This year’s major science-fiction awards had strong female representation, but don’t call it a feminist victory for the genre just yet.
LeGuin is one of my favorite authors and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of my all time favorite works of sci-fi/horror. Any of you sci-fi fans out there have some favorites you would like to share?
With regards to writing historical fiction, how accurate does a novel have to be? My story is set in Anglo-Saxon England, but my characters are supposedly important, influential figures within the period and I'm not sure if they can be entirely "made-up" considering it would contradict historical records and fact? Can I, in theory, simply create regions and Kings, or noblemen, and still have them interact with people who really existed and events which actually happened? Thanks.
1) It’s your story; you can do what you want.
2) Bearing that in mind, when doing historical fiction, you have to decide how accurate you want to stay to real people and events your characters interact with. Making that decision will involve a lot of research. Depending on how much you have a story outlined now, it can change a great deal the more you learn about the historical time, places, and people. There are plenty of novels out there which create fictional characters to interact with ‘real people,’ and what makes it fiction is being able to tweak historical events and people with the characters and the world you want to build.
The one thing to keep in mind is research, always research. Once you know as much as you can dig up about the history (people, places, politics, religion, sociology of the time, etc.), you can give yourself liberty to play with it in a knowledgeable way.
“As Persian grammar lacks a distinction of gender, the sex of the Beloved
is often linguistically unspecified. References to the breasts
(usually compared to pomegranates or to lemons) do occur, but are much
more seldom than indications pointing to the male sex. This is
especially the case in lyrical poetry. Such indications are, for
instance, the mention of the first trace (ḵaṭṭ) of a beard, the use of the word pesar
or references to occupations normally associated with male youngsters
(cupbearers, musicians, craftsmen, etc.). A boy on the verge of puberty
embodied the ideal of human beauty. There is a clear contrast, in this
respect, to the Arabic tradition of the pre-ʿAbbasid period, in which
the Beloved was not only invariably a female, but also tended to be
individualized through the mention of a personal name”.
The story of Cassandra, the woman who told the truth but was not believed, is not nearly as embedded in our culture as that of the Boy Who Cried Wolf—that is, the boy who was believed the first few times he told the same lie. Perhaps it should be.
In her cover essay on silencing women in the October 2014 issue of Harper’s, Rebecca Solnit once again proves that she is one of our era’s greatest essayist – further evidence here and here.
Went to the library and picked up some stuff for fic research today:
Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940 by George Chaucey (I actually couldn’t believe they had it for a moment I am ridiculously pleased by this).
Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940 by David E. Kyvig
My Paper Chase -the biography of British journalist Harold Evans (not exactly what I was looking for, but it does cover the 30s and 40s from a more personal perspective)
Same-Sex Union in Premodern Europe by John Boswell
If you don’t know this about me yet, I could quite happily spend large chunks of my life on story research. It’s kind of a problem sometimes. But I haven’t done it like this in months and I am positively giddy right now.
I cannot claim any such ideas as my own - no, I am barren as far as they’re concerned. But I am acting as your midwife, and that is why I am chanting and serving up morsels of wisdom for you to taste. This will go on until I have played my part in bringing your very own notion out into the world.
I deal with writer’s block by lowering my expectations. I think the trouble starts when you sit down to write and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent—and when you don’t, panic sets in. The solution is never to sit down and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent. I write a little bit, almost every day, and if it results in two or three or (on a good day) four good paragraphs, I consider myself a lucky man. Never try to be the hare. All hail the tortoise.
Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness?
You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you.
You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate… Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul.
It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference. They have access to hundreds of souls, and the collected wisdom of all them.