Posts Tagged ‘john scalzi’

The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards have been announced! If you’re interested in the best new science fiction today, or just looking to pad your reading list, the Hugo roster is a great place to start.

Check out the complete list at MidAmeriCon II (this year’s Worldcon host). For more on the award and this year’s slate, John Scalzi has a new piece up at the LA Times:

The Hugo finalists: John Scalzi on why the sad puppies can’t take credit for Neil Gaiman’s success*

I’ve read all but one of the candidates for Best Novel, but only two of those for Best Novella and a handful of the remaining works (I’ve seen all but one of the films, though, so quick and digestible, movies!).

If you’re interested in voting for any of this fine fiction to win a Hugo, you’ll need an active membership to Worldcon. (If you aren’t planning to attend the conference, the most accessible way to do this is with a $50 Supporting membership, which comes with many of the nominated works in the Hugo Voter Packet.)

Links to the (mostly not free) nominated stories are available via Locus Online or in Google’s handy summary search sidebar, along with past winners. I’ll add one more link to the free short story nominee at Nature:

Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)

Time to get reading:)


* Yes, the whole “puppies” kerfuffle remains ongoing, but looks to be less of an issue for this year’s Hugo nominees and going forward. Thankfully!

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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


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For all those in or of the United States, Happy Thanksgiving:)

For the first time I can remember I’m not back at my familial homestead partaking in traditional Thanksgiving Day festivities. The decision not to travel makes sense but it’s still a little weird, not least because I’m in a country where they celebrated the holiday last month (now that’s weird;).

So I’m a little sad with the missing of the family (not too sad, though, as I’ll see them in a few weeks) but feeling thankful for all the wonderful people in my life. I hope you are too.

Let me leave you with a link to John Scalzi’s science fictional Thanksgiving Day grace, which he wrote as a handy guide for those who may be called on to lead their tables in thanks. This timeless classic includes such gems as:

We also thank you for once again not allowing our technology to gain sentience, to launch our own missiles at us, to send a robot back in time to kill the mother of the human resistance, to enslave us all, and finally to use our bodies as batteries. That doesn’t even make sense from an energy-management point of view, Lord, and you’d think the robots would know that. But in your wisdom, you haven’t made it an issue yet, so thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Writing is simple, right? Writing is considered a basic skill in our society and as such, people often look down on it as, well, a basic skill. Sadly, thinking that you can write an effective book/story/memoir/etc. because you are literate is like saying that because you can run down the block, you have what it takes to do the Boston Marathon.

As always, the devil is in the details. Sorting out those details, by understanding the process and which of the many aspects of art and craft you should work on, is key to becoming (and staying) a writer.

Much of what I read and write is speculative and genre fiction, and a few of my specific suggestions and references are colored accordingly. If speculative fiction isn’t your thing that doesn’t mean you can’t use these references. It just means that you may need to ask yourself questions like, “This is great, but how would an alien sea monkey’s need for interstellar love translate to a tailor in modern-day Calcutta?” All the better to exercise your creative faculties, I say. As you’ll see, though, most writing advice translates well across boundaries.

Here are a few pointers to get you started…

Resources I’ve Found Useful:

It will shock no one to learn that there are also a lot of writing resources on the web; often the problem is sorting through them all. Search for talks, interviews and essays by authors whose work speaks to you, see if their ideas or suggestions offer fuel for your fires. I’ve mentioned some links in previous discussions on writing and creativity already, and there are many (many, many) more. To get you started:


Life rewards action…. That story isn’t going to unf*ck itself.
— Chuck Wendig [asterisk mine]

There are all kinds of writers. Fiction vs. not, certainly, but also binge writers, morning writers, middle of the night writers, must have my pencils just so writers, deadline writers and cabin in the woods writers, can only write on used envelope writers, take your pick. Find what works for you.

Then write.

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In the wake of NaNoWriMo, I thought it instructive to point out Jim C. Hines’s new book, Rise of the Spider Goddess. This is an annotated version of a novel he wrote in his formative years. In other words, it is a bad book. And he’s sharing it, on purpose, for entertainment, for edification, and to help other writers recognize that we all start somewhere.

So, fair NaNo’ers (and others), as you review your 50,000+ word opus, do not despair if you realize that the draft over which you slaved is actually really very awfully bad;) And as Jim says in his introduction to the book on John Scalzi’s Whatever:

Writing a bad book is nothing to be ashamed of, because dammit, I still wrote a book. Then I wrote more of them. And with each one, I got better.

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Jason Sheehan over at NPR has a very nice review of John Scalzi’s Lock In today. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy:)

Lock In is a cop story first… There is blood, a body, a couch pushed out a hotel room window from a high floor… Once he’s gotten past the tricky part of building a near-future world and putting a dead body in it without getting bogged down in the details of either, the rest is all cake and hand grenades.

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I planned to avoid the kerfuffle around Lynn Shepard’s call for JK Rowling to stop writing, because the idea that Rowling should quit for the good of other writers is flat-out ridiculous. The sensible approach to scarcity isn’t to fight over the last tiny slice; instead, make the pie bigger. Rowling has certainly done that.

Mark Pryor’s article says most of what I was thinking about Lynn Shepard’s essay, and I was glad to see it come out. Here he is on Rowling: “…authors like you actually bring more readers to our books. More books from you means more readers for us, not fewer.”

I do disagree with a point at the end of Pryor’s article, however. The part where the author says that writers don’t write to make money is an old excuse to explain away economic marginalization: “…writers don’t sit down and write books to make money… We write because we love to share our stories.”

It has been said before but bears repeating: Doctors don’t examine you out of the love of anatomy, plumbers don’t fix your pipes for free. Professional writers are, or should be, the same. Yes, most people can “write” in the broad sense of the word, but very few can do it at professional levels. It’s like dismissing an Olympic sprinter because “anyone can run.”

“…this is the sort of thinking, intentional or otherwise, that gives bad people cover to screw writers with regard to money, and gives uncertain writers a reason to shrug off being screwed.”
John Scalzi

Writers have a lot of motivations, and the pleasure of being read is certainly one. But we also write because (we hope) it pays the bills, because it’s less physically demanding than ditch digging, or because we have something to say. We write to entertain, to connect with other human beings, to understand the world and to communicate what we see. We write to make sense of a problem or an emotion and to pass that knowledge along. We write to provide adventure or mystery or humor or a place of refuge. If we do it well (and that’s what we’re all striving for, is it not?), we give to the reader, not the other way around.

And Ms Rowling does it well.


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John Scalzi has a nice piece up today with encouraging words about persistence in writing… I particularly like this bit:

Who knows what will happen tomorrow.

Will you, as a writer, become like George RR Martin? Probably not. But you might find your own measure of success, so long as you keep showing up.


This last weekend I had an enjoyable time at the Confusion convention, which is no surprise, as I usually do — it’s one of the reasons I’ve gone back to it now for nine years running. I mostly hung out in the bar and talked to writers, doing the usual combination of business talk and complete idiocy, as writers generally do at conventions when they chat with each other.

One evening I talked to a couple of different authors about writing careers and the ups and downs careers have, and how from time to time we’re all filled with frustration with them, especially during a downturn. We all want to be on award lists; we all want to have bestsellers. If those things don’t happen we can wonder if what we’re doing matters much at all. As we were talking about it I came up with a metaphor which I…

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Terrific, this award is very well deserved:)


The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has named Samuel R. Delany its newest Grand Master. All the details are here.

I’m still doing my “no comments on SFWA for a year” thing, so I won’t discuss this substantively at the moment. I will say this: This is an award both well chosen and well deserved.

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This is still in progress but John Scalzi reports new updates have been made to the previously mentioned contracts through Random House’s Hydra and Alibi imprints:

Random House Makes Changes to Hydra/Alibi Contracts

… and Scalzi’s immediate followup:

Immediate Thoughts on the Random House eBook Imprint Contract Changes.

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