07-17-12:SF in SF , June 21, 2012: Terry Bisson with Robert J. Sawyer and Rachel Swirsky
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"..walk a mile in their shoes...."
—Robert J. Sawyer
To a degree, SF in SF panels are, like most, a sort of human chemistry experiment. You put two substances behind chairs and see if you get a reaction. This is particularly interesting when the two substances, that is, personalities, are in very different spaces in their writing careers, and writing in very different genres.
Yes, for Rachel Swirsky and Robert J. Sawyer, the common thread is genre, but only barely. Swirsky 's writing supernatural literary fiction, while Sawyer is working in hard science fiction and mainstream literature. The link is tenuous at best, but the camaraderie you'll hear in this discussion is real. You can thank Terry Bisson, who's done a bit of both in his time, and the fact that both writers are intelligent, artistic craftsmen and women who take what they do quite seriously. Or at least seriously enough to make it well worth your valuable reading (and listening) time.
It helps to have a great audience as well. Many of the folks there were writers themselves. The questions ran deep and pushed at boundaries. Fortunately, there are plenty of boundaries in genre fiction. This is what makes it such an appealing place to play. If you are working within genre, there are limits and de facto guidelines that reduce the bewildering white page experience.
"That elite failure has produced this sense of betrayal..."
Failure? Betrayal? It sounds like the stuff of fiction, but according to Chris Hayes, we've just finished the "fail decade" in which betrayal and failure were part of the national consciousness. 'Twilight of the Elites' is a top-notch reading experience about the underlying source of our national unease, a meritocratic system that sounds better in theory than it proves to be in fact.
It was interesting talking to Hayes because as he observed, you write a book about subject because it does not lend itself to sound bytes. He then finds himself sent to people for conversations generally intended to break down the subject into sound bytes. So we spent some time instead talking about how he crafted his first book, as well as discussing the subjects it covered.
05-04-13: Commentary : Reasons Not to Leave the House, Reality Check : The Truth Hurts Edition: 'Down the Up Escalator' by Barbara Garson, 'The Wolf and the Watchman' by Scott C. Johnson,'The Book of Woe' by Gary Greenberg, 'Confessions of a Sociopath' by M. E. Thomas