[DWJ] Atwood

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Apr 21 06:25:51 EDT 2009


My apologies for my spelling of Margaret Atwood, whom I gave a double-t by
accident.

I wrote of despising genre:

>> Ah, like Iain M Banks and Iain Banks having to be two different people
>> depending on whether they reckon what he wrote is Fiction or just That SF
>> Stuff?

Judith wrote even-handedly

>To be fair, isn't this a way of differentiating for the audience between
>Banks's very different types of books? I know for myself that I wouldn't
>bother with an Iain M Banks novel, but have read and enjoyed
>several published as Iain Banks.

Since I can never remember which of them is which, and whilst I like the
bloke a lot was badly put off his work by the sheer nastiness of the first
book of his that I read (*The Wasp Factory*, shortly after it came out), I
can't really comment on why it is in these days necessary, as it was not
for eg Naomi Mitchison, to assume that adult people who can read cannot
read a blurb that says whether something is SF or not before they buy a
book.  It seems to me very patronising of the publishers, really, but maybe
it's unfair on the author.  Well, I know that Banksy thinks it's silly,
because he has said so loud and clear, but he was trying to get *Consider
Phlebas* published at all when he allowed it to be done to him in 1987, and
he was only twenty-three, dashitall! And *The Bridge* in 1986 is by (checks
frantically) Iain Banks, and that is surely a sword-and-sorcery pisstake
among other things, so he was already mixing genres by the third book and
second year of his published literary career.

>I'm always very wary attributing attitudes and motivations to writers
>(referring to the Atwood discussion). Who knows what she really thinks about
>SF/spec fiction etc (the terms are so fluid these days)? Maybe rather than
>being "snotty" she doesn't think she's a "real" SF writer because it's not
>her "main thing" and doesn't want to claim a title she might not think she's
>fully, well, entitled to. I don't know, I'm just speculating, and it makes
>no diofference to the quality or otherwise of her work... What her publisher
>decides to put on the cover of the book is another matter entirely.

In her case I go by what she has said in interviews, on the grounds that it
is likely that her expressed view that SF is only about spaceships and
giant insects or squids is not a one-off: she has been saying it at fairly
regular intervals since 1986 or so (every time the subject of SF comes up,
more or less), which seems to me to be long enough to have a ring of
consistancy about it.  It also implies a depth of ignorance (about the
genre that she "mines" and whose tropes she seems bound to reinvent from a
position of what seems to be ignorance) that I find somewhat distracting in
any attempt to take her views too seriously: she wots not of what she
witters on the subject, in the texts as well as the interviews.  Since when
was a near-future dystopia with android not SF, anyhow?  Or a view of the
dystopian world after-the-plague?

I do agree that what goes onto the cover of a book is not under the
author's (or even her editor's) control, but what she says in interviews
with the press surely ought to be considered as her own work, not dictated
by the publicity department of a publishing house.  She may have been
misrepresenting her views for more than twenty years, but why would she
bother?  It surely ought to have dawned on her by now, if she had looked at
SF at all, that the claims she makes about its content merely make her look
rather silly?

Actually it reminds me somewhat of someone claiming that children's fiction
is *only* about boarding-schools and ponies, never having read any written
since 1940: that would be risible, so is this.

Has anyone here ever actually encounted a giant space-travelling squid in a
work of science fiction?  I never have...

Minnow





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