The latest Speculations is live at DIY MFA

Hey all!

This time (lol) around, I’m tackling time travel:

The science in your science fiction: time travel

Come on over and visit, and while you’re there, check out all of Gabriela’s awesome writer’s resources 🙂

timetravel

 

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 28-June 3, 2017

It’s time for some informal writerly learnings.

The Story Masters workshop James Scott Bell refers to? Yeah. I was there 🙂 Where’s your edge? Writer Unboxed

Cara Black says villains are the architects of your story. Writer Unboxed

Jo Eberhardt shares her experience weaving sub-plots into her story. Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland explains how to find your story’s big moments before you outline. Helping Writers Become Authors

Elisabeth Kauffman shares her #1 tip for introverts attending a writing conference. DIY MFA

Laura Highcove: when your why is bigger than your fear. DIY MFA

Christina Delay explains why it’s important to control your survival instinct when it comes to your fiction. Writers in the Storm

Tasha Seegmiller guest posts on Writers in the Storm: enhancing your story through micro and macro setting description.

Writing coach April Bradley says theme is the marrow of your story. Writers Helping Writers

Suzanne Purvis visits Fiction University: how to write a sizzling, scintillating synopsis.

Jami Gold: strong characters come from strong writing.

Kristen Lamb says, when running your race—be content but stay hungry.

Dear writers: a book needs time to cook. Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds.

If you want to write a book, don’t listen to Stephen Hunter. Foz Meadows, Shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows.

And here, for your perusal, is the Stephen Hunter article in question: if you want to write a book, write every day, or quit now. Daily Beast

Creative alchemy: experience transformed by imagination with Ursula K. Le Guin and Kristin Kwan on Terri Windling’s Myth & Moor. And here’s more Ursula: the writer as wizard.

Sangeeta Mehta interviews agents Eric Smith and Saba Sulaiman about diversity on Jane Friedman’s blog.

Oren Ashkenazi lists five plausible scenarios for planetary evacuation. Mythcreants

Mary Robinette Kowal shares the highlights of her visit to the SpaceX CRS-11 Cargo Launch NASA social.

The Sunburst Award Longlist has been announced. Think Canadian Nebulas and you’ll be just fine 😉

Laura Miller examines what happens when literary novelists experiment with science fiction. Found this on Twitter with the tweet, when literary authors write science fiction, yet disavow it. Yeah, right? Slate

Charlie Jane Anders confesses: growing up, Wonder Woman was the hero I really wanted to be. Tor.com

And Megan Garber calls Wonder Woman the heroine of the post-truth age. The Atlantic

This is just fun. Why Wonder Woman’s sword can cut through anything. Because science w/ Kyle Hill.

 

Bryn Elise Sandberg reports the sad news that Sense8 has been cancelled. I gotta go over there and cry, now. The Hollywood Reporter

I hope you found something that you needed.

Come back on Thursday to get a little thoughty in your week.

Be well until then.

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: Mining history for the future

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

historyfuture

Panellists: Dana Cameron, Jennie Goloboy, Jack McDevitt, Robert J. Sawyer, Renee Collins (moderator)

Joined in progress …

RJS: Alternate history does what science fiction does, but takes a step back in time rather than looking to the future. Jean Auel’s novels and Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle are examples.

RC: What are we mining history for?

JG: History is a great way to see how things could have been, “if only.” What if Shakespeare lived in Native North America?

DC: There’s a hashtag: #whatshouldhavehappened  It gives us a great opportunity to look at our tropes and culture through the lens of the other.

RJS: History teaches us the rate at which events happen. You can see the cause and effect in retrospect.

JG: The thing about historians is that they’re always looking at what’s different between then and now. There’s something inspirational about the possibilities of change.

DC: The rate of change is faster now, though.

RC: The contrast and comparison is fascinating.

JM: Another approach is that we are the past. What do people in the far future think of us?

RJS: Science fiction is the literature of human contingency—Robert Charles Wilson. We engage in thought experiments. How could things have gone differently?

RC: What are the advantages of using history as the basis for science fiction?

JG: Usually science fiction and fantasy writers get the details right.

RJS: In my Neanderthal Parallax series, I researched heavily in paleoanthropology texts and journals. I looked for the more interesting theories. One of them was that Neanderthals didn’t have religion. My Neanderthals did.

DC: Coming from my background, I had a difficult time writing alternate history.

JG: It’s worldbuilding, not a mistake.

JM: Science fiction writers have an advantage. We can manipulate time. We value history.

And that was time.

Next week, I’ll be transcribing my notes on generation starships.

Be well and stay strong until then!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Dec 25-31, 2016

We have a small, but select group of informal writerly learnings this week 🙂

K.M. Weiland explains how to deepen your story with character misdirection. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy shares the easiest way to create conflict. Fiction University

Leanne Sowul tells us how (and why) to write a mission statement. DIYMFA

Gabriela Pereira and Joanna Penn on DIYMFA radio!

Finally, Bess Cozby shares five writing resolutions besides writing every day. DIYMFA

Following up on her guest post on Writers Helping Writers, Jami Gold explains what a writing coach is and why you might want one.

Kristen Lamb helps you rock 2017 (after the dumpster fire of 2016).

Jami Gold offers advice on how to find (and vet) a developmental editor.

Chuck Sambuchino compiles 38 query letter tips from literary agents. Writers Digest

And here are 34 submission no-no’s for you to check out, too.

John Foley explores the legacy of hard science fiction. Omni

I hope this helps to get your 2017 off to a great start!

See you Thursday for some of the old thoughty 😉

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: Class and equality in fantasy and science fiction

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Jennie Goloboy, Jennie J.R. Johansson (moderator), Eleanor Arnason, William Hayashi

Note: Terra LeMay was scheduled to participate in this panel, but could not make it. Agent Jennie Goloboy graciously agreed to participate.

classandequality

Joined in progress.

EA: Barbara Jenson said that economy and society cannot be separated.

WH: It’s useful to use familiar tropes to reach your readers, but be wary of stereotypes.

JG: The cultural pressure to categorize people opposes the personal feeling that it’s wrong.

JRJ: You have to question it, though. It’s a useful tension to explore.

WH: Look at how other authors have addressed the issue. Young adult novels turned movies like The Hunger Games and Divergent. Frank Herbert’s Dune. Asimov’s Foundation.

EA: Melissa Scott writes about marginalized characters. Science fiction under-represents the working and middle classes.

JRJ: Marie Lu’s The Young Elites explores issues of class.

JG: What do class and equality look like in the future?  If we extrapolate from current trends, there will be more automation, shorter attention spans, but more independence.

WH: Robert Heinlein pitted the working class against the upper class. It’s a common trope, but it’s realistic. The 1% versus everyone else. Where does hope come from? In Snowpiercer, society at its worst is contained in a train. They’re the last survivors. It’s a microcosm.

JG: Young adult science fiction has focused on the dystopia. What about utopias? Utopias contain the seeds of dystopia and vice versa. But it’s not so simple.

WH: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is hopeful.

JG: There are the working, middle, and upper classes. Are there any others to explore?

WH: Why not transcend class? It’s a spectrum.

JRJ: It’s easier to look at issues in another society, a fictional society, rather than to look at our own.

JG: A reader might say, “I identify with Katniss, so I must be a good person.”

WH: Why do we focus so much on dytopias?

And that was time.

Next week: It will be my December next chapter update and my 2016 year in review post.

Happy New Year (calendrically speaking), everyone!

WorldCon 2016: Oceans, the wettest frontier

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Christopher Weuve (moderator), Patricia MacEwen, James Cambias, Alyx Dellamonica, Laurel Anne Hill

oceans

Yeah, I know this was supposed to be up yesterday, but yesterday, I finished off my Christmas shopping and then went to a friend’s party (at which I got hammed—don’t worry, it’s a rare occurrence; I think I just had to get some post-shopping/renovation celebration in 😉 ) so I didn’t get much writing done at all.

Life happens.

CW: There’s more space-based science fiction out there than water-based science fiction.

JC: But there are more people who will know if you get it wrong under water than in space.

CW: What, or who, was your inspiration? Frederick Pohl was one of mine.

PM: Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon.

AD: Alan Dean Foster. Peter Watts’ Starfish.

LAH: Starfish impressed me with this sentiment: the underwater world is so compelling that even if it scares you, you can’t wait to go back.

JC: There was a boom in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I didn’t enjoy most of it. The contemporary non-fiction on the topic was fascinating, though.

PM: Jacques Cousteau’s grandson has a new book out.

LAH: I met Jacques Cousteau. He was my idol. Few women dove in those days.

CW: James, what was it that left you wanting in the fiction?

JC: The inherent contradiction that the solution to overpopulation was to exploit the continental shelf.

PM: They weren’t talking about the future health of the oceans, or the extinctions that were already happening.

AD: I’m working on a series in which the crisis is the deoxygenation of the oceans.

PM: Canfield makes dire predictions about the future of the oceans.

LAH: Stung!, by Lisa-Ann Gershwin is about the jellyfish overpopulation and what it’s doing to the oceans.

AD: I’ve never had a distaste for ocean-based science fiction. I grew up in the prairies and then moved to Vancouver. I was captivated. The ocean is the connective tissue of planetary economy.

PM: I had no trouble buying into the ocean-based science fiction I’ve seen, but there are things missing. Other sensory systems are a fascinating area. If there’s life on Europa and it has magnetic sensing organs, they’d feel god [Jupiter] passing by every 36 hours. There wouldn’t be a single atheist among them.

CW: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a seminal influence.

LAH: It was impressive. There was a 1945 movie made from the novel.

PM: Verne based it on a real French submarine. It was even called the Nautilus. In the 1800’s they had one they called the turtle. It was intended to scuttle ships, but couldn’t drill through the steel hulls.

CW: there’s no physical evidence that the turtle ever existed, though.

JC: The drive design in The Hunt for Red October, the caterpillar, was more plausible.

AD: I’m as interested in sailing, in the romance of rigging and sail, as I am in the underwater aspect.

JC: The translations of Verne’s work left out the technical aspects of submarines, how they worked.

LAH: His Majesty’s Dragon from the Temeraire series has some good naval battles.

AD: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.

PM: One of the things people tend to gloss over is that when you’re living on board a ship, you’re living in cramped quarters.

AD: It’s a great opportunity for character development and conflict.

JC: The Last Ship is a current attempt at ocean-based science fiction.

PM: Stephen Baxter’s Flood and Brin’s Uplift.

[Very sorry. Not sure who said the following. The ideas were coming fast and furious, but they were interesting ideas, so I had to get some of them down.]

  • Alternate means of communication underwater. Hand signals make sense, but chromatophors would be better.
  • Sub-harmonic or sonic communication.
  • Phosphorescence.
  • Infrared.
  • Plastic garbage is killing off the plankton, which is the basis of the oceanic food chain. They’re developing bacteria that eat plastic. They’re also looking at harvesters that collect plastic and convert it to diesel fuel.

And that was time.

Next Saturday is Christmas Eve, but I’ll still attempt to get my post out on time. Here’s the title for a teaser: Beyond, fantasy creation for the bold.

Be well until next week!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Nov 27-Dec 3, 2016

And it’s the triumphant return of Tipsday!

K.M. Weiland continues her how to outline for NaNoWriMo series with this instalment: how to write a scene outline you can use. Not to worry, links to all previous posts in this series are included. Helping Writers Become Authors

A.E. Siraki guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog. NaNoWriMo: good or bad, let’s move forward.

Jane Friedman asks, do you know what you’re capable of? Writer Unboxed

Julia Munroe Martin shares one of her takeaways from the Writer Unboxed Unconference: how do you want your novel to change the world?

Anne Greenwood Brown examines the pinch point in this post for Writer Unboxed.

Cathy Yardley helps us write when life sucks. Writer Unboxed

Juliet Marillier shares her struggle following the review of her latest series proposal at the Writer Unboxed Unconference: when bad news is good news.

Jo Eberhardt explores intertextuality: stories within stories (within stories). Writer Unboxed

Roz Morris offers three ways to get maximum impact from a story. Nail Your Novel

Oren Ashkenazi examines five characters with too much spinach, and offers advice on how you can avoid the same pitfalls. Mythcreants

Chris Saylor explains the proper use of ellipses and dashes on Marcy Kennedy’s blog.

Heidi Ulrichsen reports on Greater Sudbury Poet Laureate, Kim Fahner’s project to bring poetic grafiti to storefronts downtown. The Northern Life/Sudbury.com

Amanda Michalopoulou looks at how literature teaches us to understand “the other” in these divided times. The Guardian

Ian Failes explains how designers created the stunning alien language in Arrival. Thrill List

Aimee Bender shares her thoughts on why fairy tales still inspire modern female writers. Wired

Bryan Washington wonders why there aren’t more famous black science fiction authors. The Awl

Beth Elderkin (and the whole i09 crew) is hooked on the latest Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 trailer. Baby Groot is ADORBS!

Referring back to Jo Eberhardt’s piece on intertextuality, Tom Blunt parses Westworld’s literary references. Signature

That’s it for your informal writerly learnings this week. Come back next week for moar. MOAR, I tell you!

By the way, what do you think of my new graphic (keep in mind that I’m not a professional graphic artist)?

Be well until Thursday, when I’ll have a little thoughty for you 😉

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: Science fiction as epic

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Frederick Turner, Walter Jon Williams, Cynthia Ward, John Kessel (moderator), Elizabeth Moon

kcpubliclibrary

The Kansas City Public Library

Quick note: What’s with the non-panel pictures? In the first day, I wasn’t sure if it would be acceptable to take pictures without first asking permission. So I’m sharing pictures from Kansas City, which hosted WorldCon this year, because I took walking tours of the city Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings. Panel pictures will arrive with the Friday sessions.

Joined in progress.

FT: The classic epics were the science fiction of the past. They shared common themes and fundamental elements. They were from the oral tradition (storyteller). They featured a creation myth (cosmology), a hero, a quest, kinship and kinship troubles, the interplay of nature, culture, and the supernatural, descent into and emergence from the underworld, and/or the founding of a city.

EM: The SF epic can be set in a different world. One of the features in that case would be the technological difference between our world and the other one.

JK: Does scope equal epic? Northrop Frye espoused the high mimetic (imitative) as central to the epic form. Is there no everyman in the epic?

EM: The genius has epic intellect. The protagonist must be exceptional in some way.

CW: Walter Mitty is not epic.

FT: Many heroes start out as foundlings or shepherds.

WJW: Dune is a science fiction epic. Zelazny’s Lord of Light is an SF epic.

JK: Star Wars is an SF epic, a space opera. Edith Hamilton and Joseph Campbell have both analyzed it in their work.

CW: Foundation is an epic.

FT: Epic goes to the edge of the world, or humanity, or the universe. The world has to change as a result of the story.

WJW: So Epic science fiction is about man’s place in the universe.

FT: There’s an emotional, almost musical resonance.

EM: Modern readers need humour. That’s the secret spice in the stew.

JK: Economics doesn’t seem to be a factor.

CW: Not everyone appreciates an empire. Post-colonial narratives.

FT: Mad Max is dystopian and epic.

Aud: Wilson Tucker coined the term space opera in the early 40’s. It was meant to connote second rate science fiction that focused on adventure. It’s from horse opera, which was a pejorative term for a western.

Other epics were proposed by the panel and the audience: C.J. Cherryh, Leviathan Wakes, Hyperion, Babylon 5, Sagan, Clarke, David Brin, Gene Wolf. The theme of faith and religious belief was also proposed as another feature of the epic.

And that was time.

Next week: Mythology as the basis of science fiction.

Be well until then 🙂

WorldCon 2016: Is cyberpunk still a thing?

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Cory Doctorow (moderator), Matt Jacobson, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, James Patrick Kelly, Pat Cadigan

thecoolestparkinggarageevar

Joined in progress . . .

PNH: Cyberpunk is a course correction.

MJ: I think of cyberpunk in terms of the Max Headroom tagline: fifteen minutes into the future.

CD: The first generation/layer was written by people who were not computer professionals. The second focused on current technology and near future extrapolation. The third layer is an aesthetic.

PC: The first generation of cyberpunk writers was the first to grow up with mass media (television, radio, etc.). The Vietnam War was the first to be televised. They wrote about the influence of media and extrapolated what the influence of mass media might be in the future.

CD: In the 1980’s, money had a huge influence on the political process.

PNH: An aesthetic is a number of people who have similar intuitions about the world. It’s deliberately referencial.

JPK: Bruce Stirling tried to “end” cyberpunk, but the readers weren’t listening.

MJ: A thing would be whatever catches people’s attention.

PC: Cordwainer Smith and Alfred Bester were influences on cyberpunk.

PNH: Science fiction is one big conversation.

MJ: Cyberpunk has been taken over by tech noir. Shows like Mr. Robot and Person of Interest.

JPK: Cyberpunk emerged pre-Apple. For most users, a computer is indistinguishable from magic.

CD: The whole point of Mr. Robot is to strongly distinguish technology from magic.

MJ: Pokemon Go demonstrates just how easy it is to know where anyone is, anywhere in the world.

CD: Actually, your device uses the statistics from the game to triangulate your location and reports the information to Nintendo. That’s a lot more scary.

PC: In the early days of the internet, there were the BBS’s, the bulletin board services. Genie—the conversation never ends. Now mass media is to ambient, we’ve stopped seeing it. Information (and misinformation) is ubiquitous.

PNH: Science fiction has been doing the virtual presence thing since 1929 with the fanzines.

MJ: Cyberpunk intersects with maker culture. High tech is repurposed.

CD: The liminal moment was a queer programmer, Jennings. Cyberpunk concerns itself with the frontier of self and interrelatedness.

And that was time.

Next week: science fiction as epic.

And, of course, in the meantime, I’ll be curating Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday for you.

Be well. Stay safe. Love unconditionally.

That is all.

CanCon2015 day 2: The history of science fiction

Presenter: Dr. David G. Hartwell (and, his site).

DavidHartwell

Sorry for the poor pic. It was the best of the bunch I took 😦

Frankenstein (1818) was actually a collaboration between Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The Bodleian library holds the original manuscripts. They reveal four distinct hands. That it’s the first science fiction written by a woman is therefore debatable.

Aphra Behn, Margaret Cavendish, and Jane Louden could be contenders.

Many of the manuscripts from the early 20th century are now being re-examined.

Facsimile reprints only lasted 15 to 18 years for the research set. Now we have Google Books, Project Gutenberg, and the like.

There have been no organized, concerted efforts dedicated to science fiction. It’s something fun for academic researchers. The early works, in particular, don’t get a lot of attention.

After Shelley, we have Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) and Edgar Allen Poe (1809 – 1849).

Poe was, arguably, not a great writer, but he more or less created genre fiction, specifically mystery, science fiction, and horror.

Kafka (1883 – 1924) and Edward Bulwer Lytton (1803 – 1873) published speculative works as well.

There was a growth in modern nationalism and military invention at the end of the 1800s. The machine gun, the tank, and the air plane. It was largely considered the end of war the way it had always been fought. Governments other than monarchy developed.

More’s Utopia and Plato’s speculations were considered thought experiments. They were never realized.

By the 1890s, there was a large body of work that could be read and mimicked.

George Orwell was considered to have wrote scientific romances.

Currently, it is thought that the ‘important’ science fiction is written in one language, but there are French, German, Polish, and Italian writers in the genre.

Q: What is proto-science fiction?

Science fiction is a conscious effort. If it’s accidental, it’s proto-SF. The second consideration is that there has to have been an audience for the work.

Q: What about other literatures?

There are Arabic texts describing aliens that date back to Medieval times.

Q: Is Tom Swift considered science fiction?

Not really. It’s more adventure.

All imaginative literature got scrunched together and separated from ‘proper’ literature. The fantastic exists in literature since Gilgamesh. That doesn’t mean it was what we consider fantasy.

Q: What’s the difference between a techno-thriller and science fiction?

In the techno-thriller, the changes are temporary. The world reverts to normal. Science fiction tends to change the world permanently.

J.G. Ballard’s work usually involves a disaster of some variety and humanity must live with the results. It’s not the optimistic attitude of most science fiction.

Between 1920 and 1940, the literary establishment had to start excluding written material to maintain their elitism. The typical modernist text of the time was normal life with psychological insight.

John Updike wrote about The World Treasury of Science Fiction. He said it couldn’t be first rate literature.

The attitude of the literary establishment toward science fiction is not acceptable.

Q: Could you comment on Orwell? What about Huxley and Burgess?

Burgess liked reading science fiction, but his only analogue is A Clockwork Orange. Orwell wrote in the tradition of H.G. Wells. He would have been appalled if anyone called him a science fiction author.

Science fiction and fantasy are marketing categories.

Genre is an interaction between the author, the text, and the reader. There’s direct feedback. The traditional genres (literature, drama, poetry) don’t necessarily have that.

There was a fair amount that I didn’t get written down with this particular presentation, but it was still a great source of information. It filled in a few gaps for me from my previous studies. I have a feeling that Dr. Hartwell could have kept going 🙂

That’s it for this week.

I’m off to Bedfordshire (as in bed).

TTFN!