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Showing posts from August, 2015

What makes a scifi world seem real?

My husband doesn't like fantasy. When we were dating he always told me he liked his science fiction real, with convincing science and logic holding its strange new worlds together - be they ours or alien planets in the future. So why does he love Game of Thrones? I think it's because the social science is so convincingly portrayed. The history hangs together. The characters act according to their nature, or else reveal their nature convincingly through action.

And what makes me enjoy science fiction and fantasy? To be honest, I like some logic too. Vampires for the sake of added vampire, fairy because we've already used up every other creature, or volcano because it fits the storyline will probably distract me. But creatures that build into essential parts of the plot--they'll hold my attention. And logic. Ex Machine is a brilliant movie! But deus ex machina is not a very convincing plot device.

Anyway, here are three science fiction novels I've read recently, star…

How do you build the world you already live in?

The first time I met the term "World-building" I wondered what it meant. I play lots of board games with my sons, so perhaps world-building meant the art of setting up rules so a game wouldn't be too easily lost or won. I watched my sons play lots of computer games and wondered if world-building was the writing of long lines of computer code to model the buildings, hills and roads. I read a lot of science fiction too. Is world-building the task of adding science to imagination so a new world makes sense? In historical fiction, is it the art of convincingly depicting a distant time? And in the present day?

The present day surely is what it is and doesn't need to be built. But what makes a reader believe in a novel? What creates that willing suspension of disbelief, that leaves us thinking these people lived real lives when we know they didn't? What keeps us turning pages to see what happened next to someone who never really existed?

I guess I'm convinced now t…

When is a book just for kids?

As a child, I hated fairy tales. I'm not sure why. I loved my brothers' books of adventure stories. I even volunteered to clean my older brother's room so I could read his classics while dusting his bookshelf. But offer me the Snow Queen and I'd run a mile. Alice just felt wrong. Snow White might as well have been Red, but she certainly wouldn't be read by me.

As a young teen, I hated hearing the Hobbit read aloud to class. I therefore refused to read Lord of the Rings. I cleaned my parents' bedroom so I could "borrow" their library books while vacuuming. I loved the novel Oil. I loved one about a farmer trying to tame the top of a hill while his son tamed his love life. I loved... Oh, I just loved books... as long as they weren't fairy tales, or the Hobbit which I now know I had so clearly mis-classified.

As a mom... I still didn't read the sort of fairy tales I'd grown up on. But I read the new ones, the nuanced ones, the Paper Bag Princ…

Where do books go when they die?

Ah, the scent of the used book store. Charing Cross Road in London is filled with noise, people, traffic... and books. There's the famous Foyles for the bright and new, a reminder that books are alive and vibrant and fun. Then there are the used book stores, with their peculiar, wonderful scent, and their peculiarly wonderful assortment of fascinating literature. Used, perhaps; rejected even; but these books most surely aren't dead.

Closer to home, Oregon has  Powells, where new and old books share the walls, stand side by side, and proudly complain, we're not dead!

And then... One of my book reviews today proved peculiarly elusive. Not listed on Amazon. Not listed on Barnes and Noble. Not listed on Powells. I tried Smashwords - perhaps it's "just" an ebook - but it wasn't listed there either. I'd only been given the book in May, and my review's just a month overdue. So I wondered, where could the book have gone to in so short a time, and where do…