Tag Archives: Science Fiction

14.15: Technology

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about magic systems in our worldbuilding. It’s time to talk about  science and technology in that same way. This has been a staple (perhaps the defining staple) of science fiction since before “science fiction” was a word.

At risk of opening the “where do you get your ideas” can of worms, this episode covers a little bit of where we get our ideas, and where you might get—and subsequently develop—some more of yours.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Go read Wired (or some other science and technology periodical, whether online or in print)

Feed, by M.T. Anderson

14.7: How Weird is Too Weird?

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

How weird, how far outside the realm of what the reader feels to be familiar, is too weird? Where is the line beyond which the fantasy is too fantastic, the unreal too unrealistic, or the aliens too alien? In this episode we discuss finding that line, and with the tools at our disposal, possibly moving it.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson.

 

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Take your current work-in-progress, and determine what your “one buy” is. Narrow it down.

11.06: The Element of Wonder

We’ve introduced the concept of Elemental Genre already. It’s time to start digging in to the elements themselves, beginning with the Element of Wonder. We started with this one because “sense of wonder” is a term that gets used to describe what makes some science fiction stories work.

In this episode we expand upon the word “wonder” a bit, making the shorthand of “elemental wonder” more useful, not to mention more descriptive. We then go on to detail some methods writers might use to evoke wonder, leveraging that element for the greatest effect in their work.

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Homework! Apply a sense of wonder to something small and ordinary. Describe it using those cool point-of-view tools that evoke wonder in the reader.

The Wright Brothers, written and narrated by David McCullough

Writing Excuses 8.26: Space Opera

This week’s episode covers the perjoratively-named sub-genre, space opera. These are adventure stories in which the setting is futuristic, but in which the science is secondary. The lines are blurry, as they are with any definition of genre, but we’re pretty sure that Howard writes space opera.

A possible definition? Space Opera is when the author uses science to justify the cool stuff he or she has come up with.

We talk about the decisions that go into writing a space opera, how Howard has gone about it, and what you might focus on in order to write a compelling, adventurous romp.

Pithy Howardism: “If I pee far, it’s because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”

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Posit a faster-than-light drive that nobody else has thought of. Or at least that you haven’t heard of.

The Warrior’s Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

Writing Excuses 7.54: Four Ways the Industry is Changing

And now, for the very last episode of Season 7, we shall chance taking a look forward. Is this prognostication, or reckless abandon? Neither! We get asked a lot about how the industry is changing, and how we’re adjusting to what we see happening. This isn’t us predicting the future: this is us interpreting what we’re seeing, and then describing how we plan to react.

  • Mary suggests that we’re seeing a swing from Fantasy to Science Fiction as the dominant speculative genre, and but she doesn’t plan to start writing nothing but sci-fi as a result.
  • Dan calls out a trend towards supplemental materials — shorts that tie in to flagship novels. He’s already taking part in this, and plans to keep doing it.
  • Howard hits the hot-button of “e-publishing,” and calls it “shortening the value chain.” He’s been making a living with it since it was basically brand-new, but he plans to continue to exploit the disruptions it creates — sometimes by lengthening the value chain.
  • Brandon sees increasing pressures for authors to promote themselves, (largely the result of exceptional cases of authors with good platforms), but suggests that the time can still be better spent writing more books.

And that’s it for us until 2013! We’ll be back next year with Season 8, and you’ll only have to wait a week for it to start airing.

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Figure out what you would like the future of writing to look like. Now write a story about how we get there.

The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay, narrated by Holter Graham