Another Word: A Flock of Crows in a Swan Suit

NON-FICTION by Fran Wilde in Issue 150 – March 2019

rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno ~ Juvenal Modern Translation: Whelp, I sure didn’t see that coming. Recently at a convention, my friend Paul di Filippo moderated a panel where he asked several of us about writing near-future science fiction. Paul invoked Charles Stross’ World building 404: The unknown unknowns regarding worldbuilding, especially in […]

Another Word: Stories that Change the World

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 149 – February 2019

I run an online writing school, and part of that means coming up with new class ideas, ones that interest and engage and allow people to find new tools for their writerly use. Classes such as How to Write Steampunk and Weird Western, Using Literary Techniques in Genre Writing, and How to Write Flash Fiction. […]

Another Word: The Trouble with Utopia

NON-FICTION by Kelly Robson in Issue 148 – January 2019

In a previous Another Word column, I got grumpy about dystopias. They’re fun, but often also a bit of a cop-out from a worldbuilding point of view. A dystopia instantly feels momentous, serious, tense. The more dystopian the setting, the weightier the story, increasing the chances that the story will be taken seriously. A dystopia […]

Another Word: In the Home of Anthony Burgess' Harpsichord

NON-FICTION by Jason Heller in Issue 147 – December 2018

I stood on stage at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, England. It was October of this year, and I was finishing a five-month (yes, you read that right, five-month) tour supporting my latest book, Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decades Sci-Fi Exploded. This was the biggest audience I’d had so […]

Another Word: Klingon Time Management

NON-FICTION by A.M. Dellamonica in Issue 146 – November 2018

Today is a good day to write! With Halloween in the rearview and the other momentous end of year holidays not quite gnawing at our ankles, some of you are naturally going to turn your thoughts to NaNoWriMo. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this ancient challenge, the basics are: you write a 50K novel […]

Another Word: In Praise of Taking it Slow

NON-FICTION by Sarah Pinsker in Issue 145 – October 2018

I’m here to talk to you about the Slow Fiction Movement. Okay, that’s not a thing, but it should be. Much as slow food encompasses every aspect of production, culminating with consumption, the idea of slow fiction speaks to every stage of a story’s life cycle. I should clarify that I’m not talking about drafting […]

Another Word: Softly Dying Darlings, and How to Deal with Them

NON-FICTION by Alethea Kontis in Issue 144 – September 2018

This past August was my first time at GenCon in Indianapolis and I was asked to be on a panel about story revision. In preparation, the savvy moderator sent us a list of possible questions to review, so that we could highlight the ones we were most interested to answer. Among the list, was a […]

Another Word: Keeping Time

NON-FICTION by Fran Wilde in Issue 143 – August 2018

Motion was once the enemy of time. Dust still is. Depending on when and where it is, a clock in motion may lose increments of time in the form of water drops, humidity, sun angles or clouds, gear ticks, pendulum swings, grit, gravitational pull, and more. One of humanity’s great challenges is to reduce those […]

Another Word: Your Life is Epic!

NON-FICTION by A.M. Dellamonica in Issue 142 – July 2018

I once caught a burglar and made twenty bucks. I can winnow Twenty Dollar Burglar down to a pretty boring story. Here’s the tl;dr: I once had a minimum wage job at an all-night answering service. Some of the gig was answering 24-hour hotlines, mostly for engineering firms that serviced the Alberta oil patch. The […]

Another Word: The Future, Ordinary

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 141 – June 2018

I love me a space epic full of improbability drives and warp mechanics as much as any science fiction reader, and I’ve written more than a few stories in that milieu, gleefully flinging about concepts like living spaceships, FTL, and galaxy-spanning brains. But I will admit that my affection is most firmly claimed by quieter, […]

Another Word: Chinese Science Fiction Going Abroad—A Brief History of Translation

NON-FICTION by Regina Kanyu Wang in Issue 140 – May 2018

Readers who pay attention to science fiction in translation may have noticed a steady growth of the number of works written in Chinese and translated into other languages in recent years. An ongoing collaboration that started in 2015 between Clarkesworld Magazine and Storycom continues to make a significant contribution in presenting over thirty Chinese science […]

Another Word: Breathing Life Into Characters

NON-FICTION by Alethea Kontis in Issue 139 – April 2018

Most people hate the sound of their own voice. I was never that kid. My parents gave me my very own cassette recorder at the age five or six. When I wasn’t listening to read-along Alice in Wonderland, I would lock myself in the bathroom and record inspirational speeches about how important it was for […]

Another Word: Saving Throw Vs. Boredom: How RPGs Taught Me Storytelling

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 138 – March 2018

Last year I returned to one of my old loves. I’d put it aside for a while: things were busy, there was never time, it took so much energy from writing efforts. And then a friend asked about it and, well . . . I speak of tabletop role-playing games, and the empress of them all, Dungeons & […]

Another Word: A Brief Parable about Exchanges Between Time, Independence, Technology, and Privacy

NON-FICTION by Fran Wilde in Issue 137 – February 2018

Economies of time, independence, technology, and privacy intersect in many places, especially in this mostly shiny now-future we programmed for ourselves. For me, one intersection is primarily in my refrigerator. Another’s in how I get where I want to go. As a person with mobility and weight-bearing concerns, what I’m somewhat reluctantly giving up in […]

Another Word: Luke Versus Han: An Approach to Characterization

NON-FICTION by Kelly Robson in Issue 136 – January 2018

I’ll always be grateful to Steven Barnes. At Orycon 2012, he passed on advice that made a huge difference to my writing. Steven said, when we get a story idea, we usually know either the character or the problem. To develop the story, we can ask ourselves the following questions: If we know the character, […]

Another Word: What Authors Owe Us

NON-FICTION by Alethea Kontis in Issue 135 – December 2017

I recently asked my circle of friends (both in person and on the interwebs): “What do authors owe us?” It’s an age-old, deceptively simple question that should have a simple answer, right? But the further I delved into the nuances of the answers I received, the muddier the waters became. As social media continues to […]

Another Word: Listen Up!

NON-FICTION by James Patrick Kelly in Issue 134 – November 2017

I do not have many recurring nightmares, but in one that continues to horrify me, I am backstage at a theater watching a play. Suddenly the flustered stage manager braces me. “So-and-so didn’t show up,” she says. “You have to go on for him!” Quaking, I reply, “But . . . but . . . but I’m not an actor. I […]

Another Word: Grains of Salt, Lumps of Gold

NON-FICTION by A.M. Dellamonica in Issue 133 – October 2017

Overthinking everything is a cheap hobby. There’s no start-up cost, and you don’t need a library card to do the research anymore, because Internet. It doesn’t require heavy equipment, so you can do it on the bus or the beach. When I encounter a shiny new idea or a radically different new perspective on something, […]

Another Word: The Dream of Writing Full Time

NON-FICTION by Kelly Robson in Issue 132 – September 2017

I love my job. No, really. I love my job. Not writing (which I adore), but my other job. The eight-to-four, five-days-a-week office job. You might call it my day job, but really, it’s just my job. And I love it. Have I made that clear? It’s not a glamourous job. It’s not exciting or […]

Another Word: The Subtle Art of Promotion

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 131 – August 2017

The old perception of how publishing works goes something like this: the author delivers the finished work to their publisher, goes through a few editing passes, and after that, their responsibility is done, aside from having to appear wherever the publisher or their agent books them. There’s room for the reclusive genius in this model: […]

Another Word: Invisible and Visible Engineering in Science Fiction

NON-FICTION by Fran Wilde in Issue 130 – July 2017

In science fiction and fantasy, scientific heroics sometimes occur in concentric rings—in the lab, in the field, on the ship. They come in career rings also—from astronomer and physicist to theoretical chemist and astrophysicist (there are a lot of flavors of physicists in hard SF), to linguists, xenobiologists, and more. Out of all of these, […]

Another Word: The Depth of Sci-Fi Funk in the '70s

NON-FICTION by Jason Heller in Issue 129 – June 2017

At the start of the 1970s, two forms of popular culture were on the rise: science fiction and funk. Sci-fi had a huge breakthrough in 1968 with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey; at the same time, funk architects like James Brown and Sly Stone were forcing the music to progress at an exhilarating rate. […]

Another Word: The Elizabeth Effect

NON-FICTION by A.M. Dellamonica in Issue 128 – May 2017

Story creates alternate realities. The laws of our universe, as we imperfectly understand them, are where these realities begin, yet the results are not always bound by those rules. This is especially true in the literature of the fantastic, of course, and it’s something I don’t really need to tell Clarkesworld readers.  So, why am […]

Another Word: Being James Tiptree, Jr.

NON-FICTION by Kelly Robson in Issue 127 – April 2017

In 2013, my wife Alyx and I blew up our life, lunged across the continent, and started afresh in Toronto. After twenty-two years of comfort and stability in Vancouver, we were on the hunt for a new home and new jobs, and had to renegotiate all the relationships one takes for granted when one is […]

Another Word: Reading For Pleasure

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 126 – March 2017

I have a friend—more than one of them, really—who complains about having encountered a phenomenon that I personally would consider a fate worse than death. They are always writers, and they complain that “writing has spoiled reading for them.” They’re just too aware of the mistakes, they say. The nuts and bolts are way too […]

Another Word: A Doom of One's Own

NON-FICTION by Genevieve Valentine in Issue 125 – February 2017

In 1965, Bantam reprinted Dave Wallis’ one-generation apocalypse, Only Lovers Left Alive. The cover was a flat, empty ground with painted figures in monochrome. A motorcycle-jacketed girl stands Bullitt-cool in the foreground, toting a rifle; a young man looms behind her in helmet and goggles. Far behind him is the rest of the gang, one […]

Another Word: Dystopias Are Not Enough

NON-FICTION by Kelly Robson in Issue 124 – January 2017

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Janet Kagan’s Nebula-nominated, Hugo award-winning novelette “The Nutcracker Coup.” Published in Asimov’s in 1992, it’s the story of Marianne, a human functionary of the galactic government who unwittingly sparks a revolution on the planet Rejoicing, which is populated by charming, porcupine-like aliens suffering under the heavy-booted rule of a cruel […]

Another Word: The Joy of Helping

NON-FICTION by Ken Liu in Issue 123 – December 2016

Recently, Tor Books published Invisible Planets, the first English-language anthology of contemporary Chinese SF (by “contemporary,” I mean roughly something like “written during the 21st century”). I was both the anthology’s editor and translator. As I started to do publicity for the book, one question came up again and again: What motivated me to do […]

Another Word: On Saying No

NON-FICTION by Sarah Pinsker in Issue 122 – November 2016

When Clarkesworld asked for this essay, I said yes. I almost always say yes. It’s a longstanding habit, born of my hungriest days when I was making music full time. It led to some ridiculous itineraries, say Dallas, TX to Superior, WI in a day, because they were good gigs and they paid well, and […]

Another Word: The Ship’s Voice: A Risk Analysis and Modest Proposal

NON-FICTION by Fran Wilde in Issue 121 – October 2016

I’ve been thinking about voice a lot, about who speaks, who is heard, and how. Automated voices in particular are interesting, found in everything from our handheld robots to our future means of travel off planet. Who—and what—we listen to, and don’t, and why, and how? This impacts us greatly going forward. Also I’ve been […]