Beagle, Cassini–Huygens, Chang’e, Curiosity, Gaia, Galileo, GRAIL, Juno, Mariner, MAVEN, MESSENGER, Nozomi, Opportunity, OSIRIS-REx, Phoenix, Pioneer, Magellan, Voyager….
A piece that is neither essay nor fiction nor memoir but all of them and none of them (390 words).
I have noticed an unsettling trend with myself lately. I’ve been doing a lot of eBook searches, looking for reading material. What I’ve noticed is, if I get the impression that a book is self-published, I have a tendency to think, “The writing is probably crap,” and pass it by.
And I myself have a self-published novel.
I think we’re past the point where one can assume that books that have not been accepted by a publisher are a sign of a weak writer. And yet, that lingering assumption remains in my head.
You’d think, for $2.99, or 0.99, I could take a chance on a book. I’d want a reader to do the same for me.
Thinking on it, though, I believe my reaction does not arise from the simple fact that a particular book is self-published. I never actually check for a publishing house on say, an Amazon book page. What I do look at is the description of the book: how it’s written, if the author inserts him/herself into it somehow (the use of “me/I/mine” in regards to a book is a dead give-away); the cover illustration’s professionalism; and the price.
If I’m not immediately aware that, “Oh, this is self-published” and the description sounds interesting, I’ll download a sample, or read reviews. Then, it’s a matter of how well edited the book is, and if the layout appears professional.
I think for lazy book browsers like myself, if a self-published book gives the appearance of professionalism in its format, editing, and writing style, I’ll assume it’s published, and won’t have the impulse to reject it out of hand.
Talk about the writing process. Talk about cool space probes. Talk about a rock star that just died. Talk about your kids, your favorite TV shows, something funny you saw on the way to work, respond to what other people are talking about and make it All About Them.
But a steady beat of alternating one-liner book promos? Is internet navel-gazing.
https://twitter.com/masqthephlsphr, in case anyone’s interested.
Spoiler warning: Skin Game (Jim Butcher), Inferno and The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown)
A while back, I posted an angst about point of view and the pacing of information reveals in my novel. My novel is, at its core, a mystery. The answers to the mystery gradually unfold for the reader as the protagonists investigate and make discoveries. In the first draft, I set a major “reveal” towards the end of the novel. The challenge was setting up that reveal without giving it away.
Depending on who you ask, the “Golden Age of Science Fiction,” is either “undisputedly,” or just “widely recognized” as the 1940’s (and possibly 50’s). Of course, one person’s Golden Age is another person’s capital-E Establishment, but historically, the 40’s and 50’s are the era when a younger generation of very talented writers weaned on the pulps and unafraid of speculative-fiction-that-incorporated-science took up pen or typewriter. Among them: Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Tom Godwin, and Isaac Asimov.
It is interesting that of the three biggies I review here (Clarke, Bradbury, and Asimov), Asimov was always my favorite, but (perhaps due to story choices?) this time around, I was much more impressed with Bradbury.
All of these writers are masters of creating fully-realized portraits of everyday life in the future, or on space stations, or the Moon, in very few words. Continue reading “The golden age of Science Fiction”
Yeah. So. I might have been a little hasty in my prediction that all 30’s pulp sci fi would be melodramatic. Too much (over)exposure to Captain Proton. That said, the sci-fi of the 1930’s still seems to have an earnest straight-forwardness to it. That is, with the exception of minor details, it does not read as particularly revolutionary to the contemporary eye. But you know, neither does a Mondrian abstract painting.
Looked at from a purely 21st century perspective, your gut reaction to such paintings (or such short stories) is “So what? Lots of stuff looks like that.” Yes. These days. But then you glance at the year the painting or the story came out and contrast it with what passed as popular design or entertainment in its day, and the work is friggin’ revolutionary. Indeed, any one of these stories can be classed as a primordial example of what is now a common sci-fi trope. If H. G. Wells is the grandfather of modern science fiction, these writers are his sons:
In the past couple weeks, I have been reading science fiction short stories. In typical fashion, I have this need to be systematic and thorough, so I am choosing my stories in a chronological fashion. Obviously, I am not reading all of them, just a smattering, but here is the reading list so far:
Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall”, 1835
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, 1844
Wells, H.G. “The Star”, 1897
Hamilton, Edmond. “The Man Who Evolved”, 1931
Robert Heinlein. “–All You Zombies–” 1959
My descriptions/reviews below are somewhat spoilery in terms of premise and tone, although I don’t out and out describe how the stories end.
The first two stories have been dubbed ‘proto science fiction’ in that they were written well before there was any such genre as science fiction, and were labeled in hindsight as “science fiction-like.” H. G. Wells is the first of this batch to be truly a “science fiction” writer, although he would not have used that term, since it was not invented until the mid-twentieth century.