Archives for fantasy

Fantastic Terminology

One of the great challenges in the depiction of worlds and phenomena distant from reality as we know it is mastering the art of the coinage. It’s not easy; take it from a writer who’s struggled with it for thirty years. Some science fiction writers are truly gifted at this art. Larry Niven, in his early “Known Space” stories, displayed a talent for introducing strange words as labels for strange things. For example, when he decided to allow faster-than-light travel in his fictional universe — always a chancy proposition — he gave us the hyperdrive shunt. He called the kidnappers
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Why Sci Fi? (Part 2)

In my last post, I established the cultural value of sci-fi. However, just because it has cultural value, does that mean it has literary value? In order to evaluate whether or not sci-fi/fantasy belongs in the larger category of literary fiction, we first need to define some terms. What makes literary fiction, well, literary? And what makes sci-fi/fantasy, sci-fi/fantasy? Literary fiction, I feel, is best described as a thought provoking work of art in book form. They are narratives that transcend time, genre, and resonate with ideas. At its best, literary fiction should be a learning experience, a spiritual experience,
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The Big Argument

Yes, friends, it’s here. Actually, it’s been here for quite some time, and no one has figured out how to get rid of it. Neither Black Flag nor borax has any effect. The big argument is, of course: Where does science fiction end and fantasy begin? I’ll grant you that this one will never be settled. There are both good and not-so-good reasons for that. But before we get really serious, let’s have a gander at the most serious problem an SF writer must face: whether and when to violate known physical laws. If you enjoy science fiction (which I
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What is Speculative Fiction?

Defining a genre often leads to muddled ramblings about what that genre should or shouldn’t be, and normally ends up leaving something important out in the process. That said, there are certain genres that are fairly clear cut. Romance, for example. If you are a romance novelist your readers expect all the joys and sorrows that come with the games of courtship and marriage. However, when it comes to other genres the definitions are unclear and confused. One genre label, which I personally subscribe to, that sadly falls into this unfortunate area of ambiguity is speculative fiction. So, and I
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