Tag Archives: Kelly McCullough

MIND MELD: The SF/F Characters We Most Want to Share a Drink With

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“Let me buy you a pint, Elric…”

This week, we posed the following to our panelists:

Q: We’ve all encountered characters in stories and novels that we’ve felt a real connection to, and would love to chat with more. Maybe buy them a drink. What characters have you encountered in Fantasy and SF that you’d like to buy a pint for?

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MIND MELD: Which Authors Write the Best Action Stories?

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We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: What authors write the best action? What books feature the best action sequences? What does it take to make action really pop in fiction?

Here’s what they said…

Karina Cooper
After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romance and steampunk urban fantasy, and writes across multiple genres with mad glee. One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.

When it comes to some of the best action I’ve read, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to Ilona Andrews—notably, her Kate Daniels series. This urban fantasy leans heavily on action, outlining the motion—and painting the intensity—in gorgeous detail that skimps on flowery prose. No superhero with impossible pain tolerance, you’re transported with Kate with every cut, every wound, every agony. When I think about authors and books that feature action, I can’t help but arrow right on this series.

Two other authors that come to mind are Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmoore. Both write a kind of urban fantasy genre, but both are extremely different. Wendig’s Miriam Black series—beginning with Blackbirds—shows action with an almost fascinating intensity. He describes combat sequences that aren’t so much “fights” as a grotesquely detached explanation of events that could go wither way. Blackmoore, in both City of the Lost and Dead Things, colors his often vicious action sequences with a noir grit you can feel to your bones. They are terse, which only allows my brain to color in the details with such ease that I’m both repelled and entranced. Exactly where I want to be when I pick up a Blackmoore or Wendig book.

Action can be so hard to get right, and extremely easy to get lost in. Too much detail slows down a scene, and a lot of beginning authors tend to want to block and write every gorgeous detail—like an epic martial arts movie scene. It takes a certain understanding of physical capability, some blocking, and the ability to curtail one’s prose to keep the scene going sharp, fast, tight, like an actual fight is. It’s a hard skill to learn, but one worth every moment spent revising to learn it. A reader caught up in the intensity and speed of a fight is one who is there for every breathless moment.

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SFFWRTCHT: A Chat With Author Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough and I met at Convergence where we had a blast creating chaos on panels together. I hadn’t had time to read his books until he agreed to guest, but Broken Blade is an adventure fantasy. I couldn’t put down Book 1, it’s followed by Bared Blade and his latest Crossed Blades from Ace Books. He is also the author of the Webmage series of five books which mix internet and sorcery, so urban science fantasy perhaps? A full time writer/cat wrangler, he’s married to physicist Laura and lives in MN where he dabbles in politics amongst other things. He can be found online at http://t.co/hfjXQIJB, on twitter as @KellyDMcC and Facebook.

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MIND MELD: Directions Speculative Fiction Hasn’t Taken

[Today’s Mind Meld was suggested by an SF Signal reader. Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Speculative fiction is always experimenting with new writing styles and creating new sub-genres. Some of the newish ones deal with shiny vampires, the inevitbale response to that, and steampunk. But there may be other areas speculative fiction hasn’t explored yet.

Q: In your opinion, is there a direction, or directions, you are surprised speculative fiction hasn’t taken yet?
Kelly McCullough
Kelly McCullough writes fantasy and science fiction. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series and his short fiction has appeared in numerous venues. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star —part of an NSF-funded science curriculum—and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp—funded by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope.

There are certainly things I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of, though given the impossibility of keeping up with everything that comes out in the field, I don’t know that I can fairly say that there’s anywhere speculative fiction hasn’t yet gone. That said, and given the success of mixing fantasy and romance, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more in the way of interstitial subgenres.

In particular, given the success of paranormal romance and the rise of steampunk, I’m rather shocked we haven’t seen much in the way of fantasy/western crossovers. Seriously, who wouldn’t be interested in the intersection where Deadwood meets Game of Thrones. The history and mythology of America’s western expansion provides plenty of scope for dark, morally ambiguous stories with tons of drama and very high stakes.

For that matter, I’m continually amazed not to see more in the way of cybermagic books. Including mine, I can only think of about a dozen, and that seems like a shockingly small number when you think about how much the web and the internet have impacted how we communicate and publish in the modern era. It’s nearly impossible to enter the field anymore without a good understanding of computers. Why people aren’t doing more with that I don’t know.

I know that some of that comes down to the difficulties of marketing hybrid works, having had some experience in that area myself, but given the vast untapped storytelling space that lies between the established genres I really am surprised that we don’t see more people pushing into those areas.
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SF Tidbits for 9/27/09

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