This particular moment in the year is hard on me. I, and many others in my profession whom I consider my closest friends, are drawn up in remembrance of those whom no longer dine with us, save in spirit. This period of reflection (with its accompanying vigils held), is never easy, but it is our responsibility.
Posts from the ‘message fiction’ Category
David McCullough is one of the popular historians working today in the US. He’s a leading voice for keeping history where people can read, discuss, and enjoy it. He’s released a new book about what used to be called “the Old Northwest,” Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and the stories of the frontier days there.
It’s gotten a mixed reception from professional historians, in part because McCullough calls the stories “untold.” People who spent their careers writing about that same region chided him for that.
I freely admit, I started writing fiction in part to vent. I was one of those teenagers who would have worn nothing but black if my parents had let me, and who composed odes to dying trees, wolves in the distance, and dreamed of the day when I’d tell my peers and tormentors (there was a great deal of overlap in the categories) to go jump in a lake and have the super powers or Mecha-style armor to make it happen.
I still do that, the writing bit, just more subtly now. Read more
During a recent attempt at mindless escapism I recently downloaded some collections of popular novels from roughly 1900-1920. As a supply of reading material it’s worked out excellently (as long as I give myself permission to skip nine out of ten books). The escapism, though, failed with the very first book I read, by Mary Cholmondeley (Nope, never heard of her, and thought it had to be a pen name until I looked her up. Sic transit gloria mundi.) It featured people being very earnest about social issues in a very recognizably contemporary way.
Early in the book our heroine and designated Good Person muses on the injustice of life: “‘If anyone had told me,’ she said to herself, ‘when I was rich, that I lived on the flesh and blood of my fellow-creatures, that my virtue and ease and pleasure were bought by their degradation and toil and pain, I should not have believed it, and I should have been angry. Read more
One of the perennial topics here at Mad Genius Club is the gradual creep of message fiction, and how this is irksome. Most of us like our stories to be just that- stories. If we wanted to listen to a sermon, we’d go to church.
But message fiction has been around since, well, forever. The first stories probably went something like this: “Gather ‘round, children. Let me tell you about my brother Og. Og was not very smart, and went hunting alone one day. Og was eaten by a lion. Don’t be like Og.” Read more
It’s a question I thought I’d left behind when I departed the Ivory Tower: Can someone who is not a [race/faith/sex/species] write about [race/faith/sex/species]? Do we have enough [race/sex/species] in our department or do we need more/fewer [race/sex/species]? OK, species isn’t really a problem in academia, but there are heated arguments over if a male can write Women’s History, if an Anglo can write about China, if So-and-so could be hired because HR had warned the Department that they had too many [whatevers] and might be investigated…and so on.
Fiction – we make stuff up, right? Space aliens, dragons in Shang Dynasty China, super high-tech societies hiding in Central Africa… And we write about it, and people read it or don’t.
And then things like this cross my bow… Read more
Man is a rationalizing creature, not a rational one. We can no more order ourselves perfectly from top-down principles than we can tell ourselves “I’m going to eat right, exercise, and get all my chores done from now on!” (Well, we can say that. You all know exactly how well it works.)