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1. The Bradbury Chronicles : The
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2. How to Write Science Fiction &
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3. Worlds of Wonder: How to Write
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4. The Writers Complete Fantasy Reference:
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5. Scene of the Crime: A Writer's
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6. The Complete Guide to Writing
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7. World Building (Science Fiction
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8. The Wave in the Mind : Talks and
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9. I, ASIMOV : A MEMOIR
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10. Time Travel (Science Fiction Writing
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11. How to Write Science Fiction and
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12. Non-Fiction Writing Strategies:
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13. Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic
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14. Sometimes the Magic Works : Lessons
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15. GRUMBLES FROM THE GRAVE
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16. The Writer's Guide to Fantasy
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17. Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing
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19. Dragonholder
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20. Aliens and Alien Societies (Science

1. The Bradbury Chronicles : The Life of Ray Bradbury
by Sam Weller
list price: $26.95
our price: $18.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006054581X
Catlog: Book (2005-04-01)
Publisher: William Morrow
Sales Rank: 139061
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2. How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
by Orson Scott Card
list price: $12.99
our price: $9.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 158297103X
Catlog: Book (2001-09-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 4592
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Finally, Orson Scott Card's Hugo award-winning classic on the art and craft of writing science fiction and fantasy is available in paperback!Card provides invaluable advice for every science fiction and fantasy writer interested in constructing stories about people, worlds and events that stretch the boundaries of the possible...and the magical. They'll learn: * what is and isn't science fiction and fantasy, and where their story fits in the mix * how to build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world readers will want to explore * how to use the MICE quotient--milieu, idea, character and event--to structure a successful story * where the markets are, how to reach them and get publishedThere's no better source of information for writers working in these genres. This book will help them effectively produce exciting stories that are both fascinating and market-ready. ... Read more

Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars Any writer can benefit from this ten-star book!
This excellent how-to book is cram-packed with practical suggestions on how to write good fiction. Although it focuses primarily on science fiction and fantasy, the principles it explains are applicable to any type of creative writing.


I especialy liked the chapters on consistency in world-building. In science fiction lingo, "world building" refers to the process of creating an alien culture. In order to be convincing, that culture must make sense in terms of its ecology, history, technology, lifeforms, etc. Doing this requires quite a bit of preliminary thought before you can even begin to write your novel, but that planning is absolutely necessary if your characters are to be believable. For example, as Card points out, the type of space travel available to your characters will determine their attitudes about a lot of things. If a group of colonists arrived at their new planet in a multi-generational ship that took centuries to get there, they will be out of contact with the homeworld, and their culture will probably evolve independently. On the other hand, if they can travel back and forth in a matter if days, they will be in close contact with (under the control of?) the homeworld, and your story will be quite different. So, you have to make clear decisions about technology before you start writing.


The same is true for the rules of magic, time travel, social customs, evolution of alien species, etc. You, as the author, can decide what these rules will be, and there is a great deal of leeway in a lot of directions. But once you make your rules, you must be consistent within the system you created. Orson Scott Card takes you through this process step-by-step, using actual examples from his own and other SF novels. This valuable lesson can be applied to any type of fiction. What makes a good novel is the creation of a believable world that your readers can enter into with their imaginations -- and that requires pre-planned consistency.


In fact, I found Card's book to be helpful in my own work with re-telling Hasidic stories for non-Hasidic readers. (cf. "Jewish Tales of Reincarnation," available here on Amazon.) These stories take place in a traditional Jewish culture that is as "alien" to most American readers as the fictional worlds in the SF genre. Breaking into the general market meant explaining things in the Hasidic stories that I would normally take for granted. Card's book got me thinking in a new way about the rules -- written and unwritten -- that form the framework of the Hasidic worldview. Card taught me how to weave the necessary "alien" cultural info into my narratives so that my readers can understand that world and the people in it -- without falling into the deadly trap of preachy, boring prose. That insight alone was well worth the price of the book -- and it contains much, much more. Ten stars!

2-0 out of 5 stars An unneccessary toolbox of the obvious
I've never taken any writing classes aside from the standard high school and college requirements. I read a lot, and I'm starting to write a lot too. If I'm extremely lucky and bust my hump for the next few decades, maybe I'll even enjoy the merest hint of the success Orson Scott Card has found as an amazingly talented writer. Unfortunately, this book isn't going to help me get there. There's nothing in here that I didn't already know, and like I said I haven't got any special experience.

How to Write... isn't so much a how-to book as a shopping list of the most obvious information a fiction writer needs to know. In fact, that information is so obvious that most ordinary people know it intuitively, even if they've never written a page of fiction in their lives. For example, the advice you are given to help you create logical, consistent worlds is something not much more complex then "Create logical, consistent worlds".

The section on story structure will only give you blatantly obvious advice as well, stuff like it's bad to reveal the solution too early on in a mystery and that you should think about a character's motivation for moving forward through the events of your tale. Do you really need to read an entire book to tell you these things? Probably not.

There's nothing in here that will make you say "Of course! This is what my stories have been lacking!" If anything, it will make you feel vastly better about being a writer, because if this is all there is to it (and I suspect that's not the case), writing must be a piece of cake.

There are a few valuable pieces of advice in the book such as where to go to get your stories published and how to further your career as a writer- but these gems only tend to be a paragraph or two, not very detailed and not really worth the price of admission. There are many other books entirely devoted to the useful subjects Card is only able to give you a glimpse of, and your money is most likely better spent on those.

I recognize the merit of being told the obvious at certain points to keep yourself focused, and in that regard this book may serve you well. However, those looking for hard information and valuable writing exercises should pass this selection by or prepare themselves for sore disappointment.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lots of good but very basic writing advice
I can only presume that Card sees a lot of really terrible stories at writing workshops. While the advice in this book is great, it's also all very basic, and most of it should be obvious to people who have read a significant amount of fiction. I would recommend this book only for extremely inexperienced authors who haven't yet learned the basics of good writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read and learn
I just finished reading the old hardback edition published in 1990. I'm sure the new edition is as good or even better. Much of Card's advice applies to any fiction writing - not just SF/F. Read and learn.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excelent, it gave me alot of ideas
I believe this book is a must for any writer, not just for science fiction and fantasy writers. In particular, the chapter on story construction, I believe, is for every writer, but let me start at the start.

Chapter One, The Infinite Boundary
This chapter just explains the differences between science fiction and fantasy. A nice introduction, however all it does is make you understand a bit more about the genre you plan to write in. Being Australian, it had references to magazines and anthologies that I perhaps have a very slim chance of reading, and if I ever do get a chance to, I'd probably have to morgage the house to afford them.
Hence, I guess this chapter wasn't much use.

Chapter 2, World Creation.
This, and the next chapter, are what makes the book worth it. It empasises the fact that your world within your story has to make sense. It has to have rules.

Chapter 3, Story Construction
After, no during, this section, I just got out my pen and started jotting down all these ideas I had for my story. Maybe that is why I am raving so much about this book - because it helped me, and it helped me immediatly. I think my stories will be so much more from having read this.

Chapter 4, Writing Well
Also another good chapter. This chapter made me think about how I had handled some aspects of my story, and gave me a few ideas on how to improve. However, over all this chapter is mostly common sense.

Chapter 5, The Life and Business of Writing
This chapter was not much use to me. it mainly concerns with the opertunities within the American market, something which I hope to crack through one day, but after being an established writer in Australia ;) However, don't put the book down! There was a nice little idea called the "Wise Reader", which I think i might try!

Overall, Orson Scott Card is a VERY readable writer. And the fact that this book is only 140 pages long, I got through it in just over an hour, so it wont delay you from writing for too long!!! ... Read more


3. Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
by David Gerrold
list price: $14.99
our price: $14.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582970076
Catlog: Book (2001-02-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 110965
Average Customer Review: 3.64 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

While both science fiction and fantasy evoke "a sense of wonder in the audience," says David Gerrold in Worlds of Wonder, science fiction "is about what's possible," while "fantasy is about what's not." Writing for both these genres is a lot like "playing with a set of Lego bricks," Gerrold says: you're creating your own world, but you have to work within a logical framework. Like other forms of storytelling, says Gerrold (best known for his "Trouble with Tribbles" Star Trek episode), science fiction and fantasy rely on mysterious first sentences, effective exits, and surprises in every sentence in between. The difference is that your characters inhabit whole worlds of your own making, worlds that may be "marvelous and surprising to the reader," but must remain ordinary to the story's characters. To carry this off, says Gerrold, "you have to write each moment"--no matter how improbable--"as if you lived it yourself." ... Read more

Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Silly Assumption Lead Me to the Wonderful World of Gerrold
Worlds of Wonder is a nice surprise. It'll suck you in and keep you (most of you) turning pages. Its author, David Gerrold, is a neat guy with a neat voice. He's been in the industry for a long time and is probably best known for writing the most famous of Star Trek episodes, "The Trouble With Tribbles."

"Oh," you say, "that guy."

Yeah. Him. But that's not all he's done. He's written for Twilight Zone, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Next Gen, and more, in addition to lots more, TV and novels: The Martian Child, Yesterday's Children, When Harlie Was One. . . . He's well equipped to write this guide (the full title being Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy).

The first time through, reading WW is a 5-star experience. Gerrold will not only give you continually good advice from page 1 all the way to page 238, he'll keep you laughing. Or nodding, if you're not easily tickled. The guy made me want to know more about him. He's not only a capable fiction writer, he's got non-fiction stories to tell, that much is obvious, and you'll be interested to read more by him. His experiences in the industry scream to be told, and in a perfect world, he would have been able to go off on long tangents.

But, no, he (pretty much) keeps us grounded on the subject matter. He takes you through the writing process, from structuring your story, to composing love scenes, to using metaphors and pronouns--from beginnings to middles to ends, he touches them all. He talks about the differences between science and fantasy. He talks about world-building, alien-building, plot-building. His chapters are bite-size treats, inviting, non-threatening, and as soon as the chapter is over you wish it had been longer. Chapter after chapter fly by until, suddenly, you've finished the book--craving more words from this intelligent author.

For me, that was part of the problem, though, and that's why the book only gets, in the end, 4 stars. Upon completion of the last page, my satisfaction went from a light, happy sigh, as I closed the book, to a heavy, brow-furrowing harrumph. After reading Worlds of Wonder, though the advice was indeed helpful, I didn't feel empowered to write a science fiction tale of my own. I did feel damn ready to drop everything and get to work on a "normal" story--the advice crisscrosses all fictional boundaries. But specifically sci-fi? Fantasy? Nuh-uh. As it turns out, Gerrold's book wasn't enough.

I examined my feelings on this matter until I realized what went wrong. My mistake had lain in assumption.

I assumed I would be reading a nitty gritty book for building science fiction; I assumed I was going to find equal and opposite help painting fantasy backdrops. I was EXPECTING this book to give me a lot of technical help, which I need, because scientific fact is my weakness. I was expecting, on the fantasy end of the genre, ideas for adding a fantastic flavor to my stories. These chapters were completely missing. (I'm beginning to suspect that they were never included in the first place, that there's been some sit-comical mistake, and I'm still waiting by my mailbox hoping Gerrold will realize his error and send the missing pages out to his fans, post haste. I'm growing weary of holding my breath, though.)

To those of you who are hoping Worlds of Wonder will solve your technical "sci-fan" writing questions, I say, "Keep shopping." It won't. Rather, it's an overview of the genre. A darn well written overview, though. It WILL entertain and educate you, despite it's lack of specifics. In and of itself, World's of Wonder is a good read.

As a how-to book, it only gets 3.5-ish stars. As you can see, when faced with extreme doubt, I sided with 4 stars. Some of you might have toppled leftward to 3. But you people are Negative Nellies. The book is too good to be called "okay."

-----------------

Highlights in no particular order:
* David Gerrold's writing teachers, the worst of them being the "best" of them.
* A few spontaneous exercises
* A difficult task: writing in E-Prime (or: eliminating "to be"). Good stuff.
* More good stuff: metric prose for high impact moments. I just wish Gerrold had expounded this technical style. The chapter ended too quickly, David!
* Language, distinction, mastery, and other memes.
* Love scenes versus sex scenes.
* Beginnings, middles, and "punch lines."
* Distinguishing science and fantasy
* "What is a story?"
* The power of the word "if."
* A yoooosssssful guide for deciding what should go in a paragraph. Plus: how to spread out description over several paragraphs.
* And pretty much anything else he has to say. Even though he is "some Star Trek" author (so called by "A Reader From USA").

If "A Reader From USA" had actually read this book, he'd have known that David Gerrold is much more than a Trek writer. I discovered that myself while reading about him. I'll give one thing to this mindless, slapdash reviewer from USA, however. He's right in that there's a lot in this book that many of us already know. But try finding an advice book on writing that doesn't repeat the sound advice of others. Then email me and tell me what planet it's on. Writing books are not about complete newness, they're about new slants on old ideas. Worlds of Wonder's greatness is about how Gerrold puts things--in his own, distinct voice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Expertly crafted, ingenious, and absorbing.
When did the bright eyed kid from Van Nuys-obsessed with Heinlein, Sturgeon, Van Voght, and the worse B movies of all time-become such a major talent that he has joined his boyhood hero's ranks? Only after 3 decades of writing over 40 books, winning numerous awards, and creating the most beloved televison shows of all time.

And David Gerrold has done it again.

Worlds of Wonder is an truly exceptional 'how to write' book. Gerrold is at the top of his form in this work, taking the reader through all the gritty details of writing science fiction and fantasy. Except, like his fiction, Gerrold's writing is irresistible, and his instructions and exercises are more of a pleasure than a chore. Each chapter is littered with complex ideas and fascinating tales. Be prepared for detailed tours of Tatooine, the bridge of The Enterprise, and Middle Earth. Gerrold tells aspiring writers what works; and more importantly what doesn't. And what other writer do you know that can make a chapter on 'metric prose' not only entertaining, but desirable.

Of course the best thing about this book is the inclusion of some of Gerrold's best fiction. Used to illustrate specific points, it is an extra treat to read how it is done correctly but one of the genre's major talents.

In his first book published way back in 1973, Gerrold described how the science fiction writers he worshiped were 'special dreamers', and how he longed to be one of the dreamers. It would be great to hand that teenage boy a copy of WORLDS OF WONDER, written by his future self. WORLDS OF WONDER would be an excellent capstone to Gerrold's career, except if you have read his most recent books, you know he is just getting started.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not that great
I'm glad I bought the book second-hand. It's a collection of loosely related essays dealing with writing. The problem is that they are too short to offer insight that cannot be found elsewhere, and also, as has been pointed out, the examples. I don't mind that they are the author's, but they're overlong, insufficiently dissected, and, quite frankly, unsuited to what the author is recommending. As somebody else mentioned, the sex scenes are not particularly convincing (I skipped the whole passage on the first reading, as it was excruciatingly embarrassing and boring).
Buy something else: How to write science ficion and fantasy, by Orson Scott Card, or Steering the Craft by Le Guin, or any decent book about writing fiction (of which science fiction and fantasy are but sub-categories, after all)

5-0 out of 5 stars A truly amazing work of art
If you're a writer and wish to know where to get started, or what elements you might be missing, this is the book for you! David Gerrold is clever, and this book is most helpful and amusing.

Tricks of the trade and subtle nuances to help any writer and here within the pages of this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Snippets of Fantasy and Science Fiction
You should buy "Worlds of Wonder" not because of Gerrold's writing credits (which are extensive), but because of his ability to both analyze the act of writing, and communicate his discoveries with wit and style.

The book consists of many short, connected essays. Because of their length, Gerrold doesn't get into much depth. However, he does touch on many interesting subjects: Wonder, "what if?", what makes science fiction science fiction and fantasy fantasy, crises and challenges, world-building, alien-building, believability, transformation, theme, style, sex scenes and love scenes, simile and metaphor, evocation, metric prose, memes, point of view and perspective, tense, pronouns, dialogue, specificity, and more.

Gerrold possesses a lively, engaging style; wit, humor, and personality abound. The book feels more like a conversation than a set of lessons. Gerrold has had the opportunity to speak with many of the SF giants of our day, and he passes on tales of how and why various authors have done things in certain ways. You come away from the book with a good understanding of the vast possibilities available to you when you write, and the many different things you can play with to take control of your work.

Gerrold does explain some things as inherent to the genre that I don't think are always the case; in some places I think his advice applies more narrowly (to certain parts of the genre) than he indicates. I think some sections should have gone into more depth; others should have been left out if they were going to be covered so lightly. But this book succeeds in some very specific and delightful ways, offering things that I haven't seen anywhere else--Gerrold has some very interesting points to make about the power of language and how writers use it (and fail to use it). ... Read more


4. The Writers Complete Fantasy Reference: An Indispensable Compendium of Myth and Magic
by Writer's Digest Books
list price: $15.99
our price: $10.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582970262
Catlog: Book (2000-11-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 9517
Average Customer Review: 3.76 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars An irreplacable reference for the fantasy writer.
Fantasy is probably one of the most difficult forms of literature to write a story. While the genre does give an author freedom to create a breathtaking and beautiful world of his own, the author has to make that world believable, which can be quite a daunting task. Thankfully, the editors of "Writer's Digest" books have given us "The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference" so fantasy authors, newbies and pros alike, can do just such a thing.

The book starts out with an excellent introduction by renowned fantasy author Terry Brooks, and his words effectively tells the reader the lessons a fantasy author must learn to make his fiction acceptable. Then comes the rest of the book, all of the material to help a fantasy author realize his potential.

Although this is a reference book, I seriously recommend going through the entire book cover to cover, or at least skim over some of the important points. That way, you can get a sense of what this book really has to offer and you can return to the right pages when an idea strikes you.

The book covers practically everything, from cultures to magic to religions to monsters to clothing to castle anatomy...almost everything a fantasy author could want at his disposal. The amount of information within this book is so immense it's nearly impossible not to find something to beef up a story.

But at the same time, this book doesn't get too big-headed. While it does contain a lot of information, it doesn't brag about possessing everything known to man on the subjects found in the book. In fact, the book encourages the writer to branch out and look for other sources related to the information within the book. Chapter Two, World Cultures, especially encourages the author to research more information than the book could ever hold.

All in all, "The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference" is honestly complete, at least in a sense. It encompasses all the important points a fantasy author should be aware about and would most likely find interesting or look up in the future. But at the same time, it encourages the author to do his own research so he can find things not even this reference could find. I highly recommend this book for anyone writing fantasy, ameteur or pro. It's that good.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book! Only lacking in a few areas.
Let me just say that I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this book. It's touted as the "Indispensable Compendium of Myth and Magic" and I wasn't quite sure it would hold up to that title.

Well, the title is not exactly the most appropriate, but this is still an amazing book!

If you're looking for tons of illustrations, in depth descriptions, detailed myths and legends and detailed magic, well, this isn't the book for you, I'm afraid.

This book should probably more accurately be called "Real World Historical Tidbits That You Can Cannibalize For Your Own Fantasy Setting". That's what it is, really. And it's a great book for that!

Rather than explicit detail on just any one area, this book gives you several different areas which you can start from and continue on from there. Several world cultures from our history are detailed, as well as medieval european occupations and all about witches and wicca. The chapter on witches is actually extremely compelling.

I found the portions I was most interested in -- arms, armor, clothing and castles -- to be a bit more on the fluff side, but still informative.

This book could have been improved if it had a few more illustrations (sometimes a brief description just doesn't do it) and a bit more depth in a few areas. But it's definitely worth buying, no matter what. You will still love this book -- I recommend to lots of people that they pick it up (and they do!).

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect addition to my library
I honestly can't believe some of the detractors of this book who go on and on about it not having enough detail to suit them. This book covers more than it's fair share of topics. I think the nay sayers are simply confused about it's purpose.

"The Writers Complete Fantasy Reference: An Indispensable Compendium of Myth and Magic" isn't meant to be academic text simply because it's title has the word "complete" in it. I'm amazed that any fantasy writer would take things so literally. Instead, this book is meant as a concise writer's reference, an overview or compendium of various bits of knowledge for those who are just looking for a fast fact or a short reference on something interesting that they can further research themselves. It's more a book for ideas and a brief explaination of topics than anything else, but that doesn't make it any less valuable. In fact, much like "Everyday Life in the Middle Ages: The British Isles, 500 to 1500" -- another book I've reviewed that seems to get confused with indepth works of academia -- not having to search through mounds of college level text just to find a small bit of knowledge makes it that much more valuable to some of us.

I'm a writer of a dark fantasy series based in a feudal society and I've found this book not only invaluably helpful but also extremely easy to handle. Let's face it, there are just times we writers want a quick fact about etiquette, dress, manner, magic, etc and not an entire lecture. That's when I pick up this book, page to the correct section, and 9/10 times will instantly find what I'm looking for. It sure beats scanning mountains of academic text to find a simple fact or two.

The introduction by Terry Brooks explains most of this. The book is easy to handle and extremely easy to use with chapters written by various fantasy authors covering everything from fantastic creatures, dress, weapons, armor and armies, magic, witchcraft, castles, world cultures, various traditional fantasy cultures, and so much more! There's something for everyone and that's a rare find in fantasy reference books for writers today. I didn't expect, nor did I want, each chapter to go into excruciating detail on every topic presented. One or two pages of explaination are enough for me. After all, I'm a big girl. If I find something of interest I'm perfectly capable of researching it further on my own. I don't expect the authors to do my work for me, they've already helped me too much the way it is. Besides, if you're like me, then it'd take the fun out of writing because one of the reasons I write fantasy is to discover new facets about my world as I go. I LIKE to research, because that's when I learn.

"Complete Fantasy Reference" is really the perfect starter (primer) for those just beginning or considering the possiblities of a series set in a magical Medieval society; or, like me, for those of us who are already in the midst of their series and just looking for a touch of realism or a new idea to explore. I always have it close by when I'm writing. I honestly don't know what I'd do without it now. Highly recommend.

2-0 out of 5 stars When "Complete" isn't...
There are plenty of desperate people out there, but perhaps none are more desperate than writers seeking their first big hit.

With this in mind, a book like "The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference" comes along and hits average fan fiction writers right where they live. And that's a shame because plenty of writers out there will think a book like this will be helpful. Truth is, it is anything but.

The word "Complete" in the title is about as hopeful as hopeful can be. Consider this: the book ends with a single paragraph describing a trebuchet, a very important piece of medieval weaponry. One lowly paragraph. How would anyone writing fantasy in that time period get anything from one paragraph? Just 276 pages in a trade paperback size does not a complete reference make on even one of the many topics addressed here. I wrote a paper in college on medieval weaponry that put this book's section on that topic to shame. This is true for almost any topic. Werewolves? Half a page. The Incas? Two and a half pages. The Holy Roman Empire? Three quarters of a page. By trying to be all things, this book gives no writer any reference worth using.

This book is cobbled together from several sources, so its flow is stilted. Illustrations are sparse and not from a single illustrator, so there is no uniformity. The chapters are written by various authors and the topics covered include:
*Traditional Fantasy Cultures
*World Cultures
*Magic
*Witchcraft & Pagan Paths

*Commerce, Trade, & Law in Contemporary Fantasy
*Fantasy Races
*Creatures of Myth & Legend
*Dress & Costume
*Arms, Armor, & Armies
*Anatomy of a Castle
Still, any writer worth his salt has to do far more research to make his world believable than what can be derived from this work. For that reason, what purpose does this book serve? None that I can see.

Writers Digest books publishes dozens of helpful books. This is simply not one of them.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book that even JRR Tolkien would refer to...
Once upon a time, I decided to try my hand at creative writing, and began a long search for books that would help me. I go to a local Border's bookstore and come across this book. After casually flipping through it, I figure that it'd be worth buying. As with just about every book I've purchased, I underestimated the power of this book. It's a valuable resource for fantasy writers as it gives information about magic and the various races and creatures of myth and fantasy. If you're into historical fiction (Especially concerning the Middle Ages), no problem. This book outlines the structure and daily life of a castle as well as help formulating your own armies and battles. Another valuable component is the presentation of a diverse range of cultures from around the world, allowing fantasy writers to get inspiration from places other than Europe (a traditional muse for the genre). Writers everywhere, I cannot stress enough how much this book should be a part of your reading materials. ... Read more


5. Scene of the Crime: A Writer's Guide to Crime-Scene Investigations (Howdunit Series)
by Anne Wingate
list price: $16.99
our price: $11.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0898795184
Catlog: Book (1992-09-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 61487
Average Customer Review: 4.27 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best of the Howdunit Series
An excellent writer's resource. Densely packed with information but not densely written, this books covers more than its title suggests. Everything you ever wanted to know about forensics is here, of course, but the author takes you well beyond the crime scene. What distinguishes this book is the consistent awareness of writers' needs. Procedure and technique are considered in terms of their fictional possibilities and the real-life people who do the work. The author also includes resources valuable to any writer -- not just those who work the mystery genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining as well as informative.
I'd been interested in the Howdunit series for some time before I finally got my hands on some of them (Scene of the Crime, Deadly Doses, Police Procedural, Malicious Intent, Private Eyes, and Missing Persons). Scene of the Crime was the first that I read, and I was pleased to find it not only informative, but also entertaining. Anne Wingate has the cockeyed sort of sense of humor that I appreciate, and her easy, conversational tone kept the book from becoming too dry--the failing of some of the other books (Deadly Doses and Police Procedural).

With regards to the person who opined that, given the errors with regards to firearms, the book could not have been very accurate, I must disagree. Ms. Wingate states upfront that she is not a firearms expert and that a writer wanting to know about firearms should read the book devoted to them, and she does not spend a lot of time in the book discussing firearms. A few errors on a topic in which the author admits to being no expert hardly constitutes a "plague of errors."

4-0 out of 5 stars a useful source
I found this book to be both interesting and informative and also very useful in writing a crime story. It will definitely give you an idea of how the cops in your story should act at a crime scene and what they should and shouldn't do. The book is also helpful even if your main character isn't a cop at all. I do have a couple of complaints about the book though. For one thing, the author gives way too much detail on some things. Like the fingerprints. The chapters on fingerprints seemed to be aimed more at someone who wants to become a fingerprint expert instead of just writing fiction about them. I found parts of the fingerprint chapters to be extremely boring and I even skipped through a small portion of it. Although some amount of detail can add realism to a story, I really cannot understand why anyone would want to put THAT much detail on fingerprints into a work of fiction. Secondly, the author slips into stories of personal experience several times in the novel. Most of the stories are interesting and could help a writer, but a couple of them just seem to be rambling by the author and really have nothing to add that would help anyone in writing a novel. But despite these complaints, I still found the book to be very useful and, for the most part, very interesting. I would definitely recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Scene of the Crime: The Howdunit Series
A great source of information on the field of Crime Scene Investigation. This books gives a great comprehensive overview of the field and how it may work from small towns to larger cities. A great source to find out if it may be something you would like to get into as a career.

3-0 out of 5 stars A fingerprint in the Howdunit series
Scene of the Crime has lots of facts about fingerprints and examining possible pieces of evidence at a crime scene. I found the sections about identifying remains and what changes the body goes through after death very interesting. I learned a lot of information that will help me in my writing.

On the down side, I did have a hard time focusing on this book. It is very similar to the other books in the Howdunit series, and this is the only reason for a lower rating. However, I do believe that the entire Howdunit Series (I now call it "The Writer's Bible series") could not be complete without this book.

Scene of the Crime may be similar to other books in the series, but it DOES have a lot of knowledge that the other books missed! ... Read more


6. The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy
by Darin Park, Tom Dullemond
list price: $24.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1896944094
Catlog: Book (2003-07-01)
Publisher: Dragon Moon Press
Sales Rank: 58168
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Written by new and established voices of Science Fiction and Fantasy, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO WRITING FANTASY offers something for writers at all levels. Its sage advice will help you avoid many amateur mistakes. If you are already a published fantasy writer, you will still want this book, for its enjoyable style and its wealth of reference material.

Explore World Building, Religions, Food, Fighting & Weaponry, and much more, to craft an exceptional story. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Handy
I'm a published writer and needed information on horses and medieval banquets. Since my deadline was close, I didn't want to spend too much time researching; I remembered seeing references to these two subjects in "The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy". I easily found the exact information I was looking for in the book. It is extremely handy (and very navigable!) when you need answers fast. Highly recommended to anyone working in the fantasy genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great resource
The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy is a great reference guide for the aspiring fantasy author who is bubbling over with all the "How do I" questions. It is also a wonderful resource for those who have been writing in the genre for some time, but maybe need to understand one aspect of the genre more than another.

I personally found the sections on medieval food, medieval clothing and the sections on armor and combat very helpful.

You can't go wrong with this on your bookshelf.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Background Material
I've picked up many "genre" writing books that have proved a huge disappointment -- maybe a chapter or two of genre info followed by the usual "how to type a manuscript" stuff. This book is a refreshing change! For anyone seeking to build a "realistic" fantasy world, it's a compendium of expert advice -- covering food, clothing, weapons, warfare, religion, even a fantastic (no pun intended) section on diseases. There have been criticisms of this book based on the fact that many of the contributors aren't "established" fantasy authors. What they ARE is experts in the fields upon which they are contributing, whether that field is medicine, weaponry, or what-have-you. In short, if you were going to look up "experts" to talk to about some aspect of the world you're building, these are the people you'd ask. This book will stay on my shelf! --...

4-0 out of 5 stars Researchers can provide valuable assistance
Scanning this book, I found it to be a collection of useful and well-researched information. As a librarian, I value the quality of research more than whether I have heard of the author, and the depth of coverage speaks for itself in this volume. Don't be put off if you might not have heard of some of the authors, for the sections are insightful, knowledgable and prompted some very interesting story ideas.

1-0 out of 5 stars these people don't know what they're talking about
no stars. These people are idiots. Who are they, anyway? Most of them don't even have their own books on the shelves so how are they going to tell other people how to write and publish? ... Read more


7. World Building (Science Fiction Writing)
by Stephen Gillett, Ben Bova
list price: $16.99
our price: $16.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 158297134X
Catlog: Book (2001-08-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 74889
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This book is designed to give science fiction writers the solid grounding they need in real science to make their fictions read like fact. World Building is a blueprint in words, calculations, tables and diagrams to help writers transport readers from one world to another. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise, useful starting point.
The biggest advantage to his book is that it concisely draws together the general facts about stars, planets, and atmospheres that one needs to design the physicality of worlds for hard-science fiction. Though not all encompassing or exhaustive of the subject, there's enough data to enable one to make choices for a world and then research those choices to the depth necessary to meet one's needs without having to become an expert in astrophysics and/or biochemistry.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Helpful Guide to Constructing Star Systems and Planets
"World-Building" is the volume in the Science Fiction Writing Series edited by Ben Bova devoted to constructing star systems and life-supporting planets. Stephen L. Gillett has a doctorate in geology, was the science columnist at "Amazing Science Fiction" and has written SF under a pseudonym. My doctorate is in rhetorical studies, so I am starting at ground zero when it comes to understanding or at least appreciating the mathematical equations for escape velocity, scaling tidal forces or Roche's limit. While this book thoroughly convinced me that I have no aptitude for writing hard science, I can see how it would be extremely helpful to anyone interested in being on a strong scientific foundation when it comes to writing their own stories.

Gillett's volume has eight chapters: (1) Why World-Build? looks at the necessity of using real science to create the requisite sense of wonder in your science fiction writing; (2) The Astronomical Setting covers the important differences between planets and stars in general and gravity, orbits, seasons and tidal action in particular; (3) Making a Planet details how the formation of a planetary system impacts the resulting planets and the options for story writing; (4) The Earth looks at the interconnected aspects that make interesting variations possible with the home worlds you create because of plate tectonics, water and air, magnetic field, colors, etc.; (5) The Ancient Earth deals with avoiding the "Cenozoic Earth Syndrome" (creating an alien world by making a few slight changes on ancient earth) by better understanding our ancient past as an inspiration for creativity; (6) The Other Planet looks at the wealth of data we have accumulated from our deep space probes as another source of inspiration; (7) Stars and Suns looks at how such heavenly bodies can supporting interesting planets as well; and (8) Not as We Know It discusses differences in volatile content (e.g., wetworlds, nitroworlds, brimstone worlds) as a final means of providing major scope for variation in words.

Hopefully this will provide you enough information to decide if "World-Building" will help you in writing your own Science Fiction. I appreciate that for some people this book does not go far enough, but certainly for the vast majority of us it gives us enough information that we will not thoroughly embarrass ourselves when it comes to creating new worlds for our characters to inhabit and visit.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not what I was hoping for
Despite the book's prestigious author, the title is a bit misleading. Most of the book focuses on "world-building" is not a 'world' per se, but is is meant in the larger sense: planetary/star-system building. I was hoping for more. One of my fiction projects includes "world-building" societies: things like races, religions, language, culture, costume, architecture, flora, government, et al., and the book covers none of that. Although the book itself it good for what it covers, I wish it had a different title that more accurately reflected its content.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good even for non-aspiring SF writers
This is a book about the science for, rather than the science of, science fiction. This should perhaps be viewed as supplemental to material on the actual construction of science fiction stories. The focus in particular is on geology, astronomy and planetary dynamics so that the reader will know what details can be ascribed to a planet and remain believable.

You will get both qualitative overviews of various topics with more quantitative insertions which one can use to facilitate back-of-the envelope calculations for constructing worlds. These insertions may be skipped over without interfering with the flow of the book and is probably better that you do so even if one has a strong mathematical background (one can always go back later with a calculator to do some constructions).

Due to my background in physics, I found myself familiar with most of the material presented in the first two-thirds of the book. However, I still enjoyed it as it was presented in a concise, logical manner.

A variety of topics are covered, including:

* The relationship between large moons and rotational stability of a planet
* The relationship between planetary dynamics and climate
* Possible unusual configurations of moons, planets and stars
* The role and dynamic range of greenhouse gasses
* The role plate tectonics plays in a livable planet
* Possible alternate forms of life

I did however find the last 10% of the book to have escaped my interest. The author began to divulge into more bizarre scenarios which were hard to relate to.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Informative
I could go on and on about how helpful this book is. It has been absolutely indispensible to me while designing my latest (and largest) world. There's a lot to think about, but this book helps you organize your thoughts, it's very easy to understand, and it presents the information in such a way that it's easy to look up things quickly when you need them. Awesome... ^.^ ... Read more


8. The Wave in the Mind : Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination
by URSULA K. LE GUIN
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590300068
Catlog: Book (2004-02-17)
Publisher: Shambhala
Sales Rank: 35066
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Collection of Non-fiction Essays, Story-Teller Style
I love (almost) all of Ursula K. LeGuin's fiction. She is a wonderful storyteller whose rhythmic prose struck me and stuck with me even before I gave much thought to the idea of rhythm in prose. (Having children and reading aloud brings a new dimension to story telling.) Her imagined worlds and characters resound deeply with me, and she has earned my trust as one of the consistently best authors I have read.

This non-fiction collection is just as thought-provoking as her best stories. I had to be careful not to "gobble it up" by reading too fast. I'm sure that I will read it again and again. It gives much hope to an aspiring fiction writer whose story hasn't arrived yet. (Turns out I'm just too young; maybe next year.)

I had also worried that perhaps I had read too much to ever be creative in writing; maybe if I begin to write something original, it will come out with inadvertently plagiarized bits of Dispossessed, Lord of the Rings, and Little Women, since those seem to get stuck in my head. The admonition of Ms LeGuin that all good writers ought to read, and read a lot, comforts me. All these years I've just been fertilizing my imagination.

Although I have never met her, it seems that through some of her essays, the separation that exists between her writing and her self narrows, and the humor and wisdom and brightness (luminousness, luminosity??) of her personality shines through. I hope someday that one of the highlights of my life might be knowing her for an hour.

There is always the possibility of a writing workshop, but I really wish I could have heard her "moo"... ... Read more


9. I, ASIMOV : A MEMOIR
by ISAAC ASIMOV
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385417012
Catlog: Book (1994-03-01)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 122282
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Arguably the greatest science fiction writer who ever lived, Isaac Asimov also possessed one of the most brilliant and original minds of our time. His accessible style and far-reaching interests in subjects ranging from science to humor to history earned him the nickname "the Great Explainer." I. Asimov is his personal story--vivid, open, and honest--as only Asimov himself could tell it.

Here is the story of the paradoxical genius who wrote of travel to the stars yet refused to fly in airplanes; who imagined alien universes and vast galactic
civilizations while staying home to write; who compulsively authored more than 470 books yet still found the time to share his ideas with some of the great
minds of our century. Here are his wide-ranging thoughts and sharp-eyed observations on everything from religion to politics, love and divorce, friendship and Hollywood, fame and mortality. Here, too, is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the varied personalities--Campbell, Ellison, Heinlein, Clarke, del Rey, Silverberg, and others--who along with Asimov helped shape science fiction.

As unique and irrepressible as the man himself, I. Asimovis the candid memoir of an incomparable talent who entertained readers for nearly half a
century and whose work will surely endure into the future he so vividly envisioned. ... Read more

Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of his best!
"I, Asimov" is not just an informing autobiography, it is rather a wonderfully written tale of the most personal experiences and thoughts of an author who made himself known around the world. The reader will not only get informed about Asimov's personal life, but will discover his rich and smart views on life in general as well as a vast amount of information about the character traits of many other prominent SF-authors of the golden age and today. This book is great and, unexpectedly, keeps one reading straight to the end. Recomended to all devoted fans of Asimov as well as anybody else...

4-0 out of 5 stars Superb, ultimately sad, memoir.
"I, Asimov" was the penultimate book to pour from the pen of Isaac Asimov. During a career that lasted over five decades, Asimov wrote on more topics than virtually any other writer in literary history. From the sciences to history and Shakespeare to the Bible, his clear, concise writing style and ability to simplify even the most complex ideas earned him the nickname "The Great Explainer." His fiction, with the exception of his early Foundation novels, "The Gods Themselves" and some shorter pieces, consisted largely of filler. Nonetheless, by the time of his death, he was quite possibly the most famous SF writer of his time.

Asimov's first volumes of autobiography were published in 1979 and 1980. As his health declined and the end drew near, his wife, Janet, encouraged him to write a third volume, less explanatory and more introspective. He obliged. "I, Asimov" lacks the surface detail of the early memoirs, but is rich in thought, emotion and self-revelation. The man that emerges from these pages was witty, intelligent, kind, loyal and genuinely devoted to sharing his knowledge and talents with others. He could also be vain and arrogant, but he is so honest about these less-attractive attributes that the reader is willing to forgive him anything.

There is a cloud of nostalgia and approaching death that hangs over most of "I, Asimov." The book was written when the author knew he didn't have long to live, and the book reflects that state of mind. In the end, however, it is uplifting and optimistic rather than depressing and gloom-ridden. What keeps me from giving it a full five stars is the rather dull middle section, which is significantly less interesing than the beginning and ending. The first 150 pages of the book are particularly unputdownable. All in all, this is a superb memoir and well-worth reading. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars witty, engaging, and a little melancholy
Isaac Asimov's autobiographical books are some of the funniest, most interesting, and most thoughtful books you can find these days, but they're frequently overlooked for his huge range of sci-fi and nonfiction works. This book is very funny, packed with anecdotes and stories that tell you a lot about who Asimov was as a person, but it also contains a tragic note that his other autobiographical books do not contain, as it was barely completed before his death, and contains a posthumous epilogue by his wife, Janet. The book is amusing and interesting, but contains more reflection and sadness than his other books. Highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars free association kind of memoir
I was a bit disappointed with this book. In Asimov's science fiction novels, his plot hangs together well, and the various details tie into the bigger picture. This is not at all true of his autobiography. Told in tiny chapters according to whatever bit of his history Asimov decided to write about at that moment, characters appear and disappear, and events are recorded with no explanation of their greater significance. Some chapters were wonderful, and I was laughing out loud. Others left me wondering why they had been written.
Some parts of this book are definitely worth reading. As a whole, though, I'm not sure it's worth the reader's time.

4-0 out of 5 stars you'll feel like Asimov is an old friend after reading it
This is an entertaining autobiography. Asimov didn't have the most exciting life, but even so, he makes the events of his life sound very interesting, and there are some extremely funny stories. The style is chatty--it makes you feel like Isaac Asimov is an old friend. The book would have been better if a few of the parts were cut; he discusses every book, including all the nonfiction ones that he ever wrote. Overall, it is a fast read, despite its length, it entertained me, and made me want to read more Asimov. ... Read more


10. Time Travel (Science Fiction Writing Series)
by Paul J. Nahin
list price: $16.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0898797489
Catlog: Book (1997-03-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 460665
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

When Kurt Vonnegut needed protagonist Billy Pilgrim to time-travel in Slaughterhouse Five, he simply had him become "unstuck" in time--still perhaps the most poetic way to trip the chronological fantastic yet devised in literature.But electric engineering professor and science fiction writer Paul Nahin doesn't want you taking short cuts in your epoch-journeying yarns--at least, not because you were lazy about research.Subtitled A Writer's Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel, this is a tasty blend of quantum theory, worm holes, causal loops, and the famous "grandfather paradox"--the better to sell your heroine's time-skipping to even the most skeptical suspender of disbelief. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST-READ for anyone interested in real time travel!
I'm a layman when it comes to science, but I was interested in the theories of the reality of time travel. I tried another book (that will remain nameless) which didn't work at all for me. It was just way over my head. This one's great! It's got all of the same kind of information that the first one had, but Nahin is so much more understandable and gets his points across in a much more organized way.

He's literally writing for the lay person here-- the book is intended for writers who would like write science fiction, but want to be scientifically updated on the scientifically possible realities of time travel (both to the past and to the future), teleportation (through wormholes, bending of the 4 dimensions, etc.), the special and general theories of relativity and more. His premise is that science fiction could get away with anything even 50 years ago, when most people and most scientists thought time travel to be impossible, but nowadays, you have to be scientifically sound if you don't want to be laughed out of the literary world. True Sci-fi readers will know if you're legit or not, so Nahin is educating them.

I'm not a writer, but because of the nature of his premise, the book is extremely clear and thus much more informative than the first one ever was. This book even answers questions that I was high-and-dry on before (after reading the first book I picked up). Some of the math may be over the layman's head (some of it's over mine!) and more than you care to know, but he includes a lot of thought-provoking information about the paradoxes of time travel and explains things in pictures very well. He colors his book with quotes and anecdotes from all kinds of works of science fiction and from scientists in the past to make the book fun (and sometimes humorous!).

It's a must-read for anyone interested in the possibilities of time travel and a must-MUST-read for anyone interested in writing a book on anything scientific.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anybody!
I'm a layman when it comes to science, but I was interested in the theories of the reality of time travel. I tried another book (that will remain nameless) which didn't work at all for me. It was just way over my head. This one's great! It's got all of the same kind of information that the first one had, but Nahin is so much more understandable and gets his points across in a much more organized way.

He's literally writing for the lay person-- the book is intended for writers who would like write science fiction, but want to be scientifically updated on the scientifically possible realities of time travel (both to the past and to the future), teleportation (through wormholes, bending of the 4 dimensions, etc.), the special and general theories of relativity and more. His premise is that science fiction could get away with anything even 50 years ago, when most people and most scientists thought time travel to be impossible, but nowadays, you have to be scientifically sound if you don't want to be laughed out of the literary world. True Sci-fi readers will know if you're legit or not, so Nahin is educating them.

I'm not a writer, but because of the nature of his premise, the book is extremely clear and thus much more informative than the first one ever was. This book even answers questions that I was high-and-dry on before (after reading the first book I picked up). Some of the math may be over the layman's head (some of it's over mine!) and more than you care to know, but he includes a lot of thought-provoking information about the paradoxes of time travel and explains things in pictures very well. He colors his book with quotes and anecdotes from all kinds of works of science fiction and from scientists in the past to make the book fun (and sometimes humorous!).

It's a must-read for anyone interested in the possibilities of time travel and a must-MUST-read for anyone interested in writing a book on anything scientific.

2-0 out of 5 stars Nahin could have done better...
Although Dr. Nahin may be a seasoned explorer of ideas involving time travel, his failure to used organized paragraphs and effective examples greatly lowered the value of this how-to book.

Nahin also omitted the concept of parallel universes entirely. (A now popular belief, that as soon as a traveler breaks his own space-time barrier and moves back in time, the universes splits into two identical entities, the original universe where you came from is the one you can never return to. This may sound disheartening, but this is the only conceivable way in which the time traveler would not induce changes in histories, and therefore time paradoxes.)

Books like this deserve to be better.

4-0 out of 5 stars Taking the "fiction" out of SF
So, you think you'd like to write a story about time travel? If you think it's as easy as writing a fairy tale, read this book. Surprisingly, the theory of time travel lies well within the laws of physics. In this book, Paul J. Nahin explains the basics, the possibilities, the paradoxes, and best of all, common mistakes science fiction writers make when plotting literary courses through time.

Unless you want to leave your editors laughing at your lack of research, read this book. Base your story as much in real science as you can. Also, check out Nahin's Time Machines, for more information.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must-Have for the Sci-Fi writer
This is one of the best writer's reference books that I have come across. The text is very accessible. The science is very readable and very precise.

Nahin does a fine job of walking the line between the novice and the and experts in the fields. Although this could hardly be considered a physics text book, the Author's theories and ideas should make for excellent reading to anyone who enjoys the nature of science and the possible overlap of science fiction and reality.

For the novice in the field, the author takes good care to be as involving and complete as possible without boring the rest of his audience.

The text is very complete covering everything from relativity and FTL to causal loops and time paradoxes. Possible and probable time shifting machines are discussed and related to the effect they might have on the real world as well as discussing how to properly treat them in a fictional world.

The overlap between fictional world and reality is the key in this book. Nahin has taken great care to write a book that isn't a physics text and isn't a writing text but instead fills the exact niche that exists where a person is trying to express the former study in the context of the second. ... Read more


11. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (Writer's Digest Genre Writing Series)
by Orson Scott Card
list price: $14.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0898794161
Catlog: Book (1990-07-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 83733
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (33)

4-0 out of 5 stars surprisingly helpful
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and in fact found more tips on plot in this book than I did in another book I have that is devoted to plot mechanism itself. It contains many practical ideas and examples to illustrate Card's various points, and is also written in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand style. Card's MICE quotient theory is also one of the best I've ever seen when it comes to story structure.

Card has admitted in several of his essays that he got into writing almost by accident, and made many classic mistakes along the way. In this book he does so again, and offers advice and ideas for avoiding the pitfalls he encountered. He also pays attention to the fact that the audience for science fiction is unique indeed and spends some time exploring the differences between the sf audiences and general reading audiences.

There are also many helpful ideas in here for the aspiring writer whose resources are a bit limited and who may not really have an in-depth understanding of the writing field. I particularly found a list of good places to try "breaking in" to be very helpful.

While it's probably a little too elementary for an experienced writer, and can sometimes come across as a bit preachy, I'd recommend this book for any aspiring sf writer's library; get the hardcover if you can manage it. You'll find yourself turning to it again and again and valuing the practical advice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Have for writers of ANY GENRE!
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (Writer's Digest Genre Writing Series) - and Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) - are each invaluable, even if all you do is READ books! This is a master storyteller, divulging clear, concise strategies for creating literature - which is something he does as well as any writer alive (and most of the dead ones!).

Both books offer brilliant insight, whether you write Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror) or not!

There should NOT be an English or Literature classroom without multiple copies of both! No exaggeration, these books are the genome of great writing.

Card writes in a way that engages, even in these nonfiction works. It will stretch your own Viewpoint, and possibly your Character as well - all without ever condescending, or transcending the reader's understanding.

I wish i weren't so notorious for exaggeration, because these books changed me as a writer, as a reader, and yes, along with his other works - as a human.

Writer's Digest is to be praised for the presentation of these books, and for bringing two essential masterpieces to the writer's tool belt. (I just love a maimed metaphor, don't you?)

5-0 out of 5 stars "How to Make and Idea More than an Idea"
All of my sci-fi stories used to merely present, what I thought to be, great ideas for stories. During my reading of this book, some of my old stories took on new dimensions, (through painful rewrites). I created new stories and even new worlds that I would have never attempted to create otherwise. Admitedly, I only wrote "idea" stories. I never considered creating a "place", a "character", or an "event" for the sake of a story. My focus was on entertaining myself and my readers with unusual concepts. One of those short story concepts may well end up as a short novel... with two sequels.
While I write as a hobby I still found the "business" aspects of writing helpful in the event I should ever seek becoming a published writer.
This book can help an idea become an entire new world or indroduce a character who can effectively present the idea.
I also appreciate that I didn't feel like I was being told how to write my story, but rather, how to include elements to make it more readable and more enjoyable.
This is a definite keep-on-the-shelf reference.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Primer For Beginning Writers
Orson Scott Card, who is a fairly successful writer of science fiction/fantasy, has written a good small book on how to write in the genre. He includes topics such as defining the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and the more-encompassing "speculative fiction"; how to write about magic and the supernatural in a way that creates internal consistency (the rules of the magical universe are different from ours but there must be rules to avoid deus ex machina and other inane problem-solutions); how to create a fictional universe; the different emphases a story can take (character, action, setting, specific event); and the basic rules of good writing.

One of the best aspects of this book is Card's frequent use of referring to specific authors and specific books as prime examples of concepts. One of the best examples is his reference to Octavia Butler's "Wild Seed" as a prime example of packing meaning into every word and every line of a book; nothing is wasted. I read "Wild Seed" because of Card's reference; I not only loved it, but did indeed find it to be as rich an example of deep, complex, meaning-laden writing as any book I've read.

"How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" is also a technically well-written book, with good flow, coherent structure, no wasted space, and solid logic. It reads quickly while teaching much. Writers who are one or more steps beyond "Beginner" will learn something, but Beginners are the prime target. That target is solidly hit.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best writing book I have seen yet!
This is a great book for both beginning and experienced sf&f writers. Orson Scott Card focuses on Science fiction mostly, but showes distinct differences between the TWO genres. I would have liked a separate book for fantasy, instead of both tegether, but Card does not add Fantasy as an afterthought. He explains both in detail, and shows how to write well for both audiences. He uses a small assortment of books as examples, including J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings", and Octavia Butler's "Wild Seed." Over all I would definitely recommend this book to writers of either genre. ... Read more


12. Non-Fiction Writing Strategies: Using Science Big Books As Models
by Marcia S. Freeman
list price: $19.95
our price: $16.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0929895371
Catlog: Book (2000-04-01)
Publisher: Maupin House Publishing, Inc.
Sales Rank: 148823
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Enhance the quality and effectiveness of your school-wide writing program with a balance of expository writing that integrates science with writing! Here's how to use Newbridge Early Science Big Books as models of good writing to teach the information-writing techniques so critical for student success on performance-based writing tests. Includes: an integrative approach for teaching science and informational writing, strategies for teaching writing-craft fundamentals, step-by-step explanations of the basic process of teaching writing-craft skills, oral and written models, a variety of expository techniques and advice on preparing your young writers for success on performance-based tests. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, help with non-fiction writing for primary grades.!
It is rare that a book is written for teachers of kindergarten through 3rd grade students. Ms. Freeman gives teachers practical ways to go beyond science and social studies using Newbridge Big Books as catalysts for writing interesting non-fiction pieces. Her strategies are clear and examples are given throughout the book. This is a must have for thematic teaching - extending core subjects such as science and social studies into the language arts arena.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource!
Marcia Freeman has done a top-notch job presenting information in Non-fiction Writing Strategies. This book will assist all teachers with helping students to develop their ability to effectively communicate information in writing. Teachers and students will find the suggestions practical and easy to implement. The author has done an outstanding job helping teachers see how to integrate writing instruction across disciplines and throughout the instructional day. This book is a must-have for anyone wishing to help their students improve their writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Recommended for elementary grade teachers & homeschoolers.
Integrating science with expository writing, Marcia Freeman's Non-Fiction Writing Strategies is ideal for school-wide curriculums. This innovative resource guide provides an integrated approach for teaching science and informational writing; strategies for teaching writing-craft fundamentals; a step-by-step explanations of the basic process of teaching writing-craft skills; oral and written models, student examples, practice activities, and assessment procedures; a variety of expository techniques with related precursor activities appropriate for children; and advice on preparing young writers for success on performance-based school examinations and state competency tests. Highly recommended for use by elementary teachers and homeschooling parents. ... Read more


13. Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic
by Douglas E. Winter
list price: $34.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066213924
Catlog: Book (2002-07-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Sales Rank: 459838
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Douglas E. Winter, author of Stephen King: The Art of Darkness and editor of two major dark-fiction anthologies (Prime Evil and Revelations), may be the reigning expert on modern horror. If his book Clive Barker: The Dark Fantastic is not the definitive biography of that polymathic author-playwright-auteur, it is only because the volume appeared when its subject was still in his late forties.

At 501 pages, plus 50 pages of endnotes and nearly 100 pages of Primary and Secondary Bibliography, The Dark Fantastic is an impressively thorough document. It covers Clive Barker's life from before birth (giving background on his parents, grandparents, and the hometown he shares with the Beatles) through the early years of struggle to his successes as an internationally bestselling author, Hollywood screenwriter-producer-director, and family man. The biography makes it clear that Barker has always had exceptional talent. (The Dark Fantastic includes, as an appendix, a previously unpublished story, written in Barker's early teens, "The Wood on the Hill." This uneven but fully developed fable of hubris is a tale authors twice as old would be proud to have written.)

Readers expecting a tell-all biography will be disappointed. A good portion of The Dark Fantastic is devoted to summaries and assessments of Barker's creations in many media. However, Winter's critical examinations are interesting, sympathetic, and honest. The Dark Fantastic is a must for all Barker fans and all serious scholars of horror and the fantastic.--Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read.
Reading about Clive Barker's polymathic inclinations, one recalls a scene from his book, The Great and Secret Show. In that tale, postal worker Randolph Jaffe, assigned to the dead letter room, unwittingly finds himself at a spiritual crossroads of America. Uncovering hidden truths by exploring the ramblings of the lost, the lonely, and the mad, Jaffe gets a glimpse of other worlds just under the surface of the "real" one.

Clive Barker has also glimpsed other worlds, but rather than driving him mad, these visions have compelled him to communicate what he has seen to others. This compulsion has led him to express himself in a multiplicity of media, including the sketches he drew as a child (and indeed, throughout his life), the plays he wrote in his twenties, the short stories he penned as he matured, the movies he directed, or even now, in the portraits he paints. It is this impulse that Douglas Winter, a polymath in his own right (lawyer, journalist, editor, author, book critic, public speaker), attempts to chronicle and explicate in The Dark Fantastic.

The book is arranged chronologically, following Barker from his early life in Liverpool, to his years on the London theatre scene, culminating in the present day, where we find him in Hollywood at work on his latest undertaking, the multimedia project known as The Abarat Quartet. Winter seems to have had unrestricted access to his subject and to those around him, as he cites knowledge gained from interviews with Barker and a plethora of Barker's family, friends, lovers, ex-lovers and business partners. Although Winter makes no claim of objectivity, he maintains a respectable distance from his subject, providing valuable insights into both the man and his work. Doing so, he makes a convincing case for Barker's inclusion in the pantheon of the leading creators of fantastic literature.

Perhaps the most important revelations are found near the end of the book, where Barker becomes more comfortable with his sexuality, finding true love with photographer David Armstrong. There also, he deals with the death of his father and his subsequent descent into depression. Barker's latest epiphany is the most fascinating, as he comes to realize that hundreds of paintings, seemingly created at random to combat his depression, all contained common themes, themes that eventually coalesced to form the basis of his Abarat Quartet project. The fact that he unconsciously worked his way towards mental health, even while breaking new barriers, is both inspirational and awe inspiring.

The book's upbeat 'ending" (Barker's only fifty as of the publication date) bodes well for the future. Barker, it seems, will continue to receive messages from other realities, filtering them through his artistic sensibilities to make them more palatable to us lesser mortals. We, the audience, merely have to open our minds, experience his work, and learn. By allowing Barker to take us to other worlds, we can more easily absorb the lessons he has to teach us about our own.

4-0 out of 5 stars the man and his art
I do not often read biographies, but since Clive Barker is one of my favorite authors and I enjoy his writing so much, I figured I would give this book a shot. First off, if this book were just about the life of Clive, it would be at probably only half as long. Winter uses much of the book as an in-depth critical analysis of Barker's fiction. At first I didn't like this method, and if you are not familiar with all of the works he discusses, the respective sections may not be as informative. However, as I read more and more of the book, it became clear that Winter was not only analyzing Barker's fiction, but Barker himself as well. At times this works wonderfully, shedding light not only on Barker as a writer and person, but on the process of creating art and literature. I learned a lot about writing and many times discovered things in his fiction that I had not seen before. Thus, if one was rereading Barker's works, Winter's book could be an insightful commentary. The only problem that I had with the book was that at some points if felt not like a biography but only a critical interpretation of certain pieces. The in-depth analysis of most pieces of Barker's work seemed a little overboard for a biography. Otherwise, this is a very well-written, insightful, and overall entertaining book. A must for any fan of Barker, fantastic fiction, or an interest in creativity in general, since Barker seems to leave very few creative endeavors unexplored. ... Read more


14. Sometimes the Magic Works : Lessons from a Writing Life
by TERRY BROOKS
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345458281
Catlog: Book (2003-03-04)
Publisher: Del Rey
Sales Rank: 65891
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

In Sometimes the Magic Works, author Terry Brooks mixes advice on writing with stories from his personal experience in publishing. A seasoned fantasy writer with 19 books under his belt, including the New York Times bestseller The Sword of Shannara, Brooks began his second career in middle age when he gave up his law practice to pursue writing full time. His move was fueled by an obsession with writing, ("If I don't write, I become restless and ill-tempered"), inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien, and constant encouragement from publisher Lester del Rey. Some of Brooks's advice is specific and useful, such as the chapter he dedicates to the importance of outlining. However, the lessons he tries to tell through his own adventures tend to be self-serving. Still, Brooks's experiences could be particularly interesting and valuable to fans of his fantasy novels--and aspiring authors of their own. --Lacey Fain ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars a wonderful little book
Terry Brooks is the author of the Shannara fantasy series. The series began in 1977 when The Sword of Shannara was published, the early books have been compared often with Tolkien. Sometimes the comparison was favorable, sometimes not. Brooks himself said that he wanted to tell an adventure story like Tolkien, but he had no intention of going into the linguistic detail that Tolkien is known for. The Shannara series has been on top of the bestsellers lists with each new volume in the series.

Sometimes the Magic Works is part memoir, part writing guide as written by Terry Brooks. He writes about how his first book was published, some of the difficulties in writing the book that would become The Elfstones of Shannara , and about the book adaptions of Hook (horrible experience) and The Phantom Menace (wonderful experience). The other half of the book focuses on tips and thoughts for aspiring writers. Brooks writes about things that a writer should do, what they should not do, and what works for Brooks himself. There is an interesting chapter about outlining (yes, an author talking about outlining is actually interesting). Brooks talks about how he has to outline the major plot and characters and while he believes it is an invaluable tool (and the reason he does fewer drafts of the book than many writers), he was at a conference and as he was extolling the virtues of outlining, fantasy author Anne McCaffrey (The Dragonriders of Pern, and author of dozens of books) leaned over and told him that she has never outlined anything in her life.

Sometimes the Magic Works is written with a very easy writing style, and feels almost conversational, as if an old friend is telling us some personal stories. This was a very interesting book to read and it was nice to get into the personal thoughts of one of my favorite fantasy authors.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book has turned me into a Terry Brooks fan!
SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS is Terry Brooks's personal tribute to the writing life. I have had no prior interest in the fantasy genre, but I am now a Brooks fan and will comb the stacks for his bestselling titles. His love for the writing craft glimmers like a diamond throughout the book.

In the early chapters, he pictures the writer as observer, at times detached from the reality of mundane experience. He surmises that an author gathers smoke when appearing to "not be all there" and that smoke contains the meat of his creative imaginings, out of which comes perspective and a viewpoint. He contends that all writers must step outside the real world to be successful.

Each chapter in SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS is prefaced by a quotation from Brooks that summarizes its content. Early in the book, he reveals his experience with first publication. "Luck with a capital "I" plays a large part in his success story and confirms his belief that "sometimes the magic really works." It is here where he talks about the couple who first believed in his work, editors Lester and Judy-Lynn del Rey. References are made to them throughout the remainder of his story.

"It's Not About You" is a section devoted to Brooks's first experience at a book signing. It is humorous and witty, a philosophical statement about the author's role in the event. He emphasizes that the reading public has the option to buy or not to buy. The writer's ego need not interfere when would-be buyers chat, then walk away without a purchase. Publicity tours are, in his opinion, necessary and the opportunity to thank the reading public.

Several chapters deal with Brooks's first experience with screenwriting, a bitter pill in the memory bank. Relegated to the post of distant observer, he was denied active participation in the filming process. For many years he refused to entertain a repeat.

The meat of SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS lies in the pages offering the writer real ideas, an aid in finding his own magic. Brooks states that, for him, outlining is a must. He spends considerable time in justifying the method. He confirmed my preconceived notion that the outline is a worthwhile tool. The simple formula he gives for success is "Read, Read, Read. Outline, Outline, Outline. Write, Write, Write. Repeat." The formula allows him to do one draft and one rewrite before the work is done.

The outline point made, he continues advice with his ten rules for writing in subsequent pages. Each idea, from "Write What You Know" to "Don't Bore The Reader," is fully developed, with examples from Brooks's own writing. He uses an impromptu writing exercise to illustrate each point, a glimpse into his vast imagination.

Following the rules section, the author explains that a day with his small grandson, Hunter, taught him volumes about the writing life, or rather what it should be as an observer of real life. For him, the writer must live outside the moment to make progress on his journey to success. To write fiction, one must have determination, instinct and passion.

Brooks sums up the words behind his title in his final statement, "Writing. Is life. Breathe deeply of it." SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS is a fitting tribute to his life's passion.

--- Reviewed by Judy Gigstad

4-0 out of 5 stars A look behind the scenes at the writing process.
I have been a big Terry Brooks fan since first reading the "Sword of Shannara" nearly 25 years ago. His writing style has been often criticized, but mostly due to unfair comparisons with JRR Tolkien, although it is unlikely anyone writing in the same genre would stand up to the legend. That said Brooks deserves much credit for his accomplishments. His books never fail to deliver.

What is different about this endeavor is that it is not fiction, but rather reads like a friendly conversation about his writing style and the process he uses to write his stories. I was captivated and encouraged by how he uses some simple and straightforward techniques, including outlining, to put his ideas onto paper.

I have been thinking of several books that are just waiting to be written, and am inspired by his insights and encouragement to take a few risks and just get started.

A very interesting read, and an insightful look behind the scenes. Equal parts talent, writing ability, hard work and luck enabled Terry Brooks to get to the top and stay there for twenty years. No reason why it cannot happen to someone else. I recommend this book to anyone who has been a fan of his work, or is thinking of writing themselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars The man loves what he does.
Upon finishing the Elfstones of Shannara I was reduced to tears. Who would have guessed that the same would happen with this career-autobiography of Terry Brooks. The man loves what he does and it shows in everything he writes. If there is a story in you, and you read this book, you will find yourself racing to the computer afterwards to bring it to life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Now THIS is what Brooks should be known for...
I'll admit that I was really hesitant about reading another Brooks after what a disaster "Sword of Shannara" was. However, I was really surprised with this book.

In here is solid, concrete and eyeopening lessons on writing, whether you deal with Fantasy or not. Brooks had a very easy to follow and deceptively simple formula for producing books that are readable and appealing.

The autobiography aspect is interesting too without being all "rose tinted hindsight". You may resist his insistance to outline your work before beginning say a novel, but I tried it and it works a bazillion times better than expecting a story to write itself.

Get this book to know more about the man behind Shannara and the Magic Kingdom, to improve your writing or just to have a darn good read.

- A. ... Read more


15. GRUMBLES FROM THE GRAVE
by ROBERT A. HEINLEIN
list price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345362462
Catlog: Book (1989-11-18)
Publisher: Del Rey
Sales Rank: 535137
Average Customer Review: 3.17 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good, But For A Narrow Audience
I bought this book quickly and impulsively, which is unusual for me. It turned out to be a disappointment AND a rare find. It was a disappointment because, in my haste, I thought I had bought a Heinlein fiction story that I had somehow not heard of. It is not fiction, and it is not a story.

"Grumbles From The Grave" is a find because it is Heinlein's memoirs, a collection of his letters to his editor, and a piecemeal biography of one the greatest writers ever in science fiction. It places Heinlein's fiction in its historical, cultural, and personal context. If you read my negative review of the film "Starship Troopers" you will see how Heinlein's work can be misunderstood if taken out of context, as the movie did lavishly and repeatedly. "Grumbles From The Grave" is not written for readers' enjoyment, but for their education. If you want to learn about the man who wrote such treasures as "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Time Enough for Love" and where those books, and others, came from, buy "Grumbles from the Grave". If you are looking for good science fiction/fantasy reading, buy "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Time Enough for Love" instead.

3-0 out of 5 stars Heinlein's thoughts, poorly edited
This collection of Robert Heinlein's letters would be very interesting if they were not cut into small chunks and arranged in a non-threatening manner. Heinlein struggled in the early years, working hard for recognition, trying to please indifferent editors, and this book documents that struggle. But nearly every letter is edited heavily, abruptly ended just as Heinlein gets going. The overall picture is fractured, leaving the reader to guess about the missing contents.

But the book is still worth a look. It provides a behind-the-scenes view of writing science fiction in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, showing how the field grew from stories about rocket ships to social commentary. Heinlein rode the wave from short story writer to literary author, and these letters show that progression. Unfortunately, the editing removes too much of the story. The editor did make one good move, however --- she devoted two chapters to letters about Stranger in a Strange Land. The background on this seminal sci-fi novel is interesting. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the history of science fiction. Other readers may be disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars From the Artist Who Hated His Work Being Called 'Art'
Beginning writers are advised to 'write what you know'. But if you're a writer of science fiction, where the environment is necessarily something different from the everyday world of now, how can you do this? For those who have read Heinlein's fiction, this book will provide some insights into just how this feat is accomplished. Within these pages you will find the genesis of:

The detailed space-suits of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel from his period of engineering research work on high altitude pressure suits during WWII.

How to build plumbing, bomb shelters, and move boulders from his work on his Colorado Springs house (Farnham's Freehold).

The marvelous characters of the cats that appeared in Door into Summer and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls from the cats that at various times in his life were co-owners of his habitats.

The knowledge of fencing so evident in Glory Road from his time on the fencing team at Annapolis, and the entire cadet experience that became part of the 'Lazy Man' episode of Time Enough for Love.

These are just a few of the examples of where incidents in Heinlein's life became part of his fiction, giving it that 'true to life' feel so common in his works and so rarely found in other SF writers of his generation. But this book is not a well laid out autobiography, but rather a collection of his letters to various people, mainly his literary agent, and often the items described above are included as an aside to the main subject of the letters.

Most of the material concerns itself with the details of how each of his stories was generated, the arguments he had with various editors (especially a certain one at Scribners), his working habits and the problems that prevented him from working at various times. For the Heinlein scholar or fan, this is a gold mine, providing much insight into almost all of his work. And Heinlein's own character shines through these letters, a proud, patriotic, self-disciplined, stubborn, highly opinionated, occasionally abrasive man who knew the worth of his labor and his effect on literally millions of his readers.

The letters are organized by theme (Beginnings, Juvenile Novels, Adult Novels, Travel, Fan Mail, Building, etc) and this easily allows the reader to see the progression of ideas and events within each of these subjects. But it has a downside in that items referenced in, say, the Building section have direct impacts on his writing schedule for a book covered in the Juvenile Novels section. Sometimes these relationships, while important, are not obvious to the reader due to this structure. After reading this book twice, and seeing just how much this type of thing occurs, I think I would have preferred having the letters organized in pure chronological order.

This is not a book for someone who has not read at least a few of Heinlein's fiction works, as the material will hold little interest other than some points on how the publishing industry works and just how this particular writer worked (which is not the writing class recommended method). But for those who, like myself, have read all or most of his works, this book can add a richness of background to his fiction works, a sense of 'growing closer' to the man who many call the greatest writer of science fiction, ever.

4-0 out of 5 stars More than mere grumbling...
Of course it's true that we can never really know another person, certainly not someone whom we've never met, but one way of getting at least a glimpse of another's inner workings is to get a peek at their personal correspondence.

GRUMBLES FROM THE GRAVE is not only a collection of renowed science-fiction author Robert Heinlein's letters, but a look at most of his work, with input from his widow Virginia. There are also plenty of photos and reproductions of cover art from many of his novels.

Another brilliant and beloved science fiction writer, the late Isaac Asimov, wrote in his book A MEMOIR that he thought that GRUMBLES shouldn't have been published because it showed a "meaness of spirit" in Heinlein...

Heinlein comes out looking like a conscientious, caring man, so I truly have no idea what the good Dr. Asimov meant.

Especially entertaining was the in-depth look at the decade-long
birth of Heinlein's masterpiece, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, and reading Heinlein's short work "I Believe".

Nice book.

2-0 out of 5 stars For fanatics only
Why in the world would anyone publish a writer's bread and butter notes to his agent? Besides the money, I mean. There are a couple or three interesting fulminations against this publisher or that editor, whom Heinlein feels did him dirty. But in the main this body of correspondence is of zero interest to any but the most complete worshipers of the sf master. Just enjoy the stories, and nevermind the workaday business of how they got published. ... Read more


16. The Writer's Guide to Fantasy Literature: From Dragons Lair to Hero Quest
by Philip Martin
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871161958
Catlog: Book (2002-01-01)
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications
Sales Rank: 126197
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Writer’s Guide to Fantasy Literature offers an overview of the main styles of fantasy, with scores of practical tips and techniques, along with examples of great fantasy writing from today’s best mythic-fiction writers. This thoughtful guide will help you navigate your way from dragon’s lair to hero’s quest—on your personal path to success! Get advice on generating ideas, tips on planning, writing and revising, and how to submit your work for publication. Step inside and learn techniques from the experts like Joan Aiken, Peter S. Beagle, Ursula Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, and Jane Yolen. If you ever wanted to try your own hand at writing spellbinding tales of wonder, here is a wealth of advice from some of the all-time masters of the field! ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars The zen of writing fantasy literature
I was expecting much more of a nuts and bolts book on writing fantasy, but a lot of the material in the book seemed targeted toward having a better appreciation of fantasy or what's required to write it, rather than the actual mechanics of writing. I enjoyed reading the book anyway, but it was not entirely what I had expected. The first part of the book introduced the concept of fantasy literature. I found Chapter 1, which analyzed the popularity of the Harry Potter series, to be very interesting. Chapter 2 introduced the general concept of fantasy literature and Chapter 3 categorized fantasy literature into five types with an accompanying essay or interview for each type. Although interesting, Chapter 3 was probably the weakest section of the book. The interviews, often about a single book the author wrote, were not the most effective means for conveying information. The second part of the book addressed the story itself. Chapter 4 discussed character development and was fairly informative, although like most of the book about a third to a half of the material are passage quotations from fantasy books. The two contributed portions of this chapter were not as informative as the material written by the author. Chapter 5 was similar in content and quality, but addressed places rather than characters. Chapter 6 discussed common themes often found in fantasy-such as magic, riddles, and prophecies-and also included two author interviews. Chapter 7 addressed plot and common story lines in fantasy literature and also included an interview and contributed article. The third part of the book addressed many of the mechanics of the writing process. Chapter 8 discussed generated ideas; Chapter 9 discussed the mechanics of the layout and order of which chapters to write first; Chapter 10 discussed how to set goals and remain motivated in the writing process; Chapter 11 discussed revising material; and Chapter 12 discussed submitting your work for publication. This last chapter was the only one in this part that included contributed material. I particularly enjoyed the interview with Terry Pratchett and the article by Ray Bradbury. The fourth part of the book included some reference material: publisher addresses and web/print references. Overall, as a 'How To' book for writers I give this book four stars. While all of the material was interesting, the usefulness of it was uneven. Betters books are "Worlds of Wonder" by David Gerrold or "How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy" by Orson Scott Card. However, if you love fantasy and just want a better appreciation of what goes into writing it, then this book is definitely five stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference
Unlike most writing books, which are filled with common sense fluff, this book gets down into the nuts and bolts of writing for the fantasy genre. Definately worth reading. Make sure you have a highlighter handy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A truly inspiring and insightful "must-read"
Philip Martin's The Writer's Guide To Fantasy Literature: From Dragon's Lair To Hero's Quest is a collection of informative essays specifically written to help both aspiring and established writers improve the quality of their work, and create fantasy worlds to suspend disbelief and capture the imagination. Essay contributors include such notable talents as Patricia A. McKillip, Jane Yolen, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Peter S. Beagle. Chapters and essays cover such issues as generating ideas, constructing a coherent plot, and enhancing settings with your own brand of magic. The Writer's Guide To Fantasy Literature is a truly inspiring and insightful "must-read" for anyone looking to improve their fantasy writing - and the majority of its tips, tricks, and techniques would also apply to the writing of science fiction, historical fiction, or genre novels of any sort! ... Read more


17. Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction
by Cory Doctorow, Karl Schroeder
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0028639189
Catlog: Book (2000-07-14)
Publisher: Alpha Books
Sales Rank: 44023
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

If you love science fiction and would like to write some of your own, this book will give you practical advice.Describing the different types of science fiction and fantasy genres and subgenres, it explains everything from how putting your manuscript together to getting it picked up by a publisher, and suggests relevant resources to put you ahead of the pack. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Practical, and Fun to Read!
"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction & Fantasy" provides practical, solid advice, and it does it with the help of some very funny stories. It's at once sobering and hopeful; it doesn't get you worked up with a lot of false hopes, yet doesn't leave you depressed and suicidal about your chances of getting published either.

This book debunks popular myths and legends about writing. It covers the varieties of science fiction, as well as fantasy, including "dark fantasy" or horror. It briefly touches on fans and conventions, including how to handle your fans (the good and the bad). It discusses the importance (or not) of having "new" ideas for your stories, and of knowing your subject. It'll also point out some of the mistakes and problems that knowing your subject can push you into.

It goes into writing as a job. It covers the usual "you have to make time for it" idea that every book trots out, but it also provides useful suggestions for how to go about this. It goes over the good and bad methods SF authors use to convey information in their stories. Instead of simply trotting out the old "show don't tell" advice, it provides practical structuring suggestions, as well as examples of those suggestions. It also goes into such genre topics as world-building.

One of the invaluable aspects of this part of the book is the insider's perspective. These authors haven't just summed up their own experiences submitting things--they've talked to lots of editors and networked with everyone. They tell you what editors like, don't like, and dread.

This book gives practical advice on self-promotion, without pushing you to use the sleazy, shady, or just plain rude self-promotion practices I've seen advocated in many articles. You'll find all sorts of tips in here on readings and signings, conventions, cards and fliers, press releases, interviews, reviews, and book launches. The book even covers web sites, newsgroups and netiquette, mailing lists and awards. There's also a section on agents, electronic rights and publishing, contracts, taxes, and writers' associations.

This is an immensely practical book for genre authors, and well worth reading several times over. It includes information on everything from idea generation through publication and promotion, in as much detail as possible!

5-0 out of 5 stars An easy read that explains it all!
Ok, so I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to "How to Write" books. I buy pretty much all of them that I run across. Some good, some not so good.

This one is definitely one to get! I find that the "Complete Idiot" guides are usually written in an easy to read and entertaining format, and this one certainly didn't disappoint me.

Written from two authors in the field that, admittedly, I've never heard of, but it wasn't a disappointment in the slightest. They draw from several different viewpoints, research their facts, and even poke fun at themselves through it all.

Nor does this book a bit of fluff to encourage you on. They lay out the hard facts (not everyone can make a living at writing, sometimes your books don't sell, sometimes you get rejected after 8 years of waiting, etc) without sugarcoating them, and I really appreciate a book that doesn't talk down to me.

If you are looking for a book that will tell you how to go from Chapter 1 to the Epilogue and hold your hand the whole way, well, keep on looking. This book does not particularly focus on HOW to write, but basically what the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world of writers is like. Hence the title is "Publishing" not "Writing" Science Fiction.

Fantasy authors, don't be scared away by just Sci-Fi being listed on the cover. This is for anyone that's contemplating writing speculative fiction.

This book is going to stay in my "keepers" pile! Close at hand!

5-0 out of 5 stars Doctrow and Schroeder: THEY KNOW
I almost returned this book when it first arrived in the mail. I took a look at the back and saw that Cory Doctrow had published all of 15 short stories--no novels, no books, no anthologies... He publishes 15 short stories and off he goes to write a book about getting published.

I did not return the book. Instead, I scanned the pages and found that the chapter headings seemed quite sensible, even practical. So I gave the book a try.

Doctrow and Schroeder may not have all of publishing credentials of an Asimov or a Card, but they have a lot of solid practical advise to offer any fledgling writer. They have put a lot of work into creating a solid, readable guide with good information about the benefits of agents, methods of editing, places to publish, definitions of genres, and the state of Science Fiction as a whole.

I almost judged this book by its cover and it would have been a terrible mistake. Having read this reference cover-to-cover, I believe it is invaluable for the BEGINNER, the new writer or the writer who is new to SF and Fantasy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Simple Guide with the Wrong Name
First, let's get one thing out of the way-- this book is NOT for complete idiots, or dummies, or Republican Jehovan telemarketers. It IS a simple yet intelligent guide to the craft of writing and marketing science fiction. Cory Doctorow, a former staff writer for the late, underrated Science Fiction Age magazine, uses simple, clear language to instruct Joe Writer-in-Training in the methods and manner of smart story construction, followed by comprehensive lists of agents and publishers.

Highly recommended for the newbie who doesn't want to hurt his brain on the complex "craft-of-writing-sf" books.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Bible
I knew nothing about publishing or how to attack my writing ( I just wrote for fun) until I got this book. It is extremely informative yet easy to read. I learnt a great deal, and kept it by my side constantly during the first few months of submitting stories. Even now, it's not too far away as I know I will need it again. A great book to get to kick start your career. ... Read more


18. Asimov's Galaxy
by ISAAC ASIMOV
list price: $17.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385241208
Catlog: Book (1988-12-01)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 1614189
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I had to write a research paper on Asimov, Bradbury and scifi. Obviously the first two were easy enough (once I actually figured out what I was doing) but the last topic was a bit more difficult. I mean, you can't really think indepentently on a research paper. Don't ask me why, but always have to rely on someone else's opinion. I could really seem to find anything until I came upon this in my school library. Not only did I find the information I needed, but I found all of Asimov's essays to be fascinating. I wish he was still alive because I found his views on fantasy to be somewhat conflicting with mine (I'm a huge fantasy fan) but alas, I found out to my dismay he's been dead for quite awhile. Oh well, go figure. But I would definetly recomment this book--

5-0 out of 5 stars Collection of Essays
This book is s collection of essays from "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" by the good Doctor. Normally they relate to science fiction, but Asimov also covers some other topics, normally science related when they are not directly related to SF.

It is a good collection of essays. It gives some good commentary about the field by one of its Grand Masters.

Nice book. ... Read more


19. Dragonholder
by TODD J. MCCAFFREY
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345422171
Catlog: Book (1999-11-23)
Publisher: Del Rey
Sales Rank: 53799
Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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In her brief note to the readers, Anne McCaffrey informs us that Dragonholder was written in response to countless requests to tell "how I spent my childhood, who my friends were, my pets, how I ever thought up Pern and its dragons--the whole nine unvarnished yards." Todd McCaffrey, her second son and a long-time science fiction (and McCaffrey) fan put together this album of family photographs and anecdotes, interspersed with behind-the-scenes stories about his mother's writing career.

The book includes everything from Anne's childhood pet--a Maine Coon cat named Thomas, who suffered her dressing him in doll clothes and wheeling him around in a stroller and whose best friend was the neighbor's collie--to tales of McCaffrey Second Sight (possessed by Anne's grandmother and mother, as well as herself) to how she came to write the stories that became Dragonflight, the first Pern novel. It covers her career from the early stories through her long struggle to make ends meet as a professional writer to her success in 1978, when The White Dragon became the first science fiction hardcover to reachThe New York Times bestseller list. McCaffrey fans won't want to miss this--it's the next best thing to having your own visit with her. --Nona Vero ... Read more

Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Charming Fragments of a Life
The only criticism possible for this biography of Anne McCaffrey by her son, Todd, is that it is too short. The book is a must-read for any Anne McCaffrey fan, but will leave any such fan saying "More! More!" It tells in brief her family background and the story of her life in a series of family anecdotes and his own favorite memories of growing up with his mother. What is in the book is lovely and charming and interesting and often quite touching, but it is disjointed and reads more like a sketch than a real biography. What you are left with is a sense of what an interesting person she is and how much you'd like to hear more, to have a really well-rounded portrait. That lack is why I gave it only four stars instead of five. Still, you are left with a new awareness of how incredibly brave Anne McCaffrey was and is. She wrote her wonderful dragon stories under the worst possible conditions -- an unhappy, difficult marriage, raising three children, one quite ill for some years, frequent moves, the death of her father, serious money worries. Through it all, she kept writing and was clearly an excellent mother. That alone makes her an inspiration. Read the book knowing its limitations and enjoying learning some charming fragments of a life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sometimes teasing, always affectionate, fans will love it
It's not hard to understand why Todd McCaffrey might be fond and proud of his mother. Anne McCaffrey remains one of the finest science fiction authors in the genre today, over thirty years after she began writing. It's also not hard to see that he is indeed very fond and very proud of her when you turn the pages of this biography. Told from his own point of view as someone who was there for quite a lot of it, this story of Anne's life vivdly illustrates her family tree, her childhood, her activity in the worlds of theater and music, her less-than-satisfying marriage to Todd's father, and how she got started writing her marvelous books. Complete with family photos and written with ill-concealed amusement and love, this is the kind of book any mother would want her child to write about her.

3-0 out of 5 stars only for fans of McCaffrey
Admittedly, this book is for fans of author Anne McCaffrey. Fans had been clamoring for her to tell her life's story, but she's been too busy writing her novels. Her second son, Todd, wrote this book to give the fans a little bit of what they want. That's the problem. It is a little bit. This is a very slim volume (coming in at not much more than 100 pages) and is not very well organized. We are not really treated to the entirety of McCaffrey's life and this is not a chronological book. Todd McCaffrey jumps around quite a bit and never stays on any one subject for too long. We get glimpses of the science fiction legend. We see a little bit of her early life and the problems she had growing up. We see her as a struggle writer, and a struggling singer/actor. We see how these experiences shaped her later novels (the singer problems translated directly into Crystal Singer), but we never really get a sense of who Anne McCaffrey is. Granted, I'm not expecting the depth of research that we would get from Robert Caro or David McCullough, but this is a very skimpy biography and is somewhat of a let down. Decent enough for fans of McCaffrey, but I can't imagine this would be of interest to anybody else.

4-0 out of 5 stars DragonHolder
Amazing book. Todd blows us away with an indepth veiw of what went into Anne McCaffreys novels, short stories and other works. Anyone who reads anything by Anne McCaffrey will enjoy this book wholeheartedly.

4-0 out of 5 stars Anne McCaffrey fans will enjoy this.
Anne McCaffrey's son Todd has given us a pleasant, entertaining book about his mother, the people and animals in her life, and her writing. There are many photos scattered throughout. Don't expect a detailed, chronological biography or extensive coverage of her books. Here's what you can read about here: her dogs (Wizard, Merlin, Angelo), cats (Thomas-cat, Maxwell Smart, Isaac Asimov), and horse (Mr. Ed). There's a delightful account of an unlikely friendship between Mr. Ed and a cat named Zeke. Other highlights include Anne's early acting and singing career; her culinary talents; how life experiences influenced her books; her family heritage of "second sight"; the world of SF writers, editors and conventions; her move from the U.S. to Ireland in 1970; and the success of her dragon series. Toward the end of the book, Anne acquires her County Wicklow home, which she would name Dragonhold because her dragons had bought it for her. ... Read more


20. Aliens and Alien Societies (Science Fiction Writing Series)
by Stanley Schmidt
list price: $17.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0898797063
Catlog: Book (1996-01-01)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Sales Rank: 437579
Average Customer Review: 3.86 out of 5 stars
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Whether you're a writer or a reader of science fiction, this how-to guide provides thought-provoking analyses of the ways in which aliens and alien societies can be portrayed convincingly. It's almost as fascinating as the many classic SF texts it analyses. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars What is Alien?
I don't feel this is the strongest book in the Science Fiction Writing Series, but it is still a good resource. The book isn't a step-by-step "How to Create Aliens" guide, so you might be disappointed if you buy it for that reason. It is more a book to help you "rethink" what you consider alien and opens you up to ideas about what makes a being/society alien to us as humans.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great book for fans and would be authors.
The book is not just about aliens and alien societies. It also deals with making proper stars and planets and what alien science might be like. Could of used more details on the subject of planet building, but there are other works that get into the nuts-and-bolts of that subject. This book touches lightly on alien culture, view points and history, not just the science of building an alien creature. Also, some of it might be outdated with our increasing knowledge of other planets and solar systems. It looks more and more like our idea of planet forming and how systems form might be slightly incorrect (if not out right wrong). That is why I held back a star.

4-0 out of 5 stars hooked on aliens worked for me!
I was haveing the hardest time trying to my Alien species believable. This book helped. It is not inteded to be mythical or fantastical, but a referance. If take as that it is a very helpful guidline to building alien lifeforms and societys.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hmm...Interesting
It's generally considered impossible and absurd to write the perfect book on imagination. That's exactly what "Aliens and Alien Societies" is all about. This should not be taken as a book of guidelines on how to use your imagination. It simply gives you scientifically-believable ideas on how to make aliens that you come up with a bit more plausible.

2-0 out of 5 stars Over detailed book bogs down writers
This book, though well writen, has to be one of the worst on the subject of writing. I must say it does go into a great deal of detail, but that is where it stops. The book is long and drawn out- definitely one to put you asleep at night. It goes into far to much detail on creating "believeable" species, leaving little to the imagination. This is not a good book if you are into using your imagination while you write ... Read more


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