December 13th, 2009


Evil Writer Is Evil

Well, writers, actually, since I'm going over Torn World stuff with ellenmillion

Tonight's main task was reading ellenmillion's latest notes on Rai's character sheet and contemplating some of the challenges in his early life.

I'm also browsing Fala's character sheet with its latest round of comments.  Fala and her friends get stuffed through a meat grinder.  The end is nowhere in sight.  Muahahahahah!

What is "speculative fiction" ...?

glitteringlynx asked this fascinating question:

What is an example of a fictional story which would NOT qualify as speculative fiction? To rephrase the question, is there a discernable difference between fiction (a type of writing) and speculative fiction (a genre)?

I know that originally spec-fic was synonymous with sci-fi, but in my case I'm asking in reference to the more broad interpretation
which thus engulfs so many other genres.

Fiction in general is an accounting of imaginary events in our ordinary, everyday world.  Known features of this world may be exaggerated, minimized, or tweaked via artistic license but may not be violated outright.  Fiction is often divided into genres and subgenres to help readers find new books they will enjoy that are similar to books they have read and loved.

Speculative fiction is an accounting of events which take place in another version of reality, such as our world's future, a version of our world that has some weird twists in it, or another world altogether.  Known features of this world may be present, absent, or changed radically.

Genres of fiction which are not speculative include mystery (in which a crime is described and pursued by conventional justice), romance (in which an intimate relationship bumps over obstacles on the way to union), ethnic (featuring a specific culture, its challenges and values), and historical (set in a past time and place, displaying distinctive characters and concerns of that locale).

Speculative fiction is an "umbrella" term spanning many genres or subgenres.  Science fiction, at its core, describes things we know and imagines where they might go; more imaginary variations allow some very far-out additions such as humanoid aliens or time travel.  Fantasy describes things which are magical and contrary to some (or all) of what we know, often stepping outside our world altogether.  Horror describes abominable things, often adding macabre features to our known world and/or distorting things we customarily rely upon so that they become repellant.

Furthermore, genres can mix.  I once interviewed Dennis L. McKiernan, who gave a marvelous metaphor of speculative fiction as a mountain range.  Imagine one mountain with a spaceship at the top, one with unicorns and castles, and one with a haunted house and monsters.  At the peak of each mountain are the most iconic stories of that genre, pure in flavor; as you move down from a peak, you begin to see things native to some other mountain(s).  When you get down into the valleys, you are in the realm of "slipstream" or "interstitial" fiction that blends two or more genres.  There you find such things as the science fiction romance or the alternate-history Western in which the cowboys are fighting Indians who ride dinosaurs.</font>

Final Day of the 2009 Holiday Poetry Sale!

Today is the final day of the 2009 Holiday Poetry Sale.  The remaining fishbowl poems are listed here, along with the discounted prices.  Half off makes the longer poems more affordable.

You can read all the holiday sponsored poems here:
"Sail With Me, Lady Washington"
"The Secret of Gobekli Tepe"
"Skydiving Through Time"
"The Sword from the Foundling House"
"Warning Sine"

If you've been thinking about buying one of these poems, now is the time.  I have really enjoyed this project and I hope that you have too.

Poem: "The Stars Must Be Crazy"

This poem came out of the August 4, 2009 poetry fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion and sponsored by nhpeacenik as part of the 2009 Holiday Poetry Sale.  This poem is a sequel to "The Sky-Eyes and the Earth-Hearts," in which humans are trying to get along with two insectoid alien species whose life experiences are very  different.

The Stars Must Be Crazy

Today I learned
why the Star-Minds are crazy.

They go through metamorphosis
fully conscious.

Think about it. 
Think about being horribly aware
while your body changes,
old things falling out,
new things growing in,
rivers of hormones pouring all over.
Think about spending years  like that,
never being able to
close your mandibles on a single day
and say, “Now I am an adult.”

No wonder they’re crazy.
No one could go through that
and stay sane.

I give thanks to Queen Cosmos
for my cocoon
in which I slept in blissful oblivion
through my own metamorphosis.

But what in earth and sky
can we do for the poor Star-Minds?


Climate Summit: What If ...

I think this cartoon neatly sums up the problem with climate change denial: "What if it's all a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?"

On the blackboard:
energy independence (as opposed to depending on energy from people who hate us)
preserve rainforests (as opposed to cutting and burning them all down)
sustainability (as opposed to living as if there were no limits, on a finite planet)
green jobs (as opposed to jobs that degrade the environment ... or no job at all)
livable cities (as opposed to filthy, overcrowded ones where you can't get by without owning a car)
renewables (as opposed to things we will run out of)
clean water, air (as opposed to contaminated water & air that make us sick)
healthy children (as opposed to ones with asthma, cancer, allergies, birth defects ... or no children at all)

I want a green, blue, thriving, joyful world in which it is possible to make a decent living without destroying the Earth on which our survival depends.  I do not like the society humanity has created.  I am tired of watching greedy powerful people wreck things and poison people and obliterate species for their own personal gratification.  I wish to take part in creating a better world -- not just because we need to do that in order to avoid killing ourselves, because it's the right thing to do and would be a more satisfying place to live. 

If I wanted to wipe out the economy and smash civilization ...

... I wouldn't have to do anything but stand back and watch.