Tag Archives: style

Subcultural conformity

William Gibson, having been asked whether he ever wanted to wear a uniform:

When was I last out of one? The extent to which we are are all of us usually in uniform brings to mind Eno’s definition of culture: everything we do that we don’t really need to. Pajama bottoms beneath a raincoat? Out of uniform. Jeans with one leg cut off? Out of uniform. Contracultural apparel disturbs us. Countercultures are intensely cultural. Bohemias have dress codes as rigid as those of merchant banks. We all read uniforms, constantly, whether we’re aware of it or not.”

Yes.

The perennial cheesy cover art debate

Looks like the good old cover art debate has reared its head again, with Rick Kleffel ranting passionately about the need to abandon ‘slabs with abs’ and ‘Fabio-alike’ cover art, especially in the fantasy genre, and the always lucid Andrew ‘SFBC’ Wheeler deflating the issue with the perspective of a man who works in publishing – those covers get used because those covers sell books.

You want my opinion on this issue? Well, I don’t really have one. Sure, I can appreciate a good piece of cover art, and I can see when one is cliched and out of kilter with the book’s content. But it’s what’s beneath the cover that really interests me, and if the fiction is good enough I don’t give a damn what’s on the front and back. I’ve never understood this idea that people are embarrassed to be seen reading certain books in public – I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying that I can’t imagine it ever happening to me.

That having been said, I spent my teenage years as an RPG geek who read every spin-off novel he could get his hands on, so maybe I self-medicated against chainmail bras and leather nappies with aversion therapy early on. Then again, those who’ve seen what I look like are probably well aware that the last thing anyone sat opposite me on a train is going to notice about me is the book I’m reading at the time! 🙂

The genre ghetto is a myth

Here is a random Livejournalist by the name of Luc Reid who found his way into one of my Technorati tag feeds, talking about that perennial bugbear of genre fiction categorisation:

“The essence of mainstream science fiction as compared to genre science fiction is how it expects its readers to deal with speculative elements, their tolerance and ability to grok them. So mainstream vs. genre is a meaningful distinction that is useful to readers, because it helps them select books that are or are not suited to their tastes…

(snip)

Why is this important to writers? Because while every book you write has to be a book you love, you also have to know who else out there in the world will read it. If you want to reach a larger audience, you have to tell your story in a way that they will be willing to read. If you want to reach science fiction readers, you need to tell the story in the way that they want to hear it told. And these are basic writing choices rather than simply labels slapped on by publishers.”

Strikes me as sound advice – somewhere in there is a blueprint  for dismantling the ghetto walls, though I’m not sure that’s the intent that Mr. Reid had when writing it. I think I shall keep an RSS eye on him in future.