The Booker prize judges have yet to acknowledge the flowering of British SF and fantasy. Will 2011 be a breakthrough year?
Speculative fiction has produced many great works of literature. Even a partial list of SF’s canonical works could fill many blogposts. It would be difficult to talk seriously about the last century of literature without considering HG Wells, or George Orwell, or JG Ballard at the very least. And of the writers working today, how many owe something to the works of Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut or Philip K Dick? In fact, the number of SF authors being retrospectively rolled in to the literary canon seems to grow exponentially year on year.
Read more at The Guardian
Colds do two things to me. They make me bad tempered in a grouchy kind of way. And they make me want to take shelter from all things in a book. Today I hid out in the audiobook of Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (Read very well but not by Bradbury unfortunately. Note to authors: if you can read at all, try and record your own audiobooks. I love hearing the authors voice) Here is a quote from the introduction:
“Don’t tell me what I’m doing, I don’t want to know.”
Bradbury is in turn quoting italian film-maker Frederico Fellini, who refused to watch the daily rushes of his movies. He, like Bradbury, was drawn on by the act of discovering the story as he created it. Call it the muse, or the subconscious, or the imagination. Call it what you will, it’s the thing that makes the creative act possible. Without it even the most technically perfect story is just a dull, lifeless mechanism. Bradbury captures the same concept in a quote I’ve borrowed many times, ‘First you jump off the cliff, then you build the wings.’ (possibly my favourite quote on writing) and in his short essay How to Keep and Feed a Muse (certainly my favourite essay on writing) The Martian Chronicles is the epitomy of this principle in fiction, short stories that hover on the boundary between fiction and poetry, always threatening to swim away like forgotten dreams. I wish more writers today had the nerve to take the creative risks Bradbury was taking in the 50’s and 60’s, and the skill to do it without crashing into the dirt. So many writers seem set on not just building wings, but complete impact survival systems before they even venture to the cliff edge (while others are hurling themselves into the void without even a sense that the ground exists).
Or perhaps I’m just being to pedestrian in my reading. Who are the writers taking the risks and pulling them off at the moment?
In other news…
Mark Charan Newton asks why science fiction is dying? Maybe the answer is that contemporary science fiction has become quite dull and self referential and even passionate readers like me are losing interest in watching the genre chase its own tail? (You see…grouchy)
John Scalzi reveals his short fiction pay rates (after smacking down a noob publisher for paying one fifth of a cent per word)
A week since Egypt and I have failed to post my magnum opus covering our travels there. It is sitting half written in my drafts folder. Maybe I will finish it one day soon when I have a spare number of moments.
First, a brief update. I am full steam ahead on the Writing Industries Conference 2008. If you are debating buying a ticket then stop. Just buy one. It will be worth the expenditure I promise. I completed my review of Cabinet des Fees this week. It should be up on The Fix next week. ‘Rings’ has returned some positive comment and an expression of interest from two markets. I need to think about a re-write for the last two scenes. Hopefuly I can find one or two free evenings this week to make that happen. And next year is National Year of Reading, which I am now revving up for on behalf of Leicester Libraries. Watch this space for more.
Muses. They have been much on my mind in recent weeks. There is a short essay by Ray Bradbury called ‘How to Keep and Feed a Muse.’ I am yet to read it (if anybody happens to have a copy please shout) but the title alone has generated quite a bit of thought. I don’t imagine a muse as a person, female or otherwise. (There is a wonderful issue of Sandman where a writer captures one of the greek muses and keeps her prisoner in his house, which gives him great artistic success although he later pays the price.) I understand the muse as that first moment of imagination and excitement that spurs you to write a story. Writing is amazing when the muse is strong. When the muse is gone it is a terrible slog. I’ve been playing around with ways to keep a muse well fed. There have been some positive results but I’m still looking for good muse care tips. Any thoughts from you literary folks about how to keep a muse happy and contented?