Five Questions: James Marquis and his Dark Day Dreams

James Marquis is a Seattle writer and author of science fiction novels, a memoir, and a collection of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror stories titled Dark Day Dreams, written under the pen name of James Hawthorne. He enjoys writing as a way to explore and expose the ways pop culture, politics, music and literature shape our … More Five Questions: James Marquis and his Dark Day Dreams

Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and the veneration of veterans

The election and inauguration of Donald Trump has left-leaning book lovers scrambling for analogous stories in fiction. Most have cited George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, both dystopian novels. A few have pointed to Robert A. Heinlein’s science fiction novel Starship Troopers, because of long-standing criticisms of what some believe is its … More Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and the veneration of veterans

Five Questions: Elizabeth Guizzetti, author of The Grove

I’m starting a new occasional feature on my blog called Five Questions. I’ll ask an author five interesting questions and post their answers. Check out the answer for the bonus question! My inaugural guest is Elizabeth Guizzetti, a personal friend whom I met through a sci-fi and fantasy writers group in Seattle. Elizabeth loves to … More Five Questions: Elizabeth Guizzetti, author of The Grove

Despite Trump’s denialism, 2017 could be a bright spot in the fight for planet Earth

I’ve taken inspiration from climate change. As a writer who loves speculative fiction, everything from Star Trek’s optimism to Margaret Atwood’s dark literary visions, I see global warming as fertile ground for storytelling. You might even say I’m taking advantage of the worst crisis to hit planet Earth in three million years. That only counts … More Despite Trump’s denialism, 2017 could be a bright spot in the fight for planet Earth

Aliens, linguistics, and disruptive storytelling make Arrival must-see sci-fi

We rarely think about our relationship with time. Life is just one damned thing after another. One word follows another. Cause and effect follow the arrow of history. What if you had a different relationship with time, one in which you perceived past, present and future happening at once, so that you know the future … More Aliens, linguistics, and disruptive storytelling make Arrival must-see sci-fi

Ted Chiang’s sci-fi genius arrives with laser-like precision

Possible spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Arrival. The release of the movie Arrival last month prompted my interest in Seattle science fiction writer Ted Chiang. He has published only 15 short stories, novelettes, and novellas in print, including “Story of Your Life,” the inspiration for Arrival. He’s won Nebulas, Hugos, and host of other … More Ted Chiang’s sci-fi genius arrives with laser-like precision

Reviews: It’s true. Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder is science fiction.

Writers love to complain about the necessity of genre. They’d prefer to write above the petty differences among romance, mystery, fantasy, and dozens of other pigeonholes and sub-pigeonholes. Most writers, though, acknowledge the need for publishers and bookstore owners to make book-finding and thus book-selling intuitive for the reader through categorization. Genre gets mischievous when … More Reviews: It’s true. Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder is science fiction.

YouTube: Zillah Harmonia, a Carbon Run story

In a future decade when fixing the environment is the world’s top priority, an elderly homeowner must decide whether to fight a citation that might mean the loss of her home. I’ve been experimenting with alternate ways to present my fiction, and I’ve created what I call a “vaudio.” It’s intended for listening more than … More YouTube: Zillah Harmonia, a Carbon Run story

Reading: Living In Infamy, a Carbon Run story

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wrote two Carbon Run short stories, Zillah Harmonia, and Living in Infamy. I’ve recorded the second story and posted it on SoundCloud. In a future when fossil fuels are banned, the captain of a US Navy destroyer, plagued by guilt over a friendly-fire incident, hunts a dangerous … More Reading: Living In Infamy, a Carbon Run story

Are we creating the dystopia we’ve always feared?

This weekend’s opening of Star Trek: Beyond and last week’s nomination of Donald Trump to the presidency puts an interesting spin on the utopia versus dystopia debate in the speculative fiction universe, at least for this writer. Star Trek and Trump appear unrelated, but they represent threads of American thinking about the future. Do we … More Are we creating the dystopia we’ve always feared?

Review: Augments of Change salient in a time of racial tension

America is going through another paroxysm of racially tinged violence, reminding everyone of our failure to reconcile our history with our ideals. In my own lifetime, the country has experienced urban riots (e.g, Watts in Los Angeles), violence after the Rodney King verdict, and last week, two more in a long string of deaths of … More Review: Augments of Change salient in a time of racial tension

Reading: A War Beyond War, And I Am the Only Soldier

I’ve been inspired by fellow writers, particularly my friend Ramona Ridgewell, to experiment with making my short stories available online as audio readings. It’s sort of a no-brainer, given my background in radio and skills in audio production, and I’ve been thinking about it for a long time as a way to promote myself and … More Reading: A War Beyond War, And I Am the Only Soldier

The Girl in the Road: Literary fiction with a sci-fi overlay

As a writer who likes to look at speculative fiction through the lens of climate change, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to read Monica Byrne‘s debut novel, The Girl in the Road, published in 2014. Though its portrait of two women connected across time and space is classified as science fiction by some, … More The Girl in the Road: Literary fiction with a sci-fi overlay

The Hugo Awards are dead, and the xPuppies killed them

You wouldn’t normally think of puppies as monsters bent on destroying the world, but this week, they did. The organizers of the Hugo Awards, the most prestigious fan-driven award in science fiction, announced the nominees for its 2016 awards. The SadPuppies and the RabidPuppies, the reactionaries angry at the awards for challenging their literary worldview, … More The Hugo Awards are dead, and the xPuppies killed them