Here's my latest Space-Time Continuum column for Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild
Writers love to write about writing, probably because writing about writing is a great way to avoid actually, you know, writing.
Sometimes writing about writing takes the form of a long essay or (ahem) column; sometimes it takes the form of a sage saw, witty aphorism, clever epigram, or wise maxim (another way to procrastinate is to spend several minutes poking around a thesaurus).
Science fiction and fantasy writers have coined a number of these over the years, only some of which relate to writing. Some are more general observations, such Arthur C. Clarke
’s Third Law, “Any sufficiently ...
This is my Space-Time Continuum column for the latest issue of Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild
. It's a modified version of a column I wrote ages ago as one of my newspaper science columns. It seemed appropriate to bring that old column back to life...bwah-ha-ha!
As I write this, it’s about three weeks until Hallowe’en, a time when people’s thoughts turn to monsters. While in this modern age there are a great many more monsters to choose from than there used to be, there’s no doubt that one of the most popular (which is an odd thing for a monster to be, perhaps, but still) is the ...
My "Space-Time Continuum" column for the August/September 2016 issue of Freelance, the newsletter of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild
When I was growing up, in pre-Google days, my go-to book for anything I had a question about was the 1958 edition of Collier’s Encyclopedia, which my parents had bought before I was born.
One thing I couldn’t learn much about in Collier’s or any other encyclopedia, however, was science fiction. I had to rely on bits and pieces gleaned from the introductions to books and stories, and the occasional magazine article.
All that changed in 1979 with the publication of a massive reference work called The Encyclopedia of ...
My latest column for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild's newsletter, Freelance.
Whenever I lead a workshop about writing science fiction, I say it’s important to read widely and deeply in the field: that science fiction is like a long ongoing argumentative conversation, and jumping into it without being aware of what has already been said will irritate people at best and derail the conversation at worst.
Admittedly, it’s far harder to be keep up with the field now than when I was a kid. Back then, a dedicated fan could reasonably hope to read everything of note published every year. Today, there is far more science fiction and fantasy around, and the audience ...
Here's my latest column from Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild
Long before I ever subscribed, or even read, a copy of a professional science fiction magazine, I was reading—and even drawing illustrations for—science fiction fanzines.
In those pre-Internet days, fanzines filled the place today taken by Tumblr and Instagram and myriad other social media sites, allowing fans of science fiction in general, or particular genres (or sub-genres, or sub-sub-genres) of science fiction, to connect with the likewise-interested...likewise-interested who could be very hard to come across in, say, your average small-town (and sometimes small-minded) high school.
I began by reading Star Trek fanzines (probably because I’d read about them in ...
Here's the latest instalment of my regular column on writing science fiction and fantasy from Freelance, the newsletter of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild
“Space opera” is an odd-looking term: after all, as the marketers for the movie Alien might have (but fortunately didn’t) put it, in space, no one can hear a tenor scream a high C.
Early SF fan Wilson “Bob” Tucker coined the phrase, writing in his fanzine in 1941: “In these hectic days of phrase-coining, we offer one. Westerns are called ‘horse operas,’ the morning housewife tear-jerkers are called ‘soap operas.’ For the hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn space-ship yarn, or world-saving for that matter, we offer ...
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 ...
My column for the latest issue of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild
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 ...
My latest column for Freelance, the newsletter of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild
In his novel Time Enough for Love, science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein included a number of aphorisms supposedly taken from the notebooks of his centuries-old central character, Lazarus Long. One of these I have ever since taken a kind of mischievous pleasure in sharing with poets of my acquaintance: “A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.”
You might think, Heinlein occupying such an exalted place in the science fiction pantheon, that his proclamation would be enough to keep poetry far, far away from science fiction, and science ...
Inspired by the column about science fiction poetry I wrote today for the next issue of the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild
's magazine Freelance, I have done something I rarely do, and committed the act of poetry; specifically, the act of science fiction limerick.
An unpublished writer of rhyme
Travelled three hundred years back in time.
He stole from a poet
Who, unborn, didn’t know it.
Plagiarizing the future’s no crime!
I apologize to any and all actual poets in the audience.