At school, I was able to squeeze in some creative writing today into one of my afternoon classes. The textbook requires us to discuss travel and adventure stories and the students were supposed to write an adventure story of their own. I used the opportunity to discuss the principle of “Show, don’t tell” and the use of details to make a story come to live, using the story from the textbook about a trainride across the Old West as an example. We ended up with the thrilling tale of a waitress in the first class restaurant aboard the Titanic who manages to get on a lifeboat just in time. Pretty damn good for seventh grade ESL students.
In other news, it’s apparently time for the annual genre versus literary fiction debate again.
The Washington Post offers this somewhat condescending article about the SFWA convention.
Rose Fox from Publisher Weekly‘s Genreville blog responds here.
The paragraph singled out by Rose Fox didn’t bother me so much, but otherwise I had plenty of issues with the article. To begin with, there were some factual errors. Rachel Swirsky is not a first time author, but has been publishing since 2007, as two minutes of googling would have revealed. And Mundane science fiction is not a new movement but has been around since 2002.
And then the photos: Could the Washington Post not come up with something better than Connie Willis, looking disturbingly like my 5th grade home economics teacher, talking to a hairy arm and a scary looking fellow in a Hawaii shirt (I’m sure he’s perfectly nice in real life, but the photo makes him look somewhat deranged) carrying a stack of books? I mean, honestly who took those photos, a dog with an automatic camera?
When the annual RWA convention took place in Washington D.C. in 2009, the Washington Post ran a similarly weird, semi-condescending article with strange photos. It’s no longer online, but a snippet is here. And guess who the author is? Monica Hesse, the same person who wrote the SFWA article. So perhaps she is the reporter assigned to covering conventions on subjects she knows next to nothing about.
Jeff Vandermeer responds to the recent Iain Banks article in The Guardian, wherein Banks complained about literary writers “slumming” in speculative fiction.
As Jeff Vandermeer points out, we’ve been having this conversation for forty years at least and it’s all starting to sound a bit samey by now.
And now for some other speculative fiction related links:
Dean Wesley Smith has a great idea for selling e-books at physical bookstores. I really like this idea, though I’m not nearly at that point yet. I also think such e-book gift cards might be useful for dealer’s tables at conventions or bookstalls at readings, etc…