Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Guardian

The Guardian has an interesting article on science fiction and literary awards. I found the comments mostly interesting and added my own:
Interesting discussion. I have read almost no "literary" fiction written in recent decades. Not sure why. It seems uninteresting to me. Maybe it's the recognition that Mieville is talking about. If I want to find out about the real world, I can read the news or nonfiction or talk to people or simply go outside.

Is science fiction formally conservative? Often, yes. Delany talks about this. When reality is uncertain, as it is in science fiction and fantasy, then an experimental style can make the narrative too confusing and unclear. Experimental sf can be done, as was demonstrated in the 1960s and 70s, but it's not easy. I once had to write a description of someone who was trapped in a half-hour-long time loop. Since she was inside it, she didn't realize what was happening. Every turn round the loop was new to her. And the novel was written from her perspective. So how did she figure out what was happening, and how did she get out? I nearly went crazy writing that section, and I have never been happy with the result. That's as much of a formal problem as I want.

I try to write good, clean language, drawing on the Icelandic family sagas as examples, and keep most of the weirdness to the ideas. I tend to think of science fiction as a fiction that takes place inside metaphors. The craziness, the disjunction, the surprises happen in the narrative line, rather than in the language.

A lot of science fiction and fantasy is not good, which has to do with commodification and the needs of people trapped in a not very pleasant society. You dream of escape, and the market gives you false and unobtainable and badly written dreams.

But from the beginning, whether you start with Mary Shelley or H.G. Wells, there has been sf which challenges the status quo intellectually and morally. The best is well written. Speaking of awards, I direct you to the Tiptree, science fiction's gender bending fiction award. Its winners and short list members are often interesting.


Post a Comment

<< Home