Category Archives: Genre

About Brian Aldiss


When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults.

Brian Aldiss

I just can’t Not Love an author quoted to say things like that.

Brian Aldiss is a character, as you can see from the interviews I linked below. He likes to provoke a reaction, and has been known to openly criticise the British literary establishment and its disdain for ‘genre’  – but Aldiss also doesn’t approve of genre-only readers.

…”I [the interviewer] quote to him something he wrote in 1990: “Just as the [literary] establishment is philistine about science, the bulk of the science-fiction readership is philistine about literature.” “Ha!” he cries gleefully, “offends both parties.”…


And he has always known the value of the what-ifs and speculative fiction and how vast and fruitful the scifi genre could be. It’s more than just space ships and flights of fancy, new world with new creatures: more a mirror of what could be, or should be, if norms were challenged, or refused.

…”while it [science fiction] may take place in an alternate or future world, it deals with the present.”…

Brian Aldiss’ website is here, with all the information you can wish for, journals extracts, blog, latest publications and snippets of past and new work.

You can also find a detailed list of his work in the ISFDB, here.

What do you think?

Suggestions for reading*:

The Moment of Eclipse – short stories collection, this one from the 70s, but any of his collections, really.

Hothouse – symbiosis! With fungi!

NonStop – familiar seen by primitive eyes…

*it’s been several years since I read his books, so I will have to have a re-read before I can be more specific 🙂

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Filed under Authors, Fiction, Genre, Links, Quotes and Quotations

Board Games for book lovers and Sci-Fi for 2013

Ah, Board Games! I love them 🙂 In the back of my mind, I have a deep seated wish to invent one (do you invent a board game? do you assemble it? do you design it?).

In the meantime, have fun with this selection by flavorwire:

10 Board Games (for book lovers)

I support genre fiction in general, and speculative fiction in particular (genre has so many nuances, these days, good and bad, and for some, it excludes literary endeavours, which I really don’t agree with!)

This is an interesting article from the Guardian about the 2013 scifi trends (a HBO series of Gaiman’s American Gods? Sounds jolly to me 🙂

Writing advice:

Give yourself some off time from writing, now and then, and instead read a book, watch a film, have a walk or go to a museum. We have senses that can be stimulated by diverse experiences, and it can all be channeled to enrich your writing.




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Steampunk Carousel | Brussels

I’d love to get a ride on one of these! Brussels is not that far away…*ponders*

Mesmerizing images (and a video) of steampunk carousels, in this blog:

Steampunk Carousel | Brussels.

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Time for reading: what’s in a short story?

A relatively short time ago, writers were able to support themselves by selling short stories. I don’t know if any writer can still do that, (let me know if you or someone you know do 🙂 but it seems not as feasible anymore.

This article, The State of the Short Story, argues for television and changed habits being part of the influence in the lack of interest in the short story. It also poses longer narratives, such as novels, as occasions for losing oneself in another world/time/character, whereas the short story requires a stringent attention by its readers, and delivers a punch which makes for a less relaxing reading experience.

I’m not arguing with that. I want to point out how happy I am when I travel on the bus and the tube (in the UK) and realize how many fellow travelers are reading: a book, an ebook, doesn’t matter. They’re still reading.

Short stories don’t have the market they could have, not mainstream. But there are plenty of magazines seeking short stories submissions, and plenty of writers skilled in the genre. What I think is missing, and it resonates with my post on Ian McEwan’s preference for the Novella vs. the Novel, is a certain fluidity of the literary/genre market.

The short story is mostly seen, these days, as a trampoline for writers to get noticed, and then move on the more remunerative novel form. Instead, all forms of writing, no matter their word count, should be considered at the same level.

Just because a short story has a smaller word count, doesn’t mean it’s easier to write. Nothing is easy to write, in a way. All forms present their challenges, their flaws, their advantages.

If you’re interested in the short story, you may appreciate Object Lessons, The Paris Review’s collection of short stories and essays on the Art of the Short Story.

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Why classic fairy tales are important (for children and adult alike)

I loved reading fairy tales. The classic ones, where the witch did end up burning in the oven, where the bad children were cooked in with the cookie dough, and so on.

I also love writing versions of fairy tales, inspired by Angela Carter‘s revisionist take in books such as The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories.

Certainly, there is more to fairy tales than meets the eye. However, I completely agree with Adam Gidwitz and what he writes in this article: In Defense of Real Fairy Tales. He refers in particular to the original versions of the Grimm tales, and to how much they are nowadays sweetened and diluted by the more contemporary versions, not to mention the Disney/Hollywood’s take on them.

Gidwitz says:

Why, contrary to adults’ expectations and apprehensions, are fairy tales so perfectly appropriate for these children?

In part, the form of the fairy tale offers a complete package: problem, trial, solution, judgment and punishment or reward. And there’s nothing in fairy tales (the real ones, the blood-dripping, gory, Blue Beard ones) that children don’t see daily in their exposure to media. With a major difference: the media communicate facts (or they should).

Fairy tales provide a narrative, and narrative is a way of making sense, of understanding, of imagining ourselves in extreme situations and be shown various possible actions and their consequences.

Narrative is the first tool we can offer the young ones to understand the world. Possibly new fairy tales are needed, but not necessarily, because the old ones deal with human nature, and human nature hasn’t really changed. You may send a message with pigeons, ravens or a text. But the courier doesn’t change the nature of your message: lie, trap, truth, good news. The message will arrive all the same.

Do you remember the fairy tales of your youth?


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Ghosts! Ghosts! Ghosts!

In case you’ve missed it, a collection of links to the Ghost Week on Tor dot com.

It’s a feast of articles, short stories (some favourites like Lovecraft and M. Twain) and more to entertain your dark, scary side 🙂

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Filed under Article, Fiction, Genre, Links, Non Fiction, Resources

Insights into Cormac McCarthy’s writing process

Following from yesterday’s foray into Austen’s territory, today I came across a fascinating and juicy article on McCarthy’s writing process, in the Slate Book Review.

I haven’t read all of McCarthy’s books (on my list, though), but what I read, I loved. With that love that makes you shake the book and slam it down and then pick it up again, in one furious movement, smoothing the pages and rereading that last paragraph, that last page, once again.

In general, however, as a writer, the process of writing is always fascinating: early drafts, in this case. It’s somewhat like peeking from over McCarthy’s shoulder as he writes. He probably wouldn’t have appreciated it – I know I wouldn’t!

I’m thankful that McCarthy’s notes and drafts have been preserved.

Is there any author whose personal notes and early drafts you’d love to see?

And if you’re a writer (or poet, or…), would you want your notes to be preserved?

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