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There's a great interview with Neal Stephenson here, including that story about that time he fought William Gibson.

Please let this rumour (Keith Richards to play Captain Jack Sparrow's Dad) be true. Elsewhere, the film rights to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell have been sold.

Films can be just as much Art as books, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is brilliant. I hope we can all agree on these two things.

Old news that I missed: there's a contents list up for the Clarke Award Critical Collection, hopefully due in time for the next Worldcon. Looks good.

Gordon van Gelder gives his opinion of the new Interzone.

There's an interesting, and probably at least partly true, theory about why fantasy is currently more popular than sf at criminal english.

I watched part one of The Peacekeeper Wars last night; it was great. I'd forgotten how good the Farscape writers were at getting away with daft situations by having smart characters. Favourite line of the evening: "this is your universe ... this is your universe on wormholes." Hopefully part two will be waiting for me when I get home this evening.

Oh, I've put the final (or at least current ) results of good or bad are up. We now know conclusively that liquorice covered in salt is bad. Some may say we did not need a poll to tell us this. I say it's always good to have evidence.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks for some very interesting links! (Though I already knew that salty licorice was BAD, very BAD indeed.)

I had no idea, until I read the JS&MN film story, that there was any controversy about its not making the Booker shortlist. Anyway, as is now evident, the Booker judges are Wrong All Wrong; a common failing of literary award judges, I believe, and fishlifter (in all its legion names) will back me up on that.
(Though I already knew that salty licorice was BAD, very BAD indeed.)

Clearly you are one of the rightthinking people.

I had no idea, until I read the JS&MN film story, that there was any controversy about its not making the Booker shortlist.

I haven't read it (yet: it's scheduled for December. Yes, I schedule my reading. Sigh), but I get the impression that some of the controversy is in the idea that maybe it was a little too 'populist'. I'm sure the book trade would have been thrilled to see it on the list, 'cause it's gonna sell well.

Anyway, as is now evident, the Booker judges are Wrong All Wrong

Definitely one of those rightthinking people.
Films can be just as much Art as books

Really? They can?

A guy who works in a nearby bookshop noticed a huge uplift in sales of what he calls "trashy romances" around the time the "war on terror" began" - he didn't pinpoint the moment very precisely. But he noted, quite seriously, that people seemed to be buying more of this stuff (Nora Roberts, and others like her) when the "present" was particularly unpleasant.

I also get the feeling that SF is no longer as visionary as it was, and so may not have the same pull on readers. I don't hear people talking about the "sense of wonder" in the way they once did.
Really? They can?

Of course. :-p

I liked this quote:
Put another way: How would you novelize Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, exactly, without "bastardizing" it?

I also get the feeling that SF is no longer as visionary as it was, and so may not have the same pull on readers.

I think that's part of the effect for which criminal english is attempting to describe a cause; though it's probably also true to say that though there are many possible futures left to write about, there don't seem to be many new types of possible future left to write about.

I think that's part of the effect for which criminal english is attempting to describe a cause; though it's probably also true to say that though there are many possible futures left to write about, there don't seem to be many new types of possible future left to write about.


Or we haven't found them.

The why is probably quite straightforward - we just don't care about the future anymore, because we know it will be worse than the present. We are in a society apathetic about the present and pessimistic about the future. Which may be what the article is getting at.
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Apologies for noticing the important "seem". I agree - there probably are more seams to be mined. But, for whatever reasons, they're not currently being mined in ways that appeal to those people who would normally be reading SF.

The question of "originality" is interesting - I don't think that is the biggest challenge. The best novels aren't always the most original, and more often than not they're derivative, in some way - but what distinguishes them is their vision and their power, as literary works, to affect people. For whatever reasons, SF is no longer affecting people - it isn't having an effect.
Or we haven't found them.

Which is why I say 'don't seem'. But really--we can have better futures or worse futures; futures set in space or futures set on earth; futures in which biotech changes the world, or future in which information technology changes the world; futures of globalisation, or futures of balkanisation. There are many variations to be played on these themes, but brand-new themes seem to be harder to find now than they were fifty years ago, maybe even twenty-five years ago. Sure, part of it is probably writers not looking hard enough, or being apathetic, but at the same time I don't think you can argue with the fact that a lot of mapping has been done. How much harder is it now, for instance, to write a really original dystopia?
There's an interesting, and probably at least partly true, theory about why fantasy is currently more popular than sf at criminal english.

Interesting. Though it's more a theory as to why sf is unpopular than one saying anything about fantasy (other than it not being sf).
Yes--I think the big flaw in his reasoning is that he seems to be carrying the 'fantasy is escapist' meme. If fantasy is more popular than sf, it's because fantasy is less about reality than sf, etc.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is brilliant

I have only had less fun in a cinema watching Punch-Drunk Love, but it was a close run thing. Both films were the cinematic equivalent of listening to someone scrape their nails repeatedly down a blackboard.

And salt-covered liquorice STILL rules.
I could try to explain to you the magnitude of your wrongness, but I think it would be a hopeless endeavour. You're simply too far gone. ;-)
You don't know!!!
So you haven't seen Alien: Resurrection or The Matrix on a big screen? *shudders*
Burn heretic, burn! ;-)
I did go see The Matrix: Reloaded on the big screen. As Mr Itchy pointed out, Trinity's arse was huge.
I didn't say it was all bad.
Hee!
Both films were the cinematic equivalent of listening to someone scrape their nails repeatedly down a blackboard.

Words cannot express just how fucking WRONG you are.
That's because I'm not wrong at all :) If I were, there would be words.
Oh dear. It's a hopeless case of a WRONGHEAD in denial.
You don't know!!!!!!
We now know conclusively that liquorice covered in salt is bad. Some may say we did not need a poll to tell us this. I say it's always good to have evidence.

Clearly a wrong-headed answer there. Besides, I'll call this a clear-cut case of selection bias :-p

For the record, salty licquorice == RAWK. And I've never had any actually covered in grains of salt. But it's lovely.
Salty liquorice is an acquired taste. Clearly you are not cosmopolitan enough to appreciate this continental (well Dutch) delicacy. If you continue to belittle that which you do not understand, you will feel the wrath of my Unstoppable Cadigan-school Flying Mirrorshades technique!