A local author done good, a plagiarist speaks out, Scalzi on literary snobs and the problems with classic and modern SF

The local newspaper Weser Kurier profiles Bremen writer Corinna Gerhards whose children’s book Mondläufer debuts today. I met Corinna in the creative writing workshop at Bremen university. I couldn’t find an Amazon link for Mondläufer, so here is the publisher’s page.

More on the Q.R. Markham/Quentin Rowan plagiarism scandal: Now Quentin Rowan himself speaks out on the addiction recovery site The Fix and tries to pass off his drive to plagiarize pretty much everything he ever wrote as an addiction. If such an addiction truly exists, then Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg – who is currently attempting a clumsy comeback facilitated by the same media idiots who pushed him into prominence the first time around – surely suffers from the condition.

John Scalzi doesn’t by Rowan’s addiction story, though.

Scalzi really seems to be on a roll, because he also has a neat post about snobbery and how it can make a person look like a childish arsehole. He doesn’t name names, but I strongly suspect that this post is a response to the Damien Walter post complaining about all the crap books being published and all the people with bad taste who read them that I linked to yesterday.

At I should be writing, Mur Lafferty explains her problem with many science fiction and fantasy classics. I don’t normally have a problem with dated writing and also filmmaking styles, though e.g. I can’t read more than two stories that originally appeared in Weird Tales in a row, because the style is hard to digest. Dated science doesn’t bother me either, unless it was already a crass stupidity at the time the books was written. And though I know that human society and history do not work as described in Asimov’s Foundation series and believe that it frankly would be creepy, if it did – I still have very fond memories of the books. Indeed, when I find myself having to look up something in my twenty-plus-years-old editions of Asimov’s Foundation and robot stories, I usually end up rereading bits and still enjoying them, even though the flaws are a lot more glaring than they used to be.

Dated and downright problematic attitudes do bother me, though, e.g. I could only get with gritted teeth through the moneylender chapter in Georgette Heyer’s otherwise enjoyable The Grand Sophy and the rape scene in The Stars My Destination pretty much destroyed my enjoyment in a novel I had liked up to that point. James Bond regularly makes me cringe – the films usually more so than the books. Sometimes, it gets so bad that I have to give up on a book I had been wanting to read for years. The Scarlet Pimpernel was such a case. I still the premise is great, but the actual book is awful, dripping with elitism, classism, misogynism, gross prejudice against the French (I’m partly French and therefore quite sensitive to that sort of thing). When Baroness Orczy decided to inject some anti-semitism into what was already an unholy mess, the book met quite literally the wall.

Nonetheless, I rarely find myself enjoying contemporary science fiction as much as I used to enjoy some of “the classics”, when I read them in my teens, before the flaws became too big to ignore. Because even though those books may be deeply flawed, often clumsily written and often riddled with every -ism under the sun, they also were a lot of fun. Every now and then I pick up a newer SF novel trying to recapture the sheer sense of fun, hopefully without the cringeworthy bits. Unless I have a new Lois McMaster Bujold or Sharon Lee/Steve Miller or perhaps Linnea Sinclair novel in my hand, I rarely find it.

I’m not the only person to have this problem, because it’s a fact that modern SF is manoeuvering itself into an ever narrower niche. Indeed, this Locus roundtable asks whether science fiction has become too inaccessible.

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3 Responses to A local author done good, a plagiarist speaks out, Scalzi on literary snobs and the problems with classic and modern SF

  1. Estara says:

    SF sense of fun – I did recommend the Chronicles of Nuala by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel to you? I know Sartorias also recommends Debra Doyle’s and Jim McDonald’s Mageworlds…. and I’m rereading some Anne McCaffrey again ^^ – for some reason those have aged better for me – except for the Pern novels, maybe.

    • Cora says:

      I missed The Chronicles of Nuala when they first came out, though it was around the time I started reading English language SF and I strongly suspect they would have been right down my alley. But I think they’re available again as e-books via the Book View Café.

      When I did my MA, I had to look up an Anne McCaffrey story and ended up rereading the book. I was surprised how much I still enjoyed those early stories. I agree that Pern hasn’t aged well – or maybe I have aged out of Pern. But some of her others such as The Talented series or Crystal Singer have.

      • Estara says:

        Indeed ^^ – and I find that one of her earliest – Restoree – still works for me, heh.

        I only came across Nuala via the re-release and really enjoyed them – I had discovered Kimbriel via Kindred Rites, the second Allie alternate historical fantasy book. She’s writing a third one now, from what she says.

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