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Old October 27 2012, 10:42 PM   #69
stj
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Re: Is SF in a state of exhaustion?

^^^Well, I can't say anything about your editing. I might suggest that genres aren't defined by "tropes," which term is nearly as vagrant as "genre."

But at least your written work is good enough that "modern day pulp writer" is defensible. Consider the difference between your half of The 4400 wrapup tie-in. (Or possibly let commercial discretion be the better part of literary valor.) I don't know whether Eugenics Wars was truly worth doing but I enjoyed it. You captured the screen characters vividly, and resolved reality's obliteration of Trek canon with a clever secret history. As a Star Trek fan, that was pleasing to me.

But you didn't throw in a unicorn for Chekhov and a vampire after Spock's green blood. There wasn't a battle between the Enterprise and Laputa, and steampowered land leviathans didn't emerge from the subterranean empire of the Mole Men. Mashups like that could have been fun (but generally are not, a point eluded far too often), but as a writer you delivered on your implicit promise to write a Star Trek tie-in. Nor did you throw in a sly rewrite of La Nausee or Lord of the Flies, just to mix it up. Of course, nor was it enlivened by good speculation about real genetic engineering, easing something new at us in the guise of something old (which let's face it Star Trek is by now.) Still, as you say, "modern pulp writer."

You have professed to believe that making an implicit promise to address genre expectations (or something even stricter, as in Star Trek tie-in,) much less keeping the promise, is pointless, only done for commercial purposes. You have claimed that in fact that your work would have been better if it had instead ignored all those foolish expectations (violation would imply taking them seriously enough to subvert them,) being richer and more interesting if your work was instead from the common heart hitherto trapped beneath the rigid crust of genre forms.

What I know of what you've done contradicts what you say you approve. As I hope I've made plain, I think the SF=fantasy BS aims to create a cloud of ineffability over all the works of its proponents. But it's really squid ink to cover an indifference to whether the stuff's really thought through, genuinely written, i.e. whether it's really any good. The worst cases I fear sincerely have convinced themselves that "Does it make any sense?" is a loaded question betraying malice. They only seem to be concerned with whether the style is professional. No matter how much they kid themselves, that means commercial. Also, eclecticism is indifferent to whether things fit together. Inasmuch as there is far more to the world than patchwork quilts, eclecticism is indifferent to whether a work of art has integrity, i.e., indifferent to whether it's any good. Eclecticism in science, philosophy, politics is nearly universally a sign of slovenliness, not superiority. [i]That[/i kind of stuff seems to me to be hackwork.

Publishing houses tend to take the coloration of their chief editors and the turnover seems to be too rapid to be useful.
Unless of course you're immersed in a milieu where professionals, semiprofessionals and fans aiming to become professionals network each other. I strongly suspect the io9 discussion was both outdated and imperceptive, no matter how desperately trendy it tried to be. But I may be exaggerating my impressions of io9? I sympathize with the Tor problem with bookstores but booksellers who haven't read the books pretty much seem to be the number one choices for seeking out the hack mentality.

PS Crossed posts with Klaus. When Lin Carter left Ballantine, Ballantine didn't have any rep for publishing fantasy as far as I was concerned.
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