SF writer gets rock star treatment from Chinese

Jeremy Eades @ 26-09-2007

Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer received the Galaxy award, China’s top science fiction prize, from the China International Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival in Chengdu, in Sichuan province.

Sawyer gives his take on the good science fiction can do for Chinese culture – mainly by providing a venue for controversial or taboo topics to be aired in a country not known for its free speech.  In addition, Sawyer relates the current situation regarding the genre to its genesis in inter-war years of America, how people reading sci-fi are inspired to careers in science and technology, and how people can actually see the increments in life quality provided by that science.

Sawyer touches on my major reason for enjoying science fiction – social commentary:

"They’re [China’s science fiction authors] ripe for a transition to a much more interesting sociology and social impact in the softer sciences," [Sawyer] said.

That kind of writing will also allow them to write about subjects that might otherwise be too sensitive in a civilization that doesn’t allow open discussion, he said.

It makes you wonder if the transition to democracy might happen based on sci-fi stories.

Before now, I’d never heard of Robert J. Sawyer.  I think I’ll go check out some of his books my next trip to a bookstore, it sounds like he’s got some interesting ideas.

(via SciTech Daily Review)


Charlie Stross on signing tour of the US

Paul Raven @ 25-09-2007

charlesstross_cthulhu Futurismic readers based in the US should be pleased to hear that hyper-prolific British science fiction writer Charlie Stross is being whisked off for a promotional tour of the States by Ace Books. The dates:

Tuesday, October 9th

12am – Amazon.com Fishbowl session at Amazon’s Union Station Offices in Seattle.

7pm – a public reading (and signing) at University Bookstore at the Science Fiction Museum (325 5th Avenue North, Seattle).

Wednesday, October 10th

2pm – reading and signing at Google in Kirkland. (NB: Google staff only, sadly.)

Thursday, October 11th

7:30pm – reading and signing at Powell’s City of Books (1005 W. Burnside Street, Portland).

Friday, October 12th

1pm – reading and signing at Google in Mountain View.

7pm – another reading and signing at Borders at 400 Post Street, San Francisco.

There are also plenty of radio and magazine interviews in between, apparently, so you should be able to catch the man in action somehow, wherever you may live. And I recommend you do so – I’ve had the privilege of seeing Stross speak a number of times, and in addition to being a fine writer he’s as sharp as a tack, and a very funny man indeed. [Image ganked from the (now sadly defunct) Table of Malcontents blog]

[tags]science fiction, authors, Charlie Stross, tour[/tags]

Winning Mars – free science fiction novel from Jason Stoddard

Paul Raven @ 20-08-2007

As already noted at T3Aspace and reported by Gareth L. Powell, Jason Stoddard has decided to release an entire unpublished novel for free under a Creative Commons licence. Winning Mars is an expansion of the novella by the same name that appeared in Interzone #196.

Winning Mars by Jason Stoddard

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that Jason and I are friends, that he helped me out by building my concrete compound of doom in Second Life for me (and made a fine job of it too), and that I may have started this habit by convincing him to release his short story “Fermi Packet” in a similar fashion.

But in case you’re thinking that means you should take my recommendation with a pinch of salt, bear in mind that as well as being published in Interzone (more than once), he’s also sold short stories to us here at Futurismic, as well as Talebones, Darker Matter and Strange Horizons, among others.

What I’m trying to say is that this guy writes great science fiction, and that Winning Mars will be well worth your time. At this price (you know, like, free), how could it not be? All he asks is that you let him know what you though of it after you’ve read it, positive or negative.

So, what are you waiting for? Download the PDF of Winning Mars now, while stocks last!

[Cross-posted to VCTB]


Career advice for writers, by writers

Paul Raven @ 18-08-2007

My feed reader is full of useful advice for writers once again, so I thought I’d share the wealth:

Jeff Vandermeer’s Evil Monkey delivers the second short sharp installment of his Guide to Creative Writing:

“Alas, market predictions aren’t like assholes, because everyone has two or three, and they usually serve little purpose.”

Luc Reid tries to nail down what it is that makes certain stories rise from “good, but not quite what we’re looking for” to “sold”:

“So what makes a story rise above its fellows, inspire love, stand out? The intuitive response would be that it does the things we talked about better. The characters are stronger, the plot is more compelling, the description is more vivid. But usually standing out is going to mean something else, and it’s going to differ from writer to writer and sometimes from story to story. The stories that rise above are not just more competent than the stories that don’t, although more competent is always better.”

Moving beyond the writing itself and into the territory of promotional work, Charlie Stross explains the dos and don’ts of public readings with his usual dry humour:

“The water jug isn’t an optional extra. I usually take the precaution of bringing along a drink of some sort, simply because my throat dries out after ten or fifteen minutes of speaking and if I’m scheduled late in a day of readings, the folks providing supporting facilities such as jugs of water tend to be getting a bit erratic themselves.”

And finally, David Louis Edelman has some advice on how to self-promote with ethical integrity:

“3. Avoid glaring sins of omission. This is a difficult guideline to follow, because it’s very subjective. Don’t use ellipses to claim that your book is “an absolutely terrific… thriller” when the actual review states that your book is “an absolutely terrific example of what not to do when writing a thriller.” Don’t try to sell to a group of Vietnam vets by claiming that your book has a Vietnam vet in it, while conveniently forgetting to mention that said character gets run over by a truck on page 4.”

Ah! The intarwebs: helping aspiring writers (to avoid writing by supplying them enough advice from genuine writers that they can convince themselves reading it is a more valuable way to spend their time than actually writing) since 1997!

[Cross-posted to VCTB]


Karl Schroeder on colonising Planet Earth

Paul Raven @ 13-08-2007

Canadian sf author Karl Schroeder has the sort of day job that anyone with a science fictional mindset would probably love to have – he’s a foresight consultant. Luckily, as internet denizens we can enjoy the fruits of his thinking without having to lash out on consultancy fees. Here’s his latest article for the consistently excellent Worldchanging blog, wherein Schroeder discusses the ecological footprint of humans as a species, and how we should approach our existence on Earth in much the same way as we would build a colony on another planet.


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