SCRUM #8 – CHAMPIONS OF WRONGNESS

So it happened: Leicester won the league because Spurs bottled it. There’s not much else to add. I will be interested in seeing the mood in the city centre when I wander out for lunch.

Of interest to me this morning is Martin Petto’s piece “Two Proposals For The Structure And Administration Of The Arthur C Clarke Award” which is in dialogue with Nina Allan’s recent post on the Clarke Award, “The Last Hurrah?”. The section of Nina’s essay I’d like to draw attention to and would be interested in reading Martin’s views is quoted below:

At least a part of the problem resides in the fact that there is no recognised online ‘hub’ for British SF. For a number of years (from 2009 when the submissions list first started to be released), the submissions list was announced via the BSFA/Vector blog, Torque Control, where lively, informed discussions of many critical and ideological aspects of SF took place under the dedicated, engaged stewardship of Niall Harrison. In 2009, the post announcing the Clarke submissions list generated 112 comments, mainly debating the eventual shortlist and offering guesses. The following year saw an almost equal number of comments and shortlist guesses, surely a sign that interest surrounding the award was in rude health.

These critical and ideological debates have the capacity to be infinitely less stupid than Puppyshit, and instead of endlessly replaying the American culture wars over and over in commercial adventure fiction and actually converse with the rest of humanity and its crises. But having a critical conversation which is based around a yearly award ceremony strikes me as both an exercise in the short term, but also as fixed on something too real, and actually too commercial.

The best forum conversation I ever read was on the archives of the New Weird threads from the old TTA forum. The sub-genre at the time of the discussion existed as a few novels and short stories, but was, mostly, an abstract idea about to bifurcate into the VanderMeer’s commercial vision and whatever else was left. That movement fizzled and elements of it absorbed by those less committed. But still, it was not a conversation based on a general shortlist drawn up by an award process, but by a specific argument being made by a community. This is what made it interesting.

However, that discussion might only have been possible then. As the times have changed I struggle to see how a space can now exist, as we live in a time where people cannot make their arguments without being shouted down by individuals who possess both entrenched opinions on everything and a financial incentive to be on the winning team. We need to have a space to be wrong and to thrash out the assumptions behind our collective stupidity.

Also there are some scrum notes for today.

Scrum notes:

  1. What did I do yesterday/last scrum to advance the project?
    • Yesterday I implemented two qualities in The Market Underground and integrated into the storylet that I’m working on at the moment. I gained new knowledge of the Inform 7 language and didn’t want to smash my head against a brick wall. This, dear reader, is progress
    • While in the pub yesterday I sketched out a second storylet. It uses some different mechanics to the first one and will leave something for the player which can affect a later storylet more directly than a quality of value
    • I started to expand the text for The Market Underground. It is also in serious need of a spell check
    • For most of the afternoon I read while the replicats interrogated by face with their noses. First I read two chapters of Theory of Prose (chapters two & three, the ones about deceleration and parallelism), which is always in equal parts a pleasure and a chore to read. After I reread some of Delany’s About Writing
  2. What am I going to do today?
    • Expand more text in The Market Underground and polish
    • Start to work on SILVER CHORD
  3. What are my blockers?
    • I imagine there is nothing of significance
    • Oh wait, the material above the scrum notes

NOW PLAYING: Jeff Mills Live @ BBC Radio One Essential Mix (07.06.1998)

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