Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reviews at Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons this week is running a series of reviews on various collections of speculative fiction that don't quite lie within the genre. Slipstream, interstitial, fabulist, whatever you want to call it. I'm very interested in this type of story, since they do what I like of pushing against the walls that others try to put up around speculative fiction, especially the completely false one between literary and spec fic. [Side note, in case you haven't seen other things I've written about this--I don't consider 'literary' to be its own separate category of fiction, but something that any genre can enter, including the mainstream genre. It's just that people seem to assume that it resides solely within mainstream, which is rather limiting, both for the term literary and for the various other genres.]

Anyway, today's review was of Paraspheres, which I've heard good things about. And this review agrees that the stories within it are excellent. But the commentary of the editors sounds completely idiotic. Granted, I'm saying that at a remove, based only on what this reviewer is reporting (and clearly the reviewer disliked it as much as I do, so the way she reports it affects my reactions). But this is something I've seen before, so I'm reacting more to the general idea than to the specific commentary I haven't read. Basically, the editors of this book are trying so hard to get 'literary' readers to accept these stories as worthy of their notice, that they denigrate the entire fields of speculative fiction. Rather than telling people to look again at the speculative fields because here are some of the exciting things happening within, they tell people how awful speculative fiction is and how these speculative works aren't really part of the genre, but are Literary.

It's ridiculous, small-minded and regressive.

Anyway, the reviews of the other collections make them sound worth picking up as well, and I'll proabably try to find a copy of this one too--I'll just ignore the commentary (except to see if this reviewer was fair to it).

2 comments:

Bibsy said...

Just cruised over to SH to read the review in question, and I've got nothing but an "amen" to add to your assessment of the book’s editorial commentary. So speculative fiction is escapist tripe--unless it's good, in which case it's not speculative fiction? Trying to wrap my brain around the thought process that would lead to that sort of mindset makes my head hurt.

Daniel Ausema said...

Yeah, it'd be silly if it didn't have the potential to actually harm the speculative fiction field as a whole.