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science fiction, what's that about, then? (part whatever it is) - The Villages — LiveJournal

hutch0
Date: 2008-04-28 23:01
Subject: science fiction, what's that about, then? (part whatever it is)
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Location:the utility room in the sky
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Some time ago, back before the PreCambrian Explosion, when it was just me and Jean Marie and Selkie and the (even then sadly-LJless) OJM rattling around here, with occasional interjections by Lou Anders and brisingamen and peake (remember those days, guys? Before all these boisterous folk started moving in?) I posted a few rather clumsy and embarrassing rants about the state of science fiction today and my rather namby-pamby views on it.
Well, I'm indebted to Neal Asher for pointing me at this article by Richard Morgan (whose novel Black Man I'm currently enjoying enormously) which addresses a few of the points I sort of approached but veered away from. I think the man talks a lot of sense. Any thoughts?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-28 22:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've been publishing fiction a lot longer than Morgan (and if only you knew how much it swells my breast to write that, even though he's about a gazillion percent more successful than I am) but because I got into blogging quite late in the day I think he and I encountered the infighting in science fiction around the same time, and, as you'll remember, I was just as aghast as he was. And still am.
I'd disagree that the crime fans aren't as geeky and techno-savvy as the science fiction ones. I really think he's right: there's a greater sense of content among crime fans. And I think I have an idea why.
I think crime fans know what crime fiction is. They had it figured out years ago. Science fiction fans don't. It's fractured into a landscape of little warring kingdoms battling for supremacy, each with its favoured authors and its vocal camp followers. It's not a genre any more; it's a series of turf wars.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-28 23:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do wonder whether there isn't a deeper problem here. Detective fiction has never been estranged from its roots; you can draw a straight line from Poe to Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins to Agatha Christie to the point where detective fiction bifurcates at Hammet and Chandler. It's always been, at base, a literary form. In science fiction, you can't draw that line. You have Wells and Verne, and then there's this messy dislocation in the 1920s and 1930s. We know there's a literary base, but the background is predominantly pulp. Then you get the Golden Age, and nobody argues about that. And then you get what comes afterwards, and I think that's the problem. Who are the inheritors? Who has the True Genes?
*just noodling, too, because I want people to talk about this stuff*
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-29 21:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I like the Dylan analogy. Yes, I think that's very apt.
What really took me aback was the sheer vehemence of some of the scuffles. That really surprised me.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2008-04-29 22:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wells:
What if someone invented a time machine?

What if martians invaded earth and landed in England?
What if someone invented an anti-gravity metal?

Verne- what if you could build a flying car thingumabob?
Or a submarine?

Morris
What if the revolution did happen peacefully?
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2008-04-29 22:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It would be nice to know if there are more women reading SF these days. I suspect not.

I think crime fiction has a unifying theme yet you can play many variations, kind of like composers from Mozart through to Elgar all used symphonies to produce different sounds which appeal to different people.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-29 23:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It is indeed possible that there are places where detective authors gather round and mutter imprecations against other groups of detective authors - I don't know that world. Morgan's source seems to think not.
The tropes thing is a good point. Yes, I like that one.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-29 21:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And the close participation of the readers is one of the strengths of science fiction, I think.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2008-04-29 21:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I too am oblivious to all this fighting. I went to the Glasgow Con in 2006, and felt like a normal person who'd wandered into a weird place.
(And I'm pretty odd)

I wonder if it would be possible to write a story that would subtly brainwash the reader into not being such a jerk and realising that the turf wars are stupid and counterproductive?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-29 22:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We were there in '06, too. I bet you went into the dealers' room and walked right past our table, too. Without buying anything.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2008-04-30 09:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That'll be book dealing, right? Where were you? I bought a couple of books from a couple of stalls.

(I have somewhere in the region of 3000 books, most second hand)
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2008-05-01 17:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes.
This can also be seen on internet fora, where there is a procession of uninformed people and teenagers asking the same damn questions. Every generation has to work out that being a moron isn't cool, funny, or the way to win friends and influence people.
(Unless you can get on TV in which case anything goes)
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