One of the lasting tropes from 20th-century pulp fiction is of the city where “East meets West,” places like Shanghai and Hong Kong. There’s a romanticism to that idea of a wealthy, cosmopolitan, dangerous city where the rules aren’t quite what you’d expect—but obviously all of it is rooted in extremely racist colonial and orientalist treatments of Asians as uncivilized Others and their land as a place to impose Western culture by force.
My question is: is there a way to use some of these tropes, to capture the romance and mystery of those old settings, without replaying and reinforcing the hateful dynamics they were originally founded on? Or is the whole concept best just tossed out as a whitewash of colonialism?
This week, we were exploring the wardrobe we keep in the studio for some reason, only to discover that it leads to a magical land full of talking animals, mythical creatures, and a lion who seems a little holier than thou if we’re being honest. … read more »
A while back, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of traveling by water. That’s enough for some stories, but let’s face it, this is speculative fiction. Sooner or later, you’ll want to write about violent clashes on the high seas. Naval combat changes drastically … read more »
Writers seeking feedback on their work are frequently afraid someone will steal it. This culture of fear is really unfortunate, because while plagiarism in fiction is quite real, people working on a manuscript have no reason to worry. Disclaimer: While this article contains some basic … read more »
I have seen in various roleplaying games a sort of “training time” mechanic. Basically in addition to gaining the needed experience points/levels/whatever to gain a new skill/power/attribute, your character must also devote a given amount of in-game time to training. These times pretty much invariably … read more »
Who says our stories have to be dismal and bleak? Sometimes spec fic, especially science fiction, can make us feel great about the future. That’s optimistic spec fic, and it’s our topic for this week. Listen as we discuss what exactly goes into making optimistic … read more »
It probably won’t surprise you that there’s a lot of writing advice out there. Everyone seems to have their own take on this endeavor we call storytelling. That’s to be expected, but it’s often hard to tell the good tips from the bad. Without the … read more »
Writers often know where their stories start and end but draw a blank when it comes to all the stuff in between. And unfortunately, common plot structures like the hero’s journey aren’t as helpful as they seem. While they provide a rhythm of success and … read more »
I am writing a non-magical fantasy story set in a low-tech world that is primarily composed of city-states with limited regional authority. I am trying to work out what kinds of seemingly realistic accommodations could/would be in place for disabled people. Culturally, I am trying … read more »
More than one in ten Americans is disabled, making it one of the largest marginalized groups in the country. Even so, storytellers often have a really difficult time portraying disabled characters. We want to change that, so this episode is all about the most problematic … read more »