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Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Bear’

Today’s free fiction selection is Elizabeth Bear’s “And the Balance in Blood,” from the November/December 2015 issue of Uncanny.

Bear writes both novels and terrific, frequently magical shorts.* (“Tideline,” a 2008 Hugo award-winner from Asimov’s Science Fiction, holds a special place in my heart, but the text version isn’t freely available [audio link at Escape Pod].)

If you’re curious about Bear’s other works or where to start with her (many) series, check out Tor.com’s helpful article Where To Start with the Work of Elizabeth Bear.

Enjoy!

* Also, what a great pen name. Makes me want to write as Jennifer Okapi or Swan or Fossa:)

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Today I want to spotlight a collection of writing advice. It comes via OWW, the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. OWW is a fee-based workshop but this advice is available to all.

These short essays discuss topics on writing in general, how to get your work read (if you’re into workshops like OWW, or the free Critters or Codex, for example), and the publishing business overall. I like Nicola Griffith’s piece about avoiding cliches:*

Don’t write “her heart stopped” unless you mean she died. Don’t talk about saucy serving wenches in an inn where the beef stew is thick and hearty and the ale is fresh, nutty, and strong… Why aren’t “serving wenches” ever tired, middle-aged women? Why is the beer rarely yellow, or thin, or cloudy with sediment?

So true.** There’s a reason the average human lives a much longer and healthier life than their ancestors did just a century ago:

In Japan, 72 has become the new 30, as the likelihood of a 72-year-old modern-day person dying is the same as a 30-year-old hunter-gatherer ancestor who lived 1.3 million years ago.

Modern sanitation, medicine and quality infrastructure (for those handy extras like clean drinking water) for the win!

So, keep a weather eye out for dangerous and terrifying pitfalls you have to escape in the nick of time as you navigate the winding path of language clichés:) But keep writing. Remember, all’s well that ends well! (And that’s just about enough of that;)

While we’re on the subject of advice, I’ll supplement the OWW site and my previous posts on writing advice with a link from Brain Pickings. This collection of wisdom is from a variety of writers, genre and otherwise:

#49: Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers
“You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.”

Some of this advice may not apply to you; I tend not to relate to Bukowski, for example. But some of it may, and I hope it’s useful.

Since I’m throwing in everything but the kitchen sink today, let me close with this great post from Elizabeth Bear: “everybody’s scared of things that they don’t understand and all the living they don’t do.

Accept that there will be a lot of failures along the way, and that you can come back from nearly any mistake that doesn’t involve making a left turn in front of an oncoming semi.

Excellent advice.

Write, rewrite, finish. Do it again.

…………
* Some of the examples are also about uncomfortable -isms. Racism and sexism, for instance, are more problematic than simple clichés and should be resolved at a deeper level. Obviously.
** As a side note, if you’re curious about what and how people ate in the Western Middle Ages, SF Canada writer Krista D. Ball has a detailed and useful book on realism in fantasy food: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank.

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Today’s free fiction comes from Ann Leckie of Ancillary fame and more. “Hesperia and Glory” was her first SF&F sale, and she blogs about the story and her experience writing it as part of the Clarion West writers workshop:

…all the best advice in the world (and trust me, it was fabulous advice for the story I appeared to have written) isn’t useful if it’s not for your story.

“Hesperia and Glory” is available free as part of a special issue of Subterranean Magazine guest-edited by John Scalzi. Also in this issue, stories by Rachel Swirsky, Jo Walton, Elizabeth Bear and more.

Heck, since I’m at it, let me link two other Leckie stories I read in the past few weeks, both in the Imperial Radch universe:

Night’s Slow Poison from Tor.com
She Commands Me and I Obey from Strange Horizons

Enjoy!

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Between regular life and my super exciting NaNoWriMo experiment, my schedule has been a bit busy of late. (Hence the relative quiet here.) So I thought I’d start your week off right, with some free fiction.

Today’s selection is a new collection of shorts produced by none other than Microsoft, which is venturing into the fiction futurism business. What’s it all about?

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft is an anthology of short stories written by some of today’s greatest science fiction authors. These visionary stories explore prediction science, quantum computing, real-time translation, machine learning, and much more. The contributing authors were inspired by inside access to leading-edge work, including in-person visits to Microsoft’s research labs, to craft new works that predict the near-future of technology and examine its complex relationship to our core humanity.

How will the technologies the company is exploring affect our world? They’ve brought together a pretty great group of authors and artists to speculate on that very topic. Contributors include Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire, Robert J. Sawyer, Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, and Joey Camacho.

This link takes you to a Microsoft news page with jumps to Amazon and other download sites where you can get the e-book file for free free free.

Enjoy!

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via Slate.com:
Using Science Fiction to Create a Better Tomorrow: A Future Tense Event Recap

Oh, this looks fun. A recent event hosted by Slate’s Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology in D.C. focused on ways that imagination in general, and science fiction in particular, can help inspire a better future. Sure, dystopias are all the rage and who doesn’t love a good apocalypse, but people have always enjoyed teasing themselves with frightening things. The key word is “teasing”… that doesn’t mean we actually want to live there.

(Srsly, do you really want a horde of raving zombies standing between you and your pumpkin spice latte every morning? Neither do I. I want to live in a future where disease is manageable, hunger is obsolete, and creativity and innovation rule the day in the best ways. I also want a flying car. Because where are all the flying cars?!)

Check out the October 2nd event, complete with video of speakers like Neal Stephenson, Ted Chiang, Elizabeth Bear, representatives from NASA, DARPA, SyFy and many others, here: Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?

From the tales we tell about robots and drones, to the narratives on the cutting edge of neuroscience, to society’s view of its most intractable problems, we need to begin telling a new set of stories about ourselves and the future.

Related links:
— Neal Stephenson’s article at the World Policy Institute, on the importance of renewing our society’s ability to “get big things done”: Innovation Starvation.
— The anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future.
— For more links to short stories (including pieces from Hieroglyph) and related discussions on this topic, see the final section of the Slate article.

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This has been true for a while but Shadow Unit 1 is available to download for free:

Shadow Unit is a contemporary science fiction series about a group of FBI agents struggling to protect humanity from the worst monsters imaginable. Except some of our heroes may be on the road to becoming monsters themselves….

Get started on this reader-funded series with writing by Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, and Will Shetterly for nothing, nada, zip, tipota!

Kindle version at Amazon: Shadow Unit 1. Epub, pdf, and other formats at Smashwords: Shadow Unit 1.

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The excellent Elizabeth Bear has a good post on how to get past “rave rejections.” You know the ones, where they tell you how great the story is but sorry, can’t use it.

Her advice? Focus on Voice and Narrative. While these suggestions are hardly new she does frame them in concise, useful language that cuts through the extensive “how to” checklists so often found in writing advice. Here she is on how to grow a voice:

Write a lot. Work at identifying and expunging cliches and lazy word choice from your prose. Find sharp verbs and strong, observed details. Read things out loud and if you don’t like how they sound, change them. Embrace whimsy and quirkiness, but only inasmuch as it is natural to you: otherwise you run the risk of becoming twee. Play with pastiche. If you have a natural wit, let it shine through. Be playful.

On narrative drive and creating characters readers care about:

A character who loves something, or who holds fast to an ideal, is humanized and becomes approachable. A character who takes action lures us unto caring about what she cares about.

We love people who fight.

It’s a great post, short, approachable, with a “manageable bite-sized helpful chunk” of useful information. Also, bonus points for using a funny video of David Bowie to make her case.

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