With the Nebula Award winners about to be announced, we took a look this week at the question of whether science fiction has demonstrated much continuity of theme and style since the 1969 Nebulas, or whether the field has essentially reinvented itself in the last few decades.
But before we even get around to that, we note the death of bestselling author Herman Wouk, whose only science fiction work was the relatively undistinguished The “Lomokome” Papers, which raised the issue of mainstream writers who attempted SF with limited success vs. those who approached the material with respect.
Then we spent some time talking about the different generations of science fiction writers, the role of nostalgia in science fiction, the value of differing perspectives even on familiar themes, and somehow touched upon the New Wave somewhere in there as well.
As usual, we started with interesting ideas and ended up with a farrago.
This year has been something of a whirlwind. When we published Episode 350 we did so without managing to upload the full recording. Apparently, 10 minutes or so were missing. A new file has now been uploaded for your listening pleasure which you can listen to or download from here:
Our apologies and we hope you enjoy the extra tidbit.
After a much longer than expected hiatus, we’re back (sort of)! Gary’s been working and travelling and Jonathan’s been working and planning to travel and it’s made it very difficult to squeeze recording time in. Or even to plan recording time.
Still, for a moment, early on Mother’s Day in Australia and late in the evening in Chicago, Gary and Jonathan stop to discuss the books they’ve been reading, the movies they’ve been watching, the stuff they’ve been working on, awards and ballots, and Joanna Russ. There are mentions of fiction in translation, Chen Qiufan’s Waste Tide (and Liz Bourke’s Tor.com review of it), Avenger’s Endgame, and much more.
I don’t think either of our hosts is sure the conversation is coherent or intelligible but here it is, along with a promise to try to do better in the coming months.
For our 350th(!) episode, Jonathan and Gary basically just ramble on. We begin with the question of how long to stick with a novel which seems to be going off the rails, and comment a bit on what different kinds of readers expect from long novels.
Later we move on to questions about anthologies, and what to expect from recent anthologies of Chinese, Korean, South Asian, and Israeli science fiction: should they try to represent an entire national tradition, or simply focus on excellent stories? And can readers not from those cultures ever fully appreciate the full nuances of such fiction?
That, in turn, leads us to discuss anthologies that have been historically important, although not always widely recognized, such as Vonda McIntyre and Susan Anderson’s Aurora: Beyond Equality from 1976, and anthologies widely celebrated, like Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions. On a personal note, anthologies that shaped our own reading included (for Gary) Judith Merril’s horribly titled England Swings SF and (for Jonathan) Michael Bishop’s Light Years and Dark. And we end briefly discussing an issue, raised by Fonda Lee, about writers gaining shelf space in bookstores amid all the perennial classics and bestsellers.
This week, we are joined by Nebula Award-winning Sarah Pinsker, whose first story collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea has just been published, and whose first novel, A Song for a New Day, will appear from Berkley Books in September.
We talk about the challenges of a dual career as writer and songwriter/performer—and the differences in audience interactions between the two—as well as her early reading and writing in the field, her creative writing classes in college and later attendance at the Sycamore Hill workshops, and the varied relationships between SF, fantasy, dystopia, the classic road novel, and mainstream “literary fiction.”
Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea is available from Small Beer Press and her novel is available for preorder.