Speculative Fiction Debate at the CCA, Glasgow.



I shall be “chairing” a debate at the SWC (Scottish Writer’s Centre) in the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) at 7pm this coming Thursday (24th May 2012), on the topic of Speculative Fiction (Sci Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal etc) and the nature of its relationship to “mainstream” literature. Why not come along and stick your oar in? Personally, I am as opposed to the segregation of books as I am to the segregation of people, and see “genres” as a marketing-led device invented by the major publishing houses to underestimate our intelligence and generally undermine the quality of human thought everywhere. Contentious? Now if that doesn’t get your pulse racing a little, what does?
The debate will be open to absolutely everyone to contribute of course, but we will kick off with me and five other panellists voicing our views in order to get everybody else thinking. Those panellists will be: John Birch, Roy Gill, Kirsty Logan, Gordon Robertson, and Neil Williamson. For more info on them and the event check out the SWC Blog: http://scottishwriterscentre.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/scottish-writers-centre-great-debate-thursday-24th-may/
Hope to see you there!

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4 Responses to Speculative Fiction Debate at the CCA, Glasgow.

  1. eibonvale says:

    Wish I could be there! Kind of a long way though. Oddly enough, I was just touching on that very subject last night as I was finishing that interview I was working on (in the question on pet peeves!). Maybe I should have gone into it deeper since it is an interesting area. My conclusions were basically the same as yours but with a rather more pessimistic question in terms of practicality. If not genres, then how would people actually find books to read? Do you need some kind of road signs? Word of mouth seems rather less than powerful, given the vast universe of books out there. Wouldn’t we still need some kind of community or network with an identity? Maybe that is what slipstream is! Writers seem to be responding to the increasing complexity of writing by making more genres, not less – like Bizarro or Slipstream itself – always searching for an identity they can use to help them climb and be recognised.

  2. Yes, wish you could be there too. The problem comes when a genre label is used as a way of ghetto-ising a particular kind of work, a code for “this is the sort of rubbish I don’t read”. Conversely, resorting to tired and hackneyed “tropes” and plot devices is just bad writing in any genre. What we all need most is first class writing in a “literary” style that uses ideas that seem Sci Fi, Horror etc, but demonstrate by example the relevance of these approaches in shedding light on everyday life. The problem with everyday reality is that it is so familiar that most of us can no longer see it. The fantastical gives us a way to skew our vision and rediscover the extraordinary in the ordinary life we think we know. To regain the eyes of innocence, as Picasso said of painting.

  3. neilwilliamson says:

    >What we all need most is first class writing in a “literary” style that uses ideas that seem Sci Fi, Horror etc, but demonstrate by example the relevance of these approaches in shedding light on everyday life

    I couldn’t disagree more, Douglas. But I shall save my disagreement for tonight!

    • You disagreed most eloquently Neil. Thanks also to everyone who came along. Great contributions from Gary Gibson, Hal Duncan and David Manderson and too many others to name… much to ponder about gender, marketing, the long road to success and the “C” word (Class… you dirty minds, what did you think I meant?!)

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