AISFP 174 – Adam Christopher

Tome of Ideas is part genre encyclopedia, part RPG book, part writing prompt collection, and part inspirational art book. It is designed as a resource for writers looking for their next story, game masters looking for their next adventure, or anyone who simply wants to sit down and send their imagination on a journey into speculative fiction.

Contributors include over twenty award winning and bestselling authors who will help provide writing prompts and story ideas to get you started on your next adventure. Contributors include Elizabeth Bear, Kevin J. Anderson, David Brin, Mur Lafferty, Eugie Foster, Howard Anderew Jones and many, many more.

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Show Notes:

  • Adam Christopher, author of EMPIRE STATE and the new SEVEN WONDERS, joins us to discuss his love for superheroes, his literary inspirations, science fiction period pieces and why superhero literature has not kept pace with superhero film.
  • FREE BOOKS! It’s been far too long since we gave away some bling. . . . ok, maybe paper doesn’t ‘bling’, but you know what I mean. Tor is graciously giving away 5 copies of THIEFTAKER by D.B. Jackson. To enter, simply tweet something about @aisfppodcast being the place to be for author interviews and book giveaways. You can also use facebook or your personal blog, but make sure we can see what you posted so your entry is counted. I’m not sure if this contest is international or just open to North America. Further details to come.

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  1. Robert Hegwood says

    Hi y’all,

    I’ve been listening to your podcasts the last few weeks. As an aspiring writer (and I think a darned good one), only barely published (one literary poem and one short story to a now defunct ezine) I like learning about the industry, about professional writers of SFF, and about the emerging world of e-publishing.

    One of the things I like off the bat about your podcast is your main voice (I think Shaun) he sounds just like Howard on Big Bang Theory…who in another life played the superhero sidekick wannabe Moist in Dr. Horrible. It’s very engaging.

    I had two comments about the content of this episode. The first concerned under and over represented categories. I would agree with you that vampires and werewolves are are way over represented. I’m not so sure about the underrepresented category of super heroes…maybe, but for me thee is another category that goes begging in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Perhaps not a category in itself, but a cultural aspect that is rarely done well in my experience. Religion.

    If you want over representation in Fantasy what about rampant neopagan settings that try to create cultural facsimiles of medieval Europe as if Christianity never existed. And where they do touch upon Christianity it is so negatively stereotypical as to be a parody. There are the irrational luddite ( non specific) fundamentalists still overawed at washing machines and suspicious of any vehicle fancier than a pick up or a tractor…Or the evil cult in fundy drag….or it’s catholics in outer SPACE Space space. It’s like they were written by those who dismissed religion and were really unfamiliar with any of this thought, history, theological nuances and dynamics, or those disillusioned with it at 14 with an axe to grind. It’s all cardboard…and it’s ridiculous. Love it or hate it, religion is a big part of human history and experience and getting it right as part of a fictional culture/worldbuilding, having religious characters who are normal people not morons, and not psychotics takes effort to do well.

    One of the best examples I can think of that gets it right is Phillip K. Dick’s “Soldier Ask Not.” He writes about a fractured humanity, where each major grouping exemplifies on major aspect of human culture…there’s the brainiac culture, the mystical/new agey culture, there’s the warrior culture, and then there are the Friendlies…the religious culture (sort of puritan/quakers). Then he asks what would push a traditionally nonviolent culture to become such fighters as give the warrior culture pause? He even wrote a great hymn/anthem for them “Soldier ask not, now or ever, where to war your banner’s go, Anarch’s legions all surround us. Strike and do not count the blow.” It’s over 30 years since I first read it, and that “hymn” still sticks in my head…it would work easily as a sacred harp melody (just in case you don’t know what sacred harp/shape note singing is, here is a link: Even though not explicitly religious, Tolkien’s world exists within the sphere of traditional Christians morality…its is part of the fabric of life that’s just taken for granted. Orson Scott Card also does it reasonably well. He treats the religious impulse in man and societies with respect. It’s not an item of ridicule but an integral part of human cultures wherever they go. Ray Bradbury did it well too…not overtly so much as just part of the cultural background. Some may mention the efforts of Heinlein or Herbert….but to me the religious aspects of their epics felt more like high power politics by another name. For example the Bene Gesserit were at best quasi-relgious than actually so…they had a shared philosophy…a quasi-mystical purpose…manipulating the blood lines of noble families to bring forth some sort of superman and then control him to their socio political ends. This has a little bit of an institutional religious feel…but it’s all man behind the curtain stuff…not “real” as religions go.

    Anyway I think this category is underrepresented because so few in the SFF writerly community know how to do it believably and well…my guess it either because they are non or anti religious at a personal level or still acting out against some bad institutional religious experience as a kid.

    2. Superheroes. I found this topic very interesting as a genre. I can’t say I’ve read much in it. Making such a visually oriented genre work in literary form takes some doing. Truth is, I have not been really much aware of superhero novels that were not based on superhero movies….and like most novelizations of movies I never bothered to read them. I will be on the lookout now for books in this genre to see what might be a good read.

    Also in some of your joking around about the dearth of Superhero fiction and what types of things might stimulate some interest in having folk write it for you I was reminded of a group piece I had done on a lark some years ago about a high security old folks home for aging superheroes who needed special care to deal with episodes of “power incontinence” or the special aches and pains brought on by the degeneration of powers…and I thought if funny to imagine old heroes and villain in their decrepitude trading insults across the hall or over milk and jello in the dining hall.

    Anyway, enjoyed the podcast. I’ll be listening. Keep up the good work and great guests.


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