Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Genre:What is Slipstream or New Wave Fabulism?

Recently i've been thinking alot about 'categories' and 'genre' in regards to my writing and that of my favourite books.

"The Gargoyle"; "The Book Thief"; "Darkmans"; "Beyond Black"; "Life of Pi"; "The Book of lost things"; "Kafka on the shore"; "Neverwhere"; "American Gods"

Often when some one asks about these books, its hard to call them, fantasy/ science fiction/literary because they are both but neither. As Carter Scholz & Bruce Sterling states, there is this new emergent genre:
it is a contemporary kind of writing which has set its face against consensus reality. It is a fantastic, surreal sometimes, speculative on occasion, but not rigorously so. It does not aim to provoke a "sense of wonder" or to systematically extrapolate in the manner of classic science fiction.

Instead, this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the late twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility. We could call this kind of fiction Novels of Postmodern Sensibility, but that looks pretty bad on a category rack, and requires an acronym besides; so for the sake of convenience and argument, we will call these books "slipstream."
He further continues that:

It seems to me that the heart of slipstream is an attitude of peculiar aggression against "reality." These are fantasies of a kind, but not fantasies which are "futuristic" or "beyond the fields we know." These books tend to sarcastically tear at the structure of "everyday life."Some such books, the most "mainstream" ones, are non-realistic literary fictions which avoid or ignore SF genre conventions. But hard-core slipstream has unique darker elements. Quite commonly these works don't make a lot of common sense, and what's more they often somehow imply that *nothing we know makes* "a lot of sense" and perhaps even that *nothing ever could*.

It's very common for slipstream books to screw around with the representational conventions of fiction, pulling annoying little stunts that suggest that the picture is leaking from the frame and may get all over the reader's feet. A few such techniques are infinite regress, trompe-l'oeil effects, metalepsis, sharp violations of viewpoint limits, bizarrely blase' reactions to horrifically unnatural events . . . all the way out to concrete poetry and the deliberate use of gibberish. Think M. C. Escher, and you have a graphic equivalent."
Is this the new wave for the genre of SF/Fantasy?

According to Rosenfield's article slipstream writers in reference to Carter Scholz and Sterlings article (above quoted and below listed) include just about everyone writing fantastic fiction working outside the "Science Fiction and Fantasy" section of the bookstore e.g. Paul Auster, Margaret Atwood, Kathy Acker, William Burroughs, Steve Erickson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Phillip Roth

But what of New Fabulism?

"Fabulism," you see, is a term used to describe Magical Realist writings by people who are not Latin.New Wave Fabulism is the term invented by Conjunctions to cast a broader net, to include fantastic writing that simply isn't Magical Realism. In practical terms one wonders what the difference between "New Wave Fabulism" and "Slipstream" really is? Why didn't Conjunctions just call the issue "Slipstream" and be done with it?

The real difference between the terms is an illustration of why we can't declare the tension between those inside and outside the genre finally over and break out the champaign. The term "Slipstream" was created by Bruce Sterling to describe people predominantly outside the genre, but because he himself was inside of it, talking to people inside of it, the term has come to be used primarily by the SF community. "New Wave Fabulism," however, was proposed by a literary magazine to describe people inside the genre, and it is already coming to be used by people in the Literary world as a way to describe SF writers who are, you know, "good," because apparently we can't just call it Speculative Fiction without turning people off. In 2006 an anthology was released with the unwieldy title of Paraspheres: Extending Beyond the Spheres of Literary and Genre Fiction: Fabulist and New Wave Fabulist Stories. In the statement-of-purpose essay from this anthology, editor Ken Keegan reveals:

On several occasions I initially described the work we would be publishing as "speculative fiction," only to receive a response like, "Oh, you mean science (or fantasy, or genre) fiction. I don't read science (or fantasy or genre) fiction. I only read literary fiction."

So essentially Slipstream and New Wave Fabulism are one and the same - a mix of literary and SF and according to Rosenberg's article both sides of this 'new genre' (literary and SF) are breaking out in hives at the thought of mentioning the other genre's existence.

The difference between Literary Fiction and Speculative Fiction is not the content, but the communities, communities which are often wildly ignorant about one another, and more significantly, openly hostile to one another. Which is not to say there aren't exceptions; obviously Bruce Sterling reads Literary Fiction and the editors of Conjunctions read Speculative Fiction. But the very existence of two terms, "Slipstream" and "New Wave Fabulism," to describe something that, if they aren't the same thing, might as well be, highlights the communal divisions even between the people who are most open to crossing their borders.
*sigh* i started this post, excited that i could label my favourite books with a genre name and be able to say i read 'such and such' genre and maybe be able to find more books that are similar. . .

Now it sounds like i just walked onto the bookworld version of westside story!?!?!?!

THE SLIPSTREAM LIST - Carter Scholz & Bruce Sterling

ACKER, KATHY - Empire of the Senseless
ACKROYD, PETER - Hawksmoor; Chatterton
ALDISS, BRIAN - Life in the West
ALLENDE, ISABEL - Of Love and Shadows; House of
AMIS, KINGSLEY - The Alienation; The Green Man
AMIS, MARTIN - Other People; Einstein's Monsters
APPLE, MAX - Zap; The Oranging of America
ATWOOD, MARGARET - The Handmaids Tale
AUSTER, PAUL - City of Glass; In the Country of Last
BALLARD, J. G. - Day of Creation; Empire of the Sun
BANKS, IAIN - The Wasp Factory; The Bridge
BANVILLE, JOHN - Kepler; Dr. Copernicus
BARNES, JULIAN - Staring at the Sun
BARTH, JOHN - Giles Goat-Boy; Chimera
BATCHELOR, JOHN CALVIN - Birth of the People s
Republic of Antarctica
BELL, MADISON SMARTT - Waiting for the End of the
BONTLY, THOMAS - Celestial Chess
BOYLE, T. CORAGHESSAN - Worlds End; Water Music
BRANDAO, IGNACIO - And Still the Earth
BURROUGHS, WILLIAM - Place of Dead Roads; Naked Lunch;
Soft Machine; etc.
CARROLL, JONATHAN - Bones of the Moon; Land of Laughs
CARTER, ANGELA - Nights at the Circus; Heroes and
CARY, PETER - Illywhacker; Oscar and Lucinda
CHESBRO, GEORGE M. - An Affair of Sorcerers
COETZEE, J. M. - Life and rimes of Michael K.
COOVER, ROBERT - The Public Burning; Pricksongs &
CRACE, JIM - Continent
CROWLEY, JOHN - Little Big; Aegypt
DAVENPORT, GUY - Da Vincis Bicycle; The Jules Verne
Steam Balloon
DISCH, THOMAS M. - On Wings of Song
DODGE, JIM - Not Fade Away
ELY, DAVID - Seconds
ERICKSON, STEVE - Days Between Stations; Rubicon Beach
FEDERMAN, RAYMOND - The Twofold Variations
FRANZEN, JONATHAN - The Twenty-Seventh City
FRISCH, MAX - Homo Faber; Man in the Holocene
FUENTES, CARLOS - Terra Nostra
GADDIS, WILLIAM - JR; Carpenters Gothic
GARDNER, JOHN - Grendel; Freddy's Book
GEARY, PATRICIA - Strange Toys; Living in Ether
GOLDMAN, WILLIAM - The Princess Bride; The Color of
GRASS, GUNTER - The Tin Drum
HARBINSON, W. A. - Genesis; Revelation; Otherworld
HILL, CAROLYN - The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer
HJVRTSBERG, WILLIAM - Gray Matters; Falling Angel
HOBAN, RUSSELL - Riddley Walker
HOYT, RICHARD - The Manna Enzyme
IRWIN, ROBERT - The Arabian Nightmares
ISKANDER, FAZIL - Sandro of Chegam; The Gospel
According to Sandro
JOHNSON, DENIS - Fiskadoro
JONES, ROBERT F. - Blood Sport; The Diamond Bogo
KINSELLA, W. P. - Shoeless Joe
KOSTER, R. M. - The Dissertation; Mandragon
KOTZWINKLE, WILLIAM - Elephant Bangs Train; Doctor
Rat, Fata Morgana
KRAMER, KATHRYN - A Handbook for Visitors From Outer
LANGE, OLIVER - Vandenberg
LESSING, DORIS - The Four-Gated City; The Fifth Child
of Satan
MAILER, NORMAN - Ancient Evenings
MARINIS, RICK - A Lovely Monster
MARQUEZ, GABRIEL GARCIA - Autumn of the Patriarch; One
Hundred Years of Solitude
MATHEWS, HARRY - The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium
McEWAN, IAN - The Comfort of Strangers; The Child in
McMAHON, THOMAS - Loving Little Egypt
MILLAR, MARTIN - Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation
MOONEY, TED - Easy Travel to Other Planets
MOORCOCK, MICHAEL - Laughter of Carthage; Byzantium
Endures; Mother London
MOORE, BRIAN - Cold Heaven
MORRISON, TONI - Beloved; The Song of Solomon
NUNN, KEN - Tapping the Source; Unassigned Territory
PERCY, WALKER - Love in the Ruins; The Thanatos
PIERCY, MARGE - Woman on the Edge of Time
PORTIS, CHARLES - Masters of Atlantis
PRIEST, CHRISTOPHER - The Glamour; The Affirmation
PROSE, FRANCINE - Bigfoot Dreams, Marie Laveau
PYNCHON, THOMAS - Gravity's Rainbow; V; The Crying of
Lot 49
REED, ISHMAEL - Mumbo Jumbo; The Terrible Twos
RICE, ANNE - The Vampire Lestat; Queen of the Damned
ROBBINS, TOM - Jitterbug Perfume; Another Roadside
ROTH, PHILIP - The Counterlife
RUSHDIE, SALMON - Midnight's Children; Grimus; The
Satanic Verses
SAINT, H. F. - Memoirs of an Invisible Man
SHEPARD, LUCIUS - Life During Wartime
SIDDONS, ANNE RIVERS - The House Next Door
SPARK, MURIEL - The Hothouse by the East River
SPENCER, SCOTT - Last Night at the Brain Thieves Ball
THOMAS, D. M. - The White Hotel
THOMPSON, JOYCE - The Blue Chair; Conscience Place
THOMSON, RUPERT - Dreams of Leaving
THORNTON, LAWRENCE - Imagining Argentina
UPDIKE, JOHN - Witches of Eastwick; Rogers Version
VLIET, R. G. - Scorpio Rising
VOLLMAN, WILLIAM T. - You Bright and Risen Angels
VONNEGUT, KURT - Galapagos; Slaughterhouse-Five
WALLACE, DAVID FOSTER - The Broom of the System
WEBB, DON - Uncle Ovid's Exercise Book
WHITTEMORE, EDWARD - Nile Shadows; Jerusalem Poker;
Sinai Tapestry
WILLARD, NANCY - Things Invisible to See
WOMACK, JACK - Ambient; Terraplane
WOOD, BARI - The Killing Gift
WRIGHT, STEPHEN - M31: A Family Romance

Slipstream/cyberpunk book reviews

Monday, June 29, 2009

Strange Short Story: Lessons

So i posted a short story over on AW. I got some good constructive criticism, and thankfully no outright 'never pick up a pen again' comments :) It needs alot of work (like all my writing) so here is my little recap on the lessons i got from the comments and critiques

#1 ellipses and their overuse! Again, Grammar!!

#2 i need to be more clear in what i'm trying to portray (i often leave people confused)
KISS (keep it simple stupid)

#3 definitely a better set up and maybe i should expand this idea more?

#4 Kill the cliches & repetition

#5 serious editing to improve delivery

#6 more about the characters - more of a 'feel'

#7 Really write different imagery/phrases - not even close to familiar writing.

John D McDonald: A Million Words

I've read almost all the comments on the post "why new novelists are kinda old" both the post and comments are excellent - real food for thought, especially in regards to the potter analogy (you wouldn't expect a masterpiece the first time you approach a potters wheel) and the lifetimes outlines. Also though in the comment section was John D Mcdonald's quote (taken from Elmore Leonards blog

John D. McDonald said that you had to write a million words before you really knew what you were doing. A million words is ten years. By that time you should have a definite idea of what you want your writing to sound like. That’s the main thing. I don’t think many writers today begin with that goal: to write a certain way that has a definite sound to it.
Malcolm Gladwell also stated:

it takes 10 000 hours of practise to get good at anything (about five years of eight hour days, or considerably longer if you’re doing it around your day job, rather than as your day job).
So moral of the lesson from reading this post - i'm 22 and i've 1 million words to go :)

Strange Short Story

So i posted a short story on AW. I was extremely nervous about it but i think the feedback was very constructive. It also has given me some food for thought about my writing and my current WIP. i think i've a long way till i'm publishable but i'm happy to just start.

So, perhaps i'll play around with this and see what happens. . .

EDIT: thought this was an encouraging and depressing article lol "why new novelists are kinda old" - encouraging because like a good wine, a writer matures with age (and practice), depressing because nothing with writing is 'quick'

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Procrastination, thy name is book trailer

So, i made a book trailer hahahaha.

I own none of these images, and although i know i got some legitimately through compflight commons, others have been sitting on my comp for a looong time and so i don't know if i stole these or not (most likely through google) - apologies!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Housekeeping. . .

Probably noticed the poetry themed posts - well i posted them here to save them as i've deleted my 'poetry blog', writing exercise blog and private 'random thoughts' blog.

So now i have this blog as my only personal blog and the others are all community blogs.

With my thesis taking up all my time i'm neglecting both my writing and my online writing community blog/forum, so there was no point in trying to maintain so many.

Song - Christina Rossetti

WHEN I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me:
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.
I liked this poem so much that the first banner i ever got made for myself (by blackangel a few years ago if i remember rightly)

Also here is an excellent performance of the poem.

Remember Me - Christina Rossetti

One of my favourite poems by Christina Rossetti was Remember Me. It was the first poem of her works that i ever read, and introduced me to the wonderful world of her poetry.

And is one of her best known poems. . .

REMEMBER me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

A reading of 'Remember Me'

'Remember Me' Sang by a Choir

Friday, June 19, 2009

The path not taken. . . .

Warning: Diary-esque entry with rambling nonsense thoughts.

I often wonder 'what if. . . ' but recently since i started my current course i've been pondering it more and more.
As a teenager (although i still believe subconsciously i'm 17) i never knew 'what i wanted to be' and as a person i know i am a bit of a doormat and i know i've been influenced strongly by my parents and family's opinion of what a 'suitable job' should be.

I wonder have i missed my chance?

Should i have done Art instead of chemistry (because my mother thought pharmacy would be a good career)? I never had a love for art or thought i had any sort of talent in that area, but certainly chemistry was the bane of my existence in secondary (high school).

Should i have done drama in university? Done more with my acting, rather than viewing it as a 'hobby'? I spent ten years training, achieving a grade beneath Kate Winslot and then stopped to concentrate on a 'normal education'

More important than those 'what -ifs' though is whether i should have continued with english, rather than choosing psychology? I love psychology, yet here i am doing a business course after all the work of getting my 1.1 degree.

Did i choose the wrong path? considering my aspirations for both being a writer and my longtime love of english? I remember thinking that psychology would benefit me as a writer, as i could truly explore motivations etc of my characters. I certainly don't regret going down this path but i wonder what the other path would have been like?

I guess these thoughts have shown up again because i've been tidying my room and found my old english essays from 1st year of university. My tutor always gave me high praise and i remember telling him i was dropping english and him looking at me like i had three heads as he began to tell me i would be mad to drop english!

This thought also occurs to me when i read the bios of many authors, although i know there are as many writers out there without english degrees as with, i often wonder have i hindered myself by not continuing along that english path?

Do BA and MAs in creative writing or fiction writing help / work?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In need of laughter

In serious need of mindless humour due to thesis . . .

Yes i do know i have the humour of a two year old


Dogs rule!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Exhausted . . .

4,500 words of thesis in less than 24 hours.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is this your first novel?

So, wandering around the blogosphere, i was happy to see Janet Reid's blog has been recovered and is active as ever. Skimming over the BEA posts, i came across these two posts 'Is this your first novel?' and 'How soon is too soon' :

2. It's your first novel. No matter how hard it is to hear and follow this advice, it's probably the best advice I'll ever offer: write a second novel before you query on the first one. You'll learn so much while writing that second novel that you'll go back and either revise or discard Novel #1. AND you won't have all the baggage from those damn form rejections to weigh you down
I think all of us prepublished writers, especially novice ones believe (and hope) that our first WIP will be 'the novel' that gets published. I'd like to know what people think of the above comment?

Personally, i think Janet is dead on. Although it makes me want to cry like a little girl, the likelihood is that my first WIP will be the biggest load of 'dialogue tag' with a dash of 'purple prose' crap to see the light of day. I think for me personally, the hardest part of the above advice is not instantly sending off queries as soon as my editing is finised.

Self-restraint is not my forte, certainly when you want feedback or validation or whatever (even if its rejections).

Apart from this though as i've mentioned before, my current WIP is not 'my baby'. I deliberately decided to write one of my other ideas (rather than the one i really want to write) so that my current wip would teach me 'how i write' and what 'outlining/ploting' etc suits me so that i will know that when i approach some of the ideas that have been festering for years, that i will be at the top of my game?

Does this make sense? or do i sound nuts?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fill in the Gaps: Update

I finished my first FITG's book, Never Let me Go .

Absolutely Brilliant, Haunting, Upseting, Sad, Lovely and Beautiful.

Go Read this Book!

I've posted a book review on The Book Bundle .

Friday, June 5, 2009


Jules Renard: Quotations about Writing
Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none.

Samuel Johnson: Quotes on Writing
The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.

Richard Harding Davis: Quotes on Writing
The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or to say a new thing in an old way.

Truman Capote: Quotes on Writing
To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.

John Osborne: Writing Quotes
Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.
What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers.

Flannery O'Connor: Writing Quotes
Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.

Logan Pearsall Smith: Quotes: Writing
What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sunshine and other crap. . .

Well its been a while (for me) since i blogged. Since i finished my exams i've been staying away from both the internet and my laptop, not because i'm 'making myself' but because i just can't face it for some reason? (very strange and unusual for me)

Perhaps its the weather, Ireland has gotten sunny weather (its big news here, trust me), hitting 28 degrees (82.4 oF) during the week (hottest day in 3 years). We had two of the wettest summers ever in the last two years back to back (and its ireland, where wet is common so this was really really wet) there was not actually one day in those two summers where it didn't rain at least once - curse of being an island in the north of the atlantic.

The thing is I had a lot of plans (WC, WIP etc.) as soon as my exams were finished which haven't happened or been strated yet, not to mention my thesis which is already falling behind due to this period of unactivity.

I don't know. . .

Is it possible that my body is gotten so used to the lack of sun, that sunshine has had an opposite effect on my system, and produced a subversed version of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder)

and has made me alergic to my laptop, work and the internet?

Or am i just drained. . .

or am i just lazy . . .

meeh . . . typing this little thing has already drained me of energy and brain cells . . . . .

P.S. Re: FTGP - i've given up on middlemarch (i'll use it as a book end/doorstop) - Yup,it will be kanye wests masterpiece of 56 pages for me for a while, me thinks lol.
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