MIND MELD: Books That Carried Us Outside Our Comfort Zone

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This week we asked our participants to talk about reading out of their comfort zone…

The right kind of author, and the right kind of book, can lure readers to try subgenres of fiction and genre fiction that they wouldn’t normally think to try. These authors and books lure unwitting readers into trying and embracing a new subgenre by virtue of being well-written, subverting genre expectations, and sometimes being a case of a favored author trying a new subgenre and following her into it.

Q: What authors and books have gotten you to try new subgenres of fiction and genre fiction?

Here’s what they said…

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We have an additional entry on our Mind Meld on Disabilities in Speculative Fiction, from Nebula Award winning author Vylar Kaftan!

Q: What are some examples of speculative fiction titles where disabilities and disabled characters have been handled the right way? Are there specific disabilities that you’ve yet to see written into a speculative fiction story in a positive way?

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MIND MELD: Disabilities in Speculative Fiction

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Sarah Chorn’s highly successful Special Needs in Strange Worlds column…the recent Kaleidoscope anthology…the upcoming Accessing The Future anthology… Fiction focusing on discussions of disabilities, different abilities, special needs and different needs are increasingly important in the speculative fiction community.

With that in mind, here’s what I asked our panelists:

Q: What are some examples of speculative fiction titles where disabilities and disabled characters have been handled the right way? Are there specific disabilities that you’ve yet to see written into a speculative fiction story in a positive way?

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There were so many wonderful debut authors in 2013, and the last post was so much fun, I thought it might be high time we give 2014 debut authors their turn:

Q: What are the most fun/unusual/interesting/etc. things you’ve learned since becoming a published author?

Here’s what they had to say…

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MIND MELD: Underappreciated Genre Authors

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Even great writers can get lost among the ever-growing stacks and stacks of genre literature or fade from memory in the course of time. Sometimes a writer’s talent far outweighs his or hers status among the reading public. With that in mind we asked our esteemed panel the following question…

Q: Which genre author, living or dead, do you think deserves more recognition? Why?

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Brandon Sanderson famously finished Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time while writers like Roger Zelazny (“Amber”) and George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire”) have said nobody will finish their series or continue their work. Would you want another writer to pick up an unfinished series by an author?

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Should unfinished series remain unfinished?

Here’s what they said…

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These summer days have me feeling nostalgic for the summers of my youth, when I’d ride my bike to the local library for another stack of paperbacks. It was experiences like that that helped make me a reader for life.

With that in mind, I asked our panelists this question:

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory of a library or bookstore?

Here is how they responded…
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Sure, we’d all like to own a Quidditch broom or a crystal ball, but what magical item would you want the most? That was our esteemed panel’s challenge this week. Next week we ask a new set of panelists about their favorite SF devices.

Q: What magical item, artifact, weapon, etc., from the world of fantasy fiction would you most like to own? Why? What would you do with it?

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This week we asked our participants to tell us about authors & books that they keep intending to read by haven’t yet read…

Q: Elusive Authors: Who are some authors you’ve yet to read, or only read minimally (one book at most) who you keep intending to read or read again. In other words, what author(s) fits the question “I know, I keep meaning to try BOOK X or AUTHOR Y!”

Here’s what they said
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MIND MELD: How to Avoid The Suck Fairy of Re-Reads

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This week we asked our participants to talk about the perils of re-reading. Going back to a book read in one’s golden age of SF reading can be a fraught exercise. Characters we thought we wonderful can turn out to be wooden. Settings we thought diverse and open turn out to be monochromatic. Plots that enthralled us can seem facile. Books we enjoyed can be rife with questionable material. Writers whose work we loved can turn out to be terrible human beings.

Q: Let’s talk about Jo Walton’s “Suck fairy”. How do you find the process of re-reading a book? How does a re-read of a book change your initial bliss and happiness with the book? Do you have any strategies for avoiding disappointment? What books have managed to escape the suck fairy for you?

Here’s what they said…

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Where did the time go? It’s hard to believe that 2014 is half over. With that in mind, I asked our panelists this question:

Q: What were your favorite science fiction and fantasy titles that were published during the first half of this year?

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Villains: We love to hate them and bad guys, and gals (and other things that fit into the baddie category), can haunt our dreams and capture our imaginations. With that in mind, I asked our panelists this:

Q: What are a few of your favorite literary (SF/Fantasy/Horror/Spec. Fiction) villains, and why? What made them stand out for you?

Here’s what they had to say…

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MIND MELD: Marvel and DC and Star Wars, Oh My!

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DC reportedly has at least seven movies in development. Marvel has movies planned out to 2028. Star Wars kicks off a new trilogy next year and has at least two spinoffs already in development. Then there are the upcoming TV shows — Gotham, The Flash, Agent Carter, Daredevil… With that in mind, we asked our esteemed panel…

Q: Is this too much of a good thing? Or a dream come true? Do you ever get sick of the constant movie news updates? What are your thoughts about the recent influx of shows and movies from these big franchises?

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This week we asked our participants about their reading habits:

Q: How long do you have a book before you read it? We, as biblioholics and voracious readers often accumulate books at a greater pace than we can read them. What is the longest you’ve had a book before you’ve read it and/or how long do you typically let a book sit before you read it?

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We have an additional entry on our Mind Meld on the connections between Myth, Classics and Genre, from None other than Judith Tarr!

Q: The Iliad and the Odyssey…the Epic of Gilgamesh…the MahabharataJourney to the West… These ancient myths and stories, and many others seem to partake of genre elements. Are they, in fact, on the Road to Science Fiction, to quote James Gunn’s classic series? How do they fit into the world of genre? How can they inform and be used in modern reinterpretations and borrowings of these myths and stories? What writers and stories best rework these myths and legends?

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This week we asked our participants to dive into ancient legends, history and myth:

Q: The Iliad and the Odyssey…the Epic of Gilgamesh…the MahabharataJourney to the West… These ancient myths and stories, and many others seem to partake of genre elements. Are they, in fact, on the Road to Science Fiction, to quote James Gunn’s classic series? How do they fit into the world of genre? How can they inform and be used in modern reinterpretations and borrowings of these myths and stories? What writers and stories best rework these myths and legends?

Here’s what they said…

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Jason Andrew is the co-Editor (with Mae Empson) of the new anthology The Future Embodied, an anthology of speculative stories exploring how science and technology might change our bodies and what it means to be human. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

The Future Embodied is an anthology of speculative stories exploring how science and technology might change our bodies and what it means to be human. Imagine what our ancestors a mere hundred years ago would have thought of the modern world. Think of the medical marvels we experience on a daily basis that would have seemed impossible. Recent medical advances have dramatically extended the human life-span to unthinkable lengths. Science has changed how we live in this world. Technology has allowed humanity to dramatically alter our environment, how we communicate, and how we experience life.

Imagine now what our descendants might experience. What new trials or tribulations will the future of humanity suffer, or overcome?

The final frontier won’t be out in space but inside our own bodies. Experience the future as imagined via nineteen powerful voices envisioning what we might become. Including stories from: William F. Nolan, David Gerrold, Ree Soesbee, Jennifer Brozek, Katrina Nicholson, Nghi Vo, Jennifer R. Povey, Sarah Pinsker, Thomas Brennan, Miles Britton, Megan Lee Beals, Lauren C. Teffeau, Shane Robinson, John Skylar, Preston Dennett, Alexandra Grunberg, Wayne Helge, and Holly Schofield.

I asked several of the antholgy’s authors the following question:

Q: The Future Embodied is a science fiction anthology about how science and technology might change our bodies in the future. What do you think the next big change will be for humanity and how will it alter the way we live?

Here’s what they said…
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There were so many wonderful debut authors in 2013, and the last post was so much fun, I asked a few more of them this:

Q: What was the most fun/unusual/interesting/etc thing you’ve learned since becoming a published author?

Here’s what they had to say…

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MIND MELD: Our Dream Anthologies

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Everyone wants to be a anthologist, right? So we asked our panelists to put on their editor’s hats and create their very own anthology.

Q: What would your dream genre anthology be?

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MIND MELD: Books We’ve Worn Out Re-Reading

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There are books we read once. There are books we re-read. And then there are the books that we wear out because we devour it again and again. These are the books for which we have to buy ourselves another copy immediately upon lending out because we’re sure we will never see it again — or just want to make sure we have it on hand.

Q: What are some of these genre books for you? Why do you go back to them again and again?

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