The SFF Chronicles Science Fiction & Fantasy Community

300-word Writing Challenge #30 (July 2018) -- VICTORY TO THE JUDGE!

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To write a story in 300 words or fewer
INSPIRED by the image provided below, in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


History News: Human sacrifices, hidden colours

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Ceiltic human sacrifice

What's missing from the above image? That's right, the sacrificial bodies.

The image is of a reconstructed henge, discovered near the village of Pömmelte, Germany. Dated to around 2,000 BC, archaeological excavations have only taken place since its discovery in 1991 - but one of the more recent finds is of a number of bodies, apparently sacrificial victims...

Joe Abercrombie: A Little Hatred coming September 2019

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Joe Abercrombie has posted an update to his blog in which he announces a likely release date for his new trilogy, along with the book titles.

According to him, the new trilogy:

has 7 point of view characters, 4 men and 3 women, as well as a host of walk-on extras, many of them well known to readers of the First Law, and features at least one duel to the death, three major pitched battles and an awful lot of hangings. It...

Review: The Black Tides of Heaven by J Y Yang

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The Black Tides of Heaven by J. Y. Yang, published 2017 by Tor.

The Black Tides of a Heaven is a fantasy novella set in a medieval pseudo-China where magic, monsters and gunpowder co-exist. So far, so good.

The story starts by following twins, Mokoya and Akeha, who are unwanted by their empress-mother and gifted to a monastery to fulfil a political obligation. So far, still okay. We’re straying into typical fantasy tropes, here, but Yang keeps...

Review: Land of the Headless by Adam Roberts

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Land of the Headless is SF, published 2007 by Orion/Gollancz. Approx 275 pages in trade paperback.

The novel starts in very intriguing fashion, with the beheading of the first-person narrator for "adultery", an offence which includes consensual sex, a crime in a society governed by a holy book which is an amalgam of the Bible and Koran. However, the decapitation isn't fatal since Jon Cavala's mind has been downloaded into an apparatus in his spine which...

Is it useful to get writing feedback from friends & family?

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Of course it's possible to get anonymous or impersonal feedback from writers' groups, forums or even from professional advisors. Yet, there is maybe part of you that would like some sort of feedback from known people such as friends and family. I suppose it is partly because, since they know you, they could maybe give feedback in a way that would particularly resonate or get the most out of you. Yet there are dangers of embarrassment and disgruntlement if the...

Authors Moving Away from SF?

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The next novels of both Ann Leckie and Hannu Rajaniemi are going to be fantasy and not science fiction... is this the start of a trend of established authors moving away from science fiction to fantasy?

I personally find this disappointing. Apart from enjoying reading science fiction much more than fantasy, I also find it is harder to write science fiction than fantasy - in part because it is easier to bend a fantasy world to the story than a science fiction...

Space News: Chemical planets, organic dwarfs

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Some science stories of note from the past few days:

1. Distant exoplanet imaged using chemical signatures

What's the difference between a planet and star? One answer is their chemistry - so a study decided to run a test on images of the star Beta Pictoris.

It's known to have a large mass planet in orbit, but the glare of the star normally hides it - but running a spectral analysis for common chemicals expected for a planet and not a star made it stand...

Writing Hyper Competent Characters...

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Whilst creating X characters, it made logical sense that X characters were VERY competent in their fields.

This has been somewhat built up on, to the point of Aliens referring to them as a human technocracy, whilst the Aliens are a democracy.

The issue, is up to now, I've taken for granted that x, y, z characters are super good at whatever they're doing.

I'm not so much worried about my protagonists, as they are suitably flawed, you obviously have to...

Big Changes to Chrons!

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A few changes I've been working on recently that it's important to know about:

1. Email notifications reset

I've been getting a lot of bounced notifications, as some email providers are starting to treat them as spam. As this can only cause problems for the long-term, I've reset all email notifications to off.

This means that to receive email notifications from now you must actively opt-in. To do that...

Review: The Event by Nathan Hystad

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The first time I picked up this book I got through a couple of pages, and put it down unsatisfied - I like to see specifics in a story to help it seem real, and it bugged me that some of these were missing, not least that the town where the story begins wasn't named.

However, a couple of weeks later I picked it up again and found myself immediately gripped. I even went back to re-read the opening pages to ensure I'd not missed anything. Funny how your enjoyment...

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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I found this dystopian novel to be somewhat disturbing - for the wrong reasons.

The basic premise is that Montag is a "fireman" who goes around burning books - and any homes in which they are found. However, through the story we see him question his role in this, and face the moral problem of what he's doing.

By itself, it should be a classic dystopian warning against book burning. And it kind of is that.

The problem is, there's no real depth to the story -...

History News: Neanderthal sailors, Mycenaean saws

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A few interesting achaeology stories from the past few weeks, which I'll bring together into a single thread rather than flood the History section of the forums. :)

1. Neanderthals may have sailed the Meditteranean

Tool finds across a number of Greek islands appear to suggest that not only did Stone Age people sail the Mediterranean, but Neanderthals may have done so, too...

How important are character names?

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I'm writing a YA fantasy novel, which takes place in a world where the geography, weather, laws of physics, etc are the same as ours but with different flora and fauna. There are magical and fantastical elements as you would expect and the characters are human. My characters have fairly normal English names, e.g. Scarlet Brand, and now, about half way through the first draft, the main characters have really grown into their names (at least in my head).


Game of Thrones gets prequel: now a franchise?

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As revealed yesterday, Game of Thrones may be about to get it's first spin-off series.

Already a pilot for a new TV series, set 10,000 in the past, has been green-lighted by HBO for production.

But according to George R R Martin, this is merely one of five concepts that he's pitched - and while one has...

Alpha Centauri might be habitable after all

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A long-term study of Alpha Centuari has dispelled fears that life couldn't survive in that star system.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory made observations every six months from 2005, and discovered that the radiation wouldn't be so bad as originally expected.

At around 4 light years away, Alpha Centauri is the nearest star system to Earth. It comprises three stars: Alpha Centuari A...

Is Lucasfilm killing Star Wars?

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I hope you can forgive the rambling nature of this thread (I have an unfocused and somewhat simple mind.)

I read an interesting article a few weeks ago on why Lucasarts failed. It cites indecision, constant changes in direction, no leadership amounted to the closing of possibly once of the best gaming companies ever and I wonder if we're watching the demise of Star Wars.

Four movies in and...

Review: Goblins at the Gates by Ellis Knox

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Goblins at the Gates is an odd book that mixes fantasy with Roman Historical Fiction. I expected a lighthearted romp, but the book quickly showed itself to be a far more serious work. There's something of L Sprague de Camp in a David Gemmell story to this, which is both a positive and a negative.

The setting is well-realized, with some great attention to detail in terms of historical accuracy - you know the author's done their research when you laugh at...

All my Amazon reviews have disappeared!

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Yep, all the reviews I've ever posted to Amazon have disappeared. I'm not sure why - I noticed last week, and my initial feeling was that it must have been an IT error.

However, Gathering has just lost a review as well, so I wonder if Amazon has a new algorithm for cracking down on "fake" reviews - and it's throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

I don't see how I could possibly have broken Amazon's rules, though perhaps being the first reviewer on a...

Review: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

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Mapping the Interior is a horror novel in the vein of Stephen King. In other words, it’s disturbing, fantastical, psychological and compelling. Set somewhere in the American midwest, the story is told by Junior, a young, Native American boy who is trying to make sense of his dead father’s nightly visits.

Given that Junior is twelve-years old, the novel is also, in part, a coming-of-age story and the supernatural horrors of the novel are almost secondary...