The Craft of Writing: When I Ignore Science

Writing science fiction – especially hard science fiction, where you're expected to keep to what modern science believes is possible, rather than inventing force fields, lightswords, faster-than-light-drives, or other accoutrements of space opera – is a demanding task. It's not necessarily harder than writing, say, good epic fantasy; they're both equally difficult, in my view, just with different areas of difficulty. It does, however, have external demands that other types of speculative fiction don't really have to worry about. In my "day [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Superman

  "That man won't quit as long as he can still draw a breath. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem. I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose, and show you just how powerful I really am!"      The Man of Tomorrow. The Last Son of Krypton. The Man of Steel. [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Into every generation, there is a chosen one. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness; To stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer."   Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the biggest media phenomena of its generation, and probably the single largest reason for the explosion in popularity of urban fantasy in the last few decades. While it has many ancestors (including the original movie, which [ Continue reading... ]

Authorial Musings: Ideas Are Not Valuable

  One of the most pernicious – and ultimately damaging – myths that newbie or would-be authors often buy into (and I do not exclude myself from this!) is that "my ideas are valuable!" Specifically, they think their ideas are so valuable that they must HIDE those ideas to keep other authors or publishers from stealing them. In almost all circumstances, this is utterly untrue. Believing this myth severely constrains a prospective author (or other artist) because they look at other authors and editors as, at best, competitors, and at [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Glinda of Oz

The final volume of the fourteen Oz books written by L. Frank Baum sees Ozma and Dorothy on a visit to Glinda, when Dorothy, idly paging through the Great Book of Records, discovers a cryptic notation that the Flatheads and Skeezers – previously unknown inhabitants of Oz – have begun a war. Ozma is determined not to permit war within her borders, and decides to set out directly for these people in the far north of the Gillikin country and convince them to make peace. Glinda tries to convince her, several times, not to get involved, [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Magic of Oz

With The Magic of Oz we approach the end of the original series, as this is the thirteenth and penultimate book in the novels by Baum himself. Young Kiki Aru, a boy of the Hyup people who live atop Mount Munch, is a bored and indolent sort of boy, the kind who seems always unwilling to be part of the community around him. One day, however, he discovers the only magical secret his father, Bini Aru, had preserved from the days that Bini Aru was a great Sorcerer: the magical word "Pyrzqxgl", complete with instructions on how to pronounce this [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Tin Woodman of Oz

  Woot the Wanderer is, as his name says, a wanderer of Oz, originally from the Gillikin country, who arrives in his travels at the Palace of the Tin Woodman. That worthy, always interested in newcomers, has Woot brought in and asks him to tell of himself and his travels. But after this, as Woot is enjoying a dinner (which, naturally, neither the Tin Woodman nor his current companion, the Scarecrow, partake of), Woot asks how the Woodman came to be made of tin.   The Woodman recounts the story – how he came to love a Munchkin [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: The Lost Princess of Oz

  Eleventh in the series, The Lost Princess of Oz follows up on Rinkitink in Oz with another excellent tale, one of the best in the canon, and one of those most deeply influential in my writing of Polychrome. Dorothy Gale, going to Ozma's rooms to ask if she and her friends Betsy and Trot could take the Saw-Horse and royal carriage to visit the Munchkin country, discovers that Ozma has disappeared; even more disturbing, her Magic Picture is gone, so they cannot use it to discover where Ozma is. Shortly, they learn that Glinda's [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Rinkitink in Oz

  With the tenth book of the Oz series, we reach one of the most important books to my writing of Polychrome, and also one of my favorite books in the series. Thus, rather than a mere On My Shelves, this book gets an Under the Influence all to itself It is worth noting that. Rinkitink began existence as another of Baum's non-Oz fantasies, but Baum repurposed it as an Oz novel and that is how it has become known.   On the idyllic tropical island of Pingaree in the Nonestic Ocean (the ocean that surrounds the lands of Faerie) [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Scarecrow of Oz

Baum wrote many other stories, although none of them reached the popularity of the Oz novels. He wrote two books, titled The Sea Fairies and Sky Island, featuring a diminuitive girl nicknamed Trot and her guardian, the old seaman called Cap'n Bill, as the two went on strange faerie adventures under water and into the sky.   In the second volume, the pair encounter two familiar faces from the Oz novels, the eternal lost boy Button-Bright (who is slightly older, and considerably less stupid, than he was in his appearance in The Road to [ Continue reading... ]