12.22.2003

against the ghetto walls :: a statement

Once upon a time there was magic.... -- George Santayana

Welcome.

The s1ngularity::criticism blog has been a long time coming.

I first began discussing the idea of an editorial blog to accompany the s1ngularity webzine with my compatriots Adam Roberts and Gabe Mesa nearly a year ago. Then s1ngularity fell into a deep slumber, from which it has yet to awaken, and the idea was pushed away into a corner of my mind.

About a month ago I was discussing criticism with a friend that just couldn't understand why I would put so much time and effort into thinking about a 'pointless' obsession like critical theory. I tried to explain it to him, but was coming up empty. Why was I so obsessed?

It hit me like a two-by-four upside the head.

I realized that I was sick of what I had become. I spent so much time ranting and complaining about genre fiction that I was no longer enjoying the works themselves. My pleasure was being devoured by a sense of futility, and by a sense that nothing I did or said would make any kind of difference in the field. Genre fiction, which I had always loved with a passion most people reserve for bondage sex or Chia Pets, was instead pissing me off.

It was that sense of futility that led to s1ngularity::criticism.

A main source of frustration for me is the sense of overwhelming complacency that sits like a pall over the whole of the speculative fiction field. Unfortunately, I think that complacency is a deep-seated part of our history....

Too long now, speculative fiction has existed with a wide range of misconceptions, stereotypes and stigmas obscuring it -- which is quite understandable given its history. Yes, there was a time when speculative fiction was ignored or dismissed by academics, critics and historians. Yes, there was a time that speculative ficition was ghettoized as populist, low fiction. But that time is gone.

Yet it is the people within the field that continue to perpetuate those misconceptions, stereotypes and stigmas. The ghetto still exists, but by now it's because we've claimed it and walled it ourselves.

One weapon against such complacency is criticism. Good, honest, critical criticism has the ability to refine the field, and to not only set the standards of the industry, but to also progressively raise those standards in the process.

Right now there is too little serious criticism within speculative fiction. There is a 'fan-writing-for-fan' mentality tainting genre criticism, to the point where I may as well just read comments at Amazon rather than the majority of criticism. Which sounds harsh, I know. But sometimes, it's good to just say what you think, right?

That's what I want to accomplish with this blog -- a combination of serious critical work and a battle against the complacency that allows us to ghettoize speculative fiction on our own safe little terms. We may not always be right in our criticism, and we may not always present views that you agree with, which is why we have links on every post that lead to our messageboard. We want to hear what YOU think. Dialogue is a vital component of this blog, and I urge you to contribute on your own.

Finally, this is an experiment. We don't have an overriding agenda here, we don't have any clear cut plans. All we have to guide us is interest and a love for speculative fiction in all its permutations, and your continued readership.

But you know, that's enough for us.


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