Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Topics for this Blog

            A blog!  Just so.  And its subjects?
            First, science fiction.  I’ve read it all my life and just finished and published an SF novel (The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes, forthcoming from Dog Star Books).  It’s determined my outlook on the future, the past, and the universe itself.  I especially like space opera in the Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Peter Hamilton, C. J. Cherryh, Jack McDevitt vein, but I’ll take SF in all its variations, near and far future, social extrapolation, cyberpunk and even steampunk.  Fantasy too, but maybe because the world-building often reminds me of the same things done in traditional SF.  And a lot of cross-overs, like SF-mysteries and SF-romance.
            My attraction is not just to the science.  Though I have some actual background in science (early studies in physics and an abiding interest in astronomy and geology), my real connection is to SF’s “sense of wonder,” new sensations and the emotional response to them, the adventure in meeting, if only intellectually or descriptively, new planets and phenomena.  I’ve never lost this “gosh-wow” feeling and I hope SF never loses it either.
            Related to that is the sublime, how it appears in SF writing, in SF art and graphic novels, but also in traditional art, the sense of an experience beyond expression, beyond understanding, that’s overwhelming, and thus terrifying. Vast landscapes, objects of great power, events destructive or unexplainable, and how these are shown—no, suggested—in both prose and art. 
            Landscape is a special part of this interest, natural settings so peculiar, so different from those we expect (and we have many such here on Earth) they seem almost alien landscapes.   I will comment on alien worlds in outer space, astronomy and planetary discoveries, but I’ll also talk of how such places are described in fiction when we don’t even know how they might appear. 
Because of this interest in using sensory language to depict something that hasn’t been “sensed,” I’m working on a how-to-write book that deals with writing description, in all of its factual, sensory, emotional, and poetic means.  I’ll discuss description in popular fiction or genre fiction, and how it differs from SF to fantasy to mystery to romance to horror to historical fiction.  But special parts of the book (or another separate book) will show how to suggest the wonder and sublime of SF. 
I’ll also look at visual examples of landscape, especially in art and photography.  You’ll see many photographs of landscape and its emotional or suggestive impact.  We might look at comic art also, and the graphic novel medium itself, its forms of narrative and presenting ideas, in doing what no other medium can do. 
As you can see, with all these interests, a novel with the title The Man Who Loved Alien Landscape seems an obvious product of them, in its sense of emotion, of landscape, and in that slight hint of the sublime.  So I’ll also talk of inspiration for my SF novel and those that might follow, the process of writing, the managing of plot, characters, and setting. 
I hope you enjoy.  

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