Category Archives: To the Ends of the Universe

Ask Not For Whom the Zombie Scares…It Scares for We

Editor’s note: Nebula Award nominated author Jason Sanford is now publishing a regular column in SF Signal called To the Ends of the Universe. These columns were originally printed in the Czech SF magazine XB-1. The Kindle edition of Jason’s anthology Million Writers Award: The Best Online Science Fiction and Fantasy, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, is now on sale for only $2.99.

In 1968 George A. Romero revolutionized horror films with his 90-minute black and white masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. While zombies existed before this film—myths and beliefs in the undead go back centuries and cross most cultures—Romero took the archetype in a totally new direction. Instead of an undead corpse shambling alongside ghosts in scary dark places, here we have countless undead lurching straight for us. They surround our houses and bang on our doors until the mass of them break inside to eat us alive.
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[To the Ends of the Universe] Opening the SF Translation Pipeline to America

Editor’s note: Nebula Award nominated author Jason Sanford is now publishing a monthly column in SF Signal called To the Ends of the Universe. These columns were originally printed in the Czech SF magazine XB-1. Jason’s new anthology Million Writers Award: The Best Online Science Fiction and Fantasy recently received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

Thanks to the instantaneous world of online communications, it’s easier than ever for writers in the United States to have their works translated and published for overseas audiences. Forget the weeks and months it once took reprint and translation requests to reach American shores by airmail or shipborne mail—today editors of overseas magazines like the Czech Republic’s XB-1 or China’s Science Fiction World can reach an American author or agent almost instantly. This revolution in international communications is one of the reasons my stories have been translated by magazines from around the world. Because of this, I’ve found readers and SF-friends in many countries, which delights me to no end.

But it often seems like this relationship only goes one way. While translations of a few big non-English-speaking science fiction authors can be found in the U.S.—such as the seminal Czech author Karel Capek or the Polish author Stanislaw Lem—for the most part American audiences don’t have the opportunity to read translated works. If you walk into your average American bookstore, less than 3% of the SF on the shelves was originally written in a language other than English.

Contrast this to the situation in many other countries, where translations of English-language SF make up to half the genre fiction market.

I’ve often wondered why this is the case, so recently I spent several weeks talking to genre readers and writers about this situation. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

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[To the Ends of the Universe] “Deep Thoughts” About Computer-Written Fiction

Editor’s note: Nebula Award nominated author Jason Sanford is now publishing a monthly column in SF Signal called To the Ends of the Universe. These columns were originally printed in the Czech SF magazine XB-1. Jason’s novelette Her Scientifiction, Far Future, Medieval Fantasy, published last year in Interzone, is now available as a Kindle ebook.

It’s time for a quick thought experiment: Without delay, imagine your favorite novel. Do you remember how you felt the first time you read it? How many times have you read this story? Does the novel continue to hold a treasured place in your heart?

For me, the first novel which pops to mind is Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I read the novel as a child, long before I saw the Stanley Kubrick film co-written by Clarke. 2001 was the first story which truly opened my mind to the far reaches of eternity and I still love—and reread—the novel to this day.
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[To the Ends of the Universe] White-Hot Lusty Vampires in Love: The Dismissal and Power of Paranormal Romance


Editor’s note: Nebula Award nominated author Jason Sanford is now publishing a monthly column in SF Signal called To the Ends of the Universe. These columns were originally printed in the Czech SF magazine XB-1. Jason’s novelette Her Scientifiction, Far Future, Medieval Fantasy, published last year in Interzone, is now available as a Kindle ebook.

One of the hottest publishing trends of recent years is paranormal romance. Likewise, today’s most dismissed publishing trend is also paranormal romance.

While those statements might seem contradictory, dismissing novels involving the word “romance,” or ignoring any type of fiction which generally appears to be written by or for women, is an age-old affair. In the 18th century, “sentimental fiction” novels were often dismissed by serious-minded people because the books aimed to provoke an emotional response in female readers. Throughout the 20th century the romance genre was generally ignore by literary critics as being worthy of only housewives. The more recent chick lit phenomenon suffered a similar fate, with critics dismissing novels like Bridget Jones’s Diary as “inconsequential” (never mind that the novel’s lighthearted and funny take on life resonated with millions of readers).

Now paranormal romances have joined the dismissal party, with lots of head shaking and tut-tutting from disapproving prudes and critics.

But despite this attitude, paranormal romances refuse to be ignored. The subgenre—which focuses on romance between humans and any number of fantastic creatures, including ghosts, ghouls, zombies, shapeshifters, demons and so on—consistently tops the best-seller lists and is, simply, the go-to writing topic for many of today’s hottest young fiction writers.
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[GUEST POST] Jason Sanford Asks: Where Are All the Science Fiction Readers?


Editor’s note: Nebula Award nominated author Jason Sanford is now publishing a monthly column in SF Signal called “To the Ends of the Universe.” These columns were originally printed in the Czech SF magazine XB-1.

The highest grossing film of all-time is James Cameron’s science fiction epic Avatar. My wife, who is not by any consideration a fan of science fiction, loved the movie. As we left the theater after first seeing Avatar she raved on and on about the characters and special effects and emotional storyline. “Yes,” I replied. “It was a very good science fiction film.”

That stopped my wife in her tracks. “Science fiction?” she asked. “Avatar wasn’t science fiction.”

My mind was literally blown. I pointed out that the film involved aliens on an alien world, along with spaceships, futuristic technology, and so on. But my wife was adamant. The film had appealed to her because of the romance between the main characters and the political and environmental undertones of the human/native conflict. “Avatar might technically be science fiction,” she finally admitted, “but the film worked despite this fact.”
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[GUEST ESSAY] Jason Sanford on the Political Battlefield of Military Science Fiction

[SF Signal welcomes the return of guest author Jason Sanford!]

In American science fiction circles, one of the easiest ways to start an argument is to mention military SF. On the one hand, military SF is a popular subgenre, represented by many classic and best-selling works and well loved by loyal fans. Opposing that, however, are many other fans who see military SF as glorifying war and violence. Mix in these group’s differing political views and name-calling and fistfights aren’t far behind.

So what is it about military science fiction which creates such political controversy?

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