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Writing this week has been shit, but that's okay.

My two day workshop, Touring Speculative Fiction,* begins tomorrow and it's the reason for the schedule disruption. It only gets run every six months, so I have to spend time finding the photocopies of fiction, the notes on each, and debate what I want to add and subtract out of the texts. There's not much in the way of difference this time--I usually try and slip a new work in, but I haven't come across any in the last six months that I liked enough. Though I tell you, I always have a crisis of thought when I think about adding George Turner's Genetic Soldier. It's a fine book, probably my favourite of Turner's due to its incorporation of Australian history into the development of the thematics. (If you've never read it, it's about a starship returning to Earth millions of years later. The crew drop down in Australia, finding it a paradise of sorts, but populated by an indigenous culture. There are no white folk or cities round at all, in other words. It's probably not clear from what I wrote then, but the arrival of the starship mirrors the arrival of the First Fleet.) At any rate, I taught the book once and I know it doesn't play well with the class. It's too much like being in school and having history shoved down your throat. I swapped the book with Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man and as anyone will tell you, Jesus is always a bit more fun.

Still, without getting too caught up in the texts and boring people, I'll tell you what the favourite text is: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. It's a bit of a rough translation, but I swear to you, after reading this, half the class owns a copy the next day, and the majority of what's left will have one by the end of the week.

The novel is pure cool.**

If I had to pick an entry level text of speculative fiction for new readers, I'd give them Battle Royale. It's a brilliant and nasty thing about teenagers killing each other for the Government's amusement, and it burns along with emotion and energy. The book's a swift beating to all those dull and slow, morally driven dry gut raw throat retching experiences like Lord of the Rings. It's nothing but a crime to give a new reader Tolkien, especially in this day and age. Might as well just pluck their eyes out now and put them in little glass jars where they can stare at pictures of Kings and Queens and let them dream of a Government that loves them. It's irresponsible.

I'll just stop there, okay. No need to continue with that... but it is, y'know, irresponsible. Tolkien: bad for children. Bad for adults. Just bad for everyone.

At any rate, I hope tomorrow will be as good as the previous couple of times I've run the workshops. I've always got a bit worry before I get there, worried that the texts will fail, that they'll hate it... all that usual stuff. Still, least I'm not a math course. Figure that's a plus.

Of course, as this entry is showing, my whole writing for the week is screwed. That said, as an update for those who care, I've finally embraced footnotes for the novel. Anyone who has read 'the Dreaming City' will remember the use of footnotes there (and I also use footnotes in the Allandros and Balor stories). At any rate, I've always thought the footnotes worked quite well. They're a neat little stylistic trick that can bring in extra narrative meaning/development. Still, you got to be careful with footnotes, since people react differently. Some folk love them, some folk hate them, some folk just don't read them. You just can't use them in everything, and despite my love, they don't fit in everything. Anyhow, my original plan for a Walking Tour of the Dreaming City was to cut the footnotes out of 'the Dreaming City', since it didn't seem much of a point to keep them in one chapter, when none of the following chapters would have them. At the end of last week, I changed my mind--there were just too much potential to leave them on the cutting floor, too much madness, too much fun, too much joy.

Yeah, I do love my footnotes.***




* Yeah, I really did come up with that boring title.

** As opposed to rock 'n' roll, which everyone knows is dead.

*** This is joke footnote. It contains nothing of value except that I made you look.

Comments

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(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
i've never read the narnia books.

i really didn't find books with any kind of love until i was in highschool, and the cs lewis stuff didn't hold any interest for me.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 03:17 am (UTC)
i had heard they were a bit on the conservative side.

the people i know who like the books, however, all encountered them fairly young, with parents reading to them.
mariness
Jan. 19th, 2005 03:00 am (UTC)
And some people, like me, read the footnotes first.

(Ok, for "some people" you should probably read "one person" but, you know, a footnote fetish is a footnote fetish.)

benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 03:11 am (UTC)
i don't know about reading them first--i mean, aren't they suppose to build out of the sentence on the page? that's what i always figured.
mariness
Jan. 19th, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, you're supposed to read the page first.

I'm backwards that way. I see a footnote and get all twitchy and happy inside and decide that I have to read it, then I go and read the text, and then I read the footnote again.

Not overly efficient, now that I think about it.

deborahb
Jan. 19th, 2005 03:04 am (UTC)
I like the footnotes idea. They add a kind of authority to the text.

They worked great in ASH: A SECRET HISTORY, which I know is a book you refuse to read.
benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 03:13 am (UTC)
it's not that i refused, it's just that it's so big and i read mary gentle's RATS AND GARGOYLES and didn't like it much at all.

the footnotes will also, i think, act as a way of binding the different narratives together.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 19th, 2005 09:02 am (UTC)
wtf?
and i had to sit through the crap that was creative writing b when it could've been this cool?!

john

benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 09:34 am (UTC)
Re: wtf?
you got to be a highschooler to get into this one, man. or work for me as my unpaid assistant at gerric :)

and creative writing b isn't that bad.
joey_j0jo
Jan. 19th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)
If I had to pick an entry level text of speculative fiction for new readers, I'd give them Battle Royale
:)
benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 10:33 am (UTC)
i guess you knew that. btw, did you get my email?
joey_j0jo
Jan. 19th, 2005 10:50 am (UTC)
Did you send it to my hotmail account or my gmail account? Because my gmail is dead. I don't know how it happened, but it died. *grieves*
benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
hotmail, i think.

you want another gmail account? i've got a bunch of them hanging round.
joey_j0jo
Jan. 19th, 2005 11:05 am (UTC)
Yes please.

And I just read it. If you go to your gmail account, you'll find an email patiently awaiting your return.

benpeek
Jan. 19th, 2005 11:09 am (UTC)
cool. gmail invite sent.
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