Episode 116: Live with Paul Kincaid!

During Episode 115 of the Podcast we discussed Paul Kincaid’s review essay, “The Widening Gyre” (originally published by the LA Review of Books). In the essay, while reviewing three ‘best of the year’ anthologies, Paul asked whether science fiction was suffering from exhaustion and, more importantly perhaps, whether writers had lost confidence that the future was comprehensible and therefore storyable.

Our original conversation didn’t cover the subject well, so we invited Paul to join us in the Gershwin Room to discuss the essay and the issues surrounding it.  Our thanks to Paul for being such a generous guest and, as always, we hope you enjoy the podcast.

9 thoughts on “Episode 116: Live with Paul Kincaid!”

  1. “Exhaustion” comes across a bit like the critic/reviewer/anthologist version of a First-world problem, especially when you say that you wouldn’t want to read all the way through a Dozois YBSF. Do you have to be blown away by every single story? I don’t think it’s possible, even in the good old days there were stories in anthologies that were hit-n-miss, but the story I’m ambivalent about might be the one that blows your socks off. Tastes differ.

    The discussion was also often contradictory, on one hand Hugos are a popularity contest, while on the other, juried awards are no better either, so what do we do? (Actually, I think that while getting onto the final ballot has an element of popularity contest, I credit the voters with the collective intelligence to chose wisely when assessing the final ballot. The work with the most nominations doesn’t always win. I guess the hard part might be getting the best works onto the final ballot in the first place which is a whole other topic)

    Not everything is for everyone, nor should it be, but variety is good – and there is enough there for everyone to find something they like; I wouldn’t like a reading consisting solely of challenging SF, in the same way I wouldn’t like a diet consisting solely of unchallenging fun adventures either.

    SF is a big tent encompassing a multitude, it’s not unitary. The idea of “Where should the field go from here?” assumes the field could ‘choose’ what to do next, when it’s more the emergent properties of a bunch of writers, editors, publishers trying to produce & sell works that maintain an ongoing income.

    This was a thought-provoking discussion. Thanks.

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