Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web:
Speculative fiction in general:
- Damien Walter argues that J.R.R. Tolkien's works are profoundly conservative.
- Also at The Guardian, Marina Warner discusses the current fairy tale boom.
- Debra Purdy Kong discusses the ongoing debate about gender balance in fiction. The focus here is on the crime and mystery genre, but the situation in speculative fiction is the same.
- Alix E. Harrow talks about administrating imaginary empires as described in Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword and Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor.
- Walidah Imarisha discusses how science fiction and fantasy can help to envision an alternative society.
- At SF Signal, Amanda Bridgeman talks about Australian science fiction.
- At The Telegraph, Anne Billson insists that science fiction and fantasy are the new "opiates for the masses".
- Derek Alan Siddoway talks about medieval westerns.
- The winners of the 2014 Rhysling Awards for speculative poetry have been announced.
- At io9, Charlie Jane Anders asks people to stop criticising original science fiction movies for using genre tropes.
- At Vanity Fair, Joanna Robinson points out that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us the female Marvel superhero we've been clamouring for.
- At The Atlantic, Steven Heller introduces the greatest animated film that was never finished, Richard Williams' The Thief and the Cobbler.
Writing, publishing and promotion:
- Susan Defreitas dissects the fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin in an attempt to define why Le Guin is so successful at characterisation.
- David Neth shares his writing process from idea to first draft.
- Domino Finn explains how long it took him to write his paranormal thriller The Blood of Brothers.
- Elena Linville talks about the dreaded middle.
- Jeroen Steenbeeke talks about creating a conflict matrix.
- N.P. Martin explains why perseverance is the key to writing success and how to cultivate it.
- Simone Pond talks about book postpartum depression.
- Ian Ryan shares writing advice from Raymond Chandler.
- Ian Fleming explains how to write a thriller.
- Steve Vernon talks about writing at pulp speed. There is also a follow-up post.
- Edie Melson explains how the 2015 Facebook changes could affect authors.
- Judy Goodwin interviews Lazarus Infinity.
- J.T.Baptiste interviews Cora Buhlert.
- Nicky Peacock interviews Anne Tibbets.
- Aaron Bady interviews Sofia Samatar.
- Fantasy Scroll Mag interviews William Meikle.
- XinXii interviews Jen Minkman.
- Denis Scheck interviews George R.R. Martin (with annoying German voice-over, unfortunately).
- Michael Patrick Hicks reviews Angel of the Abyss by Ed Kurtz.
- Michael Brookes reviews Convergence by Michael Patrick Hicks.
- SciFi365 also reviews Convergence by Michael Patrick Hicks.
- Elena Linville reviews Cold Hillside by Nancy Baker.
- Paul Di Filippo reviews Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett.
- Yoshi, the cat of author Robert J. Smith reviews Ginger, the Buddha Cat by Frank Kusy.
- A six-year-old girl reviews Interstellar.
- Athena's Daughters Volume 2, an anthology of speculative fiction by up and coming women writers, is looking for funding.
- Tales of the Weird Wild West, an anthology of weird western fiction, is looking for backers.
- Iron Sky 2: The Coming Race, sequel to the crowdfunded indie SF movie Iron Sky, is looking for funding.
- Writer Saladin Ahmed could use some help.
Science and technology:
- Techcrunch explains what artificial intelligence is not.
- Motherboard explains that while there are plenty of planets in the galaxy that are potentially capable of bearing life, unfortunately none of them are anywhere near us.
- Russia is apparently planning to build its own space station.
- NASA has concepts for an airship based cloud city on Venus.
- A double amputee was fitted with two robotic arms he can control with his mind.
Odds and ends:
- Playboy ranks every episode of every Star Trek series ever.
- Professional swordsmen explain how the crossguard lightsabre from the new Star Wars trailer might work in real combat.
- Watch a clip from Marvel's upcoming Agent Carter TV series.
- Watch a clip from the upcoming BBC adaptation of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
- Watch the trailer for this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special.
- Watch the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road.
- Watch the first trailer for Insurgent, based on Veronica Roth's eponymous novel.
- This is amazing: Christmas lights set and choreographed to the soundtrack of all six Star Wars movies.