Friday, January 13, 2023

Podcast recommendation: Crafting With Ursula

The podcast I've been binging this weeks is Crafting With Ursula. There are only six episodes of this flavor of a larger literary podcast, but they've been fascinating.

Episodes I've listened to so far:

adrienne maree brown on Social Justice & Science Fiction 
" justice and science fiction are intricately linked imaginative acts, acts that have real effects in the world at large."

Kim Stanley Robinson on Ambiguous Utopias
"...why has this genre become a particularly vital form and even a critical tool of the human imagination today?"

Incidentally, Kim Stanley Robinson tells of going to watch the original Star Wars with Ursula Le Guin and her other students, and how none of them realized how much the movie was going to change what people thought of as sci fi. He speaks of it with great regret, and I realize he (and she) were on the OG side of the argument, where as I've been convinced it was a good thing to widen the genre.

Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake


The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake.  I found the premise to be quite unbelievable: none of the six initiates asked the obvious question, and it turned out to be an important one.  However, I did like how the magic was interwoven with science, and how each person has a particular specialty instead of all just being witches and wizards. Ultimately, a huge twist which was slightly hinted at made it worth reading to the end.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Review: The Peripheral by William Gibson


Dense, unexplained terms with two protagonists in different, futuristic worlds.  Pay-off when they intersect, especially because there's a twist. Not sure I ever understood some of the character's motivations, though. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders


Interesting examples of how to explain magical sort of sci fi, interesting mix of fantasy & sci fi. The first two chapters were just backstory on the two protagonists, but I found them compelling reads: worth the study on interesting characterization. A little too tongue-in-cheek overall for me. DNF but worth coming back to someday when I'm not so busy (read during NaNoWriMo!)

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Review: The Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse


Went straight into this after Black Sun. Great middle for the trilogy, although admittedly the previous one ended with a cliff-hanger. Looking forward to the next!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse


Glorious writing, beautiful world-building. I care intensely about the characters, and as a writer am buying a copy to study her technique. I fall into the not-a-fan-of-fantasy camp but loved it.

Warning that the plot arc is only partially resolved in the first book. This is usually a pet peeve of mine, but it was good enough for me to get over that. Plus it helps that the second book is out, so I could jump straight into it. The ending of that is better resolved while still leaving a very clear third book to come. I can't wait!

ps. Did you know you can purchase this book on and support your local bookstore at the same time? I love it!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Science fiction? Science fantasy? Speculative fiction?

When it comes to the debate about what can be called science fiction, Ryan Britt nails it:

"... when it comes to the definition of science fiction, there's not really a moral imperative here. Culture changes the way we use language, irrespective of whether or not people like that change. Old-guard literary SF people don't have to like the new, more broad definition of science fiction, but they do have to live with it.

And I find this an interesting concept to consider. 

Unlike a mystery or a romance, science fiction doesn't have story-telling rules. Instead, sci-fi can encompass all the narrative genres. Shows like Star Trek or Doctor Who can do horror, comedy, romance, and mystery, all with the same characters in the same setting.