Commentary by Cory Doctorow: The Swerve

If the bullies at the school gate steal your kid’s lunch money every day, it doesn’t matter how much lunch money you give your kid, he’s not gonna get lunch. But how much lunch money you give your kid does matter – to the bullies. Hell, they might even start a campaign: “The chil­dren of Jack Valenti Elementary School are going hungry! Congress must step in to give those kids ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Moneylike

“Five thousand quatloos that the newcomers will have to be destroyed.”

Quatloos. Credits. Euros. Dollars. Dogecoin.

Wait, Dogecoin?

At some point in your life, you’ve probably asked yourself, “What is money?” There’s something existential about pulling a bank-note out of your wallet and asking yourself, “Why does so much of my wak­ing life revolve around getting more of these slips of green paper?” (Outside of the USA, you may ask ...Read More

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Nia Davenport Guest Post–“Finding Belonging and Home When You’re a Minority In a Country That Doesn’t Love You”

Arguably, all science fiction/fantasy works serve as a mirror to reality in some fashion. The Blood Trials is no different. When I wrote the novel, I sat down with the explicit intention of creating a world that perpetuated the worst aspects of Anti-Blackness, so that I could have a conversation on-page about the most pervasive and insidious bigotries that run deep in American society. It’s a conversation that I invite ...Read More

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Veronica G. Henry Guest Post–“Getting In Where I Fit In”

Thoughts on writing genre-bending novels and the potential to be shunned by both communities

Expectations. Readers, publishers, the entire literary canon–everyone’s got expectations. What in their minds are tried and true conclusions drawn from decades of statistics and industry experience. Data that categorizes works of fiction according to things like age group, target audiences, and genre.

There are as many definitions of genre floating around as there are opinions about ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Six Weeks Is A Long Time

Greetings from the past.

I write these words six weeks before you will read them. I used to do this all the time, back in the glory days of print. Hell, I spent most of the ’90s writing a monthly guide to interesting websites, which came out two months after I submitted it.

I’ve been writing six columns per year for Locus for fourteen years and I have not missed ...Read More

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A Note from Kyiv

Since February 24, 2022, Ukraine has been under invasion by Russian regular forces. The Russians have destroyed houses, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure facilities, and they are targeting and killing civilians. But I say they will not be able to win – because Ukrai­nians are resisting and will continue to resist as long as they can. This is the 21st century – an­other century, another Nazism. We are calling it ‘‘Russaism’’ ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Vertically Challenged

Science fiction has a longstanding love-hate relationship with the tech tycoon. The literature is full of billionaire inventors, sometimes painted as system-bucking heroes, at other times as megalomanical supervillains.

From time to time, we even manage to portray one of these people in a way that hews most closely to reality: ordinary mediocrities, no better than you or I, whose success comes down to a combination of luck and a ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Last year in this space I mentioned the field’s ongoing engagement with older genre history, and while there are some titles of a similar ilk in this year’s crop, there are also, it seems to me, more studies of recent fiction and contemporary trends, as well as forward-looking surveys on a diversity of aesthetic spaces. Perhaps, given the current state of world affairs, this heightened attention on futurity is less ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Graham Sleight

As Locus’s statistics keep revealing, there’s so much SF and fantasy being pub­lished these days that any one person can’t keep track of everything. What I hap­pen to have read in a given year is an emergent property of many things: whether I’ve enjoyed the author’s previous work, whether I’ve had a book recommended to me or seen it reviewed positively, what I happened to notice on a bookshop shelf ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Tim Pratt

I spent 2019 and 2020 serving on award juries, and as a result I read nothing but new SF, fantasy, and horror (in staggering quantities). This year, I eschewed all such responsibilities, and as a result my reading was more scattered, and included older books and lots of work outside the genres we’re covering here. I feel less informed about the field as a whole than I did in my ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Karen Burnham

2021 was a tumultuous year for me personally, but I’m ending it in a much better place than I began (psychologically speaking). I fervently wish the same for all of you, and I think we all hope that 2022 might, some­how, be less tumultuous than the last few years. Through it all I’m always amazed and impressed by the writers who keep writing and the editors who keep editing, through ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Ian Mond

2021 saw my reading fall off a steep cliff. To be fair, it never really recovered from last year’s lockdowns. Even as Melbourne (my city) returned to a resemblance of normality late in 2020, I felt little urge to read, feelings only exacerbated when we entered our fifth and sixth lockdown (thank you, Delta) in 2021. (Fun fact: Melbourne broke the record, held by Buenos Aires, as the city that ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Colleen Mondor

Of the three dozen books I reviewed for Locus last year, there were a few that particularly stood out. Because last year was, well, such a year, I’m afraid some of them might have been overlooked, and taking advantage of my chance here to shine the spotlight a little brighter on those I think might have been missed.

Femi Fadugba’s The Upper World introduces Esso, who is having the worst ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Gabino Iglesias

Well, the world didn’t stop burning and COVID refused to go away, but 2021 was slightly better than 2020, and it was a superb year for speculative fiction. It was also a year in which I found great balance while reading outstanding work from Big Four publishers, independent presses, and self-published authors. This matters because it speaks volumes about the quality of work out there and the fantastic way in ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Arley Sorg

“As rough as the year has been for the country, it’s been a great time for reading.” As I write this, a New Year is around the corner, bringing with it the hope of better times. And yet, this opening line from last year’s “Year In Review” piece still holds true: it’s been another rough year, but the reading has been awesome!

My 2021 reading choices were anthology-heavy, mostly because ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Rich Horton

This issue of Locus is the 20th anniversary of my first column on short fiction for the magazine. It also contains my last such column. (Not to worry (or perhaps to worry?) I’ll still be contributing occasional work to Locus.) That issue also contained my first “end of the year summary” essay, so this is my 21st. While I expect I’ll continue writing these in coming years, it seems worthwhile ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Alex Brown

For me, 2021 was a year of increasing challenges. Just when it seemed like things might be looking up, something awful would jump out of the shadows and bring it all back down again. Fiction, especially of the romance and speculative genres, helped me keep my head above water even during the worst of it.

Let’s start off with my favorite adult spec fic books. C.L. Polk closed out their ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Paula Guran

First, I must confess that a major change in my personal life – working full time in a business not connected to publishing – cut into my reading (and reviewing and editing) in 2021. Luckily, most of what I did get to read was outstanding.

Like most folks, I loved Arkady Martine’s first Teixcalaanli novel, A Memory Called Empire (Tor), an imaginative blend of space opera, murder mystery, and interstellar ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Russell Letson

Here we are, two years into a pandemic, with half of the nation arguing with the other half like grumpy uncles at a holiday dinner, and the planet deciding whether it’s time to raise those sea levels a meter or ten or just blow us all away in megastorms, and I’m sitting at home, reading. And not books about stopping climate change or improving our civic character, but space operas. ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Adrienne Martini

As is usual with these end-of-the-year columns, I’m not sure what the best approach would be, partic­ularly given that my 2021 standouts are mostly con­tinuations or conclusions of long-running series. Maybe, first, then, Antho­ny Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land, the one book that stands alone.

Doerr is a known entity in literary fiction circles. His All the Light We Cannot See ran the table of celebrity book clubs and award ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Gary K. Wolfe

It doesn’t seem to ever go away. It spreads, mutates, develops new strains, infects every age group, and sometimes seems immune to immunization. Its symptoms may range from the severe to the indifferent. Even if you think you’re safe from it, you might occasionally need a booster shot. By now, it’s become an accepted part of the fabric of modern life.

I’m talking about SFF, of course. Or whatever you ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Science Fiction is a Luddite Literature

From 1811-1816, a secret society styling themselves “the Luddites” smashed textile machinery in the mills of England. Today, we use “Luddite” as a pejorative referring to backwards, anti-technology reactionaries.

This proves that history really is written by the winners.

In truth, the Luddites’ cause wasn’t the destruction of technology – no more than the Boston Tea Party’s cause was the elimination of tea, or Al Qaeda’s cause was the end ...Read More

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Fonda Lee Guest Post–“We Can’t All Be Optimus Prime: Portraying Organizational Leadership in Fiction”

Who’s the best fictional leader?  

Optimus Prime? Jean-Luc Picard? Captain America?  

I’m willing to wager that all three of those iconic characters would be among the most popular contenders if the question were asked in a general poll, and for understandable reasons. When I was ten years old, sitting in front of a television set on a Saturday morning, Peter Cullen’s voice as Optimus Prime ordering, “Autobots, roll out!” made ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: The Unimaginable

Margaret Thatcher was the least science-fictional world leader in modern history.

Her motto was “There is no alternative,” a phrase she repeated so often it became an acronym: “TINA.”

She was referring to capitalism, asserting that there is no conceivable alternative. It was a cheap but remarkably effective rhetorical device, treat­ing a demand as an observation. The true meaning of TINA isn’t “No alternative is possible,” but rather, “Stop trying ...Read More

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Jennifer Marie Brissett Guest Post–“Time As A Technology”

My novels have been characterized as being “Afrofuturistic,” but to be honest I never thought of the subgenre while writing them. When I write I generally don’t think of any subgenre before I sit down to create the work. My thinking when writing is usually concentrated more on story and narrative construction, not on the genre. Mostly all that is happening is that I have a story to tell, I ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Breaking In

When I was a baby writer, I obsessively collected career advice from established writers, reading books and essays and attending panels on ‘‘How I broke in’’ featuring established pros. It’s a testament to the irrational, burning desire to publish that I continued to do this long after it became apparent that there was nothing of contemporary applicability in these discussions.

I mean, it was entertaining to hear a writer describe ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: When Should You Compromise? How to Evaluate Editorial Feedback

Here’s some feedback I’ve received from editors, agents, and mar­keting managers in response to my work over the years:

“This is just a jumble of words.”

“I think this suffers from a failure of the imagination.”

“This is sorta too emotional.”

“Try again.”

One of the most difficult skills a writer must learn – whether writing novels, screenplays, marketing copy, or news articles – is how to receive, process, and ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability

I care about monopolies for exactly one reason: self-determination. I don’t care about competition as an end unto itself, or fetishize “choice” for its own sake. What I care about is your ability to live your life in the way you think will suit you, to the greatest extent possible, and taking into account the obvious limits when other people’s needs and wants conflict with you realizing your own desires. ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: Endings (And Beginnings)

Like most authors, I have more experience writing beginnings than I do endings, but perhaps not in the way one would expect. Some of this is an artifact of the linear way we have evolved to see time. It’s how many of us were taught to approach narrative. For many years I began every story with a scene, an inciting incident, a mood, a situation, and wrote until I figured ...Read More

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Seasonal Bias in Speculative Fiction Awards Nominations by Douglas F. Dluzen & Christopher Mark Rose

It’s a little dangerous, after selling a story to a professional science fiction or fantasy publi­cation, to start calculating the odds of pulling in an award nomination. The draw is inexorable though – the Nebula Awards, the Hugos, World Fantasy, Locus. It’s the stuff of legends. Through the years, now-familiar SF/F names have stood to accept these awards, held them up to the light and heard that applause. It’s accomplish­ment, ...Read More

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