When states had established religions and all-powerful churches, the clergy could impose many indignities on their parishoners merely by asserting that it was “God’s will.” Our modern secular religion is the worship of markets as self-correcting, self-perfecting systems that merely demand that we all act in our own self-interest to produce an outcome that makes us all better off. Whenever corporations thrive by making us all worse off, we’re told ...Read MoreRead more
The best science fiction I have read this year came in a series of emails from the future.
The Training Commission is a collaboration between authors Ingrid Burrington and Brendan C. Byrne, produced with sponsorship from Mozilla. It’s an epistolary work, a fragmented narrative in the form of electronic correspondence from a character on the run in a near-future USA that is both familiar and incredibly strange. Rich with worldbuilding ...Read MoreRead more
All ideas come from somewhere. For me, a book really starts taking shape when I have three separate ideas that come together. These ideas come from all sorts of places, but at least one of them is almost always from another piece of art. For example, for one of my novels, I found a gorgeous picture on Deviant Art that filled my mind with possibilities, and brought my story in ...Read MoreRead more
It’s taken some time for me to come to terms with the fact that I have developed fairly severe anxiety. When I say this out loud, of course, those in conversation with me often reply, “It’s 2019. Who doesn’t have anxiety?”
Anxiety is showing up sooner in children, too. My mom often points out that in her day, everyone was fearful of nuclear war, and the threat of climate change ...Read MoreRead more
NASA had a plan. A plan that would put people back on the moon by 2028. There we would build a base camp from which we would take the first steps toward landing human beings on Mars. It was a bold plan built on decades of science and experience, and it would have probably taken a few miracles to pull off. NASA, of course, has always been in the business ...Read MoreRead more
Write a trilogy, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
I should start by saying that the Verity Fassbinder series began as a standalone short story. “Brisneyland by Night” was written at Clarion South in 2009 and caught the eye of someone who helpfully suggested it would make an excellent series if I could manage it.
Ignorance is not only bliss but also a kind of protective Teflon coating ...Read MoreRead more
Several times over the 13 years that I’ve been writing this column, I’ve railed against the toxic myth that science fiction is a predictive literature, a way to know the future. Science fiction writers are not fortune tellers, and that’s obvious because no one is a (real) fortune teller, because the future is unknowable, and because the future changes based on what we do.
With that said, there are two ...Read MoreRead more
We live in a hustle culture. Trying to manage a living with a singular regular job is increasingly difficult. To freelancers and other working class folks, this isn’t news. As the middle class shrinks, the working class grows, and so does the working class hustle.
There’s an expectation that we all have side hustles. How are we monetizing our hobbies, our passions? Do you pick up odd jobs? Have you ...Read MoreRead more
What’s a genre, anyway? Some have very firm, rigid rules, and deviation is so easy that it’s easier to say what isn’t part of the genre than what is. The dictionary definition states that genres have socially agreed upon conventions, developed over time (this is why, for example, the goalposts of science fiction and urban fantasy are forever moving).
Well, we know when something isn’t part of a genre. HEA (short for “happily ...Read MoreRead more
Take off your glasses for a sec (you’re a Locus reader, so I’m guessing that you, like me, are currently wearing prescription eyewear) and have a look at the manufacturer’s name on the temples. Specifically, check to see if they were made by Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue, or Versace. If so, ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 me—what opened my mind to the imaginative possibilities of time travel—was HG Wells. ...Read MoreRead more
“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.” — Terry ...Read MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 as ...Read MoreRead more
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