SF & Fantasy need to stop being so damn eager to please

“It just seems to me that, from Ballard to Herbert, SF was on a mission to invent and explore unknown fresh new psychologies. It was a fascinating, daunting task. We were on to something- and we lost the nerve to do it.” There’s nothing less interesting than something which only exists to please you. AndContinue reading “SF & Fantasy need to stop being so damn eager to please”

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”

What do we do about Lovecraft?

The more I think about the issue, the more concerned I become about the honouring of H.P.Lovecraft in Horror, Fantasy, SF, weird and speculative fiction. The argument has come to the fore again in my mind because of the furore at Weird Tales, which also roughly coincided with Lovecraft’s birthday. Lovecraft’s racism is not widelyContinue reading “What do we do about Lovecraft?”

Weird Tales editor has insulted us all

The genres of SF, Fantasy, Horror and other styles of the fantastic have changed a lot in recent years. Those changes, to my mind, have been hugely positive. And if I can identify one cause at the heart of those changes it is this: diversity. To use the Hugo and Nebula awards as a benchmarks,Continue reading “Weird Tales editor has insulted us all”

All hail the New Pulp

Imagine a scale of literary productivity. At one end, place current darling of the American literary scene Jeffrey Eugenides, bating a steady average of one book per decade. At the other, put Jack Vance – at 95, perhaps the last of the great pulp fictioneers – who has produced 60 novels across the SF, fantasyContinue reading “All hail the New Pulp”

Fandom Matters

Original published @ Guardian Books One of the notable features of science fiction and fantasy fandom is that it exists around five to 10 years ahead of the curve when it comes to information technology. The 50% of the early world wide web that wasn’t porn was made up of Star Trek: The Next Generation fansites; with everyContinue reading “Fandom Matters”

Who is the wisest Sci-Fi & Fantasy author?

Over on Twitter and Facebook I asked folk to tell me which SF author they would turn to for life advice, for words of wisdom and guidance through the labyrinth of life. And I got quite a response! [View the story “Wisest of the wise in SF & Fantasy” on Storify] Popular choices include NeilContinue reading “Who is the wisest Sci-Fi & Fantasy author?”

Secondary World Problems

You know, those things which are only an issue if you happen to be the denizen of a world created in the imagination of a jobbing fantasy author. Or an ageing English academic. Or a frustrated fan trying to turn pro author. A secondary world always tells you more about the inside of the authorsContinue reading “Secondary World Problems”

Understanding Christopher Priest

Writing can be a cruel game. Not least for those who, to innocent bystanders, might seem like winners in the game of literary life. Take Christopher Priest for instance. With a long and esteemed career in writing, numerous accolades under his belt and a Hollywood adaptation of his novel The Prestige still within living memory,Continue reading “Understanding Christopher Priest”

5 indispensable guides for fiction writers

Many people say writing can’t be taught. But it can certainly be learned. (I actually think it can be taught as well, or I wouldn’t teach it.) When we’re young and full of beans we like to think we know it all. It’s hard to admit to ourself we don’t how to do something. ButContinue reading “5 indispensable guides for fiction writers”

Micro Sci-Fi 2 : My eyes are dim, I can not see

A Google HUD journalist  auctions the eternal copyright to her feed for a Quora credit fortune but is replaced by a narrative AI generated from her lifetime experience. Rules of Micro SF: Tell a story in one sentence. It can be any length but must work grammatically and be reasonably well parsed by a reader. Include at least twoContinue reading “Micro Sci-Fi 2 : My eyes are dim, I can not see”