Episode 202: Nina Allan, Paul Kincaid and the State of British Science Fiction

This week something special. Following on from conversations at the London Worldcon, and articles by Martin Petto (*) and others, Gary and Jonathan are joined by Nina Allan and Paul Kincaid to discuss the state of British science fiction. Are we having breakfast in the ruins, or is there hope to be found on the bookshelves?

Mentioned during the podcast, Gwyneth Jones’s first new novel in six years, The Grasshopper’s Child (now available from electronic retailers). Pick up a copy (it’s cheap!) and discover or rediscover this marvelous writer.

As always, our thanks to our guests. We hope you enjoy the podcast.

*Correction: Martin Petto’s name was spelled incorrectly in this post. Apologies for the error.

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9 Comments

  1. Interesting discussion, as ever. On the ‘Solaris not submitting books to awards’ point Paul makes, I can report: I’m one of this year’s Kitschie judges, and Solaris submitted a raft of their titles this year, including “Europe in Autumn”.

  2. Excellent show. In the US we are definitely having the same conversations about editorial choices and marketing. If you haven’t read it yet I would recomment Robert Jackson Bennett’s take on it, and how its impacted his ability both to market his books and get published, as well as his recent conversation on The rocket talk podcast on the same topic(the latter gets a bit silly and quite a bit NSFW).

    http://robertjacksonbennett.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/the-genre-fountain/
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/09/rocket-talk-episode-25-robert-jackson-bennett

    Additonally, a quick comment on availability. I would love to read more British sf/fantasy. Several of my favorite blogs in the speculative community review British books fairly regularly. But as myself and many friends are primarily getting books on ereaders, many things we would prefer to read on release don’t hit the US market immediately, or ever. For instance, Jack Glass and Hawthorne and Child only recently came out over here, a year after people were reviewing them heavily and with no advertising. How can they do well internationally when they can’t be bought during award season, let alone on release? The following is a fairly small sample of things Im still crossing my fingers will get released in the US market

    Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human
    No Harm Can Come to a Good Man by James Smythe
    Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene
    The Child Eater by Rachel Pollack
    Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
    Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente
    Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
    Intrusion by Ken MacLeod
    Wolves by Simon Ings
    Bete by Adam Roberts

    Thanks again for the excellent podcast!

  3. I think this podcast served to point out that there is significant market buying the material genre publishers so carefully ensure is easily digestible – an idea backed by the fact the majority of online and offline media is devoted to the most commercial of efforts. Thus indeed, it is in the literary world one finds the “genre” books which are pushing at the boundaries of what fantastika is, challenging norms, experimenting, and using the impossible and yet possible to deal with the more sophisticated aspects of culture and society. But is this different than it has ever been? Burroughs et al. were selling heavily commercial work at the same time writers like Wells and Stapledon were selling more sophisticated work to the literary crowd…

  4. Thanks so much for the heads up on the new Gwynneth Jones novel. Bought straight away an it is indeed ridiculously cheap!

  5. Hi, I’m the guy who left the breakfast-in-the-ruins comment the other week. I’m afraid I either got too carried away with my prior comment or you have taken it to heart in a way I hadn’t intended. I should clarify that what inspired my original comment was your conversation with two particular guests (Clute & Silverberg) who made broadly negative pronouncements about contemporary sff while admitting that they were not very well read in contemporary sff. It was the not reading part that rankled, not so much the bold pronouncements.

    And that’s what I enjoyed about this episode: despite the sometimes pessimistic opinions, both Ms. Allan’s and Mr. Kincaid’s (and well as yours and Gary’s) wide ranging and intelligent reading of contemporary sff makes your pronouncements worth listening to. And, I should add, enjoyable to listen to.

    Thanks again for this wonderful podcast.

  6. I very much appreciated the honesty and depth of this discussion.

    By coincidence, I read Nina Allan’s column “Coming Up for Air” in Interzone (Nov-Dec 2014) the day after listening to the podcast. A rather different message, but perhaps a more helpful and hopeful one, for writers anyway.

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