Tee Jay's Reviews > How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
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Mar 27, 11

Read from March 13 to 19, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 3

I have owned Orson Scott Card's How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction since 2007 and have repeatedly tried to read through it. It's a tough go. Indeed, How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction is not as good as some of the other books on writing Science Fiction/Fantasy that I've read as of late. 'Tis disappointing, coming from one of the leading figures in speculative fiction.

It's not that How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction is written badly—the book is written well. And it's not like there isn't anything good to come out of it, because Card does include a lot of anecdotes and lessons in this text. No, what I think is most problematic about this book is that it is dated in a lot of different ways. That, and the fact that there was just something missing from it all. I came away from reading this book wanting more. Also, Card puts way too much of himself in the book. The most glaring problem of all, however, was that Card does not even pay lip service, or even hint at the possibility, of the notion of “speculative fiction” and all that it can be. Indeed, in How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction Card seems preternaturally fixated on getting aspiring science fiction and/or fantasy writers to pick a genre and adhere to its conventions. This is probably some of the worst advice, unless Card secretly wants to see a world where perpetually drab and formulaic fiction continues to be published ad infinitum.

This book needs a revision and expansion. It was published in 1990, a few years before the Internet explosion, so that in itself should generate enough content for a new edition. Of course Card has also gone on to publish more stories, no doubt adding to the well of experience Card could draw from for the new edition.

In a nutshell, this book is very dated, definitely a characteristic you want to avoid if you are trying to write cutting-edge speculative fiction.
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