Culture

Book Plug Friday: On Writing Literature


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As people here probably know I (Hi, this is Sarah) have recently been embroiled in the middle of a kerfuffle (that’s one thing to call it, isn’t it? I mean, as battle space preparation for next year, I’ve already been accused of racism for using the term Chicom to refer to … Chinese Communists. Yeah. This is going to be… er… fun. That’s also one thing to call it) over the Hugo awards.

For those not of my genre persuasion, the Hugo awards used to be the major fan-voted awards of science fiction, won by such luminaries as Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ursula LeGuin, Phillip K. Dick, and other household names.

The problem is that in recent years the number of people voting on the Hugos has diminished. Part of this is that the membership of Worldcon, which has the right to vote on the award is aging, and like many aging populations, tends to read less.

This meant that it became relatively easy for a small clique to manipulate the awards to reward their friends and those to whom they owed favors.

But more important than that is that they were self-consciously and deliberately attempting to be “literary.”

This would be fine, perhaps, in another time and another place.

The problem with it, though, is that “literary” in the 21st century means both “Marxist” and “Progressive.”

This is a necessary side effect of “literary” always having more or less meant “that which college professors like.”

Unfortunately what college professors liked has never tracked particularly well with what normal people like, being to an extent designed to flatter said professors’ erudition and linguistic verve. In the past this gave us works perhaps unnecessarily burdened with classical allusions and perhaps a little thick on wording-to-meaning ratio. However, to someone deeply immersed in culture and literature, these books could be extremely rewarding.

Unfortunately, since we started dismissing the classics as “Dead white men” the only thing that was left with which to gain the status of literary work was what had replaced the classics in colleges: allusions to Marx and to the various Marxist sub-theories. And increasingly, in the last fifteen years or so, faddish progressive crazes, whether they be for “post binary gender” or misandry.

The problem with these is that they are not, like allusions to the classics, capable of being layered with a light hand. They are inflexible shibboleths, often at odds with observed reality and incompatible with artistic creativity. Worse, for those of us at or near the middle century, the basics of these shibboleths have been dinned into us by every possible media and entertainment outlet for most of our adult life. We have been well schooled in class struggle and victim-group dialectics. And we don’t care. We also don’t keep our eyes open through books that are, yet again, preaching at us.

We reserve for them the same place that was reserved for books of pious sermons in Agatha Christie’s time. They’re shelved somewhere obvious and never read.

Except of course if you are a college professor, which a lot of my colleagues are, and which brought about the blight of the Hugos, which I and Larry Correia (Baen’s other crazy Portuguese and our friend Brad Torgersen) fought for a while now. (This year Larry is retired from the fray, and leaving the work to myself, Kate Paulk and Amanda Green.)

I mean when you’re measuring quality by the quantity of Marxist utterances, you’re going to lose most of your audience. And most of the recent winners of the Hugo are a slog to get through, let alone ever becoming classics.

But the Hugo is a minor battle in the culture war. If we’re going to win the culture war, we need some definitions and some ability to define ‘literary quality.’

I actually don’t have any problem with Classical allusions, but is that where we want to go? And if not, where?

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[Charlie:] I guess this is a successful restart — I had something over 30 new plugs come in between 31 August and today. In the meantime the day job has been pressing and I just didn’t have time to get them all.

By next week, I should (finally — the shoemaker’s children and all that) have built some software tools to make it easier. So if you sent a plug and it’s not here, don’t panic — you haven’t been rejected and you haven’t been lost.

Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to [email protected] to be plugged here on PJ Media.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it's on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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Growing up Magic
By Pam Uphoff

Four stories in the Wine of the Gods Multiverse.

The cross dimensional world of Comet Fall was settled by genetically engineered exiles from Earth.

Their deliberately designed paranormal abilities gave rise to an odd society, but some things never change. One of the first challenges a person has to meet is growing up. “Magic” doesn’t make it any easier. It just makes it stranger.

Whether they are the precocious son of a god, a farm boy who is much smarter than he looks, an orphan, or a prince—every child has to learn to make his own decisions.

Even if they aren’t very wise decisions . . .


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Survival Test
By David Burkhead

War!

A series of diplomatic crises precipitate a limited nuclear war on Earth. Missile defenses block access to space. Nothing goes up and nothing comes down.

The people of the various space stations, the moon base, and a space colony whose construction had just begun must find a way to survive until the war is over.

The ultimate survival test.


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Sherlock Holmes: Zombies Over London
By Stephen Mertz

Sherlock Holmes faces perhaps the greatest challenge yet in his long-running war with his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty—the living dead walk, hungry for flesh and doing the bidding of the evil professor!

From a dirigible carrying a deadly cargo high in the sky over London to a sinister castle lurking in the beautiful English countryside, the Great Detective and Dr. Watson battle to thwart Moriarty’s latest scheme to wreak havoc and loot one of the world’s great cities. Thousands of lives hang in the balance, and it will take all of Holmes’ incredible deductive skills to figure out just what a young writer named H.G. Wells and the German teenager Albert Einstein have to do with Moriarty’s plans!