Daily Archives: December 2, 2005

Christmas Reruns

Just as an FYI, I’ve posted two of the three Christmas stories I wrote a couple of years up on a "miscellaneous" blog here at Scalzi.com. The first of these is a poem called "Jackie Jones and Melrose Mandy," in which a spoiled little girl learns there’s more to life than getting everything you want, and the second is "Sarah’s Sister," which is a Christmas story I wrote pretty much to get my mother-in-law to bawl like a baby (it worked). Both of these stories do not come anywhere close to the level of snark I usually promulgate here, and indeed "Sarah’s Sister" may be the absolutely least snarky thing I’ve ever written — the anti-snark, if you will. Just so you know (if you want snark, you’ll want to revisit my "10 Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time," which I wrote at the same time and then subsequently sold to NationalLampoon.com).

I gave some thought to writing a couple of new christmas stories this year, but being terminally disorganized as I am I haven’t done so yet. Still, I have a particularly nasty abuse of Santa rolling about in my head that I might get to. I make no promises.

How To Tell SF from F

Uh-oh. Just when we least expected it, a seminar on genre theory broke out online! It’s about what the difference between science fiction and fantasy really is.

Call me unbearably shallow, but here’s how you know the difference. You walk up to the main character of the story in question and say: "Hey! Main character! That deus ex machina doodad you have on your belt, does it have, like, a battery?"

If he says "Why, yes, there’s a tiny nuclear fuel cell in there that will power this baby for 10,000 planetary revolutions," well, then, you’ve got some science fiction there. If he says, "Of course not, it was forged in the eternal flames of Mount [insert typewriter spasm here] by the dwarves who serve the elder and/or fallen god [insert second typewriter spasm here], and holds captive his immortal soul" or some such, well, that’s fantasy. Everything else is pretty much elaboration and variation on the point.

If the story features a nuclear fuel cell made by the dwarf servants of the dread god Typewriter Spasm, what you’ve got is an editor asleep at the switch. Never fear, he or she will be beaten presently.

There. Settled. Now, let’s cure cancer!