Dog, fantasy, fiction, science fiction

Cats, Magic, and the Hugos

Cedar Sanderson I asked for suggestions on what to write about today, and got into a long chatty conversation with much silliness. This is why I love my friends. Sorry, Joe, I’m not writing about manly beards and why I like them today. Nor am I going to write about cat-rotating, Christopher, I have a dog, and all we have to do to wind her up is pick up her rope and play with her. Which is sort of Amanda’s productive time-waster. Since I do walk the dog, or read blogs, or clean the house, or… when I get stuck on a story.

Unfortunately, with this class, I’m not writing. I have a teeny bit done on the new science fiction novel which ought to be lots of bio-sci and some solid action. I have a project that is very much an experiment perhaps half-done and with a couple of madwoman writing days, I could have that done. Neither is going to happen any time soon. I’ll be done with Chemistry on August 8, but on August 12 I travel to New Hampshire for a week. So new words are going to be hard to come by for a while. I will keep trying, I promise. It delights me to know there are people looking forward to my stories.

Jonny asked about the idea of walking away from the words to get the voices in your head to talk again. I have found over the years there are a few things that work for me. One is to go for a long drive with music playing. I suspect that stories come then in a sheerly perverse “she can’t write right now!” manner. I’ve been debating rigging Dragon Naturally, a microphone, and my laptop in the car… LOL. Another thing that works is water. Either standing in the shower, or washing dishes, works. Again, I think my brain is bored with the activity, so it starts to entertain itself. Taking a walk sometimes works, but as you all know I tend to carry a camera and get distracted by flowers, and ants and stuff.

Hank Blake suggested this “Crossing the line from SF to Fantasy. How thin is the line?”

Well, in my own work I have found that to be very thin. The Children of Myth acknowledges that line and plays with the idea that although something can seem like magic, it might just be really advanced technology, and then comes back around to Clarke’s Law again. I read Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions recently, and he handled it very well. His main character, a modern man thrown back into a medieval world, sees the machinery behind the scenes, as it were. Holger’s handling of a dragon inspired a certain scene in Trickster Noir, where he throws a bucket of water onto a boiler and knows the steam explosion will do the creature he is facing much harm. He also deduces that the troll is radioactive, and taking the money would kill them slowly. It’s an interesting book, and I’m very glad that my First Reader and Dave Freer both highly recommended it to me.

I have my copy of it sitting in front of me, and it’s making me think of several things. One, cover layout has changed immensely in 35 years (my edition is from 1978). Two, this wonderful book won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and as I have just gotten done with my voting process for the Hugo, it makes me wonder where the really good books have gone… most of what was on the ballot was sheer and utter dreck. I took a look at samples of most of it, not full books. Even if Orbit had been classy enough to continue tradition with full copies to voters, I have learned that I will avoid anything with their imprint, I don’t care for their purchasing editor’s taste. Urgh. Next year I’m going to encourage more people to vote, let’s get back around to making the Hugo more than a petty award chosen by people who want to use it as a preaching platform. Good stories, that’s what we want. I don’t care about the author’s political background, I just don’t want to read screeds.

Ahem, where was I? And where did this soap box come from?

I’m going to wrap it up. Tomorrow is another snip of The God’s Wolfling, the last one, and it might just be that there will be a link in it! I will tell you that the print edition is already available, and that if you want to win a shiny new print book, signed by me (and sketched in if you ask), then you should comment on The God’s Wolfling post. The winner – winners, if the comment count goes over 25 – will be chosen at random and announced on Friday, the second of August. So share the link to enter, because the more who do, the better the chances get. Or something. What do I know? I haven’t taken statistics yet!

 

 

0 thoughts on “Cats, Magic, and the Hugos

  1. That thin line between fantasy and sci-fi intrigues me. And “the idea that although something can seem like magic, it might just be really advanced technology, and then comes back around to Clarke’s Law again. I read Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions recently, and he handled it very well. His main character, a modern man thrown back into a medieval world, sees the machinery behind the scenes, as it were.” Thanks for sharing some of the writer-issues we face.

    1. I should take the time to do an in-depth blog on the topic, this just wasn’t the morning for it. But it’s on my mind as I have been weaving that line into the book I just finished.

  2. About that thin line— my favorite series is MZB’s Darkover, in which some of the books are called ‘science fiction’ and some are called ‘fantasy’, based on the sword-to-spaceship ratio of each given book, I suspect.

    In a way, all science fiction is a subset of fantasy, since it depends on imagined future science which is just as much non-science by current standards as Harry Potter’s magic wand.

  3. “I don’t care about the author’s political background, I just don’t want to read screeds.”

    Unfortunately, it appears that the inclination to write ‘message’ stories isn’t limited to Americans. (not that this is news)

    A young Australian woman on the writer’s forum I visit made the comment “I’ll suggest a panel discussion on it for my next local spec-fic convention. Discovery is so central to speculative fiction, but is it necessarily central to a human experience?” “It” being “the sense of entitlement that comes with the Western explorative urge. Not just the curiosity of what’s over the hill, but the idea that I deserve to know”

    I tried to explain that to stand still, never advancing, is stagnation. No one, person or society, can survive for long in stagnation. That’s why most of our stories are about growth and exploration, of our environment or selves. I don’t think she was listening. –sigh- I had to choke back the urge to tell her that that line of thinking/writing, is a turn off for some of us. I had no desire to engage in a political debate on the forum, especially since I am not exactly a regular.

    “you should comment on The God’s Wolfling post”

    Heh, do multiple posts count or is it one entry per person? Cause, you know we could flood the page. –evil grin- [in case there are any doubts, yes, I’m kidding. I wouldn’t flood anyone’s page, even if it were permitted.]

    1. Exploration is a very important theme. I worry sometimes that our young people are pent up with no new frontiers to explore. Until perhaps a generation ago, that was always a possibility… now, that’s gone, and the urge to roam has no outlet. It’s not healthy. It leads to over-much navel gazing.

      One entry per person, I think! I don’t want to have to take too much time Friday counting and setting up the randomizer! LOL However, as I decided to open it up to mutliple winners if we get more than 25 comments, feel free to pass it on to friends for them to vote, too. You never know!

  4. Thin?

    Well, taking SF as the branch of literature that attempts to suspend disbelief by appeal to the authority of science. . .

    There are works with definitely fantastic elements and definitely SFnal ones: haunted spaceships.

    There are works where the question of causes is definitively left hanging.

    There are works where the science is so soft as to be slippery — psionics for instance.

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