Linkdump – One hundred percent Hugo and Clarke Award free

The hits on my Hugo reaction link round-up have gone through the roof thanks to links from John Scalzi, James Nicholls, Liz Bourke, Jay Lake, Radish Reviews, SF Signal and others. I’ll do another link round-up about the reactions to the Hugo and Clarke awards shortlist (which has also been announced and goes in the complete opposite direction) over the weekend. However, my offline life has been very busy these past two days (plus school started up again), so reactions to Hugo reactions and the Clarke awards will have to wait. Plus, I think I accidentally deleted a comment that landed in my spam filter, so my apologies for that.

But for now, here are some non-Hugo/non-Clarke links that have piled up:

Chuck Wendig, who has just been nominated for the Campbell award, has a great illustrated post about plot and story structure. He is a bit harsh on Freytag’s triangle (What is it with American SFF writers and Freytag hate lately?), though he’s right that the basic Freytag triangle is not the only way to structure a story. Besides, if you’ve ever read Freytag (I have – slogged my way through six volumes of Die Ahnen at university), you’ll see that not even Freytag himself always adhered to the triangle that bears his name.

At Editor’s Opinions, William H. Coles attempts to answer the question why contemporary literary fiction is so often so dull and fails to achieve excellence. At the creative writing classes I attended at university, this problem manifested itself in a glut of stories about doomed exchange student romances.

In the New York Review of Books, British writer Tim Parks recounts his experiences with an intrusive American editor intent on americanizing one of his books. Found via Craig Morris, an American journalist living in Germany, who also offers some observations of his own. I’ve pointed out before that I find the American obsession with non-issues like split infinitives, passive voice, adverbs, “telling”, etc… flat-out weird, especially since e.g. split infinitives are often regarded as grammatical mistakes, when it’s merely a style issue. I guess we have to thank my old friends Strunk and White for that. Meanwhile, American editors seem to be far more intrusive regarding rewriting to fit house styles or telling writers to change the content of their works than German editors. Indeed, I try to imagine some twentysomething editor trying to tell Martin Walser or Günther Grass or Peter Handtke how to write and predict a bloodbath at Suhrkamp that makes the current troubles look like a minor skirmish.

One of the editors of Carina Press, Harlequin’s “digital first”, has come up with a new romance subgenre called “contemporary crack”, which apparently encompasses all the stuff that was bad about the romance genre twenty to thirty years ago such as domineering alpha heroes, over-the-top plots, extreme melodrama, etc… Now I like Carina Press for publishing romances with niche appeal. For example, a lot of the better recent SF romance hybrids originated at Carina. I also like the fact that they publish a lot of same sex romances and don’t necessarily separate them from the regular heterosexual romances, e.g. when you click on “science fiction” on the Carina website, you get both gay and straight stories. However, I really could do without devoting an extra subgenre 1980s retro style romances (never mind that this style never went away – Harlequin has whole lines devoted to publishing this sort of thing) and I no more want to see “contemporary crack” than real crack of the drug variety.

For that matter, what’s this thing with referring to books and TV shows of the overly melodramatic variety as “crack”, “crackalicious” and similar terms. As neologisms go, I find “crackalicious”, “contemporary crack” and similar terms nearly as annoying and problematic as “drinking the Kool Aid” or anything involving “Youg Turks”. Besides, what’s wrong with “addictive”?

The German media has just discovered online witchhunts, “fails”, as they’re called in the online fan community, or “shitstorms” as such phenomena are called in German speaking countries, which shows that the German language mainstream media is several years behind the times, as usual. I also strongly doubt that Sascha Lobo coined the term “shitstorm”, since I recall having seen it used in English language texts, though not with the exact same meaning. There’s probably a linguistic paper in this somewhere. Meanwhile, 3sat also offers an image gallery with several prominent example. I must confess that I missed most of those uproars, except for the Anne Hathaway hate (which I just plain don’t get). That is, I’d heard that German actress Katja Riemann was at the centre of an online controversy about an interview, though my initial reaction was “Wait a minute, you mean someone actually watches DAS!?”

Finally, here’s the sad news and sadly, there’s rather a lot of it:

Scottish SF writer Iain Banks has been diagnosed with advanced gall bladder cancer. Here is an appreciation by fellow Scottish writer Val McDermid.

Legendary American film critic and blogger Roger Ebert dies aged 70 after a lengthy battle with cancer. I had never heard of Roger Ebert before getting on the internet, but I have enjoyed several posts at his blog in recent times.

Spanish dirctor, fimmaker and composer Jess Franco died aged 82. I have never been a fan of Mr Franco’s works, largely due to what he did to the Dr. Mabuse franchise (For more details, see the article I wrote about the German master villain Dr. Mabuse). However, you can’t help but admire his prolificness.

DC Comics artist Carmine Infantino, who drew Batman and The Flash among others, died aged 87. He was one of the main forces in ushering in the silver age of comics at DC.

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2 Responses to Linkdump – One hundred percent Hugo and Clarke Award free

  1. Estara says:

    When I saw the reference to Kirsten Ashley I knew what Angela was getting at – she’s the newest rage, after 50 Shades of Grey, I guess. Now Harlequin’s new line Kiss already seems to be of a similar idea – all alpha male all the time, but the girl better not be all doormat – but this might have even more agency for the heroine, which is still hard to come by in many romances.

    I shouldn’t complain, I’ve found some reliable contemporary authors for my tastes in the Harlequin Lines, too. Marion Lennox and Kelly Hunter, for example.
    There was a freebie on one of Ashley’s fantasy titles so at some point I’ll get around to checking her out.

    • Cora says:

      I first heard about Kirsten Ashley about a year ago. The blurbs and excerpts were enough to convince me that her work was so not my cup of tea, because I can’t stand arsehole alphas. AAR just did a feature about her on their blog which confirmed my impression that Ashley is not for me. Too bad, because a contemporary romance about bikers might actually be fun. However, contrary to stereotypes, bikers aren’t all regressive Neanderthals.

      I haven’t tried the Harlequin Kiss books yet, so the line is probably not for me, if it’s all alpha males. I had hoped that Kiss would be more along the lines of Mills & Boon Riva, which I enjoy quite a bit on occasion. Especially since domineering alphas are hardly rare at Harlequin, see Presents, Desire and many other Harlequin lines at least part of the time. Though I lately saw some poster at AAR complain that the Harlequin Presents heroines were way “too sophisticated and not as compelling”, i.e. not doormats, these days and that Kiss was flat out horrible with those nasty modern heroines. Sigh.

      That said, I enjoy quite a few contemporary Harlequin authors. Karen Templeton, Marion Lennox, Barbara Hannay, Karina Bliss, Sarah Mayberry and some authors from the Intrigue line.

      It seems to me in general that the romance pendulum is swinging into a direction that I don’t like at all, since many recent contemporaries seem like throwbacks straight to the bad old bodiceripper days. Even those college romances which are all the rage at the moment generally feature virginal doormats and guys who treat them like crap. Never mind that those college romances have zero connection to any university experience I ever had. No idea what the reasons behind the trend towards romances with uneven gender dynamics might be, though it is probably connected to the so-called “war on women” in the US. I’ve also heard people blaming the continuing economic problems in many countries, but then some people see the economy as the reason behind everything. Either that or the war on terror.

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