From the Possible to the Surreal, Speculative Fiction is Awesome

Hello, and welcome to the Spectrum of Speculative Fiction Blog Hop, with Free Stuff! Enter my prize drawing (more on this at the bottom of the post), and you’ll get a chance to win a free kindle copy of my book, Lightfall, and a $20 gift certificate to


Speculative Fiction is Awesome

More than adventure, more than excitement, more than romance, Speculative Fiction (SF) is about awe and wonder.  Its spectrum stretches from the cleverly possible all the way to the disarmingly surreal, and has the power to make us feel universally expansive and humble at the same time.  If science-fiction provides a medium to explore the implications of technology or social sciences… or just have fun window-dressing for a good action flick, then fantasy offers the ideal medium to explore theological, philosophical, and emotional ideas…  or, just have fun window dressing for a good bardic yarn.  I like SF that moves beyond the entertainment of adventure and inspires me to… well, speculate.  You know, about stuff.

Science-fiction is young–fantasy is old.  The first fantasy stories were myths, legends, heroic songs, and fairy tales.  They spoke of ideals of love and hate, good and evil, of elementally moral and emotional forces.  In our beginnings, the real world was shrouded in mystery… and in this sense, the earliest fantasy was the earliest science-fiction.  Now we know that fantasy–stories of magic or the supernatural–does not reflect the external reality of the world.  As our knowledge expanded, the two genres diverged.  However, fantasy can reflect inner reality–the emotional landscape, as ideals, moral forces, and feelings are given concrete form in magical worlds.

Everyone has dreamed about flying–not with gadgets, but damn it, just flying.  Dreams are imagination without limits, and fantasy is the stuff of dreams.  This is why I write fantasy–because I want to speculate on an emotional level, a mythical level, a moral level, and because even in today’s modern world of iPads and Kindles, and libraries that fit in your pocket, the inner emotional life, which makes us human, is still real.  And so, fantasy still has a place in our hearts.

My debut series, When Dragons Die, is somewhat anomalous for me, because I’ve made it proto-steampunk as well as my usual epic fantasy.  The world of Ahmbren has magic, dragons, faerie, wizards, and elves… all the good bits of a sword and sorcery tale.  It also has firearms, cannons, zeppelins, gyrothopters, submersible water vessles, and mechanical androids… the good bits of steampunk.  And, it has werewolves, sorcerers, and vampires… the good bits of both.  There were two driving speculative questions that prompted me to start When Dragons Die that distinguish the trilogy from classical epic fantasy and form the basis of the larger story arc:

  1. “What happens after the Dark Lord dies?”  Most epic fantasies lead to saving a world by slaying a Dark Lord.  In Ahmbren, the story begins a thousand years after such a quest fundamentally fails, and the previouis heroes had to result to a costly “ends-justify-means” fallback solution.  The story opens right after the Dark Lord’s death, and now the world has to deal with the consequences of what it took to win.
  2. “How does a a high-magic mythological world have a rennaissance, and eve more, move into an age of Enlightenement?” To a lesser extent, I was fascinated with the idea “How does an atheist live in a world with gods, and not be just a “flat-earth” atheist (someone in denial)?”

Thus, a world in transition from classic fantasy to steam-age pistol and sorcery seemed appropriate.  In that vein, When Dragons Die is an enlightenment story not just of individual people, but of the world of Ahmbren herself.

The first volume, Lightfall, is out now on Kindle and paperback at  It’s sequel, Covenant, is due to be out in May…

Which leads to the drawing for FREE STUFF.

FREE STUFF — a copy of Lightfall for Kindle, and a $20 gift certificate to

Of course, with the $20 to, you could buy anything, but of course I’d encourage you to take a gander at the works of the blog hop contributors.

How To Enter and Win

Leave a comment on this blog post by midnight March 10th, and you’ll be entered to win. If you also share this blog hop with your social networking circles and let me know as part of your comment, you’ll be entered twice. And finally, if you also sign up to follow my blog via email (upper right margin of this page), you’ll be entered a third time.

All entries chosen by ancient arcane methods.  Names will be tossed into a genuine Scottish wool driving cap, and the winner will be drawn at random on March 11th.  The winner will be announced on my blog by March 12th, and be contacted via the email provided (and kept private).

And finally, of course… please hop to the next blog on the list below.

16 thoughts on “From the Possible to the Surreal, Speculative Fiction is Awesome

  1. Speculating about stuff is awesome. 😉 Nice article. As a fan of both sci fi and fantasy, I can’t help but like the sound of your novel. I’ve tweeted about this page and followed your blog. Good luck with sales!

    • I agree. There’re so many ways to build a fantasy world. For some reason, steampunk fantasy intrigues me these days… get to keep the best of classic fantasy, with the fun of modern world without having a setting too modern. Almost like a magical near-modern world–different enough not to feel too mundane for epic mythology.

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