Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review - Writers’ Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy Edited by Michael Knost (5/5)

[The following entry is part of The Writer's Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour being organized by Tomorrow Comes Media.  For more information on the book and the tour, see the tour page.]

By Jessica Veter

Click here for the Amazon listing
For the hurried, harried writers among you, two words: Read It.
For those of you requiring more convincing, pray continue:

The Writers’ Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a collection of essays and interviews by some of the biggest names in these genres (Neil Gaiman, James Gunn, Orson Scott Card, Nisi Shawl, Elizabeth Bear, and more). They cover a myriad of topics from defining subgenre, novel structure, rhetoric (come on! ANY book making knowledgeable use of the word ‘rhetoric’ deserves space on your bookshelf), the purpose of aliens, worldbuilding and so much more. Also included are two roundtable discussions with short story editors and novel editors.

Remember the thousands of dollars you (well, me) spent on university writing courses? Here’s the entire lot condensed into one bargain-basement priced book... minus the annoying classmate who thought using gerunds made his work literary.

What’s refreshing about the Workshop is the concentration on Science Fiction and Fantasy, genres which I still admit to writing while mumbling under my breath, taking a sip of tea and avoiding eye contact. For years, in those same university courses, I was told they were ‘subliterary’ and it was recommended that I try my hand at some ‘real’ writing (direct quote: “You have a way with words; it’s a shame they’re being wasted on this kind of stuff”). And here they are: celebrated, bragged about, dissected, inspected and accepted. Moreover, the focus is on writing as a Craft which must be practised, practised and practised in order to get it right. Next time you’re banging your head against your keyboard trying to get a recalcitrant character to do as she’s told, remember that Pamela Sargent has the same problem, too. Somehow, it makes the whole painful exercise that much easier to bear. Dear writer, you are not alone.

The Writers’ Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is not off-limits to writers of ‘other’ genres. Writing is writing, and the same rules apply pretty much across the board. Whether your antagonist is an alien from Tau Ceti VI, or a serial murderer, or your high school nemesis, they must still have a recognisable (to your reader) motivation.

Informative, engaging and interesting, The Writers’ Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a wonderful tool for writers interested in perfecting their craft (who among us is not?). I’ve also come away with a ‘recommended reading’ list which will carry me right through the summer.

Five stars: Alpha Centauri, Rigel, Betelgeuse, Mizar and Alcor. 


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About the Reviewer:  Jessica Veter is a novelist raised in rural Ontario. Having escaped to Toronto, she spent the 90’s over-educating herself at York University and then the University of Toronto. Once she accepted that there were never going to be any job listings in The Globe and Mail headed “Medievalist Wanted”, Jessica went to Japan. There, she met her husband and they lived in England before returning to Canada with a son and a greyhound.  Now in rural Flamborough, Jessica and her husband raise 3 boys, 6 chickens and are owned by 1 dog. You are welcome to visit her at www.jessicaveter.com.

32 comments:

  1. SSP rocks no bias others think so too :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was wondering about that one. It's on the list :)
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
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