Review of “Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-Of-This-World Novels and Short Stories”

Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-Of-This-World Novels and Short Stories

Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-Of-This-World Novels and Short Stories by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So many good things about this book. And it is not limited to writers. Any fan of the genre will also love the book.

First, there is a set of essays.
Orson Scott Card talks about how speculative fiction has expanded and includes numerous worlds such as science fiction, urban fantasy, and traditional magic. He then gives a series of masterclasses discussing why you can create any rules for your world, but need to be consistent in applying these rules; and why the genre doesn’t free you from the basics of writing well and telling a good story and that the same story can be told in each genre.
Philip Athans gives you a history of the recent and current state of speculative fiction (and essentially gives you a reading list). He highlights some of the best and talks about why they are the best. Admittedly, not all of my favorites made the list, but as he points out, the field is so large being all-encompassing would be impossible.
Jay Lake finishes up this ‘state of the Union’ by talking about what is steampunk really. He lays out the common elements while at the same time discussing the difference between steam and dieselpunk (I disagree with his including cyberpunk in this discussion). As a steampunk fan, I liked his discussion of the problem areas of racism, class, and imperialism in Victorian England and how you deal with it as a writer in modern times. He only briefly touches on gender issues but does mention that many of the writers (e.g., Gail Carriger) ignore gender ideas of the Victorian period and go with modern concepts.

Part 4 is the reason that this is going into my desk’s bookshelf. It is the encyclopedia of fantasy. Wanting to know the different types of magic and what instruments used? Check the chapter on Magic. What is the difference between an elf and a fairy? See the chapter on fantasy races. In other words, it can save you research time and the danger of being sucked into the internet (although web cruising has been helpful).

BOTTOM LINE – It doesn’t matter of you write, or just like reading this genre, this is a volume you should have in your library.

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s