Edward Willett

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The Space-Time Continuum: Pulp Fiction

This is my latest column from the Saskatchewan Writers Guild magazine Freelance, with extra graphics! Mention “pulp fiction” these days and most people probably think of the 1994 Quentin Tarantino movie. But of course the movie’s title referenced something much earlier: fiction literally published on pulp—cheap paper made directly from wood-pulp. Pulp paper quickly turns both yellow and brittle, and perhaps that perception of poor quality has coloured the perception of the fiction printed thereon, but in fact many classic stories—not just of science fiction and fantasy, but in other genres, too—first appeared in what are now known as the “pulp magazines.” Mike Ashley is a U.K. researcher and editor who has published ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 14:48, October 3rd, 2017 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: What’s the Big Idea?

Here's my latest "Space-Time Continuum" column from the Saskatchewan Writers Guild's magazine Freelance. “Where do you get your ideas?” is a question every author has heard multiple times. I usually say something about how story ideas are all around us, and give some examples. But recently I’ve realized there are two different kinds of ideas at work in a book: the idea that starts the book, and the idea at the heart of the book—what you might call the “big idea.” Or, at least, that’s what I’m going to call it, because that’s what bestselling science fiction writer John Scalzi calls it in his popular blog “Whatever," where for years he has generously ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 11:15, August 6th, 2017 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: Creating Magic Systems

This is a belated posting of my column from the February-March 2017 issue of Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. Don't know how I missed posting it, but better late than never! Most fantasy stories include magic: that’s kind of what makes them fantasy. (In fact, if I had to distinguish between fantasy and science fiction, I’d say, “The fantastical stuff in fantasy is ascribed to magic. The fantastical stuff in science fiction is ascribed to advanced technology.”) However, different authors take different approaches to the use of magic in stories. In older books of the fantastic (think The Lord of the Rings), magic is (in the words of Brian ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 16:05, May 21st, 2017 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | 2 Comments »

The Space-Time Continuum: Frankenstein, the first science fiction novel

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 ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 11:10, October 21st, 2016 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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 ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 10:38, September 5th, 2016 under Blog, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: Where do you get your ideas?

This is my latest column on writing science fiction and fantasy for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild newsletter Freelance... One of the challenges of writing a regular column (as I know from long experience, since I wrote a weekly newspaper column for many years) is coming up with ideas. Oddly enough, that’s also one of the perceived challenges of writing fiction: coming up with ideas. What better idea for a column on writing, then, then writing a column on where ideas come from? Also, “Where do you get your ideas” is a question writers get asked all the time. I can’t answer for other authors, but I can look at ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 10:52, February 6th, 2016 under Blog, Writing and Editing | 1 Comment »

The Space-Time Continuum: The Aurora Awards

Here's my Space-Time Continuum column from the December-January issue of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild's newsletter Freelance... Literary awards are nice to get. They may or may not help book sales, and they may or may not come with a cash prize, but at the very least, they’re a form of validation for authors. (As Sally Fields put it when she won an Academy Award, “They like me, they really like me!”) Canada's most prestigious literary science fiction awards are the Auroras, presented annually by the non-profit Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA), which also sponsors the French-language Prix Aurora Boréal. They were first given out in 1980 (when there ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 15:47, December 7th, 2015 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: Two Roads

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost When Robert Frost wrote his famous poem “The Road Not Taken,” he clearly didn’t have in mind the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which postulates there is a very large—perhaps infinite—number of parallel universes, in which anything that could have happened in our past, but did not, in fact did. Still, even shorn of its quantum-mechanical underpinnings, the idea of the choices we make today altering our future was hardly original with Frost. The story of Adam and Eve, to name one obvious example, is all about having a choice, and ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 8:30, June 28th, 2015 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

Giving imagination free rein: Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books

[caption id="attachment_11717" align="alignleft" width="300"] From left to right, Sheila Gilbert, me, and Betsy Wollheim.[/caption] I'm jumping the gun a little bit here, since Freelance hasn't come out yet, but here's my upcoming "Space-Time Continuum" column for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild magazine--an interview with my editor and publisher, Sheila Gilbert, nominated once again this year for a Hugo Award for Best Editor, Long Form. As a teenager looking for science fiction and fantasy, I was drawn to the distinctive yellow spines of paperbacks published by DAW Books—a name I found amusing because DAW are the initials of my brother, Dwight Arthur Willett. In fact, those initials belonged to Donald A. Wollheim, ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 19:12, April 24th, 2015 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: Space Opera

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 ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 9:34, September 14th, 2014 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | 2 Comments »