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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 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
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 MoreRead more
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, that happened to ...Read MoreRead more
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 political SF thriller ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
Rounding off our triad of podcasts about the end of the world as we know it, we are honoured to welcome Kij Johnson to discuss her apocalypse-themed fantasy story (with strong hints of science fiction!) “The Privilege of the Happy Ending”. The research, the worldbuilding, and the structural and narrative choices that went into this story make ...Read More
Even better than reading an excellent story is discussing with the author how and why they wrote it! We are so pleased to have Daryl Gregory with us to discuss the nuances, secrets and personal touches in his apocalypse-themed science fiction story “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth”. (But first listen to episode 22 of the podcast ...Read More
The Silicon Valley gospel of “disruption” has descended into caricature, but, at its core, there are some sound tactics buried beneath the self-serving bullshit. A lot of our systems and institutions are corrupt, bloated, and infested with cream-skimming rentiers who add nothing and take so much.
Take taxis: there is nothing good about the idea that cab drivers and cab passengers meet each other by random chance, with the drivers ...Read MoreRead more
I’ve never worried about the future over some Terminator scenario, although I will admit that the Boston Dynamics dog creeps me out. My concerns about the future my son will inhabit are a bit more mundane, mostly on the technological labour market disruptions.
AI and robotics are poised to drastically reduce a number of labour market needs in the next 10-30 years. Everything from car and truck drivers, to airplane ...Read MoreRead more
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