Damien Walter opens up a debate in the Guardian concerning military SF:
Military SF, for all its flaws, points at the gaping divide growing wider each day in western culture. On the one side, it seems, are the Guardian reading liberals, for whom war is good for nothing, and nothing more than a failure of understanding and communication between peoples. On the other are military SF loving conservatives, who believe that the enemy is out there, is evil, and can be defeated by heroes carrying very big, very expensive weapons. One of us is living a fiction.
I’m sure there’s something interesting to be said about all the military blood-pr0n that seems to saturate many epic fantasy novels, too, but that’s not something I’ve thought a lot about. Some do it well, some do it badly, and I believe there are probably all the same neo-con and liberal tendencies in fantasy fiction, too.
Adam Roberts, never one to shy away from poking a pointy stick at the Hugos, has a very interesting reflection on one of the primary issues with some awards:
The problem is its unlikeliness, in terms of statistical probability. Think objectively and ask ourselves: what are the odds that the greatest literary, critical, and visual artists of our generation also just happen to be a bunch of our friends? Of course, it’s possible; but how probable is it? Naturally, and on the other hand: think how flattering it would be to our self-esteem if we happened to be friends with all the greatest literary, critical, and visual artists of our generation! Wouldn’t that be cool? Or should I say, isn’t that cool? Excellent!
The cliquey nature of conventions and the genre is nothing new to those of us who have attended them, as readers, editors or writers; here the wider implications of such a tight-knit community are laid bare by Roberts and will most probably kick off a storm. Stay tuned to those comments.
In industry-wide news, a Russian billionaire is in the line to buy Waterstone’s, the UK’s biggest book chain, which is a headline that somehow promise to make book signings so much more controversial and exciting, if it wasn’t for the worrying state of the high street.
As someone who would be considered part of that fairly liberal/anti-war contingent, I surprisingly read a very significant chunk of space opera and by extent, a lot of science fiction with an active military presence. I think that, for me, is what makes it something I am still interested in reading (because I also skim/completely ignore most action scenes. Yeah…), the involvement of military action & fighting but it is not the gun toting, mowing aliens down variety.
(For what it is worth, re: awards, my reaction to nominees that I’ve read tends to either be muted excitement (because really, they *had* to be nominated), or “seriously? that deserves an award?”. Though, somewhat anomalously I do feel one novel has been egregiously omitted this year and I am quite interested to know why.)
Hi Megs, thanks for stopping by. And glad to see you’re on the liberal side of the fence. 🙂
Which novel do you think has been omitted? Is there a scandal to be found?!
I whittled the pointy stick myself, you know.
I haven’t read any military sf per se, but I think I can see the appeal. Aliens are cool. Big guns are cool. Aliens being blown to bits by big guns are cool squared. Maybe that’s just the teenage boy in me talking.
Russian billionaire to buy Waterstones? Will authors be tempted to other labels for huge transfer fees? Grr – I don’t know enough about football to make a proper joke. But as an outsider ownership of football clubs (or other organisations) hasn’t exactly been a huge success has it?
No, but I can’t see it taking quite the razzmatazz route that football has, to be honest! I think this is just an investment – it’ll be interesting, and important to break it away from the HMV mentality, too.