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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
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 MoreRead more
The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. ...Read MoreRead more
Spill Zone is about what we’re left with after our family is destroyed.
It’s about two sisters, Addison and Lexa, who’ve lost their parents and hometown in an event called the Spill. The older sister, Addison, is left with the task of raising and providing for Lexa, which is in some ways like trying to keep a culture alive. Every family is its own world, after all. Only the people ...Read MoreRead more
Mithila is a glorious kingdom ruled by philosopher kings in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Millennia later, say in an alternate universe, it’s a decolonized terrain beset with intolerance and violence, a symbol of a civilization in decline.
Science fiction and fantasy that draws its power from actual science and history—a scientific spirit based on evidence, logic and rationality—could be a fluid and powerful language of protest in the new era ...Read MoreRead more
1905 was a landmark year as far as global pulp culture was concerned, because that was the year that Street & Smith, at the time the purveyor of a number of very successful dime novels, decided to expand its operations into Europe. The countries of Europe had not been without their own versions of dime novels, in some cases for decades, but Street & Smith–which was looking to expand its ...Read MoreRead more
The journeys taken by my most recent novels from idea to completion have been lengthy and complex. Deadfall Hotel (Solaris, 2012) began as a novelette first published in Charlie Grant’s Shadows series in 1986. My southern gothic Blood Kin (Solaris, 2014) started with a few paragraphs written during my senior year in high school in 1968. And now comes UBO (Solaris, February 2017), a dark science fictional exploration of violence, ...Read MoreRead more
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro: What’s your favorite ant or insect movie?
Chuck Wendig: Probably Heston’s The Naked Jungle.
A Z-A: By any chance have you watched Saul Bass’ movie Phase IV (1974)? Or read Barry Malzberg’s novelization?
CW: When I was first writing Invasive, I hadn’t seen it — had only heard about it, like an apocryphal tale. But then Paul Tremblay (author of the astonishing Head Full of Ghosts) said, you ...Read MoreRead more
There is the writing, then there are the publishers, and then there are the consultants to writers and publishers. I refer to the third category as the “Writer Industrial Complex” and they are in the business of selling services that may or may not help books and stories along. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that this industry exists, and it can provide valuable services at critical stages of a ...Read MoreRead more
The most frightening self-inflicted experience of my life was when I developed an unfortunate taste for horror fiction as a teenager living in the middle of nowhere, California. I snuck The Oath, by Frank Peretti, out of my grandparents’ library and read it in the evenings, when I was supposed to be taking care of the horses.
For those who’ve never read the book, it’s about an impossibly powerful monster ...Read MoreRead more
The Santa Lucia mountains hug the California coastline between Monterey and San Luis Obispo and stare out at the dark, cold waters of the Pacific. For centuries, perhaps back to the Chumash legends, lore tells of dark figures materializing upon the edges of these mountains to gaze across the ocean. When the early migrants came to California, these figures were waiting for them. The myth of the Dark Watchers was ...Read MoreRead more
Today is the release day of my new book, Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, so it seems appropriate to say a few words about it in this space.
The word “enwonderment” is not a real word; it’s one that Bob Silverberg made up in the 90s. In one of the conversations in this book, which roams far and wide–travel, art theory and history, music, films, politics, reading habits, ...Read MoreRead more
The odds are against you. Most Kickstarter projects fail, and the publishing category is near the top of that list, with nearly 70 percent of campaigns not reaching their funding goals. Unsurprisingly first-time novelists have it the toughest. There are a ton of articles detailing why it’s a terrible idea for newbies to launch a Kickstarter. Had I read any of them before I launched my campaign, I may have ...Read MoreRead more
Full disclosure: My story “wysiomg” appears in the forthcoming anthology Cyber World co-edited by Josh, but that wasn’t the motivation for this post, which covers the sort of material I would normally wish to bring to the attention of Locus readers.–Alvaro
One particular night a couple of decades ago officially branded me a cyber punk.
I was about ten years old and hosting a sleepover in my family’s single-wide ...Read MoreRead more
In 1864, a hundred years after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the American scholar George Perkins Marsh wrote about the impact of a society rapidly cutting down its forests, destroying its topsoil, and polluting its water. Marsh thundered, “The ravages committed by man subvert the relations and destroy the balance which nature has established, and she avenges herself upon the intruder by letting loose her destructive energies.” He predicted ...Read MoreRead more
I started going about building the science fiction future for my Terra Ignota series, not by trying to predict things that will happen, but by looking for things that have already been changing in the last two centuries, and will with certainty be different in some way in the future. This is a different way of thinking about plausibility, one that comes naturally to me because I’m trained as a ...Read MoreRead more
Most of the time, authors are used to flying solo. Well before we start thinking about submitting work for publication, we’re scribbling in journals, writing poems mostly for ourselves, coming up with characters and places and plots for short stories and novels which we think are cool—us, not some mythical other reader who floats in the aether, ever out of reach. As we mature as writers we become more aware ...Read MoreRead more
We received more appreciations for the late David Hartwell than we had room to run in our March issue, but would still like to share them with our readers. The following memorials from his friends, admirers, and colleagues are just a small part of the outpouring of appreciations for his life. Further appreciations are welcome in the comments.–Locus
I generally do not write memoriams. My first and ...Read MoreRead more
I suppose I wear my influences on my sleeve — most of them anyway. My most recent novel, the dipsomaniac zombie story The Last Weekend, is a tribute to some of them. Mike Berry at the San Francisco Chronicle nailed it: “it is the shades of Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, John Fante and other hard-drinking scribblers who haunt the pages.” One boozy author most everyone has missed so far is ...Read MoreRead more
There’s a passage in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost that gave me pause when I first read it:
“For I must tell thee, it will please his grace, by the world, sometime to lean upon my poor shoulder, and with his royal finger, thus, dally with my excrement…”
Thank goodness for the glossary, which defined “excrement” as meaning “that which grows out (such as hair, nails, feathers).”
I bring this up ...Read MoreRead more
I started writing Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard late in 1989. I’d been writing short stories for a while, but hadn’t sold any. I’d recently completed my doctorate in cognitive psychology and was teaching at a small, liberal arts college in Sarasota, Florida, and to this day, more than twenty-five years later, I really can’t say what made me decide to write a novel. But I did.
And it was horrible. ...Read MoreRead more
One thing about fantastical fiction that I like is it’s a universal condition — you find examples from all over the world of writers expressing themselves through the fantastical because sometimes there’s no other way to get across a unique idea or perspective. Everywhere, too, this impulse or way of thinking about the world is different — sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in vastly different ways. So in addition to ...Read MoreRead more
I know Thomas Weatherby and Shaila Jain better than anyone else in the world. I know how they think, what they believe, what scares them and what drives them. I know the worlds they move through better than they do, every shadowy nook and every bit of history.
I know this because I created them, and their world.
Weatherby and Jain are the protagonists of the Daedalus trilogy, my debut ...Read MoreRead more
Ten years ago I began writing a quest fantasy and went on a journey at the same time. Outwardly it was a physical journey, with real signposts: from fluorescent-lit offices in the Empire State Building to a sunlit apartment in Jerusalem, to a wedding, another apartment, and onward. Like many journeys in fiction, ultimately it came full circle, back to the city where it began. As with a fictional character, ...Read MoreRead more
Note: Special thanks to Steve Redwood for his assistance with the translation of this piece.
Between 1985 and 1994 I wrote, more or less, a novel a year. All of them, except Cat’s Whirld and Jormungand, have been lost. Although not completely; somewhere there are typed copies of a few of them, or parts of them; and many of the themes, situations, and incidents of the majority of those novels ...Read MoreRead more
A friend once told me she couldn’t get interested in a book unless it was about people just like herself. She meant 21st-century African American women, but the demographics were not the point. Her comment made me realize I am exactly the opposite: I read books to become something I am not. To capture my attention, a book has to take me to a time or a place or a ...Read MoreRead more