Print Story What Happened to the Real Me?
Diary
By Christopher Robin was Murdered (Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:13:25 AM EST) (all tags)
Margaret Atwood's next cybernetic enhancement should be laser eyes or a spine with a jet engine in it or something badass like that. May's job hunt. That's right poetry fans, time for you know what.


Some random notes.

The Unotchit

    On the 5th of March, Maggie Atwood, pitching (if you'll preemptively excuse the pun you don't yet realize is a pun) her new book The Tent, will be holding an unusual signing at a bookstore in SoHo. Using a gizmo called alternative "the LongPen" or the "Unotchit" (pronounced "you-no-touch-it"), she'll be holding a tele-signing. She'll be at home, sitting in front of a computer screen and scribbling on a touch sensitive pad. In the bookstore, viewers will interact with her in video conference manner and they will have their books signed by a robot arm that reproduces her signature and comments on the pages of the fan's book.
    I have never been a big fan of Madge. I read the Handmaid's Tale, but have not felt curious enough about her later works to pick up anything else. I'm curious and thinking of going, if only to see the Margretchit author/cyborg in action.

    Pictures of the device actually remind me of a machine Thomas Jefferson cooked up to help him keep copies of his letters. He created a series of rods and wires that he would hook to his quill pen. A second quill pen would be hooked to the other end of the device. The second pen would recreate the motions of the first (including the actions of dipping into an inkwell and shaking off excess ink), creating a second identical letter as Jefferson wrote the first. I don't recall if Jefferson had a clever name for his device.

May's Job Hunt

    After a few months of nothing on the search front, May's got one definite offer and two unconfirmed offers. She's trying to stall a bit, as the confirmed offer is fine, but perhaps not worth packing up and leaving for. The unconfirmed offers, however, are both potentially sweet deals, so she's very excited.

Short Found Poem

Another Robin poem: this one entitled "I Start Out Trying to Be Nice."

I start out trying to be nice, but I can't do it. It's not working.
Can somebody just tell me my booth number please? Can you just do my job? Do my job for me. Please. Thank you.
This is so frickin' annoying.
Awww . . . I'm going to frickin' . . . right in the eye.
Unnggh . . . you stupid . . . God, c'mon . . .
So annoying. I fucking hate this.
Give me the forms, please.
Wha?
Twenty percent off.
C'mon.

This poem, in my opinion, reflects a growing blunt honesty, something akin to Lowell's confessional works, only, you know, much stupider. The powerful "Can you just do my job" passage in the middle cuts to the core of Robin's existence in a way few other of her works have dared. The weird, stilted repetitions and ellipses, resembling stuttering or linguistic incompetence, reflects her general lack of ability. While the pathetic c'mon and please give the whole thing a touch of pathos. One of her boldest works.

< The Title Starts Here | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
What Happened to the Real Me? | 71 comments (71 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Atwood by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:20:46 AM EST
She annoys the crap out of me. She's a science fiction author who pretends she doesn't write science fiction. This wouldn't be that bad in and of itself, but her books often drop "new" ideas that are tired cliches in the SF world. (Oryx and Crake was particularly annoying in this way...written as if the author seemed real pleased with her own ideas when in truth, other authors had written on much the same theme and done better at it decades before.)
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
I Think We've Had This Discussion by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:39:08 AM EST
I understand your point. I just disagree.

To me, genres basically seem like marketing ploys, so anybody who identifies with one with one to the point of saying "I'm a sci-fi author" or whatever strikes me as slightly lame. Atwood writes all sorts of stuff. She's written as many murder mysteries and historical fictions as sci-fi books. So why should she volunteer to be permanently identified with a sales demographic?

The "sci-fi wordsmiths represent" thing is like Dr. Pepper drinkers excommunicating somebody for not boldly proclaiming they're a Pepper too.

[ Parent ]
No, no by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:43:23 AM EST
It's not so much the lack of genre identification as much as writing in the genre while being ignorant of it.

It's like writing a story about obsession and whales while sniffing about how "Moby Dick" is trash that you can't be bothered with...and then writing a poor, second rate version of it.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Trash Science Fiction? by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:58:27 AM EST
Are we talking about the same Margaret Atwood who wrote the "Why We Need Aliens" essay in the Guardian? The Atwood that wrote: "More than one commentator has mentioned that science fiction as a form is where theological narrative went after Paradise Lost, and this is undoubtedly true."

By her own count, she feels she's written only two works of science fiction (and she prefers the genre term to more academic "speculative fiction") - so, as a writer, the vast majority of her work is not sci-fi and it is a little sketchy to claim she's a "sci-fi author" and that her success means she owes something to the genre.

Second, from everything I've read, she has great respect for the importance and value of sci-fi as a genre. In the aforementioned article she classes sci-fi works with works like Paradise Lost and the visionary poems of Blake. Hardly turning up one's nose.

I think you're unfairly hassling Atwood for the crimes of readers and critics who will read her works but would avoid anything too "sci-fi" on the assumption that anything lumped into that sales niche is pulp trash. And these people are idiots and rightly thrashed as such.

If you just don't like her work, that's Kool and the Gang, I'm no fanboy myself; but I just can't see as you can hang this charge on her.

[ Parent ]
Honestly by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:02:56 AM EST
I came by most of the charges via Ursula Le Guin. But in general, what I've read of hers isn't bad, just cliched.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Well, I Don't Like to Spread Rumors by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:22:45 AM EST
But I've heard Ursula Le Guin writes the words "science fiction" on every individual square of TP she purchases. She hates the genre that much.

All these charges seem to stem from single interview Atwood gave back when she wrote HT. She claimed it wasn't sci-fi and instead that it was "speculative fiction."

That one answer has pretty much dogged her to this day, despite the fact that she's gone back on that answer ever since.

You don't have to dig Atwood, by any means; but the idea that she's a quisling sci-fi writer selling out to the man I find a bit extreme.

[ Parent ]
I know you jest by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:26:20 AM EST
But really, from what I understand much of the issue is that Le Guin has embraced the genre.

Also, you misrepresent my view. It's not that I think she's a "quisling" sci-fi writer. It's that I think she's a mediocre at SF and would be better at the genre if she knew more about the genre.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
who cares if she's good at the genre by tps12 (4.00 / 2) #19 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:35:44 AM EST
As long as she's good at writing books?

[ Parent ]
Pedants by debacle (2.00 / 0) #68 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 01:57:12 PM EST
This is HuSi, isn't it?

IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

[ Parent ]
Fair Enough by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:36:12 AM EST
Thinking she's just not that good makes sense. As I've said, I'm no big fan myself.

[ Parent ]
The history is by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:19:10 AM EST
That Atwood at first denied writing SF "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen", "talking squids in outer space"; then decided she wrote SF after all.

Doesn't bother me. Read "The Handmaid's Tale" and thought it was OK but not brilliant. I think it's a kind of (provincial?) insecurity really: Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Kazuo Ishiguro and so on manage to dabble in SF without getting into these teacup-storms.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I'm Familiar with the Original Crisis by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:29:28 AM EST
But she's since made numerous statements to the contrary, so the whole thing seems bizarre to me.

I'm no sci-fi fan myself, so perhaps I'm just not meant to understand.

Though it does seem to me that sci-fi readers are excessively prone to these weird "us vs. them" genre squabbles. Nobody at Mr. Ink Mystery Bookstore is going to suggest throwing Doyle out of the club because he wrote across genres. What's the deal?

[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #16 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:47:17 AM EST
Those comments pretty much guarantee that response. It's not because she writes across genres: I already named several other literary writers who've ventured into SF without attracting the same response. It's because she made negative remarks about the genre as a whole.

As georgeha pointed out, it doesn't help that she criticizes obsolete genre clichés while using plenty of slightly more modern clichés. It's like saying "I don't write detective stories, they're all about country houses and the butler doing it", then writing a book where a hard-boiled LA detective gets slugged on the head every 40 pages while tracking down a mysterious blonde femme fatale...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Not me, it was ucblockhead by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #24 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:45:17 AM EST
I've never read any Atwood, though I'm vaguely aware of the old dis she had against SF.

Don't be dragging me into these polite flamewars.


[ Parent ]
Oops, sorry [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:52:29 AM EST

--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Who You Calling Polite! by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #28 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:53:00 AM EST
Shit, boy, now it's on!

[ Parent ]
Vonnegut by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:59:45 AM EST
Much the same happened with Vonnegut...in many ways, he was even worse as he published a number of stories in pulp SF magazines before disavowing the field. (Note: I very much enjoy his work.)

Some of it, though, is that some writers that dabble in the area (like David Foster Wallace) manage to do it without inadvertantly retreading SF ideas from a few decades ago. I'm not sure why. Infinite Jest is in many ways clearly SF, and at the same time, is clearly not at all related to the genre. I think it may be that Wallace doesn't really seem to care about science fictional themes while Atwood clearly does.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Uggghhh by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:04:12 AM EST
Now you've brought up one of my set-you-off books. I can't prove it, but I think reading Infinite Jest gave me cancer. The book was that bad.

[ Parent ]
I found it like running a marathon in north New by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #35 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:46:15 AM EST
Jersey, impressive to get through once, but nothing you'd want to do again.

It doesn't surpass Mission Earth in badness, though.


[ Parent ]
I think it often works pretty well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #33 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:24:25 AM EST
It might be as simple as, when you get an interesting idea, asking your SF-reading friends if it's been done much before.

I really liked Philip Roth's alternate history "The Plot Against America".
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Roth's Book by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #36 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:01:16 AM EST
Funny, I didn't see that as coming out of the sci-fi tradition so much as being a reworking of Sinclair Lewis's classic It Can't Happen Here. In that book Lewis charted America's slide into fascism by concentrating on the fate of a single middle-class family, instead of focusing on political leaders and generals and whatnot.

Why is alt history a sci-fi genre? I could see an argument for, say, "The Difference Engine" as the "alt" requires a change in "sci." But, in something like Roth, I see plenty of "fi" but not much "sci."

[ Parent ]
That's because by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #38 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:09:57 AM EST
You see genre as a marketing gimmick rather than a form.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Certainly Not a Form by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #40 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:41:07 AM EST
I see the novel as a form. Poetry and drama are forms.

Sci-fi, I'd say, is a genre, a tradition of borrowed cliches; but I don't see how you could define it as a form.

Though, more to the point, I would stand by my claim that Roth's book comes out of a long tradition of fiction that crosses genres and is no more the "property" of sci-fi than depicting oppressive governments is.

The decision not produce it in MMB form and shove it between the umpteenth slight reworking of the Lord of the Rings paradigm and a book with bug-eyed aliens menacing buxom astronettes (I kid) is essentially a marketing move and not anything dictated by the content.

What's "Orlando" or "Invitation to a Beheading"? Why aren't the works of Kathy Acker found on the swords and spaceships shelves? The answer to the first question is "literature" because that's where they sell. The answer to the second question is the marketers at Evergreen didn't want it there because they knew sci-fi readers won't buy it despite its cyberpunk/fantasy trappings.

Your shopping behavior, and not the content of the books, is what determines the genre.

[ Parent ]
All forms have fluid boundaries by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #41 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:52:00 AM EST
You may be decide that an oil painting is just an incompetent bas-relief with good marketing. However, the possibility remains that it's actually a form that you don't fully understand.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
True by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #42 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:58:53 AM EST
But the content of a oil painting or a bas-relief isn't what makes them an oil painting or a bas-relief.

Saying sci-fi is a form would be like saying oil paintings cease to be oil paintings if the artists includes a picture of a person in them.

"Through a Scanner Darkly" and "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" are both novels, though their different genres. 

[ Parent ]
"Content"? by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #58 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:12:03 PM EST
Never heard anyone talking about the content of a painting before. Not sure what you mean by content in this particular case.

SF tends to have a particular form, though as always the boundaries are fluid. Typically, as Kingsley Amis pointed out, SF uses an idea rather than a character as its centrepiece: a single change or multiple changes to the world; and the focus of the book is on the exploration and development of this change. That's why alternate histories are usually classified as SF.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Content by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #59 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:39:10 AM EST
Never?

Here's from the wikipedia entry on Western art:
". . . employed distortion of light and spatial frameworks in order to emphasize the emotional content of a painting and the emotions of the painter."

Here's a bit from the Guggenheim about Gauguin:
". . . but it does not appear to coincide with the content of the painting."

This bits from the AP Wire:
"Experts will study the brush strokes and content of the painting and test the material to determine when it was created."

It is fairly common usage as "subject," as a term, has become problematized by postmodern theory and medium-mixing has called into question the old dominance of traditional painting-centric vocabulary.

To be more traditional about the whole thing, to me, literary form is the equivalent of the medium and content is the equivalent of the subject. To say that sci-fi is a distinct form because it takes ideas as the central premise (ignoring the entire genre of the novel of ideas) strikes me as incorrect.

To me the novel, the short story, the play, the poem - these are forms. There are very few new and original forms out there - the graphic novel being a 20th century one maybe, hypertext, a story told in the form of a randomly shuffled deck of cards.

For me, sci-fi (or any genre for the matter) takes place on a content level, and not a formal level.

Though this seems to be a matter of opinion, so I'm not sure well be able to argue this to a conclusion.

[ Parent ]
Well by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #62 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:53:39 AM EST
Saying a novel's content is the same as a classical painting's subject doesn't make it any clearer to me.

Take some canonical examples. You might ask what is the subject of the Mona Lisa, and get the reply that it is a young woman against a landscape. Now, what is the content of War and Peace? Is the content a fictionalized account of Napoleon's Russian campaign? Is the content a study of several families? Or a group of individuals? Is the content about War and Peace in general? Or is the content a study of human free will?

The subject of a painting is a pretty clear concept, but the "content" of a book seems pretty vague to me.

To be more precise, a typical SF novel is not just about an Idea as in a Novel of Ideas. It's about a specific what-if idea or ideas, and how things would be different if that what-if was true. That dictates the form of an SF novel, as the consquences of that what-if are explored.

[ Parent ]
To Be Perfectly Precise by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #63 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 05:44:40 AM EST
Almost all fiction is about a specific what-if idea or ideas, and how things would be different if that what-if was true. That's quite nearly the definition of fiction. It is no more a distinct trait of science-fiction than having a plot is.

Nor would that distinction help explain why "Orlando" (which follows a time traveling, gender-jumping, displaced identity) is not often discussed as sci-fi, but "Woman on the Edge of Time" is. Or why "Empire of the Senseless" isn't shelved with sci-fi - despite it being about a group of cyborg terrorists taking on oppressive government/companies - but "Neuromancer" is. Why is Ackroyd's "Milton in America" - where poet John Milton comes to America and kicks off a religious civil war - to be found in the literature section of your local bookstore, but Turtledove's alternate Civil War tales are found in the sci-fi section?

As for confusion about the content of a novel, why can't it contain all those things you mentioned. Content need not be a single representational thing, just as a subject of a painting need not be a single representational thing. If we picked two different paintings, the problem wouldn't seem so clear cut.

What's the subject of "Lavender Mist #1"? Paint? Mist? An emotional state? What's the subject of Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"? Certainly the scene described in the title. But also, I would argue, the middle-class as a group. The technique of pointillism is also, in a sense, part of the subject/content of the painting as well.

As for abstraction, does content/subject get any more vague than Rothko's "No. 10, 1950"?

[ Parent ]
Hmmm by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #64 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 06:14:52 AM EST
Do I need to repeat the phrase "the boundaries of a genre are fluid" again? You seem to be relying on the continuum fallacy.

I specifically said classical painting in the first instance, precisely because the subject of an abstract painting is not a clear concept either. Yes, I should have repeated the word classical the second time too.

If "content" consists of all those things: that is, everything that is in a book or can be abstracted from it, then how do you usefully use it to define genre? It seems to be purely subjective.

[ Parent ]
Not At All by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #65 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 06:55:48 AM EST
I don't feel you need to repeat anything.

You said classical painting because you felt it was a comparison that fed easily into your argument. Though I could have easily made the allegorical paintings of Hieronymus Bosch my counter-example and found a Renaissance Era example of a multi-subject painting - so the classical thing is a bit of a red herring.

More importantly, it ignores that whole point of the form/content debate.

The form/medium of "Lavender Mist" and the "Mona Lisa" are the same. That the content of one is abstract and one is seemingly representational does not change that. The point of my bringing up numerous paintings was to show that the subject/content executed within a given form can be vast, if not infinite.

By the same token, the form of the novel can contain both "War and Peace" and "War of the Worlds." When you're talking about the elements of set, plot, characters, themes, and so on, you're talking about variable content all of which can be contained within the form of the novel.

Consequently, sci-fi is a genre, one of the many variables within a form's possible content, and not a form in a of itself. At least, that's how I think of it.

As for genres being purely subjective - I don't think I believe that. What I'm trying to suggest is that genre boundaries are arbitrary, but reinforced through tradition and social usage. Other readers, marketers, booksellers, reviewers, and you and I, are always changing, reforming, and remaking the boundaries of a genre.

When you recommend something as a great sci-fi book, you help define what a sci-fi book is. When people argue that some author is or isn't really a sci-fi author, they are trying to redefine the genre in another way. When marketers and booksellers label and organize their lists and stock, they are involved in the same process. The boundaries are fluid, collective, arbitrary, but not completely open to individual subjectivity. We always have to negotiate a definition that is only partially our creation.

However, this definition process is, I think, hardly inherent to the books themselves. We can easily imagine a world were "sci-fi" as a genre doesn't exist, but all the same stories and books are still here. They're just shuffled into the literature section with everything else. This wouldn't have stopped anybody from writing "1984" or "Dhalgren," or even stopped the author-to-author transmission of ideas and tropes. It would just make shopping for things harder.

This, of course, is only my opinion.


[ Parent ]
There's certainly no way by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #66 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 08:38:32 AM EST
That the body of science fiction books that exist today would exist in even a remotely similar form if there was no SF genre. There's far too much genre feedback: through conventions; through fandom and fans becoming writers; through organizations like SFWA and the Clarion workshop; through the SF awards like the Hugo and Nebula and the emulation of award-winners and the attempts to win them; through the subgenres like New Wave, Cyberpunk, Slipstream; through social links between writers (it's surprising how many have been roomates); through the influence of publishers and individual editors; and most of all through the magazines.

The postmodernism 101 stuff is all very well: but the vast majority of murder mysteries will not have murderer obvious from page 10; most romance novels won't end with the hero and heroine getting bored with each others snoring; most SF novels will not omit an what-if that differs from real life. There are core elements of each genre which cannot be removed, even if individual books straddle genre lines.

[ Parent ]
Genre Studies 101 by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #67 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 09:12:46 AM EST
The genre purism stuff is all very well, but at least one large subgenre of mystery fiction - notably the "crime fiction" subgenre - often has the identity of the murderer clear by page 10. A large percentage of the stock in a "mystery" specialist bookshop won't feature a mystery, in any traditional sense, at all.

You seem to be under the impression that I'm saying genres don't exist - they do. In fact, I'm arguing that something like the social processes you describe in your first paragraph is how they are made. Only I would add editors, marketers, agents, and booksellers into the mix and money makes the world, be it ours or some alien world in the mind of a writer, go round. Sci-fi wouldn't exist without them too.

In the case of romance, the process has reached some extreme form where even the genre definition has reached such a fine degree that even the production process is regulated - publishers basically enforce a financially successful formula. But believe me, if romances stopped making money, the genre would change or die.

I'm not saying genres don't exist. My point is simply that a genre isn't inherent to (or at least, whole determined by) a book - two books could have the same elements (see previous examples) and not necessarily end up in the same genre. Nor is it purely subjective, because readers are humans and read and understand things in a larger context of a reader community, so people work together (though not necessarily cooperatively) to make a genre.

This isn't that same thing as saying it is fake.

(By the by, I know postmodernism is a great word to throw around when you mean "you are just using big words and don't really believe this", but the argument I'm advancing has much more to do with reader response theory and isn't really postmodern in any important way. RRC's roots go back to the 1930s and much of it predates postmodernism.)


[ Parent ]
"sci-fi readers" by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #45 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:19:50 PM EST
I doubt there's such a thing as a generic "sci-fi reader". Someone into Baen military SF is not likely to think much of Sam Delany and someone into the latest Tolkien rip-off is likely to find China Mieville bizarre and confusing.

Science Fiction is an odd genre because it was originally created mostly by people who didn't read much fiction at a time when "literature" was going through odd experimental phases. In the beginning, this was reflected in some of the failings of the genre (poor characterization, etc.) but over the course of fifty years essentially (IMHO) reached the quality level of "straight" fiction. But it still has an entirely different history and the authors have different influences. At a time when "literature" seemed to have entirely given up on plot, SF writers were concentrating almost entirely on plot. There's a whole history there, with authors influenced by older authors influenced by older authors.

With that, SF itself broadened to the point where there are nearly as many subgenres of SF as there are genres of non-SF fiction.

The differences are fading a bit, partly because of the intentional incorporation of basic literature into SF in the "New Wave" and partly because SF has essentially left the cultural ghetto, allowing more cross pollination of ideas. This is, indeed, why so many non-SF writers are willing to dabble in SF ideas.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
"Other Writers" by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #47 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:38:37 PM EST
The themes and tropes of science fiction were ghettoized off from mainstream fiction and repackaged as a genre, not created in a vacuum and slowly imported the mainstream.

Woolf's "Orlando," Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here," London's "The Star Rover," Poe, P.B. and Mary Shelly, Twain, Kafka, Hawthorne, Swift, and on and on.

Hell, even Wells and Verne didn't know there was such a thing as science-fiction until after the fact.

I don't think the themes sci-fi readers and writers so claim as "property" of the genre have every really been so exclusive.

Ideas are tramps, they sneak around behind your back.

[ Parent ]
themes by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #54 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:21:34 PM EST
What I am trying to get at is SF evolved outside the mainstream...SF writers were reacting to different things then "normal" fiction writers were reacting to. If one writer is raised on SF and another writer isn't, they're going to write different stuff.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I Think That's Debatable by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #55 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:45:13 PM EST
Even though you won the thread. Pick three current "sci-fi" novels and I bet we could find corresponding "maintstream" novels with the same themes.

Heck, pick three classic novels and I bet we could find the same themes.

On the more specific level, however, I suspect your right. The details of, say, the engines that push the city-ships around in "Cities in Flight" would have been left out of a non-genre novel.

[ Parent ]
I think we're arguing in circles by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #56 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 03:24:50 PM EST
I don't disagree about themes. I'm more talking form. It's pretty clear that there are fashions in fiction. What was popular in 1910 is different than what's popular now. What I am mostly saying is that SF fashions tend to be different from the currently prevailing fiction fashions. (Less so lately, maybe.)
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
We Don't Have to Keep This Up by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #60 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:16:26 AM EST
I suspect I'd be less inclined to disagree if I was more familiar with the broader scope of sci-fi. "Hard sci-fi," to borrow the title of a current anthology, is something I have little experience with. But what little I have read seems to serve as an excellent example of your point about diverging fashions.

[ Parent ]
Alt. History by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #39 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:40:28 AM EST
Tradition, mostly. That, and a lot of it is written by SF writers.

A larger part of the problem is that the publishing industry would rather label authors then books. It's all pretty silly. PK Dick writes a book where the nazis won WWII, and it's SF. Len Deighton writes a book where the nazis won WWII, and it's military fiction.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
I Had a Huge Response to This by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #43 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:00:15 PM EST
But then, incompetent as always, I nuked it somehow.

I think that means you win this thread.

[ Parent ]
damn by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #44 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:09:06 PM EST
I never won an argument on the Intraweb before!
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
As the Loser . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #46 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:20:20 PM EST
I have to take your side in this fight should it come up ever again.

Anybody starts telling you that you didn't understand Oryx & Crake or some shit like that, you give me a call and I'll get your back. 

[ Parent ]
If I call you both by joh3n (4.00 / 3) #48 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:39:26 PM EST
'book nerds' and steal your lunch money, can I win the thread?

----

[ Parent ]
You're Asking for the Triangle Choke. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 3) #49 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:55:44 PM EST
Just keep it up.

[ Parent ]
Given that by joh3n (4.00 / 5) #50 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 12:57:09 PM EST
you may know clearly know what that is  I'll keep rolling the dice, Bookie McNerdlestein.

----

[ Parent ]
Dude. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 3) #51 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:02:06 PM EST
Current research suggest that not only are you going to get a face full of man crotch, but it will be the last thing you see before you die.

Is that really how you want to go out?

[ Parent ]
It depends by joh3n (4.00 / 2) #52 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:08:24 PM EST
on just how powerful the beer goggles are at the time.

----

[ Parent ]
Fuck on a stick by joh3n (4.00 / 1) #53 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:09:50 PM EST
OLD AND BUSTED: you may know clearly know what that is
NEW HOTNESS:  you may not clearly know what that is

now the goddamn comment makes sense.

----

[ Parent ]
pack up and move by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:34:13 AM EST
just to the new job, or across country ?

I know you said May was looking to join the PtB at her current company (become the MANagement). Is that part of why she's shopping around ? Or are problems with the handicapped young woman that May is being forced to (eventually) fire ? And if May changes jobs, what happens to your regular supply from her ?

Just a New Gig by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #37 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:08:42 AM EST
We'll be staying in NYC for the foreseeable future.

She's looking for a change of place because she ultimately doesn't like the way the owner is running the current shop. It comes down to the fact that she's very passionate about the product and the owner is just moving units (he couldn't care whether it was cars or cotton candy). Even if she moved up to PtB status, the owner sets the tone and the priorities and you couldn't fight that. Best, instead, to simply move on.

She wants another bookshop, so I'll still be up to my gills in books I've only got a 50/50 chance of reading.

[ Parent ]
The general concept is called by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:53:18 AM EST
a "pantograph". It appears that Jefferson's was called a "polygraph", but he didn't invent it.

Thesis: Atwood is ripping her signee's off both morally and financially by signing cyborgally.

---
Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline

Oh Xist! by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 07:54:54 AM EST
The wikipedia link claims that Jefferson "built a pantograph into his house". I wonder if that's just wrong or if we are conflating two things.

---
Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline
[ Parent ]
Jefferson's Pant-o-Whatsit by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:09:28 AM EST
It doesn't seem to me like we're talking about the same machine. I'm thinking we've got a case two different devices built for the same job.

As for Atwood, apparently the most hated woman on Hulver, I'm going to resevre judgement until I see how the fans react. If they seem cool with it, then I'll figure it is between Madge and her fans and that's their beeswax.

If the fans don't seem cool with it, then I'll have to rethink it.

For now, I have a hard time feeling indignant about it. The "personal touch" thing - most large signings these days use pre-signed bookplates that, more often than not, are signed by some assistant publicist. At least Atwood's actually (literally) going through the motions.

The real question for me is whether the signature will look okay or will be as crappy as my sig when I sign off on one of on a FedEx touchpad.

[ Parent ]
I know naught of Atwood, nor do I care by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:30:03 AM EST
I'm just thinking of the autograph market. Do publicist/robot-signed objets d'celebre get as much at auction? But I will admit that I've never "gotten" autographs. What is the real difference among a "real" signature, a cyborg one and a stamp of same done by the author herself?

---
Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline
[ Parent ]
If the LongPen Saves Data by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:34:32 AM EST
Then the autographs could actually be worth more than most autographs as there would be proof of authenticity, something one rarely gets with other sigs (I personally know at least one gentleman who made several thousand dollars a month selling BS "signed books" over the Internet).

Autographs, like money, have value because people believe they do.

[ Parent ]
More hated than Ayn Rand? by Deka (4.00 / 1) #18 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:29:15 AM EST
Here? I doubt it.

[ Parent ]
I Don't Know by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #22 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:40:44 AM EST
Though many would get all pissy at the mention of her name, I suspect we've got more than a few closet Objectivists on the site.

Although, I suspect even the underground sympathizers are fans on philosophical/political grounds and would hesitate to defend the woman's literary merits.

[ Parent ]
Ayn Rand has a nice rack by debacle (2.00 / 0) #69 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:01:30 PM EST
And those shoulders...she could probably give piggy-back rides all day.

Fucking Atwood.


IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

[ Parent ]
Hated? by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:43:24 AM EST
That's way too strong a word. Hell, I've read three or four of her books...I don't do that with authors I hate. I do think she's overrated.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Sorry by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:51:36 AM EST
Meant to be a bit of humorous hyperbole.

I don't have any problem with your take on Atwood. I think we actually agree, for the most part. Neither of us think she's particularly great, but I suspect we've both read much worse.

You just have more specific views on her work's relationship to a particular genre. I'm not a fan of that genre, so I really don't have any opinion on that part of the whole deal.

[ Parent ]
One book in particular by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #29 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:53:44 AM EST
It was Oryx and Crake that particularly set me off.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
pantograph by tps12 (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:37:57 AM EST
Actually a device used in the field of trouser design.

[ Parent ]
WHAT design? by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:50:31 AM EST


---
Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline
[ Parent ]
I agree by debacle (2.00 / 0) #70 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 02:02:38 PM EST
Pants are designed by topologists who have no concept of real geometry.

IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

[ Parent ]
That damn Robin work. by Awakened Dreamer (4.00 / 3) #15 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:46:18 AM EST

I'm telling you, self awareness is coming. Slowly and mostly painfully, but it's coming. And the day she gains cognizance it's gonna be a scary thing to behold.

Also, on the weird-ass book signing. Targetting the sci-fi crowd with sci-fi ideas is precisely the way to go. Especially if it gains you sci-fi street-cred, AND gets you to stay away from smelly sci-fi fans. +1 Good Idea.

atwood by tps12 (2.00 / 0) #30 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 09:54:29 AM EST
Besides Handmaid, I've only read one novel of hers, The Robber Bride. Engrossing story dealing with how women are defined and define themselves in the world, and deal with the conflicting pressures of sisterhood and competition for male attention. Sort of interesting in that it builds to the kind of self-consciously improbable and absurdly dramatic climax that I've mostly seen in novels by men (really, those by a certain type of young, cocky men). Which may be just due to my own ignorance, as I don't read enough women, but there you go.

Sexist by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #34 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:26:52 AM EST
Then rectify that situation.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Atwood's work never hooked me. by calla (4.00 / 1) #57 Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 08:37:41 PM EST
Although, in the same genre, Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time was terrific.


That Does Sound Good by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #61 Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:18:49 AM EST
I'm hitting the library this weekend and I give it a look.

Thanks for the recommendation.

[ Parent ]
atwood by misslake (4.00 / 1) #71 Fri Mar 03, 2006 at 05:31:00 AM EST
never read any of her books.

i like her because just a couple weeks ago, there was some sort of huge literary ball in toronto. the star had pictures. here is the former governor general. here are some other stuffy famous people.
atwood went to the ball dressed in black and red spandex with a huge silk cape with the cover of oryx and crake printed on it. she was a super heroine.

neat-o

What Happened to the Real Me? | 71 comments (71 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback