Monday, December 03, 2007

Waiting for some mundane SF

I was fascinated to read that next summer's issue of the venerable Interzone will be a "mundane SF" edition. I hadn't heard the term before, but I kind of like it. Very of its time, I think.

"What makes a story mundane? A few simple rules:

• no FTL travel or communications
• no aliens
• no time travel
• no parallel universes
• no immortality or telepathy"

Not quite sure what FTL travel is - it reminds me of the bus service around Stoke (the immortal PMT!) With Geoff Ryman, one of our more interesting writers, in the seat it should be a bit of a ride anyway.

For more on this sub-genre of a sub-genre check out the Mundane SF blog. Interesting that the universally panned "The Carhullan Army" from Sarah Hall has won a prize. I thought it sounded quite an interesting book, but read the first page, and went "hmmmm". Anyway, the blog's very articulate author makes the point that "mainstream literature is doing an end-run around the outside of SF to connect with the real future of life as we will come to know it. Clearly the world is ready for this kind of thing, even if most SF writers are incapable of such imagination. What it is going to do is leave SF behind playing with its 1950's dated tropes of space ships and little green men." He's probably right. I went looking through the 60 or so stories I've written in the last ten years - a flurry of sci-fi ish ones about 10 years ago, then nothing much, but then the last couple of years, I've been a-dabbling again. Of course, just as I've written a new sci-fi story that is definitely mundane, I discover that I've missed another boat, cos the closing date is already gone. Ho-hum. But maybe not. I'm beginning to think that we may be at the beginning of some kind of revival of imaginative fiction. I blame the Booker; it usually helps to do so! But, really, what I'm saying is that the published genre fiction has for a long time been so far up its own genre (and badly written?) that its been difficult for people like me (though there are no people like me) to pick up those books - whilst the mainstream lit writers take on it (with the honourable exceptions of Will Self and David Mitchell) has been like your uncle dancing at a wedding (or a dalek salsaing at carnival if you prefer). The world from now on is straightforward: the crap that's going on - terrorism, global warming, et al - and the bitter, post-modern, uber-unrealistic alt. realities of "The Mighty Boosh", "Spooks", M.I.A., Burial...etc. and ALL in the same book. Now, fools, go on and write it.


Jim Murdoch said...

FTL = faster than light

Adrian said...

Not at all like the bus service round Stoke then.