Philosophical Science Fiction films (of this century)

“Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. …Science fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about.” 

                              ~ Ray Bradbury

Writing Science Fiction: Tips for Beginners

We’ve seen a lot of science fiction stories over the past year or so. It’s not like they sci-fi ever went out of style, but it seems to be gaining popularity recently.

For some, writing science fiction might seem like a daunting genre to break into. Do you need to know complex mathematical equations? Do you need to know exactly how space travel works? Did you need to major in astrophysics?

Sure, those things don’t hurt, but they’re absolutely not necessary. You can write a great sci-fi novel without years of research. And you can tell a really interesting story, even if you’re not a science pro.

Here are a few tips to get started:

Consider ‘What-if’ Scenarios

This isn’t just a great rule for sci-fi novels, but I think the best ones use this approach. Start off with a simple what-if scenario. For example: what if we lived on a world made of ice? What if in this particular world only consisted of women? Obviously, you’ll need to expand on those scenarios and spend time really developing what those caveats would mean, but you get the idea.

Start with a small what-if scenario and brainstorm!

Figure Out Your Rules

I don’t think writing great sci-fi depends on being 100% scientifically accurate ALL THE TIME, but I do think you need to stick to your own rules. Whatever is a hard rule for your own universe, it’s important to keep it that way. Does your world have ships that can travel quickly from planet to planet? Sure, that’s great! Figure out your own rules for space travel and develop your world. How do the inhabitants on one planet act/grow/eat/interact compared to the inhabitants of another? Spend time developing these ideas!

No Info Dumps!

Sometimes when people write science fiction, they tend to explain their universe all in one big info-dump. Don’t. This is boring and it does nothing to serve your story. Slowly reveal information. Every plot point in your story should serve a purpose. Develop your characters through the action and show off your worlds through them. Get creative.

Keep it Vague

If you’re unsure about the science of something, write to your strengths. Don’t understand how space travel works? Maybe your MC is put to sleep during a long trip. This is just one example, but try to figure out a way to make it work for you. Maybe avoid space travel altogether if it doesn’t serve your story.

Listen, this isn’t a substitute for research, but I also don’t want you to avoid writing science fiction if you just don’t get a lot of the concepts involved. If you’ve got a great idea for a story, work it out to fit your style. Science fiction is a great platform for unique and compelling character studies, so don’t get scared off! You don’t have to write hard science fiction in order to write a good novel.

-Kris Noel

Top Misconceptions People Have about Pulp-Era Science Fiction

A lot of people I run into have all kinds of misconceptions about what pulp-era scifi, from the 1920s-1950s, was actually like. 

“Pulp-Era Science Fiction was about optimistic futures.”

Optimistic futures were always, always vastly outnumbered by end of the world stories with mutants, Frankenstein creations that turn against us, murderous robot rebellions, terrifying alien invasions, and atomic horror. People don’t change. Then as now, we were more interested in hearing about how it could all go wrong. 

To quote H.L. Gold, editor of Galaxy Science Fiction, in 1952: 

“Over 90% of stories submitted to Galaxy Science Fiction still nag away at atomic, hydrogen and bacteriological war, the post atomic world, reversion to barbarism, mutant children killed because they have only ten toes and fingers instead of twelve….the temptation is strong to write, ‘look, fellers, the end isn’t here yet.’”

The movie Tomorrowland is a particulary egregious example of this tremendous misconception (and I can’t believe Brad Bird passed on making Force Awakens to make a movie that was 90 minutes of driving through the Florida swamps). In reality, pre-1960s scifi novels trafficked in dread, dystopian futures, and fear. There was simply never a time when optimistic scifi was overrepresented, even the boyish Jules Verne became skeptical of the possibilities of technology all the way at the turn of the century. One of the most famous pulp scifi yarns was Jack Williamson’s The Humanoids, about a race of Borg-like robots who so totally micromanage humans “for our own protection” that they leave us with nothing to do but wait “with folded hands.”

“Pulp scifi often featured muscular, large-chinned, womanizing main characters.”

Here’s the image often used in parodies of pulp scifi: the main character is a big-chinned, ultra-muscular dope in tights who is a compulsive womanizer and talks like Adam West in Batman. Whenever I see this, I think to myself…what exactly is it they’re making fun of?

It’s more normal than you think to find parodies of things that never actually existed. Mystery buffs and historians, for example, can’t find a single straight example of “the Butler did it.” It’s a thing people think is a thing that was never a thing, and another example would be the idea of the “silent film villain” in a mustache and top hat (which there are no straight examples of, either). There are no non-parody examples of Superman changing in a phone booth; he just never did this.

In reality, my favorite description of pulp mag era science fiction heroes is that they are “wisecracking Anglo-Saxon engineers addicted to alcohol and tobacco who like nothing better than to explain things to others that they already know.” The average pulp scifi hero had speech patterns best described as “Mid-Century American Wiseass” than like Adam West or the Lone Ranger. 

The nearest the Spaceman Spiff stereotype came to hitting the mark was with the magazine heroes of the Lensmen and Captain Future, and they’re both nowhere near close. Captain Future was a muscular hero with a chin, but he also had a Captain Picard level desire to use diplomacy first, and believed that most encounters with aliens were only hostile due to misunderstandings and lack of communication (and the story makes him right). He also didn’t seem interested in women, mostly because he had better things to do for the solar system and didn’t have the time for love. The Lensmen, on the other hand, had a ruthless, bloodthirsty streak, and were very much like the “murder machine” Brock Sampson (an attitude somewhat justified by the stakes in their struggle). 

“Pulp Era Scifi were mainly action/adventure stories with good vs. evil.” 

This is a half-truth, since, like so much other genre fiction, scifi has always been sugared up with fight scenes and chases. And there was a period, early in the century, when most scifi followed the Edgar Rice Burroughs model and were basically just Westerns or swashbucklers with different props, ray guns instead of six-shooters. But the key thing to remember is how weird so much of this scifi was, and that science fiction, starting in the mid-1930s, eventually became something other than just adventure stories with different trappings. 

One of my favorite examples of this is A. Bertram Chandler’s story, “Giant-Killer.” The story is about rats on a starship who acquire intelligence due to proximity to the star drive’s radiation, and who set about killing the human crew one by one. Another great example is Eando Binder’s Adam Link stories, told from the point of view of a robot who is held responsible for the death of his creator.

What’s more, one of the best writers to come out of this era is best known for never having truly evil bad guys: Isaac Asimov. His “Caves of Steel,” published in 1953, had no true villains. The Spacers, who we assumed were snobs, only isolated themselves because they had no immunities to the germs of earth.

“Racism was endemic to the pulps.”

It is absolutely true that the pulps reflected the unconscious views of society as a whole at the time, but as typical of history, the reality was usually much more complex than our mental image of the era. For instance, overt racism was usually shown as villainous: in most exploration magazines like Adventure, you can typically play “spot the evil asshole we’re not supposed to like” by seeing who calls the people of India “dirty monkeys” (as in Harold Lamb). 

Street & Smith, the largest of all of the pulp publishers, had a standing rule in the 1920s-1930s to never to use villains who were ethnic minorities because of the fear of spreading race hate by negative portrayals. In fact, in one known case, the villain of Resurrection Day was going to be a Japanese General, but the publisher demanded a revision and he was changed to an American criminal. Try to imagine if a modern-day TV network made a rule that minority groups were not to be depicted as gang bangers or drug dealers, for fear that this would create prejudice when people interact with minority groups in everyday life, and you can see how revolutionary this policy was. It’s a mistake to call this era very enlightened, but it’s also a mistake to say everyone born before 1970 was evil.

“Pulp scifi writers in the early days were indifferent to scientific reality and played fast and loose with science.”


 This is, by an order of magnitude, the most false item on this list.

In fact, you might say that early science fiction fandom were obsessed with scientific accuracy to the point it was borderline anal retentive. Nearly every single one of the lettercols in Astounding Science Fiction were nitpickers fussing about scientific details. In fact, modern scifi fandom’s grudging tolerance for storytelling necessities like sound in space at the movies, or novels that use “hyperspace” are actually something of a step down from what the culture around scifi was in the 1920s-1950s. Part of it was due to the fact that organized scifi fandom came out of science clubs; Hugo Gernsback created the first scifi pulp magazine as a way to sell electronics and radio equipment to hobbyists, and the “First Fandom” of the 1930s were science enthusiasts who talked science first and the fiction that speculated about it second.

In retrospect, a lot of it was just plain obvious insecurity: in a new medium considered “kid’s stuff,” they wanted to show scifi was plausible, relevant, and something different from “fairy tales.” It’s the same insecure mentality that leads video gamers to repeatedly ask if games are art. You’ve got nothing to prove there, guys, calm down (and take it from a pulp scifi aficionado, the most interesting things are always done in the period when a medium is considered disposable trash). 

One of the best examples was the famous Howard P. Lovecraft, who published “The Shadow out of Time” in the 1936 issue of Astounding. Even though it might be the only thing from that issue that is even remotely reprinted today, the letters page from this issue practically rose up in revolt against this story as not being based on accurate science. Lovecraft was never published in Astounding ever again.

If you ever wanted to find out what Star Wars would be like if they were bigger hardasses about scientific plausibility, check out E.E. Smith’s Lensman series. People expect a big, bold, brassy space opera series with heroes and villains to play fast and loose, but it was shockingly scientifically grounded.

To be fair, science fiction was not a monolith on this. One of the earliest division in science fiction was between the Astounding Science Fiction writers based in New York, who often had engineering and scientific backgrounds and had left-wing (in some cases, literally Communist) politics, and the Amazing Stories writers based in the Midwest, who were usually self taught, and had right-wing, heartland politics. Because the Midwestern writers in Amazing Stories were often self-taught, they had a huge authority problem with science and played as fast and loose as you could get. While this is true, it’s worth noting science fiction fandom absolutely turned on Amazing Stories for this, especially when the writers started dabbling with spiritualism and other weirdness like the Shaver Mystery. And to this day, it’s impossible to find many Amazing Stories tales published elsewhere.

Shout-out to all you science fiction and fantasy writers

If you’re looking for a resource for creating different and unique worlds, may i recommend this book?

It’s an absolutely fantastically written, easily comprehensible, and amazingly fun resource for, as you may have guessed, the properties of materials and why they have them. I’m talking, magnetic, electric, thermal, optic, and mechanical properties. Ever wondered how superconductors work, or what the difference is between an insulator and a conductor is and where it comes from? How LCDs work, or what polarization of light is?

This book has got you covered. You can find it on amazon or from other retailers for around 20$ used (it is a textbook so look around before buying one of the extremely high priced new books), and it is well worth checking out.

If you’re trying to make an alternate world or a vibrant and unique reality, use the properties of materials. Maybe your dwarves have harnessed ways to tap into and manipulate the mechanical or magnetic properties of metals in order to create their metal-work masterpieces, or maybe the specific heat capacity of water on an alien plant is different from that on earth.

Our world is so incredibly structured around the properties of materials. Bus shelter glass is tempered so it breaks into small pieces that won’t cut anyone, movies using 3D glasses employ techniques of polarization of light, and the windows on your house have to account for thermal expansion as to not let weather in around the seems. 

In any case, there are many wonderful and wild ways to make a world as spectacular as possible. So, why not start with the properties of its materials?

anonymous asked:

I love Dark Sun and Conan, but never heard of Gene Wolfe. What's the scoop?

Gene Wolfe is our greatest living fantasy author. 

I don’t make that statement rashly or lightly. He is in that category of writer who is worshiped by other science fiction and fantasy writers but who is less well known among the general public (another example of this is Cordwainer Smith, who, thankfully is starting to be reprinted and rediscovered). 

Gene Wolfe’s major work was the Book of the New Sun, which is about the desolate, resource drained and abandoned Earth in an impossibly distant future where people live a primitive existence at the end of time among the ruins of millions of years of societies that had technology people no longer understand, where even the sun is dimmed and red. The societies are ancient and ossified in oriental splendor like the Byzantine Empire, except they’re surrounded by mutants and aliens, and the Earth (Urth) is a backwater, and only the very rich still have contact with other planets. Our hero is Severian the Torturer, a morally gray executioner who is more than a bit of a liar (Gene Wolfe loves fiction relayed by unreliable narrators). The narrative conceit is that it is a first-person novel FROM the future, as opposed to a novel ABOUT the future, so like with Dune, you’re immersed in a rapid-fire alien world that becomes clearer only with time, but still remains immensely cool and mysterious…what Lord of the Rings would be if Tolkien intentionally never published the Silmarillion. 

You ever hear that joke about how the Velvet Underground was enormously influential in a way out of proportion to the number of people who went to their gigs, so the only explanation is that every single person who went to their shows immediately formed a band? Well, Gene Wolfe is like that for tabletop game designers. Not only was Wolfe’s New Sun a huge inspiration to Dark Sun, but Monte Cook did his version of a new sun like setting recently. I’ve often wondered, but never been able to prove, that Gene Wolfe had an influence on Eternia and the Masters of the Universe, where people fight with swords and it seems fantasy-esque but every so often someone has like a laser spear or energy whip, or a weird fishman mutant shows up. 

[…]  Here in my spheres of the Internet, it’s funny how everyone shares this idea that WRITING = fantasy and science fiction, that WRITERS are people who get loads of money to publish their space elf stories. I think we all found each other here and now because we share these roots of being The Bookish Children, who aspired to be Tolkien or Adams when we grew up, and I think that’s great, and I’m so glad we share all this.
It’s weird, though, how our Writing About Writing then tends to be about fiction. And fiction is such a strange market, a really weird beast. I think that a lot of this post applies to fiction writers in a particularly toxic and demoralizing way but it’s also very true in nonfiction writing.
As a kid you have all of these… IDEAS about nonfiction writing. That your textbooks and news stories and magazines and adventures and dictionaries and everything are prepared lovingly and truthfully by experts. Edited and approved by some great authority. It isn’t Authors or Writers who create this stuff; you don’t want to grow up to be them; they are oracles, not celebrities. There is still this perception that nonfiction is handed down benevolently, like stone tablets from God.
And the truth of it is that nonfiction is handed down by whoever met the deadline first. These were generally not The Bookish Children whose Daydreams Finally Took Fruitful Wing. These were the ones who believed Terry Pratchett when he said “If you trust in yourself…and believe in your dreams…and follow your star…you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”
The truth is, natural talent attracts a certain magician’s-flair attention, but that the Content Machine is starving, and it gobbles up sparkly cupcakes just as fast as it gobbles up plain bread. The news cycle turns over. Nobody’s reading it carefully, thinking of the children, setting words to flake and texture against each other just so. They’re thinking of Wednesday. They’re afraid they’re about to be found out as Mediocre, and if they miss another deadline they will get the Raised Eyebrow.
Talent is a pony you can ride for 3000 words, but when your job is 10,000 words a week then you need a fuckin trained warhorse that puts its head down and carries you stolidly through a battlefield of distractions and doesn’t listen when you try to steer it otherwise.
So you get this dichotomy in Writing about Writing, where in Fiction Writing you’re encouraged to build an elaborate fairy grotto and arrange the correct pencils in pretty Mason jars to attract the attentions of a Muse, and then do a bit of performance art where you try to market yourself while also being very humble and modest - it’s not very evidence-based, is it? And in Nonfiction it’s just THROW WORDS AT THE PAGE UNTIL THEY STICK! THROW WORDS AT THE WALL - THROW WORDS AT YOUR MOTHER. THROW YOUR MOTHER AT THE WALL. FUCK FUCK BALLS THEY’RE SLIDING OFF!! FUCK HAND ME THAT CONCLUSION WE’LL NAIL IT INTO PLACE AND PAINT OVER IT AND IT’LL KIND OF… CRUST OVER. THIS IS CRAP, IT’S THE WORST THING I’VE EVER MADE, SEND THE FUCKER OUT THERE YES GOOD DONE.
And the Nonfiction gets written, every damn day, thousands of words, filling up the Internet, bringing the news, coming through the radio, teaching the children, adorning the museums, educating the people, telling the truth, selling the product - it gets out there. But don’t think it isn’t creative, powerful, coming from some essential source - its pedigree is just as potent as fiction’s. This post may be terrible, but it has warhorses and cupcakes and all sorts of strange and alarming imagery. And most of nonfiction writing isn’t good. Most of it is workhorse, mediocre, bringing the truth to your mouth - some of it’s terrible. This certainly is.
And you didn’t notice. You noticed it was there.
Maybe try writing fiction like you’re writing nonfiction. Maybe it will help.
—  @elodieunderglass - such a fantastic response to this quote (originally a quote from Megan McArdle in an Atlantic article titled ‘Why Writers Are The Worst Procrastinators’) that i had to give it its own quote.

I have a theory about who/what “the boy” is or is connected to.

The boat.

It’s the first thing to pop up in the teaser and, as we learn in the first episode of season two, the boat is named “The infant, male, pollock, francis”. Farah’s brother tells us it’s been there since the fifties.

What’s a boy? An infant male. But who is Pollock, Francis? Maybe Francis Pollock, an early twentieth-century Canadian science fiction writer who died in the fifties.

According to Wikipedia:
“Pollock also wrote several science fiction stories for The Black Cat magazine as well as sea stories for magazines such as Adventure.”

Black Cat? We know a black cat. And sea stories would tie into the whole boat thing, plus the fact that the cat is channeling a shark.

What if Francis Pollock is or was “the boy”? Francis Pollock was born in 1876, which means he would have been ten years old in 1886, the year the time machine is sent back to in season 1. Ten years old? Definitely still a boy then. I wonder if this is going somewhere, who knows? Let me know if anyone has anything to add cause I love working on theories.
Writing Prompt #138

As the stars whizzed past, my stomach pressed firmly against my spine. I clapped my hand over my mouth, wondering why lighttravel felt so sickeningly long. This trip better have been worth it.

anonymous asked:

Do you have a recommended reading list for early era sci-fi stories? Like, what you think helped define the genre in its infancy? You seem to know so much, and I want to try and maybe become more knowledgeable of geeky literature roots.

Well, here’s a few recommendations to get you started on reading early pulp-era science fiction: 

Slan by A.E. van Vogt (1940). This one is about a young boy who is a Slan, a member of a tendril-headed race of telepathic mutants who, in the future, are hunted and hated to extermination by normal humans. Our hero’s parents are murdered in front of him, and he is forced to go into hiding. It’s a great premise: you’re running in the night, and the wolves are after you. The book is really worth reading for the villain, Kier Gray, dictator of earth, a man described as “magnetic and tigerish.” A huge part of the book deals with him outsmarting all the people who want his job, and you grow to actually admire him. Like Julius Caesar or Napoleon, he’s a great man…but not a “nice” one. 

The Black Flame (1948). Anything by Stanley G. Weinbaum is worth reading; his career as a scifi writer only lasted 18 months, before he died of cancer, but in that time, he totally transformed the genre: his “Martian Odyssey” changed scifi because it had truly alien and incomprehensible aliens. Black Flame is one is one of my favorites because it’s actually a scifi romance, in that the romantic story is the “A-plot” and not a subplot. Our hero is a beefy modern-day Chris Hemsworthian engineer who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic future ruled by immortals. The most memorable is Princess Margaret, the Black Flame. Her moods turn on a dime, and she can go from the most achingly alluring woman ever, the kind you’d sell your soul to have, to being cruel and pitiless in an instant. Despite that, you get the feeling she is actually vulnerable, isolated from mankind by her immortality. I don’t know your gender, but in general, all the women I’ve lent this one to love it, because it’s a love story and the Black Flame is so cool.

Galactic Patrol by E.E. Smith (1939). This is not the first space opera, but the first space opera that had everything in play as we know it. It features the Lensmen, space-police assembled from dozens of races. It’s great, pure adventure stuff, and is the first book to have platoons of marines in strength-boosting power armor. It has imagery like the hyperspacial tube that lets you cross 20,000 light years in seconds, if you survive. “The Hell Hole in Space.” Mind battles where the reflection and parried mind powers make hundreds of innocent bystanders fall down dead. Space battles with literally millions of starships. Assembled from thousands of races, the Lensmen are the predecessors to multi-species hero organizations like the Jedi Knights and the Green Lanterns. The alien lensmen are really alien; my favorite is a telepathic dragon, and another is a psychologist from a planet of cowards. None of it is schlocky, it’s all deadly serious. The Lensmen have a kill-count that would make Brock Sampson blush, and the villains are frighteningly ruthless, cold, and competent. My favorite is the blue-skinned, cold, supergenius leader of the pirates, Helmuth, who was such a frighteningly effective villain. You figure out he’s not the usual bad guy when he refuses to accept the hero’s apparent death at face value, and because a body wasn’t found, assumed the hero faked his own death and continues looking for him.

“Shambleau” and the Northwest Smith horror-space opera stories by C.L. Moore (1933). If you ever want to see where Han Solo came from, read the Northwest Smith stories, published by C.L. Moore, about an amoral, pragmatic and hardboiled space smuggler and criminal, in adventures that are moody, dark, and more like horror than like adventure stories. The best of these is Shambleau, where Northwest Smith discovers an alien creature that may be the inspiration for the legends of Medusa.

A Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The most influential science fiction writer of the early part of this century, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars/Barsoom stories are set on old, dying Mars of endless warfare, flying navies, swordfights, and beautiful princesses in need of rescue. They’re romantic stuff about heroes, gallant deeds, and daring and villains. The books have giant apes who live in crumbling lost Martian cities, and a beautiful girl who mentally controls lions.

The Hand of Zei by L. Sprague de Camp. De Camp is wonderful, but read this book right after the John Carter of Mars stuff. It’s kind of like Army of Darkness, in that it’s both a satire and also a great straight example of sci-fi planet romance stories at the same time. The hero is a neurotic oedipean ghost writer. The evil sinister mesmerist who commands the evil pirates is a velociraptor creature who is a germaphobe and spooked by loud noises. It’s absolute great fun and has a wonderful sense of humor.

Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell (1939). This horror-tinged scifi novel has an amazing premise: imagine if the earth had been conquered and ruled in secret by invisible energy beings in another plane of existence who feed off our sensations of fear, pain, and terror, using the human race as cattle. Our hero is a scientist who discovers the existence of these beings, and has to flee for his life when he realizes the true nature of the world.

azlouise  asked:

I'm a black writer of sff and I'm feeling really discouraged because I can't find a community of other black folks writing similar stuff. Do you have any advice or recommendations on this topic? I'd really appreciate it!

Building a Community for Fellow Sci-Fi/Fantasy [Black] Writers of Color 

Build it and they will come. Sometimes when you can’t find the community you’re looking for, you have to create it.

The Small Details

  • If you’re going to do the preparations in starting a community, made sure you’ve got a place to meet, like an unoccupied classroom, a library room, coffee shop, a closed group page, etc.
  • It’s important to figure out what you want from this community. Is it for exchanging writing and providing constructive criticism? Sharing your woes? Helping each other with publishing resources? A little bit of it all? Again, gather ideas of what people want from the club and set your sights small then expand as you can handle.
  • Be prepared for the time and labor that comes with it. It may be a labor of love, certainly, and comes with many benefits, but if time is tight, do assure you can scoop up adequate time to dedicate to such a group before starting. Perhaps frequency of meeting will be monthly or bi-weekly vs. weekly. Also, get help if you need to, like a backup or co-chair. You don’t have to run the whole show.

Starting a writing community

Start an online, or local community for Black Science Fiction/Fantasy writers. It may be easier to start aiming at a specific community and gaining traction there, vs. say gathering folks in the whole state.

Places to start a community:

  • For an online community, there’s website such as Goodreads, Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit, other forum sites…
  • If you’re in school and it’s allowed, starting a group within the school is a start, or just advertising it as a separate from school deal while welcoming your community as fellow students as members.
  • There’s also your neighborhood and neighboring ones, and expanding with need or if you have the capacity.

Getting the word out:

  • Advertise your group in the right places, when appropriate/allowed. Such as Diverse SF/F forums on Goodreads, libraries, free bulletin boards, or buying a small classified space.
  • On that last point, if you’ve got a community newspaper that is “friendly” towards diversity, see if they would want to write a story about your group. You may have to have one established first, but an article would definitely help build traction.
  • Additionally, It might be useful to gather interest before making any big decisions. See if folks would want to join this community and give them a contact email to reach out and express their interest and what they’d want from the community if they’d join. 
  • If it’s an online community you’re building: you may have to be a bit of a spammer and namedrop your community website and details when appropriate and welcome. You could also do this on online pages for local places, but again when allowed and where it’ll be welcome and not annoying.
  • Social Media Recommendations: 
  • FiyahLitMag is speculative fiction for Black writers. If you use Twitter, perhaps you should start following Black writers you meet via these connections. -Jess 
  • There’s also a Twitter account called Blerds (Black nerds) that might be a resource as well. -Shira

Search harder.

  • The group you’re looking for may already be out there and you just haven’t found it yet. It’ll be easier to join than start one. Get creative and persistent in your search terminology and flip through forums and websites with active communities.
  • Have you tried or similar meetup forums and sites? Are you looking at the community boards, local classes being offered? (Note: Meetup might also be a good place to post and organize your club)
  • If you’re not interested in starting your own thing, you may decide to be more open to SF/F communities that are for Writers of Color and add that into your search too. There’s likely to be Black authors within the group if you still wish to connection with mainly them, too.

I know there’s more helpful advice out there on starting a writing community than I can provide, so give some more searching a go. Good luck!

~Mod Colette


Original painting and final cover by Bill Sienkiewicz from DC Science Fiction #3, published by DC Comics, 1985. 

This series was great! It featured I think seven over-sized adaptations of short stories by some of the best science fiction writers. This book in particular is outstanding and features Klaus Janson’s best artwork imo; he even did the painted colors himself. Keith Giffen’s adaptation of Robert Bloch’s Hell On Earth and Marshall Rogers’ version of Harlan Ellison’s Demon With a Glass Hand are also well worth tracking down. 

Valerie June is a Tennessee-born singer-songwriter who made a splash a few years ago with her 2013 album Pushin’ Against a Stone. On her new album, The Order of Time, Valerie June reaches back to her roots in Southern gospel, reconciling it with her current life in Brooklyn, New York. Rock critic Ken Tucker says: 

“June’s sense of time as fluid and multi-dimensional is all over this collection. It’s something close to what science fiction writers call a “time-slip,” a notion she gets at on a soul ballad here called “Slip Slide On By.” Yet for all this, Valerie June resists becoming too airy or ethereal. She also understands the way certain pop genres, certain ways to phrase and shape a lyric, can break and mend a heart at the same time.”


Science fiction writer Octavia Butler died 10 years ago today at the age of 58 and left her papers to The Huntington. We’re celebrating her today by sharing a variety of items from her collection throughout the day.

Pictured here are some of Butler’s handwritten notes on writing and what it means to be a writer.

Learn more about Butler and her archive at, and to find out about “Radio Imagination,” an amazing yearlong Octavia Butler project that Los Angeles arts organization Clockshop (@clockshopla​) is putting on, head to

Handwritten notes by Octavia E. Butler, ca. 1980. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Pages of handwritten notes from one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, undated. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Page of handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1987. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

trifoyle  asked:

This AU is making my brain go weird places help. OK so things I know: 1. you ship Grillster.. or at least one-sided crushing Grillby-ster, and 2. as you said in the Windows 7 joke post a couple days ago, Gaster's positronic brain isn't programmed for sexual attraction. So. *pats Grillby* that's rough buddy. Why the difference though? I'm guessing this will be explained later in detail, but does Grillby have more of his original body? Or, did Gaster not have an organic body in the first place?

Ok *stretches* here we go.

Ok Im going to start right of the bat by saying this:

Gaster is a full blown machine, a robot. He is an A.I. in it’s purest form. He has never had an organic body because he was never organic. (don’t worry Trifoyle, Im not mad at you

(Also, Grillby has most of his original body, he just has a few minor augmentations)

Now, we’re gonna delve into the inner workings of Gaster’s mind and (my favorite subject) Robot Psychology. ^^

So, In my explanation of Synthoids, I explained that they can survive without their soul core as long as they have an alternative power source. This means that Gaster doesn’t particularly have a “soul”. Or at the very least, he has no connection to the soul that powers him. You could say his ‘spirit’ or ‘sense of self’ comes from his positronic brain.

A positronic brain is a fictional technological device, originally conceived by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1920–1992). It functions as a central processing unit (CPU) for androids, and, in some unspecified way, provides them with a form of consciousness recognizable to humans.

Two examples of individuals who have positronic brains are Sonny from ‘I Robot’ and Lieutenant Commander Data from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’.   

Yourng Gaster behaves how the humans programmed to. Him along with 3 other synthoids where given personalities to accomplish specific tasks. (ex. construction, warfare, espionage, exc.) Gaster’s behavior is not guided by emotion, but by logic. His job was to make calculations and predictions, a tactician. Like most machines created by humans, Gaster fallowed Issac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” up until a specific incident witch liberated him. 

He can’t feel anything even though he is powered by a soul. So as you can see in the few pictures I’ve made of him, young Gaster has no emotions.

Older Gaster is a little more complex. The personality that most people see didn’t develop until thousands of years later, when Gaster completed his construction of the Cyberground. In the beginning, Cyber was mostly imitating organic behavior in order to make the monsters of the Cyberground feel more comfortable. However, the soul that was once only a power source is slowly beginning to sync up with his positronic brain, giving him the ability to comprehend feelings  

 He can experience positive emotions such as joy and happiness like an organic, but he still has trouble grasping negative emotions. In fact, when Gaster comes close to experiencing anger or hatred, he reverts back to his earlier self.  But Gaster usually snaps out of it when the emotion passes. (This phenomenon could be caused by the remnants of ‘The Three Laws’ burned onto his cortex)    

The robots made by the monsters are ghosts inhabiting metal bodies. In other words, they have a full range of emotions. That being said, Gaster sometimes feels alone in his struggle to understand organics.

But Gaster will eventually learn and experiences the entire emotional spectrum one day.  

*sigh* Thats about it.^^ Im gonna go chill now. -w-    

111 or More Methods for Outlining your Story

Just in time for NaNoWriMo this year, an E4W masterpost to beat all my others.

There are as many methods for outlining, as stories created with or without an outline, but here is a masterlist of story templates, outlining techniques, narrative or plot devices, plotting or pantsing appropriate tools, and much much more.

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Meredith Patterson (b. 1977) is a technologist, science fiction writer, and software developer, a leading figure in the biopunk movement in the United States. She holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics and a Phd in Computer Science, and has combined the two specialities in working with computational linguistics and computer security.

When she was 22, she worked as a NASA correspondent for a Mars simulation mission above the Arctic circle. She has contributed to multiple open-source database software projects.

Komagayda: A Writer who Dares to be Different

When it comes to fanfiction, people have written a lot of works that, more or less, have the same plot or the same alternate universe. And most of you readers don’t mind these at all. Some of you may find these cliché, but the majority continues to enjoy them anyway. After all, fanfiction is about simply enjoying yourselves. Whether it’s by quick reading a one shot or by binge reading a multi-chaptered fic in one sitting, fanfiction is about letting yourself unwind and having something to squeal or to cry about your favorite characters. It’s not really about the plot, but about what the fic makes you feel when you read it. It doesn’t matter how many similar Coffee Shop AUs you’ve read as long as you’re enjoying yourself.

But if you come across a work that gives you a unique plot as well as scenes that triggers your emotions, then wouldn’t that be considered a bonus?

Introducing to you, Komagayda, a writer who dares to be different by coming up with completely original ideas!

Komagayda, as known in AO3 ( @kougaons in Tumblr), has four works under the YOI fandom. He likes writing mostly Science Fiction AUs but he has also written a Fantasy and a Vampire AU.

His most notable work is World’s End Holiday, a 20-chapter Science Fiction AU that has garnered 570 kudos and 7,105 hits as of date.

Komagayda has a talent for drawing readers in with his believable poignant world-building and the mysteries that drive his stories forward. In World’s End Holiday, for example, the story starts off with an introduction to the environment where Yuuri was and what he was doing by engaging the senses of the reader. Here’s the first paragraph of the story:

The friendly horns bounced through the morning air, slightly scratchy from the sound of the old vinyl record on the turntable. The smooth sound of the music carried airily as Yuuri Katsuki, age 23, stretched. He’d just finished setting up his solar still for the day, and picked some small tomatoes. The cucumbers and lettuce looked like they were coming in well, and the rudimentary cage he’d built around his strawberries seemed to have kept out any hungry scavengers so far, so hopefully they would grow to maturity soon.

Komagayda doesn’t randomly throw the reader into the middle of some conversation or action scene, where the reader would have no idea as to what was happening. He also doesn’t start like “ten years before the main plot,” doing long, elaborate, but unnecessary background information that, although essential when it comes to the upcoming drama, is really arduous to have to go through.

Somehow, he manages to go straight to the point without shocking or confusing the reader. It is easy to be drawn into his stories and to lose yourself in the worlds he create. With each chapter, he introduces a question or mystery that needs to be solved and it leaves readers wanting to find answers. There is never a dull moment with Komagayda’s writing.

Want to know more about Komagayda? Read the rest under the cut.

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