When I look at this year’s shortlist, what I see is not an honest selection of the best SF novels of 2011, but a political decision to promote what is known as core or heartland SF at any cost, regardless of literary quality, regardless of how far the work goes to promoting speculative fiction as a credible artistic movement. That cost is not only to the authors of the five or six genuine works of literature that have been wilfully excluded from the sbortlist, but to SF in general and those who love it and care passionately about it.
Of the existing Clarke shortlist, we have heard no dissent from any of the panel. Here is Andrew M. Butler, quoted on the Guardian website (26th March 2011): “[The shortlist]‘s got something for everyone: alien contact, post-apocalyptic disaster, near future cyberpunkish police procedural,” he said, adding that the variety demonstrates the health of the SF scene. “It’s exciting because you can’t fit it in a box.”
Mr. Clarke more or less predicted the Internet in 1974 , including at least one non-obvious ramification. And he sort of predicts the PC, getting the form factor right, but thinking that it would be a terminal to a big computer somewhere, instead of being completely self-contained. He knew it would be small, it would have a keyboard, it would have a monitor, it would connect you to everything, and you would have it by 2001.
We ought to hold out for the highest standards in our SF content—but we ought simultaneously to hold out for the highest standards in our SF style and form too. Why can’t be have both?…… SF is a metaphorical literature, one that aims to reproduce the world without representing it. It is more akin to poetry than it is to science.
See also Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling and (not on Metafilter, but on other sites I've encountered) Charles Stross. I think a big factor is the "cooler than thou" need to disparage authors who are popular and highly visible, particularly when they have loudly vocal followings, which all of the above do, at least online.
I think this means everyone in fandom should be forced to resign.
[Christopher Priest turns over award and looks at the bottom of the base]
Does that say... 'made for...' 'made for...' oh wait, that says made in China.
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