Special Needs in Strange Worlds Archives

NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Kameron Hurley! – Sarah Chorn


Kameron Hurley is an award-winning author, advertising copywriter, and online scribe.  Hurley grew up in Washington State, and has lived in Fairbanks, Alaska; Durban, South Africa; and Chicago. She has degrees in historical studies from the University of Alaska and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, specializing in the history of South African resistance movements. Her essay on the history of women in conflict We Have Always Fought is the first blog post to be nominated for and win a Hugo Award. It was also nominated for Best Non-Fiction work by the British Fantasy Society. This past weekend, she won a second Hugo award for Best Fan Writer.

Hurley is the author of God’s WarInfidel,  and Rapture, a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Additionally, her work has been included on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Hurley’s short fiction has appeared in magazines such as LightspeedEscapePod, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as The Lowest Heaven, The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women and Year’s Best SF. Her fiction has been translated into Romanian, Swedish, Spanish and Russian. She is also a graduate of Clarion West.

In addition to her writing, Hurley has been a Stollee guest lecturer at Buena Vista University and taught copywriting at the School of Advertising Art. Hurley currently lives in Ohio, where she’s cultivating an urban homestead. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, will be published by Angry Robot Books in August 2014.

On Invisibility and Assumptions: Finding Distance in Writing About Chronic Illness

by Kameron Hurley

I’ve been invisibly sick for eight years now, but have found it nearly impossible to talk about in fiction.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Chris Dolley! – Sarah Chorn

New York Times bestselling author, pioneer computer game designer and teenage freedom fighter. That was back in 1974 when Chris was tasked with publicising Plymouth’s Student Rag Week. Some people might have arranged an interview with the local newspaper. Chris invaded the country next door, created the Free Cornish Army and persuaded the UK media that Cornwall had risen up and declared independence. This was later written up in Punch. As he told journalists at the time, ‘it was only a small country and I did give it back.’

In 1981, he created Randomberry Games and wrote Necromancer, one of the first 3D first person perspective D&D computer games. Not to mention writing the most aggressive chess program ever seen and inventing the most dangerous game ever played — the Giant Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum Cliff Top Relay.

He writes SF, fantasy, mystery and humour. His novel, Resonance, was the first book to be chosen from Baen’s electronic slush pile.

Now he lives a self-sufficient lifestyle in deepest France with his wife and a frightening number of animals. They grow their own food and solve their own crimes. The latter out of necessity when Chris’s identity was stolen along with their life savings. Abandoned by the police forces of four countries who all insisted the crime originated in someone else’s jurisdiction, he had to solve the crime himself. Which he did, driving back and forth across the Pyrenees, tracking down bank accounts and faxes and interviewing bar staff. It was a mystery writer’s dream.

The resulting book, French Fried: one man’s move to France with too many animals and an identity thief, is now an international bestseller.

OCD and How to Write a Thriller When Your Protagonist Refuses To Leave His Room

by Chris Dolley

Do you have a ritual – a little superstition that you bring out now and then when you need that extra bit of help? Maybe you play a sport. Maybe you insist on being the last one to leave the dressing room before every match, or put your kit on in exactly the same order, or touch the ground and cross yourself before kick off, or touch both goalposts before attempting to save a penalty…

What if those rituals took over your life? Left you unable to pass a table without feeling compelled to align the cutlery. Forced you to catch the same train to work every morning, to stand in the same spot in the same carriage. To walk the same number of steps each day from the station to your place of work. Every week of your life mapped out to be a twin of the week before – the same meals, the same schedules. And the same terror the moment anything looked like disrupting your perfect, ordered life.

To be trapped in a world just so.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Holly Kench! – Sarah Chorn

Holly Kench is a writer and a feminist, with a classics degree and a fear of spiders. She lives in Tasmania, Australia, where a lack of sun provides ample opportunity for hiding indoors and writing off-kilter stories. Holly writes about her life as a stuffed olive on her blog Confessions of a Stuffed Olive and manages the website Visibility Fiction, promoting and publishing inclusive young adult fiction.

Boxes and Labels

by Holly Kench

I love young adult fiction. I love it for at least a million reasons, but one of those is that, as teenagers, the characters of young adult fiction are navigating identities and choosing (or being slotted into) certain definitions and labels. We’re always in this process as adults too, but as teenagers, the process is heightened and inescapable. It’s part of the reason being a teenager is so fraught with angst and terror and misunderstandings. But it also means that, as readers and writers of YA, we get a rare opportunity to explore certain identities as they develop.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Ria Bridges! – Sarah Chorn

Ria Bridges is an ex-pat Brit currently living on the east coast of Canada, along with 5 cats and a glorified budgie named Albert. When not reading and reviewing books on bibliotropic.net, Ria can often be found obsessively playing video games, being an amateur photographer, or experimenting with various fibre arts. Ria dreams of someday writing something of publishable quality, and then finding the courage to actually follow through and try to get it published.

Meep Girl

by Ria Bridges

MEEP!

The sound is loud enough to travel beyond the closed door of the training room, to reach the ears of the employees siting in the lounge, startling one. “What was that?”

“Some girl in the new-hire class,” is the reply.

A third person pipes up. “Meep Girl. Yeah, she’s got some medical thing that makes her do that, I guess.”

The first person laughs. “Seriously? There’s no such thing, right?” She pauses, considering. “Is there? That’s just so weird!”

I’m sitting nearby, quiet, half afraid to speak up because I don’t want the focus of the conversation to shift to me, cowardly in the way that I won’t say, “It’s called Tourette’s syndrome, guys, and I’ve got it too.”
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Paul Weimer! – Sarah Chorn

Minnesota dwelling Ex-pat New Yorker Paul Weimer is a Hugo Nominated podcaster [The Skiffy and Fanty Show 2014], SF Signal Irregular, Genre reviewer/columnist & writer. When he isn’t doing all of that, he loves photography and playing and talking about roleplaying games. You can find him on Twitter, and commenting on genre blogs far and wide.

Rolling Perception plus Awareness with Characters with Special Needs

by Paul Weimer

In roleplaying games, players inhabit other characters, other people, in other worlds. Wizards in a city in a desert, fighting a battle against the incoming horde of the Sand Sultan. A sword swinging barbarian delving into an ancient maze of tunnels called the “Londn Undrgrnd”. The pilot of a starship full of rogues and freebooters, the kind of woman who has the engines hot for the inevitably necessary getaway. The gnomish clockmaker, building golems to defend his allies. The Paladin of a Goddess of Law, who fights for justice not only on the tourney field, but in the Courts as well. Characters of all sorts of ethnicities, races, species and genders.

Is playing a character without legs, or with a mental disability, so different than these? Sometimes, when you roll perception plus awareness, you’re rolling for a character who has special needs. The one-eyed archer. The wheelchaired mutant with psychokinetic powers. The police officer, former army veteran, with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The dark elf cleric, an exile to the surface world, who is severely weakened by sunlight.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Max Gladstone! – Sarah Chorn


Max Gladstonehas taught in southern Anhui, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia. Max graduated from Yale University, where he studied Chinese. You can find out more about him, and his books on his website.

Life’s Objectivity

by Max Gladstone

Life’s not as objective as we imagine.

An airplane transfer is a pleasant brisk walk—or an infuriating ordeal if you have a bad knee or a degenerated disc. An easy climb may be impossible for someone without legs, or not, if they have the right prosthetic. A ten pound book bag is a trivial burden for some and back-wrenching for others. A dyslexic person and a speed reader occupy different spaces of possibility. Depending on one’s position in the world, a hundred dollars may be a nice dinner for two, a life-changing amount of money, or an insignificant fraction of a dividend payment. Some people respond to deadlines with grim determination and gritted teeth. Others lie sleepless for a month before an important meeting, and comparison-shop earplugs and blackout curtains.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Zachary Jernigan! – Sarah Chorn


Zachary Jernigan is a 34-year-old, typically shaven-headed writer and narrator from Northern Arizona. He’s lived in AZ since 1990, with relatively short stints in Utah, Oregon, Maine, and Chile. His first novel, No Return, is a science fiction/fantasy tale filled with sex, violence, looming middle-age angst, and muscular people in weird skintight costumes (including one capricious god). It came out from Night Shade Books in March of 2013 in hardcover and July of 2014 in paperback. The still-in-progress sequel, Shower of Stones, is forthcoming in 2015, also from Night Shade Books. His short fiction runs the gamut of sf and fantasy and has appeared in a variety of places, including Asimov’s Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, Escape Pod, as well as anthologies such as Manifesto UF and Daughters of Icarus . He’s been nominated for the Pushcart a couple times and shortlisted once for the Spectrum Award.
He recently released his first short story collection, The Bottom Of The Sea independently at the end of 2013. You can learn more about Zachary by visiting his website.

Narrow Margins: Why Defining Oneself as a Writer with Mental Illness is Difficult

by Zachary Jernigan

I’m really kind of a problematic sort. There are a lot of things that bother me. (I’ll give a pause here so that the folks who know me can roll their eyes and go, “Really, Zack? I never knew that!”) For all my interest in people and my enthusiasm for making friends, I’m functionally kind of a sociopath. Okay, not a sociopath, but often kind of a butt. I can get a bit ranty.

All that’s just my way of segueing into my actual opening, which is kind of negative (it uses the word hate, in fact!)…
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Mur Lafferty! – Sarah Chorn


Insightful, witty, and passionate, Mur Lafferty is a pioneer in podcasting and an exciting new voice in urban fantasy. After making her podcasting debut in 2004, she has become a respected contributor to podcasting and the speculative fiction genre. In January 2014, Mur graduated from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine with an MFA in popular fiction. In 2013, Mur won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her first professionally published novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City, debuted with Orbit Books in 2013. The sequel, Ghost Train to New Orleans was published in March 2014. Mur currently lives in Durham, NC with her family. She enjoys running, martial arts, board games, video games, and cooking. You can learn more about Mur by visiting her website.

Limitations for the Supernatural

by Mur Lafferty

Commonly, supernatural creatures are drawn as stronger, better, and with more opportunities than mere humans. Vampires can do anything from fly to shapechange to hypnotize to sparkle, depending on the story involved. Zombies kill/infect with just a scratch, and their strength lies in numbers. And being really gross. Even in the urban fantasy stories that place these monsters in our contemporary lives, these creatures manage to be a lot better settled within life than humans.

Ever notice how all vampires of a certain age (like 100+ years) are wealthy and sophisticated? No one is like your skeevy Uncle Larry who’s always coming around for a loan. I suppose Uncle Larry would be an easy target for someone like Buffy, but I do wonder why there aren’t more vampires who are very good at getting by, but very bad at investing.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds first appeared on my site Bookworm Blues a few years ago. I thought it was a very powerful piece and I wanted to give it more exposure. I asked Anon if I could use it again on SF Signal. Anon was nice enough to say yes, they just wanted to edit it a bit first. Here is the new, updated, and still intensely powerful piece. – Sarah Chorn

‘Anon’ hails from a far and distant land, but has found a cozy spot in the English-speaking SFF community. ‘Anon’ enjoys everything dark and weird in every medium possible. Occasional reviewer and a writer of SFF fiction, ‘Anon’ currently dips toes in the world of editing and personal branding and marketing.

Depression in a Place Where Depression Is Not a Thing

I’m probably the poster child for the argument of fiction as an escape, which I find a bit funny since you’ve no idea who I am. What drew me to fiction – epic fantasy and sword & sorcery in particular – was the effortless ability to dissolve into the mindscape of someone else. Not be present in my life, which during my formative years brought nothing worthwhile – only verbal abuse, negligence and expectations that I conform with ideas of normalcy.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Jaye Wells! – Sarah Chorn


Jaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When she’s not chasing the word dragon, she loves to travel, drink good bourbon and do things that scare her so she can put them in her books. Jaye lives in Texas. You can learn more about Jaye and her books by visiting her on her website. The first book in the Prospero’s War series, Dirty Magic, was released on January 21, 2014. Cursed Magic is to be released on August 12, 2014.

Addiction in Fantasy

by Jaye Wells

“Everyone has a hole in their center. A gaping shadow that demands to be filled. Some people fill it with faith and God. Others with money or fame. Then there are those who fill it with food, alcohol, nicotine or, yeah, potions.” – Dirty Magic

In my new Prospero’s War series, the central conceit is that magic is addictive. The main character, Kate Prospero, is a beat cop who gets promoted to a special task force charged with breaking up the dirty magic covens that sell illegal dirty magic on the streets of fictional Babylon, Ohio.

A lot of people who have read the first book in the series, Dirty Magic, have commented on the use of magic as a metaphor for drugs. But when I decided to write this series, I didn’t want to just talk about magic as a metaphor for drugs. I wanted to talk about our society’s addictive nature. I wanted to talk about how we look externally for solutions to internal problems. I wanted to talk about our addiction to convenience and quick fixes. I also wanted to talk about how difficult it is to overcome our addictions in a world obsessed with fame, beauty, money, and power.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Juliet McKenna! – Sarah Chorn


Juliet E. McKenna is a British fantasy author. She was born in Lincolnshire in 1965, and studied Greek and Roman history and literature at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She now lives in West Oxfordshire with her husband and sons. McKenna has written two series of books, The Tales of Einarinn and The Aldabreshin Compass, as well as many short stories and articles. She is currently working on a new series, The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, and a contemporary fantasy novel. She regularly attends fantasy conventions, gives talks, and teaches creative writing courses. She is also one of the authors, along with others such as Sarah Ash and Mark Chadbourn, behind The Write Fantastic, which is an initiative by a group of fantasy authors to promote the fantasy genre, and to display the scope of current fantasy writing.

Writing Characters with Disabilities – What I Did Then And How I Think Now

by Juliet McKenna

In my very first novel, The Thief’s Gamble, a peripheral character suffers a crippling injury. Halice, long-time friend and ally of Livak the principal narrator, falls from a horse and breaks a thigh bone. This is quite simply a plot device to explain her absence. That’s why Livak, now at a loose end, makes a spur of the moment decision which takes her on an unexpected and perilous adventure. So far, so unremarkable, or at least, so I thought at the time, in 1996.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Sharon Lynn Fisher! – Sarah Chorn


A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.

Honing Character via Physical Challenges

by Sharon Lynn Fisher

First of all, a huge thank you to Sarah for inviting me to be the first science fiction romance participant. I think this is a fascinating area of focus for a column.

I had a conversation with Sarah before writing this post, because none of the characters in my Tor book The Ophelia Prophecy have a disability in the conventional sense. Sarah pointed out that, in the broader sense of physical challenges, both the hero and heroine experience memory loss, and the hero undergoes some body modification for nebulous reasons. I realized there are some interesting bits to unpack there. I will try my best to do it without spoilers.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Jaime Lee Moyer! – Sarah Chorn

Jaime Lee Moyer lives in San Antonio, land of cactus, cowboys, and rhinestones, where she writes novels about murder, betrayal, friendship, magic, and kissing. Her cats approve of all of this, including the kissing. Her first novel, Delia’s Shadow, was published by Tor Books on September 17, 2013. The second Gabe and Delia book, A Barricade in Hell, comes out June 3, 2014 and Against a Brightening Sky, will be published in 2015. She writes a lot. She reads as much as she can.

Limitations in Historical Fantasy

by Jaime Lee Moyer

The year I turned twenty-eight my body decided to betray me. I went from being healthy, full of energy and able to easily run, to being chronically tired, feverish and arthritic in every joint in my body. Pain became a constant, unwelcome companion, and signaled the end of me being able to run.

But I could still walk, and being the most stubborn person on the planet, I refused to give up more physical function and strength than I had to. The motto became use it or lose it. And I got lucky. Two years after I first got sick, the “unspecified autoimmune disorder” largely went into remission.

I still have flare-ups, and the pain never really goes away completely, but I can do just about everything I did before the autoimmune demon reared its head.

Except run. I still dream of running.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Jim C. Hines! – Sarah Chorn


Jim C. Hines is best known as a fantasy novelist and the guy who did those gender-flipped SF/F cover poses. His first novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Actor and author Wil Wheaton described the book as “too f***ing cool for words,” which is pretty much the Best Blurb Ever. After completing the goblin trilogy, Jim went on to write the princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s currently working on the Magic ex Libris books, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from northern Michigan.

He’s also the author of more than forty published short stories. His first professional story sale was the award-winning “Blade of the Bunny,” which took first place in the 1998 Writers of the Future competition and was published in Writers of the Future XV.

Jim is an active blogger about topics ranging from sexism and harassment to zombie-themed Christmas carols, and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.

He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Masters in English, and works for the State of Michigan. He lives with his wife and two children, who have always shown remarkable tolerance for his bizarre and obsessive writing habits. (The cats, on the other hand, have no tolerance whatsoever, and routinely walk across his desk when he’s trying to work.)


Writing with Depression

by Jim C. Hines

I get anxious every time one of my books comes out. Will this one sell as well as the last? Will people like it? Will Spielberg finally call me up and offer me an obscene amount of money to turn my books into blockbusters? Will this be the book that tanks and destroys my career, forcing me to live on the streets and hunt rats for food?
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from Sarah Monette! – Sarah Chorn

Sarah Monette was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the secret cities of the Manhattan Project. She studied English and Classics in college, and have gone on to get my M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature. Her novels are published by Ace Books; She also has a collaboration with Elizabeth Bear, A Companion to Wolves, from Tor. Her short stories have appeared in lots of different places, including Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Alchemy,Weird Talees, and Strange Horizons. She collects books, and her husband collects computer parts, so their living space is the constantly contested border between these two imperial ambitions. Her recent book, The Goblin Emperor, has been published through Tor books under the name Katherine Addison.

About Albinism

By Sarah Monette

When I moved to Madison for grad school in 1996, one of the first things I organized was an appointment with an ophthalmologist. I’d had bad eyesight all my life, and I expected to need a letter from an ophthalmologist to get my driver’s license, since I did–and still do–routinely fail the DMV’s eye exam. (As it turned out, I failed and they gave me a license anyway, which I find honestly kind of alarming.) So I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Ophthalmology. They dilated my eyes, the ophthalmologist (who I later learned was the department chair) took a look, and said, “Wow. You’re blonde all the way back, aren’t you?”

And that’s how I was diagnosed with albinism.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Stephanie Saulter! – Sarah Chorn

Stephanie Saulter writes what she likes to think is literary science fiction. Born in Jamaica, she studied at MIT and spent fifteen years in the United States before moving to the United Kingdom in 2003. She is the author of the ®Evolution trilogy; her first novel,Gemsigns, was published in the UK & Commonwealth last year and will be released in the US next month. Its sequel, Binary, has just been published in the UK. Stephanie blogs unpredictably at stephaniesaulter.com and tweets only slightly more reliably as @scriptopus. She lives in London.

We Need Fiction to Tell the Truth

by Stephanie Saulter

Thank you, Sarah, for inviting me to contribute to Special Needs in Strange Worlds! I’ve been a reader of the series and a fan of the thinking behind it for some time now. I’m really pleased to be able to join the discussion.

I guess I’m qualified to do so on two fronts. I’m the author of the ®Evolution novels, which are set in a near future in which human beings have been altered, some extensively, by genetic modification. The books deal with ideas of diversity, prejudice, physical appearance, and how extraordinary abilities and/or disabilities affect people’s notions of what it means to be human.

My other qualification (which probably has a lot to do with why I’m interested in those issues in the first place) is one I share with many other contributors to Special Needs in Strange Worlds: intense personal knowledge of what it’s like to live with a disability. In my case that’s because of my brother, Astro Saulter. Astro has severe cerebral palsy; he has virtually no fine motor control and has never been able to walk, sit up straight, speak, or do much with his hands. Communication is either via a spoken alphabet system (he hates alphabet boards), or a specialised computer interface that he controls with a switch mounted on his wheelchair’s headrest – because his head is the only part of his body over which he has meaningful control. It’s painfully slow, but with it he can read, write, call me up on Skype (I talk, he uses the switch to type), surf the web…

And he can draw. Boy, can he draw.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Alex Hughes! – Sarah Chorn

Alex Hughes has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, Alex has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area. Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered, was Alex’s college home.

On any given week you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and typing madly. The latest book in Mindspace Investigations, Marked, was released on April 1, 2014.

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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Daryl Gregory! – Sarah Chorn

Daryl Gregory is an award-winning writer of genre-mixing novels, stories, and comics. His first novel, Pandemonium, won the Crawford Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His other novels include The Devil’s Alphabet (a Philip K. Dick award finalist), Raising Stony Mayhall (a Library Journal best SF book of the year), and the upcoming Afterparty. Many of his short stories are collected in Unpossible and Other Stories, which was named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly. He lives in State College, PA. You can learn more about him and his books by visiting his website.

Minds, Bodies, and the Three D’s

by Daryl Gregory

Let’s start on a down note, shall we?

My junior year of college, early in the spring semester, I walked into what I would later call the Black Tunnel. Suddenly I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, and sometimes stayed in the dorm room all day. When I did go to class, I couldn’t concentrate.

My memories of those days have the quality of tunnel vision. The edges of the world seemed to have closed in. When people spoke to me, they seemed to be talking from the far end of a rifle barrel.

What was happening to me felt physical, and externally imposed. I knew that my problems were only going to get worse the longer I slept, but I could no more “snap out of it” than I could decide to stop having the flu.

Then the tunnel opened. I don’t know why. One day I woke up with a little more energy, and started repairing the damage I’d done to my grade point average. I felt like I’d survived an attack from my own body.

Maybe that’s where my fascination with the mind/body problem began. I kept wondering why, even though I knew the depression wasn’t rational, that I couldn’t just pull my self out of it.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Michael j. Sullivan! – Sarah Chorn

Michael J. Sullivan is the author of The Riyria Revelations, The Riyria Chronicles, and his recently released science fiction thriller, Hollow World. He’s been published in just about every way there is including, small presses, self, and the big-five. He spends part of his time trying to help aspiring authors learn the intricacies of publishing through a regular column on Amazing Stories, and soon he’ll be featuring author interviews on Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing. Michael has written twenty-three novels, published nine, and has been translated into fifteen foreign languages. His works have appeared on more than eighty-five “best of” or “most anticipated” lists including those compiled by Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and Audible.com.

Being Atypical in HOLLOW WORLD

by Michael J. Sullivan

I’ve been a big fan of Sarah Chorn for a really long time. Not just because of her amazing reviews, although that is reason enough, but because of her resiliency in weathering storms in her own life. Luckily for me, she’s a fan of my writing as well, and I’m grateful for her years of support. With the approaching release of Hollow World (April 15th from Tachyon Publications and Recorded Books), she invited me to do a guest post. So here I am.

I guess I should start out by setting the stage. Hollow World tells the story of Ellis Rogers, who travels far into the future (much further than he intended) in search of a cure for a recently diagnosed terminal illness. What he finds a world where disease, war, and even death has been eliminated. It sounds like utopia, and for some people it very well may be, but there’s a cost…isn’t there always a cost? In the case of Hollow World, genetic engineering has advanced to the point where everyone is identical, and trying to establish individuality in such an environment breeds its own set of problems.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from the incredible Elizabeth Bear! – Sarah Chorn

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction. She lives in Massachusetts with a Giant Ridiculous Dog. Her partner, acclaimed fantasy author Scott Lynch, lives in Wisconsin. You can learn more about her books by visiting her website. On April 8, 2014 Elizabeth Bear released the third and final book in the Eternal Sky trilogy, Steles of the Sky.

On Writing Disabilities

by Elizabeth Bear

It’s kind of funny to realize as I write this that I originally wasn’t going to submit a piece to Sarah’s blog series, because I didn’t feel like I had much to say about writing disabled people in science fiction. But after the second colleague suggested that I would be a good fit for the series, I had to stop and consider why they would think so.

And I realized that it’s probably because I write a lot of disabled protagonists. From Jenny Casey and Genevieve Castaign in Hammered and the sequel books–an amputee with neurological damage and a girl with cystic fibrosis–to the aneurotypical Michelangelo in Carnival from Matthew Szczgielniak with his maimed hand and congenital adrenal hyperplasia sufferer Lily Wakeman in Whiskey and Water to Tristen and Perceval Conn in the Jacob’s Ladder books, one of whom has albinism and the other of whom has lost the power of flight–now that I actually stop and think about it, it seems like most of my protagonists are “imperfect” in some way.

I have written characters with forms of epilepsy and characters with bipolar disorder. I have written anxiety sufferers and paraplegics and I have helped invent entirely new, science fictional syndromes. I have written more than my share of characters with post-traumatic stress disorder. That last, frankly, is because I don’t know how to write people who don’t have PTSD.

I’ve been trying to learn, though. You all are so unpredictable.
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