Tag Archives: Science Fiction

17.37: Science and Fiction—It’s Not Just Science Fiction

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Cady Coleman

The fictional side of science and the scientific side of fiction are part of the discipline of science communication, often called SciComm. In this episode Cady Coleman joins us to talk about how science fiction fits into the field of SciComm, and how the stories we tell can affect the people who read them.

Credits: This episode was recorded before a live audience by Rob Kowal, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Find something you wish were real. Write a story in which it is.

For All Mankind (TV Series), on Apple TV

16.49: Magic and Technology: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Fonda Lee, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler

Magic and technology are tools that we, as writers, use to tell interesting stories, and they’re very, very similar tools. In this episode we’ll examine some ways in which both magical and technological elements can be used in our stories.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Come up with one speculative element to add to our world. “Children have night vision.” “Dogs can talk.” Come up with as many aspects of the world that would be different from our own as a result and mark one or two that would be the seed for interesting stories.

David Mogo Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

16.18: Poetry and the Fantastic

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, Amal, and Howard

For the last seven episodes we’ve explored language, meaning, and their overlap with that thing we mean when we use language to say “poetry.”

In this episode we step back to some origins, including, at a meta-level, the origins of this podcast as a writer-focused exploration of genre fiction—the speculative, the horrific, the science-y, and the fantastic.

Because there is an overlap between language and meaning, and there are myriad overlaps among the genres we love, and as we step back we see poetry striding these spaces, its path in part defining and in part defying the various borders.

Poetry, scouting the fraught borders between the kingdoms of Meaning and Language.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson. 

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Find a favorite line from a novel or short story, one that moves you deeply; use it as the epigraph for a poem.

Monster Portraits, by Sofia Samatar and Del Samatar

15.47: Worldbuilding Science Fiction, with Cory Doctorow

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Piper, and Howard, with Cory Doctorow

Worldbuilding is something you do to some degree in everything you write. Cory Doctorow  writes (among many other things) near-future SF, and he joins us for a discussion of extrapolative worldbuilding.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Make a list of transactions in your life which have no reciprocity.

Walkaway: A Novel, by Cory Doctorow

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