|Coffin Crisp: a tweet/anti-tweet pair|
That's right... as a science nerd, I can't observe any phenomenon without imagining a scientific law (formulated in mathematical language) that might account for the observation.
I often imagine that the basis for science is our human capacity to create fantasy stories. In case you suffer from "nerd blindness", suggesting that there is a natural law that creates tweet/anti-tweet pairs is a joke. Still, scientists play with imagined possibilities all the time. They quickly reject absurd fantasies and move on. Unless, of course, they also like to write science fiction stories.
And many science-minded people do. In my case, I started out with a love of "hard science fiction" and it took decades for me to even allow myself to write a story in which faster-than-light speed space travel was possible. To this day, I remain "fantasy blind": I'm unable to read or write fantasy.
"Most science fiction today is actually science fantasy, or rather science action. The science element is usually fairly minimal, and seldom explained except in the form of Star Trekesque technobabble, meaning it sounds scientific, but is actually just nonsense." -G. Jack Urso
Fantasy vs Science Fiction
|cover art: Gino D'Achille|
Maybe the problem goes back to my childhood when I'd get to watch only the first part of The Wizard of Oz. About the time when the dead witch's legs would magically shrivel up, it was time for me to go to bed. I blame that movie for the fact that I've always had dreams about tornadoes.
Through the years, I've learned that some book covers have good clues that signal the likelihood that I won't enjoy them. For example, a book with a sword on the cover is not for me.
Today I saw also saw this tweet about a book store that does not want readers to judge books by their covers.
For me, the dictum "don't judge a book by its cover" is a useful reminder that just because not every book can have a wonderful cover illustration by an artist like Gino D'Achille that does not mean that you should not buy books with bad covers.
|cover art by Jasper Schreurs|
However, in the opposite direction, I do still judge books by their covers. In particular, I can usually judge from its cover if a book is fantasy or science fiction.
It is an interesting question: does there exist a book with a sword on the cover that I would buy? Deep in my heart, I feel that I've already learned everything I want to know about books with swords on their cover.
Might I miss reading a great science fiction book simply because I refuse to touch books with swords on their covers? I doubt it.
Can John Judge a Book by its Cover?
this webpage where I was offered the chance to explore "new authors" and find a few "free" books to read.
To the right on this page you can see all of the book covers from these potential "new authors" (new to the reader). I wondered if could I guess which of these books are actually science fiction just by looking at the covers.
I also wondered: could these covers help guide me to a science fiction book that I might actually want to read?
I was pleased to find that the first book cover (for Fire and Ice) is heavy on the sword. My immediate guess was: "this is a fantasy novel" and it turns out to be part of a "dark fantasy" trilogy.
I congratulate Patty Jansen on selecting book covers that immediately let readers know that these are fantasy books. In the old day, book publishers used to print the word "Fantasy" on such books, but I guess that practice was abandoned long ago.
I've previously blogged about the role of mutations in pop culture. The dude in the biohazard suit on the cover of Mutation Z: The Ebola Zombies hints that this might be science fiction, but any story about zombies is a horror story. I object to horror stories that pretend to be science fiction, particularly when they are absurdly anti-science.
I recently mentioned Shambleau as an example of a story that puts an element of ancient mythology into a science fiction setting.
|Jill is a Dune fan|
Upon seeing the cover art for The Devil's Concubine I was intrigued by what looked like a metallic device on the woman's head.
I'm always in the market for a new science fiction plot device that gives us access to the mind! However, any book with the word "devil" in its title is not likely to be a science fiction story.
However, I have to admit that there are many science fiction stories that feature concubines. "Devil" and "concubine" is an interesting juxtaposition... I've seen Lilith described as the Devil's concubine. The reviews of the book indicate that it is "for fantasy lovers".
anyone who comes to science fiction by way of Dune is not likely to be on the same science fiction wavelength as I am.
Mission: Flight To Mars and Kill It With Magic provide a great example of science fiction/fantasy antiparticles.
Maybe it should be a rule: science fiction books have spaceships on their covers and fantasy books must have a sword.
Sword lemma: if the word "sword" is in the title then its fantasy. The Mage's Grave and Hell is Coming both look like fantasy books. The only possible science fictiony art among these five book covers (above) is that for Qualify. But first, a word about...
Online Book Reviews
The most prolific book reviewer in the universe:
Mr. Amazon Customer.
Even the "review" by "Joy Mah" was ranked as "helpful", but clearly it is not.
Related reading: "How an industry of ‘Amazon entrepreneurs’ pulled off the Internet’s craftiest catfishing scheme" & "Don't Necessarily Judge Your Next E-Book By Its Online Review"
|off to planet Atlantis!|
I'm sure that you can write science fiction about Atlantis, but my reaction to the cover of Qualify was: "Atlantis grail?" GRAIL? It must be fantasy. The weird blue astro-swirly thing and planets on the cover told me that Vera had put the Atlantis myth into outer space. Wheee! Ancient astronauts, my favorite kind of sci.... um....
Past the Cover
Oh, my aching hunger games. Anyhow, you can judge for yourself if this qualifies as science fiction. Reviewer Andrea, tells us that this is really a "young adult" Twilightish story. Is it science fiction because it has some spaceships in the plot? With the word "Atlantis" on the cover and a story featuring "teenage nerd Gwen Lark and Logan Sangre, her sexy high school crush", thi$ look$ like pop $ci Fi. So who is the author, anyhow?
|We all need to be able to laugh|
The blurb about Vera Nazarian is intriguing: "She is the author of critically acclaimed novels DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE and LORDS OF RAINBOW, the outrageous parodies MANSFIELD PARK AND MUMMIES and NORTHANGER ABBEY AND ANGELS AND DRAGONS, and most recently, PRIDE AND PLATYPUS: MR. DARCY'S DREADFUL SECRET in her humorous and surprisingly romantic Supernatural Jane Austen Series, as well as the Renaissance epic fantasy COBWEB BRIDE Trilogy, and the high-octane adventure YA / teen dystopian apocalyptic science fiction Series THE ATLANTIS GRAIL"
I'm glad I don't have to make a living by pandering to the fickle fate of a current "young adult" fashion craze.
"This is the first review I have written - just to stop others from wasting their money."
|cyborg super soldiers!|
I was surprised to "look past the cover" and find that Birthright is described as "sword and planet" Sci Fi... I'd hoped that went away with John Carter. Similarly, Conquest is described as "Space Opera Paranormal Thriller". Into The Dark is described by one commentator as "science fiction without the science"... I guess that is a
"Motorcycles, cute girl, motorcycles, cute girl minus some clothes, violence (dumb violence)."
|the vampire of Alcatraz!|
|a ragtag flotilla!|
The next five book covers (below) look like they have fantasy cover art except for Brothers in Exile. Looking inside, I found that Joe Vasicek is a Star Wars fan. That explains it.
"Stoneblood Saga Book 0" -my kind of marketing!
The terminology was unfamiliar and not explained. The continuous violence became tiresome."
|Bedrich Pasek VIII|
In the next set of book covers (below), those for Nano Contestant and Polarized looked like they were illustrations hinting at possible science fiction stories. Looking inside, my worst fear for "Nano" was realized: it is yet another hunger games clone. Polarized does seem to be science fiction, some kind of galactic space opera.
"Once it became clear that they were worshiping Luke Skywalker it really turned me off to the book."
so boring I couldn't bother finishing it"
Subjected to a quick look, none of the next five covers (below) looked like science fiction. Looking inside.... Apparently Life is a Beautiful Thing is cyberpunk. Clause is the most interesting of these for me because I'm a sucker for any story about "lost tribes" of humans. But... Journey of a Snowman?
"Not science, weak fiction, not worth the time."
|December 20, 2015|
My quick glance missed the word "invasion" on the cover (see below), but apparently Fallen is a first contact story (11 pages?).
"Shit, the aliens!"
Riddles (A.K.A. genre chemistry):
Q: What do you get if you mix horror and science fiction? A: Horror.
Q: What do you get if you mix fantasy and science fiction? A: Fantasy.
Q: What do you get if you mix romance and science fiction? A: Romance.
|we all have swords!|
Q: What if you mix adventure and science fiction? A: Science fiction.
Q: What if you mix wonder and science fiction? A: Science fiction.
There is a pattern here.
"mixes sword and sorcery with science fiction"
Next: looking into The Deep Link.