New entry Nov 01
Critters is 21!
Yes, 21 years ago Critters was born. Wow! Thanks so much to all of you, who've made it such a resounding success!
Books from Critters!
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)
The Sigil TrilogyIf you're looking for an amazing, WOW! science fiction story, check out THE SIGIL TRILOGY. This is — literally — one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read.
P&E Seeks New Caretaker
Unfortunately, much of the data on the P&E site has become stale and outdated, and needs a new caretaker with the time required to update the site. The listings are being removed until they can be updated by a new caretaker.
Note that the P&E/Critters Annual Readers Poll will run as usual in January.
If you are interested in taking the reins of P&E, and possess what's needed — at least 20hrs/week to volunteer, excellent investigative skills, in-depth knowledge of the publishing industry, ability to detect scams from not-scams, thick skin, good web site skills, good writing ability — please get in touch. Thanks for your interest!
I'm being interviewed live on public radio for Critters 20th birthday. For those who want to listen, it's on the 10am (Mountain time) show on Thursday, 11/19/16, on Colorado Public Radio - www.cpr.org has streaming on the site or it's 90.1 FM in the Denver area. [Interview is done, you can listen on the site]
Free Web Sites
Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at www.nyx.net.
ReAnimus Acquires Advent!
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!
Network speeding up
I'm switching the connection over to a new, shiny 10X faster network because of all the load. There might be bits of downtime as your boxes learn new addresses and things. Should be brief. Let me know of any prolonged outages you see.
Preditors & Editors Changeover
With the very sad passing of Dave Kuzminski, who ran P&E, I've taken over the P&E duties. Lots of what I hope are improvements; check it out at pred-ed.com.
is Dying has been Replaced
THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock
Announcing ReAnimus Press
If you need help making ebooks from manuscripts or print copies—or finding great stuff to read—look no further! An ebook publisher started by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]
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)
- Common Objections — Gain more insight by reading how others objected
- Quiz and More Quotes — Illustrating relationships or the lack thereof in SF and non-SF, and some for you to guess
- Book Scores — The raw data for the books scored
- Add Your Own Scores — Compute your own and share them, takes just a minute or two
- Statistical Summary — how the different categories scored
- Share Your Thoughts
If you found this article helpful, please consider a small donation to keep Critters going.
Share Your Thoughts:
[ 16 comments | Add a comment ]
[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.
[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.
[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.
[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.
[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?
[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.
[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.
[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.
[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 --
-- where you can add your own scores to the database. Please add some, and spread the word around to others.
[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...