Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stuff of Interest

--Wendy N. Wagner interviews Nisi Shawl for Fantasy Magazine.

--Nnedi Okorafor offers her personal definition of feminism.

--Brit Mandelo reviews Joanna Russ's We Who Are About to..., of which she says:
Books rarely ask so much of the reader, true, but perhaps they should. We Who Are About to… is brutal, unforgiving, and also supremely, astoundingly beautiful, not simply because of Russ’s phenomenal, unmatched prose but because of the journey it takes the reader through. In fact, I might go further than Delany—I might be willing to call this book perfect, not just pristine, in the sense that it does exactly what it was intended to do, on every level it was intended to do it on, at the same time.
--Karyn Huenemann reviews Ursula K. Le Guin's Cheek by Jowl for the International Research Society for Children's Literature.

--Jo Walton reviews C.J. Cherry's Cyteen, about which she notes
I’ve probably read Cyteen forty times, but it always grabs me and won’t let go, and I always see more in it.
--After reading Patricia Anthony's The Happy Policeman, Gord Sellar wonders
why she is one of those authors I feel like we don’t remember in SF, and I think this fact in itself indicates something problematic in SF circles. Authors who have impressed me less (or at least less consistently — Harlan Ellison and Norman Spinrad, among others) are far better-remembered, and I think there are perhaps a few reasons for this.
This is the sort of question for which one explanation will not suffice as the definitive answer. Back when Anthony was still writing and publishing, she was on my sight-unseen must-buy list. In his list of possible explanations, Sellar misses at least one that occurred to me when I read that Anthony had decided to leave the genre and found myself wondering the same thing.

Here, by the way, is Anthony herself, speaking to to Sara Martin, on her career difficulties:
Your work is habitually labeled as science fiction or speculative fiction. How does labeling affect you as a writer?

To be frank, it destroyed my career. For the first few years I'd not seen myself as a science fiction writer, but instead as something of a thriller writer whose books just happened to include aliens. Well, my fault - what can a bookstore do with an alien except sell it as science fiction? But I'm afraid that I disappointed many s.f. readers who came to my books seeking a "worlds of wonder" adventure, a high concept cerebral story, an escape from the day-to-day troubles in their lives. Hah! My books are not concept-driven, but character- and story-driven. They deal with very real, very mundane tragedies, more the fodder of mainstream readers. But because the books contained aliens, a very small number of mainstream readers would read them. Neither were they accepted by the s.f. audience. By the way, I caution new writers to try not to make the mistake I made. I don't know the solution to this dilemma, since how else can bookstores make sense of their inventory? And yet slotting a writer kills a lot of creativity. Many of the books available out there tend to look and sound the same.


Josh said...

Why not link to Brit Mandelo's review? Then Ambling readers could not only look at it but read the killer responses to the troll in the comments.

Timmi Duchamp said...

Oops. Forgot to include the link. But it's fixed now.

Josh said...

Thanks! It prompted me to look at Mandelo's other JRR reviews, which in turn led me to this great comment wherein Teresa explains what perceptions of gender and sexuality in the U.S. were forty years ago — something that it can really be hard to get across to people under fifty, especially in a short time/space.