On Writing Science Fiction is about writing science fiction only as a topic, not as a focus. Somewhere in the book is a money-line about the book teaching writing first, fiction writing second and writing science fiction last.
Quite true and accurate! This book is a gem for anyone who wants to write. Don’t worry about the genre aspect, it’s a great study.
I came to this book prejudiced. I stopped regularly reading sf/f in the early-mid 1990s because the stories no longer interested me. As such, I wasn’t sure how much this book could teach me.
Thankfully, my prejudice dropped away (and quickly).
The book has three great strengths. The first – that it’s about writing, not necessarily science fiction or even fiction – I mentioned above. There’s a lot of simple and useful technique in the book.
Second, the book is full of examples. I found the examples a blessing and a curse. There’s examples of everything covered but the examples are of published work (first sales). In that sense, you’re seeing work “after-the-fact”. I’d much rather have seen what was submitted exactly as it was submitted side-by-side with editorial comment and suggestions. This would have shown what came in the door versus what was accepted. Amusingly, the reader is told what was changed and suggested, not shown.
One has to laugh, sometimes.