Too Soon? How Should Sci-Fi Authors Deal with Tragedy?

Too Soon? How Should Sci-Fi Authors Deal with Tragedy?

At what point do you say something?

At what point do you go “I’m sorry, I can’t be silent?”

Seeing the above post evoked a specific reaction. The thought of someone laughing off my parents or sibling’s murder with a cruel joke evoked, shall we call them, primal emotions.

But the I thought: slow down. I’ve never been very good at judging when the right time to act is.  Speaking up has sometimes brought me some criticism – either because I’m seen as ‘abrasive and obnoxious,’ or because I’m coming across as ‘hypocritical.’ I’m trying to be more conscious about speaking publicly on issues, so I’ve bit my tongue more than once when I see the science fiction community do or say things I do not agree with.  I’ve spoken up at other times too.  There doesn’t seem to be a right way to go about this.

So if this is the wrong time to bring it up, please forgive me.  If this comes across in a way I do not intend, please forgive me.

I felt compelled to speak up when another author linked to the above post made by the sci-fi author Michael Z. Williamson.  I found that Mr. Williamson’s Facebook is public and I was able to confirm that he did say what he said and that it’s still visible (as of today, 6/20 @ 10:05PDT)

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Tor Publishing, Scalzi and Other Sci-Fi Community Drama

Tangential to the comments I made about John Scalzi the other day, a large amount of drama has been building ever since an employee of Tor Publishing made some comments on Facebook against the Sad Puppies. This drama highlights the angry, under-informed reactions that threaten to tear the sci-fi community apart. It’s been something I’ve been talking about for quite some time.

There’s something in here, something that needs to be said, but I can’t wrap my head around it yet and I’m under a deadline to finish editing this book. Until then, feel free to read what others have said and form your own informed opinions.

Click Here to Read Jim C. Hines’ “The Tor Mess.”

Professional Storytelling: Why You’re Wrong about @Scalzi

Professional Storytelling: Why You're Wrong about @ScalziChecked another box off on the Bucket List – I got to meet John Scalzi yesterday over at the Bay Area Book Festival.  I snapped this picture of John answering my question … sorry for the potato quality but my cell camera did not like the lighting in there.  Instagram made me work too hard to get my own picture, but that’s beside the point.

The point I’m swinging back to with Scalzi relates to the fact that he’s a very polarizing figure in sci-fi. My personal experience has been that, any time I post something from his blog on Twitter, trolls come out of the woodwork to tell me how John Scalzi s a rip-off or racist or sexist.  I’ve always found it fascinating when a public figure gets more hate than Justin Bieber.  What is it about the guy?

Up until I met him, all I knew was that John Scalzi wrote sci-fi and has been known for attracting his own share of Internet hate. I confess, not knowing the guy myself, I’ve always been reticent to jump to one side or another.  After all, I don’t want to get stuck defending someone only to find out that they have some really heinous skeletons in their closet.

Right, Josh Duggar?  Never mind.

The point is that you can tell a lot about meeting someone personally. Meeting them face to face gives you a much better sense of who they are as a person versus whatever you can infer from what they say on the Internet. Having met the man, I feel comfortable now in saying: All of you trolls who complain to me on Twitter about Scalzi are wrong. He isn’t evil, he isn’t a rip-off, and he doesn’t deserve the mean things you say about him. Continue reading

Professional Storytelling: Why People Love Zombies

Today’s post is inspired by this postcard I found over at PostsecretProfessional Storytelling: Why People Love Zombies

What is it about zombies?  Why are we obsessed with things that eat our brains? It’s funny to contemplate how obsessed people are with zombies.  Zombie movies are so formulaic that if it were any other genre, we’d be screaming “cliche” and “reboot!”  But since we’re talking about the undead and their need to nosh on our noggins … we’re willing to give them a pass.

The stories always go like this: Terrible circumstances somehow cause the dead to rise.  The undead quickly overrun the humans and life as we know it fails almost immediately. Zombies can always be killed by headshots, they hunt in packs for some obscure reason and occasionally develop the land speed of a frightened gazelle.  Somehow the heroes are the only ones to think of looting the local sporting goods store while the fat and ignorant masses become BRAAAIINNS-fodder for the newly-formed zombie community. Cliche after cliche … trope after trope.  We know how the stories go, we know that zombie movies are based on physiological impossibilities, but we can’t stop watching them.

But wait, it gets better.  People have embraced zombie entertainment to the point where we have ‘The Zombie Survival Guide,’ Zombie Survival Camp and Zombie Runs. I often wonder what George Romero would think of what the undead craze has become, but then I realize that he’s just fine with it and he still makes zombie movies.

Yes, people love zombies, and here’s why: Continue reading

Music in My Scifi #1 – Primus: Menace & Whimsy

Music in My Scifi #1 - Primus: Menace & Whimsy

This is the first of a series of articles on the influence of music in the Jim Westfield series. As you may know, I’ve included a number of musical influences in the books and here’s why:

I Love Music

The truth is, I have a mild form of synaesthesia. That means that one form of stimulation in my brain (music) produces sensations in other parts of my brain (taste).  I didn’t really notice it with other sound, but right about the time I graduated high school and developed some taste in music, I noticed that certain musical pieces would actually taste like something.  Stevie Ray Vaughn’s transcendent guitar solos have a coppery, tangy taste to me. Classical music pieces are a decadent, sweet dessert. This doesn’t happen with all forms of music, but it’s certainly made me an ardent fan and that love carried over to the story I told in Flotilla. Continue reading