Monthly Archives: May 2013

We Need to Talk About Twitter

Yesterday, when talking about the New Weird with Jared of Pornokitsch and Jon Courtney Grimwood on Twitter, I shared some word documents containing the early forum discussions involving many of its key participants. [1] Not only do these documents have historical and critical value, but I’d like to think that those forum posts encouraged and inspired those involved to do cool shit. Now everyone uses Twitter or their own websites to publish opinions and because of this something seems lost in the jigsaw of tweets, posts and comments. Twitter is too limited for complex conversation, although it can prompt them. However, individual websites are too distant from each other to enable an overview of the conversation to be easily acquired.

An example. The recent discussion about the exhaustion exhibited in contemporary works of science fiction prompted by Paul Kincaid’s review The Widening Gyre elicited tens of thousands of words on blog posts, hundreds of comments, immeasurable tweets, and several hours of podcasts.[2] None of this was bad, but a lot of energy was wasted repeating definitions and assumptions without moving forward, which has affected how the discussion has been received. And by being a scattered collage of essays, reviews and interviews the cycle of call & response that exists between writers & critics is weakened. As such, I doubt many writers of fiction see Paul Kincaid’s and Jonathan McCalmont’s position as challenges to be met and overcome. The disparate conversations make it easier for the substance of what is being said to be ignored or forgotten.

What I’d like to negate these problems is a progressive & intelligent forum or mailing list dedicated to talking about difficult & interesting things involved in the production and consumption of fiction. A place that allows for of conversations, like those New Weird threads, to exist again.

Am I alone in thinking that this is a good idea?

[1] The word documents were archived by Kathryn Cramer and can be found here.

[2] Paul Kincaid’s own further thoughts are here & here. Jonathan McCalmont’s essay on the subject is here. The two podcasts that I can think of are both episodes of the Coode Street Podcast that can be found here & here.

 

 

On the Structural Analysis of Science Fiction

ABSTRACT

If SF is something more than fairy tale fiction, it has the right to neglect the fairy tale world and its rules. It is also not realism and has the right to neglect the methods of realistic description. Its generic indefiniteness facilitates its existence, for it is supposedly not subject to the whole range of criteria by which literary works normally are judged. SF is not allegorical, but then it says allegory is not its task: SF and Kafka are quite different. It is not realistic, but then it is not a part of realistic literature. The future? How often have SF authors disclaimed any intention of making predictions! Finally, it is the Myth of the 21st Century. But the ontological character of myth is anti-empirical, and though a technological civilization may have its myths, it cannot itself embody a myth, for myth is an interpretation, an explication, and you must have the object that is to be explicated. SF lives in but strives to emerge from this antinomical state of being. It becomes more and more apparent that its narrative structures deviate more and more from any real processes, having been used again and again since they were first introduced and having thus become frozen, fossilized paradigms. SF involves the art of putting hypothetical premises into the very complicated stream of socio-psychological occurrences. Although this art once had its master in H.G. Wells, it has been forgotten and is now lost. But it can be learned again.

On the Structural Analysis of Science Fiction, Stanislaw Lem

Blue

Blue in thorns
The parking situation for the day job is terrible. If you have a permit then you are one of the fortunate few. If like me you don’t, then you have to find your own. Where I attempt to park when working late shifts is an empty overgrown lot five minutes walk away. It isn’t ideal, but as it is the season for small flowers there are sometimes pleasant sights to start what is normally going to be a terrible day.