The OF Blog: Sunday musings

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday musings

I'm reading through a few websites and the thought just occurred to me: "Why aren't there many people out there daring to get a full, critical review of J.R.R. Tolkien?" While I know there are some doing this, for the most part, I just haven't seen SF-related blogs really tackle the books. It might be an interesting way of showing readers just how differently we view these books. Might add it to the Things to Do list for early 2008, after my planned reviews of Jack Vance and R. Scott Bakker.

How come Junot Diaz's latest book, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, not getting much attention from the SF blogosphere compared to the "mainstream" attention it's been receiving? I plan on reading/reviewing this book at the end of the year, as the storyline seems something right up my alley.

Still wondering whether or not there might be a genetic connection of talent between Thomas Wolfe and Gene Wolfe, as the two are rumored to be distant cousins. Then again, You Can't Go Home Again contains one of the most powerful authorial musings of early 20th century literature, so it's hard to say, I suppose...

When will we see spec fic writers citing Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes as influences?

And how many people actually read this blog because they know who I am and give a damn about what I muse about?


Matthew Cheney said...

I give a damn what you muse about!

"When will we see spec fic writers citing Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes as influences?" Delany often has -- along with Lacan, Derrida, Kristeva, etc. And a number of other SF writers (Kim Stanley Robinson comes to mind) are at least basically familiar with that body of work. It's a question that deserves asking, though, especially of Foucault and Barthes, who are, I think, particularly interesting.

Lsrry said...

Yeah, but Delany is almost the exception that proves the rule, it seems. But it is almost ironic that "fantasy," itself almost a metanarrative insofar that writers create a myth-like place that they know is untrue in order to play games with certain literary elements such as honor, morality, and truth, really doesn't have much in the way of a "postmodernist" bent to it. I wonder if much has been done on that.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but if Diaz was white the SF Blogosphere would be all over him. It's sad that it took LOCUS magazine almost four months to even notice him; now they're doing a far better job of keeping their readers abreast of this interesting writer. Diaz is more into the genre and more thoughtful about it than almost all the other mainstreamer writers. And we in the SF/fantasy fields are always noticing how few people of color there are but when people of color do appear, doing interesting work, we ignore them. Lamentable.

Lsrry said...

I hate to say it, but I agree 100% with what you're saying. Although I am not Latino, I do read and speak Spanish (having taught Latino students in Florida for two years in the first half of this decade) and I have made it a point to seek out Latino voices in spec fiction, but there just aren't many being mentioned these days. I have the Diaz book on my Christmas list and will read/review it shortly afterwards, but I cannot help but wonder how many wonderful works by PoC that go by unnoticed each year because there just isn't any real coverage?

Anonymous said...

Larry, man, I don't want to rag on you, but I wonder if there's not a bit of Malcolm X here: if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. It seems a bit silly to me to have a blog for genre fantasy and a blog for "vaguely Borgesian" other fiction (even when this blog is labeled "other fiction") and then wonder on the genre blog why more fellow bloggers aren't discussing "vaguely Borgesian" other fiction. If you maintain a division between a genre fantasy blog and a non-genre blog, well, remember that divisions encourage people to ignore things that look different or challenging. If you help maintain the division, you shouldn't need to wonder why people are ignoring certain different-looking works.

The "SF blogosphere," at least as it is represented by your blogroll, is largely comprised of fans who cluster around multi-volume epic fantasies, most of which they get in ARC form. Most, at least based on their blogs, read outside of genre very rarely; most are certainly not going to drop their own bills on a hardcover from a non-genre publisher. Now if Penguin were to send ARCs of Brief Wondrous Life to all these blogs, the story might be different. Not entirely different, but somewhat different. Race is a factor, sure, but in this case I think it's tied up in genre. I don't see non-genre fantasy from white authors getting a ton of notice in this crowd, either -- nor "different" genre stuff like Crowley's Endless Things, which made nary a ripple in the SF blogosphere.

Again, I'm not trying to be mean in saying this...I just have this sense that you're getting frustrated by what you perceive as the expectations of your current circle of readership on one hand and what you want to blog about on the other. If that's the case, don't be afraid to challenge your readers rather than feeding them. No polls asking people what books they want you to review at the same time you're stridently announcing you're going to be doing more of your own thing (especially no polls comprised of one author of genre fantasy and several non-genre fantasy authors -- no surprise when the genre author wins in a landslide). You're smart and insightful enough, and you have enough of a handle on a lot of interesting fantastic fiction that rarely gets discussed, that you should be able to blog about exactly what you want to blog about.

Lsrry said...

Yeah, there is that feeling of trying to serve two master, I'll admit. However, this blog, while it has over 90% of its posts by me, is not my personal blog. I started it, yes, but it was to be an extension of wotmania's Other Fantasy section (thus the OF), with reviews, interviews, etc. to be related to matters that would be discussed there.

Until this past summer, there was no real identity for this blog. Occasionally, I would be tempted to post about more "personal" items and things not really related to this blog's purported purpose, so I started the other blog to serve that purpose. Considering that other half of the posts there deal with my work experiences and a few rough translations of Borges's poetry, it became a "miscellanea" type of blog where I could talk about things that just didn't fit in with matters here. So that's why I have a non-genre blog...for those topics that just do not fit in well with the topics I want to cover.

As for the Blog Roll, yeah, it's a work in progress and I do have a lot of links to secondary-world fantasy-loving fans' blogs. It again is in large part due to trying to serve this blog's original purpose of relating back to wotmania's OF section and its population, but as my views continue to change, I imagine that the blogroll will expand quite a bit as I branch out and search out other sites covering the types of books I'm reading more and more.

But yes, I am slowly resolving these conflicting desires/demands on my time. I think what this blog is evolving towards is a mixture of discussing "traditional fantasy" and interstitial fictions - something that not too many blogs out there, at least from what I have discovered to date, cover. But the other blog shall continue to exist for me to make those posts that I don't believe would fit in well with original purpose of this blog. After all, blogging about battling work stress/depression is not going to be something that those wanting to read thoughts about fiction will want to read, no? ;)

Anonymous said...

Cheers Larry, I mostly just wanted you to know that I for one would be happy to see you cover books and their ideas using a broad definition of fantasy, the interstitial stuff as you say. I'll look forward to the blog's continued evolution.

Lsrry said...

Thanks - and as my favorite singer/songwriter has sung, "He not busy being born is busy dying." Shall be fun discovering what paths shall be taken in the coming months and years :D That being said, it's going to be tough to decide which Wolfe story/stories I'm going to cover next. I might just cover three of his "Midwestern" novels (Peace, Free Live Free, There are Doors) next before I do the Long Sun and Short Sun books. I'm running about a one week lag between my reads and the review posting, in part because I want to allow for a gestation time before I expand upon my brief notes for each book/series.

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