Unca Mike's Bad Advice - Answers

June 2007: Sex

Jack writes: I read this review on SF Reviews and it says the SEX in "Stations" is educational. I'd like to be a published SF author some day, and I'd like to pack my books full of sex and violence too. Will that limit my chances of getting published. Hell, it got you a Hugo!

Actually, Stations of the Tide won a Nebula. But does sex win Hugos? Let’s see. “The Very Pulse of the Machine” had no sex. “Slow Life” ditto. “The Dog Said Bow-Wow” had some sex, though not a lot. “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur” had some, but you wouldn’t call it educational. More like intrinsic to the plot. And “Legions in Time” had no sex, though it did have the line, “Time criminals of the Dawn Era, listen and obey!” which is almost as good. Still, I’d advise you to pack your books with lots of sex, if for no other reason than that a good sex scene requires research. Lots and lots of research.

Space opera vs. epic fantasy

Nobody writes: A technical question for you. Is space opera to science fiction what epic fantasy is to fantasy?

No, epic fantasy comes in trilogies, whereas space opera comes in whacking big fat stand-alone volumes. Except when the epic fantasy is open-ended, what the Finns call a tusinafantasia or “dozen-fantasy.” Like what Roger Zelazny’s Amber trilogy turned into. The problem with a tusinafantasia is that the series rarely ends before the author kicks off, leaving behind legions of frustrated fans. With space opera, however, the author can die happy in the knowledge that nobody cares.


SL writes: I looked at your photo at 4:30am and it's not good. At 4:30pm, it would have been fine. It's not you, it's the photo.
Your writing is an inspiration.
I love the honesty on your website.

You haven’t seen me in person. Alas, it’s not the photo.

March 2007: Full time

pdfd73 writes: I like to become a full time writer. What is the first step?

Quit your job. It’s as easy as that. If you spend all day, every day, either writing, drinking, or goofing off, you’re the real thing. Congratulations! Pour yourself a drink and take the rest of the day off. That’s what a genuine full-time writer would do.

The second step, however, which is finding a way of supporting yourself while being a full-time writer . . . well, that’s the tough one.

January 2007: Punch

Nobody writes: In 2001 you said that we should punch out the editor. Now I've managed to punch out Gordon at a couple of conventions, but it hasn't helped me sell to F&SF. Plus, GVG has had a restraining order issued. What do I now?

You punched out Gordon “Mad Dog” Van Gelder? Are you mad? Stan Schmidt or David Hartwell, sure, no problem. But Gordon is a three-time Golden Gloves champion and a former operative for the infamous CIA “Fist of Ice” Extreme Rendition Squad. He knows seventeen ways of killing a man with a paper clip! The fact that you’re still standing can only mean that he’s planning something extremely slow and painful for you. Run, you fool, run!

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