The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction by Cory Doctorow, Karl Schroeder
Paperback - 352 pages 1 edition (July 14, 2000)
Alpha Books; ISBN: 0028639189
Review by Ernest Lilley
Check out this book at: Amazon US / Amazon UK

A friend of mine pointed to a stack of books and broke into laughter the other day. The source of his amusement was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction (TCIGTPSF). There is also a guide for publishing in general, and no doubt romance and mystery can hardly be immune to the desire by complete idiots to see their works on bookshelves, but for now authors Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroder have contented themselves with what they know best...SF.

I don't know whether I should be surprised or not, but it turns out that it is a really good book. It is full of good advice, cute graphics and an appreciation of Science Fiction. I'm usually of the school that says if you want to do something, just go out and start learning from your mistakes, rather than one of those for whom step one is: read a book on the subject. While I still think that writing is best accomplished by sitting down and just doing it, the road to publication would be made considerably smoother by the information in this book. 

The first two chapters are a useful introduction to SF, from what Science Fiction is to how to behave at a convention. Now, you may not think anyone needs to be told any of that, but not so. While many SF writers come out of the fan community, some of the best hardly knew they were writing SF at all, and as a result wound up expanding the voice of the genre. I'm thinking of folks like Mary Russell with "The Sparrow" and James Halperin with "The Truth Machine". I'd like to think that this book could have helped them find their way. Of course it is good for the genre to be challenged by outsiders as well, but perhaps TCIGTPSF will allow more people to discover our island universe.

Both Cory and Karl are excellent writers when it comes to SF itself, Cory having picked up a Campbell Award last year and Karl's new book Ventus receiving pretty much a rave review from yours truly in this same issue of SFRevu. It is no surprise then that the whole book is fun to read and full of accurate and insightful tips. Even if you've been published or never plan to write this book provides a good overview of the wonderful world of SF for writers.

I confess that I'd like to see my name on a bookshelf someday too. Maybe I'll go back and read the chapter on writing a short story again.