Archive by Author

My Superpower: Chris Caldwell

16 Aug

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Chris Caldwell.

 

I’ve always been fascinated by illusion and transformation; the concepts of changing a thing into something new, and something appearing to change but remaining the same, go hand in hand. My stories The Beekeeper’s Garden (Fiyah, Spring 2017) and Serving Fish (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, People of Color Take Over Issue 2017) explicitly deal with illusion and transformation as they apply to the experiences of marginalized people. I am a skeptic who deeply wants to believe. I know the magician is palming the coin while still hoping she has conjured it from the ether.

My superpower is seeing through illusion. Not in a grandiose way, I don’t wave my hands to reveal that the handsome youth has really been a middle aged venture capitalist all along. I’ll irritate friends at the movies by figuring out plot twists long before I’m supposed to (“They’re the ghosts!” “I think he’s making this whole thing up!” “They’re really in modern times!”). I’ve used insight as a mental health worker to help people who are frustrated and feel unheard get to the bottom of what need they have that hasn’t been met. Throwing a surprise party for me is usually an exercise in futility. It isn’t infallible by any means. There are people and conditions that completely confound my insight, and days where maybe the moon has entered the wrong sphere and every observation I make falls flat. But for the most part, it’s served me well: allowing me to discern true friend from false, and helping others navigate closer to the shaky ground known as the Truth.

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Guest Post: Movie Remakes vs. Movie Covers by Melissa F. Olson

12 Jul

I don’t know very much about music, but one thing I’m sure of: there’s no point in doing a cover of a song that’s exactly the same as the original.

The best covers I’ve heard take a great piece of music and try something different with it. The songwriter comes at the same melody from a different angle (or in this case, key, I guess?) creating a new work that shares DNA with the original, but succeeds on its own. Last year Ryan Adams famously covered an entire Taylor Swift pop album with his own unique style, but I also like Damhnait Doyle’s haunted-music-box take on I Want You to Want Me or Yael Naïm’s surprisingly unsettling rendition of Britney Spears’ Toxic. Covers are not actually about being better or worse than the original. Good covers become their own unique thing. 

And movies are often the same.

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My Superpower: Tansy Rayner Roberts

23 Jun

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Tansy Rayner Roberts.

 

My superpower is making extra work for my publisher.

When your publisher is one of your best friends, and you’re invested in her success almost as much as your own career, it’s a very different relationship than when they are a distant, shiny corporation in a big city somewhere in the world.

I’ve had quite a few publishers over the last 19 years as a professional author, and I am very attached to many of them, but Twelfth Planet Press feels like my baby almost as much as it belongs to its publisher, Alisa Krasnostein. I’ve been there from the beginning; watched her projects and aesthetic evolve. I was there as the idea for ‘hey what about monthly collections by female authors’ developed into a massive, sprawling 4 year project. Continue reading

Guest Post: Writing the Monster by Scott Oden

21 Jun

When Thomas Hobbes called the life of a man “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”, he could easily have been referring to the life of an Orc. Since their humble beginnings as song-croaking goblins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, these dim-witted, often Cockney-speaking brutes have grown well beyond the Professor’s intent; they have seized a place of their own in the annals of Fantasy. While some fans will never see them as anything other than sword fodder and servants of this Dark Lord or that, others have embraced them as noble savages, maligned and misunderstood – and worthy of their own books.

Long have I pondered the question of how mere spear-carriers in the epic drama of Tolkien’s legendarium captured the imaginations of so many readers.  Continue reading

Guest Post: Growing up in Fandom in the 1970s, by LJ Cohen

14 Jun

I’m not sure if this still holds true today, but if you came of age in the 1970s, were a strong early reader who had read through all the books specifically written for children, and you were lucky enough to have a sympathetic librarian, you’d be directed to the science fiction and fantasy shelves.

At least that’s my story. The Heinlein juveniles had been published a decade before I was born, but they were the first genre books I read. From there, I found all the Lensman books — written even earlier! I may have only been 10 or 11 when I read these, but even then I was frustrated by the insistence that only one special, fierce woman — to be born in some far future — could be a Lensman. Lenses were objects of power that amplified the qualities within a person. The message I got was that girls, as a rule, didn’t deserve power and couldn’t wield power. That I didn’t deserve power; that I was wasn’t good enough. It angered me that girls weren’t the ones leaping up to explore the stars. Asimov’s Robot books fascinated me, but the only woman portrayed in them — Susan Calvin — was more robotic than the robots. Continue reading

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