Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How do you feel about SF?

From: Luke

I have got Slow River, which hopefully I shall read some time in the near future. Ammonite has crossed my SF book searching in Waterstones. Hopefully, I'll get to read it at some point. 

How do you feel now about your ventures into SF, particularly those 2 novels? 
Ammonite is now 21 years old. In sfnal terms that's ancient. But when I reread it a couple of years ago in preparation for the Gollancz Masterworks Series republication in the UK I found it still supple. That's the beauty of writing about a distant planet in the far-off future: there are no vacuum-tubes or wired telephones or short-skirted 60s uniforms to stick out like cacti on the Yorkshire moors. I remember trying very hard not to be too specific about technology and although I think I failed in one or two places in general I think I succeeded. The women-only world thought-experiment--seeing women playing all the roles, being fully human in, of, and by themselves--is, sadly, still relevant today. And of course I think the story, the internal change and growth of the central character, works. I am proud of that book.

I haven't read Slow River for... Well, actually I'm not sure how long it's been but I doubt it was this century. But I'm immensely proud of that one, too. I learnt so much from it, about myself and about writerly technique. And I feel for the characters, still. Given that I haven't read it for a while, I can't really comment on how it holds up in sfnal terms. But as far as I know the concepts--of bioremediation, personal handheld communication technology, the elite maintaining an IP stranglehold over industry--still apply. And the seamier side of human nature hasn't changed.

Bending the Landscape, the three anthologies I co-edited with Stephen Pagel, is a slightly different case. The goal of the series as a whole, which seemed so new then, isn't any longer. What Stephe and I did in the late nineties--getting non-genre writers to dip their toe in the great surging creative pool that is non-realistic fiction; persuading straight writers to write queer characters; soliciting trans writers (though I admit to some serious clumsiness on that front and perhaps one day will write a whole other blog post on what I learnt from the experience)--now happens without much fuss almost every day. This makes me nothing but happy.

My short fiction--I don't write much--continues to fall naturally in the spectrum that could easily be published as f/sf today. I have a story, "Cold Wind," coming out from Tor.com in April.

Long-time readers of this blog know, of course, that I've been threatening for years to publish a collection. I think I might finally have enough stories...

Edited to add: and I just heard Hild is a Tiptree Honor book.



  1. My e-book reader tells me I’m 29% of the way through Ammonite and I’m about to start chapter four of the Hild audiobook (I’d read the paper editions but being visually impairment means I have to look for alternative reading methods) and although they’re both books from different genres I’m finding the experience of learning about male-dominated historical Britain just as alien and thought provoking as the futuristic (but also back-to-basics) female-dominated world of Jeep. Both books are set a great distance away from the world I live in – either through space, time or gender politics – but appeal in surprisingly similar ways. It’s this otherworldly immersion that I find so compelling.

  2. Thank you for responding to my question. Very interesting read. It's good that you are proud of those novels and your ventures into that genre :)

  3. Big internal shriek of pleasure about the Tiptree honour list. That's some interesting company you're keeping.