Seattle’s reputation as a literary town includes an enormous presence in the science fiction and fantasy universe. The great Octavia Butler, author of the Parable of the Sower, penned her works in the shadow of the Space Needle, the city’s iconic landmark. Other authors include Don McQuinn, Cat Rambo, and Shawn Speakman. Lesser known and … More Two-Hour Transport: A journey into Seattle’s sci-fi and fantasy community
I’m excited to welcome to Five Questions Minneapolis-based author D.F. Lovett, who released his debut sci-fi novel, The Moonborn, in 2016. David the head editor and writer for the blog What Would Bale Do, and he writes the acclaimed Reddit novelty account /u/DiscussionQuestions. He has also collaborated on several film projects with the production studio … More Five Questions: D.F. Lovett, author of The Moonborn
I’d like to introduce Aaron Ward, a debut author who has independently published Upriver, Downriver, described by one Amazon reviewer like this: “The phrase ‘coming of age’ is slapped onto so many lukewarm portrayals of growing up these days, but this story nails it.” Aaron kindly answered all of my “Five Questions,” which is a … More Five Questions: Aaron Ward, author of Upriver, Downriver
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
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
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
How do you measure greatness in science fiction television? … More I’ll remember this Black Mirror episode until I’m dead and buried.
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
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
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.
Here’s the second of my YouTube “vaudios,” as I like to call my videos that are really audio stories. Living in Infamy is set 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 carbon smuggler and gets help from … More YouTube: Living in Infamy: 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
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?
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
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
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
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
Successful science fiction and speculative fiction reflect the hopes and anxieties of their day, the same as any other narrative art. Asimov, Heinlein, and Bradbury were men of their times. Writing at the peak of American technological, military, and economic power after World War II, much of their work was infused with can-do optimism. Sci-fi’s … More Review: Science fiction exists to explore the possibilities of change
The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend turned national politics on its head. Not only will Americans elect a new president, but the Senate will debate the future direction of the highest court in the land. The situation makes me wake up in the middle of the night with meme … More Two thoughts about the future U.S. Supreme Court
Good artists copy. Great artists steal. — attributed to Pablo Picasso, among others Discussion of cultural appropriation has surged in the last few years in the context of race relations. White culture has borrowed and stolen from black culture for decades, particularly in entertainment, usually without enough credit to the origins of a style of … More Review: The appropriated world of The Guild of Saint Cooper