Top positive review
Great for Science Fiction, not for Fantasy
on May 3, 2004
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.