Edward Willett

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The Space-Time Continuum: Women of Futures Past

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 ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 20:21, June 23rd, 2016 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

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: The world of fanzines

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 ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 9:46, September 15th, 2015 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | 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 »

‘Twas the Nocturnal Time of the Preceding Day…video edition

A "science column" I wrote several years ago, my science-writer's take on the famous poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," has had remarkable life. It appeared in the newspaper, of course, but it was originally written for for CBC Saskatchewan’s Afternoon Edition radio program, and first read at one of their Christmas open houses (a different one from the one at which I sang “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!“), it’s been published or posted a few times since. A couple of years ago it got a lot of attention because it was noted by Ed Yong at Discover Magazine‘s website. I recorded a podcast of it, which you can listen to here. And now...ta da!...the ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 10:14, December 27th, 2014 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | 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 »

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 »