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The Bodhisattva: Laconic Annotations

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Laconic Annotations

Or a link dump!

A Potential GW Supreme Court Nominee:




-Let me admit I am a comic book fan, and even more so I am an Alan Moore fan, who I think is a talented writer no matter that room he is in, and probably more talented than 85% of fiction novelists. While I thought it was cool that his monumental Watchmen series made Time Magazine's 100 Best English Language novels since 1923 a couple of months ago, I would also freely admit that its inclusion is more than questionable. That said, when I read something like this article* I view my Japanese passport with added fondness. This was replied to (I think equally ineffectual due to it's attempt to make it about the author instead of his comments, which was responded to by the original author here.

* note the longer version of that editorial is here.

ARG:



-I have been wondering where Sean Stewart was, as I really enjoyed his novels Perfect Circle, Mockingbird, and Galveston. Seems like he is just playing games.

Down Under Thunder:

-The 2005 Aurealis Awards shortlist is out.

Pray for no Sci-Fi Redux:

-Earthsea getting the anime treatment

Cheryl meets the Scarecrow:

-Couldn't have been serious.

-I saw this (via Emerald city) dual review of Ken Macleod's Learning the World, at Strange Horizons, featuring opinions by Niall Harrison and Dan Hartland. First I want to say that I thought the book was the best pure SF book I read all year (that was published in 2005), I was hooked from the first pages, however I agree with some of both of the commentaries, I just don't place the same value that Mr. Hartland places on a particular aspect:

"Learning The World is ultimately an old-fashioned pulp story with added emotional intelligence. In that sense, it’s an entertaining, nicely written update of something we might have read in a dog-eared Amazing anthology. I have no problem with this—it’s kind of fun. I enjoyed the book on this surface level—it’s an easy read, a bit of fluffy amusement. What Learning The World emphatically is not is a startling and original addition to the SF canon of first contact, or indeed any other on-going discussion within the genre."


I agree, I just don't see the relevance unless one only deems books worthwhile if they cause discussions within the genre (Venom Cock?), or base it completely on elements and not how those elements are conveyed. Now I am all for, innovation, creativity, 'cutting edge' as my own tastes I think reflect, however, in saying that I try not to completely fail in perceiving the positives of say a book like Jay Lake's Rocket Science.

Fantasybookspot.com expands:

-Duana gives us her thoughts on King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Not to be Outdone:



-Alan Moore's 'V for Vendetta' trailer.

Pissing in the Wind:



-I'm one of those people that cringe when I see comments like 'Peake is unreadable" or 'Mieville and Stephenson are pretentious', and I'm not going to lie, I usually think to myself they at least have bad taste, and sometimes prove themselves to be what I would call pretty easy to please regarding what they read, and often admittedly I wrongly but correctly question intelligence. Subjectivity and all, I just can't rationalize not enjoying a Jeffrey Ford, Jonathan Carroll, or Paul Auster work. Now, since my own sins are confessed, perhaps I'm being hypocritical when saying something about this author's remarks about a reviewer just doesn't rub well with me (not that anyone should care). It stems from a review of The 22nd edition of The Year's Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois at SFSignal, which is a SF/F news portal/link site. In the review, the reviewer points out that one story, 'Riding the White Bull' by Caitlin R. Kiernan, doesn't suit his tastes. This is the totality of what he stated about Ms. Kiernan's story:

"Like most stories, an interesting premise. Unlike most stories, the narrative kept jumping back and forth between multiple points in the story line, usually without warning. The result was to take what could have been a first-rate, hardboiled sf detective story and turn it into a hodgepodge of unorganized passages. Too bad, some of the passages contained really powerful images of bio-terrorism."


I have never read the story, but I have read some of the others in this anthology, and I disagree with some of the reviewers opinions and agree with others in various degrees, however, this has nothing to do with whether I agree or disagree with the evaluation. I have just been looking at Ms. Kiernan's response to the review, and I just can't bring myself to agree with the reaction which can be viewed here. Specifically:

"For my part, as the author, I know that "Riding the White Bull" is a good story (and I do not say this about everything I write). And, for what it's worth, the story has received heaps of praise and was chosen for Year's Best. But it still pisses me off when I see people who obviously cannot master anything beyond the simplest narratives being allowed to review books right out in public where anyone can stumble across this crap. There's nothing the least bit unusual or difficult about the narrative of "Riding the White Bull." This reviewer is clearly the sort of person Warner Bros. had in mind when it forced Ridley Scott to add that hokey, gawdawful, "explain it so even the morons can understand" voice-over to the original cut of Blade Runner. I most emphatically don't write for those people. It's a shame I can't also arrange it so that they can't read and comment on what I write. They certainly are not welcomed at the party."


What? I only know one thing about Ms. Kiernan, and that is I have enjoyed what fiction I have read of hers, that includes two novels, Silk and Threshold. I think she is a talented author, that's not to say I think of her on the level of horror as Mark Z. Danieleski, but I did appreciate her work to some extent. That said, I don't give a fuck how good an author someone thinks they are, nor do I care what anthology a story gets added to, nor do I give a shit if they are a Nobel laureate; there is something I find mildly distasteful about any author insinuating that anyone reading their work is too stupid to understand it (unless you're James Joyce, which nobody is) I say this having nothing but the greatest admiration for writers who do not write with accessibility at the forefront of their thinking, and I myself welcome any author's input or dialogue on my own reviews without hesitation, however, there is something utterly classless -- not about calling someone lesser -- but voicing some ridiculous, and ultimately self-serving and self-administered adulation for oneself, whether it's true, false, deserved or not. John (SFSignal) replied to it here. The comments feature some words I agree with; most notable from one of my favorite authors, John C. Wright:

"Having a writer step up and defend his own work is like having your mother come out of the stands and argue with the umpire after you are called out at home during Little League. Even if Mom is as right as Archangel Gabriel, it still looks bad."


That's from an author who I know keeps it real, because I remember early in FBS's interview phase, Wright was kind enough to be our guest and was very helpful in offering advice about handling an interview to yours truly who had no clue (and still doesn't). If someone is a quality author, it will show and other's will speak for them. I mirror Wright's comments when I think there is no format that such comments could be made that would reflect positively on the author. The notion that any reader is 'not welcome' is simply absurd. Now, such comments won't stop me from reading an author's work if I enjoy it, but I was a bit surprised -- not the response itself -- but the nature of it.

Simultaneous Bloggasm:

I'm not sure what the point is, but tons of interviews in a day at Bloggasm, Jeff Vandermeer, Christopher Rowe, Nick Mamatas, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Tim Pratt, Charles Stross, Doug Lain, Alan DeNiro Ben Peek, and Jay Lake among others.

The Real Answer to the Question:

A lot of discussion about the questions brought up by Benford and Rose, which has drawn responses and other questions from John Scalzi, and was put into proper perspective by Scott Lynch.

For myself, for some reason - and I may be gravely mistaken - I am some how not surprised that a new site, offering commentary by authors, kicks off with an entirely idiotic assertion that they know will catch notice. ultimately, while I enjoyed reading the dialogue caused by it (mostly for comedic value), it's somewhat baffling to me that so much can be made of what was essentially thought-lacking bullshit to begin with. It just seems we often mistake any instance of provocative statements as relevant, without taking in account whether or not it's worth talking about or something you just look at, laugh at, and walk away not thinking of it again (like a Paolini book). This was about hits/traffic/exposure, not content worth talking about, and I think Gabe Chouinard summarizes it aptly:

"Isn’t it a little alarmist (and more than a little absurd) equating fantasy edging SF out in popularity with a general decline of western civilization? I mean, I realize I’m one of those rare and bizarre readers that willingly and happily switches from fantasy to science fiction without causing any deep scars to my fragile reading psyche, but I think moaning over Rowling winning a Hugo sounds more like internecine sour grapes than anything meaningful.

Fantasy. Science fiction. Nurse novels. They’re all just words on paper, you know?"


Speaking of Gabe, he's active on his Live Journal now.

Another book I have to get *sigh*:

-It's bad enough Kelly Link was pimping it when I interviewed her last week, but now Cheney is interviewing Joe Hill and now I have to go buy his book.

Gates are Up:

-Tobias Buckell has his writer community running

Rangergirl walks the plank:



-Jeff VanderMeer interviews Tim Pratt

Japanese Favorite Word - Sale!

-Jason Erik Lundberg points out a sale at Tachyon.

Hmmm...:

-Book looking to fetch 5-7 million dollars at auction

Best Book Bonanza:

-Jonathan Strahan offers his favorite stories of 2005, and then added more, then finally added his favorite novels

Paula Guran from DarkEcho gives her top 10.

Vote for your 2005 favorites at SF Site.

Larry from Wotmania (don't hold that against him) has his list topped off by a book I just finished myself, which I thought was damn excellent, Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

Jay
The Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews and Interviews

Comments on "Laconic Annotations"

 

Anonymous Jay Lake said ... (10:41 AM) : 

"I try not to completely fail in perceiving the positives of say a book like Jay Lake's Rocket Science."

Thank you. I think.

 

Blogger Jay Tomio E. said ... (11:04 AM) : 

It's definitely intended as a compliment. 'Rocket Science' was a book that I think represents a well written entertaining story - and bit of a throw back in style to the wonder of old-school science fiction. I'm not way up in years, so I can't say it took me back to golden age memories, but instead the feeling I got was like watching the movie 'The Flight of the Navigator' when I was a younger. It was about wonder, and fun, and somehow, these elements have become negative tags.

It maintained the quality of writing associated with (sometimes falsely) the authors of 'edgier works', but doesn't use the elements, and I loved it. I just felt the story was one of the few SF works I have read recently that was just trying to tell story at a time when many authors seem just trying to be topical.

Now admittedly I'm one of the fans who support and admire works that are attempting to break new ground, however, I don't feel one has to place ultimate value in just that type of work and forge that there are damn good stories left to be told in even familiar backdrops. Being a fan and supporter of onw shouldn't inhibit being a fan of the other.

A well written story by a talented author is exactly that, and isn't lessened IMHO for not being the new flavor of the month.

 

Anonymous Jay Lake said ... (12:43 PM) : 

Well, thank you.

 

Blogger JP said ... (11:38 PM) : 

Re: Learning The World. I'm a huge fan of MacLeod's novels. I loved the Fall Revolutions books - they were among the novels, along with Adam Roberts' workd, that got me back into SF some 6 years ago. However, over time succesive novels have begun reiterating the same pattern - one nifty SF idea is posited, and then used to play out a scenario where a particular society faces a politival crisis, various splinter groups vie for power and ultimately some sort of ambiguous revolutionary victory is achieved. It seems as if he's fallen into a bit of a rut, and despite the fact that he packs each novel with scads of great throw-away ideas and in-jokes, I do think it may be time for him to gear up, because he's been producing consistently entertaining product for the past 3 or 4 novels, but it really is time he did produced another'a startling and original addition to the SF canon'.

To put it more succinctly, I think MacLeod is a little too much in a comfort zone and he needs to kick himself to the next level or stagnate. Just my opinion as a fan, but I hope you'll see where I'm coming from in this.

 

Blogger Jay Tomio said ... (12:55 AM) : 

JP - I haven't read all of Macleod's work, so I can't argue your critique regarding Macleod's career at this point; I'll take your word for it, it may be apt, however, my comment was regarding the evaluation of 'Learning the World' alone.

If never reading a Macleod work prior to and picking this book up, I don't see how it a can be knocked for not adding to some idea of a Sf canon.

 

Blogger JP said ... (3:42 AM) : 

I can see your point in the context of this book alone however - I look forward to seeing whether you agree with my complaint in the light of MacLeod's overall output once you're caught up with all of it.

 

Blogger Seo said ... (8:57 AM) : 

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