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About Genre

A bunch of books arrived today, a lot of the big new releases from Murakami, Ondaatje, Eugenides and Millet.

There was also the new Atwood, a collection of essays entitled In Other Worlds, wherein she explores her history with science fiction and offers a bit on the various drama that existed when she claimed her latest books were not science fiction.

Here's a quote from the introduction:

In a public discussion with Ursula Le Guin in the fall of 2010, however, I found that what she means by "science fiction" is speculative fiction about things that really could happen, whereas things that really could not happen she classifies under "fantasy." Thus, for her--as for me--dragons would belong in fantasy, as would, I suppose, the film Star Wars and most of the TV series Star Trek. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein might squeeze into Le Guin's "science fiction" because its author had grounds for believing that electricity actually might be able to reanimate dead flesh. And The War of the Worlds? Since people thought at the time that intelligent beings might live on Mars, and since space travel was believed to be possible in the imaginable future, this book might have to be filed under Le Guin's "science fiction." Or parts of it might. In short, what Le Guin means by "science fiction" is what I mean by "speculative fiction," and what she means by "fantasy" would include some of what I mean by "science fiction." So that clears it all up, more or less. When it comes to genres, the borders are increasingly undefended, and things slip back and forth across them with insouciance.


It made me laugh to read this, really, but in a nice way. It made me think of every half baked bad argument for genre and its borders and lack of respect and oh my, everything from being mainstream to being ghetto, only this time, held forth by Ursula Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.

Haven't read much of the book and it may get pushed back by the huge, baby crushing 1Q84 by Murakami, but still, looks cool.

Comments

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exp_err
Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:14 am (UTC)
I'm a few chapters into 1Q84 myself, having recently finished Neal Stephenson's disappointing latest babycrusher. 1Q84 is not bad, so far.
benpeek
Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
cool beans. i'm keen to see what it's like--the last few murakami books have suggested a bit of a change coming in on him, and i'm interested to see if it actually has come through. though i am disappointed that gabriel is one of the translators.
exp_err
Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:23 am (UTC)
It's the first Murakami book I've read, so I can't comment.
benpeek
Nov. 22nd, 2011 04:34 am (UTC)
ah. well, my personal favourites are THE WIND UP BIRD CHRONICLE, HARD BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD and AFTER THE QUAKE. by and large i've liked a lot of them, though the kind of realist romance books like NORWEGIAN WOOD and SPUTNIK SWEETHEART are at the lower end of it, and i'm a bit give or take on those.

however, KAFKA ON THE SHORE, which i thought was quite fine for the first half, but flawed in the second, and the small AFTER DARK, have kept the growth that began in THE WIND UP BIRD CHRONICLE.

all of which is meaingless to you, of course :)
jlundberg
Nov. 22nd, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
My faves almost exactly match yours, Ben. I've just started Book 3 of 1Q84, and while there's a lot to recommend so far, Book 2 was unnecessarily bloated and repetitive. It easily could have been half as long and not lost anything. Still, I plow on; Book 3 is off to a better start.
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