Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Aetheric Ephemera: Ruminations and Hortations Edition

1) First off, my new column at Forces of Geek is up. It peripherally invokes my obsessions with genre and the Great E-Book Kerfuffle, but tries to move on from that as well. Go. Read. Comment. Enjoy!

2) Jason Sanford has a rant about science fiction around the world that is worth taking a look at. I agree with his points in large part, although a few commenters have pointed out that there is more to the article he decries (written by Norman Spinrad) than a poor knowledge of world SF. But, as Jason notes, why in the name of the Eleven Horny Hells of Glaverdoon would someone write about SF around the world and not take five minutes to google basic information that would not make them look myopic?

People are already responding; Charles A. Tan has a thoughtful response that is more forgiving of Spinrad than Jason's. I think Charles gets to some of the frustration that Jason is asserting (and that I felt too, on first reading the piece) when he says that "[t]he problem with picking just one paradigm is that it’s reductionist." Spinrad really can't get to the multiplicity and (sorry if this sounds too postmodern) hybridity of identity in the contemporary world. The structure of his argument makes some solid points, such as the problem of colonialism in so much Anglophone SF, but it falters because it has to assign a single identity to an author, in a time when many authors cannot be pigeonholed in that manner. There's a struggle for some notion of authenticity in Spinrad's piece that is problematic because it reproduces an Anglophone notion of purity of identity and singularity of origin.

And it does not help that Spinrad's piece reads as rather disjointed and clunky. It's long and it rambles, makes some points that need more discussion than they get, and has a rather patronizing tone to it.

Hmmm. . . I feel a longer blog post about this is necessary, especially after having read The Windup Girl and The City & The City recently, and thinking about a remark N.K. Jemisin made on Twitter the other day about people trying to "Butler" her (i.e. turn her into the next Octavia Butler).

3) There's a lot of crap on Wikipedia, but while doing a bit of research on Alice Bailey, I found a very well-done article on the idea of the New World Order. It is a far better piece than the Bailey entry, with a ton of footnotes and some good analysis. The Bailey piece has extensive footnotes, but not much analysis. The NWO piece, however, was informative for a short-story that is on the backburner, and I will return to it later.

4) In the "Things That Would Make an Awesome Novel" Department comes an article from the Fortean Times about Robin Hood and possible links to the Knights Templar. I don't think this kind of angle has been played up in the Hood mythology, but it could create some compelling tensions and philosophical/religious discussions as part of the legend. A few commenters have poked a hole or two in the author's ideas, but I'm curious now to get ahold of the book and at least see where the ideas (and any evidence) come from.

OK, back to other writing!