Tag Archives: Science-fiction

An Empty Table

SF writer and editor Joël Champetier, 57, died May 30, 2015 after a long struggle with leukemia. Champetier was a renowned and award-winning SF author, and longtime editor of Solaris, one of the most prestigious French-language SF magazines in the world.

We lost a good friend this last week-end. The light rain waking me up the same night was Joel’s goodbye or at least, a poetic coincidence.

Joel Champetier did a lot for many of us, and has kept his simplicity and warmth. His SF stories created new trails for us to walk at our rythm.

Splendours and Miseries of the Signing Table – The Fan who won’t Read SF

The Fan who won't read SF - Art by Michele Laframboise, with the kind help from Jeanne-A Debats.

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This comic is very close to my heart because it concerns my favorite literary flavor ice cream, SF.

To write science-fiction, you have to be not only passionate, but you must also know how to explain the genre to your beloved audience! Most readers associate these words with all other things like (badly written) big movie blockbusters.

There has been intellectual snobbery of genre literature by the “white” litterature, an attitude which fortunately is beginning to fade.

At the end of this article, I put a sketch drawn in 2012 to capture the sense of wonder that came over me during my early discovery of science fiction. I would read late in my father’s library.

If you speak French, I recommend that you visit the blog of Jeanne-A. Debats, a writer who does not shy away from daring ideas! She propvided a few lines from the Paris Book fair which has just ended. When I was on site in 2008, I heard some, among those: “Oh, I do not read fiction because it is unreal! »

The “talking squids” allusion is a recent catchphrase in Canadian SF literature, born of a joke by Margaret Atwood, who wrote good SF anticipation and post-apocalyptic, but did not want at one time be associated with the genre. She finally came around and admit the writing, as she explores many genres.

A website had been put up by Vonda McIntyre, featuring a short-story by Stephen Baxter, Sheena 5, about, of course, squids in space.

Discovering science fiction in my father's bookshelves.

Solo Flight

My father, Jacques Laframboise, left early this Saturday morning for his solo flight, without compass nor map.

A 1951 Ecole Polytechnique graduate, planes and air cushion vehicles were his passion. He was still writing an article about aerotrains and computing figures on his hospital bed. Our current level of technology permitted that he passed away peacefully.

I will miss his sense of humor. But he was very serene about his going away.

My father was the first one who introduced me to science fiction.  And to graphic novels, that he read to us the evenings. He has always accepted and encouraged my love of nature and sciences, which I, in turn, endeavour to transmit to the new generations.

A Fresh Comic Page for the New Year

une page en tons de gris de la Route des honneurs

For 2014, here is this fresh comic page, scanned at 600 dpi, resized to 300 dpi, then retouched in greytones. It will be the first page of Honors Road,  a science fiction manga, from my  own Gardeners universe.  (It will be published in French and English). It is always a challenge for me drawing sea shore, especially  the foreground shallow water.

On the last day of the year, I set myself time to  draw comics. Allan Watts suggested to think about what would you like to do if money was no object. Drawing comics is my favourite activity. It helps me crating or re-creating  new worlds, and adding to the collective imaginarium.

And this is valid for all fields. Reading, sciences research, music, or even contemplating nature in silence feed our imagination.

Here are two artists-bloggers I discovered recently: Melanie Gillman, who make a good use of color pencils.  And I visit the Zen Pencils blog, by artist Gavin Aung Than. The artist draw cartoons from inspitrational quotes.

Jarre à biscuits de Melanie My good 2014 resolution : each month, I will choose a graphic artist website and give a small amount (5$, a large gourmet coffee)in his or her Cookie Jar.

Artists, musicians, writers, even the more popular among us, do not accumulate great riches. Bottom line-seeking companies, even the most successful, now frown upon  paying the artists and even steal their work when they can get away with it.

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Despite the freezing cold, I wish you all a new year filled with joy and creativity! 

The Sunday Artist is a proud 2013 Trillium Award finalist!

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My YA novel Mica, fille de Transyl is a 2013 Trillium Award finalist!

Organised by the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Trillium awards reward literary excellency in Ontario.

The OMDC supports the province’s creative economy by providing innovative programs, services and funding for the film & television; book & magazine publishing; interactive digital media & music industries.

Moreover, this year, two of the three YA novels belong to the spec-fic genre (outright science fiction for me, anticipation for my colleague Daniel Marchildon). The third novel is in a more familiar crime story genre.

So, as I predicted, SF is finally rising as an acceptable literary genre. It has taken a long undergroung toil and 14 SF novels from my part, to get to see this.

Here, a pic ofthe three Trillium Finalists… at the opening of the Timmins first book fair in April 2008|
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From left to right: Daniel Marchildon, Claude Forand, Michèle Laframboise, happily signing together!

 

Sense of wonder (2)

Chaaas2_ Winds of Tammerlan, picture by Jean-Pierre Normand

A cool SF novel cover by Jean-Pierre Normand

I use this picture for my introduction to SF workshop.  This SF novel, Winds of Tammerlan, did fare well in 2009!

Friendly advice on the Clarion blog

The Clarion foundation helps budding writers of genre (SF, fantasy, fantastique, horror) to develop and mature their style. I had the joy of being invited by Lynda Williams (the author of the Okal Rel saga)  to write a few posts from my own perspective of a SF writer with comic artist.

So my first post was about extending our writing roots to achieve a deeper connection with the reader. The illustrations are my own.

The last one is an  account of my big, fat, first novel and its endless incarnations!

Carrying a heavy novel project!

I am working on four more writing posts. Coming soon: The secret well of ideas, a another take at the well-known fan question: where do you get your ideas? 

Silent meeting

Aquatic encounter -2

Aquatic Meeting

Aquatic passing by

This is a sketch that I did yesterday evening. It is a glimpse of my upcoming SF comic Wind Mistress, featuring a young girl named Adalou. The result may look a bit pale and dreamy, but I boosted the colors after scanning the original drawing !

Drawing a ponderous aquatic creature was a challenge. The oriented light rays help giving the image its depth and placing the volumes.

The Research Iceberg… a hidden danger for writers and readers alike!

As a SF writer, research is an essential part of my work. But I sometimes do too much of it!

Too much research for that novel?

If the finished product is burdened with heavy lumps of exposition, those annoying scattered blocks will slow down the story  – and the reader’s interest.

Many people saying “You know, I don’t like science-fiction” are often more afraid of those lumps, than they would be  of a gripping story with warm-hearted characters affected by  loyalty conflicts.

Even for fantasy world-builders, the internal logic of the magic-or-supernatural workings requires a fair amount of thinking. And, as magical as the world is, the story must be well grounded in reality. How many fantasy novels, for instance, demonstrate a total lack of knowledge about equine biology and maintenance? One of my friends, who raises horses and loves fantasy, is appalled by what she reads.

And some SF or fantasy authors, too proud of their word-building, dump large exposition blocks on the unsuspecting reader! “I suffered for my art, and so must you!

Research is like an iceberg.
The Research Iceberg - a conundrum for the writer... and the reader!

There is the emerged part, the novel that you enjoy. But whatever the number of pages, there is a larger, hidden part underwater.

Not enough research under it and your story collapses under the contradictions, impossibilities, logical errors and paper-thin characters.

But when the universes and societies are lovingly built, the strong foundation even allows other writers to participate in it! Two examples: The Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Honor Harrington series by David Weber have spawned many paper children.

According to the readers’ ages or familiarity with the concepts, the submerged part of the iceberg is around 90%. For a simpler story, you may choose to tone down the emerged part. A story aimed at children will be a smaller icebeerg. A vast work, like the Martian trilogy of Kim S. Robinson will be a huge iceberg!

Hal Clement, in my view,  left more of his research over the waterline… But that was the good ol-days of science-fiction writing! I found Needle, aimed at young adults, captivating, even when the concept of “teen” and “young adult” did not exist at the time!

In my latest SF novel, La spirale de Lar Jubal, aimed at YA, I set aside about 99%  of my painstaking research and physics calculations for the space station, to concentrate on the visual  and dynamic aspects, and on the character’s conflicts.

Nevertheless, I put some visual information at the beginning of the novel.

An example of world-building... with a floating garden!

In my upcoming SF novel, aimed at the “Oh, I don’t like science fiction” crowd,  there are very few numbers, but more active descriptions of stunning settings and actions. The planet and science aspects are explained only by their impact on the characters’ lives.

And I must manage, of course, the sense of wonder…as this Winds of Tammerlan novel cover suggests.

The SOW cover by the artist

Another time, I will explain why science-fiction is like chocolate…