Posts Tagged ‘andy remic’
I’ve publicised it in various places already but if you’ve read Winter Song by Colin Harvey – and if you are a BSFA member, you have no excuse – please pop over to Torque Control to join in our discussion.
Whilst reading online reviews of Harvey’s novel, I came across this review of Andy Remic’s Kell’s Legend. It is really quite remarkable:
This is a book that goes past normal violence into MEGAVIOLENCE(tm). We know we’re reading violence like we’ve never seen before BECAUSE IT TELLS US SO. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) has hacking, crushing, hammering blades LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) hits THROUGH people (sometimes in ITALICS) and then hits the person behind them. IN THE FACE. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) has a sentence that is TWENTY-SIX LINES LONG (page 389-390, if you care), because MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) DOES NOT FUCKING CARE ABOUT YOUR PUSSY RULES OF GRAMMAR. MEGAVIOLENCE(tm) HIT YOUR GRAMMAR WITH AN AXE. AND THEN THE PUNCTUATION BEHIND IT.
This novel, Remic’s first for Angry Robot, saw him doing a Morgan – as Jon Courtenay Grimwood has just done – and crossing the aisle from science fiction to fantasy. The difference is that whereas Richard Morgan brought his political and social concerns to blend with classic sword and sorcery and contemporary epic fantasy, Remic appears to have merely brought his extreme misogyny to a brazen re-write of David Gemmel’s Legend.
Now, I haven’t read Kell’s Legend so maybe I shouldn’t say anything. However, I have read Bio Hell which is one of the worst novels I’ve read and shares the three insurmountable flaws Jared identifies. These are:
- Stunning incompetence at all aspects of writing
- A vile attitude to women
- No evidence of revision or editing or even basic thought
The reason I mention this is not because I enjoy poking the hornets’ nests but because it got me thinking about the fantasy blogosphere. After reading the Pornokitch review I quickly searched for a few other reviews. Those are the first two hits on Google and you will notice they are markedly different to Jared’s review. For example, James Long – one of the most respected British fantasy bloggers – concluded his review by saying:
Kell’s Legend is a rip-roaring beast of a novel, a whirlwind of frantic battles and fraught relationships against a bleak background of invasion and enslavement. In other words, it takes all the vital ingredients for a good heroic fantasy novel and turns out something very pleasing indeed.
I’m sure this is an honest response to the novel but I do wonder about the range of responses on the fantasy blogosphere. It often seems quite narrow. There has been a bit of hand-wringing recently about the David Gemmell Legend Award recently but I see that as the symptom rather than the problem itself. As Mark Charan Newton keeps saying, where is the discussion about the books? And (I would add) where is the discernment? Fans of good fantasy literature should be able to acknowledge that Gemmell was a serviceable writer at best (just as Robert Jordan was a mediocre one). Likewise, fans of good fantasy literature should be able to acknowledge that Remic is an unreadable writer at best. If the world made sense Kell’s Legend would never have been published. Instead, in our world, the sequel is out now and to add insult to injury it has one of the worst covers I’ve ever seen.
Last month a new groupblog appeared, the intriguing titled Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics. The people involved were a motley bunch and it wasn’t at all clear how the title would relate to the content. The mission statement is more than a little vague:
Our mission is to celebrate everything positive, funky and exciting in the Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Universe! The SFFE is a core platform, a hub of authors who have banded together with the aim of celebrating all that is positive in genre fiction. We aim to make an ethical stand, to do what is right and leave cynicism and negativity at the door. We aim to concentrate on what makes us smile, what entertains us, and what brings light and joy to our SF, fantasy and horror worlds. That’s not to say there is no place for criticism— there’s plenty bad in the world. However, this little digital corner is a place for positive progression. Somewhere you will (hopefully) come if you want to smile and be entertained.
So their “ethical stand” appears to be to cheerlead things they like and ignore things they don’t. Fair enough. However, it is also implies the things they like are breezy upbeat numbers that bring a smile to the face. This from a group that includes Conrad Williams, a writer not well known for his happy-clappy fiction. Is this just another (and slightly unlikely) iteration of the positive SF movement?
I’m not the only person confused by this. Today’s Mind Meld poses these question to the group: Why do you think there is an imbalance towards a negative futuristic outlook? How did we get here and how has this affected the genre? Can you give some examples of positive/upbeat ideas in your genre? The answers are by no means uniform. At the end Andy Remic, founder of the group, tries to shed some light on the situation (and the name):
I believe there is a new wave coming. A new wave of positive genre fiction, as can be seen in de Vries Shine anthology, but also a positive movement in the industry and community. I believe there’s a lot of people out there sick of the constant whining and moaning and tearing down – after all, it’s much easier to destroy than create. That’s why myself, and so many other brilliant authors, are involved with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics project (the SFFE) because we want to promote a positive attitude in the industry, and make and ethical stand against the constant poison and vitriol which, I think, has been invading and escalating for a long time. I chose the name “Ethics” not because I wanted to explore the ethical contexts of novels or films, but because I wanted to make an ethical stand against the motherfuckers who, to my mind, are systematically ruining the SFFH genres. In short, I wanted to do what I believed was intrinsically, morally, ethically and intuitively right. I want to celebrate everything that is good in SFFH, because it’s all subjective, right?? – and, hopefully, we can lead by positive example.
So the obvious question is: who are the motherfuckers?
My review of Biohell by Andy Remic is up now at SF Site. It is a very long time since I have written a review for them and I chose an absolutely shocking novel to return with. As I conclude:
When I opened this book I was hoping for something like David Gunn’s Deaths Head series: gung ho adventure SF with the wit to know its strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately this is just witless.
Fortunately, my next book for SF Site – In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield – seems infinitely better.