Blog Archives

s

Contrary to the genre’s title, most authors writing science fiction know less about science than a curious twelve year-old. Even more surprisingly, one can still write good, even great SF with this impediment!  And I note this as a professional scientist who loves “hard science” works.  While this might seem like great news for the […]

To celebrate the life and work of Jerry Pournelle, we will be giving away volumes of his classic military science fiction series, THERE WILL BE WAR, all week. Today and tomorrow, you can download THERE WILL BE WAR Vol. I for free. If you have never read Dr. Pournelle before, this is an excellent opportunity to acquaint yourself […]

Many people mourned the passing of SF writer Jerry Pournelle. But Dr. Pournelle was more than a writer. He affected many fields and was a significant influence on me. His book that spoke to me the most was A Step Farther Out, a collection of technical essays he’d written. It focused me on how many […]

A frequent criticism of older stories, pulp or otherwise, is that they feature a “damsel in distress”.  That the woman in question is nothing more than a prize to be won.  This is considered bad, and earnest leftist writers of today seek to correct this horrible injustice by creating “strong female protagonists”. Right away, one […]

In science fiction and fantasy, whether employing images or words, creators are always looking for big ideas.  A killer premise, a brilliant spin on a standard story, or something wholly fresh and unique.  And while there are no shortage of movies and books that possess those, it’s not nearly as necessary as one initially believes. […]

When I mention bold fighting heroes laughing at death and their enemies, odious and powerful villains, non-stop action and adventure in picturesque settings, and brave, beautiful, worthy women, what writer comes to mind?  For most readers of this blog, it would be Robert E. Howard.  But another name fits equally well, that of the great […]

Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis, and Military Simulation is destined to become the essential reference and with Volume VI the most historically accurate game on the 1941 invasion of Russia. Historians, students, scenario and game designers will find the extensive data and the methodology to study modern conflict useful. For the lay […]

Not too long ago I finally got through Sterling Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey. Although it undeniably put forth some creative and inspiring ideas, I wasn’t overly impressed. Jeffro’s noted that the book was one of the primary influences of Gamma World, and though I’ve never played it, reading the basic description of the game’s setting is indeed evocative […]

In my weekly column, I usually examine good writing.  However, one can learn as much through the mistakes of others and what to avoid as their successes.  Certain aspects of bad writing have been with us for centuries.  Note how dreadful but eerily similar a piece of popular chick-lit from the 19th century, Dora Thorne, is to […]

My own column from two weeks ago got me thinking recently.  Has there ever been a good, nevermind great science fiction novel that did not feature a strong, unique hero?  We’re not considering short stories or novellas, as some don’t even have significant protagonists, but full-length works. At first, my mind couldn’t come up with an […]

Say what you will about the pulps, but even their most dogged detractor would admit they produced damn memorable heroes.  Tarzan is one of the most influential characters of the 20th century. Conan is still iconic and beloved to this day.  And a slew of others, like The Shadow, Red Sonja, and Doc Savage had […]

Leigh Brackett is something of a staple here at Castalia House and for the Pulp Revolution crowd at large, but I must admit it’s taken me quite a while to get to her stuff. I’ve seen Alex’s reviews, of course, and I’ve noted her constant exclusion by the “women have historically been excluded from SFF!!1” […]