We saw this a few days ago and wanted to catalog it here:
‘Mr Ishiguro said to the interviewer, “Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?”
Well, yes, they probably will. Why not?
It appears that the author takes the word for an insult.
To me that is so insulting, it reflects such thoughtless prejudice, that I had to write this piece in response.
Fantasy is probably the oldest literary device for talking about reality.
‘Surface elements,’ by which I take it he means ogres, dragons, Arthurian knights, mysterious boatmen, etc., which occur in certain works of great literary merit such as Beowulf, the Morte d’Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings, are also much imitated in contemporary commercial hackwork. Their presence or absence is not what constitutes a fantasy. Literary fantasy is the result of a vivid, powerful, coherent imagination drawing plausible impossibilities together into a vivid, powerful and coherent story, such as those mentioned, or The Odyssey, or Alice in Wonderland.’
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]
Do we really need all these labels, all these punks? We probably don’t need them. But because of them, certain writers and works are talked about. So they enable us to have conversations we did not have before. They allow us to notice writers we might have overlooked. And they allow those writers to speak and say, “This is what I am. Or am not.”
It was interesting to see that several of the above mentioned me. I also ended up in the Wikipedia definition of mythpunk:
“Described as a subgenre of mythic fiction, Catherynne M. Valente uses the term ‘mythpunk’ to define a brand of speculative fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, and academic fantasy. Writers whose works would fall under the mythpunk label are Catherynne M. Valente, Ekaterina Sedia, Theodora Goss, and…
In another wryly self-aware passage, a (white American) convert to Islam questions why eastern writers are able to write great western literature, while the reverse doesn’t hold. Unless Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet might qualify as eastern literature?
There’s a very simple test, replies Vikram the Vampire.““Is [the book] about bored, tired people having sex?”
G. Willow Wilson is a boundary and border crosser of the rarest variety–a sophisticated political thinker who is also a cracking storyteller. In Alif the Unseen, she gives us a novel whose thriller elements are in perfect equipoise with a deep understanding of the current socio-political ferment in the Middle East.
In an unnamed state at the time of the Arab Spring, Alif, an Arab-Indian hacktivist, manages to stay a step ahead of the state’s increasingly efficacious attempts to capture him. But Alif, whose clients include Islamists, feminists, anarchists, secularists and pornographers (anyone whose online activities might run afoul of the state), is finally undone when his upper-class girlfriend dumps him for the state’s head of security, a shadowy figure known as the “Hand of God”. Alif might feature on the World’s Best Coders list, but when facing a corporeal enemy, his shortcomings are revealed to be as varied…
Neil Gaiman is one of the writers I admire most, at least of the ones who still have a pulse. The problem is: I haven’t actually read that much of him. The Sandman, granted, The Graveyard Book, and I’ve seen the tv-series Neverwhere and the movies Coraline and Stardust. I liked them all. Now, I’ve tried my first novel, American Gods. From what I gather it’s celebrated. I don’t get it.
It tells the story of Shadow, a man who is released from prison after the death of his wife, and finds himself in the service of Odin in a growing conflict between the old gods and the new. There are various other deities, some antropomorphic manifestations, some violence, some love, and then… the end.
Gaimans knowledge of mythologies from around the world, and his imaginary stitching together of them into a narrative whole is impressive…