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for Writing Speculative Fiction: A Nerd's Guide

3/21/2010 c10 1Dagonmaster
First off, I really want to thank you for posting this online. Your guide is really informative for it essentially lists all the things most writers do on this site.

This is great in my view for there were even certain cliches and overused plots that you mention, that I hadn't even considered.

For that I must say thanks because that really opened my eyes. In terms of the impact, I'll be definitely looking over my first work once more to look at discrepancies.

This is a side note, but I do agree with you on the whole evil factions being feudalistic or being totally good or evil.

Heck, that was the reason why in one of my stories, I made one the warring factions a democracy, as well as both sides committing some pretty villainous deeds.

Also in terms of my villain, I'm definitely not taking the cliche route for I wish to make him different. Overall, I apologize for making this so long, and I wish to thank you once more for the guide.

P.S: I know this is kind of mean, but your comment on vampires and its connection with goth girls was hilarious, and is so true.
7/3/2009 c44 Brenda Agaro
I love this. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this amazing guide. Really helpful. :D
4/19/2009 c11 2infundibuliform
I'm kind of a newb to science fiction, but have you ever read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman? How he introduced the villains was really disturbing and made you hate them quickly. I think you'll like it.
10/22/2008 c33 1Talon88.1
First off, I have to say that this read is so helpful to someone such as myself who has little knowledge of engineering. I have incorporated several of your ideas into my work, and I was simply stopping by to pose a question to you.

The EM shield idea struck me once I was working on my own story, and the thought that it would only affect metallic objects.

The enemies I created use plasma weapons sheathed in an EM 'bubble' as it were, and your EM shield hit me suddenly.

If a ball of plasma bubble is held together by an EM and is said bubble is dispersed by the shield, that would mean that the bubble would lose choerancy and eventually spread out by outside infulances correct?

Now, say that the bubble was on target and would impact, but the bubble was still broken. The plasma would spread out, thereby affecting a wider area, but would not go as deep. The thing that is grinding at me is this: Plasma is the foruth state of matter, and thereby holds a slightly different affects on other elements.

Would plasma, once freed from its protective and re-heating EM bubble, freeze instantly once exposed to -270 degrees? If thats true, then the aformentioned hit would result in nothing more then a chunk of ice hitting the side of the ship, right?

If you dont want to reply, thats ok, I was just hoping to get an answer without having to wade through my textbooks yet again.
10/2/2008 c43 7C Shot
As a Marine in Iraq, I can tell you that your brief outline on squad tatics was very minimal at the very least, but if you do decide to cover that in a future column feel free to email me. I can give insight in modern Military Operation in Urban Terrain squad level tatics.

On that note though, I read through most of the columns today and I am highly impressed by them. Well written, I only found one typo (I wasn't looking that hard though) and nothing that made my eyes bleed.

Can't really argue too many points either. Then again, I am mostly a Fantasy reader that has read a little into sci-fi to new a few of the books you mentioned. However, it's not like there is a library around for me to check the others out.

9/1/2008 c43 6Ghost in the Machine
A fairly comprehensive, yet brief, look at modern firearms. Will you be writing a companion piece on more 'futuristic' firearms, such as gauss weapons, tasers, microwave beam weapons, etc?
9/1/2008 c33 Ghost in the Machine
Sez you: How, pray tell, would you make projectiles (or worse, lasers) stop in mid-flight using some gravity or electromagnetic generator? There are some simpler alternatives below.

Sez me: Any gravity field will deflect projectiles away from a straight line course. A powerful artificial gravity field will deflect them enough so that they miss your ship entirely, or stop them dead. A sufficiently focused and accurate gravity field could even send them back at the vessel that launched the projectile.

A sufficiently strong gravity field will effect light. (Black holes ring any bells?) As will heat (mirages), and as you mention yourself, water and atmosphere.
7/9/2008 c2 64fatbird33
ooh this is so true. the science fiction people need this guide. i thank you for giving it to them, so i don't have to be afraid to read sci/fi
7/9/2008 c1 fatbird33
i loved the "Table with content" hilarious
6/5/2008 c21 1Talon88.1
Very well researched in informative. One note though. I've been training in Ju-jitsu for about fifteen years now, and not in the watered-down or Bazilain style. Its called Don-Zon-Ryu, and its more combat oriented then others. Same basic idea, with motion following motion, but allows for a bit more along the lines of bone breaking with minimal effort if the holds fail.

Not saying that ones better then another, simply that it is out there now. Just thought you might like to know!

Roll On.
6/5/2008 c4 Talon88.1
Very well done. I plan on reading the whole thing of course, but this line here just needed to be said.

Ehem: 'Given a choice between a gun or girl, take the gun.'

Then using said gun, kill bad guy, take girl.

Roll On.
5/25/2008 c1 31ByYourSide
I'm gonna have to take a closer look at this later.

I have a feeling I'll be needing this guide.

5/25/2008 c33 3The Full Metal Bitch
I'm sorry, but your chapter on "Mechanical Jams" seems to have missed the point spectacularly. You make good, if slightly unfair, points on the "Emo Kid Brigade", but your criticism of gigantic mecha is very misplaced and subjective; mecha are, fundamentally, simply just visual metaphors for their pilots. They're not intended to be realistic war weapons, and criticising them as such is unfair. Eva, Gundam etc. would all be horrible weapons if deployed in real life (well, an Eva maybe not...). Fiction is not real life, nor does it have to be particularly close to it.
5/1/2008 c17 7Justin Carlton
Cheers here as well. The human mind is the best component for horror writing: the psychological stuff is the scariest thing on the planet, and it's the driving force behind everything from abuse to murder to rape to genocide to nuclear war.

Thrilled with your writing as usual.
5/1/2008 c10 Justin Carlton
In browsing the reviews you got for this chapter, it seems to me that the fantasy genre is a topic highly contested and far from settled.

Everyone and their mother has "original" ideas, after all.

When it comes to writing what we call fantasy, I've come to the conclusion that no one can write fantasy stories without some aspect the cliche elements resurfacing. But that's not always a bad thing, because it's the cliche that instills a sense of commonality and draws readers in. Granted, not everyone is an original reader or author, as evidenced by all the pouplar emo/romance crap filling FP's "Just In" page on a daily basis.

What I'm trying to say is, there are extremes and there are compromises. As for me, I like to take elements of Tolkein and give them entirely new dimensions. Elves are the classic fantasy race, and I have no problem using them in stories, and I personally like to see other authors exploiting them - so long as they're not used like cookie-cutter people ripped from age-old classics. If you go to the extreme of creating entirely new everything, you end up with creatures called "Gloks" and "Uputus" and everything else George Lucas tried in his new Star-crap-Wars flicks by trying to be original.

Using the template set out doesn't make you a cliche author, so long as you use those guidelines well (AKA, manipulate them).

I'd like to personally thank you for discrediting those awful vampire/monster "horror" stories too. This is a whole another dimension to the "recycled character" issue.

"Horror", my butt. Nothing could be less original or frightening. I read Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson, and that was all well and good, and I praise them for their use of the vampire because it was groundbreaking then and still frightening. But no one today can touch what they accomplished.

I'll stop the ranting now, because you've done that already.

I have to be honest with you. Any time I read anything you've posted, I find myself impressed by how well-thought out your biases and opinions are, and I appreciate the blunt delivery. Nothing is worse than a lunkhead babbling without a point of authority to back his/her claims.

Nice work, although you don't need an author of lower standings to tell you that.

God bless.
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