Once more unto the fray …

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.)

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One thought on “Once more unto the fray …

  1. L. Webb

    I found myself thinking that Mullan seemed to be doing the very same sort of thing some sf-f fans do when they rag on various specimens of mimetic fiction–"The New Yorker short story about adultery" being a classic target: "I like these things. Claiming them makes me feel like part of a special group. I do not like these other things, as they do not make me feel as special. Therefore these things must be bad." Then I read Mr. Duncan's remarks, and followed his link to Mr. Harrison's, and realized that while I was not alone in coming to that conclusion (and if so many others can see it, one can only feel for Mr. Mullan in this rather Burnsian moment, even if he isn't wearing a Lunardi bonnet) I might as well just sit and watch; Hal Duncan's comments were a rant people could direct their children to, as a prime and outstanding example of its kind: "See that, Billy? Susan? That's a rant, right there. You won't see many like that. You could use that one to etch metal and melt asphalt when it's time to repave the road. Anyone that could stir up a rant like that should be honored, at least once the swelling goes down." Mr. Harrison's observations, on the other hand, seem to suggest that while "disrespect" may be one root for the term "to diss", "dismiss" and "disregard" are also strong contenders. One can only hope Mr. Mullan's taste and discrimination allow him enough distance to appreciate the quality of these responses. I do hope you'll have the time and interest to comment on the programs that prompted Mullan's column.As for Mullan–well, I think you had him in the earlier post: "Mullan’s muddled distinctions make little sense though clearly, they offer him a measure of security."

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