Thursday Hangovers, or Almost Posts

  • My apologies for the general level of suck around here this week. My Devil Bug of Doom has been a persistent foe, striking at will for the past several days, all while I try to make it to work, write new novel pages, make sure our familial houseguests are taken care of, and enjoy Puck and Emma playing with each other (and keep Puck from chasing the cat, until he’s ready to be chased), etcetera. No e-mail catch-up as planned, but if you’re waiting for a response I’ll get to it this weekend. Promiso. Right now, I’m going to curl up on le couch and watch last night’s Bones. This is less of a hangovers post and more a bunch of mini-posts slammed together sort of thing. Fair warning.
  • If you’re a writer-type (or a discerning reader-type) and you don’t read J.L. Bell’s Oz and Ends, you’re really missing out. I just realized I have four of his posts starred to link and it’s gotten to the point where I’m intending to link everything he posts. So just read the blog entire.
  • The indefatigable Cynthia Leitich Smith interviews the Readergirlz.
  • Colleen Mondor asks where the YA science fiction is and notes that recent examples she can name aren’t labeled as such by their publishers; agent Barry Goldblatt responds in the comments that "Unfortunately, "science fiction" is still basically a curse word in YA publishing. While fantasy has overcome the geek/nerd association, science fiction is still firmly saddled with it." His entire response is well worth your time. Ever since I’ve been paying attention to this issue, I’ve heard various editors and agents say they would love to get more good science fiction submissions, but just don’t see much. I have to say that I really have less of a problem with fear of the label, as long as stuff is getting published–BUT I will also say that I’ve run into some puzzling attitudes lately that only regard as SF things that are called such by publishers. That includes works of both science fiction and fantasy, so perhaps the shyness to call an alien an alien (or whatever) may hurt in the overall "let’s stop pretending realism is all there is or somehow innately superior and SF is for nerds only" wars. It also says to me that beneath the fear of the term there is an underlying realization these are excellent books that deserve wide audiences, and it’s hard to quarrel with that.
  • Any Brotherhood 2.0 that includes urban exploration is automatically THE BEST INSTALLMENT ever. This is why YA is the awesomest: NBA winner Tobin Anderson committing crimes on tape. I ask, will you see Richard Powers doing this? I think not. Also, I want to see the post office with the forest inside.
  • Justine asks: Great editing or great publicity from your publisher (assuming you can only choose one)? I’d have to go with editing, because I think a really fabulous editor is worth their weight in gold and also can be an advocate on the inside. A really, really fabulous editor will even care about your career and not just the book in question. And that’s what sending boxes of champagne to the PR staff is for, right? Or, you know, hiring a freelance publicist and working your butt off. That said, I realize this is more complicated than that and also that if you really do only have one of these things, you probably obsess over how you wish you had the other one too. I dream of puppies, kittens, publicity teams and editrons. In the end, it’s about the work and, paraphrasing the immortal words of John Banville, time is the best judge.
  • Andy Duncan: Does he work for WD-40? Somehow I’ve lived my adult life without ever needing this stuff. (Jinx!)

8 thoughts on “Thursday Hangovers, or Almost Posts”

  1. You’ve never used the WD-40? Oh man…
    Funny, one of my favorite trivial facts about San Diego is that it’s the corporate headquarters for WD-40.
    And it doubles as a good roach spray, especially when combined with flame.

  2. You know what really got me thinking of this Gwenda? I just finished Connie Willis’ really fun SF novella D.A.. I don’t think Sub Press is calling it YA, but the protagonist is a teenager so it works perfect for teen readers. Anyway it takes place at a space academy and involves kids dying to get a slot there and others not so into the idea. Very well done and I enjoyed it alot.
    So – after reading it I wondered why in the heck there aren’t more books out there like this one. And then I saw a few comments at Scalzi’s and so I started looking at what publishers are labeling books that would otherwise be considered SF. On the one hand, I do agree – as long as the time travel, etc. stories are out there, does it matter what the label is? But on the other hand, I don’t see a lot of serious SF, meaning books set at space academies, or on space ships, or on other worlds, getting published and I wonder if the publishers are only letting the ones go by that they can safely market as something else. (Adventure, thriller, etc.) Even Life As We Knew It did not read as SF in the catalog – it was all about “social situations” and more like a natural disaster book then anything else.
    Also, if you don’t think you’ve ever read SF, what is the probability that you will pick it up as an adult? If you read all of Scott Westerfields “Uglies” series but see it only as “action adventure” (as primarily labeled and marketed) will you even know to look in the SF section of the library or bookstore later?
    In other words, if you don’t know your reading SF as a teenager, are you going to be interested in books labeled as SF as an adult? (Or will you never get past the label.)
    That’s what I’m thinking about.

  3. The Tobin Anderson thing on Brotherhood 2.0 completely cracked me up.
    And I don’t know about the Science Fiction/YA argument… Do you consider Scott Westerfeld science fiction? I do, and he’s uber successful.

  4. I’m not arguing! don’t think this is an argument!!!
    I do consider Scott SF – if you look at S&S’s website though it is classfied first as “action/adventure”. (Although I do give them credit for following that up with a SF classification.)
    And the fact that he is popular would point towards more SF for YAs – you would think. But I’m telling you I get buried under YA books around here and maybe only a dozen last year were SF.

  5. *goes to Amazon, adds Life as We Knew It and The Secret Under My Skin to latest order*
    I’ve been half-waiting for a while for the science fiction Harry Potter — because at this stage I think that’s what it will take. And somewhat tongue-in-cheek:
    Also, if you don’t think you’ve ever read SF, what is the probability that you will pick it up as an adult?
    Well, I’ll probably just make do with The Road, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Never Let Me Go, Cloud Atlas, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, The Plot Against America, The Brief History of the Dead …

  6. I get what you’re saying Niall but isn’t it interesting that everyone of those books is sold in the literary section – and I know I can’t swear to this but I don’t recall any of the major reviews of those titles (obviously Chabon’s are just beginning) referring to them as SF.
    It’s kinda what I was saying about those YA titles – they have SF elements but no one wants to call them that – or admit it, rather.
    And please consider Ann Halam’s Siberia also – I really loved that book!

  7. Ann Halam is a Gwyneth Jones pseudonym, right? Given that my order is now over the £50 mark, I think it’ll have to wait for the next round.

  8. Yes Niall – that’s her. I understand about the financial constraints (don’t we all know what that is like! ha).
    Siberia just impressed me as being so very different from most of the YA books I read – and not shying away from the science aspects of the story. Plus a girl on her own across Siberia? How do you resist that?!

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