The shameful joys of the franchise novel…and why the force is with them

Snobby attitudes to sci-fi and fantasy can mean missing out on great stories amid popular book series – a publishing genre that is sure to grow. Make of it what you will, but it’s a plain fact of publishing life that more people will read the latest Star Wars franchise novel than all the booksContinue reading “The shameful joys of the franchise novel…and why the force is with them”

Story is the operating system of human consciousness

If you want a well paid stable career today you do one of two things. You learn to work with computers. Or you learn to tell stories. On the day I graduated university in 2001, with an allegedly useless degree in Media and Arts, I had precisely zero pounds in the bank. Luckier than today’sContinue reading “Story is the operating system of human consciousness”

How the Alt-right invaded geek culture

The Alt-right will do anything to outrage the liberal internet, knowing that outrage helps build their growing army of overwhelming white, male, and very geeky, supporters. Star Trek gave television audiences their first interracial kiss in 1968, and Gene Roddenberry’s vision of mankind’s future continued to champion progressive ideas for many decades. Today “geek culture”Continue reading “How the Alt-right invaded geek culture”

Ignore the complainers, go ahead and tell your story

The Buddha offers some useful life advice to anyone trying to get anything done. People will complain if you do something wrong. More people will complain if you do something right. Some people will complain if you don’t do anything at all. People just like to complain! Seven people signed up for my email newsletterContinue reading “Ignore the complainers, go ahead and tell your story”

What’s the number ONE reason you aren’t writing?

Because you aren’t reading. The bar for entry for writers is so low that it might be better described as a line in the dirt. Got something you can type on and an internet connection? Then you can be a blogger. Or a Kindle indie publisher. Or @JohnDoeFantasyAuthor. But the washout rate for writers isContinue reading “What’s the number ONE reason you aren’t writing?”

Bureaumancy. My new favourite genre of fiction.

There’s nothing wrong with being a bureaucrat. So you’re a tiny cog in a machine made of abstract rules, paperwork, and the broken dreams of those who do not understand either. So what? You’re just misunderstood. Without you, nobody would know where to file their TPS reports. Nobody would even know what a TPS reportContinue reading “Bureaumancy. My new favourite genre of fiction.”

A brief thought on Television Prose

Can we have an honest moment? Between us readers of sci-fi, fantasy, and possibly other genres of fiction, who are by and large most of the readers of this blog? That’s good, I’m glad you’re open to the idea. Now, I’m just going to come right out and say it. Most genre fiction is notContinue reading “A brief thought on Television Prose”

It’s actually fine to steal from writers you love.

Ideas are an odd form of property. We protect them under law with copyright, trademarks and patents, but when it comes to the inventions of fiction, it’s very hard to assert meaningful ownership in a court of law. Instead, writers and readers enforce an ad-hoc moral code against authors who are seen to have steppedContinue reading “It’s actually fine to steal from writers you love.”

Big Dumb Objects. Sci-fi’s USP.

We humans love things we can’t explain. Witness the vast array of outlandish claims made about Stonehenge, from ancient calendar to alien stargate, when in all likelihood it was just a big clock or an early marketplace, a neolithic branch of Tesco. When the unknown is also alien, the mystery only grows more magnetic. ThinkContinue reading “Big Dumb Objects. Sci-fi’s USP.”

Yes. There is a secret to great storytelling.

Is it a secret? Some times a thing is so obvious we can look at it a billion times and never know it. SOMETHING HAS GOT TO CHANGE. You can tell where a writer is in their development by the answer they give to a simple question. What’s your story about. “It’s an epic fantasyContinue reading “Yes. There is a secret to great storytelling.”

It’s not science fiction – it’s systems fiction

Seen in literary fiction as well as SF, this genre weaves together complex debates in a way that can offer a clearer view of the future – think Atwood, DeLillo and Asimov. Weirdly enough, science fiction is not the best lens through which to examine science fiction. In the 80s, critic Tom LeClair came upContinue reading “It’s not science fiction – it’s systems fiction”