William Gibson recommends these 10 science fiction novels to you

By Thomas Mill at Sci Fi Wire
New York Magazine asked various notable literati to recommend a “mixed tape” of books for you in their respective genres. They picked William Gibson for the science fiction category (smart choice!), and he recommended these 10:

Tiger! Tiger! (aka The Stars My Destination) by Alfred Bester

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

Arslan by M.J. Engh

The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Read the rest here

How to make your setting a character in your dystopian novel

By Beth Revis at io9
Science fiction writers and literary agents have been blogging the past few days about how to make your setting come alive. And young-adult author Beth Revis explains why this is doubly important in a novel about a future dystopia.

One of the most important things that separates a dystopian novel from all the rest is simply: setting. While the setting of any novel is important, the setting for a dystopian novel is key. It is, after all, the changing world that makes a dystopian novel really dystopian.

Nathan Bransford said there were three important traits of setting in a novel:

Change Underway: the setting should be dynamic, something should be happening in the outside world, be it a storm (King Lear) or a world that responds to outside influence (Narnia)

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An Interview with Lou Anders

by David Alastair Hayden at Redstone Science Fiction
Lou Anders is the editorial director of Prometheus Books’ groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr, as well as many anthologies, including the forthcoming volumes Masked (Gallery Books, July 2010) and Swords & Dark Magic (Eos, June 2010, co-edited with Jonathan Strahan). Lou is a four-time Hugo Award nominee, a Philip K. Dick Award nominee, a World Fantasy Award nominee, and a Chelsey Award winning art director.

Within the last few years, the number of fantasy works set in our present day world, but with magical tweaks, has surged dramatically (as have romance hybrids). Do you think something like this will happen with sci-fi as well?
Well, we’ve already been through a wave of “techno-thriller” novels, with a lot of the big names of SF forgoing space for the near future. Greg Bear, David Brin, William Gibson have all been writing novels set in the present, Neal Stephenson even went back into the past for “historical science fiction”. I don’t want to misquote him but I believe Robert J. Sawyer has said something to the effect that he intends all (or most) of his forthcoming work to be like this. As to romance hybrids, I did recently notice a “my boyfriend is an alien” type novel on the mass market tree display in B&N last week, packaged exactly like an urban fantasy only with tentacles. I’m surprised there isn’t more of an SF incursion into urban fantasy already, as that crowd pushes out further from vampires and werewolves.

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The greatest stories almost never told

Katharine Hibbert at The Times Online UK
“We could have your book out there for sale tomorrow.” It’s the kind of offer wannabe authors dream of. Paul Andrews would take my hypothetical book, subject it to a modicum of editorial scrutiny (“We don’t say ‘no’ very often”), design a cover for it, then put it out as an app for the new breed of smartphones. It would also be downloadable onto e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle. Andrews has never seen a sentence of my writing.

An iPhone might not be the ideal format for reading, but it gets points just for turning up. As Andrews puts it: “People carry their phones constantly, so you’re never stuck without something to read.”

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It’s amazing to see that way Sci Fi is evolving, it seems to be having a popularity surge now that it hasn’t had since the 50’s and 60’s. Fantasy too, and now there are so many crossover genre’s that the books are attracting a wider audience. And I wish I had thought of a self-publishing iPhone app, that’s absolutely brilliant! And I love that big publishing houses are paying attention too.

What did you think of William Gibson’s recommendations? How important do you think the setting is in dystopian stories?