Tag Archives: Science

Freedom Club Showcased on AISFP

Shaun Farrell, who runs the Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast, interviewed my editor David Bischoff last week.  The whole thing went very well, and David did an excellent job talking about his long career both as a writer and editor of SF, and his recent foray into indie publishing. As you may know, David started Hotspur Publishing, an independent company to publish his backlog that has accumulated over the years, along with new titles like Freedom Club, written by me.

I’m especially pleased that my book was mentioned as well during the podcast. It was really nice of Shaun to help promote the book, and I would urge everyone to listen to episode 154 of Adventures in SciFi Publishing and even comment on the the podcast web page if you can.

AISFP Rocks!

Advertisements

Show, don’t tell? Proof that you can break the rules!

When learning to write fiction, a dilemma soon encountered is: the rules. As in, one must follow them. What are they you ask? They’re more like guidelines, but everyone seems to espouse their importance, often with a bit of finger wagging for added effect. Don’t overuse adverbs, avoid sayisms, don’t change the point of view within scenes, and so on and so forth.

As much as I believe such guidelines are beneficial, I think it’s also very important to highlight the fact that one can break the rules at times. In fact, I believe one takes the craft to a higher level when one can: a) understand when doing so is in good taste. And b) one is familiar with examples of similar transgressions by other authors.

Given the above, I would like to mention the dreaded, “show, don’t tell”, rule. At its core, this rule emphasizes the practice of avoiding narrative exposition.  The idea being that a writer is well served to tell his story via action and or rich dramatic dialog. True, this technique is a good rule of thumb. However, one should not feel this is always the case. A very credible writer who emphatically proves this point is China Mieville.

The fantastic thing about China is his incredible power of poetic exposition, which not only breaks the “show, don’t tell” rule, but utterly obliterates it out of existence. If you don’t believe me, then pick up any of his books. I’m currently reading THE SCAR, which is full of good examples.

But please, read carefully. I suggest getting up on a chair and reading his prose out loud to an imaginary audience. His expositions, you see, are truly works of art, and deserve to be heard in the proper accents, rhythms, and registers.

Of course China breaks more than just one rule, but for the purpose of this blog post, “show, don’t tell” will do nicely.

Retrocausality – Is it real?

Even though central to my book’s theme in some respects, I only recently familiarized myself with Retrocausality. An interesting concept which boils down to this: effect before cause.

So is it real? I believe it’s more interesting as a philosophical topic. Certainly, we at times imagine our actions are based on the influence or desires of others in the future. No? Then just imagine someone who bucks society, and then defiantly slams a fist on the table. “I’m right god-damn-it ! You’ll see, time will tell!”

So…, taking actions now in the name of future morality (the cause) is employed. It’s not so strange  for the human animal. Even if it’s wrong, it certainly is poetic. Isn’t that enough to give pause to this absurd notion?

Anyway, I suppose time will tell if it’s right or wrong. Time will tell.

Deathworld – by Harry Harrison

 Beyond all the: shooting, car chases, rocket escapes, and vicious alien creature attacks; this book offered more than just a thrill ride. It’s a story about the environment, and reminds the reader that making mistakes with mother nature can have negative repercussions. Namely, she’ll eat you alive.

Now in addition to its philosophical points, this book will be a great learning tool for budding writers because it employs an interesting narrative technique. The entire book starting from page one is written from only the protagonist’s (Jason dinAlt ) point of view. It never changes, and is so skillfully done I actually thought it was first person at times. But Harrison keeps the narration in Limited 3rd, and seamlessly keeps the reader absorbed the whole time without effort. I think few books pull this off better.

The plot also maintains high level drama and mystery the whole way through. So much so, it’s a wonder this book (and its two sequels) were never made into movies: it’s a CGI guy’s fantasy come true. So for now, you’re going to have to just read it and use your imagination.

Don’t worry though. Even without CGI, it’s worth it.

Harlan Ellison – Dangerous Visions

Harlan Ellison was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame last month. At the age of 77, I have no idea why they waited so long. However it’s great news nonetheless.

Ellison wrote so many novels and short stories since the ’50, it’s very difficult to single one out. However, I would like to highlight one book of his which I think (at least in my mind) is quite significant: Dangerous Visions, edited by Ellison and published back in 1967.

Why was it so important. It was a ground-breaking anthology that made manifest the New Wave revolution in Science Fiction. Smashing head on with the expectations of SF publishing, and setting new horizons for what Science Fiction (as a genre) was capable of.

And the list of authors is breathtaking: Robert Silverberg; Frederik Pohl; Philip José Farmer; Robert Bloch; Brian W. Aldiss; Philip K. Dick; Larry Niven; Poul Anderson;  J. G. Ballard;  John Brunner; Keith Laumer;  Norman Spinrad; and so on, and so on. I don’t think there’s anyone in this anthology who isn’t famous.

It’s books like this which take Science Fiction to new literary heights , and I venture to say we have yet to see a similar work of its kind. Perhaps, we never will.

The Libertarian SF Subgenre?

Is this a hot topic or what? I came across this topic recently. After which, I searched on Wikipedia and found a page that claims that Libertarian Science Fiction is a legitimate subgenre of Science Fiction.

How interesting.

I recall starting discussion on LinkedIn sometime back asking how many sub-genres exist in SF. A small war broke out with lots of opinions in every direction. Of course there is no official gatekeeper, but throughout the discussion I never saw any mention of Libertarian Science Fiction.

The Wiki article mentioned  Robert A. Heinlein‘s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress  as a good example in support. Clearly, there are elements of truth to this assessment. However, I would want to see a very long list of books  (with their author’s approval ) that demonstrate this sub-genre is really out there. Otherwise, I would just chalk up SF as a genre that leans towards this philosophy because… well, it’s interesting.

Comments are welcome. But please! Let’s not have any war over this, it’s not worth it.

The Second Trip – New Wave from Bob Silverberg

Does anyone remember this novel?  The Second Trip was written by Robert Silverberg and first serialized in Amazing Science Fiction. It was later released in novel form  in 1972 . It’s quite enjoyable to read a book like this. With a story set in the year 2011, seeing how the author envisioned our “present day” is a blast.

The book’s theme revolved around capital punishment, which was deemed too harsh. Instead, violent criminals are subjected to coercive therapy that effectively erases their personalities, which are replaced with artificially constructed memories to form a person deemed useful to society.

The novel includes graphic scenes of copulation and sexual assault, and long stretches of the narrative between the pro and antagonist which must share the same body. In my opinion, this placed The Second Trip squarely within the New Wave sub genre.

Perhaps its shock appeal has diminished over the years, but it’s still a good read. Check it out if you have time.