Analysis

Five Baffling Tech Explanations in Spec Fic

Two jaegers dropped into the ocean in Pacific Rim

Mythcreants is about serious story analysis, drilling down to the core issues of plot and character. But not today. Today, it’s time to laugh at some extremely bad technobabble. And since our readers are no doubt connoisseurs of weird scifi tech, I knew that no … read more »

Building Baubles: How Revenger Fails at Technology

A dark ship against the background of space, from the cover of Revenger.

Arr me hearties, climb aboard this here pirate spaceship and prepare to have yer buckles thoroughly swashed! Today we’re taking a deep dive into the worldbuilding of Revenger, a space opera novel by Alistair Reynolds. Don’t worry, I promise there won’t be any more attempts … read more »

Five Novels With Bizarre Tangents

In a vast and dark chamber, a person with a torch stares at another person standing upside down on a reverse staircase

Keeping a plot focused is one of storytelling’s greatest challenges. Even the best of us sometimes wander off on tangents that don’t add anything to the narrative unless the reader happens to be very interested in the specifics of a rifle’s loading mechanism or domestic … read more »

Five Stories With Unsatisfying Endings

Aang in the Avatar State from The Last Air Bender.

While satisfaction should be present throughout a story, the most potent dose of satisfaction is delivered by the ending. Or at least, it should be. When an ending fails to live up to expectations, it reduces satisfaction as well as the chances that audiences will read … read more »

How Three Book Series Kept Readers Interested

A spacecraft burning toward a futuristic city.

Writing a single novel is hard enough, and writing an entire series is notoriously difficult. It’s so difficult that when I published a post on tips for writing sequels, some commenters responded with the equivalent of “don’t.” In particular, it’s a real challenge to maintain … read more »

Seven Prologues and the Problems They Cause

A Martian landscape with a domed city and an airship.

In novels, prologues are almost always a mistake, and the reason why is simple: they take place before the story starts. If the story hasn’t started, what are you even reading? That’s why prologues are usually exposition dumps, meaningless action, or, occasionally, a completely separate … read more »

Five Ridiculous Stories About Stories

A rumbled white woman with short hair stares is dismay at her typewriter.

Many storytellers like to comment on storytelling in their stories. That alone isn’t a terrible thing, except so much of this commentary is pompous, harmful to storytellers, completely wrong, or all of the above. These meta messages say a lot about fiction-writing culture, and most … read more »

Taking the Politics Out of Six Popular Stories

Ambassadors gathered for the Khitomer Conference.

You know what I can’t stand about speculative storytelling? The politics. I know, it seems like I mostly object to poorly constructed plots, underdeveloped characters, toxic messages, and so on, but really it’s the politics. You just can’t have a good story if there’s politics … read more »

Space Sweepers Shows Us What Excellent Messaging Is

The Korean crew of the space opera Space Sweepers poses with weapons

Space Sweepers, the new Korean blockbuster on Netflix, is not a flawless movie. Some portions are incredibly confusing, plot twists come out of nowhere, its pace becomes exhausting, and jarring tone changes make important events feel contrived. But along with a strong set of heroes … read more »

Five Antagonists Who Never Stood a Chance

Rand lifting a magic horn from The Great Hunt's cover art.

Captain Kirk’s adventures would be a snoozefest if the Klingons just rolled over for him. No one would care about T’Challa taking back his throne unless Killmonger could match him blow for blow. Batman’s investigations would be pointless if the Joker just turned himself in.* What’s … read more »