Short Fiction in Theory and Practice
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Author:  Jim Steel [ Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:31 am ]
Post subject:  Short Fiction in Theory and Practice

A new journal with much to say about the short story, including a paper from Interzone editor Andy Hedgcock.

Author:  Chelsea_Tractor [ Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:29 pm ]
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That is indeed interesting, although Hedgcock's assertion that the trends he's observed are author-driven rather than editorial choice isn't one I felt he evidenced enough - if there is, for instance, a similar trend in Interzone's slush pile that simply produces generic guff that isn't worth a second look and doesn't turn up in the magazine (say, for instance, a whole rash of follow-the-leader stuff around whatever's in right now - like a rash of China Mieville knockoffs), I can't believe that he'd focus on it too much, even if it's significant.

That said, the fact that Slipstream, New Weird and SF Strange are all described in terms of encompassing at least science fiction, fantasy, some kind of literary sensibility and at least one other element (emotional unease, horror or sociological leanings) definitely suggests that lines are blurring and writing within cozy subgenre-al* boxes might be a dying form. This might mean that fiction generally is heading back to a time before genres were so codified**, and this might in turn truly radical shifts in storytelling as a whole, but I'm on the cusp of a ridiculously huge prediction here and as such I'm gonna back away... now.

*perfectly cromulent word.
**it might also mean that I've no idea what I'm talking about, but I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt up until the first reply.

Author:  Paul Woodward [ Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:56 pm ]
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I think the word codified is good, and I like the prediction!

Author:  JimHawkins [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:39 pm ]
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Very interesting and well-written paper.

I'm probably one of the few people in this forum old enough to remember New Worlds and what it signified. It managed to have erudite critical introductions, something like a manifesto, and raise two loud rocking and rolling fingers to both the literary establishment and the pointy-rocket approach of most SF publishing at that time.

The title "New Worlds" had obvious resonance with the nouvelle vague film movement which preceded it by only a few years - and maybe borrowed those central ideas of experiment with form, deliberate rejection of literary conformity, and ruthless borrowing, plundering and reworking of texts across a wide range of sources. Moorcock, in the introduction to the issue in which I had my story "Playback" published, says that the Jerry Cornelius stories were an attempt to create a new myth for the last quarter of the twentieth century - and that myth figure was available for any writer to work on. That experiment wasn't always a success, and there were some really not quite adequate stabs at it - but it signalled a change of attitude from cardboard characters looking at the scary aliens to fiction which included sex, culture and counter-culture, and a willingness to go into psychology and metaphor.

I think that metaphor isn't stressed quite enough in these discussions of new ways to define what writers are trying to do. If you take a story like "The Untied States of America" you can see that the physical premise is deliberately absurd, but the resonance works perfectly; it's the logic of dream and metaphor.

It amuses me when mainstream fiction tries to shy away from any connection with the despised SF genre. "Fantastique" - "Magic Realism". Thanks, guys, we've being doing that for a long time.

My story in Interzone "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Matter" was I must confess very much in my mind a New Worlds adventure in an apparently loose structure, general rudeness, but with (I hope) a bit of poetry as well.

Definitions of genre and style are very nice, but they can, if taken too seriously, I think, become dangerous straw bridges to drop the unwary writer into a nasty gorge. I think Jason's are fine - but I bet he doesn't give them a second thought when he's writing!

Author:  Ray [ Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:08 pm ]
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I enjoyed Orchestral Manouvres from the outset and mentioned it in my top ten for the recent poll (had to limit myself to ten). Great fun.

I'll be putting the whole list and comments on my blog after the next issue of the mag comes out with the results.

Author:  JimHawkins [ Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:36 pm ]
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Thanks, Ray. The orchestra may be playing again!

Author:  Ray [ Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:15 pm ]
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Hurray! Glad to hear it, pun fully intended.

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