Science Fiction: The Stars My Destination

"The Stars My Destination," second in my five-book formal tour of the history of science fiction, is a work of extremes, which makes it hard to say anything balanced about it. What it does well, it does very well. The rest is flat pulp, the equivalent of an off-brand cola. But since Bester doesn't dawdle, …

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Dogs barking and the stupidity of literary fashion

My editor, who gets to poke at my manuscripts, flagged a sentence in the first course of my occult mystery, "A dog barked in the distance." This is a cliche according to Rosecrans Baldwin, a novelist who wrote an article for Slate back in 2010. He says it's tired writing. If so, I'm in good …

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How I stopped being disgusted by social media

The art of Mike Campau (used without permission) helped me make peace with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I still don't particularly enjoy being active on those places, but I can finally let go of my disgust for what they've largely become. This might seem paradoxical since we're now in a time of high anti-social media sentiment. It …

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More on the Limitations of Writing Really Good Villainesses

One of the reasons Darth Vader is a timeless villain is because he's Luke's father. Luke, as the hero, represents us -- either indirectly in that he fights for us, or directly as a stand-in, a power-projection of the self. Vader, then, in perverting his role as father, inverts it and becomes the antithesis of …

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Setting and Hardboiled Detective Fiction

I was listening to some lectures on the detective novel on the plane, and the dude really had some neat points. (Go figure.) But first, for background, you have to know that American detective fiction, sometimes labelled "hardboiled," grew out of the English detective novel, which tended to be very genteel. The detective in the …

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