There is another “death of science fiction” debate – this time in Germany. I stumbled upon it while looking for Gauck links of all things.
At the tech news site Telepolis, German science fiction writer Michael Szameit laments the impending death of serious science fiction and blames crappy TV shows and media science fiction as well as Perry Rhodan e-books flooding Amazon’s SF bestseller lists. I must confess I was a bit baffled by his list of crappy TV shows. Not that the shows he lists aren’t crappy, most of them are. But a whole lot of them are older and not currently being broadcast either in Germany or the US, unless it’s some niche pay-TV cable channel. He also seems to harbour under the misapprehension that True Blood is science fiction. Interestingly, Szameit mainly cites East European authors (as well as Cordwainer Smith and Jules Verne) as examples for “good SF”, which is explained by the fact that Szameit started his SF writing career in East Germany.
Another German science fiction writer, Myra Çakan, counters Szameit’s points by stating that if Szameit complains about Perry Rhodan, he apparently has forgotten the pulp origins of the SF genre. And complaining about crappy SF TV shows ignores the fact that there are plenty of very good SF shows as well. Finally, Myra Çakan blames the publishing industry for the decline of the wide variety of science fiction, because backlist books are no longer kept in print. What is interesting is that neither Szameit nor Çakan view indie publishing as a viable alternative.
AlterNet has an interesting article about the sanitized portrayal of master-servant relationships (even typing that feels icky) in Downton Abbey and The Help and what the popularity and critical acclaim of both say about contemporary US culture. I’ve stated my issues with Downton Abbey several times before. As for The Help, even the summary sounds incredibly problematic.
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books discovers Longarm, a spicy western series with truly bizarre covers. I have never seen any of those books before to my knowledge – though I once took a wrong turn in an American mega bookstore (either Borders or Barnes and Noble – they both looked pretty much the same) and came upon a whole shelf of series westerns like this one. Coincidentally, Longarm reminds me of the German western Romanheft series Lassiter, which seems to follow much the same formula, namely a western whose virile hero has plenty of sexual adventures with plenty of women. Lassiter has better covers, though.