My Book Review of "The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction" by Phillip Athans

My Book Review of "The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction" by Phillip Athans

May 17, 2017

I am going to go out of my way, or at least think about it, before I give off a spoiler for this next book review.  I think/feel that if you are looking to write Science Fiction or Fantasy?  This is one of the first books you should pick up, right away, start reading, taking notes, all of it. 

I had just joined a new writing group, heck it was the third writing group I have joined, but it was the first one that I actually went to a meeting.  They were doing a review of a novella and I listened and interjected on what someone else had said.  I liked it so I decided to join up.  The next thing I know is that the following Saturday they were having another reading of two stories and wanted reviews or thoughts.  I found that this book ‘The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction’ was a great tool in editing or reviewing stories too.  Who would have thought that?  Right off the bat?  Thank you, Mr. Athans for providing the book to the world. 

Things about the book I especially enjoyed but not sure everyone else would but feel that they deserve a light to shine on them: 

I found that Mr. Athans and I seem to have a similar sense of humor.  If it isn’t similar it is, then going to be really close to being the same type of humor.  I enjoyed his writing, his examples, his anecdotes, and the choices he made for bringing other writers into the telling of how to write in this genre.  I should probably get out of the way right now this tid bit: “I have seen more than two Jackie Chan movies so I’m safe there.  (Examples of Action) I have not seen any Jenna Jameson, uhm, cough, cough, movies?  I feel though I would get the gist of the cinematic features from other movies that have also had a romantic interlude or two within them.” (A suggestion for knowing what a romantic interlude might look like) 

I very much found the ‘Six Steps’ to be very helpful as well.  The steps were easy to understand and had no special hocus pocus to them.  I was able to visualize how to use them and it was also simple to take notes about them so I could implement the suggestions right away. 

I had previously spoken about a review of someone else’s story?  I had felt that something was missing from the story I was reading but I could not quite put my finger on it?  I got to the section on ‘Characters’ and I immediately knew what the problem was in the story I was reading.  I hope the author takes constructive and well-meaning criticism in the manner it was being given.  Only time will tell. 

So, the six steps to writing and getting published I am going to attempt to use, ongoing, with my writing because it makes sense.  The section on the business end was not anything new, but I also appreciated that there was an example of a query letter as well as what I think of as good advice.  Which in a nutshell comes down to:  Be nice, be professional, and don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your own grandmother.  These are my words, not Mr. Athans but I doubt he would have an issue with them, since you now know, we have a similar sense of humor. 

The short story of Mr. Salvatore’s, yes that Mr. Salvatore of “Drizzt," fame.  The story is “Hugo Man’s Perfect Soul,".  I enjoyed it very much and I can’t see why it was rejected by Mr. Mohan of ‘Amazing Stories’ but then again I am not an editor or a publisher.  I do recall reading any number of articles by Mr. Mohan and enjoyed reading them in “The Dragon/Dragon” magazine.  Yes, I am that old I still have copies of “The Dragon”. 

I suppose the only thing I might have taken exception with was making Mark Twain someone I was supposed to feel sorry for there at the end of the story?  Ever since finding out that Mr. Twain was something of a racist my enthusiasm and respect for the man has diminished somewhat.  Don’t get me wrong, he wrote some great stories, I merely don’t like the man as much. 

I do have a copy of Mr. Athans’ ‘Writing Monsters’ which I am going to read after I read “The Kobold’s Guide to Combat” by Kobold Press.  I had tweeted that I felt my stories have felt clunky?  So, I do feel Mr. Athans has helped with that so now it is time to spice up, with Jackie Chan’s help of course, my combat fight scenes and I hope that the Kobold Press will be as helpful as this book has been. 

That all being said?  YES, I did like this book, I felt it was well worth it.  I feel it is going to assist me in ‘Writing Stories That Steal YOUR Imagination’ and I think anyone even thinking about writing in this genre should get a hold of a copy, yesterday. 

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