Top 5 Online Resources for Science Fiction Writers
Guest Post by Erica Verrillo
Of all the fiction genres, sci-fi – aka speculative fiction – stands as the one least likely to inspire a casual encounter. Sci-fi buffs are die-hards. That’s because sci-fi authors are required not just to do world-building, but to do universe-building. That’s real escapism. Traditionally, a background in science has been virtually mandatory for sci-fi writers, and there are still many sci-fi magazines that require a strong scientific element in their published stories. But, as the concept of “science” has marched on to include not just the “hard sciences” (notably, physics and biology) but the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, history, and, to a certain extent, linguistics), sci-fi has matched pace. At this point, the subgenres are almost too numerous to name: cyberpunk, steampunk, apocalyptic, dystopian, space opera, spy-fi, and, of course, anything written by a woman. (For decades, sci-fi has been an all-male club.) Naturally, such a variety allows for considerable leeway, not just in what may be considered sci-fi, but how to write it. There is perhaps no other genre that has encompassed such a broad range of writing styles and voice.
How lucrative is the sci-fi market? It’s hard to say. Compared to romance novels, which generate a huge amount of revenue, sci-fi is a country cousin. But, what the sci-fi market lacks in big bucks, it makes up in sheer rebellion. Recently, Hugh Howey sold the print rights to his underground sci-fi hit, Wool, to Simon & Schuster for a “mid-six-figure” advance. Howey turned down “multiple” seven-figure advances because he’d already raked in over a million dollars of royalties from his self-published eBook. And Howey isn’t the only word-of-mouth wonder in the sci-fi world. This is a genre that thrives in the dark, subterranean alleys of the net, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no man has gone before.
These sites will help you on your mission.
1) Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction
There aren’t many institutions of higher learning that offer programs in science fiction. The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas is, to our great delight, one of them. Their vision is stated clearly and unequivocally on their home page: “We are working to save the world through science fiction! To help achieve this, we have built a comprehensive program to serve SF students, educators, scholars, and fans, and through this extend the influence of this literature of change and the human species onto the world at large.”
You may think it doesn’t get much better than saving the world, but it does. Their resources list is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. Here you will find websites for writers, teaching and scholarly resources, awards, magazines, review sites, anthologies, fandom, blogs, artists, conferences, author websites, and more. When you are done browsing this site, I guarantee you will feel as if you are not in Kansas anymore.
If you are going for sheer quantity this is a site that has reams of it: book reviews, opinion pieces, author interviews, fiction excerpts, author and publisher reading lists, a comprehensive list of links to author and fan tribute sites, sci-fi conventions, sci-fi TV and movies, magazines and e-zines, writer resources, publishers and small press sites, and many other sci-fi resources. For researching your competition, nothing beats this site.
3) Links to Science Fiction Websites
This page features a very long list of sci-fi sites (over 300). It is not as well organized, or as broad in scope, as the Gunn Center’s page, but there is a greater focus on contemporary sci-fi magazines, fan pages, and review sites, which makes this list quite useful to those trying to get stories published.
4) Top 50 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels Blogs
I always include this blog list in my “Top 5” posts no matter what the genre, because this is simply the best blog list out there. There isn’t a blog on this list you shouldn’t read. That being said, start at the top and work your way down. (You will notice that SFsite is at the top. There’s a reason for that.) The advantages of reading good blogs about your genre (and others) are almost too numerous to list- great writing tips, the latest news, reviews, entertaining stories, all the industry scuttlebutt – but essentially all these benefits boil down to one thing: you will not know what is going on in your field unless you read these blogs. Being up to date is something all agents and publishers expect of writers.
5) Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
SFWA is the professional organization for authors of science fiction and fantasy. Past and present members include Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, and Andre Norton. It goes without saying that if you join SFWA, you will be in good company.
In their own words: “SFWA informs, supports, promotes, defends and advocates for its members. We host the prestigious Nebula Awards, assist members in legal disputes with publishers, and administer benevolent funds for authors facing medical or legal expenses. Novice authors benefit from our Information Center and the well-known Writer Beware site.
SFWA Membership is open to authors, artists, editors, reviewers, and anyone else with a professional involvement with sci-fi or fantasy. Affiliate membership is $70 a year. Professional membership is $90.
Erica Verrillo is the author of three middle reader fantasies: Elissa’s Quest, Elissa’s Odyssey, and World’s End (Random House). She also writes medical reference books. Her most recent book is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide, 2nd Edition. Visit her at http://www.ericaverrillo.com and at http://www.cfstreatmentguide.com/