Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review of Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold

In Worlds of Wonder, Hugo-winner David Gerrold presents a snappy, entertaining, and insightful view of fiction, as seen through the focused lens of a speculative writer. He covers the expected basics, while also managing to throw in some inspiring originalities. The short (sometimes no more than a page) chapters create an inviting, fast read packed with info.

Gerrold begins by exploring the vast galaxy of possibilities available to the speculative writer. He encourages his readers to “invent wonder” and dive into the deep pool of the “what if” question. He distinguishes between science fiction and fantasy and explains the finer points of both genres. Much of the book is devoted to subjects that apply to all of fiction writing (character, setting, theme, style, dialogue), but Gerrold puts a definitive speculative slant on them. He discusses the necessary qualities of a speculative hero, explains the basics of world-building, and suggests stylistic choices appropriate to the genre.

His witty style (complete with snarky footnotes) and sometimes laugh-out-loud, made-up-on-the-spot examples are a fun read in themselves (although I would caution that a few of his entries make the book regrettably inappropriate for younger audiences). But his insight into the inner workings of an often tricky genre are invaluable.
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