Well, it’s that time of the year to look back and review what has happened in the past 12 months in science fiction.
On a personal front, it was a disappointing year publishing-wise with only two short stories published and a presentation on Idea Generation Mechanisms given to the Academy of Management. The shorts of course were the third in the C.A.T. series – Guard Cat and Return in the The Kraken Rises anthology that was written as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature (whilst buying a new car).
Writing-wise was completely a different matter… one short story is already sold and due to be published next year, and am already a fair way through to completing 4 (yes, FOUR) short stories by mid-February. This universe jumping is doing my brain in!
Reading-wise has been disappointing for me as well. I was looking forward to the spate of space-based novels, but each has in their own way disappointed. I was particularly upset by 2312, more by the irresponsibility of producing a novel that had a hard science fiction feel to it, but the science being deliberately mangled for artistic purposes. It would have been all right if a suitable warning had been given – all it would take would be a paragraph or two – to stop younger readers taking the relevant ‘physics’ as gospel. I am however looking forward to reading John Meaney’s Resonance - the third in his Ragnorak trilogy that was published this month. The first two were good.
But this year was special if only for one thing – the 50th anniversary of Dr Who. Yes, I watched the first episode when it was first broadcast all those years ago, when everyone was in shock at John F Kennedy’s assassination and nobody really noticed the deaths on the same day of Aldous Huxley and C S Lewis (the latter is now commemorated in Westminster Abbey – something they quietly did on the 50th anniversary!) – and I watched the special 50th anniversary show when there were no such burning national issues. Darned good episode if you ask me.
And strangely I have come to realise something… Everyone says that science fiction is in a writing ghetto. Well, when you realise what it takes to produce a good science fiction book, you also realise that it isn’t this genre that’s in the ghetto, but literary fiction. Believe me, although both are hard work and need craftsmanship, science fiction is the more difficult to produce, and I’m talking from experience here.
And I rather think it’s about time that those literary authors who stray into science fiction actually admit that this is the case, if only to themselves, rather than go into denial. (I’m not talking about a certain IMB – he’ll be sadly missed, RIP).
The complaints about the lack women science fiction writers continue to grumble on, but that’s hardly surprising when you get publishers admitting they won’t take novels on because they are written by women. This is not true of many publishers, but it only takes a minority to produce an anti-women bias. As I have said before, it’s the public that are missing out on some very good novels.
One thing I’m looking forward to in January is a reunion of our Bath Spa University’s MA Creative Writing year, especially as all of us who wrote anything in science fiction / fantasy / horror genres will be there. It’ll be good to catch up with them all.
It’ll also give me a chance to do some public reading practice ready for my Bristolcon Fringe reading on 17th March 7.30 pm at Shakespeare Tavern, 68 Prince Street, Bristol. I must admit to being a bit nervous about it, considering Roz Clarke will also be there to give a reading. I know there’s no need to panic… Panic…. PANIC!!!!