Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator. March This essay is derived from a talk at the Harvard Computer Society. You need three things to create a successful startup:
But this is based on how we at Third Person Press define it for the purposes of our anthologies, and how I, as a writer and reader, think about it as regards the entirety of the science fiction and fantasy and related genres.
It might be easier to talk in terms of generalities. A given story is probably NOT what we consider speculative if: On the other hand, your story probably IS what we consider speculative if any of the following are true: This story is not taking place in the world as we know it.
Good speculative stories have a lot in common with good stories of any type or genre. Skilled and evocative writing. We like new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, or humanity, or technology.
We like to lose ourselves in worlds where magic is real, where anything is possible, where history took a different turning, where the future has arrived, and where imagination rules. Within these stories where imagination knows no bounds, there must still exist some boundaries. Systems of magic must make sense; the rules of a world must be internally consistent.
In the past, it was sometimes true that if the central idea of a speculative fiction story was strong enough, other story considerations such as characterization, dialogue, plot, etc.
Characters could be stereotypical, dialogue could be somewhat stilted, plots could be pedestrian—all these things were really just a vehicle for the amazing IDEA the story set out to explore. Feel free to use the art as personal desktop wallpaper, but no other use is authorized.Also, “it starts to look like me and the feminists” should be “looks like I”.
And “untitled” doesn’t really make sense. And if biology is a hard science, it’s on the extreme soft edge of hard sciences.
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In the course of reading submissions for Third Person Press, I came to the realization that a lot of folks–writers included–didn’t understand what we meant in our guidelines by “speculative fiction.” And even though we made sure to include a bit of clarification by saying “This includes: science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, and paranormal (for example, ghost stories.
The Case for Reparations. Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow.
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Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy.
I remember well the self-doubts of my early writing career, when I felt completely unsure that I could ever write anything that was worthy of notice or publication.