Horizontal Connections 31.03.11
Posted by Jonathan McCalmont
30 March 2011
Welcome back to the latest installment of Horizontal Connections, your biweekly round-up of links to some of the best genre reviews, interviews and essays to have appeared online in the last couple of weeks. As ever, if you have a piece that you think deserves a wider audience or you have any other suggestions or feedback then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me via the address on my website. Thanks.
And now, onto the links...
It’s a shame that so many people allowed the masturbation conversation, as well as their preconceived notions of genre films, to color their experience of Sucker Punch and see it the way the men in the film see the women. At most, as fluff entertainment. At the very least, as unworthy of attention.
Maureen Kincaid Speller continues her look at the BSFA Award shortlist with this piece on Ken MacLeod's The Restoration Game (2010):
There are also a lot of sf-related references, nods to fan cultures, reading lists, and so on, to the point where it felt more like a novel about science fiction rather than it actually being science fiction.
Nick Mamatas compares the concerns and techniques of Japanese SF with those of Anglo-saxon SF:
Most importantly at of all, in Japanese SF, the future is Japanese.
Karen Burnham brings us the latest in Locus Magazine's Roundtable series; a discussion with ICFA guests of honour Terry Bisson and Connie Willis:
Writing for the market is usually just, in many ways, a waste of time because you're always like six months behind.
David Hebblethwaite casts an appraising eye over Richard Powers' Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated novel Generosity (2009):
Our conceptions of the world change with the telling, and there is no escaping the web of story, however much we might think otherwise.
Aishwarya Subramanian begins a new column with a look at Jeff Burk's Shatner Quake (2008):
Who would win in a fight between all the characters Shatner has ever played and Shatner himself?
Jonathan McCalmont takes a look at Jo Walton's Among Others and finds much that is problematic and much that is admirable:
It is profoundly regrettable that Walton decided to render her childhood as an austerely radiant but ultimately forbidding city on a hill rather than transforming it into the welcoming and enjoyable postmodern playground it so easily could have become.
Abigail Nussbaum looks in on the third season of the BBC's well-regarded urban fantasy series Being Human:
Power, even if it's just the power to kill, is attractive. The coolness and audacity to declare yourself above the rules of common man, even if those rules are necessary and right, is attractive. In handsome men, tormented brooding over their past misdeeds--so long as it doesn't spill over into an ugly display of uncontrolled emotion--is very attractive.
John H. Stevens continues his 'The Bellowing Ogre' column by asking whether fantasy might have an equivalent to Darko Suvin's concept of the novum:
It seems that SF is bestowed with an imprimatur of greater validity by being analyzed with a theoretical tool that grants it a privileged status, not just unique but better.
Ian Sales wonders whether the tendency of space operas and works of mil sf to feature tyrannical dystopias might not be the result of liberal and left-leaning authors working in a genre that is fundamentally right-wing:
[Space opera and mil sf] are still characterised by the privileged expressing their privilege – mostly using awesome weaponry.
Mary Robinette Kowal has the (now closed) Hugo nominations on her mind and lists some of the new faces who could leave Reno with a Campbell Award:
Any of these folks would look nice in a tiara.
[The novel is] a lot more fun, I must say, than you made it sound
Having spent 300 pages being conditioned to recognise the possibility of the modification of Lou’s personality as beyond the pale, it’s nicely unsettling to be asked to accept it as justified for someone else, perhaps especially someone as obviously a bad guy as Don.
Daniel Abraham writes about the commodification of the other and the guilty pleasures of exoticism:
There’s something in at least my psychology that is deeply attracted to the idea of an Other. Of something different than my familiar world. An outside.
Jo Walton hops on-board Geoff Ryman's sadly overlooked London underground novel 253 (1998) and enjoys her journey:
There’s nothing overtly fantastical in it, except for the footnote in which the ghost of William Blake gets out in Lambeth, which is in my opinion worth the price of the book all by itself.
Gary K. Wolfe gives us an early review of Margo Lanagan's new short story collection Yellowcake (2011):
It’s an oddly mundane sentence in the midst of a book filled with the stormy, rhapsodic language that’s become one of Lanagan’s most distinctive trademarks, but it makes its point, and it’s sort of the point of the whole beautiful book.
Ringo and Weber aren’t the first science fiction authors to cast the “barbarian” as obstacle.
Pádraig Ó Méalóid coaxes a wonderfully humane and wide-ranging interview from the bearded lips of Alan Moore:
If you’re writing from the point of view of a swamp monster, or a swamp demi-god, then how pathetic are you if you cannot write from the point of view of a human woman, that you have presumably spent a lot of your time hanging around with?
Maureen Kincaid Speller reviews Jonathan Strahan's hard sf anthology Engineering Infinity (2011) and finds some interesting conceptual drift going on:
The most secure of SF categories has been quietly escaping its own taxonomic definition all along, almost un-remarked upon, because everybody already knows what hard science fiction is. Except, as Hartwell and Cramer's anthology showed, and as Strahan's does in its turn, we don't.
Sam Jordison returns to his on-going series of pieces about past Hugo winners with a look at Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed (1974):
He doesn't drink beer and with his friends he talks earnest politics, mind-melting physics and extreme metaphysics. In short, he doesn't seem entirely real.