Sunday Morning Questions
Aidan Moher asks: are fantasy readers ‘dumber’ than science fiction readers? The answer is: no, of course not. Moher’s deliberately provocative question stems from the fact Tor dropped Daniel Abraham after his critically acclaimed but apparently poor selling Long Price quartet and a suggestion on his blog that the relative intelligence of the fantasy readers was the reason for this. From these unpromising origins an interesting conversation about the difference between fantasy and science fiction springs up in the comments. Abraham himself puts in an appearance but unfortunately doesn’t make a useful contribution.
Cheryl Morgan asks: is the Locus Recommended Reading List biased against British authors? The answer is: no, of course not. But then no one had suggested they were. It is a typically muddled and defensive piece from Morgan who creates a strawman to attack a nameless group of people who apparently have concerns about the recommended reading list. In the comments there is some discussion of the underlying basis of these concerns which is the tension between Locus as an organ of the US publishing industry, predominantly read by American subscribers, and Locus as a journal of record for the field as a whole, with global reach through its website. In a related point, Abigail Nussbaum asks (again): what are the Locus Awards for?
Damien G Walter ask: is enough being done to support British libraries? The answer is: no, of course not. The value of libraries has always been clear but they persistently find themselves under valued. this is a particularly rough time as libraries find themselves first in line for cuts from local authorities following the drastically reduced spending settlement. Walter proposes a moratorium on closures and the establishment of a national standards and improvement agency. But the UK already has one of these and whilst you can argue over how well resourced it has been, it certainly isn’t going to get any more resource in the near future. So whilst I’m pleased that people like Philip Pullman continue to lobby passionately for the survival of libraries, I think this is one bitter pill (of many) that we will be forced to swallow. As Walter notes, when the choice is closing old peoples homes or closing libraries, no one is going to choose the former.
Finally, not one question but many: Hari Kunzru interviews Michael Moorcock. The was the lead feature in yesterday’s Guardina Review and starts with some interesting context on Kunzru’s on induction into fandom and Moorcock’s work in particular:
Most of my books came from charity shops or the Whipps Cross Hospital fête, where my dad – who as a doctor was expected to put his hand in his pocket on such occasions – would give me pound notes to convert into teetering piles of paperbacks. There was something so much more interesting about these books, fished out of crates and cardboard boxes, than the ones in the library, let alone the expensive, sensible fare which seemed to be on sale in ordinary bookshops. They were musty-smelling 10p messages from the futuristic past, complete with cover designs (and content) that were unlike anything I’d seen before.
I’m fairly certain that this was how I first came across Michael Moorcock, in an early-70s Mayflower paperback, with a psychedelic cover by Bob Haberfield. Soon I was combing London for these editions, which I’ve carried through numerous house-moves, keeping them even after I ditched the majority of my SF and fantasy collection in favour of student bookshelf-adornments intended to attract potential sexual partners
Then the article moves onto Moorcock himself:
Moorcock’s biography reads like a rebuke to every wannabe novelist who’s pottering through a creative writing MFA… Since the New Worlds days he has carried on writing at a furious pace, weaving an ever more complex web of novels and stories, filled with associations, refractions and knowing references, a delightful maze for his fans and a source of perplexity for bibliographers. This prolific, promiscuous output is perhaps one reason he’s not accorded the status he deserves in the postwar canon of English literature. Unlike his friend Ballard, whose reputation has been transformed in recent years, Moorcock remains something of an outsider, regarded with trepidation (if he’s known at all) by a literary establishment that prefers clear blue water between literature and genre writing.
Kunzru has made the full transcript of the interview available on his website and I think the only question that remains is: when is he going to write a science fiction novel himself?