Tag Archive: Science Fiction


PowAvengers 2 comes out this weekend. Well, Thursday, in many places . . . which means you might wind up with a lot of geeks missing work on Friday. Me? Ha! I get paid for this stuff!

Well, no, I actually don’t. This blog is a 100% free resource, and I can’t get paid for reviewing Age of Ultron. I can, however, potentially get paid for talking about superheroes in general. (Mind you, I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in the development of a multi-author shared-world superhero setting. Hush, now. I don’t know how these rumors get started.)

Superheroes have, arguably, been around as long as science fiction or fantasy, at least as separate genres with somewhat dedicated followings. They’ve always seemed a bit separate, however, because they use what I call the fourth medium of print: visual art. (The other three are prose, poetry, and script.) Superheroes have rarely done well outside of comic books, in large part because the visuals have dominated the storytelling so completely that it’s difficult to have the same effect in pure prose. It’s only been recently that film technology has advanced to the point that the big screen can live up to the promise of hand-drawn art.

That, however, is a stylistic difference that more people are accepting these days, and it is entirely because of indie publishing.  Continue reading

Today, for the majority of the Novel Ninja audience, is tax day. April 15th, over half a year away from elections, because they hope we’ll forget how many extra forms they added by then.

As I described in another post (about the historical significance of March 25th), the US gets the date of April 15th by rounding off from the UK’s April 6th, which was shifted from March 25th by a medieval bigshot in Rome updating the calendar. The Canadians couldn’t let themselves be outdone by their cousins to the south, and delayed it all the way to the end of April. Australia, the land of reversed seasons, decided to flip their tax calendar and made it October 31st (yep, Monster Day). New Zealand decided to split the difference and stuck theirs in July.

The point is, everyone has different dates, and everyone knows the headaches involved. Yet taxes are often like the location of the toilet on the USS Enterprise: it’s got to be around here somewhere,  but you never see the characters interact with it.  Continue reading

When I was studying at Christendom College, I had to read a book called Piers Plowman. It was part of the core curriculum that all students had to study, a set of 24 separate classes (plus the math, science, and language requirements) that comprised the entirety of the freshman and sophomore years, as well as some of the junior year. This might sound a bit heavy, but it was actually very efficient and allowed a lot of information in both the lower and upper courses. All professors knew what their students had covered, and so little to no time was wasted on remedial material. This meant more in-depth study of a type normally seen only in graduate courses. With a few exceptions, we were rarely bored.

Piers Plowman was one of those exceptions. The only reason it isn’t a cure for insomnia is because of the torturous pain we suffered by studying it. In fact, in a student parody film based on 24, the villain tortures someone by tying him to a table and reading aloud from Piers Plowman. The actor’s screams were, no doubt, not entirely faked. Continue reading

Building Your World: Scale

When figuring out where to set your story, one of the simplest things to do is pick how far your story extends. Does it take place entirely in one town? Does it span an entire galaxy?

There has been an increasing trend toward larger and larger settings in the last few decades, though that trend may be reversing now. It seems as if, as our perception of our own world increases and our ability to get from place to place becomes easier, we seem to think that the same should be true even in a medieval fantasy setting. Lately, though, I’ve been coming across more and more stories that detail smaller areas, as if authors are realizing that — like with the real world — “flyover country” actually contains some interesting stuff. You can set a lot of stories in one small area.  Continue reading

Update on Tuscany Press

A few things have happened since I posted my opinion on an essay published by Tuscany Press.

Tuscany has now added a hasty disclaimer to the end of Nico Gnoci’s essay, but you have to scroll all the way to the end to see it and they haven’t bothered to clean up the formatting mistakes. The editor-in-chief also told me in an email that it is opinion, and should not be confused with the stance of Tuscany Press.

They’ve also added a new essay giving a direct rebuttal. It’s by Declan Finn, and it’s a cleaned-up version of what he already posted. I recommend reading the original for full effect, though I admit the newer version’s title (“Set Catholic Sci-Fi Argument for Stun! – Captain Kirk Responds”) is 110% better than Declan’s original.  Continue reading

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the world’s most well-known union for SF&F professionals, has finally opened up membership to members of indie presses and self-publishing authors. As they acknowledge in their announcement, it’s a decision that took five years to make.

Yep. Five years. Five years in which the publishing world has changed more than in the previous fifty. The writing was on the wall as far back as ten years ago, so this heel-dragging on a membership model designed around 1970s publication standards (updated only to adjust for inflation and canonize or excommunicate certain outlets) has been particularly head-scratch-worthy.

And that’s not even including the fact that membership gives you . . . well, basically nothing.  Continue reading

Science fiction authors have a tough job.

There have been a bunch of breakthroughs lately in different tech sectors. These range from coding improvements to new technology that interfaces with the human body, to stuff that many people thought outright impossible. Sometimes it’s mind-boggling. Other times it’s happening so slowly that you have to really step back and realize how different things have become.

My friend Lori took some time to introduce me to some of her favorite westerns the other night. In a scene in Shane when the characters (several homesteaders, plus the titular Shane who is helping them out) stop at a general store, the female lead (Marion Starett) pauses to examine a Mason jar in wonder. “My, my, my,” she says. “What will they think of next?”

Well, contemporary audiences no doubt got a kick out of that one, separated from Marion by almost a hundred years of technological development. The telephone, the phonograph, the automobile, the airplane, the rocket, the computer, cinema and television — all these were in her future, and in their past, in their present. The answer to her question was long, complicated, and unbelievable to her contemporaries.  Continue reading

Highs and Lows

You may have heard of the phrases “high fantasy” and “low fantasy.” Or perhaps you haven’t; while they’re used very commonly in an academic sense, they aren’t as common outside those circles. As is so often the case, this leads to some confusion in the definitions. And so I decided to give you a quick overview of the topic. That’s what this blog is for, after all! Continue reading

Like High School, but with Video Games

VGHSImagine, if you will, an alternate world of the near future. A world where video games have become more popular than any other form of entertainment. A world where high school varsity teams revolve not around physical sports but instead around computer-generated scenarios. A world where every teen dreams of being accepted to . . . Video Game High School.

Okay, so that’s enough of me channeling Rod Serling.  Continue reading

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