creativity

The Fallacy of Comparing Modern Writers to the Golden Age of Sci Fi

There’s a conversation going on in my writer’s group about science fiction that I wanted to pull out and discuss with a larger, different audience.

In a nutshell, there’s a large contingence of up-and-coming or as-yet-unpublished writers who believe that the golden age of science fiction was in the 1980s or beyond, and that modern sci-fi isn’t as good.

It’s a conclusion that is hard to argue with, partially because the goalposts can be moved at any time. Still I feel compelled to make a case against this perspective, and I need more space to do so than would be allowed in that group.

So here we go.

READ ON

A Review of The Wind-up Girl

Science Fiction set in non-Western cultures can be very interesting, and lately I’ve been lucky to find two that are very immersive, The Wind-Up Girl and Three Body problem. This review will focus on the former.

The Wind-Up Girl (by Paolo Bacigalupi) take place in post-apocalyptic Bangkok. The story is about cultural and character clashes, even among those work towards the same goals. Ths story has been called eco-punk, as it looks at (among other things) the effects of genetically hacked plants, animals and people.

The story involves a power struggle between the Thai government and foreign interests as well as within the government as two ministries vie for power and influence. However, none of the point of view characters are powerful figures in the Thai government, giving that internal struggle less prominence until much later in the story.  READ MORE

Writers I’ve Known and Their Books

William Kamkwamba is probably the best selling author I’ve known. He was a student at African Leadership Academy back when I was the Communications Manager. He made my live very interesting. His memoir, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind became a big hit in 2009, leading him to make appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Good Morning America, appearances with Mitch Albom and Tavis Smiley, and many other news programs. Since he was a student at our school, I managed his time vis-a-vis his publicity and his school work, acting as the gatekeeper, often having to refuse requests (sorry, Sky News. One day you’ll forgive me like CNN did.). I don’t know that I learned a lot about the publishing industry from this experience, but I certainly saw the hustle that an author goes through to promote a book, especially a bestseller.

TBR - To Be Read

To Be ReadThis my “TBR” pile - my books waiting To Be Read, although after I took the photo, I found two more. Every writer has one. Writing is also about reading, about continually both being engaged creatively and seeing how others’ writing styles might influence yours.

Beyond the obvious science fiction, my current list includes fantasy (Sailing to Sarantium), magical realism (All the Birds in the Sky, and possibly Cloud Atlas? That one’s hard to characterize), historical revisionism (1434, the sequel to 1421) and a Malcolm Gladwell screed. Like most writers, I read outside of my genre, even more so than this pile would suggest.

Music as a weapon - too silly an idea?

I’m at a bit of a crossroads with the novel I’m writing (hereafter referred to as WiP - short for ‘Work in Progress”). I had an idea for an alien race that I thought would be different. I built a plot point around that difference. Then I saw something similar in a movie … and I thought it was stupid.

What to do? What to do? Do I re-write the WiP to eliminate that plot point? Do I remove it entirely? Or is it OK?

Anyone who knows a writer knows that we’re very insecure about our writing, fragile, even. So what do we do when a plot point appears ridiculous? Panic. Stop writing. Have long breaks while we try to understand how we got into this terrible dilemma.

Or maybe we ask for help. Read on

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