Daily Archives: September 8th, 2015

Call for submissions – scientists writing sf

Something that might be of interest…

Guidelines for Science Fiction by Scientists
Editor: Mike Brotherton, PhD
Type of publication: Print, e-book
Publisher: Springer (Science and Fiction: http://www.springer.com/series/11657 )
Pay: Likely 1 cent/word plus a royalty share
Genre: science fiction
Word Length: up to 10k, 3k-8k preferred, plus bio and afterword (see below)
Deadline: January 31, 2016
Reprints: No
Submissions and Queries:  Email to mbrother@uwyo.edu (pdf, doc, docx, rtf)

Who can submit: This anthology is open to “scientists” of all types, as long as that characterization can be fairly supported, and includes working researchers, retired scientists, those with science and technology degrees working in closely related fields,
and scientists who have turned full-time writers.  If you’re uncertain if you qualify, ask.  We are looking to meet reader expectations given our title, and will provide bios describing each authors scientific background.  We are open to previously unpublished fiction writers.  Collaborations between scientists and non-scientist co-authors are welcome as well.

What kind of stories:  We are looking for entertaining, well-written short stories in which the science plays a central role, from fundamental concepts to cutting edge-speculation.  Scientist characters and scientific thinking are welcome, but not necessary.  Our goal is a balanced volume, ideally covering multiple disciplines such as physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, planetary science, robotics, etc., without being focused too heavily in only one or two areas.  Subjects within engineering, the social sciences, and mathematics are also welcome if approached from a scientific perspective.  Show us what’s fascinating, exciting, or important about science.  Bring us a sense of wonder.  Share what it is to think like a scientist.
Inspire us to want to support science.  Point out the dangers and responsibility ever increasing knowledge brings.  Write a story that puts the science in science fiction.

Afterwords: Each submission should include an explanation and discussion of the relevant scientific concepts used in the story, up to about 1000 words.  Afterwords can include the inspiration for the story, relevant mathematics, citations to the scientific
literature, or detailed explanations that can potentially educate as well as enlighten.

Archer’s Goon

Unknown-1Yes, that Archer’s Goon.

I really do not understand how I missed Diana Wynne Jones as a child. It’s not like I was too old for her stuff when it was coming out. It’s not like there weren’t libraries in my town. There were even bookshops! … but there it is. I didn’t read my first Jones until a couple of years ago – a Chrestomanci – and I’ve been hearing about Archer’s Goon for ages. And now I’ve finally read it.

Yes, it is magnificent. Yes, I loved it. Yes, I will be foisting it onto every young person when I think they’re not quite ready for it.

If, like me, you haven’t read it – well, just do so. It’s about a family whose house gets gently invaded by a very large man with a very small head who insists that Dad has to write 2000 words, Or Else. And things go on from there with discovering that the town really does not run the way they thought it did. Which naturally leads to Adventures. And those adventures were genuinely absorbing and often unexpected and always wonderfully written.

So what did I really like?

Firstly, the family situation. The adventures centre on the son, Howard, but Mum and Dad are absolutely present and important and relevant. I love the family dynamics, actually; that Mum and Dad are so different, Dad is so magnificently obstinate and Mum is wonderfully competent; that they have a raging row which does not result in them considering divorce; that they complement one another and generally work together. And then there’s Awful. Seriously a family who nickname their daughter Awful and still go out of their way to make sure she’s ok – this family is so REAL. I love them.

I love the Goon. When people were talking about the book I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the title meant. Clearly goon can mean henchman, but it didn’t seem to fit here; then there’s the Aussie slang term for cheap wine, and that really didn’t seem to fit… so I was lost. Discovering that actually it did mean henchman was a surprise, but made sense once I realised that Archer was of course a person. Anyway, I liked the Goon a lot. Especially his dialogue.

And I liked the plot. I loved that Jones did not explain absolutely everything about Archer’s family and their place in the town; you just need to accept that this is what Howard and his family know, so of course it’s what the reader knows. We regularly deal with events that we don’t have complete context for, so why must it be different in a novel? Going around visiting the different members of the family to investigate what’s going on is of course a familiar trope; it reminded me of Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series (which of course is a series, not a stand-alone, something else which is a bit different in Jones), amongst others. There’s nothing wrong with using this trope, of course – it’s used so often because it does let the author show you stuff about the world and reveal the plot in bits and pieces. And Jones does it so well.

Finally, in looking around for a picture of the cover, I discovered that it was a TV show – which I vaguely remember someone talking about at some stage. Is it wrong that I immediately got the Round the Twist theme song in my head? (Roger Lloyd Pack as Dad is SHEER BRILLIANCE.)