From Dothraki to Drones: Sci-Fi Fantasy Mashup was easily the coolest panel I attended during YA Lit Fest. This panel featured Marie Lu, Richelle Mead, Brandon Sanderson, Brendan Reichs, Scott Westerfeld, and Mindy McGinnis. I’ve talked about most of those authors before, but let me tell you, listening to Richelle Mead, Brandon Sanderson, and Scott Westerfeld talk is amazing. Listening to them talk TO EACH OTHER is a level of Epic I didn’t know my life was lacking.
About the authors:
Richelle Mead wrote the Vampire Academy series, the Bloodlines series, the Glittering Court, Gameboard of the Gods, the Georgina Kincaid series, the Dark Swan series, and she just released a book based on eastern fairy tales called soundless. She was another person I was super excited about seeing at the conference. I did get her to autograph my copy of Vampire Academy, but unfortunately I chickened out on asking her to sign my notebook because she was on her way out the door and there was a line.
Brendan Reichs wrote the Virals series, which I know nothing about. He was hysterical though, so I may have to check it out. But it’s related to the Bones series, which I really wasn’t a huge fan of (book wise) so maybe not.
Mindy McGinnis wrote Not a Drop to Drink, in a Handful of Dust, and a Madness so Discreet. I haven’t read them, but I’m loving the titles! She had a funny story about how she had a lightbulb moment when she realized that her world could have any animal on it she could imagine. It didn’t even have to be carbon based life forms. Literally anything she could imagine. So she made domestic cats the size of tigers.
I’m going to be honest, I spent most of my time reveling in the fact that I was breathing the same air as my favorite authors, but I did manage to get a few notes down.
Brandon Sanderson said the way he writes such amazingly long books is that he treats each book like it’s a trilogy. So he basically writes three books then writes an anthology of short stories that get woven in, and then during edits everything gets smoothed over and perfected. Sanderson also talked about his laws (check out Sanderson’s laws if you’re interested in world building or magic systems at all, it’s worth the read) and the strange attractor, where you take two familiar things and combine them in a way that makes them unfamiliar.
They talked a lot about setting and how in Science Fiction and Fantasy the setting is basically a character and as a writer they have to figure out what the setting wants when they world build. They need to figure out what is the thing everything needs to get by, like in Dune it was water. Figuring out the limits of a setting makes you get creative. The physics of that world have to follow the scientific method, including the magic systems. One difference they mentioned between “magic” systems in sci-fi and fantasy is that magic cares who does it, science works for everyone. So in Star Wars, the force = a magic system, plasma blasters = tech. Science fiction is implausible, fantasy is impossible.
Both genres reflect contemporary issues, like I’ve said a million times, if you want to know what a society fears, read their stories. Fiction is the truth inside the lie. Only in sci-fi and fantasy those contemporary issues are set against the backdrop of implausible new landscapes.
Best panel ever. I really can’t even capture how I felt listening to it. It was amazing.