Saturday, 1 November 2014

Book Marks: Cli-Fi, Horror, And Mainstreaming Fan Fiction

Climate fiction (a.k.a "cli-fi") is hot right now; just ask Paolo Bacigalupi, who told Salon:

"I'm definitely writing my fears," Bacigalupi says. "It's almost therapeutic to at least voice a terror, to say, ‘I'm worried that Lake Powell looks low and Lake Mead looks even lower.' My brain was always wired to worry about what happens if this goes on, what happens if this gets worse?"

Bacigalupi says he's happiest when unaware of what's happening around him. "I think we've all found that. That's why really good news reporting is in decline and why BuzzFeed quizzes are on the rise. We're all happier when we know less, because the details are frightening and haven't really improved much. The more you pay attention, the more horrifying the world is."

What Bacigalupi has written (The Windup Girl, Ship Breaker) can be considered "cli-fi". The term was apparently coined by Dan Bloom, a journalist and self-described "public relations climate activist")

But what does Bacigalupi feel about that? "I didn't think of myself as writing ‘cli-fi' but I'll take the label," he replied. "I'll take any label that makes someone think they might be interested in my stories."

"Finding light in China's darkness: Why Yan Lianke writes:

I am reminded of Job, in the Old Testament, who after experiencing countless misfortunes said to his wife as she was urging him to curse God, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" This simple response demonstrates that Job understood that his suffering was merely God's way of testing him, and was evidence that darkness and light must exist together.

I don't pretend that I have been uniquely selected by God, as Job was, to endure suffering, but I do know that I am somehow fated to perceive darkness. From these shadows I lift my pen to write. I search for love, goodness and a perpetually beating heart.

A book by investigative journalist Stephen Jimenez might shed new light on the murder of Matthew Shepard, reports The Guardian:

Jimenez found that Matthew was addicted to and dealing crystal meth and had dabbled in heroin. He also took significant sexual risks and was being pimped alongside Aaron McKinney, one of his killers, with whom he'd had occasional sexual encounters. He was HIV positive at the time of his death.

"This does not make the perfect poster boy for the gay-rights movement," says Jimenez. "Which is a big part of the reason my book has been so trashed."

From Fifty Shades to After: Why publishers want fan fiction to go mainstream. From The Washington Post:

"The books we love the most are the ones where you close the book and you're still thinking about those characters," said Carrie Bebris, author of the "Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries," in which the main characters of Austen's beloved "Pride and Prejudice" solve mysteries together. "We want to be drawn into their lives again, because we didn't get enough the first time."


  • Three horror writers: Tunku Halim, Julya Oui and Eeleen Lee on Malaysian horror fiction - and maybe why it's time for our authors to look into the crypts in our backyards for a good scare. Just in time for Halloween.
  • Someone wrote to The Star asking for improved accessibility to online Malay literature. Can someone make this happen?
  • Two books: Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia by Swiss human rights campaigner Lukas Straumann and The Peaceful People: The Penan and their Fight for the Forest by Aussie journalist Paul Malone were launched in Kuching. "Surprising", considering the former contains criticisms of a former Sarawak chief minister. Then again, "the book, sold at RM105 a copy, is only available from November 3 by mail order," reports The Malaysian Insider. Didn't take long for the former Sarawak chief minister to act on the book's release.
  • Haunted by his role in the bombing of the abbey of Monte Cassino, this US airman wrote a novel that became a sci-fi classic.
  • The history of gay publishing in one career: Slate's Q&A with editor Michael Denneny.
  • Of all the evil figures in literature, does Sauron stand supreme? If he does, it might have a lot to do with his depiction in the Lord of the Rings saga, or a lack thereof: "Throughout The Lord of the Rings Sauron is never described ... All we see is his influence: the endless armies of orcs who ripple forth at his command; the tribes of men who fall beneath his sway; the scorched and blasted plains of Mordor, where nothing grows; the way his malignancy intrudes on the counsels even of the allies ranged against him."
  • Has foodism gotten out of hand? Here's John Lanchester on what's wrong with our food culture. "The intersection of food and fashion is silly," he writes, "just as the intersection of fashion and anything else is silly. Underlying it, however, is that sense of food as an expression of an identity that's defined, in some crucial sense, by conscious choice. For most people throughout history, that wasn't true. The apparent silliness and superficiality of food fashions and trends touches on something deep: our ability to choose who we want to be."
  • "Amazon is doing the world a favor by crushing book publishers," says Matthew Yglesias Yes/No? (Hint: NO - not just because I'm with one). Oh, and Amazon's crowdsourced publishing programme Kindle Scout has been launched. Writer Beware lays out some of its pros and cons.
  • This might be news to some but the swastika wasn't always a symbol for evil. But is it too late to take it back from the Nazis?


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