I wanted to share a few unusual book titles from my reference library that may be useful for aspiring science fiction writers.
Guesstimation 2.0: Solving today’s questions on the back of a napkin by Lawrence Weinstein. Published in 2012 by Princeton University Press.
No, you don’t need to be a mathematician to be a science fiction writer, but it is helpful if you can make rough, common sense estimates to check “facts” obtained from the internet. Crowd sourcing facts on the internet is easy but many times the result is based upon word-of-mouth solutions, implausible factoids, and false assumptions. Most editors will not check your math so the ability to do a little fact-checking can keep some smarty pants from pulling the wings off your latest creation after it shows up in print. The first volume of this duo, Guesstimation: Solving the world’s problems on the back of a cocktail napkin is more readable and elementary but Guestimation 2.0 has more examples an author might need to address in an SF story. Written by math and physics professors at Old Dominion University, these delightfully concise works remind us that a close answer - an estimate - is often good enough for everyday activities.
Working with Bitches: Identify the 8 types of office mean girls and rise above workplace nastiness by Meredith Fuller. Published in 2013 by Da Capo Press.
Before you start giving me the stink-eye, let me explain. Stories are about people their passions and anger, revenge and redemption, adversities and triumphs, and how the characters are shaped by, and relate to their environment. The more we know about people, the more believable our characters can be. Writers with a dangling Y chromosome sometimes have difficulties writing believable female characters and creating a believable mean female can be even more difficult. I am not recommending this as a self-help book but rather, a study of negative female archetypes in the workplace. The book provides some potential motivations for these archetypes and examples of how others react to them. The author, a psychologist and career counselor with 30 years’ experience dealing with workplace nastiness, provides an interesting mix of motivations and descriptions that could help your characterizations.
Wondrous Beginnings edited by Steven H. Silver and Martin H. Greenberg (2003) and Before They Were Giants edited by James L. Sutter (2010).
These books contain the first published stories of some of the best known SF authors, past and present – stories written when these superstars were just like us, SF fans with stories and dreams. The interviews (Giants) and introductions (Beginnings) provide glimpses into the genesis of these first stories and the beginnings of a writer’s career. Wondrous Beginnings includes 22 first sales from writers Murray Leinster, Julie E. Czerneda, Orson Scott Card, Hal Clement, Anne McCaffrey, Arthur C. Clarke, L. Sprague de Camp, George R. R. Martin, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jack McDevitt, Stephen Baxter, and others. Before they were Giants has stories and contributions from Ben Bova, Charles Stross, China Mieville, Cory Doctorow, David Brin, Greg Bear, Joe Haldeman, Kim Stanley Robinson, Larry Niven, Michael Swanwick, Nicola Griffith, Piers Anthony, R. A. Salvatore, Spider Robinson, and William Gibson.
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…and general SciFi articles.
SciFi Writers – The Shamans of Modernity
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SciFi Authors and Editors as Agents of Change
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What Were the First SciFi Stories You Read?
Earth Day – April 22, 2014