Tag: fiction

Collated tweets on science and fiction


I ranted this weekend on science in fiction on twitter–thought I’d collate those into a blog post. Warning: minimal editing (that’s why every sentence is around 140 characters ^^).

I’m getting a bit tired of “it’s not really hard SF” argument, which–oddly enough– often coincides with “this story is written by a woman/POC/other marginalised POV).  (before anyone asks, I don’t have a specific occurrence to point to; it’s just an accumulation of small things).

Thing is: the discourse about what constitutes hard SF–supposedly “real science! ™”–is very normative. It demands certain narrative forms, certain ways of addressing the reader, certain methods of expositing the science to make it sound plausible. Note that I said “plausible”, which means “what people are ready to believe”, which is different from “what is actually true”.

Even ignoring the problem of evolution of science (I’ll come back to that!), I’ve read hard SF stuff that was… er… out of date/inaccurate (I have a general science background, though my area of speciality is the mathematics of computer algorithms; and the H has a PhD in Quantum Optics, so between both of us we can muster passable science analysis). And that inaccuracy/out-of-date character *absolutely* didn’t prevent me or him from enjoying said books, btw–we don’t want to be snobs, and our enjoyment of books isn’t the cutting edge science. (actually, if I do want cutting edge science, I tend to read journal articles–though of course that’s pretty much restricted to fields of science I’m conversant with, so a pretty limited subset of everything that’s published).

I swore I’d come back to the evolution of science, so here goes: today’s science is likely going to be debunked (aka “evolve”) within a few centuries. 19th century science, pre quantum mechanics and pre general relativity, is vastly different from 21st century science. So any books set in, say, the 24th century that still rely on *today’s* understanding of science are a nice fiction. And, again, that’s OK. We’re writing/reading SF books, not journal articles, and requirements are different (real engineering specs make for bad fiction anyway, a bit dry!). 

There you go, afternoon rant. Would be interested to know what people think?

Snippet of the day


From the WIP:

“Have you become a historian, all of a sudden?” Thuy couldn’t help the sarcasm that came bubbling up to her lips. “You never cared for that when you were younger.”
“I had to care,” Chi said, simply. “To know what ruins it was that we grew up among.”

(yes, the grammar is wonky. Will fix this in later drafts)

1500 words to go. I can do this.

Current mood: kind of exhausted actually. But plodding on.

Ok, it’s your fault…


Remember that snippet I posted earlier? I now have a 4000-word story to go with it–temporary title “The Two Sisters in Exile”. Put it up on OWW for crits, and waiting for the inevitable complaints about density. (to be fair, it’s very very dense, and I didn’t even get to cram enough food in it [1]).
I shall now go back to my novel and browbeat it into submission. So far, it hasn’t exactly been cooperative…

[1] All stories should have food. It improves the plot immeasurably. Also, it compensates for those times when I’m typing on my computer and can’t have more than a mug of tea and a raisin because it’s not dinnertime yet.

ROF: Fiction: Help Me Internets!


Via Douglas Cohen:

Hi Everyone,

I’m about to ask for your help with something. As I noted when I announced that Shawna and I would be coming back, there are a number of submissions that were in various states of consideration when the magazine announced its closure. The only right thing to do was release these manuscripts from consideration. Now, the manuscripts I had that were going to be passed along to Shawna were discarded. In the interests of goodwill, I’ve subsequently contacted all of these authors and invited them to resubmit their manuscripts to me via email if they’re so inclined. (PLEASE NOTE: this is a special exception made just for them under the circumstances–we’re still at this time just accepting submissions via snail mail).

However, there are also quite a number of submissions that are sitting with Shawna, enough that I thought it would be a good idea to post this note. Here’s the thing: Shawna is going to have a lot of reading ahead of her as we build the magazine’s fiction inventory back up. Since I don’t have the manuscripts, it would drive me rather insane to hunt down all of the email addresses to all of the authors who have stories with Shawna. And it would be rather time consuming for Shawna to email all of these people to see if they’d like their manuscripts to still be considered. Then she’d also still have to wait to hear back, which eats up more time. I’d rather Shawna be able to use this time to read stories as we get the magazine caught up. Some folks have already told me they still want their stories to be considered. But I’d like to hear from the rest of you. If you had a story that was with Shawna and would still like it to be considered, please email me (slushmaster@gmail.com) and tell me the name of your story. It will save Shawna the trouble of reading a story that has since been withdrawn. It also wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to let me know you’re officially withdrawing your story or that you’ve already sold it elsewhere.

So here’s where you come in, Internets. Blog about this. Tweet about this. Facebook about this. Help us out. As Picard would say, “Make it so.”

Thanks all.

ETA: Please don’t contact me regarding general slush submissions. Not that those stories aren’t important, but it will just create too much confusion. We’ll figure this out a little later, thanks.

“After the Fire” up at Apex Magazine


My story “After the Fire” is now up at Apex Magazine, as part of the special World SF issue edited by Lavie Tidhar. It’s, er, sort of a post-apocalypse story, set in a China where the Empire never fell. Well, sort of set in China…

In her dreams, Jiaotan saw Father: hands outstretched, the flesh of the fingers fraying away to reveal the yellowed, tapered shape of bones, the deep-set eyes bulging in their sockets, pleading, begging her to take him away.

“You’re dead,” she whispered. “Rest in peace, with the Ancestors–watch over us from Heaven.”

But the Ancestors were bones and dried sinews, shambling upright from the wreck of their graves–anger shining in the hollows of their eye sockets as they walked past the devastated gardens, the withered trees, the dried-out waterfalls and rivers. And clouds marched across Heaven, a billowing mass of sickly grey spreading to cut the path of The Red Carp as it rose away from Earth…

The issue also includes Nir Yaniv and Aleksandar Žiljak, and an interview with Maylasian writer Tunku Halim (courtesy of the tireless Charles Tan)

I workshopped “After the Fire” (as “In Our Minds, In Our Hearts”) on OWW rather close to the deadline for handing it in–so many thanks to Mark Hünken, Tom Crosshill, Sylvia Volk and Max Griffin for helping me whip this into shape. And thanks to Lavie for the editing and the title help, as well as giving me the opportunity to write in a genre and a length I don’t often try.

And don’t forget that The Apex Book of World SF has been released, giving you a chance to read “The Lost Xuyan Bride” on paper alongside many other tales from cool writers such as Mélanie Fazi, Jetse de Vries and Kaaron Warren. You can read a sample of the book online, Aleksandar Žiljak’s “An Evening In the City Coffeehouse, With Lydia On My Mind”–as Lavie puts it, a mixture of Boogie Nights and Men in Black.