Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Coshed

leave a comment »

I just downloaded the 1939 Retro Hugo voter package which means I now have two unread packages to read before voting closes at the end of the month. It’s gonna be tight. Once I finish that, I’ve got two whole weeks to complete my next tranche of homework: preparing for my panels.

Big Anthologies: Bookends or Benchmarks? (Friday 16:30 – 18:00)

There’s a genre tradition of doorstop-sized anthologies that attempt to synopsise a period or style: Ascent of Wonder, The Weird, Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, and others. What makes these anthologies successful, or not? Does ‘success’ mean summarising a past conversation, or influencing the conversation that’s still going on? Or are they always and inevitably doomed enterprises? Is it possible to TOC an age, or a genre? Or are these sorts of anthologies in fact arguments, rather than snapshots?

  • Jo Walton (M)
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Jeff VanderMeer

YA on the Big Screen (Saturday 15:00 – 16:30)

The YA publishing boom has been accompanied by a boom in film adaptations, but while some have seen commercial success others have stalled. What does it take to transition from book to film? Are there any special considerations when working with a young adult story? Modern YA is a genre with distinctive tropes — how are these being transferred to the screen? How is “classic” YA adapted in that context? Is this to the original story’s benefit or detriment? Which YA books have successfully made the transition–for good or ill? What stories would make great films, but haven’t yet been done?

  • Carrie Vaughn (M)
  • Amy H. Sturgis
  • Erin M. Underwood
  • Thea James

Just Three Cornettos (Saturday 16:30 – 18:00)

The Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright “Cornetto trilogy” concluded last year with The World’s End, following Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. What is the trilogy’s place in British SF? The panel will discuss why the films’ endings are so unconventional, what the trilogy had to say about topics such as society and consumerism, masculinity and maturity, and the British landscape … And they’ll decide which fence gag is best.

  • Nick Hubble (M)
  • Paul Cornell
  • Rachael Acks
  • Philippa Chapman

Dropping The M (Monday 11:00 – 12:00)

We customarily divide the work of Iain (M) Banks into his sf and his mimetic fiction, but much of the mimetic fiction slips and slides into the fantastic. What if we threw this division out: what other ways of understanding his work can we find? Macro and micro fictions, fictions of family and of friendship, fictions of thinning and fictions of recovery?

  • Farah Mendlesohn (M)
  • Jude Roberts
  • Tony Keen
  • Anna Feruglio Dal Dan

Written by Martin

2 July 2014 at 19:47

Posted in Uncategorized

Changes

leave a comment »

As I mentioned, I moved recently. The reason I needed to leave my beloved flat was not just the constant accumulation of books but the birth of my son. That event also occasioned me changing my surname so I could share his. On one level, this is simple: you just send off a form and a cheque. On another, it is a thorny tangle of beaucracy and identity. Changing over to Martin Petto on my work IT and HR systems was simple, as was changing my multiple social media accounts. Other things took longer which is why 14 months later by wallet still contains cards with a mixture of names on them. Hardest of all, however, was working out what to do about my ‘professional’ name (don’t laugh). Having spent over a decade writing under my old name, I found it hard to make a clean break so you’ll probably have noticed that I’m still reviewing as Martin Lewis. The rough rule of thumb I had adopted (until very recently) was that I’d keep Lewis for ‘old things’ and use Petto for ‘new things’. To my surprise, one of those new things has turned out to be this:

Rite Of Spring

So yeah, I am one of the contributers to Pandemonium: The Rite Of Spring, the latest chapbook from Jurassic London. This foray into fiction has obviously been met with some gentle teasing from fellow critics but it does open up some further questions of identity. For example, it is not uncommon for it to be suggested that critics are wannabe writers or that ‘those who can, do’. I’m not a wannabe writer, I am actual writer, just one who chooses to write non-fiction rather than fiction. So a part of me feels like a traitor to the fellowship of critics and mourns the loss of the armour of my purity. But a bigger part of me doesn’t give a shit. My story, ‘Letter From the President Of The British Board Of Film Censors’, was an experiment for myself (less formal than this one but an experiment nonetheless). It was fun to write and I hope it is fun to read. If not, here is some Phil Ochs:

Written by Martin

8 April 2014 at 10:58

‘The Shobies’ Story’ by Ursula K LeGuin

leave a comment »

‘The Shobies’ Story’ is part of LeGuin’s Hainish Cycle and represents the antithesis of the military science fiction of someone like David Weber. The test pilots for the universe’s first faster than light spaceship are not military superheros but but rather a group of unexceptional volunteers which includes several children. They prepare for this momentous mission by sitting around on the beach for a month, telling each other stories. It is a wonderful sympathetic portrait of what a consensual, hierarchical future might look like. Dan Simmons used a similar but weaker idea in ‘Orphans Of The Helix’ but as background for his story; here, it is the story. It is exactly the sort of story – the sort of thinking – that Gregory Benford is apparently unable to comprehend.

It goes without saying that it isn’t space opera, although it does make a fascinating contrast and provide the weary pallet of this reader with a welcome sorbet.

Quality: ****
OOO: *

As always, Hartwell and Cramer’s introduction provides me with a quote that calls the whole enterprise into question:

She is not referred to as a space opera writer, although this story is clearly set in the far future in space, and we bring this example into the discourse on space opera because we think its importation of anthropological ideas is causing pressure on some of the most ambitious writers of space opera to abandon or modify the military and hierarchical modes… Whether the Le Guin influence we begin to discern in such ambitious space opera writers as John Clute (Appleseed) and M John Harrison is real, and will spread, remains to be seen.

The beginning of the first sentence is merely an incompetent mix of the redundant and irrelevant but it soon explodes out into a bold claim. A bold claim that is utterly unexplored. Now, I’m slightly dubious as to whether LeGuin’s 1990 story caused significant pressure on the space opera novels Clute and Harrison produced a decade later but there is the seed of a fascinating essay there. Since Hartwell and Cramer give themselves neither time or space to examine any of the critical judgements they litter the book with, the seed remains ungerminated. The Space Opera Renaissance is, in a word, half-arsed.

Written by Martin

29 January 2013 at 17:38

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers