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23 June 2009 Blog Home : June 2009 : Permalink

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day

Today is Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day, a day to celebrate the writers who go beyond the mundane world as we know it.

Why today you ask? well June 23 is the day that Cyrano de Bergerac made the first successful (fictional) flight to the moon in about 1650.

My contribution today will be to note the more recent books of some of my favourite SF&F authors, and perhaps list a couple that you may not think of as SF&F authors.

Two of my absolute favourite SF&F authors are Lois M Bujold and Michael Z Willimason. Here are links to recent reviews I've made of Lois' Sharing Knife:Horizon and MadMike's Contact With Chaos. Another very excellent author who needs you to buy his books is Dave Freer. I reviewed his most recent collaboration with Eric Flint - Slowtrain to Arcturus - when it cam eout last October and I strongly recommend it.

Talking of Dave Freer leads to me to mention the Mad Genuis Club which is a blog where Dave and various other excellent SF writers such as John Lambshead and Sarah A Hoyt discuss SF/F and writing in general.

Sarah writes across the spectrum of genre fiction, from historical mysteries to futuristic SF via three excellent romantic fantasies of a Victorian world with dragons, were-creatures and magic which will be reviewed in the next post I write today.

Moving away from the Mad Genius Club - though I suggest readers go there to be informed about Golden Guns and Glittery Hoo-Has (link not beverage or worksafe) - it behooves me to mention Sharon Lee the instigator of this whole SFF Writers Day idea.

Sharon and spouse Steve Miller are the authors of the excellent Liaden books and a couple of years back they tried the "will punters pay to watch us write a novel" trick in an attempt to unglue the wolf from the door. The attempt was successful and they went on to do the same trick with a sequel - Saltation which I mentioned at the previous link. Both books have now been bought by Baen and the first - Fledgling - is available as an eARC now. Saltation is still available in its week at a time draft but people who failed to download Fledgling are now required to buy the Baen version. Those of us who did read the original and have now read the eARC are able to learn a lot from the differences between the two. Writers really do improve things when they go back and edit their first drafts, and while I'm very happy to have contributed to the original project, I am also happy to have read the new improved version. The extra time and effort (and words) has turned what could best be described as authorial fan-fic into a real publishable novel that will appeal beyond the hard core fanbase.

Finally now that I've covered most of my favourite authors, all of who seem to be published by Baen for at least some of their output (this is not a coincidence), I'm going to mention two dead authors. The first is Robert A Heinlein who wrote a lot of good stuff and is of course admired for much of it although he gets a lot of flack by people who have either only read one book or not actually read any but rely on the reviews of others. One RAH work that I consider to be badly misunderstood is Friday which stands the test of time remarkably well but which has been panned by many for being one of his less good books.

The second author is Rudyard Kipling, who has probably received even more harsh criticism. I'm not going to defend him entirely as he was very definitely a child of the age and absorbed much that we, a century on, consider abhorrently racist but writing him off as an apologist for imperialism as many do is throwing the baby and bath tub out with the bathwater. What even his devotees forget is that he wrote SF. Two good examples are "With the Night Mail" and "As Easy as A.B.C." set in the year 2000. Regretfully they are no more accurate readings of the future than 1984 was but they aren't any less accurate either. Behind the quaint science and technology there is the politics and that remains just as relevant now as it was when it was written. Were he writing today I imagine a lot of his childrens books would get themselves classified as YA Fantasy and anyone who wants to read his books electronically on the Kindle, say, can get them at my Kipling page.

I think that's about it so all that remains is for me to copy some other SF writer and say Share and Enjoy