No, really, it isn’t science fiction…

After a few days of being unable to post on the Gazette I’m back and it feels good – thanks for sorting it out, Ariel.

Just reading this month’s issue of Stephen Hunt’s SF Crowsnest – an excellent online resource I’d recommend to anyone interested in SF&F (comes as a monthly digest with links to articles, so you can read what appeals to you only if you wish). Anyway, what is in there but Stephen discussing the same point I had made in a news article on the Alien Online last week: when is SF not SF? Answer: when the broadsheet newspapers review a novel set in a dystopian future where humans may become extinct by their own actions, but it is written by a Booker Prize winning ‘literary’ author.

For those who haven’t read either article, Stephen was talking about a lengthy review in the weekend papers of the excellent Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s new novel, Oryx and Crake, from Bloomsbury (publisher of Harry Potter and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and forthcoming Wolves in the Walls, so people who do well from SF&F sales). As Stephen observed, the reviewer took great pains to ensure the readers of their august newspaper were not reading about one of those disreputable SF authors – and obviously the Handmaid’s Tale wasn’t SF either… Nice to see the mainstream press are still convinced if it is ’literary’ it can’t be genre fiction. I hate seeing my predictions coming right sometimes…

Reminds me of a very posh old geezer who came into our bookstore on Princes Street and asked for a copy of an author he arrogantly said I’d probably not have heard of – Mervyn Peake (duhh – I work in a bookstore, numpty-heid, it’s a fair bet I know alot more about authors than you ever will). He was looking for Gormenghast and was utterly (Gormeng)aghast when I showed him to the Science Fiction and Fantasy section that I run. No, no, no he muttered – fantasy? I don’t think so… So obviously Gormenghast is a real place, presumably next to the rabbit hole that takes you to the Red Queen’s realm… Bollocks to them all – I am an SF nerd and I’m proud of it! I read challenging fiction, concepts that challenge my intellect and characters that explore the human condition, just as all good fiction does but SF is far more free in it’s interpretation.