Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quality of Fiction

I enjoy reading Sarah A Hoyt's blog, and as a result I hooked up with the disreputable but friendly folks over at Bad Novelist.  A long and somewhat perilous walk later, I found myself the recipient of a stack of free literature for my Kindle Keyboard and entered into an online raffle: Announcing the Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway.  Naturally I didn't win anything, but I didn't expect to win anything, so that's a wash.



At the end of this unmercifully long walk is a novelette by Fritz Leiber, Gonna Roll the Bones, winner of the 1968 Hugo and the 1968 Nebula, back when winning these awards actually meant something.  My point here is not to poke the hornet's nest with a car aerial (which shows my age, as these days no one knows what an aerial is, or looks like, or why a car would have one), but to illustrate two things:

A significant percentage of F/SF readers are overly sensitive and not well educated.  In the preface to Gonna Roll the Bones, editor Kevin J. Anderson issues what I can only guess is a standard trigger warning: Please note that this story was published decades ago and is a product of its times.  Some language may be offensive.  I read the story when it was first published and have read it again on several other occasions over the years, and I cannot imagine just what the language is that might be offensive.  The quality of the writing is head and shoulders over anything I've read recently, although my devil's advocate will argue that I don't read nearly as much as I used to.

The general overall quality of literature is in decline.  A good friend of mine and award winning journalist Linda Meilink Valine told me that the worst thing that can happen to literature has already happened; anyone with a PC, a copy of M$ Word, and a desire to do so can be published.  Is, in fact, being published and the quality isn't poor, it's mediocre.  In the old days the publishing industry wouldn't suffer poor quality, but that's no longer the case.  The dinosaurs will gladly lower the QC standards for something that will sell, and it seems that mediocrity is paying their office rent, fat salaries and bar tab.  Or maybe health club membership and therapy sessions, the way things are today.

So I roll merrily along, finding the occasional diamond in the rough and desperately trying to knock out a thousand words today.

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