Bridging the Gap

Time for another round-up of interesting things on the internet and elsewhere.

First of all, I must draw your attention to Speculative Fiction 2012, edited by Justin Landon, of Staffer’s Book Reviews and Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch. It’s the first of what many of us fervently hope will become a regular annual collection of online essays and reviews about sf, the fantastic, and other genre material, all conveniently collected in one place. It is a fantastic anthology of articles and reviews, some by people whose work I already admire intensely, some by people whose work I’m reading for the first time and already looking forward to reading more. And if it seems that I am being just a little bit circumspect in discussing the collection, that would be because I’ve got a couple of pieces in it myself and I must recuse myself from reviewing something I’m part of (though Niall Harrison offers us a hypothetical not-review here– the real problem is that most of the people who would normally review a volume like this are actually in it). I am though immensely proud that my work has been included in this inaugural volume.

My criticism appears in print as well as online but I’m very conscious of the fact that, for example, newspaper-based literary critics regularly bash blog-based critics, implying that their work is less worthy of consideration because it’s published online. Equally, I’m well aware that some book bloggers work with a set of critical criteria that seems to begin with gushing and end with squeeing and in between offers little but uncritical adoration of each and every volume the blogger lays eyes on. More than all of that, I know that there are so many book blogs out there it’s almost impossible to keep up with what’s going on. Speculative Fiction 2012 reminds us that there’s a lot of good-quality critical writing happening online and provides pointers to where it’s happening.

Nominations are already open for the 2013 volume, to be edited by the Booksmugglers, Ana Grilo and Thea James, who discuss the terms of their editorship here and provide a nomination form. Nominate early, nominate often, nominate diversely.

One of the pieces chosen for Speculative Fiction 2012 was my review of the New Yorker sf issue, published in June 2012. Laura Miller’s article from that issue, ‘The Cosmic Menagerie: What did the first fictional aliens look like’, is currently available and well worth a read.

In other news, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour will feature an article asking what’s happened to the tough women in sf. I confess I feel a certain trepidation about this, but we’ll see.

I won’t get my Clarke shortlist reading done before the announcement on Wednesday but Pornokitsch offers an imaginary judgement.