Speculative Fiction, Not Science Fiction
Entertainment |  Source: N. Leeper, hulu.com

Speculative Fiction, Not Science Fiction

It's like smoothie vs. milkshake

Let's get one thing straight off the bat: I am a NERD. A Doctor Who-quoting, bookworming nerd. You could burn a copy of Isaac Asimov and I would probably snort the ashes. I love me some eerie fantasy.

But lately, I've begun to realize the difference between speculative fiction and the science fiction we all know and love. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, the definitions are actually quite similar: they both incorporate elements the author has imagined, and usually depict life in another time, place or even dimension. The difference between them has really developed just as fiction culture has.

For example: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is speculative fiction, and so is 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. These are books that imagine life as it is not currently, but these storylines ring warning bells.

Through them, we begin to see what the world would look like without books, or with significantly increased surveillance by the government, or with decreased human rights. By focusing on the story's particular aspects, we, the readers, can take the novel and let it influence us, and our world, for the better.

Science fiction, on the other hand, is speculative fiction's prettier younger sister. This is the genre of Star Wars, Star Trek and even works from Douglas Adams and H.P. Lovecraft.

While we love reading and watching science fiction, and it is true that elements from these works have contributed to fields like medicine and astronomy, they're mostly just fluff. They're fun, and action-y, and they don't leave us feeling heavy or conflicted at the end.

Which is all well and good. But as with literally every other aspect of human life, we have to accept that our time may be better spent on speculative fiction.

This is why many high schools require students to read books like 1984 or examine work by Ray Bradbury. These books open our eyes to what our world could be if we neglect it.

I took a seminar this past semester that included several works of speculative fiction (including Handmaid), and I was able to put the book down feeling empowered to change my world in ways that it needs to be changed in order to avoid the atrocities I had read on every page.

For those who don't know about Margaret Atwood's dystopian masterpiece, the plot explores a world where women have been reduced to their most basic functions, through the eyes of a woman selected for breeding stock. The book horrified me and made me sad and angry--especially because it doesn't seem outside the realm of the possible.

This, in turn, motivated me to get more involved with women's rights and activism in order to improve my little corner of the world.

I can't honestly say that I felt the same way after watching Star Trek. The primary benefit of science fiction is that it inspires others to make better and better art, which is vital. However, right now, our world is hurting badly, and it may be that we need to put our cravings for laser blasters and spaceships aside in favor of fiction that can help us build our world the way it should be built.

Given the social and political climate we live in, and how fast our world changes on the daily, we are sorely in need of great ideas. I hate to say it, but great ideas sometimes need to come from the kind of dread that inspired authors to write those very works, especially those in the speculative fiction genre.

If we learn to protect the rights of minorities, keep the government in check the way it should be and speak up when something is wrong from the pages of a scary book, so be it. But one way or the other, we need to learn.

Image Alt
Entertainment |  Source: mag.sapo.pt, kudago.com (edited)

Someone Put Drake's Passionfruit Over The Pulp Fiction Dance Scene

It's a total must watch.

Drake took some time off from bouncing from supermodel to supermodel to put out some new music over the weekend and it did not disappoint. More Love boasts 22 tracks in what Drake calls not a studio album, but more of a playlist that is suppose to be a "collection of songs that become a soundtrack to your life." Quavo, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, and Kayne West all feature on this star studded record.

The great thing about this new concept is that the music doesn't seem to be held down by album restraints. It's very free flowing and allows Drake to be play around with different genres and styles. Also, Drake is Jamaican now?

But one track that sticks out is Passionfruit. This song just oozes good vibes. Passionfruit is like sex for your ears. I've literally had it on repeat for the past two days.

So leave it to Twitter to put the song over the iconic Pulp Fiction dance scene. Things like this is why social media was invented. It's perfect. Seeing Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace move to Passionfruit just seems right.

Image Alt
Entertainment |  Source: L. Smith, EW

Why I'm A Bit Annoyed With "Doctor Who" As Of Late

It's been pushing its own conventions, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

If you haven't heard already, the thirteenth Doctor of the long-running BBC show Doctor Who is going to be a woman, played by Jodie Whittaker.

Unlike some of the internet, I don't have a problem with that specifically. It's 2017, there had been past talk of having a female Doctor, and hey, the Master regenerated into Missy a few seasons ago. The fact that the Doctor is going to regenerate into a woman shouldn't be too surprising.

My problem lies in the fact that the show has been pushing and breaking its own conventions as of late.

Let me give you some background first. I've been a fan of the show since about 2012, when I got Netflix specifically to watch Doctor Who. I binge watched the entire thing, and I've kept up with the show ever since, from the ninth Doctor to the twelfth.

I've even gone back and watched some of the old serial episodes, just so that I could further immerse myself into the Doctor Who universe of sci-fi and aliens. It's my favorite show, hands down, and I know it pretty well.

That being said, my favorite show is not without its problems. Since the onset of the show back in 1963 with William Hartnell, there have been certain conventions that the show has followed, such as the rules of regeneration. For years, it was widely believed that the Doctor would remain a man due to 13 prior regenerations that showed the character remaining male.

Additionally, It was established long ago that the Doctor would have 12 regenerations, with the twelfth being the final one before the character's death. The tenth doctor technically regenerated into himself twice, meaning that the eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith, should have been the last one.

If show runner Steven Moffat hadn't come up with a way to get the Doctor a new regeneration cycle in the episode "The Time of the Doctor", the show would have ended then.

In some ways, I wish it did end there.

Of course, I was super happy to see that the Doctor wouldn't die on the planet Trenzalore, and that there would be new episodes for years to come. However, I was simultaneously conflicted, because giving the Doctor a new set of regenerations was honestly a total deus ex machina that realistically shouldn't have happened.

12 regenerations was all the Doctor was supposed to have, but there it came, a brand new regeneration cycle.

Understandably, the BBC really can't let this show end. Not yet, anyway. It's 54 years old, has a huge following and undoubtedly brings in a lot of money for the station. After regenerating into the new thirteenth Doctor, the character will still have ten regenerations left, which means that the show will be around for a lot longer.

In addition to the Regeneration Limit issue, pushing the conventions of certain creatures causes issues as well. Steven Moffat first introduced the terrifying weeping angels in season three, where the basic rules of the aliens disguised as statues were established.

Since then, they appeared in three more episodes, becoming increasingly complex with each reiteration. Unfortunately, with this complexity came some plot holes, which are the subject of many talks on many internet forums.

To finally move onto the most recent "issue," the idea of a timelord's gender changing during regeneration was technically brought up during the regeneration from the tenth to eleventh Doctor, where he touched his longer hair and gasped, "I'm a girl," which shows that he knew it was possible.

However, it didn't actually happen until the Master, the Doctor's enemy who was also always depicted as a man, regenerated into Missy, a move that shocked many viewers. While it was technically pre-established, I'd still say that both Missy and the new female Doctor are pushing the long-held conventions of the show.

Despite the conflicted feelings I've expressed here, I'm still excited to see how Jodie Whittaker will play the iconic alien with two hearts. I'll definitely watch the new season when it comes out, and every season after that.

My excitement and love of this show outweighs my minor annoyance with the breaking of conventions. If you too are feeling conflicted about this new change, just remember what the Doctor once said, "Regeneration. It's a lottery." We're finally seeing just how this "lottery" can play out.

Image Alt
Entertainment |  Source: freedomthroughpassiveincome.com

9 Struggles Every Writer Faces

Yes, writer's block is a real thing.

Those of us who consider ourselves to be a part of the rare breed that is known by the name "writer" share a special bond. We are the people who create worlds out of words, and express the emotions people struggle to discuss. We open our hearts, words spilling onto pages like blood out of veins.

And yet, there are times we struggle to sit down to pick up the pen or open the document. There are days where the words just won't come. Writing is hard, and these are some of the biggest struggles we face:

1. Writer's block
You have a great story going. Fantastic characters, brilliant dialogue, and some basics to a plot. You wrote all night, and can't wait to keep going the next morning. But when you sit down to continue...nothing.

No words come to you, and you're left staring blankly at the blinking cursor as you curse at yourself in frustration. You know that eventually you'll figure out where to go next, but for right now, it's just not happening.

2. Lack of coffee
Most of the writers that I know (myself included), regardless of their genre--fiction, poetry, journalism, essays, etc.--are addicted to caffeine. Coffee doesn't let you down. Coffee doesn't keep you from writing. Coffee always supports you.

But when your Keurig decides to give up the ghost or you realize that there are no more coffee beans in the cabinet, it's akin to an apocalypse. How can you possibly stay awake without coffee?? It's just not possible.

3. Lethologica
Defined as "the inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word," lethologica is undoubtedly one of the most frustrating symptoms faced by any writer. When you've got something great, but you can't quite come up with the right word to describe it, slamming your laptop shut and storming out of the room may seem like the best option. But remember, the thesaurus is your friend.

4. "But what's your real job?"
This might be the most annoying question of all time. Just because I can work from home/a coffee shop doesn't mean it's not a real job. I (sometimes) get paid to do this, and you know what? It's a labor of love, goddammit. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else, and this is how I've chosen to spend the rest of my life.

So while you're bitching on Twitter about how much you hate your cubicle and your "real" job, I'll be over here with some iced coffee writing the next chapter of my book and loving every second of it.

5. "Ooh are you going to write about me?"
Short answer to this question: No. Slightly longer answer: Will you stop fucking asking this? Just because I'm a writer and I happen to be talking to you doesn't mean that I'm going to be writing about you.

Chances are if you're one of the people asking this question, the only time I'll be writing about you is when I tweet about how much I hate people who ask this question.

6. Working for "exposure"
Writing is my way of making a living (refer to #4), so telling me that I should be lucky to get published because it helps get my name out there is one of the most demeaning things you could say. I'm not saying this to sound ungrateful; I really do appreciate all the opportunities I've been given.

Expecting writers to work for free devalues their profession and their work, and only perpetuates the ~starving artist~ stereotype. We don't choose this life, it's forced on us because we have no other choice. Even if it's a small amount of money, getting paid something is worth more than just being told to work for the experience.

For many of us, writing is how we pay for rent, food, and various other living expenses. Without writers, you'd have no movies, television shows, magazines, or books. You'd be living in a very boring world, so make sure to show writers your appreciation for their work rather than asking them to be unpaid laborers.

7. Rejection
Everyone has a dream publication. Whether it's the New Yorker, the New York Times, or Cosmopolitan (to name a few), getting rejected from the team you've always dreamed of working for is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. After wallowing for a bit and listening to sad records, you'll probably end up writing about it and moving on to find somewhere else that might be a better fit.

8. Pushy people
Writing is often highly personal. People who try to force you to let them read your work before it's been published or before you offer it to them are the bane of any writer's existence. We publish what we want people to read, and if it hasn't been published yet, then it's obviously either not ready or not meant to ever see the light of day (or the ink of the printer).

If we want you to read it, we'll show it to you, but otherwise, don't even think about opening any of the documents on my computer.

9. Too many ideas at once
While this may seem like a non-issue, having fifteen different story ideas bouncing around your brain isn't always the greatest thing, especially because you're probably not sure which one to start writing first.

The great fear is that when you start focusing on one thing, you might lose another one. So on behalf of all writers out there, if someone could invent a device that allows you to import your ideas to your laptop without losing any of them, everyone would really appreciate it.

Image Alt
Entertainment |  Source: Goran Djukanovic

Here's How I Became an E-book Author

I'm a college student, and I still found the time.

Wouldn't it be great to to tell people you're an author? Moreover, wouldn't it be great to create something once, and then sell it hundreds or even thousands of times again? If you'd like to become and author, and sell you're writing, then writing an e-book may be for you.

E-books are great because they cost almost nothing to make, and you can market them easily thanks to social media. An e-book won't make you a millionaire, but if you do it right, you could potentially end up making a lot.

I wrote one last fall semester, and I'm about to finish up two more. On average, it takes me anywhere from a week to a month to finish an e-book.

Anyone, even a busy college student, can write one. The trick is to find out what you're good at, reclaim lost time, and have serious work sessions.

You might think you're not an expert on anything, but you probably are. It doesn't have to be related to your major, or your job. Seriously, if you love yoyoing in your spare time then write an ebook about yoyoing. Pick something you know well, and something you could talk about all day.

Next, find other e-books on that topic. See if there's any way you can improve what's already out there. Are they missing something? Are they poorly written? Most of the time, they're not perfect, so find their weaknesses or questions they don't answer and substantiate them in your your e-book.

Now it's writing time. This is the easiest part for some and the hardest part for others. First, make an outline. Yes, like those annoying outlines you were forced to do in high school English classes. Then, start writing. Don't worry about writing badly, just write. You'll edit it later.

But, where do you find the time? All you have to do is reclaim lost time throughout your day. Take a cold, hard look at your average day. What are you doing that wastes time? Maybe you like to spend thirty minutes in the morning checking Facebook. Maybe you watch a movie every night. Or maybe you just take a long time to eat dinner.

Regardless of what you're doing, it's all still lost time, and once you identify it, you can reclaim it. If you spend thirty minutes checking Facebook in the morning, dedicate that time to writing instead. You might be surprised at how much more you accomplish. If you're having trouble putting down your phone, then try RescueTime.

Once you do find some time, work. Work in short, super focused blocks of time. I like using the Pomodoro Technique--work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, repeat. Find what works for you, and stick to it.

During your writing sessions, don't do anything but write. If surfing the Internet is a problem, turn it off completely. If you still get distracted, try something like Write Or Die or a dedicated program, like WriteRoom for Mac or Dark Room for PC. Do whatever it takes to stay concentrated.

Once you're done writing, you can use a program like Grammarly to catch any mistakes, and if you know any English majors, ask them for help.

Now it's time to get your e-book out there. The most popular way to sell an e-book is on the Amazon Kindle marketplace. They have a getting started page that tells you everything you need to know. Put together a simple cover, format your book and it's ready to sell.

Of course, that's not the end. You should tell everyone you know about it, share it on social media networks and reach out to social media influencers or other well-known brands to help spread the word. Just remember, writing an e-book probably won't put you on any bestseller lists, but it will put some money back into your pocket.

Image Alt
Entertainment | 

Be Freeeeeee!

Why You Should Randomly Start to Write Shit When You're Stuck on a Paper

You're wasting time on the internet right now because you have no idea what to write. Amright? Well, Eventually you've got to produce something that makes sense, so how about a muse to help get you going?

Here it goes: JUST WRITE SHIT. Whatever is in your head. Put it down and don't stop. Even if you're thinking, This is the dumbest thing ever. I don't know what I'm doing. I wish I were knee deep in vodka and feasting on leftover Chinese food. Well, stop. Write. Sooner or later that drivel will start to make sense.

This approach, called "free writing," can warm up your brain and put you in writing mode, which is half the battle when it comes to completing a paper. Here's the best way to do it:

  • Don't pay attention to typos or grammar. Just keep going.
  • If you draw a blank, write the same word or phrase over and over until you get unstuck.
  • Sometimes it helps to set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer runs out, look over your writing for ideas or sentences that might be useful in your paper.

Why do you dread writing--is it with every assignment or just certain ones? Usually it's because you don't know what to say or how to start. Stop with all the pressure, that's going to waste time and give you the runs. You don't always need to know what to say right away. Put yourself in writing mode and let the thoughts come to you, rather than ransacking your brain for them.

"The best way to get started is to begin." Of course. So begin. Start writing. Just be sure to delete all the nonsense before you hand in your assignment. I guarantee your professor does not want to know how many times you thought about sex before you wrote your paper.

Word to your flocker.