The Hopeful Side of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

By Megan Hunter

I can chart the progress of my life through the types of apocalypse I have feared. As a child, the endings I imagined were natural, even cosmic: the land swallowed by the sea, the sun swallowing the earth. When I was an adolescent the man-made came to the fore, as I searched for mushroom shapes in clouds and imagined the exact moment of an explosion: would I know it was happening, I wondered, or would there only be after; dimness, blood, confusion.

As a young adult, I would visualize the carcasses of the planes I traveled on, post-crash, the way their bellies would be lifted from the sea with a winch, spun around like part of a whale. This was a smaller-scale disaster, but I could also imagine all the planes falling from the sky at once, dropping in a synchronized movement to the land below.

When I had my first child, my visions took on a new realism: the key dates of climate change no longer had a vague, post-death strangeness to them. They were the likely years of my son’s life. Now, I imagined him walking through a world too hot to exist in, or living in a city that had become a new Atlantis, its underwater streets swum through by fishes, its buildings draped in seaweed.

Read the full article at Literary Hub.

Read more "The Hopeful Side of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction"

We Are All Allies

By Dan Koboldt

IKoboldtn some ways, publishing is a zero-sum game. There are only so many slots in the schedule of traditional publishers. Only ten books can occupy the top ten list, and only one can win the Hugo. Yet the most dangerous and pervasive threat to the aspiring author is not another author, nor is it a big bad publisher. Nor is it a certain online store. No, the biggest threat is the ever-shrinking reading time the average person has in our modern world.

Books once enjoyed very little competition in this arena. Now, time that was once given over to reading is spent on the internet, on social media, on Netflix. The geek who used to read forty hours a week now spends them playing Dragon Age. That’s why authors need to band together: to remind the world of the importance of books. To get them to choose reading over skimming and streaming. Mark my words, fellow authors, we will live or die by our ability to do so.

Read the full article at SFWA.org.

Read more "We Are All Allies"

The Soldiers’ Pocket Books

Nicholas C. Rossis

Even though pamphlets and softcover books have been available in Europe since the 16th century, US readers looked down on them until well into the 20th century. As a recent Atlas Obscura post by Cara Giaimo explains, without a mass-market distribution model in place, it was difficult to make money selling inexpensive books.

Although certain brands succeeded by partnering with department stores, individual booksellers preferred to stock their shops with sturdier, better-looking hardbacks, for which they could charge higher prices. Even those who were trying to change the public’s mind bought into this prejudice: one paperback series, Modern Age Books, disguised its offerings as hardcovers, adding dust jackets and protective cardboard sleeves. They, too, couldn’t hack it in the market, and the company folded in the 1940s.

Wartime Reading

Armed Services Editions | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Soldiers in Virginia wrangle with hardcover books donated through the VBC. Image via Atlas Obscura.

Then, war came. In September of…

View original post 1,156 more words

Read more "The Soldiers’ Pocket Books"

Putting Archaeology to Work in Fantasy Fiction

By Alter S. Reiss

“Getting the archaeology right” doesn’t actually matter that much when it comes to fantasy. The fact is, when it comes to secondary worlds, a lot of the absolutely basic assumptions don’t make any sense. Why are there people in this world, whose history—whose natural history—is so different from ours? If dragons and elder gods and all that were around for hundreds of thousands of years, why are the horses and carrots and stews and pie in that world exactly the same as ours?

Once you’re willing to swallow that horses are the same despite gryphon-related predation pressures, why strain at faceted diamonds a few centuries too early?

Even if something is set in an actual time and place, the sort of mistakes that archaeologists notice don’t matter that much. Writing about anything—mainly horses and guns, but really, anything—will upset people who know the subject well, but there are very few works that fail artistically because they annoyed experts.

Read the full article at Tor.com.

Read more "Putting Archaeology to Work in Fantasy Fiction"

Scientists Are Rewriting the History of Photosynthesis

By Jordana Cepelewicz

RESEARCHERS HAVE CAUGHT their best glimpse yet into the origins of photosynthesis, one of nature’s most momentous innovations. By taking near-atomic, high-resolution X-ray images of proteins from primitive bacteria, investigators at Arizona State University and Pennsylvania State University have extrapolated what the earliest version of photosynthesis might have looked like nearly 3.5 billion years ago. If they are right, their findings could rewrite the evolutionary history of the process that life uses to convert sunlight into chemical energy.

Read the full article at Wired.

Read more "Scientists Are Rewriting the History of Photosynthesis"