Hypocrisy, Race, and Literary Gentrification. The always eloquent Foz Meadows discusses the old phenomenon of literary writers dabbling in para-literary forms, but draws an analogy between the current process and the gentrification of cities. As a commenter says, numerous pieces of literary fiction end up more or less as badly written SF, as the gentrifying mainstream wanders happily into the neighborhoods of fictional tropes and themes it has no idea have been inhabited for decades.
Dawkins and Saul: Dudebros Under the Skin. Molecular biologist and SF writer Athena Andreadis takes on the Materialist Magus, Richard Dawkins, and severely dresses him down for his shoddy science, self promotion, and “patriarchal authority worship.”
The distal damage is that Dawkins’ selfish gene concept has been adopted wholesale and then shoehorned into every conceivable niche by all regressive groups that like to label themselves progressive and/or “edgy”: libertarians, transhumanists, evopsychos, MRAs, one-percenters, “creatively disruptive” MBAs, grittygrotty SFF writers. The core characteristic of these groups, protestations of visionary thinking notwithstanding, is that they’re actually obsessed with auto-perks for the “worthy” and with perfectibility narratives beloved by fundamentalist clerics.
Invisible Universe: A History of Blackness in Speculative Fiction. A trailer for a documentary by M. Asli Dukan I am very much looking forward to, which examines the history and contributions of African-Americans to speculative forms (SFFnal) in fiction, cinema, and more.
Sundial Press’ Supernatural Line. They have reprints of collections by William J. Wintle (author of the wonderful “Spectre Spiders”), R.H. Malden, Rosemary Timperly, A.N.L. Munby, etc. Richmal Crompton’s 1928 collection Mist is also forthcoming. At 17-ish pounds, these are relatively affordable within the dismally expensive field of small press horror. No gold-plated bullshit, signed-by-the-author’s-goldfish, leaf-foiled excuses for charging three hundred dollars like total dicks.
Forthcoming Titles from New York Review Books. If you didn’t know, NYRB is putting out great stuff, and not just literary work – though much of that stuff is exciting too – but also a lot of work in the realm of the fantastic and strange, situated on the boundaries of lit-fic and genre-fic. A collection by Silvina Ocampo will be out in 2015, but in the meantime they already have available Alan Garner’s time-travelling Red Shift and a collection of ghost stories edited and illustrated by Edward Gorey. And a reprint of a book I’ve lusted after for some time, William H. Gass’ In the Heart of the Heart of the Country. Speaking of him…
Roquentin – impressed by the complete pointlessness of letting go, of persisting, getting on, in Bouville to begin with – mudville- in the primeval slime which Beckett will later render so well in ‘How It Is’; the narrator – Roquentin – convinced of the absolute adventitiousness of every event, the speciousness of every value, the absurdity of the genital spasm, sperm like a billion midges, love an acid rain; the narrator – Roquentin – with such turns taken, feels a nausea which sickens the sidewalk, the shoes, the clothes, the soul, the cells, till the eyes vomit their perceptions, and the mind lies down in swill to thank an empty heaven, author of all – like Roquentin – a dotard, knockabout, another nil among nillions: narrator.
Roquentin wonders ‘what if something were to happen?’ What if chance were king, and a red rag were to change into a side of rotten meat, a pimple split like an opening eye in a painting by Magritte; or what if one’s clothing came alive, or one’s tongue turned into a centipede? New names will have to be invented for a spider’s jaw, or as, Borges has imagined, for transparent tigers and towers of blood. – William H. Gass, ‘Representation and the War for Reality.’ pp. 76, 78.
I’m reading his book of essays, Habitations of the Word, and the man knows how to seduce a sentence. His novel Omensetter’s Luck was quite good with that kind of lingual-libertinism, but the essays are something else.