New rule

We all hate Stephanie Meyer.

I get it; it’s FUN to do. There are good reasons to do it.

But Charlie Stross is a fucking idiot. Reagan’s Thirteenth Commandment applies to science fiction. There’s being genuine, and there’s being stupid.

Beating up on sci-fi for not being accurate enough is futile; beating up on it for being too trendy is counter productive. Trendy sci-fi = more readers. End of fucking discussion.

There is no end of fiction that is pretentious, plotless, mundane crap. And you won’t find a robot, rocket, alien or werewolf in any of it. I don’t really get the welding-goggles and brown clothes thing, either (why dress like the photograph and not the person?) but cyberpunk is dead, space opera is sputtering, and the whole concept of “mundane” science fiction (ultra-realism taken to the extreme that NONE of the classic sci-fi tropes are feasible? Really?) is so distasteful that I’m not sure a working example would be readible if anyone had written such a thing.

The beauty is that Stross’ attempt to go all Lynyrd Skynyrd on Cherie Priest’s Neil Young will only validate her readers and get her more sales — she knows this, and has said as much. And for the record, I’m about 1/3rd of the way through Boneshaker (I still can’t read print for shit — too blurry — at least the internets I can crank up the font size when the ol’ eyebones go south) and am pleased to report that it is, indeed, a hell of a lot of fun, even if I have no intention of dressing up in crushed velvet, lace and a lab coat as a byproduct.

Credit where it’s due — I haven’t read anything by Stross and probably should. But I’ll remember him as an asshole who violated a point of advice I attribute initially to an editorial Kristen Kathryn Rusch wrote about the Harry Potter novels — you don’t have to like them or think they’re good, you have to appreciate them because they introduced A LOT of kids to the pleasure of reading.

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  • Comments (2)
    • chetemerson01
    • November 9th, 2010

    I agree with your assessment. The man, if he had his way, would quash all imaginative fiction aimed at the very people who should be cultivated for the future of Scifi. The only thing I found appealing about his rant was the link to a critical piece written by Michael Moorcock back in the late 70’s. Which I will post here, I hope you don’t mind.

    • Max Bell
    • November 9th, 2010

    Which makes the point that, any time one encounters someone who appears to suggest that they’re deriving a philosophical foundation from fiction, they should be reminded of how well this has gone for L. Ron Hubbard.

    Heinlein was definitely a strange, old crank. So was Dick. Ellison still is. I found Heinlein’s rant about science-fiction fans to his brother particularly interesting; it was difficult not to take with a grain of salt in light of the fact that he didn’t actually stop writing science fiction as an extension of his ethical stance on the issue.

    But what I know of Stross, dimly, suggests that he really should have known better than to let rip with this particular rant; this just seems to be one of those lessons that each generation has to learn from experience and one that, to my way of thinking, is so easily taken for granted as being a given that it frequently never comes up for a lot of folks.

    It’s a shame, but hopefully he learns something from it — particularly given the rising popularity of urban fantasy in the last couple of years.


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