Another Word: On Being a Late Bloomer

NON-FICTION by Kelly Robson in Issue 120 – September 2016

I always wanted to be a writer. That’s not unique. Many writers have their destiny revealed in childhood. Like others with this particular itch, I read voraciously, and when I bought my first Asimov’s magazine at the age of sixteen—a moment embedded in my senses more vividly than my first kiss—I knew I had to […]

Another Word: Peacetalk, Hate Speech

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 119 – August 2016

Clarkesworld was kind enough to solicit another essay and so, I’ve been mulling over what to say and letting that reflection guide my reading. A particular reread finally moved me to start jotting things down, prompted by the wealth of empty-headed and hateful rhetoric that’s marked some of the recent dust-ups, certainly in the sphere […]

Another Word: Burning Bridges

NON-FICTION by Peter Watts in Issue 118 – July 2016

I’m told they only want one thing for this column. No critique, no crunchy science, none of the stuff I push on my blog or Nowa Fantastyka. ”Another Word” serves exclusively as a showcase for essays “tied closely to your professional involvement in the community.” Ew. I’m not big on “the community.” I’m not even […]

Another Word: Publishing—Jump In, the Water's Fine

NON-FICTION by Alethea Kontis in Issue 117 – June 2016

This year marks my twentieth year in the book industry. Exactly half of my life. In 1996, I graduated from USC with a degree in Chemistry. I immediately went out and got a second job at a bookstore. (I was already assistant and promotional manager at the local movie theater.) I haven’t left the publishing […]

Another Word: Strange Stars

NON-FICTION by Jason Heller in Issue 116 – May 2016

Science fiction and fantasy took up residence in me at an early age, and so did music. I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, when pop culture had yet to divide itself into the billion tiny boxes you see today. It was a free-for-all, a game of mix-and-match, or at least it felt that […]

Another Word: Technology Creates a New Golden Age of Speculative Fiction

NON-FICTION by Margot Atwell in Issue 115 – April 2016

Typically, when readers think of technology and science fiction, they imagine spaceships, teleportation devices, and other fantastic contraptions. But technology isn’t just a great subject for sci-fi stories. Combined with new distribution methods, it has had a massive impact on genre fiction in the last decade. In that time, I’ve worked in various parts of […]

Another Word: How to Clothe a Character, Using Only Star Wars References

NON-FICTION by Genevieve Valentine in Issue 114 – March 2016

What your characters are wearing matters. Of course, as a writer/artist/designer, you already know this is important. No one in an age of merchandising as intense as this one doubts the importance of character design. Your Sith Lord needs to be memorable; with any luck, they’ll be a hummus appetizer someday! By now, a century […]

Another Word: Very Close Now

NON-FICTION by Fran Wilde in Issue 113 – February 2016

Virtual (adj.): (1) very close to being something without actually being it; (2) existing or occurring on the internet. source: Merriam-Webster /Advertising voice: The virtual is coming! It’s already here! You missed it! Here it comes again! This time, yours for $500./ In the latter days of the previous millennium, Janet Murray’s Hamlet on the […]

Another Word: Let's Write a Story Together, MacBook

NON-FICTION by Ken Liu in Issue 112 – January 2016

The bridge of the Starship Dolphin was a sight to behold. There was an air conditioning unit off in the distance. There seemed to be electricity in the air. Ensign Serenity Starlight Warhammer O’James was leaning on the communications panel. She was a bit on the short side, but in a cute way, with perky […]

Another Word: On Reading, Writing, and the Classics

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 111 – December 2015

In many ways I’m glad that I didn’t have the Internet when growing up; among them is the effect it had on my reading. I was a rapid reader and I read all over the place, frequently re-reading if it was something interesting or I was driven to it by boredom and lack of other […]

Another Word: Chinese Science Fiction and Chinese Reality

NON-FICTION by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu in Issue 110 – November 2015

China is a society undergoing rapid development and transformation, where crises are present along with hopes, and opportunities coexist with challenges. This is a reality reflected in the science fiction produced there. Chinese readers often interpret science fiction in unexpected ways. Take my Three Body series as an example. The alien-invasion story takes as its […]

Another Word: Love Song for a Saturday Morning

NON-FICTION by Alethea Kontis in Issue 109 – October 2015

Saturday morning cartoons began sometime in the 1960s and ran until the fall of 2014. For over fifty years, from roughly 8 AMuntil noon, children in the United States sat in observance of this weekly ritual with an anticipation second only to Christmas morning. Being one of these children myself, I speak from experience. Every […]

Another Word: On Sunshine and Shadows

NON-FICTION by Jason Heller in Issue 108 – September 2015

For someone who was born in Connecticut and now lives in Colorado, I sure do wonder a lot about Florida. As it turns out, so does science fiction/fantasy. My excuse? I lived in the Sunshine State between the formative ages of four and thirteen. SFF’s excuse? Well, that’s a bit more complicated. My first memory […]

Another Word: Hipsters of Zombieland

NON-FICTION by Emily Devenport in Issue 107 – August 2015

Even before Night of the Living Dead was released, zombies had their fans—and I was not one of them. Not even when I was nine years old. At that age I wouldn’t have told you that the nihilistic tone of that movie (and many of the ones that followed) really turned me off; I would […]

Another Word: An Anxious Introvert's Guide to the Con Experience

NON-FICTION by Genevieve Valentine in Issue 106 – July 2015

1. Why are you here? You should not have come here, what were you even thinking, this is all you packed to wear and now you’re wearing it and it’s not like you can get any other clothes on such short notice so this is just what you’re stuck with and everyone is assuming this […]

Another Word: The Vaguely Picaresque Adventures of a New Writer

NON-FICTION by John Chu in Issue 105 – June 2015

In 2012, a contingent of Chinese fans go to ChiCon 7. I think I may have chatted with all of them. The Three Body Problem, Liu Cixin’s hard SF trilogy comes up again and again. (Yes, the actual name of the trilogy is Remembrance of Earth’s Past but no one I talk to ever calls […]

Another Word: It's Good to Be Lazy and Foolish

NON-FICTION by Ken Liu in Issue 104 – May 2015

I’ve been employed in three professions that all involve working with a lot of text: programming, law, and creative writing. I’d like to show you what I’ve learned from the first two that I think can be helpful to writers. Among software developers, there’s a generally accepted belief that the most productive programmers are lazy […]

Another Word: The Precious Five-Star and the Reviewers of Mount Doom

NON-FICTION by Alethea Kontis in Issue 103 – April 2015

Book reviewers fascinate me. My first official publishing gig was as a book reviewer for the local free press in Murfreesboro, TN. Every two weeks, I turned in five to eight hundred words about my favorite author or tome du jour. Not that it mattered; I didn’t get paid either way. But I got published! […]

Another Word: A Shed of One's Own

NON-FICTION by Chuck Wendig in Issue 102 – March 2015

I am writing this article right now whilst ensconced in the warm embrace of a shed. I get it. Shed does not sound appealing. It conjures a certain image: a lawn mower, a snow blower, a gasoline smell, mouse poop. It sounds like a place one might be banished to—a punitive measure for having done […]

Another Word: YA is the New Black

NON-FICTION by Dawn Metcalf in Issue 101 – February 2015

*taps microphone* *winces at squealing feedback* *clears throat* Hi. My name is Dawn Metcalf and I write YA. And, okay, I’ll admit it’s been a while since my age had any “-teen” suffix attached, but I love writing for teens because it asks the best question: what does it mean to be human? All great […]

Another Word: #PurpleSF

NON-FICTION by Cat Rambo in Issue 100 – January 2015

The recent bizarre events of Gamergate have had me musing about feminism a lot in the past few months. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Gamergate phenomenon, it’s a recent controversy among video gamers that different sides have said is about different things, but which, no matter what you believe, seems to involve a great deal […]

Another Word: Endings

NON-FICTION by Daniel Abraham in Issue 99 – December 2014

Endings are hard. There are a lot of reasons for that. First off, figuring out just technically how to stick an ending is nearly the last thing that a writer has to figure out. All the other stuff—writing a good sentence, writing a good scene, the tricky bit with adverbs, avoiding infodumps, celebrating infodumps, being […]

Another Word: Free Advice from a Full-Time Author. Worth Every Penny Paid

NON-FICTION by Wesley Chu in Issue 98 – November 2014

I’m going to start by admitting that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, I am a full-time writer and my path to achieving my lifelong dream isn’t some quest where the rickety bridge collapsed behind me right after I crossed it. I didn’t grab the only McGuffin along the way as I laid […]

Another Word: What You Know

NON-FICTION by Daniel Abraham in Issue 97 – October 2014

One of the many, many times I started figuring out how to write fiction, I was early in my college career. I had a couple of resources: creative writing classes and how-to-write books whose titles I will omit here out of an abundance of charity. One of the things that I found back then was […]

Another Word: The Best of All Possible Worlds

NON-FICTION by Alethea Kontis in Issue 96 – September 2014

“Of all the places I’ve seen, this is the fairest of them all.” —Regina, Once Upon a Time My favorite required reading book in high school was assigned not in English class, but history. Mr. Stafford was a bit of a progressive history teacher (for South Carolina)—we lucky honor students watched Amadeus and A Man […]

Another Word: Obstacles and Style

NON-FICTION by Daniel Abraham in Issue 95 – August 2014

My father is a songwriter and has been since before I was born. Many of the songs he writes take the form of stories with narrative arcs, characters, and resolutions at the end. One of the things he told me was that personal style—as a musician or a songwriter or a novelist—is made from all […]

Another Word: Reclaiming the Tie-In Novel

NON-FICTION by James L. Sutter in Issue 94 – July 2014

Our society has a weird relationship with logos. Put a popular brand name on a t-shirt, and you’ll find people happy to pay fifty dollars (or two hundred dollars for Gucci!) to be a walking billboard. But put the logo of a popular game or film property on a novel cover, and suddenly genre readers […]

Another Word: Chasing the High

NON-FICTION by Daniel Abraham in Issue 93 – June 2014

When you start out wanting to be a writer, you’re screwed. You haven’t read enough to really understand what writing is. There are all sorts of different genres, and you may not know if you’re better at detective novels or literary vignettes or personal essays. You’re pretty impressed by some of the stuff you’ve done […]

Another Word: Writer’s Tools

NON-FICTION by Bud Sparhawk in Issue 92 – May 2014

In the good old days, long before everybody had pens and paper, story-tellers would just sit around the fire and spin tales, or repeat one told by others and adding some slight modifications to improve rhyme or meter. The only tools needed back then were a good memory and a lack of shame. These days, […]

Another Word: Killing Rage

NON-FICTION by Daniel Abraham in Issue 91 – April 2014

I’m not telling anybody what they should do. I’m guessing that since you’re here reading essays on Clarkesworld, you’re most likely a fan of genre fiction and maybe spend a little time on the Internet. Seems pretty safe as assumptions go. And because of that, you’re probably aware of the conflicts that have been troubling […]
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