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Wednesday, 19 October 2011


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Rich Puchalsky

Oh great. A large number of major literature-genre male novelists of the late 20th century have tried their hand at SF while knowing nothing about it, and their works have been uniformly awful. Time's Arrow, The Plot Against America, anyone?


Rich is right.

Genre may not be "an operative category" because writers don't feel constrained by genres as much as they used to, but genres have histories which writers ignore at their peril.


Rich is right: I don't expect much in the way of innovation from someone like Rushdie who has little to no knowledge of the genre. That's why Whitehead's dismissal moves me: he's someone who knows the history and isn't about to ignore it. I haven't read his latest, but The Intuitionist is one of my favorite novels of the past two decades precisely because it taps into that Dickian paranoia in a knowing way.


Rushdie comes off a cynical opportunist here.

Gareth Rees

Rushdie's no newcomer to science fiction and fantasy. His first novel, Grimus, is straight-up science fiction in the David Lindsay/Doris Lessing vein (famously, the publishers refused to allow it to be nominated for a science fiction prize because they were afraid of it being ghettoized in the genre); many of his novels have fantastic elements (telepathy Midnight's Children, the allegorical monsters in Shame, the eschatological figures in The Satanic Verses); and Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a fairy tale.

He's written some rubbish recently (e.g. Fury), but I think an epic fantasy series would suit him.

Number Six

What would really be interesting is a sci-fi series with echoes of the grittiness in The Wire. Outland had its moments in this respect. Why can't Rushdie write something like that? Maybe just as well, his effete sensibilities might get in the way...

Gareth Rees

The BBC tried to film a TV miniseries of Midnight's Children but their permit to film in Sri Lanka was revoked. But there is an upcoming film of the novel, written and directed by Deepa Mehta.


Rich's comment is dumb. The notion that those writers merely "tried their hand[s] at SF" is silly. They wrote the novels they wanted to write, for whatever their own reasons were. That others felt compelled to call it SF, bad or otherwise, is quite beside the point. The extent to which The Plot Against America was good or bad has nothing do with whether it "succeeds" at being SF, and vice versa. (For me, the alternative history fails because his grasp of the real history is too poor.)

Joseph Kugelmass

Leapin' lizards, Scott, how in God's name does one actually use that TrackBack function? Why, now that I'm on the emails I thought I had this here Internet thing dag-near figgered out, but apparently not.

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