March 2012

Science Fiction Anthologies

When most people think of reading a science fiction book, they imagine a thick binded (or in the world electronically dense e-book) book that sends its readers across the galaxy on some epic adventure. While there are many of those types of books out there, there is a growing number of authors putting together edited anthologies.

Anthologies make a lot of sense for writers. An anthology is a large book filled with short stories and novellas all surrounded a single subject. The stories are all generally done by different authors, so the readers get a variety of writing styles for one low price.

Financially, it’s great for the author. He puts together a small story that gets put into a print or e-books and he splits the profits with the rest of the authors. It’s not going to make him rich, but it he also didn’t spend a year or 6 months working on it. He sat down one weekend, banged it out and there you go.

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

What makes “The Invisible Man” such a great book isn’t just the plot, but how it’s all done in small town England. There are no chases through the streets of London and the Prime Minister wasn’t called in to help with the situation.

The story is about Griffin, a doctor that studies refraction and develops a way to turn the human body invisible. He impulsively uses the machine on himself, but is unable to turn visible again. He lives in a Inn and uses his abilities to steal money to help fund his research.

Griffin has an accomplice named Marvel that betrays him to the police and devises this “reign of terror” on the populous using his abilities. The bulk of the book is about him detailing how he became the invisible man and escaping the police by getting naked and running away. (Sadly, that never seemed to work for me.)

The Re-Emergence of Science Fiction's Legitimacy

Michael Chabon's defense of science fiction indicates a growing acceptance of the genre as literature.

Discussing the merits of science fiction books in public can be a little stigmatizing. The nuances of Bradbury over Clarke, the inherent brilliance of Asimov’s Foundations, and the recent spat of more literary types like Cormac McCarthy and Colson Whitehead “classing up” the genre. Of course, the uninitiated (and often disdainful) will shoot you an eye roll or even slyly inquire about what your topic of conversation. Upon finding out, as a coworker of mine did at a recent work function, they’ll smirk and walk away. Why does everyone hate on sci-fi? A recent guest on Underwire’s Geeks Guide to the Galaxy, Michael Chabon is the author of a diverse body of work, including the book turned major motion picture Wonderboys and the recently released Disney sci-fi adventure epic John Carter.

John Carter Brought to Life

Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess of Mars is brought to life in Disney's new movie, John Carter.

Last night, opening night, my husband and I went to see John Carter, Disney's new movie rendition of the classic science fiction novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars.

I've been excited about this movie since I first saw the first preview, months ago.  I looked it up and discovered that the author of the original book-- and actually, there was a whole series of books about Barsoom (Mars) -- is the same one who wrote the Tarzan books.  Those never took my fancy, even though I knew they were immensely popular in their day, but I was so excited by the movie preview that I decided to give A Princess of Mars a go.

The Science Fiction Hero

There have been many heroes of science fiction through the ages and they range from the confident and strong Buck Rogers to the timid and unsure Luke Skywalker. When you're writing a science fiction story that has a bit of an adventurous bend to it, then you'll probably looking more for a Buck Rogers type of hero.

 

There is no establishing a learning curve for him. He's able to step right into the action and start kicking intergalactic butt and taking names. These heroes already have a developed history. They were former police, army, etc. and have the skill necessary to get the job done.

Digital Technology Rescues a Forgotten Treasure

He Walked Among Us by Norman Spinrad

I love Star Trek.  I grew up on the original series and The Next Generation, and I'm not ashamed to have been called a Trekkie and a geek.  It's a rare meeting of the sci-fi and fantasy book club I belong to that doesn't bring up Star Trek (or Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica) at some point during the discussion.

So when I saw on the Star Trek Facebook page that a lost script for the original series had been found, I was intrigued.  How does one lose a Star Trek script, anyway?

Rise Of The Robots

Science fiction has a very wide base and you can get away with using pretty much anything as long as it has some kind of futuristic bent. One of the most popular items has always been robots. Robots have long been the pinnacle of science evolution.

The most advanced are more like human with mechanical parts than any type of artificial being. Many times robots are relegated to a supportive role as the side kick or comic relief. R2-D2 and C3PO definitely looked like robots, but were given interesting personalities that survived six movies and several television shows.

I once had the pleasure of interviewing Anthony Daniels who played C3PO and I was surprised at how much and C3PO shared many traits. Isaac Asimov was one of the first to really translate the complexities of robots in his collection of short stories “I, Robot.”