July 7th, 2005


Disease of the Speculative Fiction Scene.

Are people going insane?

No, seriously, did I miss a new disease? Was there a plague and I missed the notification? I've been a bit busy, and with Geldof's Live 8 thing, it's quite easy that a disease ravaging the speculative fiction scene might have passed me by. If you haven't seen this disease, it's called We Are Art and We Are Movement. Perhaps there's a connection between the two. Maybe not. But this morning, surfing the blogsphere, I discovered that Maureen McHugh had finally given up her Onyx name, and about six billion blogs were all discussing how Speculative Fiction could be Art (or isn't Art) and that Genre Did Not Matter and Dogs Bark and so on and so forth, while a sword and sorcery zine gave yet another movement, The New Edge. Sure, it's not as catchy as Mundane SF, and doesn't have Geoff Ryman's name against it to give a bit of credibility (Ryman is an excellent author), but by fuck, it suggests that you should have exotic settings, a sense of wonder, high energy story telling, and a hard boiled tone. I immediately thought of poor Philip Marlowe saying, "I was wearing my brown leather breeches, with a chain mail shirt, belt and display sword,, black socks and black boots, polished up. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well dressed mercenary ought to be. I was calling on four hundred pounds of gold."

It feels like everyone around me has caught a disease, and fuck it people, you need to find a cure. I can handle one or two essays about how speculative fiction isn't seen as art but really is (or alternatively is mistaken as art occasionally but isn't and you're putting too much thought into this), and I can handle a manifesto once a year, maybe, but this is getting out of hand. Sure, there are some people who don't know what the words speculative fiction mean, and sure, there are some people who don't like science fiction or whatever sub genre, and some people who think it's nothing but big spaceships and elves and Tolkien and Asimov and whatever. But so what? I don't like romance novels. They're just not my thing. But do I think romance novels can't be art? No. I don't think about romance novels. I don't care about romance novels, so I don't spend any time thinking about how they're shit or good. If I see one, I avoid it. If there's a movie, I don't go. And you know what, I suspect the people who don't care about speculative fiction... don't care. Which means they're not reading the blogs and essays and manifestos that are produced within the speculative fiction scene.

So, here's a new trick. Try it.

If you have the urge to write about how speculative gets no respect, and how any genre be art, and how you're a legitimate person and all that stuff... writing a fucking story. Don't tell the world about. Shut the fuck up! Write a fucking story! I know what you're thinking, but stop! Don't think, "But, Ben, if we don't have this conversation--" No. Shut up. Don't have this conversation. Go away and write a fucking story. Mix genres. Write things that are difficult to sell. Take time out and be difficult to sell. Spend five years submitting your story. Have ten people read it. Do that. Write the story. Don't begin a blog post with, "Speculative fiction is just as valid as any other genre." Of course it fucking is. Are you retarded? Only retards think it isn't, and it's about time we stopped writing for those people. The audience isn't out there drooling and saying, "Science fiction is stuuuu-pid," and then laughing and buying the material.

So you get the urge, write the fiction.

If you have a manifesto, same deal. If you're thinking, "What we need is a manifesto to get away from the continual infantilism of the genre," then go away and write some fucking fiction that does this. Then spend, oh, I dunno, ten years submitting it, more if you're writing sword and sorcery and want it in a good market. Spend that time. Pray to your Gods that it will work. Burn an effigy of those writers who disgust you. Do whatever it takes for you to get your new fangled fiction out there.

Just stop talking in circles, for fucks sake!
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London Blast.

For all the people in London: hope you and yours are safe and well. Also, someone has set a livejournal community up over here, and though I'm not sure what it'll accomplish other than give a place for folk to talk, I figured I'd pass it on.