November 16, 2019

The most common question that comes up at workshops is how can I know whether I have enough skill to write professionally? The answer is simple enough: If a person has the ambition to be a writer,  that suggests he’s already a reader, so his proficiency with the langua...

November 2, 2019

         One of the advantages writers experience, one that people generally don’t hear about, is that publishers and other writers send them a lot of free books. I have more volumes than I could ever hope to read in a lifetime even if I did nothing else. The books are...

October 15, 2019

        There’s evidence that what we make of our lives is largely determined by where we are born and grow up. We are all influenced by our environment. Kids who spend their early years on a farm tend to become farmers. Spend time around guys who work at the local oil...

October 1, 2019

         Readers with writing ambitions frequently ask about the common mistakes they might make. What are the most frequent errors made by someone trying to get published by a professional magazine?

         A good approach is to disc...

September 18, 2019

          Recently I posted a statement that Midnight in Paris was the best time-travel film I’d ever seen. A week or so ago I saw The Final Countdown for a second time. But it had been forty years since we’d seen it originally. And it occurred to me it ranked also at...

August 30, 2019

        Astronomy Magazine has a cover story: life on other worlds could be more diverse than on Earth. I haven’t gotten my copy yet so I’m not sure what they mean by ‘diverse.’ It’s hard to imagine a world with more life forms and more variations than we have. But it...

August 15, 2019

          My last blog mentioned Gregory MacAllister, the journalist who appeared in several of the Academy novels. I should have added that Mac is the viewpoint character in “Breaking News,” a short story that has been picked up for the first all-color issue of Amazin...

July 31, 2019

          Gregory MacAllister, the discursive critic of the Academy novels, was inspired by Henry Mencken. That doesn’t mean he writes anywhere close to Mencken’s level, though I tried to bring off an impersonation. But the bar is simply too high....

July 17, 2019

         Edgar Rice Burroughs was among the first authors I ever read. Only one Tarzan book, I think. But I loved John Carter, and I got thoroughly hooked later by Carson Napier. In the forties, the notion that Venus was covered with a vast jungle seemed perfectly reas...

June 30, 2019

          Short fiction has always seemed to be the natural narrative form for SF. Ask most readers for their all-time science fiction favorites and they will usually respond with stories like Arthur Clarke’s “The Star,” Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains,”  Ha...

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