Through Science Fiction, Unless We’re Too Late by Gary K. Wolfe

[Editor’s note: part of our 2017 year-in-review essay series from the February 2018 issue of Locus]

According to Barnes & Noble’s year-end summary, if we set aside J.K. Rowl­ing and Rick Riordan, the bestselling genre-related novel of 2017 was Mar­garet Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, followed a few slots later by Stephen King’s It – novels originally published in 1985 and 1986, respectively. Ama­zon’s list adds Orwell’s 1984 (from way back ...Read More

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SF Crossing the Gulf – Season 2 Update!

Back in October of 2017 we announced that that SF Crossing the Gulf podcast, hosted by Karen Burnham and Karen Lord, had been made available via a dedicated archive page.

At that time, we shared that the archive page featured short descriptions of each episode (and links to the full details at SF Signal) for Season One, and that the rest of the episodes would be following soon. We’re pleased ...Read More

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E.C. Ambrose Guest Post–“History and Fantasy, Made for Each Other”

Sometimes the question is raised—on either side of a perceived divide—as to why an author would combine history with fantasy rather than stick to one or the other. Well-crafted history and fantasy both have the effect of transporting the reader. Employing them in the same work can illuminate questions about history and historical perspectives, using the tools and possibilities of magic to explore the potential of humanity, then and now. ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: What I’ve Learned About Being a Writer

You will fail more than you succeed. You will remember the failures more often than the successes.

The people who believe in you now will believe in you always. Get rid of everyone else.

Readers will love your work. They will think this means they love you. They will be wrong, but do not correct them. You will no longer be yourself when you’re among readers, but an amalgamation of ...Read More

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David Mack Guest Post–“Beautiful Lies: Facts vs. Story in Secret History Fiction”

What is more important in historical fiction: factual accuracy or dramatic effectiveness? As with almost all questions pertaining to the art and business of publishing, the most truthful answer is “it depends.”

For starters, the expectation of factual accuracy is often higher for “serious” literary historical fiction than it is for its speculative cousins, alternative (or “alt”) history and “secret” history. For those who aren’t familiar with those two subgenres, ...Read More

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SF in Ukraine by Michael Burianyk

Photo by Andrew Bossi under Creative Commons License

Ukrainian SF, fantasy, and horror is little known in the English-speaking world, leaving not much of a shadow in publish­ing or on the internet, but there is a long, solid, and growing tradition in what is usually called “Fantastyka.”

Ukraine has long been a bilingual – Ukrainian and Russian – country. Ukraine was an important part of the Russian Empire and even ...Read More

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Alex Marshall and Nicholas Eames In Conversation

Fantasy authors Nicholas Eames and Jesse Bullington (a.k.a. Alex Marshall) join us to talk about the musical inspiration behind their latest books.

NICK: Kings of the Wyld was inspired largely by ’70s rock, though a few gems from other eras snuck in there as well (here’s looking at you, Final Fantasy 7 soundtrack). The artists I found particularly inspiring included classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Persuasion, Adaptation, and the Arms Race for Your Attention

Photo by Paula Mariel Salischiker

As we all know, time travelers have to be very careful when they visit the past, because their evolved immune systems allow them to harbor pathogens that the olde timey people are defenseless against. One careless bowel movement, a single badly timed cough, a bit of blood spilled, and whole civilizations are in pandemic peril.

Surviving to the future means adapting to the risks of ...Read More

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Sarah Gailey Guest Post–“Gods and Beggars”

How might a God test the worthiness of their people?

Religious traditions the world over are fascinated by this question. How will we prove to our Gods that we are following their rules, that we are just and virtuous, that we are deserving of reward?

A worthy answer to this question lies in an oft-repeated fable: the god disguises themself as a beggar, sits at the roadside, and waits to ...Read More

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Andrea Phillips Guest Post–“The Broken World of ReMade”

Science fiction has always looked to the future, and famously even helped to change imagination into reality. Earbuds, hovercraft, even the Internet itself were all fiction, until one day they weren’t. But it’s a tall order for a writer to keep up with the future these days; the pace at which technology advances has become breathtakingly fast. You can write a novel incorporating only technologies and social practices that exist ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: Fear, Procrastination, and the Thorny Problem of Demanding What You’re Worth

Fear often masks itself as procrastination.

I’ve been thinking about that statement more as I turn on my computer every morning and stare at my list of tasks for the day, the week, the month, the year. On top of my writing career, I have a full-time job in advertising, and that’s gotten tougher to balance year-over-year. Our time is finite. Jobs eat a lot of it. Once, I would ...Read More

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Vivien Jackson Guest Post–“Cybernetic Humans”

My brother is one of those guys who has a joke for every situation, so when he texted me an x-ray of a human shoulder that wasn’t fully connected, I texted back a question mark and a couple of confused emojis. Looking for the punchline, right? He replied with, “Oops,” followed by the observation that it is difficult to perform basic hygiene tasks, or really to do anything, after you’ve ...Read More

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Jason Shiga Guest Post–“The Science of Demon”

The final volume of Demon comes out this week and it represents the culmination of a seven year long journey that took me from self-printed minicomics to a daily webcomic to a published 4 volume series from First Second. The series has become infamous for its deranged and nihilistic sense of humor. But for me, the simple idea at the core of the book was a story of a man ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: How to Do Everything (Lifehacking Considered Harmful)

Photo by Paula Mariel Salischiker

I was there when “lifehacking” was born. It was the 11th of February, 2004, at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, held in a giant conference hotel in San Diego. I was on the committee for ETech (as we called it) and I had lobbied hard for the inclusion of a talk called “Life Hacks: Tech Secrets of Overprolific Alpha Geeks” by Danny O’Brien, a technology ...Read More

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SF Crossing the Gulf Is Back!

Announcing the new archive page for SF Crossing the Gulf podcast.

The podcast, hosted by Karen Burnham and Karen Lord, debuted in 2012 and ran for 18 episodes over the course of two seasons, originally hosted by SF Signal (the text descriptions are still available there, but no audio). Episodes include fascinating discussions of notable contemporary hard science fiction, classic writers such as Cordwainer Smith and Olaf Stapledon, weird stories, ...Read More

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