Episode 15: Live with Gary K. Wolfe!

We’re running late here at Coode St.  No fault of the indefatigable Gary K. Wolfe, who fired up Skype late on Friday evening to record a new podcast, but more due to some issues to to with data storage. I’m still working on those, but her, after some peer review, is the latest, our fifteenth!  We natter about a number of things, all of which I should probably list, but will instead leave for you to discover as I’m in something of a rush.  Enjoy!

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  1. Really an interesting discussion. Thanks! The YA and children’s literature world has many of the same issues of self-limiting nomenclature, marketing limitations, and (self-inflicted?) barrier walls. It has become my goal write literary page-turner crossover genre-ish books…

  2. Thanks for clearing up the pronunciation of Hannu’s name. I have been meaning to say something since Finncon and not got around to it. We all make that sort of mistake, though. I recently interviewed Lauren Beukes and horribly manged her last name. She tells me it rhymes with “mucus”.

    The one that always gets me, though, is the people who pronounce Neil’s last name as Gy-man.

    The stuff about mainstream crossover was great. It encapsulated much of what Salon Futura is all about.

  3. Jonathan, I had a moment of “what the ****?” over the Books Sold section of Locus this month, as well. (May I add up front that I do read Sarah Zettel and Ekaterina Sedia with great delight and that I have some interest in urban fantasy–which I consider as much a misnomer as you do–so the impetus behind the reaction may have been a bit different.) The list seems to indicate a trend in publishing toward producing a limited range of books that (so far) can be counted upon to sell, and they aren’t on balance the books I want to read.

    Mind you, I don’t object to reading about werewolves and vampires. I’m very fond of Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series, and I started reading Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain series with The Palace way back in the seventies. (Why does she never get mentioned as the ancestor of the “urban” fantasy genre, by the way?) I do object to having no option except to read about werewolves and vampires. On which note, I listened to Lou Anders on SF Signal’s podcast talking about the upcoming Pyr publications, and they also seem to be liberally seasoned with werewolves and vampires. (Yes, it’s a struggle to find a shaker top with holes the right size to dispense w and v.) I have great respect for Lou Anders, and I’m sure his enthusiasm for each of the works he’s publishing is quite genuine. But my reaction was virtually identical to the one produced by this month’s Books Sold.

    The economic downturn, conjoined with the meteoric rise of Stephanie Meyers, does not seem to be steering the genre in a direction I much favor, although I sympathize fully with publishers’ desire to stay in business. There does seem to be a fair amount of chasing a trend rather than making one. (The problem isn’t confined to publishing. Every time I need to shop for a birthday or wedding present I find that the retail world has contracted in ways that mean the stuff I’d rather buy is often no longer available.) And, as you say, there have still been plenty of novels that I’ve loved this year. If I keep having the same reaction to the Books Sold column in coming months, I’m not so sure about year after next. Could you and Gary consider roping in a friendly publishing-life-form to discuss trends?

    On the general subject of “books you don’t need to read”: it has some charm, but it may be fading a bit. (To what extent do you think Ray Bradbury might prove more relevant if you considered him as the ground out of which the New Weird grew? I’m haunted lately by golden bees shot out of Martian guns and such.) What about sometimes throwing in something you two think should be currently read that has slipped out of general awareness? (You started this, really, with the discussion of Joanna Russ’s Alyx stories. My personal vote would also go to Kate Wilhelm’s science fiction, which I’d bet you may not even have read, beyond Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. Juniper Time comes to mind as a novel that plays with climate change and the Fermi Paradox and the need for hope about the future. She also pushed the SF/mystery crossover boundaries in The Dark Door and Death Qualified, before she simply crossed over to mystery for good.) I’d be interested in what you and Gary have to say about “Books You Need to Read that We’d Temporarily Forgotten.”

    By the by, “bestsellers” are very frequently mysteries rather than “mainstream”. I’m not sure whether that’s an interesting point, but you were briefly talking as if they were a quite separate thing.

    I have deleted three paragraphs of rambling about Tolkien. Aren’t you glad?

    Thanks, as always, for a fully engaging hour and a bit.

  4. On dead series :-

    Why would anyone want to buy a Best American Fantasy if not American – or why buy that ahead of a Best Fantasy – especially given lots of it will be yank to start with?

  5. The gay hobbit starvation orc dodging in the Return of the King is certainly excruciating, and the end of the third movie is terrible and actually excises the good bit in amongst the end of the book.

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