Archive for the ‘guest post’ Category
My friend Andy got me hooked on Andre Norton (he’s working on getting me hooked on typewriters, but that’s a different story). Although we see each other all the time and live near each other, we often send letters, cards, and post cards back and forth. Andy types his on one of the many typewriters he owns, and in trade, I send him postcards with nearly illegible handwriting. Here’s a portion of a letter I recently received from Andy:
(warning: this post is 100% scanned images, so may take a while to load)
Today I’m thrilled to host Hugo Award winning author Jim C. Hines. I’ve had the pleasure to meet Jim at a number of conventions and local events, most recently at a book signing at my local independent bookstore. Jim C. Hines is most well known for his Goblin series, his Princess series, and his Magic Ex Libris series. You can learn more about Jim at his website and his blog, or by following him on twitter. You might also know him for his SFF Cover Art photoshoot project.
Oh, you don’t know Jim C. Hines? Well, first things first, go get yourself a copy of Libriomancer this instant. The third book in the Magic Ex Libris series, Unbound, comes out in January, and I am so geeked!!
But, back to today’s topic! Always interested in neat projects, Jim C Hines is about to be know for, erm, something else. His newest book, Rise of the Spider Goddess, hits bookstore shelves tomorrow (Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, GooglePlay). In today’s guest post, he lets us all in on the little secret on what in the world he was thinking. (Jim didn’t give me a title for his guest post, so I had to make one up. Sorry Jim!)
This Book Admits its Bad. And That’s What Makes it So Good.
a guest post by Jim C. Hines
When Andrea and I were emailing about ideas for a guest blog post about Rise of the Spider Goddess, she came back with one of the same questions a lot of people have been asking: “What the heck were you thinking, Jim?”
She was much kinder in her phrasing, of course. But it’s a reasonable question. You see, this book is bad. It says so right in the introduction:
The book you’re about to read is bad. Bad like waking up at two in the morning because your cat or dog is making that distinctive hacking noise. Bad like your almost-potty-trained child walking out of the bathroom to announce, “I did finger-painting, Daddy!”
Editor and author Henry Herz’s new anthology, Beyond the Pale, features short fiction from Jim Butcher, Gillian Philip, Saladin Ahmed, Peter S. Beagle, Jane Yolen and more! Beyond the Pale is available from Birch Tree Publishing, and is already getting glowing reviews from some of our community’s brightest rising stars. Henry was kind enough to write a guest post for Little Red Reviewer that contains excerpts from some of the stories (which is awesome unto itself!).
Prose Lessons from the Pro’s
By Henry Herz
Henry writes sci-fi and fantasy books for kids. His picture book Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes will be published by Pelican in 2015. He is editor of a YA fantasy anthology, Beyond the Pale, which will be available August 1.
Take a moment, close your eyes, and recall a few stories that truly engaged you as a reader. Now doff your reader’s hat, and don your analytical writer’s hat, You’ll recognize certain writing techniques reliably employed by the pro’s. Using senses other than sight, evoking emotions, using rich voice, taking action, and describing scenes vividly are powerful tools for creating characters you care about, immersing you in a fictional yet believable world, and raising the stakes for readers. All well and good, you say, but how do I master those methods?
Just as a lion is the product of all the zebras it’s eaten, a writer is the product of all the books he or she has read. Reading the works of skilled writers is a fabulous way to hone your craft. So, if you want to master the above techniques, a great place to start is to read examples of them. The following excerpts from Beyond the Pale, illustrate how to effectively employ these tactics.
Invoke Multiple Senses
The following scene from “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” by Saladin Ahmed does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the story by using senses other than just sight.
Her voice is more beautiful than any woman’s. And there is the powerful smell of jasmine and clove. A nightingale sings perfumed words at me while my mind’s eye burns with horrors that would make the Almighty turn away.
If fear did not hold your tongue, you would ask what I am. Men have called my people by many names—ghoul, demon. Does a word matter so very much? What I am, learned one, is Abdel Jameela’s wife.
For long moments I don’t speak. If I don’t speak, this nightmare will end. I will wake in Baghdad, or Beit Zujaaj. But I don’t wake.
She speaks again, and I cover my ears, though the sound is beauty itself.
The words you hear come not from my mouth, and you do not hear them with your ears. I ask you to listen with your mind and your heart. We will die, my husband and I, if you will not lend us your skill. Have you, learned one, never needed to be something other that what you are?
Cinnamon scent and the sound of an oasis wind come to me.
Vintage Science Fiction months owes part of it’s existence to my friend Andy. We met a few years ago through the local bookstore, and became fast friends. Over lunch discussions and a few beers, we traded books back and forth, me trying to get Andy on the “new weird” band wagon, and him getting me into Andre Norton and making sure our local scifi book club read the classics (See Andy? This is what happens when you don’t send me a bio. I write one for you!).
Andy is also a typewriter collector, and although we live in the same city, we write letters to each other, him on his typewriter(s), and me by hand. Hand writing and typewriting a letter is a completely different experience than firing off a quick e-mail. He even typed me this guest post. See? To keep the pages loading fast, I’ve only scanned in a few typewritten paragraphs.
Fortunately the trauma was short-lived and soon after I discovered the films of George Pal and Ray Harryhausen. Pal’s The Time Machine and Harryhausen’s First Men in the Moon are still great favorites in the DVD collection, much to my family’s despair. TV beckoned too and no science fictional kid growing up in the Sixties could miss Lost in Space or Star Trek as well as the proto-steampunkiness of The Wild, Wild West. Sad to say, all but the last haven’t aged well for me. The camp value of pasteboard sets, pedestrian scripts, a now-hilarious lack of actual science, and acting that is adequate at best only takes nostalgia so far. Many SF movies of the time suffer from the same defects yet command greater affection for reasons I can’t explain.
My introduction to written science fiction came more gradually. First there was the discovery of the paperback cache in the upper drawer of my parent’s bedroom dresser. My paternal grandfather, a diehard fan from SF’s “Golden Age” of the Thirties and Forties, sent them to his son but my father wanted nothing to do with the genre. Fortunately for me, the unwanted collection included such treasures as Mark S. Geston’s now-classic Lords of the Starship. The book isn’t really about a starship and its ideas were way beyond anything I would have understood then. No matter, I was arrested by the cover image of a golden armored vehicle with a skeleton hanging out of the turret swimming through a sandy desert toward the huge, bluish, winged vehicle of the title. Not long after, a friend turned me on to the author who really turned me into a fan.
I met Rinn of Rinn Reads when she hosted Science Fiction Month back in November. What a great event! Not only because science fiction is near and dear to my heart, but because Rinn did an amazing job of getting authors and publishers involved AND getting bloggers who weren’t so sure about science fiction to pick up a few titles. People, this is what I love about the blogosphere. Someone says “hey, I’d like to do this, who wants to join me?” and suddenly a hundred people are raising their hands.
Why H.G. Well’s classic The War of the Worlds is still today, by Rinn
“No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…” (page 1)
And so H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds begins, with these immortal and haunting words. To me, it is up there with those fantastic opening lines that include Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But it’s not just the opening line that really has an impact – the entire book was, at the time, a brand new concept and something really quite shocking, and over one hundred years later it still grips and surprises: it is a timeless classic. It has been adapted time and time again, for the screen, stage and radio, and has influenced so many other authors and works, and even an entirely new genre of invasion fiction.
The War of the Worlds has been interpreted in many ways. Commentary on British imperialism, or perhaps Victorian fears, Mars was a very apt planet to use either way. Mars is the Roman god of war, equivalent to Greek Ares; where better for these alien soldiers and destroyers to come from? Wells was not the first to have this idea: it was used as early as 1880 in Percy Greg’s Across the Zodiac.
One of the scariest parts of the book is how the human race is completely and utterly powerless against the alien invasion – at least in in the tradition way. Weapons barely make a dent, and even taking down a tripod or two requires some sacrifices. The people watching the HMS Thunder Child fight a tripod believe that they are seeing progress, only to have the ship sink in front of their eyes. Their weapons include the Heat Ray, which burns people up instantly, the Black Smoke, a poisonous gas which chokes people to death, and the Red Weed. Were those aliens to invade today, when we’ve made so many technological advances, would we fare any better? Some people may look upon our ancestors of the nineteenth century with scorn, and have no doubt that today’s modern warfare would annihilate the Martians – and perhaps we would stand more of a chance – but it doesn’t just come down to that. Another factor to come into it is how we would react.
Posted January 21, 2014on:
I’ve been friends with fellow blogger Lynn, of Lynn’s Book Blog for years. We started commenting on each other’s blog, and before we knew it we were doing read alongs together and plotting to take over the world! Okay, not that last part. Well, maybe a little. In today’s guest post, Lynn talks Stainless Steel Rat, and how she got started reading more speculative fiction. Crime, con artists and capers in outerspace? sign me up!
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
by Lynn Williams
This month I’m reading some Vintage Sci Fi for Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage Sci Fi month – which also dovetails quite nicely with Stainless Steel Droppings Sci Fi Experience. Basically, it’s a bit like cheating – you read one book and it counts for both events. Win. We all love a cheat – don’t deny it! It’s like finding a short cut or a bargain – it makes you happy!
I’ve read a few sci fi books already but the first that I can put towards my Vintage event is Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison. I did think about writing a little introduction about the author but, to be honest, I’m probably not the best person to do that. This is my first reading experience of this author and so to start waxing lyrical would just be plain silly – there are plenty of people out there who could really do him justice rather than me just regurgitating facts from Wiki! The reason I chose this book? To be honest I don’t read much sci fi and that’s something I like to address. To be even more honest the reason for this is because I find it a little bit daunting. Basically sci fi scares the pants off me because I think I’m not going to understand it! I mean, it’s not like I’m a raging dunce but I hold my hands up that maths and science are not my forte – and I don’t want to read a book that makes me feel ridiculously stupid (is that bad?).
When I started blogging, one of the first blogs that I came across was Stainless Steel Droppings (followed by Little Red Reviewer). I’ve been following these blogs for quite some time now and in doing so I’ve read books that I frankly would never have picked up, I’ve read books that the cover alone would have had me walking out the shop!, I’ve read a few classics and I’ve taken part in readalongs that meant the subject of the book was dissected in a really fun way. Carl, over at Stainless Steel Droppings named his blog so because he has loved this author since being a young boy first stepping into the sci fi realm. I really like that sort of thing and so I thought I’d read this book to find out for myself just how good these books are. After all, if these books encouraged one person’s love of sci fi then what not mine?? Also, reading a bit about the Stainless Steel Rat its clear that this series is fun with a cheeky rogue being the main protagonist.
That all being said, the pressing issue – did I like it and would I continue with the series – yes, and yes!
The Stainless Steel Rat was the first in the series (although I think there have been prequels written since). The book sets off really well with Jim diGriz going from one crime caper to the next. The reason why this is so unusual is that crime has virtually been eradicated in this future world. Genetic tampering (presumably) has removed the trait and so there are very few master criminals working the stars, not to mention the crime enforcers are poorly placed to deal with such crime. Jim has little respect for the law and his lofty attitude is in a sense his undoing. He finds himself in a situation where he’s being chased and in attempting to escape capture is actually being manoeuvred into a trap – he’s used to being the one who’s always one step ahead. This isn’t a spoiler by the way – basically Jim is caught by the Special Corps – their aim (to boldly go maybe) to recruit master criminals and use their cunning and wily ways to catch others! A thief to catch a thief – not a bad plan.
Remember I said Lesley Connor was someone to thank for the upcoming Book of Apex blog tour in February? Jason Sizemore is the other person to thank. Apex Magazine is quite literally his baby. By the way, as you are reading this, Jason and I are hanging out at ConFusion.
The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination, by Jason Sizemore
Jason Sizemore is the two time Hugo Award-nominated owner and editor of Apex Publications. You can find more information about him and Apex at http://www.apexbookcompany.com
I had a late matriculation into science fiction. It wasn’t until my college years did I begin to read hard genre fiction. But what I did read had a profound effect on my future reading tastes and choices.
The first science fiction novel I remember reading is Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man (our first Hugo Award-winner back in 1953). Its plot features a powerful telepath (Powell) waging a battle against a damaged and powerful businessman (Reich). The book reads as a futuristic sort of police procedural. It’s an insightful examination of human nature, showing us that things haven’t changed all that much from the 50s.
The Demolished Man is my go to book when readers ask me for a good science fiction book to ease them into the genre. The hard SF aspects of the novel are core to the plot and the world Bester creates feels sufficiently futuristic even 60 years later.