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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book for the beginning writer
This book is a fantasic source of advice and counsel for the budding writer. I really do not approve of the condescending nature of Mr. Dozois' remarks toward the beginning writer. Isaac Asimov has great adsvice in this book. People should buy the book just to read what the different authors say. I really love this book! Buy it today (if you want)!
Published on July 1 2002 by Merrifield Winters

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3.0 out of 5 stars Wildly Uneven, But Worth it For The Good Bits
At the most basic level, this book delivers what the title and subtitle promises: How-to essays by some of the biggest names (as of the mid-1980s) in science fiction writing. The majority deal with science fiction (rather than fantasy) and with magazine (as opposed to book-length) pieces. Would-be fantasy writers should beware, but should also be willing to cut the...
Published on June 3 2004 by A. Bowdoin Van Riper


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4.0 out of 5 stars Good diversity of input on the subject, June 7 2004
By 
"tw_runner" (tulsa, ok United States) - See all my reviews
As some other reviewers have pointed out, this is not a cohesive, straight through guide to writing by a single author. It is a collection of 20 essays by 14 different authors on many different aspects of writing. The book covers plotting, characterization, creation of future societies, and (most important of all for aspiring writers) guidance on getting your first story published.
This is an excellent book if you know what you are getting in to. It does not go into great depth on writing fantasy despite the title and it focuses mainly of the short story, not novels. If, however, you are interested in writing short science fiction this book is a great resource.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wildly Uneven, But Worth it For The Good Bits, June 3 2004
By 
A. Bowdoin Van Riper (Vineyard Haven, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Paperback)
At the most basic level, this book delivers what the title and subtitle promises: How-to essays by some of the biggest names (as of the mid-1980s) in science fiction writing. The majority deal with science fiction (rather than fantasy) and with magazine (as opposed to book-length) pieces. Would-be fantasy writers should beware, but should also be willing to cut the editors a little slack on the subject. New writers with no track record and no agent (the book's target audience) have always had an easier time publishing short fiction than novels. Fantasy is (and has been for decades) almost entirely published as novels, but there's still (if only barely) a market for magazine-length science fiction.
The book is not, however, what it clearly *wants* to be: THE book for writers trying to break into the genre. The essays in it were written at different times and for different purposes. They vary wildly in length, depth, and (most critical) in the amount of knowledge they assume on the part of the reader. Trying to read the book straight through can give you a severe case of intellectual whiplash. If you want a unified, coherent book about how to write quality science fiction and fantasy, this is NOT it. (Try Orson Scott Card's _How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy_ or Barry Longyear's _Notes to a Science Fiction Writer_ instead.)
The real gems of this book include, as other reviewers have noted, Stanley Schmidt on worn-out plot devices and Connie Willis on humor. IF you want to write hard science fiction (stories where the scientific details are firmly in the foreground and integral to the story), then add Hal Clement's on aliens to that list. IF you want to write fantasy, then add Jane Yolen's superb essay on using elements from mythology and legend. Either group could benefit from Poul Anderson's essay on world-building. (As Diana Wynne Jones pointed out in her hilarious _Tough Guide to Fantasyland_, fantasy writers are notorious for creating worlds that make no ecological sense.)
The book is, ironicaly, least useful where it's most closely concerned with the mechanics of writing. Isaac Asimov's five essays are breezy and genial but offer little in the way of really concrete advice. Robert Heinlein's single essay (written in the early 1950s, if memory serves) is valuable *only* if you keep in mind that it was written when the market for magazine SF was *much* larger than it is today. Sheila Williams' essay on "The Mechanics of Submission" is now badly out of date, since it was written before e-mail and inkjet printers. Many of the markets listed at the end of the book have, sadly, ceased publication years ago.
The good bits of this book are very, very good. The essays by Anderson, Willis, and Yolen alone are worth the price of (paperback) admission. Be aware, though, that you get a *lot* of chaff along with the wheat.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Science Fiction, not for Fantasy, May 3 2004
By 
cammykitty "cammykitty" (Minneapolis, MN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Paperback)
I was disappointed with this book because my primary focus is on fantasy, not science fiction. Originally I decided to pass on this book until I found out that a SF writer and teacher I admire loves this book, so I changed my mind and got it.
If you know Analog which focuses on hard science fiction and Asimov's which focuses on character-driven science fiction, this book is exactly what you would expect. There are some incredible articles on how to create a believable planet and how to extrapolate from the present society to hypothesize what a future society might be. Stanley Schmidt, the current editor for Analog, included some interesting articles on story ideas editors see so often they know the ending after reading the first paragraph, and articles on what as an editor he is trying to do for both the writer and the reader. If you are a fan of Asimov or Heinlein, you may be interested in their articles just to understand how they think. Except for Connie Willis's wonderful essay on comedy and the world-, creature-, and society-building essays, the actual writing advice is good for a beginning writer, but won't have new information for an intermediate/advanced writer.
For the right person, this book is a gem. If you are trying to publish in Analog or Asimov's, I'd say it is a must. If you are interested in hard science fiction, there is a lot this book has to offer. If you are interested solely in fantasy, this book probably will be a bit of a disappointment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book for the beginning writer, July 1 2002
This review is from: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Paperback)
This book is a fantasic source of advice and counsel for the budding writer. I really do not approve of the condescending nature of Mr. Dozois' remarks toward the beginning writer. Isaac Asimov has great adsvice in this book. People should buy the book just to read what the different authors say. I really love this book! Buy it today (if you want)!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for the Would-Be Author, Nov. 29 2001
By 
Brian L. Raney (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Paperback)
Aristotle had once said, in part, that a workable falsehood is better than an incomprehensible truth. If Science has any imagination, it is used in its ability to simplify complex concepts, by sometimes making small assumptions, in order to explain them better to the common laymen. Science fiction writers borrow heavily on this concept to tell their own stories.
Since man, in reality, cannot travel faster-than-light to reach distant stars in his own lifetime, the writer of such a fantastic tale should be able to explain how such a fantastic journey could have ever taken place. How you explain this fantastic journey between the stars in your story (though now a well-established convention in SF) can mark the difference in fiction between science, fantasy, or just plan unbelievable (...). It is up to you, and if you want to write good believable science fiction, then you should make every effort to learn everything you can about your scientific subject, and then you can create your own workable falsehoods.
The editors of *Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy* have divided the book into three sections, which they hope will inspire would-be-authors into writing credible fiction. Section One deals with *Storytelling* and includes the controversial essay from Robert A. Heinlein *On the Writing of Speculative Fiction*. Controversial because he advises, "you must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order." Section Two deals with *Ideas and Foundations*, which will advise you on how to write better believable science fiction by using real rational science. (The essay on *The Ideas that Wouldn't Die* is mandatory reading.) Although the third section on *The Business of Writing* lacks enough market resources and is all too brief with its essay on *The Mechanics of Submission*, it gives some of the best pieces of advice that any new writer could receive from Stanley Schmidt's essay on *Authors vs. Editors*.
Despite any shortcomings, *Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy* is a necessary read for anyone who is seriously considering writing in any of these genres. Such luminaries as Anderson, Asimov, Barnes, Heinlein, and Spinrad, who are the best in their fields, wrote some of the twenty collected essays. Leaving little doubt that the advice and insights given therein comes from legends, whose prose we should all-be so lucky to follow.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Science Forerunner, Nov. 9 2000
By 
M. D. Cummings "Marv" (Kanosh, Utah United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Paperback)
Hi, I'm the original reviewer and I want to make a truce with the latter reviewer. Before I make the compromise, however, I'd like to ask one question. Where would science be today without imagination? I'll let the readers answer this question. The next question is: Who is the author of variety? Science is struggling to understand the beginnings of life, so how can they ever understand the complexities of variety without end. I suppose somewhere in the universe oil and water readily mix.
My original disappointment to this book was due to it's lack of variety. I felt fastened to a very narrow viewpoint. We may need strict adherence to our scientific research but let's not push it when it comes to reading a great story. Imagination is the science text to good science fiction. I have a book that I use a lot with my writing (and here comes my compromise). It is a book about plausible sceintific facts as it pertains to a non-logical universe. A go-between, so-to-speak, for science fact and science fiction. This book tells me why an alien might smell awful. It could be that they eat something like garlic, or maybe it's the air that they breathe, or maybe they have a dull sense of smell and don't know that they stink. The question is: Is it really important to know why they stink? Well, if it is, then this book I have on creating a science fiction universe can be very useful.
My belief is that there is only one truth and that science and religion will come to that truth some day. However, when that time comes there will still exist imangination, and imagination is the forerunner of all scientific discoveries.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I disagree with the previous reviewer, Nov. 1 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Paperback)
There is a difference between writing passable fiction, and writing great fiction. I think this difference is what the previous reveiwer was not understanding. Sure, with no research and making things up as you go you can write competent, average stories. But not great ones. And it is to authors of great stories that this book will appeal. The book assumes you are not an amateur, that you want to publish. And it quite frankly tells you that certain things will not get you published. So while some readers might feel stifled, these readers must then be prepared to be un-published, at least in the sorts of magazines that the editors of this book are involved in.
Further, I dispute the previous reviewers assertion that science fiction does not involve real science. If he does not understand why both I, and the authors of this book, are insisting on fact (or at least, a reasonable explanation for deviation from actual fact) then I suggest that his problem is not with us, but with Aristotle. Aristotle was the first to write about rhetorical strategy, and his theories on the necessity for and distinction between probability and possibility are still quite useful.
Oh, and to all aspiring sci-fi authors, I especially recommend the chapter on the ideas that wouldn't die.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A Reader's Opinion, April 17 2000
By 
M. D. Cummings "Marv" (Kanosh, Utah United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Paperback)
Have you ever been taken in by a movie with an all-star cast where you paid for the ticket, slipped comfortably way down into a reclining theatre chair and waited and waited and waited to be entertained? The acting isn't disappointing because it's an all-star cast, but the spaceship is a cardboard cutout painted silver with a sparkler in its tailpipe. That's the way I felt when I read this book.
Well, I didn't buy the book to be entertained; I bought it because of the casting, and I hoped to be able to learn from the sci fi greats. All I got was cardboard cutouts and a few realistic sparklers, and a feeling that the authors were paid a handsom sum because of their names.
The first several essays seemed to use an old eighties impact seminar approach, which was, strip the person (reader) down of his self confidence then build him back up the way you want him to think. For instance, I felt when I read this book, that I first needed to be a scientist struggling to write a science fiction novel; I needed to put in an extreme amount of hard work, and do it because it's fun and not for the money. Then, when I completed my novel, I needed to send it to an editor who is waiting to tell me and 5,000 other hopeful writers that my work is imaturish. Oh, by the way, my book is crap because it doesn't rival E=mc2.
Good science fiction does not have to comply with known science facts. If I wanted to read science I would read my son's Chemistry book. I want fiction and fantasy. Example, just Because two gases are volatile on earth, doesn't mean those same gases are volatile on an alien planet. There's always the unknown factor and nothing has to be explained unless it's part of the story.
The greatest disappointment of this book is it already is showing its age. The reference books, (many of them) are books written in the '70s'. That tells me that were looking at a static universe in the genre of sci fi, rather than the expanding universe of sci fi.
Imagination cannot be stifled by dusty scientific facts. What is fact in science today may well be a windmill tomorrow. Today's writers, can with their imaginations, create real worlds by imagination alone. Maybe that's where my conflict on this book enters. I believe in a God created universe, and that God had an imagination not a chemistry book. You know I hear that science still can't create a rose in the laboratory, or display love, premonitions, spirit, or God Himself. So why should I be tethered to a long chain of unimaginable facts. It's time that sci fi writers use their imaginations and quit writing encyclopedias. Who cares how bright or how long a sun will last in a sci fi world. The fact is the sun is going to collapse. The plot is, how do you get everyone out in time and who will you take?
Well, the above is only my opinion and what will it count, after all, I'm only a reader.
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Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy
Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy by Analog and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (Paperback - Feb. 15 1993)
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