Discrimination against Science Fiction and Fantasy – The Sunday Re-Blog

Yesterday was my new best day for likes on Comparative Geeks… nice to get WordPress feedback like that, to help you realize that things are growing for the blog, and people are reading and interacting more.

The main reason was this post, which I think is a nice addition to my series on Science Fiction and Fantasy and genre fiction in general, about how they get discriminated against for no good reason. Also got some very encouraging comments, but definitely feel free to weigh in as well!

Comparative Geeks

One of my favorite things I’ve written on the blog is my series on the definition and importance of Science Fiction and Fantasy – of fictions that might be called Speculative, or Romantic. And when asked, I said that one of the things that I would most like to change in the world is people’s opinions about these genres, or maybe about genre fiction in general. However, through all of this, I lacked a solid, concrete example. An example of prejudice against Science Fiction or Fantasy.

There are a lot of things in this world that we shouldn’t discriminate against. Things you can’t control, things that aren’t a choice, things that should have no bearing on life. But then, there are things that are opinions, that are a choice, that I can go right ahead and be upset about. And for me, the one that takes the…

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The Writing Process Blog Tour

Recently I was tagged (nominated?) by Gene’O of The Writing Catalog for the Writing Process Blog Tour. The idea is that you get a bunch of bloggers or writers talking about how they write, and everyone gets something out of the experience! So, to quote what Gene’O said about the award:

The rules are very simple and, if I may say so, designed to not require a lot of work, which I truly appreciate:

  1. Link to the blogger before,

  2. answer 4 questions,

  3. and nominate 3 bloggers to keep the hop going.

I can do all of that, so I think it’s time for some writing about writing! But first: let me nominate my three bloggers to keep this train moving:

  1. First, I’d like to nominate Leah of The Lobster Dance and I’ll Make It Myself. She is actually possibly my oldest friend I am still in contact with, which is in some ways a bit sad because I’ve only known her a little over a decade. We were in college together, and I got to experience her writing process a number of times, in classes together, editing, and such. I know she liked her work polished and spotless for classes, so I wonder about her approach to blogging and would be fascinated for her responses. She is also responsible for the single most popular post on Comparative Geeks, when her guest post got Freshly Pressed!
  2. Second, I’d like to nominate a far newer friend: Hannah Givens of Things Matter. Her tagline is that hers is a blog about History, Pop Culture, and the Sci-Fi novel she’s working on. So, it’s kind of like you take my two blogs, much them together… yeah, pretty much what I would be up to. From writing, to libraries and museums, to comics… she is a great blogger and I would love to read up on some of her approach as well!
  3. Third, I’d like to nominate one of my favorite blogs I found (who found me?) during the A to Z Challenge, Alex Hurst and her eponymous blog. As the tagline reads, Alex is a Fantasy Writer in Kyoto, which is awesome. However, during the challenge I got to see also that she helps with matching up cover illustrators with authors. I have yet to showcase my favorite post from the challenge, but it would have to be Alex’s Jargon post. Laughed at basically every one, individually. This shows both great understanding of the writing profession and just of writing and humor in general. Definitely worth checking out, for any of you writers out there like me!

Alright, question time! I think I’m going to have to hit both blogging and writing, so it’s a little complicated, I suppose, but it’ll work. Read more of this post

Realistic vs. Romantic Literature – The Sunday Re-Blog

This post originally appeared on Comparative Geeks, as the end of a series of posts I had done and have shared over here as well. The post is long, so I will keep my intro short – but let me just say this, this is a post I am proud of!

Hello my readers, time again for me to touch on a series of posts I’ve written over the course of the blog so far. It all started out from a definition of science fiction I read in a book, which led into a blog post exploring that. Then, for comparison, I explored a definition of fantasy based on a quote that’s floated around social media. So between the two, I had pitted Frank Herbert against J.R.R. Tolkien. Then, for another look at it, I compared Star Trek and Star Wars. I still really like my genre exploration there.

And then I listened to George R.R. Martin on the Nerdist Podcast, and it got me thinking that all this work of putting things in genres, and holding one over another or pitting them against one another, was wrong; and I was working on coming up with new terms or new ways of thinking about the differences, of trying to really articulate what I was trying to say.

That’s when I got a comment back on that first post, questioning what I meant about science fiction, making me really think about what I was saying. The commenter – who had the opportunity to interview the author, Paolo Bacigalupi – recommended and discussed The Windup Girl. So I felt I needed to read that first and consider it. And to consider what it is I have been trying to articulate, to think of the terms and groupings and ways that we talk about these sorts of stories, and so that is where I am coming from with this post. Let me know in the comments what you think!

Read more of this post

U – Understanding

U

Okay, so on the one hand, this seems like me reaching for something that starts with U for the A to Z Challenge. On the other hand, this is one of the ones that made some of the most sense to me.

The famous quote is, of course, Write What You Know. Because in so many ways, writing is taking what you know, and making it so it’s a thing the reader knows. Maybe they won’t know all of it – maybe they’ll only take a quote away. Nonetheless, you’re adding to what they know.

However, as you may have noticed, I am a fan of science fiction and fantasy – genres that are impossible if you take a literal interpretation of “Write What You Know.” Only a handful of people would be qualified to write about travel in space. No one has been to Middle Earth (except apparently anyone who has been to New Zealand). And yet, these works can be written, and read, and understood.

So that is the crux of the matter: it’s about understanding. The writer should understand what they are including in their book: understand the language they are using, understand the grammar and words; understand the characters they are including, their psychology and experiences; understand the setting and the things that happen there, whether that’s the climate or how the people fight or what they eat for breakfast.

And maybe you don’t have to know all of those things. And certainly you don’t have to have experienced them all yourself. But the writer should have an understanding of these things – whether that comes from education, research, reading, experiences, talking to people or experts, or wild extrapolation.

Because when you understand it, and put it in such that it makes sense and is believable, your readers will get it too. Not to say all writing must be realistic in that it is only real things that happen; however, the things that happen should be internally consistent, should have a realism within the world they are in. Whether that’s how alien technologies work or magic systems or biology or computer software (No click enhance! Bad!). By understanding these things happening, you can create that consistency, make things make sense, and have their own logic. And then your readers will understand, too.

What do you think? Write What You Know? How much do you need to understand? Let me know in the comments down below!

C – Characters

CIn all of my thinking and planning for the A to Z Challenge, I have found that C is a pretty easy letter to work with. Almost too easy – you end up with too many things to choose from. There are a few letters like that. And maybe why I’m thinking about it is because today’s topic matches what my wife and I are doing on Comparative Geeks: we’re going A to Z characters.

When it comes to writing, though, characters are kings. Even in non-fictional pieces, the subject of the piece often ends up as the character, as we get the history, or current goings-on. Maybe not fully anthropomorphized, but getting there. But when you get to fiction, a story needs its characters, perhaps even more than those characters need a story. I’ve read absurdist literature. It’s doable.

I do a lot of my thinking and writing about Science Fiction, and Fantasy, and it can be easy to get carried away with these sorts of genres… lost in ideas, in world-building, in all of those sorts of gritty details to make the world seem right. Carried away too much, and the characters fall flat, and the reader ends up unengaged. You want a story your reader can get lost in… but for whatever reason, it’s through the exploration and experiences of the characters that we get lost.

Which means the most common sort of character is the one that is a stand-in for the audience, or the one who is new to the world being presented. Whether it’s just the new guy or rookie, or the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court, this character is essential. You don’t want to make them too blank – this is actually something that happens a lot in video games. To give the player the control of the situation, to feel like they are this blank slate character, the character does not speak throughout the game themselves. I think the Nintendo games especially have a lot of this – Link never really gets any lines in the Zelda games!

But even, think of non-fiction, or better yet – think of political speeches. They always seem to reach a point where they need to personalize it, where they have to bring up some real (probably) people in a real place, experiencing whatever it is they’re talking about. They can give you facts and ideology all day, but they give you that character to latch on to as well.

Because let’s face it – characters are a fundamental to stories.

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