Everything Is Nice

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

Good Cop, Bad Cop

with 4 comments

A couple of months ago, I praised Gollancz for reprinting Climbers by M John Harrison. Now they deserve more praise for similar acts of literary preservation. First of all, they are publishing a revised version of The Red Man by Matthew de Abaitua as an ebook. Since we live in the future, it is accompanied by a short film based on the first chapter:

I reviewed The Red Men for Strange Horizons. It was a pretty mixed review – do I write any other sort? – but I’m glad it is being reprinted, both because it is an interesting work in its own right but also because it represents a second bite at the cherry for de Abaitau:

This isn’t a novel you can get an easy grip on; like the famous elephant surrounded by blind men, its shape and texture suggest differing beasts depending on where you grab it. Literary thriller and domestic drama, thought experiment and drug trip, cyberpunk and technopagan, satire and prophecy. It is almost as if de Abaitua is worried that he will only get one chance and has consequently crammed all his ideas into one novel.

I’ve probably said that in other reviews too since it is a persistent issue with debut novels. But these days, there is some truth in that worry for authors. The modern genre often appears to be curving back to its pulp origins; without a midlist, the only way for authors to keep their heads above the water is to bang out a couple of books a year across a range of subgenres. If you are a stranger sort of writer, if you you have feet in different camps, then you are likely to sink without a trace. De Abaitua’s follow-up was not a novel but a book about camping. Will Ashon, a similar sort of writer, was unceremoniously dumped by his publisher at around the same time. Gollancz will also be publishing de Abaitau’s new novel, If Then, perhaps they could pick up Ashon for a new deal too?

That is idle dreaming but Gollancz are going to bring back into print another writer from my wish list: Simon Ings. My first experience of Ings’s fiction was his two recent novels from Atlantic, The Weight of Numbers and Dead Water. Neither are science fiction (and I squinted very hard at Dead Water when I was a judge for the Arthur C Clarke Award) but both are excellent. But once upon a time, Ings was known as an SF novelist; a bright young star of British scene in the early Nineties. I picked up a secondhand copy of his debut novel, Hot Head and it more than stands up so I am very excited to read the remainder of his backlist. Gollancz will also be publishing his new novel, Wolves, with this rather lovely cover:

Simon Ings - Wolves

At the opposite end of the literary spectrum is Rod Rees whose debut novel, The Demi-Monde: Winter, was the worst book I read in 2012. Foolishly his publisher, Jo Fletcher Books, recently gave him free rein on their blog and what he produced was stupid and offensive. I have sometimes wonder if publishers do this in the belief that all publicity is good publicity: how else to explain Night Shade Books giving Thomas Morrissey a platform? Rees’s publishers seem a bit stung though because Jo Fletcher has written this godawful response to the criticism they have received. It is probably a good rule of thumb that publishers shouldn’t respond to criticism of their authors for exactly the same reason that authors shouldn’t respond to criticism of their work. If you are going to respond, try not to be passive-aggressive, shameless and patronising in your first sentence, spend the remainder of your words chasing a tedious free speech red herring and then sign-off with condescending abuse. (Further commentary on the whole sorry mess from Liz Bourke here, here, here and here.)

Written by Martin

11 July 2013 at 13:12

4 Responses

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  1. Um…who are you, and why are you taking cheap shots at me?

    The overall point I made in that column that so offended you was to say gender stereotypes exist for men as well as for women, but no one seems to get exercised on behalf of men. I also suggested people not take pop culture so seriously or, if they did, they should recognize that Pop Culture (the capitalized kind) has been run by the Political Left since the 60’s, so if they have any beefs, they should consider the source. Now, with which part of that do you disagree? I don’t know, because contrary to the ‘Mission Statement’ in your ‘About’ column that asks people to say why they disagree with YOU, you offer no reasoning on why you disagree with me. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ ; hmmm, which political perspective has that as a motto? Oh, right–the LEFT, which has no equal when it comes to hypocrisy. And imagine my surprise to see you have been working in a public sector job for ten years–is it nice to have job security on the backs of those you despise?

    As you see from the responses to that column (here: http://night-bazaar.com/gender-roles-welcome-to-the-dmz.html#comments), a lot of Lefties had issues with, you know, the truth of the statements that:

    1) males have just as many negative stereotypes in pop culture as women;
    2) no one, especially the responders to that column (including, now, yourself) gets particularly worked up about it;
    3) Pop Culture has been run by the same Leftist perspective that these complainers come from, so why are they upset that there are negative stereotypes of women unless they are upset for being recognized for who they are and what they REALLY believe…;
    4) pop culture is meaningless nonsense that will only affect you if you let it

    What I found most amusing about that column was the way I was attacked personally because people disagreed with my opinion on pop culture, of all things. Can you imagine getting so worked up about something so ridiculous? Of course you can–you on the Left are perpetually aggrieved about minor or non-existent issues as a way of distracting from what is really important, be it love, personal fulfillment, or preventing a repugnant, hypocritical political philosophy from lying its way into permanent power over our lives.

    Anyway, thanks for reminding me that the truth remains the truth, and it will still piss off those squinty, hateful, self-appointed arbiters of other peoples’ behaviors like yourself. I hope I haven’t damaged your self-esteem with this response to your cheap shot–I know how delicate you on the Left are when it comes to reality and the truth.

    Thomas Morrissey

    Thomas Morrissey

    11 July 2013 at 17:03

  2. Quick amendment: a significant draft of my next novel IF THEN is nearly finished but no-one has been approached about publishing it yet. I appreciate you taking the time to revisit The Red Men. Thanks, Matthew De Abaitua


    11 July 2013 at 19:57

  3. Ah. Well, I hope you find a home for it.


    11 July 2013 at 21:19

  4. Turns out that despite make a big deal out of reprinting The Red Men, Gollancz passed on If Then. Perhaps Wolves was there one slot for a British science fiction novel (ie one about Britain). Anyway, luckily Angry Robot picked it up because it is very interesting indeed.


    6 December 2015 at 00:05

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