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I Got My Own Way of Livin'

Down south, we've got a saying: It's a hit dog what hollers.

And I'm seeing a lot of commentary about this essay.

Yep. We're gonna change a few things 'round here, if it hairlips Jefferson County.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 3rd, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
I started reading that essay (long story--I clicked on your friends list instead of my own after posting my comments on your last entry and then, oh look, it's Nihilistic Kid--I like seeing what he posts now and then--so I click over, then click on the essay)

... but it's long, man. Long.

And it's hard to read that much prose when I gather, from Nihilistic Kid's post, that I'm supposed to scorn the guy ("can I hurry up and scorn him after just a few paragraphs? Please?")

As usual, I'm not well enough read in the literature to have meaningful opinions, but what *did* strike me, just from the portion of the essay that I did read, was how arbitrary the things that got raised as issues seemed to be. ... ehh, but I'd have to go back and look at the essay again to give you an example. Maybe I'll do that after the debates.
Oct. 3rd, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
I won't go into what dogs are hollerin', because that would be... well, kind of dog-hollery.

Vandemeer's comment paragraph that begins "Another thing..." pretty much jives with my bias. The problem with the essay is that it's circular in its arguments in that it's a big Straw Man setup (masked in the fact that it's long in the age of short). It implicitly defines SF one way and then tears it apart. Then it says what it could be without admitting that what it could be is largely what it has been for a while now. If you read the right authors.

Basically, my point is that the future isn't Victorian Progressive anymore. It's not even American. It's a long way from being dead white guy. This part is true.

But the part it's missing is that the future in SF is moving away from being reactionary to the above as well. We're getting bored of "strong women" who are men in disguise as well as "underserved ethnicities" who are trying to take on the man at his own game, and the colonial rape. We're being us with all our hybrid souls, and the happening publishers get that already.
Oct. 4th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
*nods* Yes, that's what I mean: I found the guy making assertions about the state of things, or what's always done, and I was scratching my head and thinking, really?

I definitely think there's lots of interesting and various stuff out there. rachelmanija had two interesting posts on the upcoming anthology Diverse Energies, for example. (First entry here; second entry here)
Oct. 4th, 2012 08:00 am (UTC)
She makes a very good point at the end of the second one. I'll need to think on it some more, but the idea of post-apocalyptic through the S in the SF lens should mirror what happens in biology when a mass-extinction event comes around. Times are tough, then new and totally unexpected things flourish in the wake of the old.

America is obsessed with the apocalypse. It's totally ingrained in the culture. And there's something to the fact that America is now tipping over into its decline just as it's becoming clear that Jesus isn't coming in this 1000 years either. Sort of a mass-extinction event for monolithic evangelical christianity.
Oct. 4th, 2012 08:10 am (UTC)
America is obsessed with the apocalypse.

Yes, from its Christian, and especially Protestant, background--and yet millenarianism is a universal impulse--you get it in Buddhism, certainly, and Hinduism.

When my grandmother (now dead, she was born in 1906) was high school aged, she went to a boarding school in Sicily. She used to talk about how if there was an exceptionally brilliant sunset, the girls would start talking about how the end of the world was coming.

... maybe it's a way the individual organism reflects its sense of eventual extinction into a larger context. All things end--what if it's tomorrow? -type thing.
Oct. 4th, 2012 08:19 am (UTC)
I love how Eco uses that instinct, in The Name of the Rose to show how the millenarian vision is holographic: it can be applied in any scale to any set of events if the visionary is so inclined. For example, without too much spoilery, a monk is drowned in pig blood (set out for black puddings), and this is equated with the seas turning to blood and killing all who drink them.
Oct. 4th, 2012 04:27 am (UTC)
I had to give up after a few stupid paragraphs. His/her argument only makes sense if he/she ignores more counter-examples than I have the time or the inclination to list.

"Oh, look how they're blurring SF and Fantasy! They never did that before!"

"Yeah, right. And you never watched Star Wars as a kid. And you never read an entire sub-genre called 'Sword and Planet'. Bah.
Oct. 4th, 2012 08:07 am (UTC)
Blasphemy! All hail Gardner Dozois, the high priest of SF! By this yardstick shall thou be measured!

It would be ridiculous if it weren't that so much of the proffered yardstick is in the hands of so few. As if Rock & Roll is all about the Stones. Oh, yeah. And the Beatles.
Oct. 4th, 2012 08:11 am (UTC)
As if Rock & Roll is all about the Stones. Oh, yeah. And the Beatles.

The Who?

But yeah, just reading the very latest Dozois collection of the year. It wouldn't reflect *my* taste. But even so, in the past it has introduced me to Paolo Bacigalupi (who mainly addresses ecology issues) and Robert Reed (who so bravely imagined the future in Marrow and Sister Alice).
Oct. 4th, 2012 08:17 am (UTC)
Yes. Ironically, I'm in the process of going back to old Gene Wolfe and reading much of it for the first time. Enjoying it quite a lot; but it's also reminding me so very much of how SF is often not very forward-thinking at all, at least in terms of predictions of innovations.

But no, nothing wrong with the proffered yardstick, but it isn't tautologically identical to SF. So setting fire to that straw man isn't really a very effective argument. The article is actually coming across to me, having now slept on it, as more a condemnation of a narrow way of running the publishing industry, which still treats genre with that over-in-the-corner-mr.-halitosis attitude, even if that's where a lot of the money is being made.
Oct. 4th, 2012 08:19 am (UTC)
But no, nothing wrong with the proffered yardstick, but it isn't tautologically identical to SF.


which still treats genre with that over-in-the-corner-mr.-halitosis attitude, even if that's where a lot of the money is being made

Oct. 4th, 2012 10:54 am (UTC)
So. Many. Words. Urg!

Hurt head! Smash!!!!

No, seriously, that's how I felt trying to read through that essay. ALso, it's one of those nothing new under the sun kind of arguments. One of the reasons I actually got bored with the Asimov's forum and so many people sitting on the knee of Gardner himself. Nice enough guy to talk with, but I'm not convinced that he is necessarily any kind of gatekeeper of the genre.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )