Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reverse Alchemy

Despite the ex cathedera tone of someone looking down from the heights of literature on the swampy plain of 'commercial fiction', Philip Reeve's diatribe against steampunk nails the abiding sin of all genres - too often the golden coin of originality is turned into a ton of commercial tin.

EDIT: Diatribe deleted on Reeve's site but still available here.


Blogger Gustaf Erikson said...

Hmm it looks as if it's been taken down? Maybe the clockwork zombies got him...

June 18, 2010 9:57 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Thanks for the heads up Gustaf - found an undead copy thanks to the magic of Google archive.

June 20, 2010 5:29 pm  
Blogger PeteY said...

I'm a bit curious why he deleted it. Does anyone know if he got some flak somewhere else on the net? I note his site doesn't seem to allow comments.

June 20, 2010 10:09 pm  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

Obplug: my response to Reeve.

June 21, 2010 9:04 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Pete - don't know why he deleted it and feel slightly scuzzy about resurrecting it. But only slightly.

Martin's post is very good; couldn't agree more about the dangers of devaluing a genre to a series of tropes without any kind of spinal philosophy. Surely some of the recent batch of steampunk authors have explored the implications of their cogs'n'shawls scenarios . . . haven't they?

June 23, 2010 8:21 pm  
Blogger Wm. Luke Everest said...

Seems like Reeve's rant has been removed from the googleverse, now--an impressive feat of itself.... Martin's comments are spot on. I'd add two points, if I may: 1) Let's not forget that Steampunk has been hugely influential in video games (Final Fantasy series) which is only the largest sector of the entertainment industry, which we bookish folk tend to forget. 2) To write well for a genre is often to ask why people are drawn to it in the first place. Steampunk harkens to a world of scientific wonder, when possibilities seemed endless--the world that compelled Verne and Wells--rather than limited by economic realities. To a generation drowning in IKEA and PC World rubbish, it reinvents the artisan. Who can't see the sociological relevance of that? Philip Reeve surely can, given how much steampunk he's written for children....

June 28, 2010 11:06 am  
Blogger Armitaj said...

Reeve's post seems to be available here (found after googling <"stink of steampunk" reeve> :

July 01, 2010 12:12 pm  

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