Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ramble after a glass of Pinot

The writers I admire are the solitary voices, the ones that make their own realities, not so much from engagement with the grand dialogue that is SF, but their own imaginations, perhaps using that dialogue as a lens.

They're the ones shouting out over the rest, and revealing their own worlds. Robert E Howard was one of these. To a lesser extent (though he may be my favourite SF author) Fritz Leiber. So was Mervyn Peake. I think Jeff Vandermeer may be another - Shriek an Afterword is an important book I reckon - and Margo Lanagan, not only with her short fiction, but some of the unpublished novel stuff I've seen.

These writers aren't just assimilators but visionaries. They're writing in, but independently of, a tradition. They all have (had) a clarity of voice, and a sure use of the landscape of their imagination. They are originals, even as their work comes from within a broader landscape of work.

More importantly these are writers that have so clearly captured a moment or a thing, or a series of things that other writers can't help but chatter back. That's what genre is, a chattery art, all argumentative. And things get comfortable, then writers come along, pick up their tools, and write all over the top of what has gone before, and it is splendid, or disconcerting, or horrible at first, then splendidly disconcerting.

Of course I could be full of crap. And writers can have visionary moments, then settle into blindness. And I'll probably change my mind, and there's a whole bunch of writers I adore, and it really doesn't matter what I think.

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