Characterization in Sci Fi and Fantasy

            Because I’m teaching a writing seminar on science fiction and fantasy, I’ve been reading a good bit of the stuff.  Many of the novels seem strong; Mary D. Russell’s debut (1996) The Sparrow, for instance. The problems appear in the short stories, the novelettes, and novellas.   In our last class we looked at the magazine market, to Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Facts, and Clarkesworld Magazine, to name a few.  Frankly, I’ve found few stories that have held my interest.  Some exceptions are Orson Scott Card’s Unaccompanied Sonata, Bruce Coville’s Old Glory, and Terry Pratchett’s Troll Bridge.  A common fault seems to exist in the many other stories I’ve dipped into—poor characterization.  The author spends too much time on the science and world-building to produce memorable protagonists or subordinate beings.  Any recommendations?

About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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