LITERATURE, HOW DOES IT WORK
Good piece by Sarah Ditum in the Guardian, on the eternal tension between the world of SF and ‘literary’ fiction. It was kicked off by Ian McEwan’s latest novel, MACHINES LIKE ME, which McEwan doesn’t call SF despite it being set in the future, in a world where Alan Turing and JFK are still alive, and focusing on a robot struggling with its AI-driven identity.
Doubling down, McEwan implied it couldn’t be SF, because it wasn’t about “travelling at 10 times the speed of light in anti-gravity boots, but [about] actually looking at the human dilemmas.”
Cue the howling — both in pain and laughter — of SF fans all over the world.
We’ve seen this before; ‘literary’ authors unfamiliar with science fiction who get an idea, barge in, then proceed to reinvent the wheel while insisting nobody’s ever done it before and anyway it’s not science fiction at all, how tawdry, etc.*
The doubly baffling part of this genre snobbery, to me, is how completely blinkered the literary world is to its own faults. You want outlandish, nonsensical plots, badly-drawn characters, and unrealistic dialogue? You’re more likely to find it in the latest hot literary title than any modern SF. This is the same unreconstructed rubbish comics faced for decades with “Zap! Bam! Pow!” headlines topping articles about Marjane Satrapi, for heaven’s sake, and is the sort of errant nonsense up with which I will not put.
If you dismiss SF, you dismiss STAR WARS, THE EXPANSE, and OLD MAN’S WAR. But you also dismiss THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 2001, RIDDLEY WALKER, 1984, THE ROAD, WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE BOOK OF DAVE, A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ... etc, etc. You don’t get one without the other, and anyone who tries to claim those aren't SF — including, yes, some of the authors in question — can take a long walk out a short airlock.
*In this case the lit world appears to have settled on “counterfactual”, an absurd nonsense which allows this review to somehow discuss the entire book without ever using the word “science”, let alone “science fiction”:
SPARE US THE CUTTER
Getting down to the wire on THE TEMPUS PROJECT, but thanks to those wise and judicious beta readers I mentioned last time, the draft is now 6,000 words shorter and much improved besides. With plot holes and character moments sorted, the final stage is to weed out my sillier idiosyncracies, such as overusing the word “just” or starting every other sentence of exposition with “of course”…
No, not another EV innovation, but rather the control method of FORZA STREET — a new casual racing game I worked on with Brighton-based developers Electric Square. Over the course of more than a year (!) I helped create and develop the game world, characters, and storyline, and also did some scriptwriting.
FORZA STREET is a very different kind of title for the Forza franchise, available now for Windows 10 and soon on iOS/Android. Will it be as big a hit as CSR RACING? Who the hell knows, but it was fun to work on.
IS THIS A DAGGER I SEE BEFORE ME
The Crime Writers’ Association annual conference was, as always, entertaining and illuminating. It also gave us this little beauty in the swag tote…
…I pity any poor sod who had to catch a flight to get home.
THRASH IT OUT: CHAOS AD
The album that launched a thousand drum fills, and made Sepultura a household name. If your household was full of heavy metal fans in the 1990s.
RECENTLY READ: PLACES IN THE DARKNESS
Speaking of literary authors doing SF, I gave Chris Brookmyre’s PLACES IN THE DARKNESS a quick summary on Recently Read. You’ll be happy to know that Chris is perfectly happy for it to be labelled SF 😂🚀