Phil Athans tells us that Amazon has posted the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming writers’ guide Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-of-This-World Novels and Short Stories by Orson Scott Card, Philip Athans and Jay Lake. Says Phil: “This is a revised and updated edition of Orson Scott Card’s classic how-to book on the art and craft of SF and fantasy, with a new section on the state of the genres by Philip Athans, and a new section on steampunk by author Jay Lake.”
Full disclosure: I was recently interviewed by Phil for the updated State of the Genre chapter.
Here’s the book description:
Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the recently-released How to Start Your Own Religion and Devils of the Endless Deep. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with him about shared worlds and The Fathomless Abyss, a shared world anthology featuring stories from Philip , Mike Resnick, Jay Lake, J.M. McDermott, Mel Odom, Brad Torgersen and Cat Rambo. In The Fathomless Abyss, a bottomless pit opens who-knows-when onto who-knows-where, just long enough for new people from a thousand different worlds and a million different times to fall in and join the fight for survival in a place where the slightest misstep means an everlasting fall into eternity. In this world, the laws of physics work against you, there’s no way out, and time means nothing…
CHARLES TAN: Hi Phil! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did The Fathomless Abyss series start out?
PHILIP ATHANS: I’d been kicking around the idea of a fantasy world set inside a giant, bottomless pit for years, but could never quite work it out. It just sat back there in the dark corners of my mind, sort of brewing. Then my buddy Mel Odom started telling me about the various indie e-book projects he’d been working on and encouraged me to give it a try, too. We went in together on the still-evolving Arron of the Black Forest series, which has been great fun (and I’m really champing at the bit to get started on the next Arron book), but then, being the Go Big or Stay Home kinda guy I am, I started envisioning a more ambitious project, with more authors on board. Once I felt as though I had the tools to create something interesting in the e-pub world, the Fathomless Abyss setting rocketed out of that dim recess and I started bouncing the idea off a small group of author friends. It built from there.
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
This week, we sent our distinguished panlists this question:
Q: With the upcoming movie Prometheus, Aliens are on our minds here. What makes for a good depiction of aliens in Science Fiction? What are some examples of that in practice?
Here is how they responded…
is the author of the award-winning novel GOD’S WAR
and the sequel, INFIDEL
. Her third book, RAPTURE
is due out in November. Find out more at godswarbook.com
My preference for great aliens is for the really unknowable ones. I like the ones with totally crazy physiology and motives so alien that we find them utterly unknowable. Just giving a human some head ridges and having them practice a form of Buddhism with a funny name doesn’t do it for me. That’s not alien. It’s deeply human. With head ridges.
Right now, I’m partial to the aliens in Octavia’s Butler’s Adulthood Rights, which is part of her Xenogenesis series. The book is about these tentacled, telepathic aliens who reproduce by merging themselves with other species. There are four or five parents involved, and the way they interact with the world – touch it and taste it and understand it – is very different from our own. Writing from a purely alien POV is hard, and not a lot of writers can pull it off. But Butler brings us into the POV of one of the alien hybrids – a mix of human and alien genes – to help make the aliens more accessible. The merging of the two ways of seeing the world, and how that character negotiates these different impulses, go a long way toward helping us understand his “other” half.