Posts

Showing posts from September, 2003

"Literature of Ideas" and the SF Left

Dave Truesdale stirred up a bit of trouble with his TangentOnline editorial titled "Idiocy from the SFnal Left", which caused a remarkable discussion on the Tangent newsgroup -- a discussion where some excellent ideas and conversation is crowded amidst hostility, short tempers, bruised egos, petulance, bile, apologies, misunderstanding, mis-statements, and brilliance.

The strangest result of the discussion was Truesdale's announcing that, because of it, he was ending Tangent. That would be a great disaster for the SF field, as no-one else, that I know of, works so hard to notice and review SF short fiction. I expect the discussion was the proverbial straw breaking the camel's back, since Truesdale has been under many pressures recently, and Tangent has not been easy to keep going. No matter what the cause, though, Tangent's demise would be a horribly sad one.

What I want to discuss here, though, is the editorial itself, and some of the discussion around it. T…

Poetry at Strange Horizons

I've long had ambivalent feelings about SF poetry, primarily because so much of it that I read in Asimov's and a few other places seemed awful, completely unaware of the last century or so of poetic innovations, debates, and techniques. If the "poem" wasn't a prosey joke, it was a half-baked story idea with broken lines.

More than the quality, though, I wondered about the need. Mainstream poetry has not succumbed to the deadening of imagination which so much mainstream fiction has succumbed to. A book like Verse & Universe: Poems About Science and Mathematics is, in its own way, a collection of SF poems, many written by Big Names in poetry. They had no need to label their poems as anything other than poems.

I still think most of the best SF poetry is happening in the literary journals and is not written by writers who would ever associate themselves with a literary ghetto other than the ghetto of poetry, but there are also some good poems being written by…

"The Wait" by Kit Reed

Recently, I picked up a copy of The Best from Fantasy & Science Fiction, 8th Series, edited by Anthony Boucher, which contains a story I've long wanted to read, "The Wait" by Kit Reed, a remarkable writer who deserves to be better known.

"The Wait" is, I believe, Reed's first published story. It appeared in the April, 1958 issue of F&SF, when Reed was about 26 years old.

Any writer, regardless of age, would be proud to call this story their first published. The command of tone and pacing is nearly perfect, with the story unfolding one strange revelation after another. Just when you think you understand the world Reed has created -- one which reminded me of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" -- she complicates the situation and brings in a depth of detail extraordinary in a story of about 16 pages. The characters are not rounded and complex, but rather serve as types in the way many of Flannery O'Connor's characters serve as ty…