Best and worst of genres


I had a delightful time at Eastercon, zipping in for one day only before embarking upon a rare family holiday in Dorset…

In my few hours there I met a wealth of lovely folk, including Lavie Tidhar, Juliet McKenna, Paul Cornell, Adam Christopher, John Jarrold, Bella Pagan, Simon Morden..and a host more.  I also witnessed a fascinating panel on genre which concluded a) genre is a bad thing and b) genre is a good thing. Oh I love these bitter debates!

It was frustrating not to have more time but it was still hugely refreshing for me to re-enter SF-universe space and time, after some months working on radio and film projects.

The day was marred by the whiff of the ugly side of SF – blog ranting which turns into personal abuse.  This was the now legendary attack by Christopher Priest on the current Clarke short list, which I’ve now read, and which is a curious blend of insight, wisdom, muddle-headedness, opinions different to mine, and downright rudeness.

Of course blog culture flourishes on such furores, but guess what, real people don’t like them much.

However, Charles Stross – much abused by Priest as an ‘internet puppy’ –  has lightened the tone inimitably by issuing T-shirts (see above) with an image of an internet puppy.  Bravo Charles. And John Scalzi has performed his usual magisterial summary, infused with warmth and wit and an equal amount of wide reading (I’ve only read one of the books on the Clarke short list and I’m just not qualified to offer an opinion – but if I did offer an opinion, that’s all it would be!)

Controversy is a good thing I guess, but there are times when SF folk harm their genre by indulging in behaviour that would be out of order in the most parochial parish council.  Most writers have thick skins and can tolerate intelligent critiques of the negative variety.  But to call upon judges to resign because you don’t agree with them isn’t on; Priest, as my Scottish friends would say, has spat his dummy.

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