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China Mieville reviews Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life</a> for the Guardian.

Is the political novel dead?

Stephen Baxter talks about writing science fiction and Kevin Wignall blogs about the importance of storytelling in writing. And Matthew Cheney responds to an essay by Mark Haddon about the difference between genre fiction and literary fiction.

There are statements on the TTA message board from David Pringle and Andy Cox about the change in ownership of Interzone.
 
 
 
 
 
 
that when you talk about TV everyone wades in.

When you talk about literati, it goes suspiciously quiet.

[FX: Sits back and waits for flood of abuse.]
Well, this is not a post that invites or expects comments; it's just a collection of links that have piqued my interest over the past week or so, and I'm just passing them on in case they do the same for someone else. Last time I actually wrote a book-related commentary of some kind, the response was good enough for me...
I rarely know the items in question well enough to comment which is why I tend to just take note but never join in.

TV is a far easier topic than literature to offer a passing comment on.
TV is a far easier topic than literature to offer a passing comment on.

Not that you do, mind. ;-)
I send a withering glance your way.
Your withering glance is deflected by my +6 mirror shield and has no effect.

Would you like to (a)ttack, (r)un or (m)ock?
Interesting links - I'm tempted to agree with Matthew Cheney's assessment, but will have a read of the Haddon article and report back...

Interesting links - where did you find the Globe Mail article?

I saw the review of the Chiang in the newspaper, but didn't read it...
You expect me to give away my sources?!

Oh, alright then.

SF stuff tends to come from Locus or the Agony column or my Google news alert for 'science fiction'. Book stuff tends to come from bookslut or the booktrade newsletter. Miscellaneous stuff comes via Artsjournal. Other than that, I keep an eye on various blogs and message boards; the Third Alternative and Nightshade forums are the main ones I follow. Other (non-lj) blogs I read include mumpsimus_feed, weinman_blog, lnreview, s1ngularity, stumblingsdark and geekpress.

Keeping up with that lot doesn't take nearly as long as it sounds; half of it comes via lj, and most of the rest comes via email.
Most of the information I get comes from Livejournal, with a smaller amount coming by email: an ecology newsletter, CNN bulletins, a NYTimes Daily News Review, BBC headline alerts... And there is always going to be overlap.

Do you follow Scribble, Scribble, Scribble?

http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=scrblscrblscrbl

There is often interesting stuff there.

I think I've got feeds from Bookslut and Artsjournal, but I've not come across the Booktrade newsletter - I have now subscribed! Cheers!

These are the Artsjournal feeds I've got at the moment:

http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=aj_green

http://www.livejournal.com/users/aj_artopia/

http://www.livejournal.com/users/aj_russell/

http://www.livejournal.com/users/aj_issues/

http://www.livejournal.com/users/aj_ideas/

Thanks for revealing your sources ;o)
I've just noticed that I have more syndicated feeds than lj "friends"... I wonder how many people are using Livejournal primarily as a news aggregator...
Mark Haddon's piece was good, and I thought that particularly eye-opening were the insights into the mechanics of producing books for children.

His points about genre are, I think, very true: some books can be both "genre" and "literary", but most are not; and a "genre" novel might hold the reader "spellbound for a rainy Sunday afternoon" while a literary novel puts them "in touch with a part of themselves they didn't even know existed."

And he's a far more lucid than Cheney, who - on re-reading - clouds the issue... The bit I don't like is:

"Literary fiction, then, is the opposite of escapist, bringing the reader to reflect on life, the universe, and everything."

For some reason that feels too crude, simplifying what happens when we read something that is regarded as a literaty work, and simplifying what literary fiction is...

I'd argue that literary fiction is fiction that is "versed in, or acquainted with, literature"; fiction that builds on or relates to, in some way, the literature that has come before it; and fiction that stands a chance of influencing future fiction or changing the structure of literary culture.

I don't think literary fiction has to, necessarily, do something to the reader to be classed as literary. If you see what I mean. A reader can read it Middlemarch quite passively, and it is still a literary novel...

I thought this was interesting.
A crime writer's take on "genre fiction": Stella Duffy on why "being a crime writer can seem like a second-class occupation".
drplokta bought me "Stories of Your Life" for Christmas, off my amazon wishlist. And I was delighted, and oohed and aahed, and put it somewhere to read in peace and quiet.

I wonder where?