How hard should sci-fi be?

Both Star Wars and the Foundation series fall under the umbrella of science fiction. There’s an galaxy of difference between the two, including the ‘hard’ aspect that most readers think about when discussing sci-fi. While Star Wars is a space opera in its essence much like the Vorkosigan Saga, Legend of the Galactic Heroes andContinue reading “How hard should sci-fi be?”

Judging a book by its cover

We’ve all seen it – the dreaded fantasy cover that looks like…well…an explosion in a confetti shop with humanoid forms in the background. The story behind that cover can be anything – from hard-core military sci-fi to a fairy-tale. What that story does not include, however, are fireworks, half-naked ladies and buff barbarians. But theContinue reading “Judging a book by its cover”

My trouble with battles in genre fiction

Having moved back home (yey, I am back to writing stuff and paying bills), I finally found time to rearrange the books I’ve been lugging around, while visiting conferences and parents. Going through the shelves, I noticed an interesting pattern: half of my academic interests revolve around military matters and social networks, while everything elseContinue reading “My trouble with battles in genre fiction”

Romantic subplots in fantasy and sci-fi

Most genre fiction novels have romantic subplots. That’s an unwritten rule. The rare exceptions usually fall into the category of hard or military sci-fi. But even the toughest of those occasionally push a romance into the mixture of strategy and science. The Foundation series doesn’t do a great job at it. The Honorverse is aContinue reading “Romantic subplots in fantasy and sci-fi”

Villain VS Antagonist

‘Villain’ might be one of the most overused terms in media: we analyse villains in fiction, we write about best villains in film and television, we rate villains in comic books. As a result, the term has become so vague that the only definition that remains is somewhat moralistic. A ‘villain’ is evil. Whatever thatContinue reading “Villain VS Antagonist”

My trouble with Young Adult Fantasy

I repeatedly tried to get into young adult fantasy. Without success. Most of the time, I simply could not stand certain approaches that were not the fault of the authors, but rather the common trait of this specific literary niche. And, while I believe it is uniquely rich, inventive and has a lot to offer,Continue reading “My trouble with Young Adult Fantasy”

Fantasy sins all historians notice

We all have our pet peeves and favourite tropes. In some cases, our professional inclinations determine them. After all, years of rigorous training in one field inevitably shapes the way we grasp and interpret fiction. We can’t escape it. Professional deformation is real. It makes us shout, “This is not how heavy cavalry works!” andContinue reading “Fantasy sins all historians notice”

Why writing genre fiction nowadays is more difficult than fifty years ago

Creating art and producing quality research is bloody difficult. The effort never changes. Yet, we live in an interesting world that venerates the past and honours pioneers. Undoubtedly, it was more difficult for the pioneer to pave the way. Only it is not necessarily true. It may be this way in science. However, art andContinue reading “Why writing genre fiction nowadays is more difficult than fifty years ago”

The problem with sci fi/fantasy politicians

‘Political’ is my personal favourite kind of fantasy. The sheer amount of mental satisfaction it offers is extraordinary. A good political fantasy is akin to a game of chess, where you not only get to play, but also get to watch the duel of minds with expert commentaries in the background. While many fantasy novelsContinue reading “The problem with sci fi/fantasy politicians”

The importance of character description

When I started reading Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire, something about the novel did not sit right with me, impairing my perception of events and characters. It took me a while to realize that all three instalments of Scalzi’s space opera lacked character descriptions. By the time I opened the third book I knew everything about flowContinue reading “The importance of character description”