Sunday, October 29, 2006

Down with skool!

Lucy Ellmann, in a review of Elfriede Jelinek’s Greed, starts testifying:

What is killing the novel is people’s growing dependence on feel-good fiction, fantasy and non-fiction. With this comes an inability or unwillingness to tolerate any irregularities of form, a prissy quibbling over capital letters, punctiliousness about punctuation. They act like we’re still at school! Real writing is not about rules. It’s about electrifying prose, it’s about play.

Amen, sister! Amen!

As in mainstream fiction, so in science fiction. Why have we allowed the commissars of correctness to stamp their boot on what should be one of the most vital, playful and imaginatively transgressive genres, turning it into a bland prose factory churning out product by the yard?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dislike her lumping "fantasy" fiction in with her screed. There's plenty of fantasy that isn't "feel good," that is written as well or better than so called mainstream fiction.
And you know that, Paul--since you've occasionally written it, in addition to your sf and future thrillers. ;-)
Ellen

October 29, 2006 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. For some reason, my post hasn't shown up...
Ellen

October 29, 2006 7:15 PM  
Blogger Martyn Taylor said...

Play? What makes you think anyone's got time to play? You don't think the Chinese play, do you? If you play we won't be able to afford to . . . insert inappropriate action of choice here.

The best thing to do with any commissar is to find a lamppost and a length of piano wire . . . you know what happens next.

October 30, 2006 2:05 PM  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Yup, there seems to be more cutting edge fun going on in fantasy than sf at the moment. But Ms Ellmann is a civilian y'know...

We're going to need a lot of lampposts.

October 30, 2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger Martin Wisse said...

"Why have we allowed the commissars of correctness to stamp their boot on what should be one of the most vital, playful and imaginatively transgressive genres, turning it into a bland prose factory churning out product by the yard?"

Have we?

Why this sudden despair about science fiction everywhere?

Oh I know: it's been twenty years since Neuromancer and we need a new movement. Where's the anti-cyberpunk, anti-Boing Boing movement?

November 01, 2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Martin - we don't get no respect (and our market share is falling, apparently). And some of us think that it isn't a good idea to strip out the untrammeled imgination that makes sf unique, or to dumb it down by making retreads of 1930s adventure stories the core of the market.

I think if we turn the heat up, something will start cooking.

November 01, 2006 6:37 PM  

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