So the big SF news on the internet this week is apparently not the release of the Clarke Award shortlist, but that Christopher Priest does not approve of the Clarke Award shortlist. Scalzi and Charles Tan discuss both the rant itself and the responses to it. Cheryl Morgan looks at the piece as part of a larger tradition of deciding award decisions are WRONG.
Personally, as someone who has judged a bunch of awards, I think that critiquing shortlists is fair game, because there’s no completely objective definition of ‘best’, but suggesting that the decisions are wrong, incompetent or should in some way not count is the height of arrogance because, you know, THERE’S NO COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE DEFINITION OF BEST. And it’s amazing how often these critiques come down to “people with different opinions to me are stupid/wrong” which isn’t an overly healthy attitude. At the point you’re suggesting that the judges should be fired and their decisions overturned… gah. No. Not okay.
On the other hand, internet rants are fascinating when they’re happening to other people. So there’s that. And sometimes there are t-shirts. By far the most measured, well-crafted and nuanced response I have seen in response to the Priest post, however (and one which made me seriously reconsider my use of the word ‘rant’) is by Catherynne Valente, who brings up all kinds of really interesting angles to the story that I hadn’t considered before. I really think she is becoming one of our most important commentators on the field.
Speaking of nuanced criticism, Maggie Stiefvater’s first response to the Hunger Games film and the audience she saw the movie with is really interesting. Certainly worth considering if you’re over all the ‘it should have been more violent’ complaints of the movie.
There’s a great discussion on the Australian Women Writers blog about romance, and whether it’s feminist or not, being a genre all about women’s point of view (readers, writers and characters), but one that sometimes promotes unfeminist ideas. (You mean supporting women’s rights to CHOOSE what they read even if it’s bad for them might be feminist???)
Jennifer Mills interrogates the gender essentialism that sometimes surrounds discussions of women’s writing.
Back on the Australian Women Writers blog, Margo Lanagan writes a beautiful and lyrical review of Kate Forsyth’s new book, Bitter Greens.
Sofia Samatar writes thoughtfully about religion and fantasy, and how we need to broaden our definitions of “religion” in order to properly discuss this particular issue.
N.K. Jemisin talks about the problematic nature of the ‘strong women characters’ stereotype, or indeed any stereotype, and how fictional ideas can have quite horrible ramifications in real life.
There’s a new page up on the SF Encyclopedia! Check out ‘Women SF Writers,’ edited by Helen Merrick. And no I’m not just linking to it because I’m mentioned. Not at all.
Stephanie Smith, commissioning editor/associate publisher who has shaped HarperCollins Voyager (and Australian commercial fantasy as a whole) over the last seventeen years or so, is retiring. Check out the post on the Voyager blog in which many fantasy authors (including me) comment on what they owe to Steph. Truly the end of an era!
And to close by cheering everyone up, check out this post about how batshit freaky the Superman/Lois Lane relationship used to be way back when. Wow. Just wow.
In closing, how wonderful to be able to celebrate the opening of a new indie SF bookshop! Notions Unlimited in Melbourne [Notions Unlimited, Shop 9, Chelsea Beach Arcade, Chelsea, Victoria Australia] recently opened under the management of SF/horror writer Chuck McKenzie, and you can check out their launch video below along with some chat by a bunch of customers & Aussie spec fic writers about what they want from a bookshop.