I’d sort of promised myself I wasn’t going to post anything negative here any more, because everyone likes the upbeat, everyone likes the happy. But then I went and spoiled it with a whinge about the Hugo Awards – but then I’ve whinged about them every year since starting this blog. However. Positive, er, stuff. I mean, I’ve read some excellent novels so far this year, I’ve seen some bloody good films, I’ve heard some damn fine albums and even watched some amazing live performances by bands. There’s good stuff there to celebrate. It doesn’t always have to be a total downer.
So much of the positive shit you see plastered across the Internet is just so brainlessly uncritical. Certainly praise where praise is due – but I see so much of it that’s just plain undeserved. I don’t see myself as a negative person (stop laughing), just a realistic one. Sturgeon’s Law may be glib, asinine and way too easy to overuse / misuse, but it wouldn’t have survived this long if there wasn’t some truth to it. But you’d think it was the 10% that was shit sometimes from the way people carry on…
As a result, it’s easy to over-react and be overly negative. And, sometimes, doing that means the important stuff gets overlooked. It’s good that so many on the Hugo shortlists were not white males. But don’t pat yourself on the back just yet, Hugo nominators; because you also put a stupid April Fool fantasy story on the shortlist.
Having said that, it’s not like I don’t celebrate the good stuff when I encounter it. See, here’s a positive review of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312. And here’s an even more positive one of Gwyneth Jones’ The Universe of Things. And here’s a few words about my choices of the best books, films and albums I encountered during the first six months of the year. My tastes are perhaps not entirely mainstream – science fiction! death metal! weird Polish and Hungarian movies! – but I like to think I value quality and can recognise it when I see it (stop laughing).
There is no recipe, no programme of umpteen steps. Changing things takes stick and carrot. And occasionally a bloody great huge cluebat. It doesn’t happen overnight. When, that is, it happens at all. I like to think I’m doing my bit – not just on this blog, or in reviews on SF Mistressworks and Daughters of Prometheus. But in my fiction too. Not that I’ve been entirely successful – I’ve yet to break into any of the big short fiction markets (except for Postscripts). And a common response to my stories is “what happens next?” Er, nothing. It’s finished; the rest is up to you. Anyway, resolution is so bourgeois. Just like quotation marks around speech (small joke there).
I had a point to this post but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. It wasn’t “be nice”, because being nice to everyone and about everything only devalues it. Nor was it “be negative”, because if the wind changes you’ll be stuck like that and then no one will be your friend. Be honest – that’s certainly important. Yes, above all, be honest. But I think I shall, as my pulled-out-of-thin-air point to this post, use something said by astronaut Gus Grissom, though it later proved to be horribly ironic:
Do good work.
September 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm
# I’d sort of promised myself I wasn’t going to post
# anything negative here any more, because everyone
# likes the upbeat, everyone likes the happy.
I have to disagree with this, you got 42 comments on ‘The Hugos are broken’, it’s quite clear that everyone likes the curmudgonly rants! But is ranting good for you, that’s the question?
September 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm
And yet gushy book blogs gets 1000s of hits a day for squeeing about the latest release…
September 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm
Ah, but those aren’t quality hits Ian. All the people who matter are coming to you!
September 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm
I like your whingeing!
And whingeing is part of why we have blogs anyway!
It’s like the guy in class who finally asks the things many others have been wondering about but not dared raise their hand to say.
September 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm
Very well put, Berit!
September 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm
Even if we don’t agree with the questions the guy in the class says, we need him to say them so we can have the discussion.
However, the metaphor has reminded me of when I used to ask questions at school, and there would just be a long, embarrassed silence, maybe broken by “See me afterwards, Paget”
September 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm
Sometimes it just takes awhile. Either the markets will adjust to your approach…or you’ll find its your approach that needs work. As for “do good work”–thanks for that. I’ve been sitting here trying decide between doing shit work and doing some good work. Now I know.
September 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm
The thanks should really go to Gus Grissom – http://inspirationalmanquotes.tumblr.com/post/16059033720/do-good-work
September 7, 2012 at 10:50 pm
Look, I’m the last person to start ranting about The Patriarchy, but isn’t it a bit weird that someone’s got a site called “Inspirational Man Quotes”? Why would someone limit themselves like that? It just means that one day they’re going to come across a really great quote that they can’t use because it’s from a woman and that contravenes their mission statement?
And this from you of all people Ian! 😉
September 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm
Well, if everyone else is going to do good work, I’m going to head in the opposite direction and stand out from the herd!!
MwhahahaHAHA! Surely now I am destined for greatness!
September 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm
September 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm
Yup. Well known piece of Mercury programme lore (spot the space geek…).
September 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm
“something said by astronaut Gus Grissom.”
For a minute I thought it was going to be, “Get me out of here!”
Which astronaut was that again?
September 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm
Everybody has something that they value that others say “You like THAT?” about. The truly diverse approach values all these left-field opinions. Of course, that also means that you have to accept squee at face value; all you can do is hope that people either come to regret their past excessive enthusiasms or re-label them as ‘ironic’…