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 MoreRead more
This is the time of year when I’m astounded at how many of my peers have made the event rounds at various conventions and festivals this year and still had time to, you know, write books. And pay bills.
The vast majority of events in my career – and certainly every event early in my career – were and are self-funded. Even when I was invited as a participant to ...Read MoreRead more
The internet operates on a revolutionary principle, underpinned by a revolutionary principle, overlaid by a revolutionary principle. Is it, therefore, revolutionary?
The revolutionary principle the internet runs on is this: the “end-to-end” principle, which states that any person using the internet can communicate with any other person on the internet without getting any third party’s permission. If you want to connect to my webserver, you simply connect to it: you ...Read MoreRead more
Welcome to your authentic Crossing the Gulf experience! In one of our favourite discussions to date, Karen and Karen summarise, assess, dissect and digest the multiple-award-winning short story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse. This richly layered and nuanced story rewards on so many levels. We provide perspectives from our own experiences, alternating roles as insider and outsider.
Reference is made to the film The Thirteenth Floor ...Read MoreRead more
There is a theory that storytelling is how we create our consciousness. This is why we can’t remember being infants. We only pick up the ability to remember events when we’re two or three years old – about the same time we figure out how to construct narrative. Once we can tell stories about the world and ourselves, we become truly conscious.
So if the stories we tell about ourselves ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
Once, the mainstream view was that worrying about tech policy was faintly ridiculous, a kind of masturbatory science fictional exercise in which your hyperactive imagination led you to have vivid delusions about the supposed significance of the rules we laid down for the internet and the computers we connect to it.
Weirdly, worrying about this stuff made you a “techno utopian,” though it’s a strange type of utopian who spends ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
Welcome to the club. I’ve been writing and publishing novels for seven years now. I also have a robust Patreon following where I produce short fiction for members paying a monthly fee, and I am always hustling to re-sell projects, whether that’s short stories or foreign and film rights on novels. I still pick up the occasional freelance project and magazine column, because I still have a student loan and ...Read MoreRead more
When a dearly loved but challenging book becomes a movie, where do you set your expectations? Karen and Karen discuss the alchemy of transmuting text to screen and the choices that must be made if the story is to not merely translate, but flourish. We also talk about how much the book meant to us growing up, and our belief that Ava DuVernay has given us a film that will ...Read MoreRead more
For 20 years, privacy advocates have been sounding the alarm about commercial online surveillance, the way that companies gather deep dossiers on us to help marketers target us with ads. This pitch fell flat: by and large, people were skeptical of the efficacy of targeted advertising; the ads we got were rarely very persuasive, and when they did work, it was usually because the advertisers had figured out what we ...Read MoreRead more
I’m coming off a 16-hour editing day working on a novel called The Light Brigade, which comes out next year. The editing flurry was my fault – the book was three months late. Any later, and it was going to have to push to another publishing season.
Pushing a book out is a pain to everyone involved: the publishing machine is a capitalist enterprise like any other, and a writer ...Read MoreRead more
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 with ...Read MoreRead more
On a recent plane ride home from a major book festival, I ended up chatting with a woman next to me who had also been at the festival. “So, what do you write?” she asked, when she discovered I was an attending author. I reluctantly told her that I write science fiction and fantasy. “Oh, that explains why I didn’t see you on any panels this weekend,” she said. “I ...Read MoreRead more
One of the things I insist to my students is that no writing advice is one-size-fits-all, aside from the general notion is that one should put words down in some form or another. Some people do what we affectionately call “pantsing” after the notion that one is writing by the seat of one’s pants, flying into the wordcloud and seeing what collects on one’s wings along the way. Others outline ...Read MoreRead more
Prior to my career as a writer, I worked for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management in disaster mitigation. My job was to help communities prepare for natural and man-made events, some of them bordering on apocalyptic. I spent most of my time working with communities to prepare for these disasters, but I also spent time in the field observing and documenting the aftermath when disaster struck. Seeing how devastating ...Read MoreRead more
The dominance of ad-supported businesses online created an odd and perverse incentive to “maximize engagement” – to go to enormous lengths to create tools that people used for as long as possible, even when this made the product worse. Think of how Google added a “trending searches” dropdown to the default search-bar on Android, so that any time you went looking for a specific piece of information (the ...Read MoreRead more
A Marvel movie, an afrofuturistic dream, a box office phenomenon… and more? We take a side step from page to screen to comment on the many ways that Black Panther works, and works well. We also hint at future podcasts to compare text to film in other adaptations such as A Wrinkle in Time, Annihilation, and Arrival (2016).
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Note: This podcast and all previous SF Crossing ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
Here are a few loosely connected thoughts about the previous year in audio, and what we might expect in 2018.
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
When I was 11 years old, a friend of mine took me by the hand and led me to a shelf in our elementary school library where there was a book that she said I “absolutely had to read.” That was the day I discovered A Wrinkle in Time and my life, no joke, was changed forever. I’ve read the book dozens of times since then, read it out loud ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more