I normally avoid the bear pit of readers’ comments on Guardian articles, because I am a delicate, wilting flower who dislikes unstructured conflict, but Hal Duncan’s comment on my previous post, ‘Twelve of the Best’ prompted me to go back to John Mullan’s article and read the comments it has accrued, including Hal’s own trenchant observations on genre and literary fiction. I suggest you do the same, not least to read Hal’s arguments. There are two pages of comments: here and here – Hal’s are in the second page. Alternatively, you might just want to go straight to Hal’s own Notes from the Geekshow and read his comments there.
The comments are generally interesting, though a lot of the usual issues are raised once again, from the now perennial claim that all authors will be better off publishing themselves, through various complaints that publishers don’t want to publish what a particular author is offering (which is unfortunate but not immediately germane to the discussion, I feel), through a little light sf-bashing, complaints that seeking ethnic diversity is tantamount to racism, and to more thoughtful discussions of the issues that have been raised lately.
Mullan and Alex Clark, two of the judges, contribute (though not as usefully as I would have liked), and I am still looking in vain for any clear indication of the protocols under which this exercise was operated in the first place.
(It was also interesting to read the comments in the light of a number of conversations I had yesterday about how we discuss things on the internet and to think about how, as an individual commenter, I can make my contribution to the process more helpful.)