What’s in a name?
This prize is organised by The Fiction Desk website. They have had some successes with winners getting book deals, such as The Killer You Know by S R Mastrantone which is due from Sphere in 2018. Very exciting.
This year’s competition deadline is midnight (UK GMT) on 31 May 2017. The first prize is £500, second prize £250.
Cixin Liu Remembrance of Earth’s Past SPOILER ALERT!
This is not much of a spoiler given the name of the series. But the slow build in The Three Body Problem, and the other two books, is very well done, mounting tension and fear towards the end of part one. If you might read it, DO NOT READ FURTHER!
Cixin Liu’s recent blockbuster best-selling trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past (1/ The Three Body Problem, 2/ The Dark Forest, 3/ Death’s End) is amazing, and startlingly original, which is very hard in a meme-saturated SF world.
But one comment. Cixin’s view of the rest of the Universe and the future is utterly negative, with aliens removing competition by annihilating (in spectacular and mind-bending ways) any new civilisation or solar system that happens to be noticed. Not even actually space-faring, just noticed by their monitoring systems. Even the more local aliens who get latterly get quite friendly are actually despicable fiends when it suits them.
Now China is called locally Zhonggou, the Middle Kingdom, the area under the control of whichever current Emperor (previous to unification the Middle Kingdom was a smaller area). They have always had invasions throughout a long history. Hence the Great Wall of China. So this mindset of fear about barbarians, destroyers, outside of home are deeply entrenched.
I say Chinese not Asian as there is only one Middle Kingdom!
In Star Trek, or any other colonising empire-style SF, basically, there might be challenges but by using reason, progress will be made. It is always the fiendish aliens and their alien ways that upset the human ‘progress’ or more accurately expansion. Or sometimes they invade (briefly) to get our raw materials, which even includes our minds.
This is obviously a Western mindset. Achieved by ignoring what happens to indigenous peoples (such as native Americans, Australian Aboriginals etc).
Of course this is a massive simplification, but there you go! SF is always of its time and culture. Only a retro-obsessed culture like Britain could think up Doctor Who! And their British Robots (Daleks).
We are about to do a Notes Story Board app with SF and Android files. But since that is taking a while, I read some other how to write books. The best by a long way is by one of my favourite SF authors Adam Roberts:
Get Started in Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy: How to write compelling and imaginative sci-fi and fantasy fiction (Teach Yourself: Writing)
That’s quite a long title. The text is in the usual Roberts style, witty, erudite, slightly challenging. He provides breakdowns of what makes SF and Fantasy different. And even includes a plotting system at the end, to help you think up new ideas and stories. So it is very good on analysis and practical matters pertaining to writing about warp drives, time travel, magic, matrices, and all that. And why you might want to do that in the first place!
You can get the book on Amazon or Ebay for quite a reasonable price.
This seems to in the news almost as much as Trump and Brexit. AI, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, robot wars, all that, everywhere. I suppose the invasion of smart phones has raised the profile of an old field. Robots are hardly new. I just finished the book Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson, which was a very good read (it is a epistolary thriller) with a number of vast plot holes. And an unpronounceable title. It was due to be a film, rights bought by Steven Spielberg, but has been dropped recently. I wonder if that is related to industry insiders not wanted to rock the boat, start panics, etc. Or the rather contradictory thesis – super intelligent killer AI mind takes over all domestic and military robots, but fails in war with a few scattered human gangs.