I have gotten a great deal of feedback from the commentariat of File770, much of which I have answered in that venue. However, this particular set of remarks deserves I think some special attention. (And note that the opening bit there was part of my response to requests for me to explain what was so wrong with current science fiction and fantasy. I did make an effort to address that request here. It did not cause peoples’ heads to explode.)
Anyway, here is Ann Somerville’s comment:
“I am more interested in telling you what’s right about sff before 1980″
As a a writer, I’m frustrated and annoyed that somehow nothing I produce as a woman in the 21st century will have the value of stuff produced by white men while I was still a teenager.
I mean, I love me some Robert Silverberg and I just reread Shadrach in the Furnace with huge pleasure, but his dystopic future run from Ulan Bator is set in 2012! (presciently with a pope called Benedict) Are we supposed to only stick with books whose long distant future is now in our past? Books exploring space before we even landed on that moon? Speculations about inventions and the solar systems which we have now researched in glorious details and found the speculations can’t hold a patch on the amazing reality?
Are we to endlessly glorify war and military porn when our world is in the middle of world war 3?
And are we really supposed to have our tastes defined by someone who thinks Hitler is a role model for race relations?
I want stuff that talks to me about our world, the science we have now, the knowledge we have now and are seeking. I’m not going to get that from the Golden Age, and I’m not going to see much about the person I am in those books either.
I’ve read a lot of the classic books of SFF, and they were good. But they’re not *enough*. Bugger the nutty nuggets. Give me real food, and give me new books that explore where we are now, and where we can be, knowing what we know now.
My comment on this:
This is why I write. Ann Somerville is completely ignorant of the thing the she reflexively lashes out against here. She may not even know it.
In that first sentence, she has effectively erased Leigh Brackett from history. She seems to not be aware that the literary antecedents to Gamma World not only took an extreme anti-war stance, but also had strongly developed anti-racism themes (The entire post-apocalytic mutant adventure genre that I have enjoyed for so many years was in fact pioneered by Andre Norton in her first science fiction novel.) Finally, it appears that Ann Somerville is disqualifying Lovecraft by playing the Hitler card on him. But in spite of his wrongheaded beliefs, he did in fact succeed in having a tremendous impact on our tastes that continues to this day. His specter touches countless movies, games, and stories old and new. (She may be thinking of someone else there, but Lovecraft is the author I most often see compared to Hitler.)
Her characterization of the sort of classic fiction I’ve been writing about does not correspond to reality. And the sort of people that nitpick and cross examine my every utterance at File770 have nothing to say about it in the comments, either. Well if fandom is not too interested in setting the record straight on this, then I will do what I can in a venue where exploring these topics is actually welcome.
And no, I never said that anyone has to stop reading books from new authors. Acting like I did is utterly preposterous.