In the Future, Tense

June 12, 2010

For Geeks of A Certain Age

Filed under: science fiction — carolynanderson09 @ 1:41 pm

I am one of a generation of girls who was traumatized by the Janis Ian song “At Seventeen.” It was so agonizingly, heart-wrenchingly, completely empathetic to my life as the fat, smart girl growing up in a white-flight suburb that didn’t know what to do with me, I could actually barely stand to listen to it.

I’ve since gotten to meet Ms. Ian.  She’s a science fiction fan and author and a really nice person.  And for the Nebula Awards this year, she re-worked “At Seventeen” into “The Welcome Home” song. This new version is also heart-wrenchingly and completely empathetic to my now former life as the fat, smart girl growing up in a white-flight suburb, but it an entirely different way.


June 5, 2010

Sidewise Award Nomination!

As it is pretty well known by now that CL Anderson and Sarah Zettel are one and the same, I figure I can announce this here.

I’ve been nominated for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for my story “The Persistence of Souls,” which appears in the Book View Press Anthology, THE SHADOW CONSPIRACY: Tales of the Steam Age Vol. I

Here’s the official announcement from BVC:

Book View Cafe author Sarah Zettel has been nominated for this year’s Sidewise Award for Alternate History for her story “The Persistence of Souls,” published in the exclusive Book View Press collection THE SHADOW CONSPIRACY: Tales of the Steam Age Vol. I .

THE SHADOW CONSPIRACY is a unique, original anthology, created and published exlcusively by the author-members of Book View Cafe.

A collection of stories set on alternative earth, a place powered by steam and magic, THE SHADOW CONSPIRACY takes place in a world of dreamers, experimenters and engineers, soulless humans and ensouled machines was born of most unlikely parents: four poets who gathered one cold summer on the shores of Lake Geneva in 1816.  All-new and never-before-seen, these stories explore the unfolding consequences of that gathering — and how it changed everything we thought we knew about science and ourselves.


May 12, 2010

Steampunk Photo Contest!

Book View Café announces:



for your inspiration and edification, we offer a free sample from The Shadow Conspiracy

Do you have a killer steampunk ensemble?
A gorgeous nouveau-Victorian parlour?
A seriously classical retro ray-gun?

Take a photo and send it to Book View Café!  Winners chosen by our elite cadre of judges will receive prizes including:

The Shadow Conspiracy volume I
The Shadow Conspiracy volume II (coming in December 2010)
other wonderful ebooks from BVC authors
selected winning photos used as illustrations in The Shadow Conspiracy volume II!

There will also be a Reader’s Choice Award (prize TBA) at the Book View Blog!

Get creative!  Dress up your friends!  Masquerade as characters from The Shadow Conspiracy such as Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, Mary Shelley, Marie Laveau…

As inspiration, Book View Café will offer daily free sample stories from The Shadow Conspiracy I the week of March 24.


1. Photos must be in .jpg format, maximum 1 MB in size.

2. Photos must be emailed to //

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between March 24, 2010 and June 1, 2010.

3. By submitting your photo to the contest, you verify that:

~ You own the publication rights to the photo.

~ You agree to allow Book View Café and Book View Press to use the photo as an illustration in The Shadow Conspiracy volume II and related promotional materials.

~ Any persons depicted in the photo or owners of private property depicted in the photo agree to allow Book View Café and Book View Press to use the photo as an illustration in The Shadow Conspiracy volume II and related promotional materials.

~ BVC reserves the right to disqualify any photo deemed offensive or inappropriate.

April 8, 2010

The Starting Point

Filed under: CL Anderson,science fiction,writing,writing life — carolynanderson09 @ 4:43 pm
Tags: , ,

I have reached a conclusion.

All stories start in the middle.

This is because characters imitate live people in the mind of the author.  There is always a long string of events stretching back before the point of the story’s opening.  You could start with the Big Bang, and the author would picture that infinitely small point quivering with energy and anticipation and work backward through the void before time to understand, to their own satisfaction, how we actually get to God saying “New universe in 3…2…1…”

This was brought home to me yet again while working on the Current Project, and, frankly, getting a whole lot of nowhere.  Usually, this means I don’t know enough about what came before.  This time, I thought I had it worked out, all nice, and for me, relatively neat.  Convinced of this fact (it’s amazing how you can delude yourself about a story, something that is essentially an illusion), I totally missed the big, glaring question I hadn’t asked, and hadn’t tracked back to its source.

My heroine should be dead.  When the story opens, she really shouldn’t be there, and she knows it.  But she is there.


Time to backtrack.

April 6, 2010

Video from the Philip K. Dick Ceremony

April 5, 2010

Science Fiction is Harder

Filed under: ideas,science fiction,writing,writing life — carolynanderson09 @ 12:32 pm

Than other genres.  It’s not because of the nature of its readers, or because it’s “the literature of ideas.”  All literature is of ideas, it’s just that not all ideas are grand ideas, and certainly not all ideas within SF are grand ideas.

It’s not even harder because of the level of research involved.  Regency England is also an alien world, and I have piles of books about it that I have to reference for details and events in order to ensure accuracy.

It’s harder because you have to make EVERYTHING up, and then you have to describe it all.

If I’m writing about Regency England, or modern day New York City (and at the moment, I am writing about both), I have to describe and explain.  But when I talk about a taxi, people know, mostly, what a taxi is, what a cell phone is, and how a busy sidewalk looks.  If I’m in Regency England, people know what a horse looks like, they have a general idea of what the contryside looks like, and with a little extra description, I can get them onto the busy sidewalk, because they’ve got an integral understanding of the basic facts.

But if I’m writing about a massive, ancient space station, I not only have to get the readers there, I have to get myself there, and it’s a place where none of us have reference points.  I have to understand size, location, how the basic mechanisms work, and then I have to get in the life engineering details, where and how the people live, how the people are kept alive.  THEN I have to get in how the people have reacted to these details.  How they adapt, how they build, how they create and organize themselves in response to the conditions under which they live.  How have their beliefs, social and spiritual adapted to this.  What have they remembered about their own story?  What have they forgotten?  What have they deliberately over-written?  I’ve got to have all of this, or at least the majority of it set in my head before I can start explaining it all to the reader, and that explanation has got to be entertaining, or I won’t have readers for very long.

And I have to do this for each and every setting, civilization, ship and time period in the book.

I’m not complaining, really I’m not.  But I am starting over on a new project (a proposal for a new space opera), and I’m getting reminded yet again, of all of these facts.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and it’s exciting, it’s an eternal process of discovery (and an opportunity for creating an Ancient Martian Menace), but it is a lot, a lot of work.

And so, it’s done with the blog and back to the salt mines.  Wish me luck.

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