July 6, 2010

Writing Like Crazy: Blank Space ... The Final Frontier

While the majority of my efforts in writing reside in horror and fantasy, I like to think that I don't have to stick strictly to any one genre. I mean, it's not like I have a readership with expectations for my work. That kind of burden is afforded to the accomplish authors. So, I took a crack at writing science-fiction for the first time this year.

Lemme tell ya, stepping outside what might be considered a comfort zone (horror and fantasy) into unfamiliar territory (science-fiction), especially when that blank page stared me down, was not the greatest feeling in the world. I read sci-fi literature, sure, but my experiences reading it have been a mixed bag, which has caused me to hold some unflattering opinions towards the genre.

I chalk those reading experiences up to bad luck, as I am only now becoming familiar with authors in the genre who I either enjoy or would likely enjoy. I mean, I'm a guy who has so far had, at best, tepid responses towards the works of the holy trinity of science-fiction--Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. Imagine if, as a horror fan, I said I didn't care for the works of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Richard Laymon (let debate ring on which authors truly comprise the holy trinity of horror).

So, for me, it felt like a bit of effrontery to write a sci-fi short story and submit it. I'm not immersed in the sci-fi culture beyond an abiding love for the Star Trek franchise, something that would likely inflame the tempers of people who consider themselves "true" sci-fi lovers. And I hold a very real aversion to the so-called hard science-fiction, because I find it bland and wearisome. Doesn't that kind of sound like blasphemy to some?

I do hold a very real appreciation for the genre, however, and it goes without saying that some of my favorite horror stories are rooted in science-fiction--or maybe that's the other way around--such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ridley Scott's Alien. And, of course, John Carpenter's The Thing. That's kind of where I was coming from when I came up with the story I submitted, though I wrote something decidedly less horrific.

It turns out that my first venture into sci-fi, "The Stand-Ins," passed muster and received an acceptance from Pill Hill Press. It's currently listed to be included in the anthology, Zero Gravity. So, it looks like I can add "sci-fi" as one of the genres in which I write. I think the key was focusing on the content of the story and letting the genre be the window dressing.

What do you think?


  1. Congrats!

    I do think that worrying about 'genre' too much can be detrimental. If it's a good story, it's a good story, regardless of how people will categorize it. I also keep hearing stories of people who think they're writing one thing, and then when they're on the road to publication, they're told it's another.

  2. Congratulations. I've only written a handful of science fiction stories (and most of those were dark) and haven't read nearly enough. John Wyndham is my favourite sci-fi author.

  3. Celia - I hear you on the whole "being told it's something else" thing. I've had a couple of stories critiqued in one category, only to be told I should submit it to markets in another genre. Go figure.

    Cate - I'm with you on not reading enough of the stuff. I may have to check out Wyndham sometime.