As already reported, we’re having our annual speculative versus literary fiction discussion, courtesy of The New Yorker, which has designated its current issue “the science fiction issue”. According to the table of contents, “science fiction issue” means a mix of the usual political, financial and arts reporting (there are articles about Syria and the financial crisis in Greece as well as a review of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and an obituary of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau) and a couple of science fiction related essays by the likes of Ursula K. LeGuin, Colson Whitehead, Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, Ray Bradbury and William Gibson. The fiction, including Jennifer Egan’s Twitter story “Black Box” appears to be literary speculative fiction.
All in all, it seems to be a pretty good mix, though it means that I will have to go down to the airport (the airport bookstore is the only place that carries The New Yorker) this weekend to pick up the issue and likely pay two to three times the cover price.
Of course, the fact that The New Yorker devotes a whole issue to science fiction has not gone unremarked in the usual genre outlets. Michael Ann Dobbs at iO9 is quite impressed by the selection, Ryan Britt at Tor.com less so, because the fiction or rather its authors are not science fictional enough for his tastes. Which left me scratching my head, because Jonathan Lethem, Junot Diaz and Jennifer Egan all write speculative fiction with literary appeal. Lethem’s Gun with Occasional Music was originally published by an SF imprint as far as I recall and was a Nebula nominee. Sam Lipsyte is the only one who doesn’t quite fit here, at least based on what I know about his previous work.
Doctor Who fans may remember that the otherwise unremarkable 2006 episode Fear Her had the Doctor pick up the Olympic torch and light the Olympic fire after stranded aliens had made the torchbearer and the entire stadium audience at the opening ceremony vanish, an act which promptly persuaded the aliens to go home, allegedly because there was so much joy in the air, though personally I suspect that the aliens realized that a summer which has both Olympic Games and a European Football Cup means wall to wall sports coverage everywhere, so they decided to invade a more promising planet. Still, whenever there are speculations about who will get to light the Olympic fire, I usually think, “Come on, I’ve seen Fear Her. I know already know who it’s going to be.”
Nonetheless, I never expected that the Olympic committee would really get the Doctor to light the Olympic fire. If only because that would be incredibly cool and the Olympics are not cool by definition. However, they are still cooler than I thought, for even though the Doctor does not get to light the fire (as far as we know), Matt Smith a.k.a. the Eleventh Doctor got to carry the Olympic torch through Cardiff Bay. Which must be the first time that the bloody 2012 Olympics have managed to make me smile.
The Claremont Institute, a rightwing thinktank, has a surprisingly nuanced article about George R.R. Martin and A Song of Ice and Fire. Nuanced, considering it comes from a writer whose other credits include “The persecution of Sarah Palin”.
Finally, I have a post about the German fixed book price agreement up at Pegasus Pulp.