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26 April 2013 @ 01:28 pm
overwhelmed by sarcasm  

I was just briefly overwhelmed by sarcasm over on Twitter. Alastair Reynolds (whom I like very, very much) was commenting on stories he’s reading for (I think) a ‘zine, the first 3 of which he’s read have all been grim, dystopic, pessimistic near-future SF, and said, “Hey kids: you can do more than one thing with science fiction, you know?”

But by that time the sarcasm had already seized me. I said, “So does this mean the hopeful aspect of my planned climate change trilogy is Right Out?” and it all went downhill from there, with my nod to the fact that as things stand, as a woman writing near-future SF, I’m doomed to obscurity anyway, and that being hopeful about it will obviously only consign me to the gutter that much more quickly. I mean, it’s one thing for Kim Stanley Robinson, who is Big and Important and Respected, to be hopeful about the future, but me? Pshaw.

My friend Alan/bellinghman said I’d just have to redo it as “fang fucker” urban fantasy (causing me to throw tomatoes at him *laughs*), and, “Hey girlie, lay off them there Big Themes!”

The terrible, terrible thing is that there really does seem to be a great deal of that kind of real attitude out there. And of course I *don’t* believe that the barriers can’t be broken and that the marks can’t be made, whether it’s in gaining respect as a woman writer of science fiction or any writer at all offering a glimpse of a hopeful future, even if wracked by climate change. There’s virtually nothing that gets my back up like being told I can’t do something (even if it’s a generic “I” that encompasses women SF writers in general), and so I by God want to try.

And Al, bless him, said, “Good luck with it in any case.”

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

saare_snowqueensaare_snowqueen on April 26th, 2013 01:11 pm (UTC)
I hope you understood that I was not implying, you shouldn't write it. It was the hopeful part I questioned. I am NOT hopeful about humanity's willingness to pull itself back from the destruction of the earth.

Go for it! And happy writing.
kitmizkit on April 26th, 2013 02:27 pm (UTC)
I understood that. :)
dancinghorsedancinghorse on April 26th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
Comes a point when you just have to say hellwithit and do it anyway. Your way. That used to be the kiss of death for an author bucking current publishing trends, but these days, one really -can- say hellwithit and do it anyway. 8)

Also, re. the gender thing, I'm of the faction that believes that just refusing to shut up, refusing to be made invisible, and refusing to stop being out there doing it, will eventually wear the big ugly Them down. We're worse off for not doing it, in short, even if initially we're ignored.
kitmizkit on April 26th, 2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
I've never particularly thought of, well, Doing It My Way, as it were, as being political in these sorts of terms, although it obviously is. The fact that it is is just a bit more good reason to do it, as if I wasn't gonna anyway. :)

The ability to go directly to the readers with any given project is *hugely* freeing. I actually think that's part of why I'm having such a hard time deciding what to do next: *someone* is going to buy it, at this point, whether NYC does or not.

Well, that and I've been going balls to the wall under contract for three books a year for nigh unto a decade now, and the prospect of having a wide open field to choose from is as daunting and bewildering as it is liberating and exciting.
Flitterbyflit on April 29th, 2013 12:57 am (UTC)
It was strangely depressing to realize that doing things that I wanted to do and was good at was somehow political.
kitmizkit on April 29th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
There's an argument for anything a woman is doing is political, but that way lies mental instability. :)
Liralen Liliralen on April 26th, 2013 04:32 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it was only briefly overwhelming...

It's interesting... I love women in SF. Bujold, Cherryh, and others were my staples, and given that I come from the old-school engineering background where it was so tough to make it as a woman for so long (I was one of 2 women in a masters program of 200 men) that I know what you're talking about so far as the despair about EVER making it. Definitely was there.

But... I guess, I just DID it... and it'll be cool for you to do it and I know now that I need to write stories about hope. Not just despair... and if anything I guess I read Reynold's comment as "YES. DO all those other things that are possible with SF!"
Al Pettersoneyelessgame on April 28th, 2013 04:20 am (UTC)
Well. It's my experience that walls seldom knock themselves over.

Now, it's unlikely I'll ever write *my* Big Idea novel - where it turns out there's a giant megacorporate conspiracy for all science fiction to turn dystopic - and all non-dystopic fiction to somehow wind up unpublishable - specifically to acclimate the population to accept a dystopic corporate-controlled, unregulated-market future, with the belief humanity can never aspire to anything better - but maybe enough non-dystopic fiction will get written that my hypothetical novel will only be a hypothetical cautionary tale, instead of being prophetic.

Edited at 2013-04-28 04:40 am (UTC)
kitmizkit on April 28th, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
Wow. That's meta. :)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on April 29th, 2013 11:03 am (UTC)
I'm grateful I know you well enough that you recognise my snark for what it is. I'd be mortified if anyone thought I was really like that.

More to the point, who's doing those Big Themes on the female side? Sherri Tepper was doing it, but though early Tepper is in my top 10 list of favourite writers, I got very tired of being hit over the head by her later works. Right now I can't think of anyone else, but maybe my toothache has driven everything else out.

(Carolyn Cherryh could certainly do it, but she's been focusing for a while on the human/alien understandability issues with her Foreigner series.)
kitmizkit on April 29th, 2013 11:45 am (UTC)
If I'd thought for an instant you were serious, I'm afraid I'd have asked Colette to give you a Stern Talking To. Possibly with a baseball bat. :)

...that's a bloody fantastic question, actually. I'll put it to the hive mind. *In* SF, I presume we're talking, not in fantasy, because I'd say at the very least kateelliott and jemck are doing fantastic stuff with social structure and expectations of gender in fantasy, which are certainly themes worth visiting.
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on April 29th, 2013 03:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, in SF. Fantasy does do big themes, but there's this odd thing that SF's greater ... realism? ... seems to mean that if you want to do it properly, you have to abandon Fantasy™. Fantasy seems to be one step further removed from the real. All of which is terribly unfair on Fantasy.

You might get away with it in that subset of Fantasy that calls itself Magic Realism. But then it's the realism in its name that's the point, I think, and while there is a lot of SF that is unrealistic fluff (basically Fantasy with light sabres instead of swords), at the core is that set of three questions: What If, If Only and If This Goes On.

(Oh, and I'm going to assume that 'Al' refers to Mr Reynolds and not to me, even though I'm the most recent plausible referent at that point.)