Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Gods Themselves – New Wave Science Fiction Classic

In the history of science fiction series, we are looking at the New Wave which took off in the 1960s and 70s. Many authors prominent earlier continued to be successful by adapting their style. We highlighted three classics in particular. Two weeks ago we looked at Robert A Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and last week was Robert A Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966). This week is the third book, Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves (1972). Here is the plot outline.

The Gods Themselves

TheGodsThemselves(1stEd)

The Gods Themselves is a 1972 science fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1972, and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1973.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Print on Demand

Thanks to ebooks you can publish a book today for next to nothing. But what if you want a print book – a physical book you can hold and hand to people?

SigningTraditional Print

When I published my first local history book it was clear that most sales would be impulse buys. Tourists and locals would be intrigued and say, “It’s less than a fiver, I’ll have one.” A printer will print however many copies you ask for, but because of the setup costs and economies of scale, it makes sense to print a lot at once. That means you need several hundred pounds usually.

I funded my first print book out of my pension money. I used the profit from the first book to fund the second. I used the profit from the second to pay for professional editing of my first science fiction novel. So when the third history book was ready, I didn’t have the funds. The solution? Print on demand (POD).

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - New Wave Science Fiction Classic

In the history of science fiction series, we are looking at the New Wave which took off in the 1960s and 70s. Many authors prominent earlier continued to be successful by adapting their style. We highlighted three classics. Last week we looked at Robert A Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961). This week is Robert A Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966), and Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves (1972) will be next week. Here is the plot outline.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A Heinlein, about a lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth. The novel expresses and discusses libertarian ideals. It is respected for its credible presentation of a comprehensively imagined future human society on both the Earth and the moon.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Trade Publishing, Vanity Publishing and Self Publishing


A recent blog post on the Self Publishing Advice Centre discussed a talk by Joanna Penn addressing the question: Is Self Publishing Vanity?

You can see it in people's eyes when you tell them you self publish - the thought that you're not good enough to get accepted by a traditional publisher so you pay for it yourself. I made a seriously-considered decision to self publish, and many traditionally published authors are taking back control of their books and self publishing.

I feel strongly about this subject, so I want to put in my thoughts on the subject. Let's look at the three different kinds of publishing:

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Stranger in a Strange Land - New Wave Science Fiction Classic

In the history of science fiction series, we are looking at the New Wave which took off in the 1960s and 70s. Many authors prominent earlier continued to be successful by adapting their style. For example Robert A Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966), and Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves (1972). Over the next three weeks we are going to look at the plot outlines of these books.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction novel by American author Robert A Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians. The novel explores his interaction with—and eventual transformation of—Earth culture. In 2012, the US Library of Congress named it one of 88 "Books that Shaped America".

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Lack of Emotional Depth

As well as, or maybe because of, being a writer, I am a great reader. I have been all my life. More and more I am reading new writers who I find as I’m promoting my own books, and have been fortunate so far this year that most of them have been very good. There have only been a handful I couldn’t finish, and only a handful I finished but couldn’t give a glowing revue. Since I’ve read about 50 books so far this year, that’s pretty good going.

Earlier this year I read a strange book, and it was not just the characters and the monsters, who were intentionally strange (it was fantasy). The plot was great, and it kept me reading to the end. I wanted to find out how it ended, but the writing drove me mad. I’m not going to identify the book – I don’t do bad reviews. It could have been so much better. I thought it needed a good editor, who would have spotted the faults in the writing style.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Michael Moorcock (born 1939)

Michael John Moorcock (born 18 December 1939) is an English writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published literary novels. He is best known for his novels about the character Elric of Melniboné, a seminal influence on the field of fantasy in the 1960s and 1970s.

Michael Moorcock was born in London in 1939 and the landscape of London, particularly the area of Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove, is an important influence in some of his fiction (cf. the Cornelius novels). He began writing whilst he was still at school, contributing to a magazine he entitled Outlaw's Own from 1950 on.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Creating Characters Checklist

I’m about to start the big rewrite of my science fiction novel Secrets, following the big edit, and I’ve been looking through my computer files for good advice.

If your characters aren’t believable, if they don’t feel like living breathing human beings, if their actions don’t ring true, your novel won’t work. Their physical appearance is often the first thing we think about, but may be the least important thing. You need to concentrate much more on their thoughts and mannerisms. I don’t know where I got this from, it may be notes from a book, but it’s worth sharing.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

J G Ballard (1930-2009) the Seer of Shepperton

James Graham "J. G." Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Born in an international settlement in Shanghai to British parents before his family emigrated to the UK, Ballard began writing in the 1950s, becoming associated with the New Wave of science fiction with post-apocalyptic novels such as The Wind from Nowhere (1961) and The Drowned World (1962).

In the late 1960s, Ballard produced a variety of experimental short stories (or "condensed novels"), such as those collected in the controversial The Atrocity Exhibition (1970). In the mid 1970s, Ballard published several novels, among them the highly controversial Crash (1973), a story about symphorophilia and car crash fetishism, and High-Rise (1975), a depiction of a luxury apartment building's descent into violent chaos.