Nothing hugely substantial today; just a quick signal boost on three fronts.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that if there’s one thing science fiction novels tend to preach about other than science, it’s ideology. You’re imagining the way all those Heinlein novels would deflate down to 12-page pamphlets if someone were to go through them and cut out the authorial stand-in who filled so many pages with libertarian lectures; you’re wondering if there’d be enough left of Joanna Russ’s The Female Man to fill a doggie bag once the gender politics had been excised. You’re thinking of the political infodumps in Kim Stanley Robinson’s work, the thinly-veiled diatribes in Robert Sawyer’s; you’re remembering that Atlas Shrugged was basically a science fiction novel and you’re thinking Jeez, someone thinks we need more of this?
Well, maybe not. But there’s politics, and there’s politics. There are authors who deliberately dress up political lectures in gauzy veils of fiction, and there are those who — just trying to tell a story — can’t help letting their politics seep into the narrative despite themselves. (I suppose I might be one of those, if you regard the Darwinian perspective as a kind of ideology. Personally, I regard it as simple empiricism; but maybe that just makes me an ideologue of an especially blinkered sort.) Yet there must also be authors who set out not to preach politics but to explore them, to use fiction not as a club but as an analytical tool. And some of those authors must work at the more easily-digestible length of the short story.
Yeah, I know. I’m having a tough time thinking of any myself. Tiptree’s work, sometimes (“The Screwfly Solution” was one of the creepiest and most effective feminist experiments I’ve ever encountered, and she performed it through the lens of pure biology). Le Guin, certainly. Robert Silverberg, back in the day.
My point is, there’s lots of room for more, if it’s done right.
Hayden Trenholm first came to my attention back when I was an editor for On Spec. Early in his career he submitted a story — Tempus Fugitive, I think it was called — that stood head and shoulders and upper thorax above the usual slush that washed over the transom. He’s continued to publish in the meantime — stories, novels — but what I didn’t know until recently is that the dude makes his living in politics. He’s been doing that for over thirty years; as advisor, as policy analyst, even as a candidate. He’s worked with all three of Canada’s national parties; he’s worked for two of them. If anyone’s more qualified to edit an anthology of politically-themed SF, I don’t know who it is.
So check out the project. Consider supporting it. I myself will be watching this experiment with interest; given the way the conventional publishing industry is going, I may be doing something like this myself before long…
Readings & Rickards
This next one involves me. I’m one of three authors who’ll be serving up performances at tomorrow’s installment of the Chiaroscuro Reading and Workshop Series (put on by the inexplicably and relentlessly productive folks at ChiZine). I can’t tell you what fellow scribes Matt Johnson and Kate Story will be serving up; I myself will be reading three short never-before-seen-or-heard fragments, two from upcoming short stories and one from the closing pages of Echopraxia. As usual, the event is being held at Augusta House just north of Dundas, halfway between Bathurst and Spadina. It has chairs and tables and alcohol, and wallpaper that’s a little reminiscent of the house in the 1963 iteration of The Haunting, except it doesn’t look like demonic faces in the middle of the night and you can’t hear faint cries and screams seeping from behind it.
Anyway, if you’re local, come on by.
Alcohol and Atheists
Named for the deceased atheist gadfly. Equipped not with flatscreens that show football games, but with projectors that show TED talks. And if they’re being faithful to the memory of their inspiration, they won’t be watering down their drinks.
I have not been there yet, but it’s at the top of the list. Anybody out there tried it out?