Category: Babylon 5

+SSP Week+ Book Review of Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy (edited by) Michael Knost

Posted Wednesday, 5 February, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , 9 Comments

Parajunkee DesignsWriters Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy (edited by) Michael Knost

[Previous Workshop: Writers Workshop of Horror by Woodland Press]

Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Michael Knost
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

Published By: Seventh Star Press, 14 May 2013
Official Editor Websites: Site | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Converse on Twitter: #WritersWorkshopSFF
Artist Page: Matthew Perry @ Seventh Star Press; Portfolio
Available Formats: Softcover and E-Book
Page Count: 276

Acquired Book By: I am a regular blog book tour hostess for Tomorrow Comes Media, whereupon in conversation with Stephen Zimmer about my curiosity over the contents of this anthology due to the overwhelmingly creative book cover art; I was offered to receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Intrigued to Read:

Being I am a writer of science fiction stories set in a modern world akin to our own and based on science fact (I always had leanings towards hard sci-fi rather than soft!), I am always quite the intrepid girl who becomes interested in reading the latest book of writing advice, tips, and sage wisdom from those who have gone before me and cast their stories out into the hands of readers! Science fiction was in my blood long before I ever put thought to pen, as I inherited a passion for Trek & Star Wars which goes back to the original canon of both franchises. I never expected to live in a generation where having to say I support the ‘original canon’ of either one would even come to pass! However, that aside, what drew me into this anthology wasn’t just the context of the subject at hand but the excellent cover art rendering by Matthew Perry! Whose knack for presenting such a cleverly creative jumping gate of a writer’s muse is in good form! I knew whatever was contained inside the anthology was content I was determined to read! The musings of writers always makes me smile, yet its the enduring spirit of putting your heart on the line, owning your own work irregardless of its popularity and being strong in your belief an audience is awaiting to read your story is what invigorates me!


Within the Workshop, you’ll find:

Prominent writers within the craft of science fiction and fantasy story-telling, impart sage wisdom and advice given through anecdotical essays, pertinent interviews; set to a rhythm of appearances which makes Editor Knost appear nearly telepathically inclined as the reader weaves through a symbiotic rumination!

Contents Therein:

  • Michael Knost: Introduction
  • Neil Gaiman: Where do you get your Ideas?
  • Lou Anders: Nebulous Matters or Speculation on Subgenres
  • Lucy A. Synder: Ursula K. Le Guin Talks about a Lifetime in the Craft
  • James Gunn: Beginnings
  • George Zebrowski: Middles
  • Jay Lake: Endings
  • Nayad A. Monroe: Time Powers Talks about Writing Speculative Fiction
  • Orson Scott Card: On Rhetoric and Style
  • Pamela Sargent: Talking Too Much, or Not Enough: Dialogue in Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • G. Cameron Fuller: How Alien the Alien: A Primer
  • Nancy Kress: “The Green-Skinned Zorn Laughed with Grief” Character and Emotion in Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Harry Turtledove: Alternate History: The How-to of What Might Have Been
  • Jude-Marie Green: Larry Niven Talks about Collaboration
  • Joe Haldeman: Hemingway Talks about Writing
  • Nisi Shawl: Unbending Gender
  • Alan Dean Foster: Reverse Engineering
  • Alethea Kontis: Kevin J. Anderson Talks about Spin-offs, Prequels, & Fan Fiction
  • Elizabeth Bear: Tactics of World-Building
  • Jackie Gamber: Ann VanderMeer Talks about Weird Fiction
  • Michael Knost: Short Fiction: A Roundtable Discussion with Short Story Editors
  • Max Miller: Long Fiction: A Roundtable Discussion with Novel Editors

I will be making selections of my reading to focus on throughout this bookish girl’s review of the ruminative musings which ignited in her mind’s eye as she drank through the pages with an eagerness all writers will understand! Writers reflecting on their craft and opening an honest discussion about the inner workings of writing as art is a moment to celebrate and cherish!

[Where Do You Get Your Ideas? an essay by Neil Gaiman]

The curious nature of readers is always to formulate a question directed towards the writer they unabashedly follow throughout their career as to explain the seemingly bottomless well of ideas the stories oriented from. The honest truths of where the genesis of an idea is first garnished is brilliantly executed by Mr. Gaiman (of whom I am aware of his works but haven’t yet read)! Your ideas percolate at a pace that you’re at times not even expecting to be able to fulfill a request of, because of the nature of the human brain’s processor of information! A writer is willfully able to head into the direction the first spark of inspiration alights in mind, but to follow the originating idea through germination and tether it to a solidified ending is walking through the unknown; proportions of which, none of us truly know of until we’re sitting down to write.

And, it’s within this boiling and brewing of ideas where I gather my energy for the story about to transfer out of my mind’s vortex and unto the written page! To take a thread of an idea, nurture it into being and then, allowing the freedom of the idea to transition and transmorph into its full-bodied existence of what its meant to be is a writer’s realised dream. Nibblements of ruminations sprinkled throughout a lifetime of experience and adventure start to ink out into our imagination. Transcending both time and memory, as pieces of ourselves are wrangled into the lifeblood of our characters! Being a writer is akin to being a nurturer of ideas and of ideals. We take our observations from our living realities, and pour our heart into our works attempting to yield a story that others might find palatable. I say ‘might’ find as I am one writer who writes the stories which flow through her rather than write a story which is hinged to a specific audience or topic. We (writers) all hope that the momentum and passion we have for an idea will garnish itself a foothold in a reader’s queue. Perhaps even, enlighten their outlook or perception, but moreso than naught, to give them a hearty piece of narrative which leaves them pensively grateful for the idea which started the words to fill the page!

[Nebulous Matters or Speculation on Subgenres – an essay by Lou Anders]

I felt especially blessed to find this particular section included in the Workshop, as I am always befuddled to understand which ‘genre’ is the stepping stone of each of the ‘subgenres’ in which I read! I have spent quite literally hours exhausting resources online to sort through the myriad labyrinth of descriptive analysis always walking away feeling a bit more muddled than clarified! There are a few exceptions, as one post floats to mind which I read during (#RRSciFiMonth) Sci-Fi November (my endearing name for “Sci-Fi Month” hosted by Rinn Reads!*) which was Top Ten Sci-Fi Sub-Genres (Part 1: Cyberpunk) by Leanne of Literary Excursion! Whilst I read her engaging post on a slice of science fiction I never felt I could honestly attach myself, I shared this remarkable observation:

I have a keen interest in the subject as I never knew what the differences were and its part of my learning curve this month with SFN! Cheers to you!

You know, I hadn’t even realised Steampunk came OUT of Cyberpunk! Learnt something new there! And, I was researching a LOT myself to educate myself on the origins of Steampunk but I must’ve missed the key references that would have connected these dots for me! Thankfully, you stepped in and saved the day!

Wait! Hold the TARDIS! I like “Dieselpunk”!?! Seriously!? Wow. I didn’t see that coming at all! But, right there in your essay it explains that “The Rocketeer” and “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” (I *knew!* I missed one on my Top List for Films!) are listed! I seriously adore those films!!!

Wow. OKay, so I’m still processing,… I am a Cyberpunk who fits inside the Steampunk + Dieselpunk genres!? Wow. I can see I have more research to do after SFN! Thanks for pointing me off in two new directions!

You can clearly see that “Doctor Who” had a direct impact on my life at the time, as I actually said “TARDIS” as an expression rather than as a direct reference of the Doctor’s travelling box! Laughs within a smile. One of the resounding benefits for me in being part of SFN is that it allowed me the advantage of not only interacting with other sci-fi enthused readers, but it allowed me to talk about a branch of literature I’m over the moon passionate about! And, within that perimeter, I gained growth in the knowledge of how the genre is both supported, explored, and constantly being revolutionised by new ideas! I am going to be going back through all the lovely blogs of whom were populated with posts during SFN as I make my exodus backwards and through the rest of my own SFN experience!

Leading back to the book at hand, Mr. Anders brought to light several classic key points which interested me dearly:

  • The word “speculative fiction” has plagued me since Autumn 2013, as I was trying to unearth if it were in fact the broad stroke of description attributed to science fiction, fantasy, & horror OR if it were a new definitive space of works within those keystrokes which pushed past the barriers of straight-up foundational beliefs and entered into the cross-section of the unknown, the unfamiliar, and the remarkable. His answer finally closes the theory of mystery for me!
  • My mind was enraptured by science since I was a very young girl, to the brink that following myself into studies for various sciences was the track I was going to bookend to my creative pursuits. Those who know me well, know which of the ‘sciences’ pulls at my heartstrings the most, and as I blog about my reading escapades I am quite certain it will be revealed for others as well. Here, I only wanted to say that due to my background in science (and the continued studies I am pursuing on my own) the branch of hard science fiction is quite appealing as it goes into the exploration of where the limits of known science and theoretical science are heading right here in the living now of time. It was not a surprise to me to see Ringworld mentioned in relation to this branch, as Niven is one of the authors I have earmarked off to read since I first broached science fiction in the first place!
  • The curation of mundane science fiction fascinates me due to the dexterity of how far the writers can take the stories without the ‘theories’ of the inclusion of hard sci-fi elements. There is always going to be a balance between the personal beliefs of a reader & of a writer, as to how far each is willing to extend their imagination and the stories in which they each choose to define as a whole component of the living context of the genre. I’d be keen to seek out writers of this branch and see how their approach is leading the genre forward.
  • Space Opera was an inherent choice of mine to pursue! One of my favourite ‘personal discoveries’ was Babylon 5, as it eliminated the ‘box’ of how science fiction serials were once defined. For me, it leapt out of the convention a bit moreso than its counterpart of Deep Space Nine, which was still set to work inside an established reality and space. I even appreciated the folly of Galaxy Quest as a comic and cheeky side of being a geeky sci-fi appreciator! (I am not one who would normally gather a mirth of joy for folly, farce, or parody!) The ramifications for living interstellarly is too keen of an idea not to indulge in reading! And, there is of course the tv movie from the 1980s I am still trying to unearth the title of,…where they had to choose whether or not to stay on the moon or return back to earth?! The woman was pregnant and the choice would be between where to live and how the choice would affect their family long-term. Not a lot to go on, but it was brilliantly done at the time and I regret my memory cannot remember more!
  • New Space Opera leaves me curious as I am always seeking to read more British literature, and if the Britons have sorted out a new method of curating stories of this nature, I am definitely going to sort out how to find them! Verse Military Science Fiction taking a limited backdoor of plausible interest. I think for me, the film Starship Troopers wrecked the joy! As I watched it when it first premiered, had I know the level of intensity I would experience I would have omitted the desire. Conversely, I have a deep appreciation for military fiction stories, as I have been a long-term supporter of JAG, NCIS, and NCIS: LA, as much as seeing various incarnations of the military fiction in both tv and film. I never fully close a door, as I might wander back through with a book in hand which changes my perspective and illuminates a character which my heart grows empathy to meet. Two examples of military fiction I have been over jupiter’s moon in favour of are: Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy & Sebastian’s Way: The Pathfinder by George Steger.
  • New Wave Science Fiction is one that I have noticed without the realisation of what I was seeing! And, yet am a bit on the fence if I am a reader who can attach herself to the stories of this category! Time will reveal… Cyberpunk I already revealed was a startling discovery of interest!
  • Steampunk Is a sub-genre I’ve had a deep appreciation for which was knitted out of a love of the Victorian Gothic clothing movement, the sub-culture of indie artists on Etsy, and a firm appreciation for Victorian technology merged into story-lines which elicit a new generation of science fiction with the heart of the old age intact yet re-defined for today! I am only in the very beginnings of reading ‘steampunk’ as my next foray will be The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart! (blogged about my discovery of the book) (posts on Steampunk)
  • Epic &/or High Fantasy Is singularly my absolute favourite to read due to the breadth and depth of the stories which bind together living worlds of imagined joy! I love wandering around a well-fused story, anchored by characters whose lives are visibly flawed but contain within the mirth of their scope an adventure, a journey, or a mission which takes you to the heights of their world and yours. I get all giddy about discovering new authors to seek out, because I know the story I’m about to merge my heart into is going to be one I’ll not quite forget! The author who proved her salt and my adoration for this branch was Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars saga which I began reading at the age of seventeen!
  • Sword & Sorcery as well as Urban Fantasy Are two branches I am always a bit hesitative to indulge in as I am not a grisly, gruesome, or intensely horror-filled sort of reader. Having said that, I have read Urban Fantasy books which might have resonated an issue with my personal preferences but the heart of the stories staid with me much longer than a twitching of an issue over a book turnoff contained within their covers! I always keep an open-mind whilst I read due to the fact you never know which book your going to read that might push you outside your known envelope of acceptance into a story that gives you back something you were not expecting to receive.
  • Dark Fantasy & Paranormal Romance Are two more areas in which I find myself at odds to begin reading; only because I haven’t yet found my proper footing to explore the writers who pen their tales! There are aspects of the paranormal which intrigue me to read (clearly, as I read the Ghost Harrison series by Heather Graham!), but its in finding which author who pens which story of whose characters resonate with me in printed form as much as say “Ghost Whisperer” does in its motion medium.
  • Sci-Fantasy To me sounds like a merger of two of my favourite literary excursions in which I cannot wait to journey inside! To empathises and mix the two genres into a lively genre-bender exploration of story and thought is beyond genius! One of my favourite genre-benders for science fiction (Sci-Mystery?) is The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, another story I read at seventeen!

Ander’s way of capturing the tick-tocking dance of enticing offshoots of the genre, electrify the eagerness to drink in more of the stories which give us the most joy to read! His enthused approach to make the complexities of genre explainable to the causal reader as well as the experienced is a credit to his skill in understanding the foundations of science fiction. IF lack of space hadn’t been an issue, (as I presume all essays within the Workshop were under a limited word count), I would have rejoiced in reading more on the subject! Eek. Exciting stuff! And, for a girl transitioning back into the genre, it’s quite literally ‘a road map and treasure trove of where to wander off next!’

*As you may or may not be aware of, I am resuming where I left off with my Sci-Fi November postings, to where I want to complete what I originally set out to accomplish! I have numerous notes on the Doctor Who episodes I watched, as much as I want to complete the viewings I scheduled as it was such a fantastic introduction to the tv serial! My gratitude to Rinn for conceiving the idea & for running with it is a deep as the galaxy itself! I do hope it becomes an ‘annual’ event as it was quite literally the light and joy of my November!

[Jake Lake: Endings]

As it so happens the day I was first preparing this review to go live on my blog, I ended up readily engaged in quite a lively conversation through #LitChat which is a bi-weekly (Monday & Wednesday, 4-5 EST) literature conversation for the bookishly inclined! I stumbled across their feeds late in 2013, only to realise that it feels like I have found a nexus of readers who are as geeky and bookish as I am! The topics change weekly, as do the guests they feature on Wednesdays! As you can see, the topic on Monday was “Cliffhanger Endings” which I felt was appropriate to include here being that I was reading an essay on this very topical issue! How to properly end a story!

The following tweets were inserted using WP’s automated Tweet App: (as such I was trying to only include my words but the top tweet appears as well! They also appear in ‘reverse order’ because I like to be quirky!)

As you can clearly denote, I have a keen interest in why certain books are set to swirl my head with bone crushing emotion and anguish, only to have no resolution of the core of the climax! These are the stories which nestle into my heart, the characters of whom I have followed through strife and joy, only to emerge out of their adverse circumstances with an unresolved distaste in my mouth! I whole-heartedly understand when stories cannot end well in later chapters if it’s the beginning of a serial, but what about the stand-alone books which oft-times are written by début authors!? What then, pray tell? Do you chance the hope that a sequel will be penned and released within a twelvemonth or do you anguish over the grief of not having a proper Epilogue to guide your heart back through to reality outside of the realm of the book!?

Endings if you ask me, are dicey, and these were my ruminations BEFORE I entered into Lake’s essay! Whoa!

I am quite comfortable if the elucidation of the story’s resolve remains vague if enough of the climaxical angst feels as though nothing more can be said or done to alleviate the character’s anguish. There are as much unresolved endings in fiction as Lake credits to real life; and I completely concur! Except to say, there is a measure of a breadth of leeway for science fiction & fantasy to a certain extent. However, my comments in the LitChat feed was a broad stroke recollection of inter-genre discussion. As such, I never specifically said which genre or branch of literature I was respectively discussing nor which particular author. I’d rather debate the merits of a tool of the craft, in this case, ‘the cliffhanger ending’ rather than to specifically denounce a preference of a writer. Because in the end, the issue with the ending is mine. I’m the reader who picked up the story in the forethought of expectation of an ending I could live with once the book was set down on my shelf. IF my presumption worked against my heart in the end, it is only half on the fault of the writing. It’s difficult to brace ourselves for unresolved endings when in life we are constantly dealing with the peculiar nature of the unknown! Sometimes it is nice to have a purported dimension where more or less resolution is commonplace rather than elusive!

According to Lake’s assessment my key issue is with accepting a story which is writ in normative and non-normative format! I knew there had to be a reasoning behind my discontempt! Yet. There are moments in certain stories I would suspect or even hope that the ending wouldn’t be resolved if the issues contained within the heart of the journey are ones beyond the scope of the book. A story can only yield so much insight into the world in which it thrives in the space in which it inhabits. I think my classic mistake is expecting too much out of certain stories in which present a journey with an open-ended definition of ‘the end’.

I was smiling when I read the bottom paragraphs of page 51! At the footfall of page 52 arching into page 53, Lake touches on the exact sentiment I was attempting to explain myself! If a story is generated to be a complex tome of narrative, the reader not only presumes but requires the ending to resonate with a deft complexity as the rest of the text! Thank you, Mr. Lake! His final sentence of page 55 is precisely what I was hinting at! Precisely!

Ah, ha! My malaise can lift! I suffer from broken endings under the influence of the parachute technique!

[G. Cameron Fuller: How Alien the Alien: A Primer]

The opening sequence of this essay illuminates one of my favourite [fantasy] films of the past decade: Avatar! I quite literally wanted to soak into the world in which the Na’vi lived! To soar into the skies as a warrior would have made my heart thrive on the electric pulse of purpose! Except to say, I believe my gender is against me in this one regard, but oh, I suppose there is a bit of a feminist in all of us who strive towards equality for all genders to pursue what they individually wish to achieve! Including in fictional worlds we drink in with a mirth of a nod in awe!

What fascinated me is that the conjecture of the tone in this section is that the Na’vi were not altogether alien in the traditional sense but rather a humanoid species living on a different planet from our own! Strangely or not, this mirrors my exact thought processes whilst I was in the darkened theater watching it on the silver screen! The aliens for me were the para-military minded soldiers whose taste for blood winked out the last bit of my inner resolve for warfare! No one wins in war, but warmongers are not my favourite characters to meet in fiction nor in motion pictures. The level of the emotionally gutting plane is enough to eclipse a moon!

I could even reflect that whilst I was becoming a Whovian during the 50th Anniversary month of Doctor Who, there were more than one occasion where I felt the ‘alien’ species being highlighted were less alien than the contemporary humans! Did anyone else think the nurses whose faces were cats was not all that unrealistic? Or, what about the fact that the Doctor himself is quite alien but prefers to be human?! Data ring any bells!? (as in: Brent Spiner’s character!)

He delves further into a study of some of my most memorable ‘alien’ characters: from Star Trek, Star Wars & Battlestar Galactica (all originals for me!); to the HAL computer of Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the evolution of fear of technologic advances as explored in the works of Michael Crichton which I read from thirteen to seventeen! I devoured Crichton because I appreciated the balance of science fact and science fiction. Who else jumps into a dedicated passion for quantum mechanics and quantum physics due to the immersive jauntings of chaos theory encapsulated by the character of Malcolm in Jurassic Park? Which previously had been encouraged by Macgyver!

To put it more plainly, my personal preference of an alien race is one whose blendability is as translucently unseen as the subtle CGI special effects of films where unless you were given an outline could not deduce which sequence was digitally enhanced and which was shot in live-action!! Too much CGI makes a film portioned out of position which goes to say, that an alien who acts wantonly alien is going to have a more difficult chance of drawing empathy out of a reader!

[Nancy Kress: “The Green-Skinned Zorn Laughed with Grief” Character and Emotion in Science Fiction & Fantasy]

Compassion for characters through being a receptacle of their emotional cues whilst reading their stories unfold on the printed page is one of the main reasons I read fiction! I want the visceral experience to be all-encompassing without limiting myself of how far I am willing to take my emotional keel! I want to ache and anguish alongside the character who is woefully going through strife and adverse circumstances before embarking on a path towards redemption or enlightenment. I want to emotionally be convinced that my time spent with the character is one where I can feel as moved as though I had lived their life by the time the story concludes.

I do have my limits, naturally, we all do, but what I am referring to here is to be ensconced into a story within my limits and living every inch of the character’s life therein.

The following tweets were inserted using WP’s automated Tweet App: (as such I was trying to only include my words but the top tweet appears as well! They also appear in ‘reverse order’ because I like to be quirky!)

I couldn’t find the exact tweets I was seeking, which made me realise that perhaps the conversation was half contained in LitChat and half contained elsewhere! My memory is not drawing forward the exact ‘moment’ the topic was examined but the tweets I did discover to include bank around to the topic of why empathy for written characters is crucial to the reader’s experience of the story! If we cannot attach ourselves to the lead or supporting cast of characters on an emotional level, be that intensive or fanciful, we are not going to feel as though we read a transformative piece of story. We transform ourselves through the characters we read, as our minds process the experiences of their lives as experiences that become a part of our own threads of living. We process and analyse everything we drink in, which is one reason we all have to be cautious of what our internal limits are for subject, topic, and genre explorations! Its one thing to read to expand our horizons, it’s quite another to focus on literature which has a negative effect on our overall well-being. Which for me includes how far I am willing to absolve myself in gutting emotions if the off-set of the anguish is not released by a resolved ending!*

*The Time Traveller’s Wife (motion picture); Remember Sunday (tv movie); Follow the Stars Home (tv movie); The Notebook (motion picture); Backdraft (motion picture); Saving Private Ryan (motion picture); Life is Beautiful (motion picture); Alice I Have Been (book); The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (book);  are key examples of stories I watched or read but should have exited without seeing the conclusions. The emotionally gutting angst and anguish which followed each of them was wrecked physically by the nightmaric flashbacks and migraine! Sometimes writing can feel so hauntingly real to me, that I have to watch that I do not traverse through a section of narrative that will render me worse than when I first became engaged! Woe to all sensitive hearts like me!

Whereas despite the heavy emotional keel I experienced whilst watching Road to Perdition it was the sociological perspective of understanding the character Tom Hanks portrayed that leveled out the angst of watching his life unfold. I gladly rallied through Girl in a Blue Dress (book), The House Girl (book), and even The Spirit Keeper (book) to emerge out of where I had started. I cherish the stories which push the envelope only ‘nay far’ to where I can enter and exit without side effects of my visit.

Her conclusion is my reason for reading itself: to walk away feeling physically moved and changed by the story I’ve read to the brink where the characters, setting, and place are able to stay with me for many years yet to come! I crave seeking out the stories which leave pieces of their imprint on my heart!

[Elizabeth Bear: Tactics of WorldBuilding]

Her essay was keenly lit in my eyes as I had already blogged about my Top Ten Book Turn-Offs late in 2013. Wherein I would disclose that one of the hardest issues I have in reading is when I am ‘taking out of place’ within the confines of the story. I completely concur with her lamentations about the purity of research and the extensive amount of said research it takes to create the true atmosphere of a world built on a sturdy foundation. I personally thrive on research because I happen to have a curious mind of which is rarely quenched! I adore snaking through corridors of the past to spotlight a key notation that could lead to a recognition in a story I am creating. I love wandering and absorbing everything that whets my general interest in the subject at hand as well as the focus in which I am pursuing for a specific reason. I try not to limit my research in scope but rather in a methodology that allows me the genesis of spontaneity of creating dialogue and narrative at the brink of discovery!

There are two key elements for me when it comes to world building in narratives, which may or may not be as prominently important for others. Is the author a wordsmith? And, did the author conduct the research to stitch in clues of the ‘place’, ‘time’, and ‘setting’ in which the story is erected!? These are key for me, because I am not one who always appreciates the redundancy of words in fiction. There are certain genres which sometimes flutter an ire inside me, because they relay on the usage of ‘trigger’ words which repeat, reflect, and insinuate themselves to have their own harmonious hum in the story. I still read those stories if the character and context interest me, but my ire is aflame a bit to wonder, why not pick up a thesaurus? I should have mentioned this in my Book Turn Offs, but I didn’t originally believe I had enough to fill the list! The research falterations can become readily apparent to me in most instances and less so in others. It depends if I am reading for mere pleasure or if I want a heartier read where I quite literally want to feel, touch, and sense the world in which I am reading. The difference is subtle but the elements can reflect whether or not its a causal author you read OR if it’s an author you want to pursue long-term.

Her exposition on writers using other writers to give them the foundation of their stories is something I picked up on myself whilst reading certain genres which are saturated. You can start to notice the telling truth of writers who write stories solely based on the books they read themselves. Mostly because their own creations are limited to the world in which they read by another writer’s vision. Her intuition of a readers who send up ‘red flags’ whilst reading is reflective of my own reading life! If I reach more than three flags, I am considering why I am bothering at all! If it feels like a tornado siren is going off in my head, I simply discontinue right where I am!

Being a think writer myself, I understood where she is pointing her guiding hand; she wants writers to become aware of their worlds to where you could quite literally walk blind through them knowing every inch of its space. You have to be conscience of the dynamics your world is creating for you to build the story. If your confidence grows out of the knowledge of your world, your readers will automatically endear themselves to the novel long before the middle is reached! Whilst reading her essay I found a like-minded soul who reads with the same apprehensive excitement as I do! Apprehensive here refers to whether or not she or I will find what we are hoping to read inside the cover!


I am not one to generally gravitate towards a manual of ‘writing tips OR how to’ yield the most out of our craft [writing]. Except to say, I can honestly credit Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy alongside Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg as being my favourite discoveries thus far! The key elements of the craft are interlayed into both books, and I daresay, no matter what you elect to create, these are the two books of ‘writer’s craft’ guides you need in your personal library!

I have unearthed three distinctly different Twitter Chat interfaces this week, which I happily suggest you find time one week to engage in directly!

#SciFiChat = Fridays 2-4p
#SteampunkChat = Fridays 9p
#sffwrtcht = SciFi Writers Chat Weds. 9p*

*(runs concurrent with The Star Chamber Show, unfortunately! In which you may not see me until its concluded!)

Do you know of any other chat feeds and the days in which they chatter about a literary topic? Kindly share your experiences in the comment threads!

This Seventh Star Press focus week was brought together with the help of Tomorrow Comes Media, of which I am a blog tour hostess and book reviewer. To keep up to speed with which authors and books I will be featuring on Jorie Loves A Story in the near future via Tomorrow Comes Media, please check out my Bookish Events!

This marks my fourth post in contribution of:

2014 SciFi Experience
(“Strength and Honor” by Stephan Martiniere, used with the artist’s permission)

You can follow along on the official Sci-Fi Experience site!

Cross-listed on: Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays via On Starships & Dragonwings

I open up the discussion to continue through you, dear hearts! Which of the sections I have highlighted through my own musings attached themselves to your own curious heart? Which inclinations of writing resonate to you the most? Which of the three branches of speculative fiction do you write? Which do you draw a breath of curious excitement to read? Are any of the writers contained in the anthology ones you read regularly? I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways from your visit! And, as this is a focus week on an Indie Press, which Indie Press do you gravitate towards for science fiction, fantasy, and horror? OR have you hesitated to read an Indie Press title or author? Which specific sub-genre do you gravitate towards the most?

{SOURCES: The 2014 Sci-Fi Experience was granted permission to use the artwork by Stephen Martiniere in their official badge for all participants to show their solidarity during the event! Michael Knost photograph & biography, cover art for Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy were provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and used with permission. Blog News badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets pulled from Twitter were able to be embedded by the codes provided through WP’s Tweet App in the Media section. Likewise, tweets can also be directly added by individual tweets on Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Writers Workshop of Horror: Interview with Editor Michael Knost  – (tor.com)

The Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy Kickstarter Project – (kickstarter.com)

A Basic Science Fiction Library – (sfcenter.ku.edu)

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • The Sci-Fi Experience
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Posted Wednesday, 5 February, 2014 by jorielov in Anthology Collection of Stories, Babylon 5, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Discussions, Doctor Who, Fantasy Fiction, Galaxy Quest, Indie Art, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Literary Workshoppes, Non-Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays, Science Fiction, Seventh Star Press, Seventh Star Press Week, Speculative Fiction, Star Trek (Deep Space Nine), The Rocketeer, The Sci-Fi Experience, The Writers Life, Tomorrow Comes Media, TV Serials & Motion Pictures, Writing Advice & Tips, Writing Style & Voice

*SFN* | Favourite Top 20 Sci-Fi Serials of All-Time!

Posted Monday, 4 November, 2013 by jorielov 2 Comments

SFN_TopSFTv

I must confess it took me awhile to settle on how many tv serials I was going to focus on because try as I might, limiting myself to 10 tv serials of all-time was simply not going to happen anytime soon! I’m the worst at creating lists of this nature for this very reason! I tend to *love!* more than I can eclipse into a short list or even a long list! I am forever betwixt what to include and what to wait until another time to highlight! I mean, how do you ultimately select what to feature and then, there is the whole matter of which order to place the ones you choose on the list itself! I must say, as you read this list, they are NOT listed in order of preference or any sort of favouritism on my behalf! They are simply a list that is generated to give out the most thought upon science fiction tv serials that I have enjoyed watching throughout my life! :)

  1. Star Trek: the Original Series – Quintessentially, my favourite moments of being with my Dad after school were spent surrounding myself with the original crew of the Enterprise! :) The fun we had settling in to watch mini-marathons whilst Dad introduced me to all the main characters, as much as imparting to me about their ‘quirks’ and classically known best ‘scenes’ and ‘dialogue exchanges!’. The two of us would spent quite literally HOURS vegged out in front of the tv, caught up in all of their crazy adventures, one after the other! I loved the heart of the series the most, and the way in which the characters and story-lines made you feel inside whilst the credits rolled. Trek left the impression in me (even as a young girl) that despite how frustrating and difficult life can become, there is always the hope of a better future and a better way in which society will one day live in harmony. I loved the merit of the show’s mission statement as much as I simply loved tagging along for the adventure! Mum would join us as well, as they truly loved Trek long before I was ever a whisper in the cosmos! I would grow to see my *first!* Trek motion picture out-of-state whilst on holiday, and yes, I can even tell you which one it was because it remained my ‘favourite’ Trek film until I saw ‘Insurrection’. (which coincidentally is the last Trek film I’ll ever see) I had the sheer pleasure of seeing “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country“!! The pure magnitude of being able to go into a theater and see all the lovely characters which were at that point beloved by me (and my parents!) simply rocked my world! I remember it was one of the ‘premieres’ which affected me the most! Mostly as I think back on it because the dynamics of the cast, and the content of the story-line were with such a precision that it felt like one of my first ‘growing-up’ films! Where I could see the echoes of my childhood might be falling away towards my young adult years. I was completely captivated by the chaos the events in this film evoked as much as the fact I simply enjoyed every inch of the story! I must’ve seen this film several times before we gathered the boxed set of all the original Trek films! You know, the set that shows the Enterprise?
  2. Star Trek: The Next Generation – I actually didn’t warm up to this series initially because I was torn between watching this series and another that was competing my attention in the same ‘timeslot!’ This is of course a bit before I learnt how to use the VCR! Laughs. I finally succumbed to Mum & Da telling me I’d regret it if I didn’t start to watch the series as it unfolded, so for the most part, I came in right as Dr. Crusher made her exit and Dr. Pulaski was entering. From that moment forward I was glued to the tv and the other series, I randomly caught until I asked Da to finally show me how to set the VCR! Laughs. Having entered Trek through the original series, I was completely mesmerized by this version! A lot had changed since the days of Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and Spock! I liked the new senior crew quite a heap, and I liked that their dynamics of relating to each other was just as fraught with quirky instances as the previous crew! I like it when there is internal drama inside of a cast, because it’s through their dysfunction that they endear you to them, but I must confess, of all the ensembles I’ve favoured in tv serials, this is the one that I think they allowed to function as a family unit moreso than with other serials! I loved the interplay with other races as well as how Captain Picard had as much restraint as Captain Kirk with Starfleet Command! I think I singularly felt like the torch was passed seeing that he gave them as much of a run for their money as his predecessor! Considering that I named 3 of my dear cats after the crew of this Enterprise, I think you can see where my heart lies and returns back to the most! :) I can still remember when it was time for the Next Generation films to get underway and launch onto the silver screen!! Ooh, my dear stars! I was bouncy with excitement!! I still remember attending them, too! Full of smiles and eager to see what was going to unfold next! It’s hard for me to pick a favourite amongst: Generations, First Contact, and Insurrection, but I tend to lean towards Insurrection for a variety of reasons, most of all, First Contact is very draining emotionally, as I always found the Borg & the Romulan story-lines to be a bit difficult to always watch!
  3. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – I remember being ever so eager for this series to début! So much so, I couldn’t think of much else during the time I had to wait for the season première!! I instantly loved everything about it – from where it was set inside the world of Trek, to the characters (such a hodgepodge of a crew!) and their personal backgrounds (talk about fascinating me for hours!), to the very set they used to depict the series focal point and the sound they used in the opening credits! I loved every inch of it, and I was thankful that this time around I hadn’t hesitated to see it from the beginning! The only part that was disappointing for me was twofold: when I started to take on more classes in my sophomore year, I felt like I had lost my footing for the series! :( When I was able to return back to it, everything was changing rather rapidly, as the war was pretty much over-with, and there was rumours about Jadzia Dax not returning as well.  Although I liked her replacement as I had seen her in other sci-fi shows! She would go on to be a main character in “The Dead Zone” as well! :) At some point, I would like to see everything from the beginning and re-discover what I loved about this series originally and carry my focus through into the ending seasons! They had so much to give and focus on, that I always felt sad that they didn’t take this to film!
  4. Star Trek: VoyagerI picked up with this series right in time, which was fantastic because it was the first time we had a woman in the seat of the Captain’s chair, and I was struck by this being monumental! I liked the diversity of the crew this time as well, because each Trek series would always improve on having each character enter into the story with an equally varied and diverse background as to what led them to serve with Starfleet and be aboard ship as crew! In this case, what was intriguing is that half the crew were actually renegades who ended up being stranded with the crew of Voyager! How they incorporated both crew together into a seamless (or thereabouts!) senior crew I thought was a slice of brilliance! As much as giving them very distinct characteristics and personality traits like Tom’s preference for learning everything about the 20th century! Between Voyager & DS9, I felt like Trek was heading in all the right directions! I loved how you could catch an episode of any Trek you wanted to see at various times of the day or night as well!
  5. Quantum LeapI spent most of my 8th grade year wrapped up in the adventures of Dr. Samuel Beckett, his sidekick Al, and the quirky voice on the other end of the dimensional space “Ziggy”, of which was a computer! I loved the science of the series as much as I simply loved the history of what was presented each week that I tuned in as they would pull stories out of our own actual historical archives in order to draw out the best characters to pursue and for Sam to ‘leap into’ to right a wrong! It was very unique in its approach to science fiction story-telling because you truly had to ‘look close’ to see the sci-fi elements inside it! I loved that about this series, as much as I liked seeing a lot of heart stitched into the stories themselves! Although I was a dedicated watcher for years, I never did see the pivotal “leap home”, unlike my Mum! One day!
  6. Battlestar Gallactica (Original) – I don’t have as much to say about this series as I have only seen a handful of episodes, as they stopped airing them right at the moment I found them on one of the cable channels who was still featuring them in the afternoons! :( Sighs. What I liked about it though was classic space opera story-lines intermixed with humour and heart. I always like finding the heart of a story and the heart of a character’s past, present, or future. I sort of seek out stories either in print or in this format that go to the core of the human condition. You could say its a preference of mine, actually! I do know that I appreciated the format of this original take on Gallactica rather the newer incarnation. But, then, if you have noticed I prefer originals nearly 9 out of 10 times!
  7. seaQuest DSV (Season One) – Who wouldn’t enjoy a tv serial that takes place under the ocean!? I mean, seriously!? I loved how it had a feel for reality as it was being produced as much as it was a glimpse into the near future of what could be. I liked the transitions between fact and fiction as well. I am only a fan of the first season, however, as there were too many changes for my taste as it entered into the latter seasons. I even missed the inclusion of Dr. Robert Ballard at the ending sequences of the episodes as well as say, half the cast!? Sighs. The best part of what made seaQuest a special show is the fact that the first year proved that it had all the elements in place to make watching the series a memorable occasion! The fact that they touched on environmental, oceanographical, and geological sciences was all the more fun for me!
  8. The Sentinel From the moment I first watched the interaction between Jim and Blair, I knew I had to keep tuning in! The plot behind how Ellison received his ‘heightened’ senses was a new twist I thought on the genre, and it kept me on my toes to see how they would showcase his abilities next! I loved the fact he was a cop, because I have a soft spot for mysteries and police series! I think their quirky sense of humour never failed to itch my funny-bone and the way in which Blair would always overstep his bounds as a ‘ride along’ never failed to entertain me! Truly, as you went along with it you were curious as to who was teaching whom!
  9. The Dead ZoneAt first, I must confess, I wasn’t sure if I could handle this series as it truly pushed the envelope of what I considered ‘horror’ and what I considered ‘science fiction’ however, somehow I was won over by both the cast and the scripts — which led me to leading my Mum and Da to get wrapped up in the story as well! So much so, we decided not to watch it as it aired but rather opted instead to purchase the seasonal dvds, which would allow us more time to view the series! :) I believe we made it through the third season before realising that the story-lines were getting a bit too difficult to watch! We sort of suspended watching this indefinitely but want to resume the series at some point as we want to go through the rest of the third and carry into the fourth! I am not sure how I feel about the fifth season, as I was still keeping up with the series as it aired at the time. I will have to wait and see, I suppose! Unless someone posts a comment and says that watching the fourth without the fifth wouldn’t be so bad!? :) One can hope! Again, what drew me into this series was the heart of the characters, I mean, who couldn’t relate to the absolute shock of waking up from a coma and finding that your entire life was flipped on its heel because your son is being raised by another man?
  10. The Six-Billion Dollar Man (Original) – This along with my 11th choice go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned, because I would always watch one episode after the other, as they would air these back to back! I sometimes had trouble remembering they were different series entirely! I have since gone on to watch Lee Majors and Lindsey Wagner in other roles, the latter of which I can happily say has been featured in more than two Hallmark Channel films which delights me to no end! I think what I was struck with originally about these two series is the ingenious way their characters were first altered but then, how they each had to learn how to live and perform with those ‘bionic’ upgrades! To me, these are priceless science fiction tv series!
  11. The Bionic Woman (Original) – (see above) And, no, I didn’t have any interest in seeing the remake!
  12. Babylon 5At the time, I couldn’t fathom why no one was talking about B5 with the same tenacity that I was! I mean, no one seemed to care that much about this series, which I had found sad, but I continued to watch it due to the level of the story-lines and the consistency of the production quality! Imagine my surprise how years (and I mean years!) after I watched these air originally that the sci-fi community started to embrace the series more readily and its now spoken about rather fondly! I look forward to gathering these on seasonal dvd sometime so that I not only can re-live my memories of when I first watched it, but I can see the last two seasons as I didn’t get to watch those as regularly! I just loved the concept of the universe and how everyone on Babylon 5 interacted with each other and with the constant stream of visitors! It was very much on a similar vein as DS9 but with its own original feet to stand on!
  13. AirwolfI barely remember this series other than the fact that I enjoyed watching it!
  14. AlfWho wouldn’t get caught up in Alf and the family he would drive literally bananas because he didn’t always understand how to function in our world!? It took me awhile to realise ‘who’ Alf was as far as ‘who’ portrayed him, but what I liked about the series was the honesty of it! The believability factor and the way in which the series developed. It was definitely a warm and cuddly tv series and I sort of miss some of that innocence on tv nowadays!
  15. Eerie, IndianaOne of the first series where I was more spooked than entertained but I liked the format of the series!
  16. HighlanderNot only is the series I was first introduced to the lovely music of  “Queen”, but it was the series that made me realise that for a girl who was not attracted to horror films or tv series, she sure knew how to pick quirky-odd series to become endeared to watching! (The whole beheading thing!?) I guess you could say between the Scottish history, the accents, and the whole immortal storyline — I was just hooked! I didn’t apologise for it either! I proudly watched Highlander every chance I could!!
  17. Time TraxI truly loved this series, but what frustrated me was the intermittent viewing schedule! I know it aired regularly elsewhere but for the life of me, I couldn’t catch it weekly but rather every odd moon when the feed would come through!? Very strange. Brilliant show!
  18. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. / Legend / Beauty & the BeastThis became a hard spot to fill because I didn’t want to not mention these three serials, which is why I ‘tied’ them to this spot! The first one is pure genius for hilarity and quirkiness! The second runs on the same vein, but I liked the Steampunk attitude that was cast in for good measure! And, the third — come on! Who wouldn’t love a sci-fi romance series!?
  19. Ghost WhispererDue to the ability to ILL tv series through my local library, my Mum, Da, & I are slowly starting to make our way through the complete series of “Ghost Whisperer” which was inspired due to the fact Mum & I caught back to back marathons of the series on two networks in the Summer months of 2012! So much so, we nearly saw half or more of each of the first 3 seasons! We decided this year as 2013 began that we’d find the time to start to ILL the series! We successfully cried our way through season one, but we only made it to the opening bits of season two before Summer began! We’ll have to pick it up again next year, of course, as the holidays are upon us shortly! What I love about it is Hewitt’s ability to transform her character Melinda into a person you can instantly relate too and rally behind. Her ability to see ghosts and to help them move forward is done in such a natural way in their story-telling that you do not realise your always watching a series rooted in science fiction!
  20. Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of SupermanSeriously, what bonefide Superman appreciator wouldn’t love this series!?

Curious About: Alien Nation, The Avengers (Original), The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Stargate: SG-I, ST: Enterprise, and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne.

Previously Curious About: Doctor Who!

I look forward to seeing comments populate to see if I have selected any that are warmly regarded by you, dear hearts! At least we have been given a wide choice of what we can watch, eh!? IF you would like to create your own blog post that speaks about your own Top 10 or Top 20 List of Favourite Science Fiction Tv Serials of All-Time, I encourage you to drop back and share the link of your post here on Jorie Loves A Story! As always, I encourage you to remember to link directly to your post and not your homepages! :)

This post is brought to you by:

Sci-Fi November | Hosted by Rinn Reads{SOURCES: Sci-Fi November Badge and Event Badge were provided by Rinn Reads for participants to advert the month long event and to encourage people to follow along with those of us who are contributing! Post lovely provided by Shabby Blogs with edits by Jorie in Fotoflexer.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

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Posted Monday, 4 November, 2013 by jorielov in Airwolf, Alf, Alien Nation, Babylon 5, Battlestar Gallactica, Beauty & the Beast, Eerie Indiana, Ghost Whisperer, Highlander, Legend, Lois & Clark (The New Adventures of Superman), Quantum Leap, Sci-Fi November, Science Fiction, seaQuest DSV, Star Trek (Enterprise), Star Trek (Original Series), Star Trek (The Next Generation), Star Trek (Voyager), Stargate (SG-I), The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, The Avengers, The Bionic Woman, The Dead Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, The Sentinel, The Six-Billion Dollar Man, Time Trax, TV Serials & Motion Pictures