Everything Is Nice

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

Posts Tagged ‘criticism

Me And My Stupid Blog

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I saw WALL-E yesterday. It was good. But this isn’t a post about Wall-E, no, this is a post about my internet nemesis!

Last year I gently mocked Gary Westfahl’s not very good review of Sunshine on Locus Online:

The definitive case of writing about the film you wished you’d seen rather than the film you did see? It even has shooting directions!

I’m impressed that this is the only review of the film I’ve read that doesn’t mention Event Horizon. Instead he seems to believe the audience will be concerned that it rips off Conquest of Space and Riders to the Stars.

At the beginning of June (a year later) Westfahl wrote a review of Dreams with Sharp Teeth for Locus. It includes the following passage:

I must proceed carefully now, since I have been accused of reviewing the films I wished to see and not the films I saw (yes, I bothered to read your stupid blog, just as I bother to read anything that mentions my name, though unlike Ellison I prefer to ignore criticism, which keeps my phone bills manageable).

At the end of June Westfahl wrote a review of WALL-E which I only read today. It includes the following passage:

To discuss this point, I must distress a few readers by not only failing to connect this film to such obvious predecessors as Short Circuit (1986) and Robots (2005) but also by mentioning a film that was made almost sixty years ago and suggesting (gasp!) that such an antique might actually have some relevance to a film made in 2008, but a few scenes in Wall·E represent, almost inarguably, a homage to Destination Moon (1950).

That’s right, Westfahl prefers to ignore criticism so much that he has shoehorned references to my four sentence blog post into not one but two reviews. Water off a duck’s back!

Written by Martin

11 November 2008 at 00:08


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Kafka is a mighty presence in ‘Bright Morning’. I was particularly amused by the opening section in which Jeffrey Ford talks of references to Kafka being foisted on his proxy’s work:

If there is one thing that distinguishes my work from others it is the fact that in the review blurbs that fill the back cover and the page that precedes the titel page inside, the name of “Kafka” appears no less than eight times. Kafka, Kafkaesque, Kafka-like, in the tradition of Kafka. Certainly more Kafka than one man deserves – a veritable embarassment of Kafka riches… At first glance, it would seem that any writer would be proud to have their work compared to that of one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers, but upon closer inspection it becomes evident that in today’s publishing world, when a novel does not fit a perscribed format, it is immediately labelled Kafkaesque. The hope is, of course, that this will be interpreted as meaning exotic, when, in fact, it translates to the book buying public as obscure. Kafka has become a place, a condition, a boundary to which it is perceived on the pretentious are drawn and only total lunatics will cross.

I was reminded of a similar tendency with respect to JG Ballard. I recently wrote a short piece about this with respect to James Miller and Will Ashon and the fact that critics and publishers seem keen to nail the term Ballardian anything that moves:

Ballard has now reached the point in his career – edgy elder statesman – where the shadow he casts is so long that if you are a young male British writer and your publisher doesn’t compare you to him you should probably be worried.

Written by Martin

18 October 2008 at 14:05

Planting Flags

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I’ve just added a page for my articles and interviews. All two of them.

Firstly, there is my anti-manifesto manifesto, No More New World Orders:

It is understandable that Harrison can be a touch fractious on the subject. A writer of any skill strives to escape such chains and it must be galling to see each free generation approaching, desperate to slap on the irons. More galling still to see some writers rushing to embrace their jailers. The history of people like Harrison and Sterling suggests that there is very little point in manifesto building apart from at best, a critical propaganda organ, and at worst, a platform for posturing. Of course, neither of these have anything to do with producing fiction. With this in mind the Young Turks would do well to burn their manifestos, throw away their flags, cast off their hair shirts and get on with the business of producing art. That’s the hard part: leave the petty squabbling to the critics.

Then there is my interview with Richard Morgan :

Market Forces the screenplay – written long before the novel, yes, bulked up from an original short story I’d failed to find a publisher for – was a miserable experience for me. In the end, it felt like being stuck in that garbage compressor in Star Wars. Struggling to keep your head above water, flailing about looking for something to brace against an ever-tightening sense of constriction as control of the project slips from your grasp. That wasn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just the nature of the beast. A movie script is never a finished product, at best it’s only ever a working template, and you never really own it the way you do a book. Screen-writing requires you to be pragmatic, amenable to compromise, endlessly sociable and a good team player. I score very low on all of those, which is why I write novels.

One day I might get round to doing some more.

Written by Martin

6 October 2008 at 14:42

Posted in sf

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