Episode 266: Prolificity and Academia

Tonight we discuss, as we do all too often, the beginning of the awards season, as well as the sometimes problematical Hugo category of Best Related Work, the question of authors who are so prolific that new readers may feel intimidated, and some of the parameters of who and who should not be covered in the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series of books, of which Gary has recently assumed editorship.

As  always, we hope you enjoy the episode.

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4 Comments

  1. Listened to your latest podcast (I’ve been trying to keep up).

    On awards: It’s nice to be pleased about occasionally being nominated and winning, as long as the major awards maintain categories for the work you are doing. All the Locus staff, not to mention me, is not so fortunate. And as you suggested about SFE, creators and maintainers of websites that continue to amass huge amounts of data over the years, seem to have no chance of being recognized, given current awards categories. Obviously those people are not doing it for awards recognition — that’s my point. And I’m trying to take this point into account in my gradual expansions of sfadb.com.

    On needing to read authors’ entire works: depends on context. Perhaps the U of I series is misnamed? On the one hand, there’s certainly a value in critical studies of books about Stephenson or Mieville. (Locus HQ seemed to recognize the relatively dearth of significant nonfiction titles in 2015.) But as one who might contemplate a book about SF in general, surely any such author can discuss individual books, even several books by one author, in terms of their significance by whatever standard, without having read that author’s entire oeuvre..? I would think.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I don’t think there’s a simple solution to this, Mark. I think the SF Awards Database should definitely be Hugo Award eligible. I think the Science Fiction Encyclopedia should be too. I don’t know how you achieve that, given the nature of things. In terms of categories, Locus won more Hugos than anything else ever. It did fine. Liza is eligible for Best Editor, Short Form. There are other proposals that could be put, but honestly I’m not the one to put them. – Jonathan

  3. Interesting discussion all round.

    Gary’s proposal of 30,000 word biography/essays gave me a small warm confirmation. When I wrote one of Ted Sturgeon which covered both his life and all the different aspects of his career that was the length I ended up with. But the only reason I knew it was feasible was because Bruce Gillespie might be able to include it in one of his mammoth fanzines. There was no way that Foundation or NYRSF could even consider it since it would absorb an entire issue.

    Poor Jonathan seems to have mislaid a decade of his life somewhere. Every time he tried to estimate the career of Mieville, Neal Stephenson, Gregory Benford, etc he was off by about 8-10 years. I have begun to recognise this telescoping phenomenon in my own life though.

  4. Behind on your podcasts and just listened to this one.

    I think it was one of your best ever.

    I think you’re on target with the downsides of being a prolific author for gaining readers and critical attention — especially authors doing series work.

    You mentioned the fannish tendency to insist that someone consume all of an author’s output before being qualified to make any comments on them. Some of us have kind of internalized that, and it may be a product of a sort of obsessive mindset found sometimes in sf readers.

    And, with C. J. Cherryh, I think your diagnosis is correct. I’ve had friends recommend her to me since the eighties. John J. Pierce pushed her work in the 1980s. She does seem worthy of Grandmaster status from what I’ve heard — because I still haven’t tackled a whole novel of hers.

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