Sunday, July 26, 2009

Best What Now?

We're poor, poor, poor, these days.

So when we get to a bookstore, which we hardly ever do these days, I am eagerly anticipating, hungry to buy a book -- even two books if I can manage it.  I want a book!

So there I am in the new SF section, hoping against hope that, finally, Jesus, please, let there be a book I want to read, because I love science fiction, I have loved it since I found a copy of Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel on the library shelf when I was eleven years old.

But no.  It's more of the same crap.  Ever since 9/11, all we get are the Armchair commandos, spinning their xenophobic warhammer fap fap fap....and the same dozen of them, may I add?  I wouldn't mind them getting published, since obviously there is a market.  Obviously plenty of adolescent-minded fellas out there eat this sort of fiction up.  They must, it keeps getting published.

But can't we have something else? Just now and then?

I pick up the Best S&FF for 2008.  Same old writers, mostly male, with the stock two or three women as always -- because no new writers exist, I guess.

Check out the Hugo list: usual suspects, usual (mainly) white males.  (Here's an essay on the topic, worth reading.)

It's not, btw, that other writers, writing other things, writing good stories, don't exist, or aren't getting published, even -- as some argue.  It's that the big publishing houses and mainstream magazines and awards, who have a lock on the mainstream market, are controlled by this coterie, and right now that's all they're publishing, this one sort of fiction.

Small presses might save us -- Perfect Circle, for instance, one of the best books I've ever read, published by Small Beer Press, and Kage Baker's first novel had to be published overseas, though now she's been picked up by Tor.

Too much to hope that the SF world would actually start thinking, I suppose: look around and learn and publish for a wider audience?

(I did not, in the end, buy anything from the SF section.  I came home and bought Verb Noire's first publication instead.)


Tree of Knowledge said...

Do you read Kelly Link? She's not sci-fi, but I think you'd like her. And she has a YA collection of stories too (a lot of her "adult" fiction is easily YA).

I had the same thought on my last trip to B&N. I'm so sick of reading novels that focus on terrorists and politics. Just because it's elves doing the terrorism doesn't make it different from everything else on the shelf.

Tree of Knowledge said...

Oh wait, if you're reading from Small Beer then you know Link.

delagar said...

Yes, I love Kelly Link!

Julianna said...

Check out the Sookie Stackhouse novels. If this level of writing can make someone rich, then you can do it too. Then sigh over the humiliation of having sold out during your first class flight to Paris, where you complete your real next novel.