Sunday, March 17, 2013

Reading for a Sunday

When I publish a book, I can never be confident about any predictions I might hazard for its reception and sales. It's all guess work. Naturally I recognized, only a few chapters into my first of several reads of the ms, that Deb Taber's Necessary Ill was playing with fire. And by the time I'd finished that first read, I characterized it, in my own mind, as what used to be called "dangerous" fiction (which is how most of my own short fiction was characterized in the 90s). "Dangerous fiction," in case the term is new to you, raises uncomfortable questions about moral issues and assumptions (in the broadest sense of "moral") and makes it difficult to answer those questions in any comfortable way. Since Deb's reading on Tuesday, Library Journal has published a starred review of the novel, John Scalzi has featured the book on his blog, Whatever, and Paul di Filippo has reviewed the book at Locus Online. (Earlier, Liz Bourke reviewed the book for Killing and Ethics: Deb Taber’s Necessary Ill.) Here's the conclusion to Library Journal's review:
Taber's debut novel presents an all-too-credible dystopic future world and, in Jin, a complex character whose mind approaches the world and its priorities in a very different way. The characterization of truly genderless individuals—not androgynes or hermaphrodites—and the portrayal of an approach to the world that is both ruthless and compassionate make this an excellent candidate for book discussion groups and provide strong evidence for the availability of significant genre literature. Highly recommended.
Some of the comments at Whatever were, shall we say, precipitate, given that their authors hadn't yet read the book themselves.  I'll leave you to check out the other links yourself.

A few more links of interest:

--John H. Stevens makes a compelling argument for the vitality of short fiction: Signs of Life in Recent Short Fantastika from Elizabeth Hand, Kiiri Ibura Salaam, and Karin Tidbeck.

--At the Mumpsimus, Matt Cheney reports on a discussion of the 2013 VIDA count at the AWP: VIDA at AWP.

--Maria Tatar takes up the issue Elizabeth Hand recently addressed in the Boston Review, for the New Yorker: Sleeping Beauties vs. Gonzo Girls.Tatar, though, sees the gritty protagonists Hand examines as tricksters.
The female trickster has a long and distinguished lineage. For centuries, these heroines made use of veiled speech and disguise as they prowled around the margins of their worlds. There is Scheherazade, who rescues herself through storytelling, using the civilizing energy of narrative to end King Shahryar’s serial marriages and slayings. Then, there’s the younger and meeker Gretel, who sees her “moment in history,” as Anne Sexton tells it, and shoves the cannibalistic witch into the oven. In the end, she and Hansel are able to return home on the back of a duck, thanks to the poetry in her spells. Like the mythical Hermes, the two children become liars and thieves who traffic in enchantments.
--At the Nation, Michelle Dean takes up the cultural politics (and economics) of crowdsource funding: 'Veronica Mars', Amanda Palmer, 'The Atlantic' and the Depressing Economics of Cultural Production: Oh My!

1 comment:

Ethan Robinson said...

The comment thread at Whatever makes it really easy to hate sf people...