Sun Yung Shin gives SF the unheimlich maneuver

That’s the unpublished title for this review I wrote for Strange Horizons that came out last week. This review is long overdue, because the SF community’s neglect of Unbearable Splendor, to me, represents that weird, nonsensical disconnect and closed-mindedness that’s so prevalent among SF readers, reviewers, and publishers. That closed-mindedness is a phenomenon I and others had been commenting on throughout last year’s Shadow Clarke proceedings, and long before that, in decades of SF conversation and controversy.

Unbearable Splendor is a work that’s brilliant, exciting, very SF-y, but because it’s so unusual and does not conform to the language style and publishing format SF readers are used to reading, it bypassed all SF discussion last year. Thankfully, non-genre readers weren’t so biased, and it eventually caught my attention.

I’m not arguing that it should be a Hugo winner or anything like that (oh, but I am! and it should!), but dammit, how can it even be ignored? It’s a work that excites me and I hope SF writers will take note and recognize the value of electric prose, radical thought, literary fusion, and nonconformist style in SF publishing. I haven’t read or watched nearly as much SF as most of you, but I’m bored already. (And I just spent the past few months reading a big girl literary shortlist and, nope, that’s not where I want to be either.)

C’mon, SF. Getcha head outta ya ass.

 

 

 

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January 2017 Reading Review

For the past few years, January has been Potential Shortlist Catch Up Month for me, when I try to read all the big name books I overlooked the year before, in preparation for the 10-month SF book award season that’s about to kick off. So that I may have opinions on things. So that I may nurture my FOMO. So that I may mock the system I continue to participate in. So that I may mock myself.

This year is no different, though, to be honest, I’m not really feeling it this year: It all feels trite and meaningless compared to more important things going on, so I’m basically just going through the motions. I mean, why bother seeking out contrived experiences of estrangement and repulsion by reading SF when I see it played out in the political arena every day? I need respite, but books feel false. I experienced a similar plummet in enthusiasm after the 2000 election and 9-11 fallout, and it took me over a decade to recover interest in anything that involved critical engagement with the world, so… if this blog isn’t an interesting space to watch, at least my wobbling dedication to it might be.

Fortunately, things are coming up… BIG THINGS… and that’s enough to keep me active for at least another season. The kindly prods from other people have been unexpected and welcome.

I must say, though, it does feel nice to just sit down and get all this out finally. There is that.

Eesh, and it is a lot. I read an average number of books this month, but a collection of mini-reviews can be a big task. On we go…

2017 BOOKS I READ LAST YEAR Continue reading