Lately I’ve noticed that Science Fiction is skyrocketing up the bestseller list. It’s a genre with more than one face, a power-player that publishers are calling ‘speculative fiction’.

I like the kind of SF that asks “what if” ~ literary novels that focus on society’s issues with just enough technology/mystery for drama. And it has to be weird and wondrous, too, not unlike the ‘speculative’ Wallace Stevens poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, that my writing group eviscerated in search of heads-up truths. Man, Woman, Blackbird ~ a build-your-own-world-and-way-of-looking-at-it experience off the reality grid.

What if? The Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World come to mind. (No campy bug-eyed birds here.)

Isaac Asimov, once asked to explain the difference between science fiction and fantasy, replied that science fiction, given its grounding in science, is possible; fantasy, which has no grounding in reality, is not.

Bookstore shelves tell the story of the SF/fantasy kinship with plenty of dusty old gems among the new releases. There’s cyberpunk (Neuromancer by William Gibson), military SF (Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein), hard SF (Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear), parallel/alternative universe SF (Fatherland by Robert Harris), space opera (Barsoom by Edgar Rice Burroughs), epic fantasy (The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien), court intrigue (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R . Martin), quest fantasy (Dominions of Earth by Adam Lee), historical fantasy (Pendragon Cycle by Stephan R. Lawhead), contemporary fantasy (Dry Water by Eric Nylund), urban fantasy (A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin), and yes, even science fantasy (Dragonrider by Anne McCaffrey).

A fantasy and science fiction display at a book store in Ra’anana - Daniel Tchetchik

The book covers used to be pulpy. Classic images of the SF-kind are the ones I remember on magazines from the 1950s. They literally depicted the story inside.  This cover for a tale about Martians attacking the Earth shows, well, Martians attacking the Earth.

Fun.  Simple. Literal.  Just like us at WWWW.


WWWW’s Bespoke Book Cover 

Want your own?  Make it pulpy, brash, or sinister in the blink of a cosmic eye.  Grab your ray-gun and rocket over to PULP-O-MIZER. Pulp-o-Mizer lets you save your cover and re-load it later. And if you love it beyond utterance, there’s Lots of Stuff you can buy ~ posters, mugs, notebooks, cards, shirts, calendars, clocks and more ~ branded with your very own design.

So, what are you waiting for?

‘Resistance is futile.’          

(The Borg, Star Trek)

Toni 7/31/13

Common Nighthawks and Kids: A 420 Character, 9-Line Poem


A first hint that they’re up is a sharp, heart-stopping peentpeent;

and if they’re the human birds, I’ll spy a scrum of them at breakfast,

spooning cereal from bowls with the peentpeents interspersed

with the chews, words and giggles;

and if they’re the Common Nighthawks,

I’ll study long-winged birds flying in graceful loops,

flashing white patches just past the bend of each wing

as they pursue insects.




I never met my great-grandparents,

but I am told they were extraordinary.


I am slightly obsessed with the notion of visiting the 1800s to meet them. And yet I must, fist shaking in the air, face the fact that this will never happen, can never happen.  I blame Stephen Hawking.He says that if it were possible to go back and change the flow of events, the universe would cease to make sense.  Not that it does, to me, anyway. Or poor Ebenezer.

When I first read Charles Dickens’ famous tale, I didn’t think of it as a time travel story. Did you?

But these time-warpingly tales are.  

 Timeslips, as they say in the UK

Time and Again by Jack Finney

This novel puts a 20th-century man, Simon Morley, into 1882 New York City.  In Finney’s world, all you need to go back in time is the power of the mind. Just lock yourself in a period-perfect 1882 apartment, reading nothing but the news and books of the day, wearing the clothes, eating the food, and you’ll eventually open the door and find yourself in 1882.
'11/22/63' by Stephen King
11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
A thirty five year old high-school teacher is leading an ordinary life when his friend Al, who runs the local diner, reveals that his storeroom is a portal to 1958 and sets Jake on a mission to prevent the JFK assassination. (Note: No monsters or killer clowns. Instead, think butterfly effect and Occam’s razor.)  I read it last year along with my book group, the large-print hardcover version, 1200 pages, 3.5 pounds. Phew. It’s a lot of novel. But it’s a copiously cool page-turner and I finished it in a few days. (Ivanhoe is a mere 400 pages and it took me months to read it, not counting time off for spring vacation and strep throat.) King’s book has dry wit and heart-wrenching emotion on both sides of the rabbit hole.  It’s got enough drama to make a grown man cry ~ if he were the crying type, unlike Jake Epping, the burnt-out English teacher who grapples with his new-found power and the destiny that comes along with it.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Windy City librarian Henry DeTamble suffers from a syndrome in which he’s whipsawed involuntarily back and forth through time (and space, too, within a blessedly limited radius). Henry can’t control where he will travel or how long he will stay in each time period, though it appears that his time traveling is sometimes brought on by stress. Now there’s a reason to relax if I’ve ever heard one. Niffenegger keeps it simple by establishing the rule that no matter how out-of-sequence Henry is forced to live his life, everything happens only once, no alterations or do-overs allowed.
If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock.
If you love baseball, a mystery and a love story, this one’s for you.
20th-century Sam Fowler ends up on the 1869 Cincinnati Red
Stockings and even becomes pals with Mark Twain.

Speaking of that Clemens guy…

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Hank Morgan, a regular guy living in Hartford, Connecticut in the 19th century, gets hit on the head with a crowbar (by a man named Hercules, no less) and wakes up in Camelot. It’s a pretty hilarious look at medieval times.


Andrew Sean Greer has a thing about time.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells








I read Greer’s best-selling book, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, about a man aging backward. If you’re intrigued by the idea of a 10-year-old boy who seems to be a 60-year-old man (and who, half a century later, can pass for a 10-year-old boy), this fantasy with a twist is for you.

Now Greer is back with The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. I’m currently entranced with Greta who lives the same life in three different time periods, improvising her way through, dodging heartbreak and disappointment at every turn.

The book opens in 1985 with Greta in crisis ~ her long-term boyfriend, Nathan, has left, and her brother, Felix, has recently died of AIDS. Severely depressed, Greta undergoes an experimental psychiatric treatment that ~oh yes ~ transports her back and forth to the lives she might have lived in 1918 and 1941.

In each life, things are the same but different. And in every life, Greta searches for happiness.

There’s no complicated mechanics of time travel to follow or even understand. Greer just shows us how circumstances affect our choices and what we might do differently…. if we had other lives and alter egos. Curious about the magical what-if?  Read the first few chapters here. Because who knows when the impossible will happen to you.



So, you’ve read the post ~ and you’re thinking,

there’s no mention of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon,  

or The Time Machine By H.G. Wells,

or Finney’s sequel From Time to Time.  

Have you read any of these?  

What’s your favorite time-travel book?

Toni 7/28/13