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Number Two contd.

Soooooo...there were some last minute corrections to Sirenia Digest #2 (an extra space on p. 5, that sort of thing), which is why you don't have it yet. But as soon as the final PDF comes in, which should be any moment now, Spooky will be e-mailing them to the subscribers. I am very happy with "Pony" and "Orpheus on Mt. Pangaeum." Also, note that the next issue will be a Valentine's Day special with three vignettes and two illustrations (by Vince). Also, because I have a certain sort of disdain for Valentine's Day, I'll be running a contest to find the sickest Valentine's Day card. It can be something you find in a shop. It can be something you make. Whatever. But you'll have to send it to me at lowredmail@mac.com (or post it somewhere and send me the URL) by February 10th, whatever it is. Please note that submissions will not be returned. The winner will have her or his Valentine featured in the digest and will win a free one-month extension to their subscription. So get crackin'. Also, I'm hoping that the digest will be getting a facelift with No. 3 and the design will henceforth be somewhat less Spartan. And, because I have been such a tardy nixar, it's still not to late to subscribe and get Number 2. Do it today, and I'll throw in a free copy of the trade paperback of Silk.

I've been so wrapped up in the process of getting the digest out the door (so to speak) that I completely forgot to mention the launch of the New Horizons spacecraft last week. The craft will pass Jupiter in 2007 and, even traveling at more than 75,000 km/hour, it won't reach Pluto until 2015. After Pluto and Charon, it will continue into the Kyper Belt and begin a four-year exploration of KYOs that will end in 2020. With luck, there will even still be people on this rock in 2020 to get whatever signals she sends back. There's a special Nebari prayer for spacecraft, but I'm too sleepy to type it all out. It's the thought that counts.

My comp copy of the new sf anthology Futureshocks (edited by Lou Anders) arrived yesterday. I'd forgotten how pleased I was with "The Pearl Diver" (my contribution), as it was written in the summer of 2004. That summer already seems a decade ago, there's been so much in between, a change of dwelling, tons of newer stories, all manner of personal trails and tribulations and dren. Mahesh Raj Mohan has reviewed the antho for Strange Horizons and has very nice things to say about "The Pearl Diver."

Meanwhile, Orson Scott Card continues to make an ass of himself.

Yesterday's post also brought me the new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, which is always a good thing, but is even better this issue as there's an especially large number of papers on dinosaurs. The only one I've had time to look at so far is the description of three small, early ornithischians from the Middle Jurassic of China — Agilisaurus louderbacki, Hexinlusaurus multidens, and Xiaosaurus dashanpensis.

There have been some very good comments to the LJ lately which have me considering not only the role and expression of the "supernatural" in my fiction, but also the distinction between that which is inexplicable and that which is merely unexplained. It has occured to me that it might be useful and important to distinguish between these two things and that I usually mean inexplicable and not unexplained. It's the difference between that which can probably never be explained by science and rationalism as it exists beyond the realm of rational thought and that which will probably be explained eventually. Anyway, just a half-formed ponderation. I'll come back to this later on, after I've had more time to consider about it all in more detail.

The vignette poll continues. Please vote if you've read Frog Toes and Tentacles Thanks.

Comments

( 29 comments — Have your say! )
cucumberseed
Jan. 24th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
Wow, that man [Card] was my first nomination for the Golden Doc Martens* of 2006, and he just keeps on overachieving.

I'm kind of in awe.

***

I'm going to have to go back and read the comment section again, re the inexplicable and the unexplained. Once done, I may have something to add, but, uncharacteristcally of me, I think I want to know what's already been said before I start shooting my mouth off.

*Personal awards for those people, in a given year I most want to kick in the crotch until all hope of normal sexual relations or walking is a fond, fading memory, though that's probably pretty obvious.
cucumberseed
Jan. 24th, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
The obvious beginning question I would pose, if you are interested in answering, is where do you choose to mark out "Fantasy" and "Horror" on the continuum of "weird stuff happens" fiction? I know that question's a pain, and I'm not sure how I would answer, or if the answer would ever be the same twice. My usual thought is "if the protagonist has powers, too," then you're moving toward fantasy, though I don't think that's always the case - Dunsany comes to mind to blow that one out of the water right away, and Lovecraft's dreamlands work isn't too far behind.

Then again, it seems that everything was a lot closer together back then...
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
The obvious beginning question I would pose, if you are interested in answering, is where do you choose to mark out "Fantasy" and "Horror" on the continuum of "weird stuff happens" fiction?

Well, on the one hand, I'm usually of the mind that all fiction is, on some level, fantasy, and that categories aren't very useful things in fiction. On the other, though, there's the question of the intent of any given piece of fiction. I tend to favour Doug Winter's proposition that "horror" isn't a genre, but an emotion. So, that fiction which seeks to evoke the horrific (and I think "horror" can be broken down into a number of sub-emotions: wonder, fear, awe, etc.) might be considered, from the POV of intent, to be "horror." Some of this fiction contains fantasy elements, but a lot of it clearly doesn't. Do The Silence of the Lambs and Pet Sematery belong in the same category? Generally, I'd say no, they don't, unless, perhaps, one considers them from the perspective of their intent.

My usual thought is "if the protagonist has powers, too," then you're moving toward fantasy,

That's an interesting thought...
cucumberseed
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
That's a much more useful way of looking at things than what I was working with and an interesting thought about Silence of the Lambs and Pet Cemetary how they can be linked and unlinked in categories.

It leads to another question of how a work of fiction becomes a genre? I suppose that has a lot to do with the business of publishing and selling books, but those decisions that the publishers and agents and all those folks make has to be based on something that led them, or their predecessors to divide up work and authors into genres.

I'm taking the long way around the barn, I guess, but I think that I'm wondering where the genres came from, why we have the ones we have, and what balance of the unexplained and inexplicable causes readers to categorize you in one of them.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
It leads to another question of how a work of fiction becomes a genre? I suppose that has a lot to do with the business of publishing and selling books, but those decisions that the publishers and agents and all those folks make has to be based on something that led them, or their predecessors to divide up work and authors into genres.

Well, as for "horror," I don't believe that genre horror existed, as we think of it today, prior to the 1970s or so. It arose as a marketing strategy on the part of publishers who wished to capitalize on the success of a small handful of bestsellers. I think it's safe to say that "horror" owes its genrefication to industry. There are other genres which seem to represent more natural groups (sorry, it's hard for me not the think like a biological taxonomist sometimes). Westerns, for example. Romance. But no genre is immutable. All the lines are fuzzy. There are always crossovers. Mostly, I just think it's an enormous waste of time to go on and on about what constitutes a genre or whether something is fantasy or sf or horror. It's all fiction. All fiction is fantasy, to one degree or another. I don't get hung up on the plausibility of one fantasy as compared to another, as it seems a dubious enterprise. The Lord of the Rings is no less false and no more true than, say, Light in Augsut. I try to leave it as that. Other will disagree.
cucumberseed
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC)
Fair enough; and thanks. That was quite helpful.
marlowe1
Jan. 24th, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
So Card sets up a bunch of straw men to knock them down. First he encapsulizes their words into sound bites, dismisses the sound bites and then explains why he dismisses the sound bites.

All the while forgetting that science isn't in the business of saying WHY anything happens at all. Might as well apply intelligent design to gravity in disputing why it's only seemingly random that gravity keeps us all from floating into space.

Intelligent Design as a philosophy I got no problem with. Intelligent Design as a scientific theory makes me nauseous.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
All the while forgetting that science isn't in the business of saying WHY anything happens at all.

Bingo.

Intelligent Design as a philosophy I got no problem with. Intelligent Design as a scientific theory makes me nauseous.

I do not myself suspect that there is any guiding intellect/s behind the cosmos, as I've never yet seen anything that's made me see the need for such a belief, but I don't really have a problem with other people having such beliefs, so long as these beliefs are considered as philosophy or religion. It's a peculiarly Western idea that something must be a part of science to have validity. I hold any number of beliefs that have no place in science, but I don't try to pervert science to bolster them. That whole approach has never made much sense to me.
marlowe1
Jan. 24th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC)
Is it Western only? I know that Western science fought long and hard to separate from the religion and mysticism that drove it in the middle ages (with some people still thinking that Isaac Newton's mystical writings justified mysticism instead of being an interesting side thing) and chemistry had to fight the hardest from being originated in alchemy, but I don't know much about the development of Asian or African science.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC)
Is it Western only?

Maybe not. Perhaps I overspoke myself. I tend to think of things like creationism as a generally Western, and especially American, problem, but that may not be the case.
cucumberseed
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
That they take an untestable hypothesis and try to hold it as scientific equal to a repeatedly proven, critiqued and expanded scientific theory, without doing any of the hard work, because a large plurality of Americans find it more palatable and compatible with their religious beliefs... it cheapens both science and theology.
sisyphusiren
Jan. 24th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
Have you seen this? Not being familiar with the research, I can't be sure how full of crap the guy may or may not be, but it was a fun thing to read.

I've never read anything of Card's other than these...opinion?...pieces, but I'm pretty certain now that he's a bad, bad man.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
Have you seen this? Not being familiar with the research, I can't be sure how full of crap the guy may or may not be, but it was a fun thing to read.

I haven't yet read the primary lit, but I think it's a plausible hypothesis.

I've never read anything of Card's other than these...opinion?...pieces, but I'm pretty certain now that he's a bad, bad man.

Honestly, I don't think I've ever read any of OSC's fiction. Maybe a short story here or there. I started playing Advent Rising, but got bored in the middle and quit. But. This isn't about OSC as a writer.
marlowe1
Jan. 24th, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC)
No. He's just a Mormon. Ender's Game is pretty good.
eldritch00
Jan. 24th, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
the distinction between that which is inexplicable and that which is merely unexplained

I really was planning to comment on the previous posts, and I'm not just saying this, because I wanted to be included in that "very good comments" category, but I couldn't articulate my question. You just did, however, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on this.
stsisyphus
Jan. 24th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
I'll be running a contest to find the sickest Valentine's Day card.

God, I dare not even imagine what will erupt from this petition. You're meddling with forces you cannot possibly anticipate or control!

It's the difference between that which can probably never be explained by science and rationalism as it exists beyond the realm of rational thought and that which will probably be explained eventually.

Ah, but what do you qualify as "rational" thought?

Sorry, I got into a semantic debate over a lot of this same material this weekend. I think both parties essentially agreed, but we couldn't concur on the terminology that was being flung about. Normally I reserve these conversations when it's about 4:00AM and I'm reprehensibly drunk.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC)
Ah, but what do you qualify as "rational" thought?

That's a good and reasonable question, but it's also one I'm not going to tackle right now. I am ever a strong believer in defining one's terms.
mackatlaw
Jan. 24th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
What is fantasy?
"For all anyone knows, the supposed Intelligent Designers might be an alien species of mortal, ungodlike beings." -- OSC.

Well, for instance, I think this quote is fantasy, and it's where I not-coincidentally stopped reading! Intelligent Design equals creationism under a new name as far I can tell, and OSC telling us we should believe otherwise is a poor laugh of a jest.

I read Card's work for a while, and I actually believe you would like his first novel, "Treason," sadly out of print for some time. It's a bit of a SF horror story involving a planet colonized by rebels from earth, who have developed nations based on the doctrines of their fields (geology, sociology, biology, politics, etc.) The biologists have bred a ruling race who can regenerate and so sell their spare body parts, the geologists have become immortal and make love to the earth, etc. The male protagonist grows breasts at one point, twins himself off when he becomes a mutated monster at another, and finally figures out what the secret to his society is.

"Ender's Game" is dead brilliant in a children must grow into soldiers because the adults have too many morals sort of way. The Alvin the Maker series starts off well, but quickly becomes a retelling of the Mormon church founding, set in an alternate colonial history with minor to major psychic powers.

I like the fact that OSC thinks, but whenever he gets near real world politics or religion, I want to avoid him. If you treat everything he says as fantasy thought experiments, they're more palatable. If I ever find another copy of Treason, I'll send it to you; it's disturbing and haunting enough that it's hard to believe the same writer wrote it. Later works after the first Ender book seem tamer, safer, to me.

(End of digression.)

Mack
cucumberseed
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
Re: What is fantasy?
Treason was a pretty good book. I forgot about that one. Ender was okay, but the rest of that lot were a waste of time. I liked the Alvin Maker series a lot, as well. I think that's about it.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
Re: What is fantasy?
I like the fact that OSC thinks, but whenever he gets near real world politics or religion, I want to avoid him.

This is a difficult area for me. I like to try to keep an author's politics/personal beliefs apart from her or his work, even though I'm fully aware that the one influences the other and, ultimately, they're indivisible. I can name any number of authors with whom I would vehemently disagree about all sorts of things (T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, et. al.), and yet I try not to allow those differences to bias me as to the worth of their work. I hope that my readers (and poetntial readers) will do likewise. Surely, I have readers who are not liberal, who are not queer, who are not Wiccan, who are not ardent enviromentalists, who don't prefer Coke to Pepsi, ad nauseum. I'd like to think who and what I am doesn't discourage readers (though I know for a fact it has many times done just that). So, that said, I try. I try not to avoid a writer like OSC just because his beliefs, his very outspoken beliefs which may have unpleasant real-world consequences for me and mine, make my skin crawl.

If I ever find another copy of Treason, I'll send it to you; it's disturbing and haunting enough that it's hard to believe the same writer wrote it.

Okay. Thanks.
sovay
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
Re: What is fantasy?
I like to try to keep an author's politics/personal beliefs apart from her or his work, even though I'm fully aware that the one influences the other and, ultimately, they're indivisible.

I suppose it becomes a valid issue when said beliefs begin to overlap with the work in a way that interferes—when you realize you're reading polemic, or preaching, and it's not about the characters so much as the author's agenda. Again, it's a slippery line. Is the presence of a positive Mormon character, or a positive queer character, part of an agenda? But I have certainly read pieces where I felt as though I was being shouted at through a screen of words, and that's a problem.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
Re: What is fantasy?
Is the presence of a positive Mormon character, or a positive queer character, part of an agenda?

That's an important question. Certainly, lots of people who say they are.
sovay
Jan. 24th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Re: What is fantasy?
Certainly, lots of people who say they are.

And you say—?
greygirlbeast
Jan. 24th, 2006 10:07 pm (UTC)
Re: What is fantasy?
And you say—?

— that there's no easy answer. Again, I would look at the intent of a writer (when may be hard or even impossible to learn). But even that can be very misleading. For instance, should we think that J. K. Rowling or Joss Whedon have set out writing with an agenda that includes promoting witchcraft. I think that's unlikely, and yet both of them have, for better or worse, made Wicca more popular with young people. I think "agenda" is too complex an issue to make simple, conclusive statements about. I write a lot of queer characters. Do I have a pro-queer agenda? Yes. Am I consciously using my fiction to promote it? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. I've written both "positive" and "negative" queer characters. But I've also written a lot of characters who are alcoholics and other sorts of addicts, usually without passing judgement on their habits. Am I "pro-drug"? See? It all gets very sticky.
cucumberseed
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC)
Re: What is fantasy?
Ever since I found that column of his that Poppy's journal pointed out, I've been stuck over a barrel about OSC. I really enjoyed the works of his that I enjoyed, but I have similar problems dealing with writers whose oppinions I can't stand. Unfortunately, the Alvin Maker series was very influential on me and, probably, what I write.

I found two little novellas by Mark Helprin that I enjoyed before finding out he was a neocon. Honestly, I wasn't surprised, but I couldn't ignore it once I knew, and it left me with something of a bad taste. I tried to ignore it, but jackassery has a tendency to backfill into what you've already read, spoiling it and when you got trained in school to read and interpret as you go, once you notice something, you can never unnotice it.
sovay
Jan. 24th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
the launch of the New Horizons spacecraft last week.

Last week during my trip to the American Museum of Natural History, I was lucky enough to wander into the Rose Center for Earth and Space just in time to catch the last few moments of lift-off—this was early afternoon on Thursday, and I'd forgotten all about the mission until I saw the screen. (Thank you, AstroBulletin.) That was very cool.

I'll come back to this later on, after I've had more time to consider about it all in more detail.

I'm looking forward to the results . . .
stotangirl
Jan. 25th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)
This is off-topic, and you may have already seen it/been pointed to it, but ... there's this video of an octopus attacking a shark ...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7004909622962894202&pr=goog-sl

Really, what made me want to post the link is that the tentacles reaching up and embracing the shark made me feel very much like your books do. Unsettled but eager.
setsuled
Jan. 25th, 2006 11:43 am (UTC)
I'll be running a contest to find the sickest Valentine's Day card. It can be something you find in a shop. It can be something you make.

I can not take part in that. I know I'd go way too far with it and be ashamed of myself for years.

Orson Scott Card continues to make an ass of himself.

For someone who hates writing synopses, that's a damn good comprehensive one of the Card article.

"Behe's conclusion is that since complex biochemical systems in advanced organisms could not have evolved through strict Darwinian evolution, the only possible explanation is that the system was designed and put into place deliberately."

Er, yeah. So 24 - 6 = Eggplant.

"1. Intelligent Design is just Creation Science in a new suit (name-calling)."

What, like "Strict Darwinists?"

"But the normal answer of the Darwinists is also a leap of faith. In effect, their arguments boil down to this: We have no idea right now how these complex systems came to be, but we have fervent, absolute faith that when we do figure it out, it will be found to have a completely mechanical, natural cause that requires no 'intelligent designer' at all."

Er. I notice that's not a direct quote. Or even an oblique one. Or one connected at all with any specific name.
styggian
Jan. 25th, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC)
We upgraded our cable the other day and found Discovery's Science Channel.
We saw a whole show the other night about New Horizons and they have so many other great shows that we just leave the tv on it.
They even had a translation of the Barlowe book "Expedition" about the fictional exploration of a planet called Darwin IV.
Thought you would enjoy at least as much as I have.
( 29 comments — Have your say! )