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January 08 , 2008

Science-Fiction Handbook


Copy from the 1975 Owlswick Press print edition:

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L. Sprague de Camp's original Science-Fiction Handbook, published in 1953 and long out of print, has been favourably remembered by a whole generation of science fiction readers and aspiring writers. Over the years, at convention after convention, fans have urged its reissue. Teachers of courses on imaginative fiction have begged for the book; one planned to reproduce the manual for his creative writing course until he learned that the material was under copyright Because of this enduring interest, the present book came into being.

Completely rewritten by de Camp and his wife Catherine, Science Fiction Handbook, Revised serves two purposes. It introduces the general reader to the fascinating field of imaginative fiction. The first two chapters describe the growth of science fiction from Aristophanes to Asimov and give the history of its parent literature, fantasy, which is as old as cavemen and as young as tomorrow.

The rest of the book affords the apprentice writer an overview of the pleasures and problems of writing imaginative fiction an teachers him the many and varied skills such writing requires. There are chapters on setting the scene, plotting the story and writing dialogue. Other chapters are devoted to showing the creative writer how to sore his literary works, keep records for tax purposes, market a story, deal with editors and agents, read the fine print in contracts and bargain with publishers. Finally, there are helpful hints for the successful writer about relating to his community, handling publicity and melding the needs of the creative artists with those of a successful human being and family member.

In short, here is a wealth of information on the techniques of writing fiction. Here, too, is the wisdom distilled by the de Camps in the course of their long writing careers. And, for those who have no desire to write, here is a chance to see what the writer's world is really like and to learn something about the remarkable literature that we call science fiction and fantasy.

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