Some recent writing and creative news from these shores.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/04/19 08:00
I've been having both a very busy personal schedule and some technical problems with both my PC and my site, hence no posts for a few days. Things are sort of running again — not quite the way I want them, but we're at least functional. Here's what's new.
My current book bears no relation to its earlier incarnations save for its title.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/04/12 08:00
The Fall Of The Hammer has been in the works for — let's do some fast mental math — about twenty-five years now. Give or take. This breaks one of my little rules, which is "Don't keep a project alive that is from a time when you were essentially a different person." But what it was way back when has essentially nothing to do with what it is now, and not only does that allow an end run around the rule, it's ultimately for the best.
On constraints as creative impetuses, and the fallacies that arise therein.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/04/06 10:00
A while back when reading the new translation of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic, I made mental notes about the way the Brothers Strugatsky had the whole apparatus of Soviet censorship to push against when trying to get their work done. They avoided some of the worst axe blades falling on their necks, in big part because science fiction was considered far less potentially subversive than other kinds of writing, but they still had their work nitpicked to pieces in some of the most inexplicable ways. (The new translations of their work undo the damage, and include some entrancing discussion of what was cut and why.)
"Fish s**t or coffee, sir?"By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/04/06 08:00
This is what I dreamed last night. (Warning, mildly un-worksafe.)
You miss out on less than you think.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/04/04 17:00
This most likely sounds like get-off-my-lawn-ism, but bear with me, as I try to distract all of you temporarily from the flames leaping from our collective rooftops.
Reading Kenneth Rexroth, by way of his critical works, reminded me why I don't tend to pick something up just because it has an award or critical acclaim to its name. It's because such things have almost nothing to do with a work's actual quality, and everything to do with the social circles the work has traveled in.
AO3's Hugo: a sign of progress.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/04/02 18:00
I don't follow SF industry scuttlebutt too closely, but even I've heard about how An Archive Of Our Own has been nominated for a Hugo Award. And on the whole, I think it's a great thing.
I'm not normally a fan of the idea that if something pisses off the "right people", it's a good thing, if only because that smacks of the sort of revanchism we've all had too many doses of lately. But I do think about how the old-school old-guard SF fans might well be reacting to this, and I suspect their reactions are going to be annoyance to apoplexy. That tells me such people are more interested in gatekeeping and freezing SF&F as some Eternal Untouchable Thing than they are in seeing it as a product of the very people who keep it going — in other words, alive and evolving.
"We choose virality instead of quality, and equate it to quality because of its resonance."By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/04/01 08:00
We choose virality instead [of quality and real diversity] — repackaged, reshaped, shareable versions of what has come before — and equate it to quality because of its resonance. Which is itself resonant because the irony of the web is that even though everyone can have a voice, the ones that we project are projected over and over and over again. This isn’t quality, or real diversity; it’s familiarity. We model ourselves on fandom, where there is no sense of proportionality — there is everything, there is nothing, and there is little else — and the space between now and the future, the space in which critics used to sit, increasingly ceases to exist.
Most of the talk about the death of criticism seems to be celebratory: isn't it great that we no longer have these annoying gatekeepers hanging over our shoulders, telling us what's what? Some of that was warranted; if your model for a critic is the likes of Bosley Crowther, sure. But not if it's Roger Ebert.
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind