Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Breaking cover

A few brief things ... I'm deep in novel work at the moment, and will remain so for some while, so I'd like to apologise for my continued tardiness in responding to emails. I know I say this all the time, but (as I hope some of you will be aware) I do have a big catch-up every few months, and will strive to do so again.

Secondly, last week's Google event went very well, in my experience, and if nothing else it was terrific fun to hang out with Peter and Iain, albeit briefly. Even if you're not subscribed to Google Plus, you can review the experience on You Tube: this link should do the trick:

Thank you to all who contributed! In addition to the friendly staff at Google, I'd also like to thank Orion's publicist Jon Weir for making sure my trip to London went smoothly.

It seems that SF is in a state of permanent crisis and/or self-examination lately, and the last couple of weeks have been no exception. The latest round of introspection has been occasioned by the critic Paul Kincaid's review in the LA Review of books of some of the latest batch of "best of" anthologies, which he found symptomatic of an exhaustion within SF, a profound failure of confidence in SF's ability to engage with the present, let alone the future. That review is here:

Paul was later given the chance to amplify his thoughts over a question and answer session hosted on the Nerds of a Feather blog, and his responses are split across two lengthy posts:


These responses make fascinating reading.

In response to that, the critic Jonathan McCalmont has also posted a lengthy and thoughtful essay, which in essence takes Kincaid's position and dials it up to eleven. It doesn't make for comfortable reading, especially if you're one of the targets, but there's no doubt that some of his points hit close to home. SF has become massively self-congratulatory and inward looking, besotted with its own year round awards circus - something I've been known to complain about. Like Kincaid's piece, the McCalmont essay is clearly written from a position of enthusiasm for the possibilities of the genre, albeit coupled with obvious frustration around SF's frequent failure to measure up to its own oft-toted potential. Whether you agree with the specifics of the piece or not, it's worth a read.

I'd like to draft a more considered response to both pieces in due course, but for now I thought it was worth providing links to the articles in question.

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