Posts Tagged With: Joe Haldeman

All Good Things…

It’s a sad truth of life that there are only 24 hours in a day.  In the far future, maybe someone will invent a pocket universe device that’ll fix that problem (wouldn’t THAT be cool), but in the meantime, we’re stuck.  So I’ve decided to put on hiatus to spend more time on my new website, (not to mention keeping up with my own paid writing gigs).

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the great authors who have stopped by to share their wit and wisdom: Joe Haldeman, Harry Connolly, Laura E. Reeve, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Weber, Mario Acevedo, Robert Charles Wilson, Jack Campbell, Paul McAuley, Kat Richardson, David Sherman, Jeffrey A. Carver, Walter Jon Williams, Mike Resnick, the musical group Midnight Syndicate, and anyone else I may have forgotten.

And a very special thanks to YOU for reading this!  Hope to see you over at my new website,!

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And now, the first Sci Fi Bookshelf Short Story Contest!

Want to show off your writing skills?  Have you written a science fiction story that’s so shiny you have to wear Ray Bans?  How would you like to see millions of people read your story online?

Okay, maybe not millions, but you get the idea.  I’m officially kicking off the first-ever Sci Fi Bookshelf Short Story Contest.  Send me your story, whether science fiction, fantasy, horror or somewhere in between, up to 2,500 words, and find out how your writing skills stack up against the competition.  The deadline is the end of the year — literally at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  I’ll publish the winner online in January, right here on Sci Fi Bookshelf, where you’ve seen science fiction and fantasy giants like Joe Haldeman, David Weber and Kat Richardson.

There’s no cash prize, but no entry fee either.  I look at it as an even trade: Sci Fi Bookshelf fans (like yourself) get a little free online reading, and you get to showcase your storytelling — everybody wins!

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From the Mailbox

I got this email recently from an astute reader, and I can’t resist sharing it:

Very cool science fiction blog. I really enjoyed the Haldeman interview and wish you the best of luck. I’ll try to plug it when and where I can, so keep up the good work!  If you haven’t already, check out the Takeshi Kovacs series (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies) by Richard K. Morgan. Also anything by Robert Charles Wilson — possibly the most underrated science fiction author I’ve come across. He’s written a Hugo winner (Spin), but the rest of his stuff, such as A Bridge of Years, Blind Lake, Mysterium, Darwinia, The Chronoliths, etc. are great too.
Thanks, constant reader.  Plug away!  The more links, the merrier.

In the meantime, true believers, you know I can’t resist a request like that.  So stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the incomparable Robert Charles Wilson!

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Grand Master Joe Haldeman tells all (or some, anyway) to Sci Fi Bookshelf

Joe Haldeman has just been named to the Grand Master Award, joining the ranks of science fiction giants like Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and Ursula K. Le Guin.  He has also won three Hugo awards, four Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award and more.  He’s perhaps best known for The Forever War, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.  His latest novel, Starbound, just recently hit store shelves.  Somehow, in between teaching writing at MIT and winning staggering amounts of acclaim, it seems Joe still manages to find the time to write.  He was generous enough to share some views from the top, infused with his own unmistakably dry sense of humor.

Sci Fi  Marsbound was met with some great reviews, and Starbound is in stores now.  Was there any particular idea that inspired this series?  And can you tell us anything about the upcoming book, Earthbound?

Joe Haldeman:  MARSBOUND started off as a stand-alone novel.  I’d written the novella “The Mars Girl” for a Dozois/Dann anthology of Young Adult sf stories, and I wrote it with the idea of expanding it into a YA novel.  I used the novella to pitch the story to a YA editor, and she said no, thanks.  (Later she told me she’d been wrong; her daughter read the novella and loved it.)

Anyhow, that made me think.  I’m not a YA author anyhow.  So why not make the protagonist a bit older and write it as a regular novel, sex and all.  So that became MARSBOUND.

I was literally a few days from the end of the novel when it occurred to me that it needed a sequel, with the two main characters upping the ante and going off to the stars.  I wrote an outline pitching that book, STARBOUND, to sell it to my publisher.  But in writing the outline, I saw it required a third book, EARTHBOUND.

So what started out as a novella became a trilogy.  Trilogies do sell better than stand-alone novels, but that wasn’t my motivation, at least consciously.

The books follow the same characters in an unbroken series of events, but I tried to make each one enjoyable as a stand-alone novel.  It was a challenge to write the second and third books so they would work both for a reader who was following the series and for one who had picked up the book without preparation.  Background information has to be presented in a way that’s not boring to the reader who’s seen it before.

I started EARTHBOUND with a literary problem in mind.  I’d just taught Cormack McCarthy’s THE ROAD, which was well written but mindnumbingly depressing, and I wondered (since EARTHBOUND had a similar opening situation) whether I could make my book work without it being so psychologically painful.  I don’t know whether I’m succeeding; I’m only halfway through the book.

SFB:  Is it true that you write everything longhand?

JH:  I write the first draft of my novels in longhand, with a fountain pen in bound blank books.  Other writing (like this) I do on the computer.

SFB:  The rumors are flying about Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Legend) doing a film based on The Forever War.  Is there any news you can pass along?

The Forever WarJH:  He bought the rights.  The astounding success of AVATAR makes me think the project is more likely, but I haven’t heard anything from Scott about that.  (Except that he also loved the movie and intends to do THE FOREVER WAR in 3-D.)

SFB:  What’s the biggest change you see coming in the science fiction genre?

JH:  We’re in the middle of a long slow change that reflects the reading public’s lack of interest in science, and their concomitant ignorance of it.  Hard SF is a hard sell, and a lot of writers are leaning toward fantasy.  I stick with hard SF, but I’m not selling as many books as the ones about dragons and mighty-thewed heroes. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring science fiction writers who haven’t been fortunate enough to take your class at MIT?

JH:  Writing can be fun (for the writer) and can be a tool for personal growth.  Writing for other people, in the sense of writing for a living, is relatively difficult.  Most writers make very little money and see little or no fame while enduring criticism and the excruciating pain of watching terribly written books outsell their gems.  The best advice is not to do it unless you can’t see yourself living any other way.  Or you could marry someone with money and write what you want.

SFB:  If this isn’t too obtuse to ask, how does it feel to win the Grand Master Award and join the ranks of some of the greatest science fiction writers of all time?

JH:  I don’t feel old enough for the honor.

SFB:  Joe, it’s been a real pleasure.  Thank you so much for your time.

JH:  Thanks.

Joe Haldeman’s web site:
Joe Haldeman on
Joe Haldeman‘s blog:

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