Two Reflections on the Sharkes
From Megan and Jonathan.
What you like, and what is important are not the same things. What feels modern and what is progressive are not the same things. Groundbreaking art does not give us comfort; it feels uncomfortable until we get comfortable enough with it to adjust our mental schema–our worldview– to accommodate it. Good novels don’t conform to us, they change us and change with us, and when they do, they should win awards.
One of the reasons why I decided to take part in the project was that I believed – and still believe – that genre publishing is going through a period of aesthetic retrenchment. Look at the way that even established and award-winning authors are manacled to conventional forms and you’ll find an industry that is desperately trying to consolidate existing readerships while desperately trying to make inroads into the profitable but aesthetically conservative YA and YA-adjacent markets. As a result of this period of retrenchment, genre publishing is producing less aesthetically ambitious works than it was five, ten, or fifteen years ago.
This period of aesthetic retrenchment has coincided with a catastrophic collapse in the range of tolerated discourse with regards to genre literature. Ten years ago, genre culture was home to a thriving blogosphere that encouraged a broad range of attitudes towards science fiction literature. Since then, that blogosphere has largely collapsed and a fan-centric ethic of honest self-expression has been replaced with an industry-centric ethic of enforced positivity.
This was a good project. As interesting in its failures as despairing in other people’s reactions to it.