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Archive for October 8th, 2008

Manifestos: Round Umpty Million

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Well, that whole optimistic thing has kept on rolling. Except now it is “positive”, not “optimistic”. And by “positive” they mean involving any change or attempted change regardless of whether that change is good or bad. So congratulations on making your manifesto even stupider than it started off as.

Here is my manifesto:

I want stories about the gulags.
I want stories about sexual anxiety in the early Sixties.
I want stories about feminist uprisings in Cumbria.
I want stories about the invasion of Czechoslovakia that combine autobiography, history and criticism.
I want stories about manly men zooming around space and blowing shit up.
I want stories about young girls ripping the fabric of time and plunging into alternate Londons.
I want stories about slaves raised in strange circumstance on the cusp of the Revolutionary War.
I want stories about shadowy conspiracies involving shopping centres.
I want stories about hospitals cut adrift from reality.
I want stories about finding an angel in your garage.
I want stories about guarding the corpse of Myra Hyndley.
I want stories about being abandoned on an Antarctic island with unknown amphibious creatures.
I want stories about social imposters in the intra-war years.
I want stories about an Alaska that never was.
I want stories about England quitely slipping into dictatorship.
I want stories about studying at the Slade.

I want anything under the sun (or beyond it) as long as it is good.

Written by Martin

8 October 2008 at 14:04

Posted in genre wars, sf

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‘Al’ by Carol Emshwiller

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Little did I realise then, or I might not have felt so energetic, the hardships I was to encounter here in this strange, elusive never-never land.

Success! I should have started with the first bloody story! This is what I pointed at when I point at slipstream.

Al crashlands in a valley which is a true liminal space, the first we have seen in this collection. His short, pithy paragraphs (as quoted above) are counterpointed by a much more open, winding narrative from one of the natives. But these are not the sort of lost valley natives you would expected from, say, one of Chabon’s pulps. There is a nice low key interplay between the two which becomes deeper and richer and odder as the story progresses.

Quality: ****
Slipperiness: ****

The inclusion of ‘Al’ does raise some questions about Kessel and Kelly’s selection criteria though.They exclude quintessential slipstream writers such as Donald Barthelme on the dubious grounds that they are no longer active (ie dead.) Yet Emshwiller’s story is from 1972, considerably pre-dating Sterling’s coining of the word slipstream, and she was born before Barthelme. Since both writers are clearly working in the same tradition – as are SF contemporaries of Emshwiller such as Damon Knight and Barry Malzberg, according to their introduction – it seems perverse to include one and exclude the others.

Part of Feeling Very Strange

Written by Martin

8 October 2008 at 11:04