Tagged: Science Fiction

Dennis O’Neil: What Is Science-Fiction?

Hannes Bok

We saw a science-fiction movie a few days ago. And you shrug: so what? Is there a multiplex in the land of the free that isn’t showing science-fiction? Especially if you count superheroes as SF?

There are a couple of answers to that question. Let us discuss.

When SF first began to creep onto the nation’s newsstands, and much less frequently into its bookstores, it was pretty easy to identify. It dealt with science, technology, distant worlds, extraterrestrials and, with few exceptions, the future. The heroes tended to be stalwart, competent, practical. Scientists, or maybe military guys. The odd engineer or two. The women were…there. Plots turned on the kind of stuff stalwart, competent and practical gentlemen might find themselves involved in. Endings were generally optimistic. (We might encounter evil aliens out there between the stars, we noble humans, and they might give us a lot of grief, but in the end we kicked their ass, or whatever passed for an ass on tentacled monsters.) Fine prose was not much of a concern. Plot and plain vanilla storytelling – those were foremost. The literati scoffed. If it’s good, the canard went, it isn’t science-fiction.

Then came the changes, as young and very smart writers who valued literary niceties and had spent some time in science classes began to explore the genre. They experimented and expanded SF’s parameters, but one rule of their predecessors remained pretty much inviolate: Writers weren’t allowed to contradict was known about the real world. They could extrapolate and, in effect, guess about where new technologies and scientific discoveries would take us, but they couldn’t just make this kind of stuff up.

By this criterion there hasn’t been much so-called “hard science-fiction” on screens for years. (We might rationalize the mini-miracles in, say, Star Wars, and your correspondent might not be above such activity, but explanations aren’t included in the script.)

As for comic books… the editor-god of the field, Stan Lee, once told me that readers will believe what we give them because we give it to them. In other words, they want to be entertained, not educated. No harm in that.

But twice recently, as a matter of fact, I have experienced hard SF in my local multiplex. Last year there was Gravity and though some eminent scientists complained that plot events couldn’t have happened as they were depicted, by and large the movie stuck to what is. Great flick, too. And that SF movie we saw a few days ago: It’s called The Martian and like Gravity it begins with a scientific blooper, one that the film makers were apparently aware of from the git-go and were willing to ignore for the sake of storytelling. Like Gravity, The Martian delivers plenty of entertainment while sticking pretty closely to those pesky facts.

I doubt that anyone would refuse to call The Martian science-fiction, despite the relative lack of glitz and spectacle. So yes: it’s SF.

All those other movies, the superheroes and all that play fast and loose with those facts?. Are they not SF? Maybe that should wait till next week.

Box Office Democracy: “Edge of Tomorrow”

I’m always rooting for sci-fi action movies to succeed and when it became clear that Edge of Tomorrow was going to be equal parts sci-fi action and Groundhog Day I was ready to love this movie.  Unfortunately the movie they delivered has the distinct feel of studio notes all over it leaving it feeling a little too much like a Tom Cruise movie than any of the component parts.  I like Tom Cruise movies but it hurts this premise to make it hit all the same beats of a Mission: Impossible film.


7 Common Misconceptions About Science Fiction (and Comics) Publishing

7 Common Misconceptions About Science Fiction (and Comics) Publishing

Weekend Window Closing Wrap Up: December 22, 2013

Closing them on my desktop so you can open them on yours. Here we go:

What else? Consider this an open thread.

Weekend Window Closing Wrap-Up: December 14, 2012


Closing windows on our desktops so you can you open them on yours. Here we go…


Anything else? Consider this an open thread.



Author Rus Wornom is featured in the July/August issue of FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE with a story that harkens back to Pulp Adventures of the 1920s and 30s.

‘IN THE MOUNTAINS OF FROZEN FIRE’ features the mysterious adventurers of THE ENIGMA CLUB!  The mysterious M4, master of espionage and disguise, travels to the frozen wastes of Ghutranh and encounters a diabolical trap set for him by his arch-nemesis, the nefarious Cobra!  Trapped in an unearthly landscape of icy death, M4–Enigma Club founding member Commander Denis Cushing–discovers a terrifying secret, and must do battle with a team of assassins . . . and an unspeakable threat that has survived in the Arctic snows for millennia.  There he comes face to face with a terror from beyond the seas of eternity . . . “In the Mountains of Frozen Fire!”

THE ENIGMA CLUB is a contemporary pulp adventure novel, currently being marketed by Wornom’s agent, Andrew Zack of The Zack Company.  It’s the story of how the discovery of an obscure pulp magazine sends the novel’s hero in search of the Enigma Club, supposedly located on a forgotten island in the Gulf of Mexico.

What he discovers is a land forsaken by time–Cayo Arcana, an island forgotten by the world for more than sixty years–where the pulps are still alive.  The Enigma Club is a haven for adventurers, explorers, heroes, starlets, scientists (mad and otherwise), warriors and spies, all members of a classic gentlemen’s club created by and for all the pulp archetypes from the Golden Age of Adventure.

THE ENIGMA CLUB recreates the pulp era of the ’20s and ’30s, and also makes an impossible tale and the impossible locale very real and almost interactive, integrating artifacts–photos, sidebars, excerpts from fictional books and pulps, telegrams, and even vintage postcards–to create a world that the reader feels could possibly exist.

Wornom’s original intent with THE ENIGMA CLUB was to include a sample pulp story for each of the Club’s charter members, as published between 1911 and 1953 in the Club’s pulp, The Enigma Club All-Adventure Magazine.  However, the novel became too long, so he included only one story, “Sky-Gods of Ixtamal,” to represent the themes inherent with the pulp era: adventure, wonder, lost races, fantastic technologies, and everyday characters who embody the heroic ideal.

Two other stories were already finished, and the first of these, “In the Mountains of Frozen Fire,” is a tale of Commander Denis Cushing, Agent M4, whom he created as a cross between James Bond, Artemus Gordon and G-8.  His inspiration for the story was a painting by Frank Frazetta, The Frost Giants, with a little Lovecraft and a lot of Robert E. Howard thrown in.  Wornom’s goal was to tell a period story, using the tropes of Howard, Lovecraft and traditional spy fiction, while also serving up a dose of 21st Century humor–along the lines of Indiana Jones meets SNL.

“In the Mountains of Frozen Fire” will be published in the July/August 2013 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

You can order copies here: http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/current.htm

The second completed story is “Hot Time at Bad Penny’s,” a tale of founding member Bucky Sniggles-Wooten—charmer, adventurer, and accomplished cad.  It’s a saucy story of deadly gangsters, speakeasies, and super-science run amok.   Wornom’s goal with this was to show today’s readers what the pulps’ saucy or spicy stories were all about, while also playing with some of the tropes of big city pulp stories (with a tip of the hat to ERB, Amazing Stories, and the classic Fleischer Superman cartoons).  It is currently being considered for publication at F&SF.


ERB and A Princess of Mars were my primary influences when I decided to become a writer.

Burroughs showed me that a writer is born in his heart, and that even a pencil sharpener salesman could tell stories of extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances that could enthrall generations of readers.  Once I read A Princess of Mars, I knew that I wanted to tell stories that could make people believe in worlds undreamed of. 

Rusty is what my friends call me, but Harlan Ellison once yelled at me in a workshop, “Nobody’ll read anything by a guy named Rusty!   It’s a kid’s name!”   So Rus was born, even though my given name, Howard, was used when my novella, “Puppy Love Land,” was published in the April, 1996 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.   The story was later nominated as Best Novella on the Preliminary Ballot for the Horror Writers of America awards.   I was also the pseudonymous author of Spelljammer: The Ultimate Helm, Dungeon of Fear, and Castle of the Undead, all published by TSR Books way back in the dim, dark ‘90s.   Spelljammer made the Waldenbooks bestseller list . . . for a month.   Since 1983, I’ve been published in such magazines as Omni, Premiere, Gauntlet, and Storyboard, and in newspapers and regional magazines, and contributed to The Stephen King Companion.   I’ve participated in writing workshops with Ellison, Brian Aldiss, Gene Wolfe, and Kate Wilhelm.   A spec teleplay got me in the door at Star Trek: The Next Generation, where I pitched story ideas four times.   I’ve also acted on the Discovery Channel in The New Detectives, although I was never credited.   (Somehow, though, Buddy the Beagle got a credit.)   I live in Virginia with my wife and a large, furry family.


Andrew Zack
The Zack Company


Pro Se Productions once more proves to be a leader in genre fiction with its latest release. A man of the far future plying his dangerous trade like one of the past.  1950s Sensibilities collide explosively with Science Fiction Action and Danger once again as Lee Houston, Jr. follows up his debut 2012 collection with HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE: CATCH A RISING STAR! 

Thick, red lips were just a shade darker than her crimson skin tone, but both were in striking contrast to her long orange hair. Her eyes appeared to be only irises, as black as a starless corner of the universe resting on a field of white, but that toothy smile was brighter than a supernova. She was dressed in white like everyone else, but her outfit was a sleeveless, short hemmed number at least one size too small, that did everything possible to accent every aspect of her figure.

“Do I have the pleasure of addressing Hugh Monn, the private detective?” asked the older man with an accent I couldn’t place. After all, it’s a pretty big universe and xenology wasn’t one of my strong

suits, so I couldn’t identify any of their races or species. Besides, the woman was the only one present any insensitive jerk would call ‘alien’. Outwardly, all the men appeared to be as human as me.
“There’s no pleasure involved from my perspective,” I said, while motioning my head to indicate his traveling companions. 

Hugh Monn, the private detective of the far flung future, is back in his first full length adventure! 
In Lee Houston’s latest installment of his 1950s style detective in the future, Hugh is hired as a security consultant when actress Ruby Kwartz comes to the island nation of Galveston 2 to record a new vid.  What is supposed to be an easy assignment turns deadly when Monn discovers that everyone around Ruby has a hidden agenda and someone wants to make sure this production will be her last.  Can Hugh Monn catch a rising star before she falls? 

“After writing short stories for his first book,” states Houston, “I wanted to create longer adventures for Hugh in a second anthology, but CATCH A RISING STAR took on a life of its own and became his first full length novel.  Fans of the private detective in the far flung future not only get more action, adventure, and mystery in this tale; but more Big Louie too.”

“We’re excited,” comments Tommy Hancock, Pro Se Partner and Editor in Chief, “to not only have Hugh back for another adventure, but to see Lee push both himself and this wonderful world he’s imagined into a full length novel.   The definitely different mix of Science Fiction with the Detective genre as well as Lee’s placing of Hugh somewhere along the center of the Private Eye spectrum makes the concept a fun, exciting one and one that appeals to many types of readers.”

As for Hugh Monn’s first adventures, Ron Fortier, noted Reviewer, Author, and Publisher stated-What is particularly refreshing in these tales is that Houston wisely opts not to make his hero a hard-boiled, typically cynical type. Hugh Monn is a genuinely nice guy who likes people and aliens alike and is sincere in trying to make his world a better place for all to live in. He’s a good guy I liked meeting and hope to see him again real soon.

HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE: CATCH A RISING STAR features an excellent and evocative cover by David L. Russell as well as stunning cover design by Sean E. Ali and Ebook formatting by Russ Anderson!  Available in Print at Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/n47oso2 and from Pro Se’s own store at https://www.createspace.com/4362923 for only $15.00! This stunning addition to Hugh’s adventures is also available for $2.99 as an Ebook! Available for the Kindle at http://tinyurl.com/makex3b, via the Nook at http://tinyurl.com/mnzgyww, and at Smashwords in

multiple formats at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/335096!

For More Information on the author, visit his Pro Se page at http://prose-press.com/lee-houston-jr-staffauthor.  For more about Pro Se itself, go to www.prose-press.com.

For interviews, review copies, and questions, contact Morgan Minor, Director of Corporate Operations at MorganMinorProSe@yahoo.com

Today On Amazing Stories

Today on Amazing Stories:

News Roundup – including an uncomfortably large number of articles dealing with bias, racism, harassment and BS that just has got to stop!, Time Machine roundup of the week’s most popular posts, and Mark A. Garlick’s artwork featured in this week’s IAAA Gallery.

Find all this and more here.


Mechanoid Press shared a press release with All Pulp announcing their upcoming Robot Stories anthology.

Press Release:


Contact: James Palmer

Mechanoid Press Goes to the Robots
ATLANTA, GA—Mechanoid Press, a small imprint specializing in science fiction and New Pulp e-books is about to be invaded by robots.

The young publisher is releasing an e-book only title called ROBOT STORIES, featuring three tales of mechanized mayhem. Included in this volume will be work by Joel M. Jenkins, James R. Tuck (author of the Deacon Chalk: occult bounty hunter novels), and Jim Kinley.

“With this many Jims involved, it’s sure to be a winner,” jokes Mechanoid Press editor James Palmer. “I’m super excited to have these gentlemen on board. It’s going to be a blast.”

ROBOT STORIES is scheduled for a mid-summer release, and will sport a classic cover by Rondo award-winning artist Mark Maddox.

About Mechanoid Press
Mechanoid Press is a new imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp, and steampunk e-books and anthologies. For more, visit www.mechanoidpress.com or follow the robot revolution on Twitter. You can also like Mechanoid Press on Facebook.

Mindy Newell: It’s Personal, Not Business.

Newell Art 130225From Wikipedia: Critics have generally received Ender’s Game well. The novel won the Nebular Award for best novel in 1985, and the Hugo for best novel in 1986, considered the two most prestigious awards in science fiction. Ender’s Game was also nominated for a Locus Award in 1986. In 1999, it placed #59 on the reader’s list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels. It was also honored with a spot on the American Library Association’s “100 Best Books for Teens.” In 2008, the novel, along with (it’s sequel) Ender’s Shadow won the Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author and specific works by that author for lifetime contribution to young adult literature. Ender’s Game was ranked at #2 in Damien Broderick’s book Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010.

Not too shabby.

The announcement by DC that Orson Scott Card (author of Ender’s Game and its sequel) will be writing a Superman story to be included in an upcoming anthology has burst into a firestorm of controversy on the net and in newspapers such as The Hollywood Reporter (“Ender’s Game’s Orson Scott Card’s Anti-Gay Views Pose Risk for Film,” February 20, 2013), not only because of Mr. Card’s publicly-stated negative opinions on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, but because Mr. Card sits on the Board of Directors for the non-profit National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Established in 2007 to work against the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, NOM contributed $1.8 million to the passage of “Prop 8” in California, which prohibited same-sex marriage in California. (The amendment was in force until United States District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned it in August 2010, ruling that it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. His decision has been appealed, and the ruling has been stayed.) NOM also opposes civil union legislation and gay adoption.

Last week Michael Davis’s Brokeback Bastard here on ComicMix asserted not only DC’s right to hire Mr. Card despite the widespread outrage, but Michael’s opinion that efforts to get DC to renege their offer to Mr. Card, i.e., fire the bigot!, will fail, because, DC sees this, a la The Godfather, as “business, not personal.” Why? Because, to quote Michael, “This is a win – win for DC. They get a pretty good writer and massive publicity so why fire the guy? When the book comes out they will get another round of colossal exposure so like I said, why fire the guy?”

He’s right about that. Any publicity, so the pundits say, is good publicity. (I get the sentiment, but it’s not really true. Just ask Elliot Spitzer about his hooker friend, or Paul Ryan about his marathon time.)

This is what I wrote in response to Michael’s column:

Well, I understand the business side of it. Orson Scott Card is a prolific and popular science fiction writer whose Ender’s Game won the Nebula and the Hugo, and whom DC is betting will bring in lots of $$$$$. And I understand the “high moral ground” that Michael and Dan and John (Dan and John are respondents who took issue with Michael’s viewpoint) are arguing above: judge the guy on his writing, not on his personal views. However, Card’s views are not personal in that he is a member of the Marriage Is Only Between A Man And Woman Board, (I was too lazy at the time to look up the name of the organization) or whatever the hell it’s called. He has publicly stated that gay men and women should be ostracized and worse.

Superman is an icon. Superman stands for justice for all. Superman stands for the American dream. Superman stands for the pursuit of happiness. Superman stands for Truth. Card does not stand for justice for all. Card does not stand for the American dream. Card does not stand for the pursuit of happiness. Card does not stand for Truth.

Hatred and bigotry is rampant again in this country. Just look at what’s happening in Congress. The total blockage of Obama’s proposals, the continuation of the birthers and their lies, the about-to-be sequestration of our economy is all about the hatred of our first black President. Operative Word Is Black.
 Hiring Card to write an American icon is disgusting because Card is against everything the American dream stands for. That’s my opinion, plain and simple.

Though, as I said, I understand the business behind DC’s decision, I’m also so fucking tired of the “anything for a buck” crap that’s so damn rampant these days. It’s not just in business. It manifests itself everywhere. For instance:

I worked for many years at my local hospital. Across-the-board layoffs were scheduled. Instead of protesting the lay-offs, my union said that any employee who had lost his or her job could “bump” a junior employee. In other words, take the junior employee’s job and leave him or her out in the cold. I found this despicable. The union’s job, im-not-so-ho, was to protect all employees, not just do a “run-around” to solve the problem.

I could never take another person’s job. “It’s not right,” I said. Most of my co-workers mouthed the words, but when push-came-to-shove, most of those who were on the lay-off list did “bump” the one below them. And what was worse, being a small, community hospital, the “bumpers” knew the “bumpees.”

Et tu, Brutus?

Yeah, I know. “Oh, grow up, Mindy.” “Who are you, Pollyanna?” “People gotta do what they gotta do.”

It really sucks that I-N-T-E-G-R-I-T-Y doesn’t seem to mean anything anymore.

But like I said, I get it.

Leave the gun. Take the cannolis.

Go to the mattresses.

It’s business, not personal.