Science Anomalies: Books to Think About for Science Fiction Readers

The theory is still a theory, but it suggests that life may have started very early on the earth (and now possibly on Mars because it, too, had ancient volcanoes), and it says that life is constantly being created way down deep in the earth. Or on any planet, moon, or body with an active volcanic core.

The Outsider: A New Science Fiction Award

We all know that “mainstream” writers have, for years, been writing borderline science fiction stories and novels, using all kinds of tropes and conceits that any reader of science fiction would recognize as belonging to hard-core science fiction.

Sexual Harassment at Science Conventions: Who Let the Dogs Out?

This is partially in response to K. Ceres Wright’s recent blog entry, “Having a Sexual Harassment Policy is not Enough”, but from an entirely different angle. I think that what’s happening at science fiction conventions (the rise in sexual assaults, rude behavior, and general predation) is the product of something the future created: Facebook. I […]

First Contact: First Interests in Science Fiction

Recently a thread passed around on Facebook asked various writers what books mattered to them most when they were young, starting out with an interest in science fiction. One writer said she was reading all kinds of girls’ books in the school library, but finally stumbled on an Andre Norton book and went on from […]

Book Review: Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin by Philip José Farm

Lord of the Trees by Philip José Farmer Titan Books – Reprint 2012 ISBN-13: 978-1781162934 (Trade paperback) The Mad Goblin by Philip José Farmer Titan Books – Reprint 2013 ISBN-13: 978-1781162996 (Trade paperback)   Titan Books has reprinted, with extra “historical” material, two of Philip José Farmer’s classic short novels: Lord of the Trees and […]

Three Doc Savage Movies

Rumor has it that Shane Black is writing a script for a Doc Savage movie that may come out in 2015. It has a good chance of introducing the greatest of pulp action heroes to a new generation of fans who, whether they know it or not, have already seen Doc Savage at work in […]

Our Ansible is Missing – Intellectual Property Theft in Science Fiction

In 1985, Orson Scott Card published Ender’s Game, a book that relied heavily on the use of a faster-than-light communication system called the Ansible. Card needed the Ansible (or something like it) because through this faster-than-light communications system, his brainy, gifted children were able to destroy the evil Buggers in real time, even though they […]

Great Science Fiction Artists – John Schoenherr

When I was young I purchased most books and magazines in the science fiction field based on their covers. Nowadays that still applies, though much less so since I now know what to look for in a book or in an author–regardless of cover. In fact, there are times when covers don’t matter and I’ll […]

Future Shock – Part I

When anatomically modern humans developed consciousness 50,000 years ago (or whenever), it’s because they started developing a sense of their place in the world and this included a sense of time. Time in the present. Time in the future. We became Time Travelers of a kind. Let me explain. One of the most influential books […]

Movie Review – Man of Steel

By now you have undoubtedly seen Man of Steel and I don’t doubt that you have some pretty visceral feelings toward the movie, not many of them good. Let me start with the good in this blisteringly bleak and depressing movie. The Lois Lane trope, that of a reporter tracking down an urban myth-like sighting […]

Great Science Fiction Artists – James Bama

James Bama single-handedly introduced the entire world to Doc Savage (he and his editors at Bantam Books and art director Len Leone). Doc Savage, as most of you know, was the greatest of the pulp heroes of the 1930s who eventually faded away after World War Two (along with the other great pulp heroes, The […]

Science Fiction and UFOs

I remember when I joined the Science Fiction Book Club back in 1963, one of the selections was Donald Keyhoe’s bestseller UFOs Are Real. I bought it and The Man in the High Castle and I, Robot. I still have the SFBC copies of the latter two, but ditched the first book quickly. I’ve often […]

Great Science Fiction Artists – Jerome Podwil

What makes science fiction (and fantasy) so enthralling to readers is that not only can their authors tell extraordinary stories, the stories themselves can come packaged with great art. When I was in my teens (in the 1960s) I bought science fiction solely based on their covers. Jerome Podwil like a number of commercial artists […]

Everything I Know, I Learned from Edgar Allan Poe

Everything I know about writing science fiction, reading it, and understanding it, I learned from Edgar Allan Poe, specifically his one story, “The Fall of the House of Usher”. This goes for all of world literature as well. It’s all in that one story: how stories work, what they’re about, and why they have had […]

Why I Don’t Like My Heroes

When I first started out as a published writer of science fiction in 1978 and sold my first novel in 1979, I started going to local and national science fiction conventions. Mostly I felt it was to be part of something that I admired, but secondly it was to promote my writing. This is what […]

The Alternate History Masterpiece You’ve Never Read

Satire is no longer being written in America. It’s still on television via Saturday Night Live, South Park, and the great, unsung animation series Squidbillies. (I’d lump Superjail in there, but it’s not for the squeamish and satire works best if anyone with a brain can tune in.) We’ve become a culture that mostly has […]

Book Review: The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

The Teleportation Accident – Ned Beauman Bloomsbury USA 2013 ISBN-13: 978-1620400227 (Hardcover) I buy books, especially novels, based on whether or not the story might interest me. This includes anthologies or collections of short stories by authors whom I respect or who I think will provide a fun reading experience. But mostly I buy books […]

Book Review: Hope Reborn by S.M. Stirling and David Drake

Hope Reborn by S.M Stirling and David Drake Baen Books 2013 978-1-4516-3877-6 (Trade paperback) Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that has long been the mainstay of Baen Books. True, Ace has Starship Troopers and DAW has Armor and St. Martin’s Griffin has The Forever War, but Baen has long since championed […]

Sense of Wonder #2 – From the Movies

Earlier I wrote about what Damon Knight characterized as “a sense of wonder” that emerges at times in a science fiction story, or as in the case of this blog entry, in a movie. I said that the sense of wonder was “when we come across a scene or image or turn of phrase in […]

What Does the Music of the Future Sound Like?

When I was a kid, I saw a cheezy science fiction B movie wherein someone was playing an instrument that looked like a small organ with a hemispherical keyboard, and before him was a screen that lit up with all kinds of colors that was meant to be part of the music (I suppose). The […]

Book Review: Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Bowl of Heaven – Gregory Benford and Larry Niven Tor – 2012 978-0765328410 (Hardbound) This is the first collaboration between two of our major writers, Gregory Benford and Larry Niven. Bowl of Heaven is about a human expedition in a ram-scoop ship to a nearby habitable world named Glory. About half way in the decades-long […]

Is Ender’s Game Really Any Fun to Read?

Troll the internet for “the greatest science fiction novels of all time” and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game will be at the top of every list you’ll find. (Or it was last time I checked.) It’s been at the top of every list for at least two decades now and will probably always be there […]

Sense of Wonder #1

We are drawn to science fiction and fantasy because of what Damon Knight called its “sense of wonder”. This is a hard term to define exactly, but you know and I know exactly what it is when we come across a scene or image or turn of phrase in a science fiction story that causes […]

Book Review: The Wind Whales of Ishmael – Philip José Farmer

I have two purposes for this review. One is to call your attention to a novel that older readers have probably already read, The Wind Whales of Ishmael by Philip José Farmer (originally published by Ace Science Fiction in 1971) now released by British publishers Titan Books. My second purpose is to call your attention […]