Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Highlights from Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by Crawford Killian ~ Part I

As I've mentioned in past blogs, I'm currently working on the critical thesis part of obtaining my MFA in creative writing.  Part of this process includes reading different craft and fiction books so that I have a wealth of source quotes to add credence to my assertions as well as make the paper much more interesting and colorful.  I've mentioned this book before: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by Crawford Killian, but it's worth mentioning again.  A good deal of the information contained within (as is the case with most specialized craft books) is common sense to serious writers but it's never a bad idea to go back to the basics from time to time.  I found numerous gems in this book and while I'm including a variety of Killian quotes in my paper, I simply cannot include them all.  I decided to share these with the contributors and readers of this blog.  May they ignite your imagination, provide clarity, and inform.

“But even the humblest hackwork requires a certain level of craft, and that means you must understand your genre’s conventions if you are going to succeed – and especially if you are going to convey your message by tinkering with those conventions” (Killian 14). 

“The characters are moved from a state of ignorance to a state of knowledge, and defining their identities by their actions” (Killian 15).

“A science fiction or fantasy story provides similar evidence for a mythic vision of a world we imagine living in” (Killian 15). 

“But you may also may also make your fantasy or future worlds just a little too cozy and similar to our own – when the whole purpose of the genres is to show us the familiar in a context of the new, the strange, and the wonderful” (Killian 15).

“The far-future story often tends to the mythotropic, portraying persons and societies acting out their deepest urges, with the scientific resources to do so. The fun arises in seeing how holding enormous power makes little difference to people who are still enslaved by the same drives that we are” (Killian 23-24).

“Such books are often fun, but beware of the liberation movement that wants to solve its dystopian problems by going back to the U.S. Constitution or some other current document. We would not think much of a current rebel movement that wanted to rescue us by restoring the Roman Empire, adopting the social structure of the Incas, or imposing the Wiccan religion on everyone. So why should we suppose that our political institutions and values will be suitable to the societies of the far future?” (Killian 26).


Kilian, Crawford. Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. U.S.A.: Self-Counsel, 1998. Print.

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