Edward Willett

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TARDIS: Time and Relative Dimensions in Stories

On May 6 I was the speaker at the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild’s Write After Lunch series, and entitled my talk “TARDIS: Time and Relative Dimensions in Stories.” This is more or less the text I spoke from, although as you'll see if you watch the archived video below and follow along, I didn't exactly deliver it word for word...   In the long-running British science fiction program Doctor Who, The Doctor, a centuries-old Time Lord, travels in the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space). Powered by a collapsing star, it is bigger on the inside than on the outside, and can journey anywhere in time and space, from the beginning of the universe to its end, to any ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 18:06, May 9th, 2014 under Blog, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: In Defence of Escapism

Here's my latest "Space-Time Continuum" column from Freelance, the newsletter of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild... Back at Weyburn Junior High I was once taken to task by a teacher for not remembering the name of the author of a book I liked. “If you don’t remember the author’s name,” he told me, “you’re just reading for escape.”  A few decades on, I recognize the glaring flaw in that statement: namely, what does remembering the author’s name have to do with the value of the book? Would War and Peace be any less a ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 17:56, April 17th, 2014 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | 2 Comments »

The Space-Time Continuum: Reality in Fantasy

Here's my latest column for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild's magazine Freelance... *** When someone writes a hardboiled police procedural novel, we expect it to adhere to correct police procedures in the city in which it is set. When someone writes a historical novel set in 19th-century India, we expect the details of life and governance in 19th-century India to be well-researched and correct. When someone writes a slice-of-life story set in present-day Regina, we expect to be able to recognize everyday life as we know it to be. In other words, even though fiction is, by definition, not real, we expect it to contain substantial doses of reality. Yet somehow, ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 17:47, February 14th, 2014 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: Workshops

Today, while writing the next installment of my regular SF/F-writing column "The Space-Time Continuum" for Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, I realized I'd never posted the previous column online...and so here it is! *** Over the years I’ve participated in a number of science fiction and fantasy writing workshops, to great effect: two of my published novels (Marseguro and Terra Insegura) and a published short story (“Waterlilies”) arose directly out of the Writing With Style workshops instructed by Robert J. Sawyer at the Banff Centre a few years ago. Workshops have a long, honorable history in science fiction. As noted SF writer Bruce Sterling puts it, “People often ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 17:10, January 14th, 2014 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

Science fiction vs. fantasy: what’s the difference?

My column for the latest issue of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild magazine Freelance... Although science fiction and fantasy often overlap in both bookshelves and readership, they aren’t actually the same genre. Exactly where you draw the line between them, of course, is a matter of some debate. (Because, well, what isn’t?) Just do a Google search on “difference between science fiction and fantasy” and see how many hits turn up. (As of this morning, using that exact search term, 88,400. And that’s just one way of phrasing the question.) Bestselling author Orson Scott Card famously said that “fantasy has trees, science fiction has rivets.” But that’s less true than ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 13:04, August 27th, 2013 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | 2 Comments »

The Space-Time Continuum: “Dammit, Jim, I’m a storyteller, not a social worker!”

My latest "Space-Time Continuum" column from the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild's newsletter Freelance... *** This column I want to return to the World Fantasy Convention held in Toronto last November...and a panel that rubbed me the wrong way. Entitled “The Changing Face of YA Fantasy,” the panel was described this way: “Fantasy works for young adult readers have changed over the years, perhaps even more than their counterparts for adults. The themes tackled are more cutting-edge; a wider variety of cultures is explored; locations are often more realistic, more gritty and urban, than in the past; a more diverse cast of characters is brought into play; and the heroines and heroes are perhaps more ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 15:35, February 15th, 2013 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

Not enough readers, not enough time: the end of my regular science column (for real, this time)

All right, this time it’s for real: I’m pulling the plug on my weekly science column (I haven’t written one for about a month anyway). And it’s all MailChimp’s fault. MailChimp is actually a great way to send out nicely formatted HTML newsletters, and I’m very glad to use it for that purpose. However, MailChimp also allows you to track how many of your nicely formatted HTML newsletters are opened by your putative subscribers, and in the case of the science column, it’s not pretty. I currently have 457 subscribers to my science column. When I was sending out the column as just an ordinary email, I could justify spending the time on ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 9:40, February 14th, 2013 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The science of tall trees

[podcast]http://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/uploads//2013/01/Tall-Trees.mp3[/podcast] Sometimes science is focused on really big questions: where did life come from? How did the universe begin? But sometimes, the focus is much smaller. Sometimes, researchers set out to answer a simple question, one that many people have perhaps asked, but no one has ever set out systematically to answer. A question, for example, about trees. Trees are everywhere. You’d think there’d be very little to learn about them at this late date. But there are still questions to be asked and answered. For example...why do the tallest trees all top out at about the same height? And why are the leaves of those trees all pretty much the same size? That was the ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 12:02, January 14th, 2013 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | Comment now »

Planets, planets everywhere

[podcast]http://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/uploads//2013/01/Planets-Everywhere.mp3[/podcast] You don’t have to be very old to remember a time when we didn’t know if there were any planets anywhere else in the universe beyond those in our own solar system. Oh, sure, scientists and science fiction writers had long assumed these extrasolar planets existed, but the stars were so distant it seemed nearly impossible to ever be certain. But all that changed in 1995, when we found the first planet outside our solar system. It was another four years after that before we found proof of other planetary systems: that is, stars orbited by more than one planet. (You can’t really call them “solar systems” if you’re being properly pedantic, ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 13:07, January 7th, 2013 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | Comment now »

The science of calendars

(A slightly updated version of a New Year's perennial of mine...) It's almost 2013, which means it's time to take down your old Harry Potter calendar and put up your new one (if you’re my 11-year-old daughter). Okay, so maybe you have a Teddy Bears calendar instead, or a Glee calendar. The point is, for us, a calendar is a much an aesthetic and/or advertising medium as it is a way to see what day of the week it is. But in reality, every calendar is the amazing product of thousands of years of history. A calendar is a system of marking off days, weeks, months and years. It allows us ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 11:59, December 31st, 2012 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | 1 Comment »