Wednesday, 7 September 2011

...One Giant Leap...

Recently, I took up a challenge to write a story in response to the work of Polish Science Fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. This was for an anthology, 'Lemistry', celebrating his work and featuring new translations of his stories, alongside other established writers responding to his work.

I have read an embarrassingly tiny amount of Sci Fi, maybe residually due to the very acid opinion of a bookshop colleague years ago referring to the science fiction section as 'sweaty books for boys'. I resented this critique of an entire genre, but a reluctance to delve in remained. I thought Sci Fi required knowledge of technological or scientific stuff. I thought to read, or indeed write, science fiction you'd need to know all the 'rules'. But as I read Lem's work I realised my preconceptions couldn't be further from the truth. There are so many books and films that came to mind that seem to have been inspired by him. And as a writer responding to his work, I could go literally anywhere and put anyone (human, robot or alien) there, too.

I also realised through the process how challenging it is to write well in this genre. There is much that needs explaining in creating unknown complete worlds and it requires discernment as to how much you can leave out and what to include without being heavy handed or breaking the old show don't tell. I don't think I got everything right in my story 'Traces Remain', but I had a really good go at it. And I am immensely grateful to the editor Ra Page for his astute and brilliant guidance. I would be mortified if people read my early malformed drafts. And although there are probably aspects in the final cut that Sci Fi aficionados may roll their eyes at, I am pleased with the end result. Forgive me - it was a little bit like learning to write all over again.

I'm really excited to read what other contributors have done with Lem's inspiration. And thrilled to be appearing in an anthology that features brilliant well established writers. For more information about the project and to pre order copies of Lemistry see Commapress

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