And Speaking Of Fantasy, Etc.

All the hoo-ha I got myself into the past week or so revolved around “genre” writing — science fiction and fantasy in particular. So I’m sorely tempted to take this course. Sounds fascinating! Do we live in interesting times or what???

UPDATE: I signed up for it. I can’t resist.

14 thoughts on “And Speaking Of Fantasy, Etc.

  1. I am now required to say the following. Please supply the creepy voice with your imagination: “One of us, one of us, geeble gobble geeble gobble, one of us!”

  2. Geeble gobble geeble gobble? Really? How come my kid who writes the stuff never told me this?????????????????

  3. It’s an interesting subject if you like genre SF. The traditional thinking rather goes that SF has influenced and inspired many scientists and they tell stories about how this is in fact true. Sometimes it’s literally true as the mechanical arms used behind clear barriers are called “waldos” from an short Robert Heinlein story.

    Science is present in SF in many interesting ways but too much of it can overwhelm art and this is happening. Also, TV and movie SF is creeping into literary SF in ways that are sad and stifle creativity. Mainstream audiences generally want the same old, same old though they do respond well to producers who have the courage to present rather more nuanced idea. Children of Dune was one of the most popular shows on the SF Channel ever – it was a layered and nuanced screenplay with few stereotypes.

  4. I don’t particularly like SF. I read all the usual suspects back when I was in high school, but everytime I’ve tried to find something that’s equally interesting, well, I last about twenty pages and give up. My kids, who love the stuff, keep recommending things to me but somehow none of it seems to click with me. But the description of this course appeals to me, probably because it’s a combination of topics I can’t say I’d thought about as a coherent whole.

    On the other hand, I LOVED Battlestar Galactica (the new one; never saw the old one). Man, great great stuff. Which, heh, will probably get me in trouble all over again. No doubt BG is regarded as enemy number two by the Human Wave crowd.

    • What are “the usual suspects”? 🙂 You may have been reading the boring SF. Probably were, if you like Battlestar Galactica.

      My suggestion for SF would be Lois McMaster Bujold — (novel) and (short story/novella) are free. My suggestion for Fantasy would be Barbara Hambly (history teacher) — (and then the sequel, The Silicon Mage, because Silent Tower’s ending was the worst cliffhanger of my young life). Hambly’s descriptive powers astound me, personally; I still want to grow up to write half as well!

      Another fantasy book you might want to look at would be Bujold again: Paladin of Souls ( That setting has a fair amount of research, as it’s based on historical Earth — just add interventionist gods… (Can you spot the time-period?)

      • I probably don’t like SF! Or fantasy. (I tried a highly praised fantasy novel a few months ago. Lasted about fifty pages and gave up.) What I like are NOVELS. I like characters and plot. My tastes are decidedly conventional and old-fashioned and that’s probably because of the stuff I read when I was a kid. My favorite writer is Anthony Trollope.

      • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin has lots of plot and characters. It can get quite violent and even depraved which should suit you to a tee.

        Your turn.

      • BUT: am off to Amazon to download samples of the stuff you recommended. I’m always open to new stuff. Because with me, hope springs eternal. Seriously.

      • Well, depending on what you term “plot” and “character,” it may be that you should avoid much of the Old Guard like the plague — plot was often present, but character… Not always so much. And character-driven plot was definitely rare in a lot of classic SF.

        (Although one key feature of the SF&F I grew up with is that “the world is also a character” — people tend to read SF&F at least partly to visit Totally Different Places. This is why Romance books with a fantasy/SF setting may appeal to a Romance fan far more than a SF&F fan, who looks at the world-building and pitches the book across the room because the setting was treated as a backdrop, not an integral part of the story. Stars know, I’ve seen a story or two where the characters were “eh” but the world was fascinating in some way.)

        Anthony Trollope… Hmmm. Arguably, he’s written a bit of SF himself! 😀

        Anyway, crossing fingers that the samples (or freebies) aren’t entirely distasteful to you. (For the Bujold one… Might want to read Mountains of Mourning first, though it’s chronologically second with the novel.)

  5. Holy moly! I had no idea AT had written something like SF. I’ll definitely look those up and thanks VERY much for the tip. I think the last “science fiction” I read that I actually enjoyed was Kim Stanley Robinson’s Gold Coast trilogy, and for all I know, that’s not even considered “real” science fiction.

    • Near Future Speculative Fiction and/or Alternate Universe, sounds like. I’d call it SF. (SF is big; it contains multitudes. Near Future (often dystopian) extrapolation has a long tradition of being SF. See 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.) I wonder if you’d like Brin’s Earth? Or… Niven, I think it was, with Oath of Fealty. (Niven+Pournelle, wikipedia tells me…) Though those are more about “Look at the world/society that I have created/extrapolated!” and less about the actual individual characters, I think.

      Another near-future SF book, by Niven and Barnes, is Dream Park, which anticipates Live Action Role-Playing games and reality TV, though alas, we don’t have holograms. Anyway, I suspect that the Gold Coast trilogy falls into the same Near Future SF category. 🙂


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