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Taerak's Void
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Taerak's Void
(Book One of Fantastica)
A new series by multiple award winning author, M. R. Mathias

After finding a strange medallion and some maps with markings that no one in his village can understand, Braxton Bray decides to take it all to the Hall of Scholars in the kingdom's capital. But greed is everywhere. Braxton and a tough young female caravan guard named Nixy are forced to run for their lives, for someone else wants what Braxton found and is willing to go to great lengths to take it from him.

With a hefty, kingdom wide, bounty on their heads, not even the great wizards of the Sorcerious can help them. Left with nothing but each other, Braxton and Nixy have no choice but to get on a ship and go on an adventure that will take them places they would have otherwise never imagined. Elves, dwarves, giant gothicans, and trolls, treacherous forests on distant shores, love, death, terror, and magic all await...

Author Topic: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.  (Read 241983 times)  

Online Rinelle Grey

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #125 on: January 05, 2014, 04:38:13 PM »
As an author who writes romance in a speculative fiction setting, I've been avoiding posting in this thread, so definitely getting a 'not welcome' vibe.

But I definitely consider my stories speculative fiction. The setting IS essential to the story. Sure, I could boil the romance angle down to one sentence that doesn't include the spec fix elements, but that wouldn't be true to the story. What I couldn't do is re-write my stories without the sci-fi/fantasy elements. Not without re-writing every single sentence, and turning them in to a completely different story.

And as a spec fic romance writer, I'm excluded by both communities! There's no way I want to promote my novels to sci-fi readers for just this sort of reaction, yet the romance promo sites won't list my books in romance because of the other elements!

.I've loved speculative fiction since I was a wee little one.  My dad was a big sci-fi fan and we used to talk about why these books are important.  They have the power to look at deep philosophical issues from enough distance that an audience can examine it from all angles and be invited to grow, without being smashed over the head with "A Message".  There was a fantastic exhibit in Seattle about fantasy, and several of the big writers (George RR Martin, Jane Espenson) talked about what makes fantasy important.  They said that at its heart, fantasy is about an individual standing up against the forces which seek to destroy our individuality.  And the person who wins is not the prettiest or strongest.  It is the cleverest person with the strongest will.  The mind and heart will always trump evil.  I liked that.

This is why I write speculative fiction. I love the chance to explore issues that are there in today's world, but in a 'safer' environment for readers. They can enjoy the stories, thinking 'but it's sci-fi, it wouldn't really happen in our world'.

Feel good romance with a touch of magic.
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Offline horse_girl

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #126 on: January 05, 2014, 04:57:24 PM »
Sorry to hear it, Rinelle.

When you find the right audience, the work can have a wider appeal. I've learned that with my Starfire Angels (ya, romantic, sf) that a variety of people enjoy it. Some read it because it's YA and romantic, others love the SF more. Everyone is different. I tend to direct my marketing efforts more to the romance readers than SF readers. I've learned that Romance readers have as wide of a variety of tastes as spec fic readers. Coffee Time Romance will review works of any cross-genre that includes any amount of romance. They aren't hardcore romance.

Mixing genres is a great way to introduce people who never thought they would touch spec fic to give it a try with a flavor that appeals to them already.
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Offline RachelAukes

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #127 on: January 05, 2014, 05:14:26 PM »
As an author who writes romance in a speculative fiction setting, I've been avoiding posting in this thread, so definitely getting a 'not welcome' vibe.

I think the thread is still finding its legs, Rinelle. But, there's a very supportive SFR group online... are you a member of the SFR Brigade? If not, definitely consider hooking up with them. PM me if you'd like to chat more...


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Offline P.J. Post

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #128 on: January 05, 2014, 05:32:50 PM »
This is why I write speculative fiction. I love the chance to explore issues that are there in today's world...

Um, are we allowed to say we write social commentary out loud?  :o

I thought only the great sci-fi writers could admit that and we had to keep it a secret, lest we be tossed into the pit of pretentiousness and branded as literary fiction posers.

Or am I over-thinking this?   :D

Offline heidi_g

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #129 on: January 05, 2014, 05:43:27 PM »
I stick with fantasy and stories with fantastical elements  :)

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Offline Cherise

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #130 on: January 05, 2014, 05:55:43 PM »
I think the tricky part here is getting people to agree on the assortment of sub-genres. I'm interested in seeing what people come up with.

Amazon's categories make as much sense as any other way to label. And they are likely to be the most well-known labels.

Offline Edward W. Robertson

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #131 on: January 05, 2014, 05:58:39 PM »
Of course Twilight is spec fic. It's got vampires in it, for heaven's sakes. They're even used in the same way they've been used since Dracula--strong, frightening creatures whose supernatural powers make our attraction to them even more dangerous.

It might not be the sort of thing "core" SF/F readers are into, but if that means it isn't spec fic, then you're not defining the genre by tropes or whether it asks a speculative "What if?" question. You're defining it by audience. And if spec fic by necessity excludes Twilight fans, then of course our readership is going to be smaller than the readership for romance and thrillers. We keep kicking potential fans out the door!

If somebody liked Twilight, chances are there's plenty of other spec fic they'd like, too--if we quit telling them, "Nope, what you like isn't real SF/F/H. Away with ye to the shelves of romance/YA/etc.!"

Spec fic is the biggest umbrella there is. There's space for everyone under here.
    

Offline ゴジラ

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #132 on: January 05, 2014, 06:01:20 PM »
Sorry, I really didn't mean to turn this into a genre thing. I was commenting while all grumpy and caffeineless in bed this morning and I should know better. I take everything too seriously before I have my daily joe.

That said, I think the discussion that followed has been super interesting, especially Patty Jansen's remarks.

Spec fic is the biggest umbrella there is. There's space for everyone under here.

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Offline psychotick

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #133 on: January 05, 2014, 06:08:43 PM »
Hi,

OK at the risk of ruffling more feathers (and apologies in advance to any who feel that I have) I don't think we need sub sub genres. And I am at no point arguing that one genre is superior to another.

What I am saying is that if I want to read a sci fi book, I want to read a sci fi book. I don't want to read say a western with spaceships. So as a reader what I value most here is the equivalent of truth in advertising.

If your books a western that's fine. I don't want to read it and I don't want to be tricked into reading it by covers with aliens and spaceships and BISAC categories that list it as sci fi.

To me the simplest answer is to categorize the book first by what it actually predominantly is. Then sub genre it.

So if it's a western with spaceships list it as Western: Sci fi.
If on the other hand its a sci fi with cowboys etc list it as Sci fi: Western.

Now I won't read the first book, but I might or might not read the second. But at least I know as a reader what I'm getting into, so I can't really complain if I do. But if I read a book that's actually a western but promoted as sci fi, I can and I will.

Now to bring it back to the paranormal romance issue. My view is that you need to promote your book by what it primarily is about. If its primarily a romance list it as Romance: paranormal. If it's primarily paranormal list it as Paranormal: romance.

I know this may not always be easy to do, some books really do sit on the razor's edge, and I know that the BISAC categories may not adequately reflect this. But I think as an author it's something you have to do. And if you get it wrong you'll upset readers (and not just me.)

Cheers, Greg.
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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #134 on: January 05, 2014, 06:51:50 PM »
Look guys, if I have to suck it up and accept A Sword of Fire and Ice in my genre, you can suck it up and tolerate Twilight. Just because they're the same genre doens't mean we have to like them. And also just because that one is just awful doesn't mean there aren't books out there that do a good job of blending romance and spec-fic elements. Frankly, I'm pretty much a bonafide sucker for a good love story and discouraging the mix is against my own personal interests.

That said, that whole discussion is actually part and parcel with the marketing problem we have. Spec-fic is all about labels. Let's admit it: we as nerds love to catalog things and put them in little boxes to be weighted and measured.

...And the industry does a poor job of doing it for us. Amazon's categories are a cruel joke and theirs is one of the best if you manage to work the keywords treasure hunt. BISAC wasn't made to help readers, it was made to keep the books straight.

If we're going to do a site that promotes Spec-Fic, we need a robust search engine with lots of check boxes. Not only do we need to properly display sub-genres (and their alternate names, said the guy whose primary work is dungeonpunk and gaslamp fantasy), but also tone, element and possibly Asimov Kind (Gadget, Social, Adventure).

Our readers (and here I mean 'me') are the kind of person who might well be frustrated by everyone else's tendency to just drop a pile of general  'horror' or 'fantasy' in front of us and expect us to root around in it for the kind they like.

Every time I have to cycle through stories I don't want to find those I do, I feel like someone just filled my trough and said 'root for it, pig'.

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Offline SLGray

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #135 on: January 05, 2014, 07:23:33 PM »
 I agree that we probably need to break spec fic down into subgenres, but I think we have to be careful not to break them down -too- much. Some people will want the ticky boxes, sure, but I sort of feel like too many ticky boxes will scare new readers away. They may not know all the sub-sub-sub genres. Offering too many choices can be just as confusing or off-putting as not offering enough, so we should probably go for a happy medium.


Offline Annie B

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #136 on: January 05, 2014, 07:28:22 PM »
Blergh. I'm out.  This talk of subgenre and what is or isn't proper spec fic makes me ill. It's the kind of annoying delineations and bickering that has been ruining SF for years for fans and makes a lot of SF writers look like anti-social jerks.  I realize I'm bitter because I was told for years I couldn't be writing real SF since I was a girl and girls can't write about science, but seriously, who cares if your western has spaceships and aliens? Guess what? That makes it science fiction in my book. There are only so many plots under the sun. If your book centers on a mystery but the perp (or investigator) is a vampire, you are writing fantasy.  It's the trappings that MAKE the genre in my opinion.

I can't stand the slicing, dicing, and arguing. It's ridiculous.

Online Rinelle Grey

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #137 on: January 05, 2014, 07:30:43 PM »
Now to bring it back to the paranormal romance issue. My view is that you need to promote your book by what it primarily is about. If its primarily a romance list it as Romance: paranormal. If it's primarily paranormal list it as Paranormal: romance.

I both agree with this and disagree with it. Yep, I primarily promote my book as a romance, since that's what it primarily is. BUT (and it's a big but), it's also sci-fi, and to deny that, or hide it, would be just as dishonest to readers as calling it straight sci-fi.

Feel good romance with a touch of magic.
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Offline wrenroberts

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #138 on: January 05, 2014, 07:38:50 PM »
Why does everyone want to create some hierarchical genre/sub-genre list? What's wrong with a tag cloud? Find a decent search plugin to allow easy searching by multiple tags and boom. Done. Anyone can be as specific or non-specific as they want.

Looking for some feminist science fiction?


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Offline Cherise

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #139 on: January 05, 2014, 07:41:07 PM »
What's wrong with a tag cloud?

Find a decent search plugin to allow easy searching by multiple tags and boom. Done. Anyone can be as specific or non-specific as they want.


AWESOME SOLUTION!

And Doomed Muse, please don't leave. It's only one person who is being that way.

Offline SLGray

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #140 on: January 05, 2014, 07:44:46 PM »
Why does everyone want to create some hierarchical genre/sub-genre list? What's wrong with a tag cloud? Find a decent search plugin to allow easy searching by multiple tags and boom. Done. Anyone can be as specific or non-specific as they want.

Personally? ...because I hadn't even thought of a tag cloud.  :-[ :) I just had visions of column after column of boxes to check or uncheck which would overwhelm me pretty quickly.

A tag cloud -would- allow authors to tag their books as they saw fit (assuming a site where authors could upload their own books) and allow readers to drill down as much as they wanted, it's true. Great suggestion.

Offline antonnaseton

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #141 on: January 05, 2014, 08:19:48 PM »
  I realize I'm bitter because I was told for years I couldn't be writing real SF since I was a girl and girls can't write about science, but seriously, who cares if your western has spaceships and aliens? Guess what? That makes it science fiction in my book. There are only so many plots under the sun. If your book centers on a mystery but the perp (or investigator) is a vampire, you are writing fantasy.  It's the trappings that MAKE the genre in my opinion.

I can't stand the slicing, dicing, and arguing. It's ridiculous.

Wait, girls can't write real sci-fi? Oh dear, I never realised that was so. ;) I write sci-fi; mostly space opera. But I write short stories in the paranormal, post-apocalyptic genres too.

Sorry the slicing and dicing has upset you. But if you want to see even more slicing and dicing and bickering about genre, you should see what the Space Opera community is like.

Some argue that Star Trek Deep Space Nine is not space opera because the adventures take place in a space station as opposed to a space ship. Some people say Battlestar Galactica ain't space opera either because they don't really discover new alien cultures or planets. Some even question the inclusion of Star Wars, which to me, is the definition of space opera.

You know what, WHATEVAH. Like you, I stay out of the silliness. I like a good story and I don't care WHAT marketing slot it's given. To me, space opera are stories that take place in space. And that's all I need to know.

But anyway, I'm glad there's a thread for spec fic writers to hang out - many thanks to the OP! However, I hope it doesn't make those who write cross genre stuff feel left out. As a person who writes in multiple genres (because I'd get bored otherwise) and am even toying with a romance sci-fi, I understand how some may feel about that!

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Online Vaalingrade

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #142 on: January 05, 2014, 08:36:00 PM »
I agree that we probably need to break spec fic down into subgenres, but I think we have to be careful not to break them down -too- much. Some people will want the ticky boxes, sure, but I sort of feel like too many ticky boxes will scare new readers away. They may not know all the sub-sub-sub genres. Offering too many choices can be just as confusing or off-putting as not offering enough, so we should probably go for a happy medium.

I don't see too many choices as a problem given the target audience and just how damn big Spec-fic is. Like I said, there's nothing that I hate more about current agrigators is the fact that they offer zero help in narrowing my searches down.

The question that has to be asked if we're going to do a site like this is 'What are we offering Spec-fic readers they can't get from other sites?'. I feel the answer should not be 'an even more overt refusal to appeal to our needs'.

Go check out the system over at Archive Of Our Own something a touch better than that is what I as a reader would be looking for.

The problem I have with a tag cloud is 1) an annoying tendency for site that use them to load tag searches as previews instead of excerpted lists, meaning you're punished with a slower loading, more clumsy page if you use tags and 2) a tag cloud doesn't allow my to exclude elements if I don't want them.

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Offline psychotick

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #143 on: January 05, 2014, 10:13:13 PM »
Hi,

Sorry DoomedMuse, I'm not meaning to offend anyone. And for the record I have no issue with girls writing sci fi. Whoever told you that was a jerk.

Cheers, Greg.
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Offline Annie B

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #144 on: January 05, 2014, 10:53:44 PM »
Hi,

Sorry DoomedMuse, I'm not meaning to offend anyone. And for the record I have no issue with girls writing sci fi. Whoever told you that was a jerk.

Cheers, Greg.

As long as that sci fi doesn't have a mystery in it as the central plot point. Or a strong romantic subplot. Then, you know, apparently it ain't sf anymore. Or something. Sigh.

Offline M T McGuire

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #145 on: January 06, 2014, 01:03:28 AM »
Why does everyone want to create some hierarchical genre/sub-genre list? What's wrong with a tag cloud? Find a decent search plugin to allow easy searching by multiple tags and boom. Done. Anyone can be as specific or non-specific as they want.

Ta da! This might be the answer, even if we decided on some standard tags, they are somehow more fluid than genres.

So, caveat here, I'm writing from a different country and our perception may be different to yours, indeed fantasy and sci-fi are still considered pariah genres here but...

As a reader, I would be leery about reading pure sci-fi because I would be worried that it would be all dry science written for emotionally retarded blokes (sorry, I do actually love sci-fi but there is a it of that thing attached to it).

As a reader, I would want it sorted, a blanket title might be a bit intimidating, so if I was looking for something like Star Wars, I'd expect it to be listed under Sci-fi and, possibly, Romance. One of the great things about Star Wars, for me, is that it has all these cross over elements from other genres I love - woah yeh swords, and duels, like the Three Musketeers and yet also space ships and... robots.

So just taking a single writer as an example, Amazon allows me two categories but my books have elements of YA, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Sci-fi, Action Adventure and Romance - or at least whatever it is that people falling in love with one another minus graphic sex scenes is called nowadays. It might even have elements of cops and robbers seeing as the first book is about a bank heist. Some readers class my work as Fantasy - because it doesn't happen in space - some think it's sci-fi - because the science is explained (vaguely). How would I categorise that? Because if a sci-fi purist read my work, he'd be seriously disappointed, if a fantasy purist read it, he'd be annoyed by the modernity of my imaginary world and the lack of dragons. (By the way, how is it fantasy if we're just writing about stuff other people have already made up?)

As a complete numb knut, doubtless I'm completely clueless but I thought the whole point of using the label 'spec fic' was that I get to side step that whole is it fantasy is it sci-fi issue and the reader would immediately know that it will have elements of both... and probably other things too.

So yeh, a tag cloud is the way to go I think.

Oh and DoomedMuse - I write er... my stuff and I'm a girl.

Cheers

MTM

« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 01:12:47 AM by M T McGuire »
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Offline S. Elliot Brandis

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #146 on: January 06, 2014, 01:42:26 AM »
As an author who writes romance in a speculative fiction setting, I've been avoiding posting in this thread, so definitely getting a 'not welcome' vibe.

Hi Rinelle! Sorry if I/we made you feel this way, this was never the intention. I've edit the original post to welcome all types of speculative fiction authors. This thread is only a day or two old, and already I'm blown away with the number of spec fic authors here and the diversity of their work. So welcome, and I hope we haven't scared you off!

Blergh. I'm out.  This talk of subgenre and what is or isn't proper spec fic makes me ill. It's the kind of annoying delineations and bickering that has been ruining SF for years for fans and makes a lot of SF writers look like anti-social jerks.  I realize I'm bitter because I was told for years I couldn't be writing real SF since I was a girl and girls can't write about science, but seriously, who cares if your western has spaceships and aliens? Guess what? That makes it science fiction in my book. There are only so many plots under the sun. If your book centers on a mystery but the perp (or investigator) is a vampire, you are writing fantasy.  It's the trappings that MAKE the genre in my opinion.

I can't stand the slicing, dicing, and arguing. It's ridiculous.

Hi Doomed Muse. I know there's some pretty bad opinions floating about the internet, but I really don't want these negative arguments being dragged into this thread. I certainly don't think anyone here has implied, or would imply, that females don't make good spec-fic authors (we all know this is not the case).

I really hope we can keep this thread open and friendly, and keep discussions respectful and supportive.  :)

  :)

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Offline M T McGuire

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #147 on: January 06, 2014, 03:11:35 AM »
Hi Rinelle! Sorry if I/we made you feel this way, this was never the intention. I've edit the original post to welcome all types of speculative fiction authors. This thread is only a day or two old, and already I'm blown away with the number of spec fic authors here and the diversity of their work. So welcome, and I hope we haven't scared you off!

Hi Doomed Muse. I know there's some pretty bad opinions floating about the internet, but I really don't want these negative arguments being dragged into this thread. I certainly don't think anyone here has implied, or would imply, that females don't make good spec-fic authors (we all know this is not the case).

I really hope we can keep this thread open and friendly, and keep discussions respectful and supportive.  :)

  :)

I wonder if the slightly geeky nature of many spec fic authors puts us 'on the spectrum' so to speak. I suspect I am. Put a whole load of us slightly Sheldon Cooperish dudes on one thread and I suppose it's going to be a little lumpy until we all get used to one another.

Pipple toot.

MTM
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Offline S. Elliot Brandis

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Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #148 on: January 06, 2014, 03:37:58 AM »
I wonder if the slightly geeky nature of many spec fic authors puts us 'on the spectrum' so to speak. I suspect I am. Put a whole load of us slightly Sheldon Cooperish dudes on one thread and I suppose it's going to be a little lumpy until we all get used to one another.

Pipple toot.

MTM

Yep! I go to a spec-fic writing/critique group in my city, and its often hilarious, sometimes opinionated, and always good fun. We are a special class of people.

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Offline antonnaseton

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    • Antonna Seton
Re: The SPECULATIVE FICTION high-five circle.
« Reply #149 on: January 06, 2014, 03:45:03 AM »
Yep! I go to a spec-fic writing/critique group in my city, and its often hilarious, sometimes opinionated, and always good fun. We are a special class of people.

Aren't we? We speak a language nobody does. I attended a writing course once and we were all asked about what we wrote. Almost everyone wrote literary, and when it came to my turn I just kinda squeaked, "Space opera" and there were blank faces all around ... except for one guy who beamed because he had found a kindred spirit.

 I don't attend a spec fic writing group (I wish there was one in Adelaide! Or is there ... must go searching) but I am with a sci-fi group that watches movies and plays RPG games etc. We speak a language that nobody would get - though they must think I'm 1/2 geek because I ... have not watched a single episode of Dr Who. Yes, I confess now, I'm utterly clueless about the Time Lord.

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