REVIEW: FIRST CONTACT: The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction – Volume One

Title: The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction – Volume One
Many article contributors: Edited by Dave A. Law and Darin Park
Publisher: Dragon Moon Press
Publisher Website:
Genre: Writing / Non-fiction
Publish date: October 2007
ISBN: 9781896944396
Format: Print
Length: 311 pages
Reviewer: Sassy Brit

Don't succumb to the gravitational pull without checking what hyperspace is like first!

FIRST CONTACT: The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction – Volume One is a reference book bursting with energy. In the Part One 'Defining'' the book begins with interesting discussions about what makes a story science fiction (SF), and which stories first began this genre. Early examples of adventures with monsters developed into serious fiction with new themes, which included the sociological and psychological impact of their characters. The precursor to present day SF, and how it continues to grow in sophistication and intellectualism. 'Searching for the Definitive Definition of SF' (Jeanne Allen), guides you through the difficulties in determining the boundaries between fantasy, science fantasies and SF speculative fiction, distinguishing from science that has already been proven and could be improved upon, to fantasy science, which is an impossibility. So, from now on no more digging yourself into a wormhole.

Part two is all about the 'Building' in SF, technology, world building, creating (and avoiding clichéd) aliens and navigating around space, an alien world to most authors. Where as the art of 'Crafting' is the main focus in part three; characters, plot, and settings. Part four is about specialising in other areas such as fan fiction, graphic novels, and young readers aged eight to twelve. Finally in part five, there are useful articles about what to do once you have written your story (Michele Acker), Book promotion, (Ian Irvine) and The Writing Life (Piers Anthony),

What does the term technobabble mean? How can you create non-physical possibilities to enhance your writing to improve your possibilities of success? You'll find the answers here; from the basics of writing genre fiction, dealing with writers block right through to selling the finished product. There are thought provoking and informative views from featured authors already mentioned above, and Milena Benini, Orson Scott Card, Carol Hightshoe, and also editors Dave A. Law and Darin Park - plus more. This is a reference book, which I know will be invaluable to all SF writers and I happily recommend it to all who will listen to me babble on about what a good book this is, and why all SF writers need it on their bookshelf! To be honest, I carried this book around with me everywhere. So much, in fact, that my copy is now dogeared, the glossy cover has a sheen of fingerprints, and basically it's looking quite forlorn, although well loved. I know it's silly to say, but despite such rough treatment the book's spine has held up and is in good condition making it one of those books you can open and press down in the middle and it won't fall to pieces. Chunky little fellow. Handy when you can't put a book down and still need both hands to eat.

What really got me starry-eyed was the extra features in the appendixes; my favourite being the section where you could find out more about your favourite SF authors, the sub-genre of SF they write, and their scientific background (or lack of). Where does yours fit in? This engrossing book has been the cause of death for many an evening meal, transforming the edible into something resembling a dishevelled post-apocalyptic disaster!

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