The Other Links

Posted in SF Links. Tags: , , . 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “The Other Links”

  1. Evan Says:

    A suggestion for a longer discussion, regarding the short story club: Elizabeth Bear, race and mythology.

    Three stories, then a storyless week for broader discussion of themes running through all of the stories.

    The stories I had in mind are:
    http://www.elizabethbear.com/sonny.html
    http://www.elizabethbear.com/shoggoths.html
    http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=story&id=58444

    I’m not aware of any other stories that have quite this treatment, mixing an examination US conceptions of race explicitly with elements of fantasy. I think that it’d be interesting to see what the community here (especially since it’s largely non-US) have to say about them.

  2. Niall Says:

    Interesting idea. We had a bit of a discussion of “Shoggoths in Bloom” earlier this year, when it was a Hugo nominee, but it could be worth revisiting in more depth. What do others think?

  3. Joseph Says:

    Hooray, there is going to be a second series of the Survivors remake after all

    IIRC, a second series was confirmed very shortly after the first was transmitted. Perhaps getting the thing actually written and shot took longer than anticipated?

  4. Niall Says:

    I thought I had heard that it was put on hold when the swine flu thing took off, but I can’t remember where from, so it could just have been rumour.

  5. Matt Hilliard Says:

    I really enjoyed the short story club. As far as nominees, classics, etc., I think the only requirement is that the stories be available online. That may be difficult to arrange for classics but if it’s possible then great.

    While I guess I knew it already, the short story discussions really showed how two different people can read the same text yet read almost completely different stories. That’s got to be a little dispiriting for writers, and even reviewers. I used to think writing was about communication, yet it seems like the best stories are the ones with the most wildly divergent interpretations.

  6. Karen Burnham Says:

    While I guess I knew it already, the short story discussions really showed how two different people can read the same text yet read almost completely different stories. That’s got to be a little dispiriting for writers, and even reviewers.

    I agree, that was particularly fascinating. Thanks again for running the discussions, Niall!

    For the next round classics would be interesting, but I did appreciate having pointers to some of the current short fiction. That way I don’t feel *quite* so clueless when it comes to award-nominating time.

  7. Niall Says:

    If we do do new fiction again (which I admit is my inclination), I think it would be helpful to have people nominate stories they’ve read and know they like. This could be done via email, so that nobody ends up feeling on the spot when everyone else demolishes the story they selected!

  8. Matt Denault Says:

    Thanks, Niall, for hosting and organizing the short fiction discussions. I still need to go back and read, and perhaps comment on, the last two — I’ve been crushed for time recently.

    I am game for continuing in the future, though, be it old stories or new, stories in isolation or groups of thematically-linked tales. To suggest an idea that might combine all of these: one of the things that intrigued me in the discussions was how often the better-read folks would make comments like “it’s been done better before” or “doesn’t really add anything to story X by author Y from 50 years ago.” If it could be arranged, it might be interesting to have some back and forth in future readings — to read a classic story one week, and then a new story that deals with some of the same themes or ideas the next week. That would be useful from an educational point of view to folks like me who aren’t as well read in the classics, would provide a common baseline for discussing the newer stories, and would give us more points of reference to talk about themes and ideas — as well as for discussing notions of the importance of progress within genre and genre-as-dialog.

    While I guess I knew it already, the short story discussions really showed how two different people can read the same text yet read almost completely different stories. That’s got to be a little dispiriting for writers, and even reviewers. I used to think writing was about communication, yet it seems like the best stories are the ones with the most wildly divergent interpretations.

    It’s a question of what is communicated. While I don’t think opacity equals quality, I do think good stories will tend towards acknowledging complexity rather than simplifying things down to permit only one interpretation. Also, I think that good stories are often statements of personal psyche by authors, that show how seemingly different ideas, themes, etc. are in their mind linked. A major task of the fiction author is to see what fits into a story; a major task of the reviewer is to tease out these different strands and comment on their interplay.

  9. Nick Says:

    I’d heard the ‘swine flu’ excuse for why the BBC delayed a second series of Survivors. Initially I thought that was a stupid reason and couldn’t possibly be true, but upon consideration it does indeed sound like exactly the sort of thing the BBC would do.

    Still, whenever they decide enough time has passed and they can go ahead with it, I’ll be looking forward to watching it.

  10. Athena Andreadis Says:

    Matt, comparing a classic story to a contemporary one is a great idea. Among other things, it may prevent the trait of re-inventing wheels (and other parts).

    I agree with you that opacity denotes neither quality nor sophistication. If I ever wanted to read such an opus, I would delve into deconstructionist literary texts. If speculative fiction veers too much in that direction, it will die indeed and its death will have nothing to do with fighting over subgenre divisions.

  11. Karen Burnham Says:

    While I guess I knew it already, the short story discussions really showed how two different people can read the same text yet read almost completely different stories. That’s got to be a little dispiriting for writers, and even reviewers.

    I was talking with Curtis about this, and realized that the ambiguity may simply be a function of the art. For instance, if a non-fiction article were so poorly written that some readers came away thinking that bats are day-time creatures and other readers come away thinking that they’re nocturnal, then that’s a serious problem. For a non-fiction piece, there is some particular fact or opinion that the author is trying to communicate unambiguously to the reader.

    But art, whether painting, sculpture, poetry or prose, doesn’t have that mission. Its message is usually much more vague/universal/personal (if you see what I mean), and it is in a bit more dialog with the reader. The reader brings more of their own perspective to the conversation, so that probably no two people will ever really read the same story (or see the same sculpture). I doubt that this would be controversial at all if we were talking about paintings, especially when you get into the impressionists and more modern art.

    In a generally plot-oriented genre like ours, it does feel a bit strange when two readers don’t agree about some of the ‘facts’ of the story (e.g. protagonist gender, or the actions of the characters), but I don’t think that is inherently a *bad thing* the way it would be with an informative article or essay. (Although it’s also not inherently a *good thing* either; it would depend on the skill with which it is deployed.) Certainly that sort of writing gives us more to think on and chew over.

  12. Matt Hilliard Says:

    When I said authors must find it depressing, what I had in mind was similar to what Matt Denault said: “Also, I think that good stories are often statements of personal psyche by authors…” Given that an author puts some piece of their soul into their work, it seems almost a shame that what the reader sees is often their own soul, instead.

    And while we’d like to imagine the joint author/reader project results in a wonderful exploration of meaning through art, it just as often seems to go wrong. While I didn’t have it in mind when I wrote my original comment, I think it’s helpful to point out that in the very first story discussion Daniel Abraham showed up and offered his own testimony on how the different readings made him feel: “After the litany of people for whom this didn’t work, I’m feeling a little humbled and defensive…” To that he later added “surprised and uncomfortable” as well. He thought he was having a dialog with his readers and was dismayed to discover that, in many cases, what he was having was an argument.

  13. Nick Hubble Says:

    With Survivors, didn’t italian tv discontinue the first series recently – but I don’t know if that was flu or it just didn’t do well. I’m also looking forward to series 2 and also the BBC have this new 2 part Day of the Triffids coming at some point too. Only needs Sky to deliver on the B7 front now …

  14. Ziv W Says:

    SCI-FI’s archive is still preserved: http://web.archive.org/web/20061009115855/www.scifi.com/scifiction/archive.html
    That’s a pretty strong base of classic stories we could work from…


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