Edward Willett

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The Space-Time Continuum: Pros talk about rewriting prose

Cover of the July-September 2018 issue of Freelance. Here's my latest "Space-Time Continuum" column from the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild's newsletter Freelance... When I talk about writing (which I do, rather a lot), I’ll often say something like, “the most important part of writing is rewriting.” And I believe that’s true...but what rewriting means to an individual author varies. I’ve recently started a podcast, The Worldshapers, in which I chat with science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process. One of my questions is always about revision: what do they do when they get to the end of the first draft?...

Posted by Edward Willett at 17:29, October 10th, 2018 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: How a small-town Saskatchewan boy launched science fiction’s Golden Age

My most recent Space-Time Continuum column for Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild.  The Golden Age of science fiction, many say, began with the publication of A.E. van Vogt’s story “Black Destroyer” in Astounding in 1939. Isaac Asimov’s first story for Astounding appears in that same issue; the next contained the first story by Robert A. Heinlein, and the next the first by Theodore Sturgeon. But A.E. van Vogt’s story started it all—and van Vogt was a Saskatchewan boy. Although Alfred Elton van Vogt was born April 26, 1912, on a farm in the Russian Mennonite community of Edenburg, near the border town of Gretna, MB, his ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 9:20, July 2nd, 2018 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: Steam-Engine Time

Here's my latest column from Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. All forms of art, from the visual to the theatrical, from motion pictures to literature, tend to go through movements. One reason for this is simply copycatting, something that is most clearly seen in the motion picture industry: somebody makes a movie about, say, competitive cross-stitching, and it’s such a hit that suddenly there are a dozen more films about the cut-throat world of fabric-related competition. Another reason is conversation: artists within the same genre naturally react to, protest, and comment on the work of others within their genre. But sometimes, and especially in science fiction, it’s because it’s ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 8:05, March 28th, 2018 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | Comment now »

The Space-Time Continuum: What do writers owe their readers?

Here's my latest column from Freelance, the magazine of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in George R.R. Martin’s bestselling fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, still doesn’t have a release date, six years after the release of A Dance with Dragons. (And there’s a final book, A Dream of Spring, to come after The Winds of Winter.) Readers of the series are understandably antsy. Some have been downright rude about it, prompting Neil Gaiman to famously tell a reader that “George R.R. Martin is not working for you.” (Well, he put it that way the second time he said it: his original formulation was…pithier.) But ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 16:40, January 20th, 2018 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns, Writing and Editing | 1 Comment »

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 »