This has been a very busy fortnight for writing. I have three new pieces up at (The Hugo-Nominated!) SF Signal. The first is my review of Michael Moorcock’s London Peculiar and Other Nonfictions, his latest book. It is good. You might learn something from it. For me, I got a clearer picture of Moorcock as a writer and person and found inspiration and instruction in his reviews and introductions (well, not ALL of them, but many of them). This is why I now often sit with a book and my wee notebook computer so that I can not only jot down impressions and quotations for reviews, but also get ideas out of my head. I have also begun to write after finishing a book not only to codify my thoughts about it, but to discuss with myself what I might have learned from the book (similar to what this blogger is talking about).
The second and third pieces go together; up at my weekly Bellowing Ogre column I take a crack at applying some of Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas about the field of cultural production to fantastika. In the first one I sketch out the idea of the field and the active practice of struggle within it. In the second, which just went live, I use the recent kerfuffle over Christopher Priest’s Clarke Award polemic as an example of Bourdieuian struggle within the field. It is a very quick sketch of an idea that I hope to explicate in the book I’m working on.
That work has taken up a lot of my reading time with non-fiction books and articles. Bourdieu’s writing is often dense, opaque, and incomplete. Some of his concepts are well-developed whereas others are analytically shallow. Trying to tease out what is useful has diverted me from reading fiction. I have, however, been keeping up with about a novel a week. I just finished Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon, which I enjoyed immensely and I recommend for several reasons. First, his writing is lovely; it flows well, has poetic touches, and deftly weaves the story’s tapestry with heart and panache. Second, his secondary-world setting takes influences not from medieval Europe, but from Middle Eastern cultures. It’s still a bit too kingy for me, but the aesthetic and social touches work with the story and enhance it nicely. I found myself wanting more of those touches and less of the usual components of an epic fantasy. And I adore Doctor Adoulla as a character, and hope that this book spurs other writers to make fat, grumpy old folk into major protagonists.
I also finished Liz Hand’s fantastic Available Dark, which I am going to write a proper review for soon. All I will say not is that it is at least as good, if not better, than its predecessor Generation Loss, and that it is a book to read for literary pleasure and as a long lesson in how to write. I recently finished her short collection Saffron and Brimstone too, and I am both delighted and envious of her ability to write short and long fiction with equal mastery. I am so taken with her writing that I am considering writing a chapter on her work for the book. I am looking forward to reading her new YA novel Radiant Days soon.
As for my own fiction, I have had one rejection and another story is currently out. I am working on two other stories that I hope to send out by the end of the month. My writing discipline is improving and so is my confidence in the process, if not always in the product. The past fifteen months have been the most productive for me yet; we’ll see what fruit that work bears in the coming months.