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Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.

How to Write SF

The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells by Ben Bova, best-selling author and six-time Hugo Award winner for Best Editor. (This is one of the books your ol' Critter Captain learned from himself, and I highly recommend it.) (Also via Amazon)

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ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!

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Preditors & Editors Changeover

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THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock

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Relationships in SF

Relationships in SF

(Shhh! A Secret of Great Writing)

Here's an article I wrote for the SFWA Bulletin on some interesting statistical correlations I found between the amount of interpersonal relationships in "well regarded" vs. "orindary" SF/F stories. In addition to the article are some supplemental pages that weren't published because of space limitations.

This has fascinating implications for your writing (at least in terms of what sells better) and also offers a possibly useful tool for you to find books you want to read while browsing in the bookstore. Hope you find it useful.

Read the article:

Improving relationships in Speculative Fiction
(Or Shhh! How I caught a glimpse of The Secret of great fiction)

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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:48 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Stuart Aken on Thu, 22 Jul 2010 14:17:43 0000]

What you say is true of most modern scifi, but it's interesting to note that Ray Bradbury always managed the interpersonal relationship aspect well. Frankly, I find a story without this to be uninteresting simply because I can't relate to the characters. I need to care about the characters to keep reading the story. Simple ideas aren't enough on their own to keep my attention. People, or interestingly constructed alien life forms with some emotion or a substitute for it are more interesting than stories about things, no matter how well imagined they may be.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:48 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Mike A on Thu, 01 Oct 2009 22:14:51 0000]

Michael Kizzia wrote:
_ when does a story cease to be a SF/F/H story and become an IP story dressed in SF/F/H garb?_

I would guess when the central conflict or main thematic argument is centred on interpersonal issues rather than technology, society, supernatural or other genre themes.

IP stuff can be there without taking over. In a typical action movie, there is normally a main conflict between good guys and bad guys over some primary goal; but if the movie has depth there is often also conflict between different good guys over how best to go about achieving the goal - classic example: by-the-book cop partnered with maverick cop. This allows IP conflict to dramatise the characters, without it necessarily becoming the main focus.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:48 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Mike A on Mon, 28 Sep 2009 06:57:24 0000]

I was thinking the same about Crime fiction, as Guest says below. What I like about Henning Mankell's "Wallander" books is that the detectives have families, communities, etc.; it sort of grounds the crimes in a social context, thus giving them more weight.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:49 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Kit Dunsmore on Mon, 28 Sep 2009 04:16:24 0000]

You are right on target with this. It is the main reason I stopped reading SF a long time ago. Cool gadgets and neat ideas get old fast without interesting characters interacting with them/reacting to them. And as others point out, lots of genre novels have this problem - they focus on the gimmic instead of teh people. I was surprised to see that F did so poorly until I though about the classics, like Tolkien. I'm making an effort to avoid this pitfall myself and am grateful for your reminder.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:49 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Michael Kizzia on Sun, 27 Sep 2009 13:50:06 0000]

I think I always knew this, only the question now becomes when does a story cease to be a SF/F/H story and become an IP story dressed in SF/F/H garb? The Road? The Shack? The Time Traveler's Wife? Twilight? Slaughterhouse Five? Where do we draw that invisibe line, or is there one?
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:49 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Terry Grignon on Sat, 26 Sep 2009 03:49:36 0000]

Excellent article and I agree wholeheartedly. Many of my characters are far too strawish and extending and building on their relationships is one of the biggest challenges in my writing. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:49 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Guest on Sat, 26 Sep 2009 01:27:09 0000]

I hope I'm doing this right. SF isn't the only genre that has this problem. Another that comes to mind is the crime/mystery genre. Many stories are focused on "solving the mystery" or "finding the criminal" rather than describing the people involved. Others that come to mind are "journey" stories, where a solo traveler tells his/her exploits. I don't read war stories, but assume many of them have the same fault. When I first started writing SF, I thought "world building" was the most important thing in a story. I've since learned that other things, like plot, characterization, and human interaction have their place in all fiction. But this was not an overnight revelation -- it took time, a heck of a lot of time. I've since broadened my writing to include other genres besides SF-F-H. It has helped me to add other dimensions to my writing.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:50 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Mike A on Fri, 25 Sep 2009 21:35:22 0000]

Something I'd always instinctively felt, but it's nice to see some stats behind it. I don't find it surprising that _short fiction _SF tends to lack IP concerns - when IP conflict isn't your main focus, economy demands the editorial scalpel.

One SF novelist who's good on interpersonal stuff is Philip K Dick - it's always there, right from the outset. In _Do Androids Dream..._ we start with a vivid snapshot of Deckard's dysfunctional relationship with his ex-wife, even though she never appears in the book. There are countless other examples. He often uses the treachorous female archetype (eg Rachael) that seems to come from film noir.

As well as male-female relationships, Dick is good at employee-employer relationships: very often his classic "little guy" protagonist is drawn into the conflict of the story by his alpha-male employer - who himself is typically in conflict, due to a tangled relationship, with another alpha.

I think it's interesting that one of Dick's biggest influences was Ibsen. Ibsen's plays are built solidly on interpersonal relationships.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:50 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Critter Captain on Thu, 24 Sep 2009 20:43:31 0000]

Point taken. I don't read that much straight Fantasy, so I don't have as much on hand to score. However! I just added a link --

http://critters.org/rel/score.cgi?cmd=addform

-- where you can add your own scores to the database. Please add some, and spread the word around to others.
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Postby CrittersMinion » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:50 pm

[Reposted from old comment system, from Critter Captain on Thu, 24 Sep 2009 20:40:56 0000]

Aha! What this points out is that I need to add a page where you all can share your own scores. Hey presto: http://critters.org/rel/score.cgi?cmd=addform . Now you can add your own and make the data even better. Good idea you have there!

It only takes a minute or two a book, so please add some scores...
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