7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read

Damien Walter writes on sci-fi & fantasy for The Guardian, BBC, Wired, Oxford University Press, IO9, Tor.com and elsewhere. He’s a graduate of the Clarion scifi writers workshop. Follow him on Twitter. At any given moment on the inter-webs there are probably dozens of irate Sci-Fi & Fantasy fans getting agitated about those damn literary authors comingContinue reading “7 literary Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels you must read”

Stop wasting your time on trivia

A thought for the new year of 2014. There is a lot of noise in modern life. Finding your meaning is sometimes a matter of filtering everything out except the signal you need. Set aside anything you do that is on this list. Competing for status baubles. Trying to look like someone on TV. ComparingContinue reading “Stop wasting your time on trivia”

Jonathan Franzen is an easily understood genius

At some point Jonathan Franzen decided to write easily understood works of literary genius. It was likely while writing his 1994 essay Perchance to Dream which tries to find some purpose for the novel in the technological consumer culture of the late 20th / early 21st century (alternate title “Why Bother?”) It’s a decision that hasContinue reading “Jonathan Franzen is an easily understood genius”

On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman

I’ve been outlandishly busy in recent weeks. So much so that I haven’t been able to post anything personal here on my blog. One of the costs of having more freelance writing than you can do is that it squeezes out the personal projects that you love. So here’s a round-up on some of whatContinue reading “On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman”

Does God have a place in science fiction?

If SF is grounded in hard scientific fact, and science is killing God, then what place does that leave for divine intervention in the pages of SF literature? When I tweeted this question, @MirabilisDave gave Arthur C Clarke’s famous dictum a twist, quipping that “Any sufficiently advanced technocrat will be indistinguishable from God.” Read moreContinue reading “Does God have a place in science fiction?”

What critics really mean when they say…

Nothing in publishing means what it says. Especially book reviews and the stuff they put in blurbs. Renowned – unknown Bestselling – crap New York Times bestseller – utter crap Seminal – almost dead Legendary – actually dead Cult – only readable by drug addicts A powerful debut – you will never hear from thisContinue reading “What critics really mean when they say…”

Can you teach writing?

Is the wrong question. What we should ask is, can you learn writing? To which the answer is an unequivocal YES! All writers teach themselves, through an intense and lifelong process of reading, writing, critiquing, editing, rewriting and rereading. This is how we learn. In this process, a good teacher can save you immense timeContinue reading “Can you teach writing?”

Why Standard Manuscript Format matters more than ever

For the last few days I’ve been following the editorial pains of friend and fellow British Fantasy Award judge Hal Duncan on Twitter. I don’t know what it is Hall is editing, I’m just glad its not me having to do it! Like, actually, I think the Turkey City Lexicon should start with the GuessingContinue reading “Why Standard Manuscript Format matters more than ever”

The Density of Words

At anywhere between 80,000 to 150,000 words or more the average commercially published novel might seem like a huge space to fill. I know the idea of creating that many words is often intimidating to my writing students, who may never have written more than 2-3 thousand words on one story in the past. ButContinue reading “The Density of Words”

My Kitschy Predictions 2012

The Kitschies are among my favourite speculative fiction awards for the simple reason that they give awards to very good books. Last year I nailed A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness as the winner. So this year I’m going to take a wild stab at predicting the whole shortlist (!) How will I do? BlackbirdsContinue reading “My Kitschy Predictions 2012”

How to work with theory without snuffing out your creative spark

I spent much of the last weekend live-tweeting from Weird Council, an academic convention on the writing of China Mieville. Many clever people were in attendance, many clever things were said. I only understood about half of them but felt quite good about getting that much. As a good friend of mine says, if moreContinue reading “How to work with theory without snuffing out your creative spark”

Feel THE FEAR…and write it anyway

I did a little whoop of joy, followed by a nod of recognition when I received Gareth L. Powell’s guest post in my email inbox. The first because Mr. Powell is among Britain’s very best science fiction authors. The second because like every writer, I recognise THE FEAR that Gareth describes. You will no doubt recogniseContinue reading “Feel THE FEAR…and write it anyway”