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Jonathan
Posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 - 05:16 pm:   

Speaking of Gernsback: Kathryn and David on What Happened After Hugo

The August issue of Locus contains a discussion of the 'New Space Opera', a consideration of the latest manifestation of science fiction's oldest and arguably most central form.

That discussion - carried on by the likes of Gary Wolfe, Russell Letson, Mike Harrison, Paul McAuley, Gwyneth Jones, Ken Macleod, Stephen Baxter, and referred to in interviews with Charles Stross and Al Reynolds - touched on everything from whether the new space opera exists, whether it's centrally a British phenomenon, what writers and works are central to it, and so on.

The reason it was timely for Locus to discuss the subject is that there has been movement in space opera and, whether it dates from Harrison's The Centauri Device, Interzone's famous call-to-arms editorial on radical hard SF, or Iain M. Banks's Consider Phlebas, it's something which commentators and critics are discussing.

When David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer published their enormous recent anthology The Hard SF Renaissance, they in effect delivered a 900 page long statement on what they believed had happened to hard sf over the past quarter century [You can buy it here]. That book is to be accompanied by a follow-on volume, tentatively titled The Space Opera Renaissance, which one imagines will be an attempt to make a similarly definitive statement on recent space opera. A hint of the basis for the book can be found in an essay, Space Opera Redefined: How Shit Became Shinola: Definition and Redefinition of Space Opera, which has just been published online at SF Revu.

In the essay, Hartwell and Cramer provide an historical overview of how the term "space opera" has changed from a term of derision to an affectionate term basically covering the best of space adventure fiction, and provide a brief overview of their views on modern space opera. I have a lot of respect for both David and Kathryn's views on science fiction, and I think that the essay (and their anthology) is well worth reading and discussing but, to be honest, I don't completely agree with it. I think it's underpinned by a conservative American-centric view of science fiction, one that believes that we are all the sons and daughters of Gernsback. I think things are a little richer and stranger than that, and I suspect that what's happening in British SF is a little different to what's happening in the US at the moment.

That said, I'm very interested to see if anyone here on the Discussion Board has a different view, or any thoughts on the new space opera.

J
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JV
Posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 - 05:39 pm:   

I don't think of modern space opera as "space adventure fiction". I see it as a cross-genre experiment that, using the trappings of space adventure fiction, is doing all kinds of totally new and interesting things. Really, much of it combines "space adventure" with truly mind-blowing SF extrapolation (mind-blowing to the point of really being "fantasy"), and then combines that with some variation on the mystery genre. To me, at its best, it's absolutely stunning. Light, Use of Weapons, Consider Phlebas, Justina Robson, in part Morgan's new novel--it's really great stuff. But it's not really "space adventure"--it's more a cross-mingling of genres that allows for very strange, very beautiful images and situations to occur. I'd even be tempted to say that there's more than a hint of surrealism and decadence in the best stuff. It has that element of strange beauty.

And although I totally disagree with the idea of "new weird" or whatnot being a British phenomenon, I would agree that the best new space opera is being produced in the UK--and it's strange, wonderful stuff.

Jeff
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Jonathan Strahan
Posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 - 08:06 pm:   

Hey Jeff

One thing I want to be careful with in this discussion, when reflecting on the new weird discussions, is that I'm not particularly trying to categorise or pigeonhole anyone. Rather, just look at what seems to be happening in the field, and if possible see where and how it fits.

I agree with a lot of what you say, and books like Light and Natural History are amazing. One thing I'm curious about though - if the new space opera is mostly British (and I think it is), then why? Why haven't American writers who are writing space opera today gotten caught up in what's happening? And, if it's not an American phenomenon, what are American writers doing?

Jonathan
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 01:18 am:   

Jonathan,

Perhaps American writers are making money... (No, no. Turning off the wry cynicism glyph now.)

I'm a little worried about applying the label "new" to books like Phlebas and Weapons though. How old are they now?
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:06 am:   

I think I agree with Jay. While US writers are doing what they do best--making money--the Brits are doing what they do best--pushing the envelope. Jeff's insight is good here: what's going on isn't a direct development from space opera as we know it. Personally, I think space opera was a kind of abandoned arena. No one was in there much, doing anything. No one had been there for years. So it was the perfect and inevitable place to go to have fun, ie make experiments, do just what you wanna do, etc. The result of that attitude is going to be more interesting than a simple return to the Gernsback pathway.
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Al Reynolds
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:19 am:   

Hi all

Nice to have this thread going - thanks Jonathan. I like Jeff's remark as well - hits the nail on the head, I think. What about those US writers who aren't getting the attention they deserve, though? They're not all writing the same old same old. I really liked Alexander Jablokov's books and stories - they seemed like an absolute blast of newness; crisp, weird, literary, but very panoramic and epic at the same time. I see from a thread on usenet that he is having trouble finding time to write, with family, work to consider. Perhaps that's your answer?

Al R
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The other Al
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:36 am:   

Hmm - funnily enough, being having a chat over on MJH's website this morning that might perhaps feed into all this usefully, tho' we were talking more in the context of fantasy than space opera.

Perhaps British people are just more internalised than Americans? American emotional culture celebrates getting out there, exploring new (physical) frontiers, the freedom to express yourself, etc. UK culture - or at least, UK emotional culture - traditionally tends to be more about obliqueness, about expressing what you think or feel.

Maybe this leads to different styles of narrative? One the less oblique, direct exploration of the possibilities of science fiction as a representation of external space etc, the other a more oblique use of sf tropes to explore a more internalised version of what sf can be and can communicate. Repression as an engine for fantasy, of whatever kind.

Also, I wonder if there's something political going on here? The US seems quite happy to see itself as the economic, military, political and indeed ethical global leader at the moment, a stance which makes it easier to accept the classic 'and then we took a big spaceship and blew up the bad guys' widescreen sf narrative; the British first of all are no longer a global power in the same sense, and secondly I think have adopted a more questioning attitude to this kind of posturing; this too perhaps reflected in the writing.

Having said that, I do tend to be a bit wary of 'all these people are like this.... all those people are like that' statements - a bit too generalising! Still, there do seem to be distinctive trends going on in UK / US sf at the moment that are worth talking about.
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The other Al
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:38 am:   

Doh! Not:

>> about expressing what you think or feel.

but

>> about expressing what you think or feel indirectly or not at all.
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:04 am:   

In his desperation to be perceived as the man planting the flag in the new country, MJH makes divisive, hore shit conjectures like the one above, but in reality what is going on in Science Fiction (space opera) is part of the same pervasive, international movement going on in all genres now. You do have to climb down from the panopticon to be able to grasp it though.
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Martin
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:31 am:   

What's going on internationally in genre fiction is a wider question - but responding to MJH, and Other Al, I think "abandoned arena" is the key phrase, with its overtones of J.G. Ballard. He was the first to recognise that the space age was over long before Apollo ended: that astronauts and the Saturn Five were much more interesting as surrealist objects than Gernsbackian props. This may well reflect the sunset mood of the British Empire (thesis topics don't come much easier), but it's undeniable that Ballard brought irony and Dali's gaze to bear on Cape Canaveral. "Light" and "The Centauri Device" aren't flags on new country, so much as new growths on a territory Ballard first mapped out. We can argue about the different ways in which a British or American writer might view that area; that Ballard articulated it seems a given, and present developments inevitably lead back, in one way or another, to his work.
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:52 am:   

Re the US/UK thing--my reading is wide and scattered. It *seems* like most of the best "new space opera" is being done by UK writers--to me. Now, I might just like a particular tact taken by UK writers, or I might not have read enough other space opera by US writers.

Inasmuch as it fits into the continuum of interstitial/cross-genre work right now, it may be more valuable to talk about space opera in terms of the explosion of cross-genre work in general, rather than talking about the new space opera in terms of the old space opera.

I'm glad someone mentioned Ballard, because his view of spatial constructs--literally, the way he could make spaces seem larger or smaller, compress time, etc.--seems to me to be one of the more gleeful effects also accomplished in the new space opera. This is purely from a technique/writer point of view.

I'm a little distressed that in a couple of posts here (1) it's assumed US writers are working for the money alone (?!) and (2) that US writers necessarily support the current US president's view of America's place in the world. This strikes me as about as correct as if I said, "All Brits are withdrawn and melancholy." I think any attempt to create a sense of nationalism in this context is false--and does not admit to the cross-country/cross-culture nature of the truly interesting cross-genre work being done right now.

And that's probably the kindest thing I could say about that approach. Another part of me wants to say what Jeff F. said.

Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:06 am:   

"The US seems quite happy to see itself as the economic, military, political and indeed ethical global leader at the moment, a stance which makes it easier to accept the classic 'and then we took a big spaceship and blew up the bad guys' widescreen sf narrative."

Huh?

If by "US" you mean marketers, Monkey George and his sick crew, the media, et al, I guess you're right; but most people in the States don't have that global a viewpoint; they're mostly worried about the economy going down the toilet, as are, I assume, most people in Britain. Politics in the American sphere, the failure of the Left, the effect of all this in sum on writers and writing, etc, etc, is too complex for me to want to get into it here, but if there is an overarching American viewpoint that delimits expression, it's an economic function not a creative one.

As for what's beng written in the States vs what's being written in England, the little jingoistic nudge by MJH, that strikes me as a load of self-aggrandizing shit. This whole British vs American thing is so fucking tired--I expect to hear mention of "the savage colonials" at any moment. There are and have been tremendous writers in both Britain and America and any statement that implies a lack of creative courage on the part of either group or nationality or whatever, should be taken for what it is, as someone pissing in the communal soup in order to agitate. What's being published in the States may be less adventurous generally speaking than what's being publshed in the UK (I think this has always been the case), but this surely doesn't state a case for there not being writers in the States who're pushing the envelope. It's currently difficult to sell a straight science fiction novel in the States if you're a midlist writer like, say, Jablokov. I myself have been dissuaded from writing science fiction by my agent, because he feels he can sell my mainstream and fantasy work far more easily. The publishers want fantasy, great wads of it, and, being slaves to the machine, writers are thus persuaded to provide it. I greatly admire certain of the"space opera" novels that have come out in the UK (Light, Polystom, and Justina Robson's work in particular), and I concur with Jeff V's assessment of the form, but the fact is that most of them don't do well in the States. I'm certain this is because they're not marketed correctly, but it's true. Nonetheless, what British "space opera" may ultimately effect is to cause publishers in the States to push the envelope and allow US writers to make a living wage by writing what they're moved to write. One hopes this may eventuate. If it does, my gratitude would be directed toward the British publishers as much as anyone else.

Well, I've had my say, so I'm off to do what I do best, which is not, unfortunately, making lots of money...
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:08 am:   

Martin: Interesting post, and I don't know if this is really a disagreement with your point, but I see the change as being one of style more so than having to do with scientific concepts. The new works retain the settings and some of the older tropes but balance them with in-depth characterization, fine writing, humor, and contemporary imagination. Light by MJH is a perfect example of this, as is Metaplanetary by Tony Daniels or some of the work that Gene Wolfe has been doing for decades. The same can be said of the new things going on in fantasy or even the crime genre. One of the reasons I think the new Space Operas are getting wide spread attention in the genre, beside the fact that they are engaging and well written, is that a lot of long time science fiction readers perceive them as a retro-return to the past, a validation that they were right all along, instead of seeing them for the mutation they are, moving the genre forward.
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Martin
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:11 am:   

I'd echo opposing national assumptions, too (except to say, obviously, that most English writers are far too pure-hearted to ever consider *payment* for their work ...:-) ) - but it's always intriguing to see how we differ on the same subject. You could caricature it by imagining an US astronaut and an English astronaut on the same Mars landing. The American would probably declare it a new frontier for all mankind. The English astronaut'd more likely to say it looks like the beach at Skegness, and there are no pubs in sight - when can we go home?
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:13 am:   

I'm not interesting in planting any flags--just in making sure no one else's flag gets planted in me.
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Martin
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:16 am:   

Jeff: Metaplanetary I don't know, but I'll check it out. Thank you!
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:18 am:   

"You could caricature it by imagining an US astronaut and an English astronaut on the same Mars landing. The American would probably declare it a new frontier for all mankind. The English astronaut'd more likely to say it looks like the beach at Skegness, and there are no pubs in sight - when can we go home?"

The sad fact is, man, that nothing of what they really said would ever be publically trumpted, just the press release quotes. :-) I think what Neil Armstrong actually said on landing was somewhat more pithy than his "One small step..." PR deal.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:22 am:   

"One of the reasons I think the new Space Operas are getting wide spread attention in the genre, beside the fact that they are engaging and well written, is that a lot of long time science fiction readers perceive them as a retro-return to the past, a validation that they were right all along, instead of seeing them for the mutation they are, moving the genre forward."

Righto!

:-)
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:01 am:   

Let me get this straight, Lucius. You're saying that US writers would be just as envelope-pushing as anyone else: but they don't do it because they can't get paid for it. Sorry to have to ask this, but doesn't envelope-pushing involve taking a risk ? You say that if British writers and British publishers continue to work hard at changing the climate, well then maybe more US writers will be able to follow suit. But how sad! By then, they will have missed all the risk-taking. They will have missed all the fun, and the game will have moved somewhere else.
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Other Al
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:33 am:   

Hmm - well, on the UK / US thing - many apologies for suggesting that all US writers must be Bush Jr supporting neo cons, which is clearly not the case. Must remember to engage brain BEFORE typing next time...

Thinking about the above - first of all, yes, a US / UK critical divide can first of all be far too simplistic an approach, and secondly, as Lucius points out above, if it is pursued it perhaps works better as an economic rather than a critical base to start from.

Perhaps a better way of putting it is, in a political culture which can (for example) cause enormous commercial damage to someone like the Dixie Chicks as a result of a little on-stage Bush bashing, I would suspect that non-tub thumping, non-conservative work is both more risky to produce and more difficult to get out. Tho' I'm not trying to compare US writers to the Dixie Chicks! But the general receptive mood over the pond does seem to be quite conservative at the moment.

Still, sitting as I am in London my view of what's really going on, day to day, in the US is tremendously limited - as the above has usefully (at least to me) demonstrated.
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:46 am:   

How much envelope pushing can you really be said to be doing when your novels are published by a major publisher in the US or UK, your book is showing good numbers on Amazon, you're part of a big color spread in Locus magazine, and you are invited to jury film awards in other countries. Those, to me, sound like the earmarks of an "insider." When I think of writers "pushing the envelope" I think of Rhys Hughes or Stepan Chapman or Rikki Ducornet, along those lines.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:55 am:   

Other Al --

I've found that it helps to repeat to yourself several times "The United States is a rather large place. All sorts of folk live and think and write there" before posting.

Myself, I've never really understood the need/desire to have a nationalistic identity as a writer. I'm American, yes. Specifically Northeastern, subcategory mid-Atlantic seaboard rather than Southwestern or Northeastern or Southern or Alaskan or... but I'm also a woman, a Jew with animist leanings, the daughter of my parents, the student of my teachers, etc.

All of which informs my writing, and creates who I am, and has nothing to do with what's on my passport.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:59 am:   

Jeff --

So you're saying that nothing new or experimental can come out of a successful commercial publication?

And are you also equating (as it often sounds) "pushing the envelope" with "good" and all other commercial work as "bad?" Or, worse yet, selling out to the popular masses?

Your wording is open to interpretation, and I hate to blast people for things they didn't intend to imply.


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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:10 am:   

MJH...or if I may, Mike...

I'm saying that's true for some. Some of us are taking risks and not getting paid. Some can't afford to take risks due to children, etc. I assume this to be, generally speaking, the case in Britain as well. In other words, I assume that not all British writers are risk-takers. Myself, I feel I'm taking a rather risky path my own self, in that I'm writing a great deal of material currently that's funded by Central American political concerns, not exactly, at the moment, a cause celebre...but it is my particular cause. The fact is that if I wrote a strong contemporary space opera, I might have a great deal of trouble selling it. The fact I have not done so does not make me a non-risk-taker, because writing such a book is not one of my obsessions. I am already embarked upon my own obsessive course. Whatever "the game" is, I have no interest in it, unless, unexpectedly, it should move my way. I've usually, to the detriment of my career, followed my less commercial instincts--whether this of any consequence in the field or not, I don't really care. However, I see nothing shameful in allowing one's economic straits to dictate one's course as a writer, especially when signifcant family interests are at stake. Occasionally I've had to write things I wasn't keen on in order to survive. As stated, I assume that some British writers are similarly motivated and have been put in similar survival mode circumstances. What I objected to in your post was your painting with a broad brush. There are any number of writers in America who take risks as writers, some of whom have already been mentioned in this thread. Jeff VanderMeer should be mentioned in this lot. Guys like Steve Ericson (the American slipstream guy), Paul Park, Denis Johnson (who's written a couple of genre pieces and doesn't earn much of living despite his reputation), and so on. So what I'm basically saying is that the envelope is being pushed here (not necessarily so much in space opera as in variant directions, perhaps). Why space opera has become--if it has, for I haven' t read much American stuff recently--a British preserve is not for want of American risk-takers. Now I do have a novel I want to write that might conform to New Weird criteria. I've wanted to write it for some time and, because my agent told me it would be a tough sell, I haven't done it; but there are so many things I want to write--none, unfortunately, of apparent devastating commercial potential--I'm quite confident that I will die before I'm able to finish them all, and so I simply shifted toward something that, though no less risky, I wanted every bit as much to write and that I believed I could sell to a small literary press. Which means my risk-taking stops at the border of starvation and homelessness. Not an unreasonable or a non risk-taking posture.

The other thing I'm saying is that--so I've been advised by professionals--it's difficult for a midlist writer to sell an SF book here in America. Writing a book that one knows in advance one can't sell seems foolhardy, not non-risk-taking. I expect I will get around to my genre book, but I think it would be wiser for me to attempt it a bit farther along down the road. If "the game" has moved on, so be it. In my view, a good book doesn't depend on where "the game" is at any given moment...unless one is thinking about commercial prospects. And we're not hewing to that line of thought, are we? If my book is good, if it's marketed appropriately, it'll find an audience. I just believe that at the moment I have other fish to fry that will enable me to write that book. This is not untoward. I recall that Martin Cruz Smith wrote a number of potboilers in order to enable him to write his excellent thriller Gorky Park.

I hope that clarifies my statement.
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:23 am:   

Yep, all true, Jeff, if a little amped-up (for instance, a modest success in the UK barely equates to a modest success in the US). I got those things by taking--and I keep them by continuing to take--risks. There was no more certainty that Light would succeed than Climbers, which did about seven thousand copies all told and was never published in the US. My agent took a risk with Light. My publisher took a risk. We all took risks. If you can't see the risks in Light (and they're the same risks that every piece of my work takes, so it shouldn't be hard) I wonder why you approve it ? To be outright honest, I don't give a toss whether you do or not, as long you don't try to own it, or me, by including the pair of us in the agenda you & some other people have. I admire the writers you mention because they are taking risks too. But I'm not going to be lumped in with them as part of *your* flag-planting exercise. Does anyone get this, or am I talking to the wall ?
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:34 am:   

MJH: Glad you are taking risks. Why is it you don't think the rest of us are? I'm not going to go into my own publishing history here, because I know you don't care and most likely no one else does either, but I'll tell you there were risks a plenty and there still are. Still I haven't become covetous over it, nor do I make vague generalizations meant to divide writers by international boundaries, nor do I give a shit about the envelope. You see the world as a reflection of yourself, and believe it must be as you are. As far as the envelope goes, I'm putting a stamp on it right now. I'm addressing it to you. It will take a long time to reach the mountain top, but when it gets there please open it. There is a coupon inside for a free air freshner.

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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:40 am:   

Hi Lucius. It doesn't just clarify your statement, it makes a sound and dignified argument, the point of which I'm more than happy to take.

>>What I objected to in your post was your painting with a broad brush.

I take that point, too, and apologise for being needlessly inflammatory.

I also agree firmly with your comment, "I am already embarked upon my own obsessive course. Whatever 'the game' is, I have no interest in it, unless, unexpectedly, it should move my way." I enjoy the benefits of risk and constant change, but the sense of being on "an obsessive course" is the thing I most value about the act of writing. I certainly wouldn't have written Light if the UK "game" hadn't seemed like the perfect opportunity to do some things I already wanted to do. To be honest, I don't really value anything more than obsession--although I suppose it helps to have a reader or two.

One more thing: I hope you write the New Weird piece one day, because I cannot *imagine* anything more interesting than a collision between you and that mode.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:46 am:   

With all due respect, Mike, I guess I don't get it--in context of this thread, or any other for that matter, I don't understand a damn thing you just said in your post to Jeff.. Agenda? Own you? Which Jeff are you speaking to? Perhaps what you're on about is something akin to this -- back in Cyberpunk days I seem to recall myself being included as a cyberpunk, a circumstance to which I responded by saying, Huh? Weird, and then going on with what I was doing. I didn't really feel that anyone else could own me and I didn't understand what virtue there would be in owning me. If anyone did want to own me in the sense of including me in some mythical fraternity whose legend would not outlive the decade, I saw nothing to get all excited about in that. Didn't make me no nevermind. I'm not sure anyone can be owned in that sense and to think that one can be seems a touch paranoid. But since I'm clueless about what you're referencing, I'll just let you inform me, should you choose to do so.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:49 am:   

Mike, thanks for the good words.

As to my previous post, which I meant to append at any rate, where I'm coming from, I don't know what's going on with this and that in the genre. I'm basicall not in the loop. So, I truly don't have a clue about the flag-planting stuff.
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:58 am:   

I hate mountains, Jeff. They're cold & wet & generally you have to walk a long way to get to them, then you shamble up them, and it's not awfully technical, and it takes days out of your life. I find it really hard to follow mountaineering metaphors for that reason among others. If by "covetous" you mean I won't allow myself or my work to be easily annexed by someone else's agenda: guilty. If you don't like the smell of that, well things are tough all over.
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John Houghton
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:59 am:   

As a reader who was surfing and came upon a forum with several of his favorite writers having a discussion...Mr. Harrison: I will continue to read your fiction books, but I'm certain I will never want to read your nonfiction. I was depressed to find the author of Light posting such paranoid, xenophobic messages.

Cheers,

John Houghton
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 11:29 am:   

Hi Lucius. I think your relation/non-relation to cyberpunk is an excellent example. Naming of this kind seems to me to be an aggressive act, one that serves the commercial, professional, academic and psychological agendas of the participants. My feeling is that if this kind of naming is inevitable, then I'm damned if I'm going to be co-opted without a struggle. I had enough of being a movement footsoldier in the 1970s. I'm sure your way of dealing with the problem was quietly successful, and I admire your steadiness in simply letting it go away. Unfortunately I don't seem to have the temperament for that... :-)

(The present exchange, by the way, is between me & Jeff Ford. But I've had the same exchange with the other Jeff and, privately, with Michael Moorocock.)
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 11:35 am:   

Hi John Houghton. It's a depressing fact that we don't neccessarily end up liking the people who write the books; any more than we have to like the characters in the books. I don't write--here, or in a book--to be liked, but to put my point of view as determinedly as I can.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 12:16 pm:   

Well, Mike, I have to respect matters of temperament, though I must admit to an urge to play conciliator...not my typical role. But I'll resist temptation and leave it to y'all to hash out. If you haven't already, that is.
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Al Reynolds
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 12:17 pm:   

I'm still a bit puzzled about the "empty arena" of space opera. Apart from the 70's, did it ever really go away? As far as I can see, it's been more of less with us again for at least 20 years, if you go back to Brin's stuff. By the end of the 80s - about when my student grant allowed me to buy books - we'd already had Sterling's first three novels, Banks' first couple of Culture novels, Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, Zindell's Neverness, Swanwick's Vacuum Flowers. I know it's sometimes difficult to draw the line between full-on, hard-as-10-bears space opera and plain old hard SF that just happens to be set in space, but I'd argue that a good few of these books - if they were published now - would easily be seen as being part of the new space opera. To me it feels like the latest books are merely part of a dialogue that's been going on for at least 15 years, and perhaps all the way back to The Centauri Device or even Nova. Perhaps it's like an argument that's suddenly grown very intense?

Al R
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Space Opera Soprano
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 12:34 pm:   

HONOR HARRINGTON KIKZ ASS!!!111!!!!
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 01:01 pm:   

I agree with Al Reynolds: When exactly was space opera dead? Bruce Sterling's Shaper/Mechanist stories were appearing as early as 1982. Throughout the '70s and early '80s, many writers were publishing good space opera: Gregory Benford, Brian Stableford, Ian Watson, John Varley, etc.
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Jacob Gradus
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 01:01 pm:   

Mr. Harrison, It’s such a thrill finding you here – I had no idea you wrote sci-fi. Me and my friends at school all just LOVE your Gabriel King books!!! When is the next one coming out? I can guarantee that you’ll make absolutely boatloads of money when it does. We argue all the time about what the best Cat Fantasy books are. My two best friends say the Norton books by Peter Gethers are but I always say that the best Cat Fantasy books are the books about Tag by Gabriel King. Can you tell me what risks you took when you wrote your cat books? I want to write a book report for school and it would be unbelievable if I could include a quote from you. Also, would you say that they are New Cat Fantasy books?

If you want to know how I found out that you were really Gabriel King, I read about it on this web site about The Wild Road.

http://www.randomhouse.com/features/wildroad/bio.html

Please keep writing Cat Fantasy books!!!
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 01:20 pm:   

I had a great time with them, Jacob. I'm afraid there won't be any more. You & your chums will have to make do with Light or "Entertaining Angels Unawares". But I promise you if I *do* write anything like that again, I'll play it the way I did with Gabe King: I'll make sure that you all know from the very beginning that I'm behind the "pseudonym", so there's never any doubt. That way no one will make the mistake of trying to "out" something when it's already six years old. Save them the embarrassment.
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Luís
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 01:30 pm:   

A couple of short comments from the peanut gallery:

MJH wrote: "If by "covetous" you mean I won't allow myself or my work to be easily annexed by someone else's agenda: guilty."

Well, who isn’t? In fact, many people feel that way about the "New Weird" and the kind of talk surrounding it, as I’m sure you’ve witnessed on the TTA fora.

As for the whole US vs UK writers debate: living in Portugal has granted me roughly equal amounts of exposure to both British and American sf (and thanks to Editorial Caminho, a peek into French and Eastern European sf too), so in my outsider view, your assumption that British writers are the only ones taking risks and doing it for the love of the Art is absurd . . . I was baffled to read that sort of comment coming from you, Mr Harrison, not to mention the rationale behind it.

Best regards,
Luís

PS: I think no one here mentioned John C. Wright yet. Anyone read THE GOLDEN AGE and THE PHOENIX EXULTANT?
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 01:31 pm:   

Hi Al R. I see your point. Maybe nothing ever goes away, it just quietly modifies itself. For me, it would come down to that question of "full-on, hard-as-10-bears space opera". The operatic element seems to me to be the defining element--the out-thereness, the sense of wonder, rather than the science. That did get folded away for a time, because there only seemed to be an old way of doing it. Sense of wonder was trapped in an old ideology. Certainly that was what I felt in 1972: you "couldn't do" space opera anymore, because the then way of doing it didn't invite or allow you to do anything else.
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 02:08 pm:   

Hi Luis.

What I witnessed on the TTA fora was two or three separate US groups--most of them canny enough not to call themselves "movements", indeed making a feature of that because it sits well with the zeitgeist--demonstrating aggression and/or anxiety when it looked as if there was a faint chance they had competition. Whether I'm right or not, I sensed a reverse colonialism in that. Someone had to highlight it. As I said to John Houghton above, I don't write to be liked: so it might as well be me. I have no particular desire, as I also said above, to plant flags. I just won't have someone else's flag planted in me. I believe that most of the flack I'm getting (including your own restrained and patient chiding) is because I won't go back on that. I won't, and there you go: but I thank you, as I thanked Lucius, for your considered and balancing view.
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Chas. Kinbote
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:27 pm:   

I'm coming for you, Gradus.
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John Houghton
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 04:21 pm:   

I do not expect to like the authors I read, just their books. But I did not say I disliked you generally. I said you seemed paranoid and xenophobic. This is not a question of like. What is worse, you hijacked a very interesting discussion of space opera with your paranoia and xenophobia. What I dislike is your utter lack of regard for anything but your own ego. For some writers, the age of the internet clearly works against them. You are someone who should not post to messageboards. The wisdom in your fiction becomes foolishness on message boards, apparently.

John Houghton
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Jonathan
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 04:25 pm:   

Wow. I put a post on the board, get caught up at work, and then go to bed, and look what happens! I don’t know if I can possibly hope to respond to the whole conversation, but…starting with Al Reynolds post from Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 12:17 pm:

I don’t think space opera ever ‘went away’, and I don’t think you can make a case that there was an ‘empty arena’ at any time. Space opera has been consistently written, published and discussed from the days of Hugo up to today. However, what did happen is that in the ’70s a lot of people (okay, mostly critics and academics) stopped paying attention to space opera. It was somewhere between predictable background noise and something old-fashioned to be rebelled against. It’s my impression that this view was mostly an American one, though I’d be the first to admit that I haven’t poured over exclusively UK reviews etc to confirm this. It’s also my impression that, somewhere between Ballard, THE CENTAURI DEVICE and the Pringle/Greenland Interzone editorial on radical hard SF, British writers picked up space opera as something to play with, something to experiment upon, just to see what they could do with it. It’s that sense of experimentation that has, I think, lead to books like LIGHT, NATURAL HISTORY, and others.

I do agree with you when you say the latest books are “part of a dialogue that's been going on for at least 15 years”. What I would say though is that what seems to have happened is that the space opera written in the UK during that time started as a divergent strand in the evolution of the form, and seems to have become/be becoming the dominant creative expression of it. This is not to say that there is no space opera of merit written in the US, or that those writers aren’t taking risks, just that UK writers seem to be taking different risks and to be achieving greater prominence.

Jonathan
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Jonathan
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 04:29 pm:   

One thing I’d like to clarify is that I don’t believe that British writers are necessarily qualitatively ‘better’ or are bigger ‘risk-takers’ or whatever than their American counterparts (to ask whether Mike Harrison and Justina Robson are bigger risk-takers than Lucius Shepard and Jeff Ford seems patently ridiculous to me – they’re all out on the edge, it’s just that sometimes it’s a different edge). Rather, I’m interested to poke and prod at things to ask whether there is any real difference between what they’re doing (I think there is), to try to work out what that difference is, and maybe to try to understand why that is so.
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Proponent of the STFU Movement
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 04:52 pm:   

My god, don't you all have novels or stories to write instead of this bickering? What good came out of the TTA discussion of the New Weird? What good is going to come out of this? Take a deep breath and write an essay if you have something to say. Better yet, make your enemy a character in one of your stories and deal with him there. This is pointless and disgusting.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 05:23 pm:   

Dear Proponent,

I actually don't think anyone here is as overly excited about anything as you seem to be. I'm quite calm, myself. I do have stuff to write, but writers are absolute geniuses (New Weird and Old Weird alike) at wasting time. Occasionally we do it in bars with liquor and things get downright friendly. I should remind you that if you don't like the chin music, there's another movement you might consider becoming a proponent of--the CTFC movement. Change the fucking channel.

Cheers.
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Mover of Movements
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 05:49 pm:   

The STFU Movement is dead. Long live the CTFC movement!
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Standap
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:05 pm:   

Dear anonymous Proponent: if god had been so wasteful as to spare you an ounce of intelligence upon discharge from your mother's entrails, you'd have realized by now that pointlessness is the pith of human existence. I suggest you follow your own remarkably sage if cowardly advice and leave these people (notice I use the term in its broadest possible sense) to their literary bowel movements and myriad sordid devices.

Standap
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:17 pm:   

Dear Standap,

actually later in the thread we're having an auction of myriad sordid devices. Bid early and often....

BTW, I'm not quite clear on how using the word "people" gives any clue as to how you're using the term in its broadest possible sense, but perhaps that syntactical lapse provides a clue as to your own....Oh, well. I'm being picky.

Note to Jonathan: The anonymous invasion has begun. The thread is dead. Long live the thread.
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Cheryl is too tired Morgan
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:32 pm:   

Ah, what a refreshing change from all of that fannish bickering I've been putting up with over the past week. You guys should run a Worldcon. You might manage to create even greater disorder than Toronto.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 11:16 pm:   

MJH: "For me, it would come down to that question of "full-on, hard-as-10-bears space opera". The operatic element seems to me to be the defining element--the out-thereness, the sense of wonder, rather than the science. That did get folded away for a time, because there only seemed to be an old way of doing it."

Some say that sensawunda is the defining element of all sf. I certainly wouldn't agree with that, and I'm not sure I'd agree that this is the case with space opera, either.

Given that it is, though, wouldn't that simply make the space opera written between then and now simply failed space opera—failed assuming that these books did not, in actual fact, manage to produce a sense of wonder—rather than not space opera at all?
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Al R
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 12:06 am:   

Failure of sense of wonder: a lot of crap space opera seems written for the sole purpose of getting the character down the space pub as quickly as possible, so they can enjoy a nice warm pint of space bitter, with some space crisps. It's out to make everything cosy and familiar. I hate that. The new space opera at least has a bigger agenda than this.

Al R
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Other Al
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 02:30 am:   

Hmm - interesting. Perhaps it gives more consideration to Space itself? It's bleakness, emptiness, hostility, strangeness, sheer size - and begins to take that as a subject matter in itself, rather than seeing it just as a pretty but passive backdrop that bog standard earthbound narratives can be transplanted into, without too much fuss. (Rich and strange) place begins to inform and drive rich and strange narratives.

I suppose this ties into Martin's comments on Ballard above:

>> He was the first to recognise that the space age was over long before Apollo ended: that astronauts and the Saturn Five were much more interesting as surrealist objects than Gernsbackian props.

Contemporary space travel's no longer part of a confident, colonising, been there done that kind of project it seemed to be in the 50s and 60s; rather, it's something much more forbidding and much more challenging. This changes the stories...
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ben peek
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 04:02 am:   

like mr. reynolds, and mr. strahan (it's a very mr. world), i never thought of space opera as going away, but rather that it just got embraced by the media tie world, which, from my somewhat limited understand, is a good chunk of the midlist in most countries and which is also fairly firmly ignored by a critical voice.

ben.
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Al R
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 04:28 am:   

Ben:

I'd certainly agree that there is more interesting and challenging space opera around now than a few years ago. In fact, there's too much to keep up with, which was definitely not the case ten years ago.

Luís: I am reading John C Wright at the moment, and, yes, he certainly belongs in any discussion of the new space opera/hard SF stuff.

Re: the differences between the UK and US space opera: how much of that might be due to the uniquely British SF media many of us grew up with? It all goes back, for me, to Eagle annuals with Dan Dare in, to the Trigan Empire (anyone remember that?), Dr Who, Blakes7, Hitch Hiker's Guide. According to the BBC, all extrasolar planets will resemble quarries in Wales on wet sunday afternoons. I see no reason to disbelieve this.

Al R
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 04:50 am:   

Somewhat like this thread, eh, Al?
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Liz Williams
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 12:49 pm:   

>a lot of crap space opera seems written for the sole purpose of getting the character down the space pub as quickly as possible, so they can enjoy a nice warm pint of space bitter, with some space crisps.

Dammit, Al, have you been reading my manuscripts again?? :-)

Well, I've posted my views elsewhere and such as they are, they'll be coming up in a forthcoming TTA editorial which will probably say something along the lines of: can't we all discuss this in the old folks' home in about 40 years' time? My position is this: have stuff to write. To deadline. Self-referentiality not good. Leads to abyss of self-doubt, not go there.

Well, back to my own space opera or whatever the fuck it is. That's for the Bantam marketing dept to decide, thank God.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:35 pm:   

'Scuse me for stumbling on this late. One thing re: the "divide" --
one of the criticisms of Live Without a Net, leveled in Publisher's Weekly, was that it was "mostly male, mostly british." Even though only 7 of its 20 contributors were from the UK. (Apparently 1/3 of a book is now "mostly.")
Now, why did PW think this was a bad thing? Why the perception that Americans only want to read about themselves?

I don't think that UK writers are inherently better than US writers, though the majority of my favorite writers, growing up and now, are British. Of the genre writers I like the most over here - jeff ford, jonathan lethem, michael swanwick, philip dick, william gibson - is there something they have in common in their style or approach that they share with my UK favorites - moorcock, mieville, meaney, roberts?

I'm not planting flags, up anyone's ass or elsewhere, I'm genuinely curious about exploring this. Nor is it necessary for my favorite writers to have anything in common with each other other than that they be good storytellers. But I wonder what others think.

As to the other charge - that it was mostly male - i was turned down by a great many female genre writers and was grateful to the ones who came aboard. I tried so hard to squew that curve more to the feminine that I felt I was no longer being true to the needs of the book, but artificially imposing an agenda over the needs of the anthology, at which point i gave up and went for "damn good stories."
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Liz Williams
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:46 pm:   

Interesting, Lou. I'm not sure about the Brit/US divide - there seems to me to be work coming out from all sides in the English-speaking world, and it would be interesting to have a closer look at what's going on elsewhere. I'm a bit wary of British parochialism, personally.

The gender divide in submissions is interesting - there was a panel on this at TorCon, but I didn't go to it. Seems to be that the perception among some male editors is that they get equal subs, but on actual investigation, it turned out to be more like one third female. I do get solicited (as it were) for stories because I'm a female writer, but the last person to do this took the story and then didn't publish it, so - well, just one of those things.

I'd continue down the 'damn good story' route. I don't, personally, want to be given any quarter simply because I'm a woman. I think my work is as good as the blokes' any day, and the same for pretty much all the female writers of my acquaintance. It'll stand and fall on its own merits. I do notice that the guys tend to get the brunt of the hype machine, which may be more of a personality thing. But that's the fault of critics, not writers.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 02:00 pm:   

Liz,

there have been studies done that show a perception there are always more females in a sampling than actually occurs. The focus was on a classroom setting, but it seems to be widespread.

Odd.

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Lou Anders
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 02:46 pm:   

Laura Ann,
that's fascinating. What conclusions do they draw?

Liz,
didn't mean I percieved a UK/US divide, so much as that my book was criticized on the basis that said divide was important somehow to readers. It never was to me, and hence, the anthology reflects that (as I hope Argosy magazine will reflect it).

Another so-called "divide" that fascinates me is the genre/nongenre one. At the risk of flag-planting that, just as some here suggested we broaded the focus from UK Space Opera to the exciting things going on internationally in SF&F right now, I might suggest it would be possible broaden the focus beyond genre to some of the exciting things going on period. I've been devowering McSweeney's and Tin House lately, along with things like the KGB Bar anthologies and Rosebud, as well as Best American Mystery Stories 2002, 2001, and 2000. I'm struck by how much of what I find exciting in McSweenie's could have run in places like Polyphony, Leviathan or Lady Churchill's, while some of what I've encountered in Tin House could easily end up in the Best Mystery Stories antho series. Writers like Joyce Carol Oates and Jonathan Lethem keep hopping all over fences that seem to trip up other folks. But I don't guess there's any point in labeling a movement the "fiction movement" unless, of course, we want to talk about the video game/movie vs print divide.
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David G. Hartwell
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:46 pm:   

Jonathan,

I have just skimmed this conversation, and enjoyed it.

I have two comments. First, no one but you seems to have read Kathryn's & my essay on Space Opera. And second, no one mentions the name of the bestselling literate space opera writer in the UK, and perhaps the world, Iain M. Banks.

David
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:48 pm:   

I was supposed to attend the "gender bias" panel but it was moved from 1-3 pm without alerting me in time and I'd already made other plans.

This has been discussed several times over the past year. I don't want to put words in other editors' mouths but in the case of SCIFICTION I get far more submissions (slush and non-slush) by men than women. I personally am gender blind when it comes to submissions. I like what I like and I don't care who the stories are by.

Re: British vs US writers I have found that in horror I definitely lean toward the British writers. Not sure why.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:49 pm:   

David,
You missed Iain's name early on in the thread.
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 08:35 pm:   

Hi David

I'm glad you've found the discussion here, because I think that it's one that is worth having.

As a starter, I would recommend that people go over to the SF Revu site and check out the essay (http://www.sfrevu.com/ISSUES/2003/0308/Space%20Opera%20Redefined/Review.htm) and suggest that they keep an eye out for your THE SPACE OPERA RENAISSANCE. I'd also mention that Banks is actually name-checked twice in the discussion, initially by me and then again by Al Reynolds. I'd certainly agree with your point, though, that he is probably the "bestselling literate space opera writer in the UK, and perhaps the world".

What I'd be interested to discuss here is what you think a) about the state of space opera today and b) whether you think there is a substantive difference between space opera written by UK-based writers and US-based writers. I have a few ideas of my own, but I'd be genuinely interested to hear your thoughts.

Best
Jonathan
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Matthew Cheney
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 12:20 am:   

For me as a reader, this is a fascinating discussion, but it leaves me with one question which I hope you all won't find insulting: What is the value of putting a label on books and stories such as "Space Opera"? I'm sure there is one, and it must be more than for the purposes of historical categorization, but this has been the question in my mind whilst reading these posts and the Hartwell/Cramer essay (which I found illuminating, but still...)

For me, the value of an anthology such as The Hard SF Renaissance is that it collects a bunch of great stories, putting authors together who I wouldn't normally think of as inhabiting the same imaginative realm. I look forward to the new space opera anthology for just this reason, though I don't know what good would come from advocating for such a thing as "The New Space Opera" as Locus recently did. It seems to me that writers from both sides of the Atlantic are using various SF tropes as well as techniques and ideas from more "mainstream" movements in their work, and I applaud this because it makes for great reading and it expands our imaginations.

But as a reader I don't consciously say, "Hey, that novel's a new space opera -- I bet I'll like it!" No, I say, "I'll read anything M. John Harrison writes, including telephone directories and fortune cookies, and it will probably be stimulating." Or, I say, "Having spent time in Nicaragua and Mexico, I love Lucius Shepard's Central American stories because they make me think differently about places I feel an affinity for." Or, "I'll read anything by Jeffrey Ford because he's just so damn good." Etc.

So are there readers out there looking for this label, or is it just used by editors and historians? (Nothing against them, since I appreciate what they do and buy their books.)
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Al Reynolds
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 04:51 am:   

Hi Liz

I actually find these discussions good fun, if nothing else. Someone above (the anonymous person) asked what good came of the New Weird discussion. Well, who cares? It was fun in and of itself. Books were mentioned and talked about, as a consequence of which I'll probably end up reading a few I wouldn't have otherwise. And it did give me a rush of enthusiasm to put in that extra 110 % burst of effort I needed to finish the new book. It made me want to try harder.

Anyway, see you in the old folk's home. Mine's a nice cup of tea with a Digestive :-)

Al R
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Laura Anne
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 06:03 am:   

Lou,

I don't recall the conclusions (if any), just that it was apparently a widespread phenomena with both male and female test subjects.

I've been trying to find the specific article on-line, but haven't had any luck yet.
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Luís
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 07:35 am:   

MJH: I don't expect you to try to gain my sympathy or apologise for having an opinion that's contrary to my own. Just voicing my disagreement here.

I'm also not sure about that American conspiracy you talk about. All I saw was a bunch of isolated individuals, not all of them American, who couldn't see any benefit in marching with the New Weird parade. I wouldn't go as far as to call them "groups", anyway, regardless of their intent.

David Hartwell: Iain Banks is indeed grand. He had been mentioned in the essay and in the discussion already, so I chose to name John C. Wright instead because I didn't see anyone bring him up.

Matthew Cheney: There's definitely a number of people looking for labels . . . Starting with people who read nothing but genre, or those who read everything but genre, or read genre but don't call it that way (a.k.a. the Atwood Delusional Syndrome). There are readers all over the pickiness spectrum. I know a few who read nothing but so-called "high" fantasy, and others who will reject anything they perceive as Space Opera, New or Old.

Needless to say, I agree more with your approach. If I like a writer, I try to read as much of that writer's work as I can.

Best,
Luís
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 08:10 am:   

Like Luis, I didn't see anything like the sort of conspiracy you mention, MJH. It seemed to me that they thought you were either trying to plant the New Weird flag in them or marching to war under it. Not a surprising misunderstanding; five threads' worth of conversation is bound to produce plenty of material for misinterpretation.

I find this sort of factionalism frustrating. Writers who ought to be usefully exchanging ideas are instead fighting, along national lines of all things.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 08:12 am:   

Sometimes fighting IS a useful exchange of ideas.
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JV
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 08:17 am:   

David:

Iain M. Banks, definitely! Use of Weapons is an amazing book--not only superb entertainment but a telling commentary on war that is the equal of Slaughterhouse 5. Not to mention the unconventional structure.

I think what I love about space opera as a reader--when it's done well, you get that adrenaline rush you get from a well-paced thriller, but you get all of this other amazing stuff with it: the SF extrapolation, sometimes the rather whimsical exploration of certain areas of physics, and, if you're lucky, some excellent characterization to boot.

JeffV
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 04:16 pm:   

Weapons is without a doubt my favourite Banks.
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gabe
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 11:49 pm:   

Of course, you're all missing the most important aspect of the entire discussion here: sex.

That's right.

See, I've found that saying "I like to write and read science fiction" isn't really a draw with the members of the opposite sex. They tend to ignore me, actually.

However! If I say "I'm writing a radical hard space opera, with liberal dashes of interstitial new weird tropes," it gets some attention.

Radical. Hard. New.

All words that work magic.

I think we should call it Sexy Space Opera.

--gabe chouinard
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 12:02 am:   

Or just Space Sex.
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Bob
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 05:19 am:   

Oy vey.
That's time I'm never going to get back.

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