Cory Doctorow: Demon-Haunted World

From the September 2017 issue of Locus Magazine

Cheating is a given.

Inspectors certify that gas-station pumps are pumping unadulter­ated fuel and accurately reporting the count, and they put tamper-evident seals on the pumps that will alert them to attempts by station owners to fiddle the pumps in their favor. Same for voting machines, cash registers, and the scales at your grocery store.

The basic theory of cheating is to ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: Did “Being a Writer” Ever Mean… Just Writing?

From the August 2017 issue of Locus Magazine

I have spent an inordinate amount of time this year Being a Writer, and far less of it doing the writing part. Oh, the words get done. In fits and starts and large binge sessions, I squeeze out stories in a few days and large swaths of whatever novel is in progress over a week at a time.

But an increasing amount ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Be the First One to Not Do Something that No One Else Has Ever Not Thought of Doing Before

From the July 2017 issue of Locus Magazine

The legendary musician, producer, and weirdo Brian Eno has many notable accomplishments and high among them is the production of the ‘‘Oblique Strategies’’ deck, a deck of cards emblazoned with gnomic and hard-to-parse advice that is meant to shake your creative rut: ‘‘Fill every beat with something,’’ or ‘‘Infinitesimal gradations’’ or ‘‘Do nothing for as long as possible.’’

My favorite of these ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: Story Isn’t Just “Stuff Happens”

I brought my dogs to a new dog park this weekend, one frequented by experienced dog owners who enjoyed socializing their dogs. The park I usually go to is less frequented, with fewer dogs, and the owners are all worried and anxious sorts. Their dogs tend to be unsocialized, which contributes to their own fear about their dog’s potential behavior, and then their anxiety gets to the dogs, too, making ...Read More

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Scott Westerfeld Guest Post–“Sisters and Family in Spill Zone”

Spill Zone is about what we’re left with after our family is destroyed.

It’s about two sisters, Addison and Lexa, who’ve lost their parents and hometown in an event called the Spill. The older sister, Addison, is left with the task of raising and providing for Lexa, which is in some ways like trying to keep a culture alive. Every family is its own world, after all. Only the people ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Weaponized Narrative

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’’ To this day, especially in times of ‘‘disaster,’’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

–Mr Rogers

In ...Read More

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Salik Shah Guest Post–“Unmaking the Post-Truth World With Global SF”

Mithila is a glorious kingdom ruled by philosopher kings in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Millennia later, say in an alternate universe, it’s a decolonized terrain beset with intolerance and violence, a symbol of a civilization in decline.

Science fiction and fantasy that draws its power from actual science and history—a scientific spirit based on evidence, logic and rationality—could be a fluid and powerful language of protest in the new era ...Read More

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Jess Nevins Guest Post–“How It All Started”

1905 was a landmark year as far as global pulp culture was concerned, because that was the year that Street & Smith, at the time the purveyor of a number of very successful dime novels, decided to expand its operations into Europe. The countries of Europe had not been without their own versions of dime novels, in some cases for decades, but Street & Smith–which was looking to expand its ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: How to Write a Book in a Month

From the April 2017 issue of Locus Magazine

We all want to learn how to write books faster. The pace of the news cycle today has heated up to such an extent that for those of us who aren’t in the 1% of writers, if we don’t come out with a book a year, it feels like the world has forgotten us amid the buzz of ever more intensifying world ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots

From the March 2017 issue of Locus Magazine

In 1972, a group of researchers funded by the Volkswagen Foundation published a seismic book called Limits to Growth, which used the most sophisticated techniques of the day to model the planet Earth and project its future. The book’s authors were trying to figure out how rosy a future the world’s poor could count on: would they some day enjoy the ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley:If You Want to Level Up, Get Back to the Basics

From the February 2017 issue of Locus Magazine

 

There are few things, for me, that are as equally depressing and energiz­ing as reading a really great book. Great books are why I got into this business in the first place, which is why I’m often so shocked when I hear from other professional writers that they don’t read anymore. Try ask­ing a panel of professional writers at your next ...Read More

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Steve Rasnic Tem Guest Post–“The Long Gestation Period of UBO”

The journeys taken by my most recent novels from idea to completion have been lengthy and complex. Deadfall Hotel (Solaris, 2012) began as a novelette first published in Charlie Grant’s Shadows series in 1986. My southern gothic Blood Kin (Solaris, 2014) started with a few paragraphs written during my senior year in high school in 1968. And now comes UBO (Solaris, February 2017), a dark science fictional exploration of violence, ...Read More

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Chuck Wendig: An Invasive Interview

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro: What’s your favorite ant or insect movie?

Chuck Wendig: Probably Heston’s The Naked Jungle.

A Z-A: By any chance have you watched Saul Bass’ movie Phase IV (1974)? Or read Barry Malzberg’s novelization?

CW: When I was first writing Invasive, I hadn’t seen it — had only heard about it, like an apocryphal tale. But then Paul Tremblay (author of the astonishing Head Full of Ghosts) said, you ...Read More

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Joe M. McDermott Guest Post–“The Writer Industrial Complex”

There is the writing, then there are the publishers, and then there are the consultants to writers and publishers. I refer to the third category as the “Writer Industrial Complex” and they are in the business of selling services that may or may not help books and stories along. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that this industry exists, and it can provide valuable services at critical stages of a ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: It’s Time to Short Surveillance and Go Long on Freedom

From the January 2017 issue of Locus Magazine

 

Let’s say for the sake of argument that you voted for Donald Trump and you’re ecstatic that he’s taking the White House. You might even be rubbing your hands in glee at the thought that Obama was dumb enough to operationalize George W. Bush’s surveillance apparatus – rather than living up to his election promise to dismantle it – because now ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: There Have Always Been Times Like These

From the December 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

‘‘Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom.’’

–Ursula K. Le Guin

Change is the only constant in our ...Read More

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Jaym Gates Guest Post–“The Landscapes of Horror”

The most frightening self-inflicted experience of my life was when I developed an unfortunate taste for horror fiction as a teenager living in the middle of nowhere, California. I snuck The Oath, by Frank Peretti, out of my grandparents’ library and read it in the evenings, when I was supposed to be taking care of the horses.

For those who’ve never read the book, it’s about an impossibly powerful monster ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Sole and Despotic Dominion

 

From the November 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

William Blackstone is a towering legal authority, whose 18th century Commentaries on the Laws of England are still studied today. Blackstone was big on private property as a cure for humanity’s woes. In Commentaries, he wrote one of the most famous definitions of private property in English-language history:

 

There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and ...Read More

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J. Daniel Batt Guest Post–“Towards the Frontier”

The Santa Lucia mountains hug the California coastline between Monterey and San Luis Obispo and stare out at the dark, cold waters of the Pacific. For centuries, perhaps back to the Chumash legends, lore tells of dark figures materializing upon the edges of these mountains to gaze across the ocean. When the early migrants came to California, these figures were waiting for them. The myth of the Dark Watchers was ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: The Mission-Driven Writing Career

From the October 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

Most writers quit. Many aspiring writers get angry when I say discouraging things like this, but sometimes the truth is discouraging. Most writers quit because they achieve what they set out to do – publish a book, or a short story, or simply finish one – and realize they are staring at the same blank, purposeless future that they started with. ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: The Privacy Wars Are About to Get a Whole Lot Worse

From the September 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

It used to be that server logs were just boring utility files whose most dramatic moments came when someone forgot to write a script to wipe out the old ones and so they were left to accumulate until they filled the computer’s hard-drive and crashed the server.

Then, a series of weird accidents turned server logs into the signature motif of ...Read More

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Traveler of Worlds: All Kinds of Enwonderment

Today is the release day of my new book, Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, so it seems appropriate to say a few words about it in this space.

The word “enwonderment” is not a real word; it’s one that Bob Silverberg made up in the 90s. In one of the conversations in this book, which roams far and wide–travel, art theory and history, music, films, politics, reading ...Read More

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James Aquilone Guest Post–“Kickstarter: How to Fund Your First Novel in 3 Days”

The odds are against you. Most Kickstarter projects fail, and the publishing category is near the top of that list, with nearly 70 percent of campaigns not reaching their funding goals. Unsurprisingly first-time novelists have it the toughest. There are a ton of articles detailing why it’s a terrible idea for newbies to launch a Kickstarter. Had I read any of them before I launched my campaign, I may have ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: When to Quit Your Day Job

From the August 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

The best writing career advice I ever received wasn’t ‘‘write every day’’ (because I certainly don’t), but, ‘‘Don’t quit your day job.’’

Clearly, not all of us have a choice in this matter, as steady day jobs continue to be eradicated and the ‘‘gig economy’’ becomes the norm. I’ve been laid off from at least half a dozen jobs in my ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Peak Indifference

From the July 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

Ever since the first days of public access to the Internet, activ­ists like me have been making dire warnings about the privacy implications of leaving data-trails behind you when you engage in everyday activity. We hoped that people would think forward to the potential risks of disclosures down the road – that the individually harmless crumbs of personal in­formation could be ...Read More

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Josh Viola Guest Post–“Cyber Punks”

Full disclosure: My story “wysiomg” appears in the forthcoming anthology Cyber World co-edited by Josh, but that wasn’t the motivation for this post, which covers the sort of material I would normally wish to bring to the attention of Locus readers.–Alvaro

 

One particular night a couple of decades ago officially branded me a cyber punk.

I was about ten years old and hosting a sleepover in my family’s single-wide ...Read More

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Sharman Apt Russell Guest Post–“BFF: Science Fiction and the Environmental Movement”

In 1864, a hundred years after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the American scholar George Perkins Marsh wrote about the impact of a society rapidly cutting down its forests, destroying its topsoil, and polluting its water. Marsh thundered, “The ravages committed by man subvert the relations and destroy the balance which nature has established, and she avenges herself upon the intruder by letting loose her destructive energies.” He predicted ...Read More

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Kameron Hurley: Hard Publishing Truths: Relationships Matter

From the June 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

One of my favorite publishing stories is from an established short story writer who tweeted that a story of his had been rejected from a magazine. Within a few minutes of sharing that, the editor of the publication e-mailed them and apologized for the rejection. ‘‘Our new slush reader didn’t rec­ognize your name,’’ the editor said, and promptly bought the story. ...Read More

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Ada Palmer Guest Post–“World Building and Change in Terra Ignota”

I started going about building the science fiction future for my Terra Ignota series, not by trying to predict things that will happen, but by looking for things that have already been changing in the last two centuries, and will with certainty be different in some way in the future. This is a different way of thinking about plausibility, one that comes naturally to me because I’m trained as a ...Read More

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Cory Doctorow: Peace In Our Time

From the May 2016 issue of Locus Magazine

 

E-books are game-changers, but not in the way we all thought they would be. Far from taking over print, e-book sales have stagnated at less than a quarter of print sales and show every sign of staying there or declining for the foreseeable future.

But e-books continue to be a source of bitter controversy that divides publishers from two of their ...Read More

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