Charlie Jane Anders: Anger ‘doesn’t really come with a sense of proportion’

Advice on writing fictional characters which I find helpful:

“Often as not, when I have a character who’s not clicking, it’s because I haven’t found what they’re angry about yet.
My favorite fictional characters are the ones who cannot witness evil being done without becoming fired up about it, and I have all the time in the world for characters who will go to the ends of the Earth to right a wrong. But I also have boundless love for characters who hold petty grudges, who are still stewing about something that happened to them in seventh grade, or who are just grumpy cusses. A character who is supposed to save the world, but can’t let go of an incredibly minor vendetta, is automatically fascinating. And utterly believable. That’s the great thing about anger, after all: it doesn’t really come with a sense of proportion.”
—Charlie Jane Anders, Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories, Tordotcom (2021), Chapter 12.

To Climates Unknown: A rare exploration

Not “comforting” but “challenging.” Discussing “the sort of historical incident” that’s “rarely explored at any great length.” To Climates Unknown by Arturo Serrano, reviewed by Andy Sawyer in Strange Horizons today.

A description of the novel:

On September 11, the United States were destroyed. That is, September 11 of the Year of Our Lord 1620. In this alternate history, the Mayflower was lost at sea, and the English Separatists were disheartened from further colonization of North America. The United States were never born. The centuries that follow will see the emergence of rival empires that will split up the world between them. One will become the terror of the seas. One will rampage with carriages of steam. One will take to the skies. And the people caught in the middle will fight against the colonial system to bring an end to all empires.

The possibility of resolution

Min Hyoung Song’s book Climate Lyricism can be ordered in print or read free online in an open access version. (See his tweet today.)

In his introduction, “The Practice of Sustaining Attention to Climate Change,” he writes of “strategies for holding attention” for fiction writers. These steps are:

– Create a handful of compelling characters.
– Put them in a unique situation, and place before them a challenging dilemma.
– Differentiate between characters who are driven to overcome this dilemma and characters who (or situations that) exacerbate that dilemma or pose new dilemmas.
– Allow conflict to play itself out in patterns of defeat and triumph, betrayal and collaboration, despair and hope.
– Hold out the promise that some final resolution is coming.

Min Hyoung Song

We, too, as much as our fictional characters, need the promise of resolution. Otherwise, what do we strive for? And so we have to provide ourselves, in our real lives, with this goal. In our writing, yes. Also, in our lives.

The world gets closer to knowing ‘Climates Unknown’

Book cover: To Climates Unknown by Arturo Serrano

In this forthcoming novel, Arturo Serrano delivers “a stunning portrayal of how things that seem infinitesimal can shake the entire world,” Dawn Vogel writes for History That Never Was.

From the book description:

“In this alternate history, the Mayflower was lost at sea, and the English Separatists were disheartened from further colonization of North America. The United States were never born. The centuries that follow will see the emergence of rival empires that will split up the world between them. One will become the terror of the seas. One will rampage with carriages of steam. One will take to the skies. And the people caught in the middle will fight against the colonial system to bring an end to all empires.”

To Climates Unknown is available for preorder. It will be released one week from today, on November 25, 2021, the 400th anniversary of the first mythical U.S. Thanksgiving.

What if Descartes had died young?

Book cover: To Climates Unknown by Arturo Serrano

Recently, I interviewed my husband, Arturo Serrano, about why he kills off René Descartes in his very shortly forthcoming alternate history novel, To Climates Unknown. The interview is on Prof. Bob Lane’s Episyllogism blog. Please check it out there!

To Climates Unknown is available for preorder. It will be released on November 25, 2021, the 400th anniversary of the first mythical U.S. Thanksgiving.

“In this alternate history, the Mayflower was lost at sea, and the English Separatists were disheartened from further colonization of North America. The United States were never born. The centuries that follow will see the emergence of rival empires that will split up the world between them. One will become the terror of the seas. One will rampage with carriages of steam. One will take to the skies. And the people caught in the middle will fight against the colonial system to bring an end to all empires.”

—From the book description