Five requests, one from Mary Beth and four from me. I’ll start with hers:
A) Do you know of any SFF stories that are (a) good and (b) around 1000 words in length? I know that may be an impossible challenge, but how about it? That’s about three normal pages.
I will add that there are some stunning stories that ought to be used in English class but that are (obviously) longer than that.
Love is the Plan the Plan is Death is one that leaps to mind for me.
Bloodchild may be my favorite-ever SFF story.
The Great Silence is probably Ted Chiang’s shortest short story, but it would be great to include something of his, and several are short-ish.
Obviously The One Who Walked Away is great for sparking debate.
But I’m sure that plenty of you read more short stories than I do. Anybody have any other suggestions?
NEXT. My goodness, look, Archon is THIS SATURDAY. I’m on four panels and I haven’t even thought about them! Help!
B) Religion and its place in SFF.
Obviously religion is handled well in, eg, the Five Gods novels and novellas by LMB. I also want to mention The Hands of the Emperor. Ann Leckie always includes religion in her novels as just an integral part of the worldbuilding, but more as scenery than as a driver of the plot. I can mention designing the (obviously very important) religions in the Tuyo world and the Death’s Lady world.
What else? Please throw a handful of suggestions into the comments. I would particularly appreciate any SFF novels where the religion is (a) central, and (b) obviously stems from some real-world religion, because that is a topic specifically mentioned for this panel.
C) The Hero in Fiction
I feel I have a good handle on this topic. I have clear opinions about the difference between the hero and the protagonist, about what makes a hero compelling, about what makes a hero likeable vs unlikeable and what those descriptive terms mean and what they emphatically do not mean. Also I’ve thought about heroes with clear character arcs vs heroes that don’t change over the course of the novel or series.
Any other related thoughts I’m missing?
D) Best Self-Published Authors in SFF
Well, this is an enormous category these days. So
Alice Degan / AJ Demas
I liked the book I read by JM Ney-Grimm, but I’ve only read one complete novel of hers so far.
Name your favorite self-published SFF authors, please! Who would you most like to see mentioned in this panel?
E) “Science Fiction Settings — Beware of Planetary Chauvinism.
I’d forgotten about this one completely. What’s it about? Ah, space-based SF where home is not a planet. Fine.
Other than Niven’s Ringworld, what are some ideas here? Oh, there’s the zero-G quaddie environments in LMB’s Vorkosigan universe. Generation ships are scattered through SFF, but usually work rather badly (because that’s what drives the plot!) I could REALLY use some ideas here. SF where people don’t live on planets. Anything but planets. Please suggest any novels you can think of that feature such settings.