Tag Archives: literary

I get around

No, not in that way[1]. And I hope you now have the Beach Boys tune stuck in your head for the next 24 hours. Ha hah! – my middle name is Spite[2].

What I mean is that, despite being resolutely silent here, I’ve been cropping up elsewhere.

I know, I know – it’s all too much, isn’t it?

Talking about things being a bit all-too-much, it looks like an old friend colleague fellow blogger has resurfaced from the past. At the moment he seems to be retreading a familiar path to the one I met him on; as such, I shall be observing from a safe distance. Twice shy and all that, y’know.

Other me news (because it’s all about me, after all) – my holiday is totally freakin’ booked!

Your “cool [stuff/people/places] to [see/drink/eat/kill/dance with] in Berlin” tips will be much appreciated.

Oh, look – bedtime! Nighty-night, blogosphere.

[ 1 – Pure as driven snow, me. Driven down a London gutter in front of a snowplow, that is.]

[ 2 – Yeah, I know it’s not – but once the deed poll paperwork clears… ]

[ 3 – Looks like a certain Shaun C Green made the cut, too, and a few people who I think I recognised but couldn’t be sure of. ]

Friday Plant Blogging: jade tree

The day: Friday; the subject: plants; the location: a blog. Yup. It’s Friday Plant Blogging time.


That’s the crassula ovata (or ‘Jade Tree’) that I got last summer; it’s grown considerably since I repotted it a few months back, and shows no sign of slowing down. The other week, I passed a Chinese restaurant that had one in the window … let’s just say they can get pretty damn large.

Slightly less impressive is my poinsettia:


Hmmmph. No red leaves. It seems to have settled down a bit now – I only realised after I’d bought it that it was an unrooted cutting – and is now growing in height, but at the expense of leaves (the lower of which are shedding at the same rate that new ones appear). It too may need repotting sooner rather than later … and seeing as the swiss-cheese plant in my front room has its pot propped with books to prevent it from toppling over, I guess I’d better get some compost fairly soon. Who says houseplants aren’t rock and roll, huh?


It’s been a moderately busy week, marred by the ongoing presence of this damned post-viral syndrome / exhaustion / malaise / whatever-it-is. I thought I’d go see a doctor about it, and rang up to enquire about appointments. Basically, if I’m about to keel over from blood loss or something, I can call at certain times during the day for an emergency appointment on the same day; otherwise, I can book a ‘regular’ appointment, with a waiting time of about ten to twelve days … so I decided to just forget it and hope that a weekend of rest will help shake it off. Makes you proud to pay your taxes, so it does.

Other than that, it’s been a week devoid of interesting things to tell you, really. The only major hoo-hah was John C. Wright’s misinterpretation of my literary elitism post, and my rant in reply – which was made to look very childish by Mr. Wright’s apology. Congratulations, me – I just proved the old (very un-PC and probably NSFW) aphorism about arguing on the internet.

I’ve not even received any reading material through the post, which feels like the first week in months. Probably a good thing, though, as it gives me a chance to attack the backlog.

From the world of self-employment comes a potential red-letter day, however, in that it appears I may have been literally sitting on a potential mass of copywriting work at the Museum. I’m having a meeting next week about it, so wish me luck – some steady paid commissions would be a good thing to get right now.

Next week also sees me trekking up to London to interview an obscure but incredibly influential Swiss indutrial rock band called The Young Gods, which I’m really looking forward to. They’re a great band, and I have some good questions lined up to ask them. If you’ve not heard of them, and you have any interest in avant-garde music using sampled guitars, go give them a listen. Industrial is almost a misnomer for them, really, they’re a unique outfit – and they still sound as way ahead of the pack as they did when they first formed over two decades ago. Provided the recording is listenable, I’ll be posting the interview in audio format here some time in the future.


Well, that’s about your lot, I’m afraid. Possibly the least exciting FPB ever – which in a format this fundamentally dull to start with is an achievement in itself. So I shall bid you all a good weekend, and faff around with a few things before going to fetch The Obligatory Spicy Indian Dish That Must Be Consumed On The Fifth Day Of The Week. Take care, folks.

Angry career reviewers, penitent genre bloggers, the Salami Award, and more

Well, well. You think us genre reviewers and critics are a stroppy lot, you should see at the literary reviewers from US newsprint media getting all hissy about their platform being eroded away from underneath them. The Print is Dead blog has this to say:

“And when Winslow himself writes that the loss of book review sections will “[choke] off such discussion of books,” he couldn’t be more wrong. There is now, because of the Web, probably more discussion of books than ever before. But what really infuriates Winslow, and many of the other critics, is that all of this discussion is happening without them. So it’s not that books are being burned; instead, what’s happening is the self-importance of book reviewers is going up in smoke.”

That really underscores why I’m glad to see the genre scene thriving online – I think we may get over that particular hump before the ‘straights’ do. I can’t think of any reviewers in sf/f who I think of as being self-important – but then (with the obvious exception) I can’t think of anyone who has made it their sole career and source of income, either. There’s a corellation there, I think.

Meanwhile, Gabe Chouinard has come back in response  to Jonathan McCalmont’s post that I mentioned yesterday. Señor Chouinard argues that a new critical venue should strive to build a new audience from scratch with innovatory approaches, rather than trying to entice away established readers from other venues:

“… street-level criticism is going to open up the genre dialogue to once and for all include people from outside of genre, rather than excluding them from the discussion. Our approach is meant for a NEW kind of audience, an audience that we have to manufacture from the ground up. There’s plenty of room for all kinds of readers in street-level criticism, and it’s my assertion that, by treating reviewing as a subset of the greater literary critical dialogue, we’re in effect opening the ghetto walls to allow outsiders to come in and have a good look around, without fear of stigma and without fear of rejection.”

Someone else responding to Jonathan (or rather, apologising for a response he neither finished or posted) is Andrew ‘SFBC’ Wheeler. After having had a while to ruminate on the matter, Mr. Wheeler has decided that his reaction to Jonathan’s post on the aesthetics of fantasy had roots in other things:

“Eventually the Clue Stick descended heavily on my head and I realized McCalmont was exactly the same sort of blogger as I was, and that was what annoyed me. (A similar realization hit me about William Lexner, previously — though I think Lexner really is trying to be incredibly obnoxious, while people like me and McCalmont just come off that way sometimes.)

So I’ve moved McCalmont into the mental category of “curmudgeons who occasionally annoy me but who I want to take seriously,” joining such excellent company as Barry Malzberg and Norman Spinrad (mostly for his book reviews, which I don’t read as often as I should these days). That doesn’t mean that I won’t post a “look at this stupid thing someone said” essay about any of them — that seems, for better or worse, to be a lot of what I do here — but I hope it means that I’ll take the idea seriously first…and only then reject it out of hand.”

As back-handed compliments go, they don’t come much bigger than that. I think.

A few other things of note, while I’m at it:

Matrix Magazine (another fine product of the BSFA stable) has an article featuring soundbite interviews with the shortlist nominee authors for the 200 Arthur C. Clarke Award. Ironic understatement award goes to Brian Stableford, talking of the importance of genre awards:

“It’s obviously better to have such reference-points than not to have them … [e]specially if they can occasionally whip up a little controversy.”

Controversy, Mr. Stableford? Surely not …

(Which reminds me, I wrote an essay ages back about the value of genre fiction awards, and it’s probably high time I looked at it again in the light of the huge amount I’ve learned since I first published it.)

As far as good reviews of the Clarke shortlist are concerned, you could do an awful lot worse than let the ladies from Eve’s Alexandra take you through them. Their take on M. John Harrison’s Nova Swing went up yesterday.

Last but not least, I propose the creation of a new award, to be given for ‘most laugh-out-loud metaphor deployed in a serious review of a serious genre novel’. The first winner for this award (which can be given out whenever I or anyone else decide it’s time for one to be announced) is Adam Roberts, for this genius line from his review of Ian McDonald’s Brasyl:

“Brasyl’s 2006, 2032, and 1732 are not, it turns out, part of the same timeline, but salami slices from different places on the sausage of the multiverse.”

As this is the inaugural award, the recipient sentence will provide the name for it; feel free to confer a Salami Award on any piece of critical writing you encounter and feel worthy.

A vindication of ‘beer-money’ science fiction

Depending on where you sit, the word “literary” preceding the words “science fiction” is either a handy descriptor denoting a certain flavour of genre writing, or a pretentious label that denotes tedious over-egging of the writerly pudding.

It’s probably fairly plain that I’m a fan of literary sf, but what the hell does that actually denote, anyway? Where is the line drawn? And is it inherently ‘better’ than other forms? Continue reading A vindication of ‘beer-money’ science fiction