Edward Willett

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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 »

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: Cynicism vs. hope in science fiction

The Hunger Games may be getting all the attention right now, but there’s a long history to dystopian science fiction. War of the Worlds, Brave New World, 1984, A Canticle for Leibowitz, A Handmaid’s Tale...the list goes on and on. I’ve written some myself. Dark and dangerous futures are, of course, ripe settings for fiction. (As are dark and dangerous pasts or presents, for that matter.) They provide the author with plenty of opportunities for adventure and excitement, as the heroes struggle to survive against nature, their fellow humans, or (in science fiction and fantasy) aliens, zombies, goblins or what-have-you. I mean, there’s a good reason you don’t see many Star Trek ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 9:51, September 22nd, 2012 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns | 2 Comments »

The Space-Time Continuum: These Are a Few of My Favorite Links

We already live in a science fictional future: your pocket, after all, probably contains a powerful communicator/computer with which you can log onto a world-spanning information network. Not surprisingly, science fiction (though not overly successful at predicting its rise) has taken to this futuristic resource in a big way. But how to choose which sites to visit? Here’s one way: visit the ones I visit! Let’s start with general news sites. I’ve previously mentioned Locus Online, the website of the most important science fiction news magazine. Besides publishing news, links to interviews and reviews and more, there alone you’ll find a links page directing you to more sites than you could possible ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 15:39, February 9th, 2012 under Blog, Columns, Science Fiction Columns | Comment now »