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March 09, 2005

Mock Up

The Rough Guides folks have sent along an early mock up of the first chapter of The Rough Guide to Science Fiction Film, and I thought I'd share a couple of pages with you. Note it's only a (forgive the pun)rough guide of what the final layout will be, and missing some bits here in there; still, it's cool to get an idea of what the book will look like when it gets closer to being done.

View image.

This first chapter, incidentally, tracks SF up to the advent of film, and also does a quick circle around SF lit in the 20th century. If you're asking "Where is the film in this science fiction film book?" it starts in Chapter Two. Context is important, you know.

The Rough Guides folks sent this chapter along to allow me feedback on the design, but I imagine it's also a reminder that I need to hurry up and finish the book (theoretically, it should have been done a couple of months ago, but -- surprise! Research takes longer than you think it will sometimes, even when you've got the Internet). I am looking forward to finishing it, not only because I have other projects to tend to but simply because it's always a fine feeling to be have finished -- that whole "sense of accomplishment" thing. It'll be particularly the case with this book, which is in many ways the most difficult book I've had to write. You'd think it'd be easy to do a book on Science Fiction flicks, but then try tracking down reliable information on the science fiction film output of Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe, and do it on a tight schedule, and suddenly taking a ball-peen hammer to your frontal lobe doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Don't get me wrong -- this stuff is genuinely fascinating, and I love writing a book where I learn as I go along. But man. It is work. I'm looking forward to cranking out The Ghost Brigades after this book because for that book, all I have to do is make stuff up. Heaven! Until of course, I'm two-thirds into that book, wondering what the hell I'm doing, and looking forward to my next non-fiction book so I can give the so-called "creative centers" of my so-called "brain" a rest. Yeah, it's a neverending cycle of neurosis, and I'm told that I'm relatively neurosis-free for a writer. Don't believe it.

Posted by john at March 9, 2005 12:29 PM

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Morte | March 9, 2005 01:05 PM

In the Swift inset box, "...Swift describes to moons of Mars..."

Morte, the eagle-eyed.

Dave Pittman | March 9, 2005 01:13 PM

yeah, eff the rough guide stuff...fast foward to the ghost brigades!!!

John Scalzi | March 9, 2005 01:14 PM

Morte: There's a reason why I noted it was a mock-up, of course. The text is flowed in to give an idea of where it will be on the page. It's not been deeply edited at this point. It will have grammar/spelling errors.

Dave: Given at this point I get paid more by Rough Guides than I do for fiction, I'm not in an all-fired rush to kick them to the curb. Besides, this gives me more time to think about Ghost Brigades. A major plot point just resolved itself the other day, in fact. That's a good thing.

Dave | March 9, 2005 03:17 PM

What's the trim size on the Rough Guides?

Luciano Pimentel | March 9, 2005 04:20 PM

Trim... and rough around the edges? (LOL - sorry, couldn't resist...!).

Context is everything, indeed - once that is all set, what wonders can be weaved - heights reached and miracles achieved! But I'm digressing...

Hopefully all of my nostalgic favorites will get their historical nod in there; Logan's Run (for Jenny Agutter), Battle Beyond The Stars (for Sybil Danning as a Valkyrie - lol - plus the enviable distinction of having a John Sayles screenplay) and The Green Slime (for Luciana Paluzzi...!).

You have all my sympathy, John, in regards to the plight that it must have been to track down reliable information on the science fiction film output of Southeast Asia and especially Eastern Europe... Oh, and for the neverending cycle of neurosis too...

Chris Byrne | March 9, 2005 05:35 PM


Ever wonder why the Lit-Fic types are so dismissive of non-fic writers?

As folks who do commercial writing we both know that making stuff up is a hell of a lot easier than getting the real world right; especially if what you're making up is basically your daily soap operas with bigger words, more angst, and just a soupcon of pretentiousness (can you tell I don't care for lit-fic).

I dunno about you, but when I write fiction it comes out at at least twice the speed of the non-fiction. Now if I could only get paid for it.

Oh and yes; I said do, not did. I'm back to doing some work for hire. Not enough to pay the bills, but hey, it's work that doesn't involve sitting in a cubicle all day.

I just cranked out a competitive review article, and I've got some more stuff in the pipeline. 15 hours of research and 5 hours of writing for the equivalent of $0.15 a word. Man do I miss the $0.35 a word days of the dot boom.

two instincts | March 9, 2005 06:57 PM

"It's not been deeply edited" sounds about right.
The first thing on the page that drew my eyes was the tagline for The First Men in the Moon: "dir bla bla 19??, UK, ???m." I assume that's temporary, although the Latin's a nice touch.

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