« Philcon Update | Main | Meanwhile, In Ohio... »

October 16, 2006

TAD Review on SF Signal

Here you go. It has one spoiler in it, but it's easy to miss, so I suppose it's only a semi-spoiler. And it's also a positive review:

The Android's Dream might be what you'd find in an Elmore Leonard novel if he were to write a science fiction story with Keith Laumer in Reteif mode - which is to say that it is equal parts crime story, diplomatic drama, political intrigue and science fiction adventure... This is one of those books that makes science fiction fun.

Groovy. I'm happy with the Leonard comparison, since the way I've been explaining to the book to non-SF readers is that it's sort of what Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen would write, if either wrote SF. So I'm glad that sensibility is coming through.

Also, I'm very pleased that what the reviewer came away with from TAD was that he had fun with it. "Fun" is pretty much the entire point of TAD; it really has no ambition other than just to amuse the hell out of the reader. Is amusing the hell out of the reader the way to critical respect, awards, and piles and piles of willing, nubile groupies? Why, yes. Yes it is. Especially the part about the groupies. Come to me, my wiggly ones!

Oh, all right: No, probably not.

On the other hand, let's not suggest amusing the hell out of readers is not a laudible goal. One of the nice things about science fiction is that you can write with the primary goal of amusing the reader and get away with it, as opposed to most of, say, lit fic, which appears largely designed for the authors to serve notice to their former classmates at Bennington that, indeed, they can write their way out of a paper bag, so ha! Ha! They should have slept with the author after all!

Not that there's anything wrong with lit fic. Or Bennington. I was accepted to Bennington, you know. Heck, a Bennington grad won the Booker Prize this year, for a novel that is praised for "illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a 'better life,' when one person's wealth means another's poverty." Meanwhile, my book starts with a chapter primarily about farting an alien to death. Would I have written a book with farting, had I gone to Bennington? And would it have won the Booker Prize? These are the personal alternate personal histories of my life. Be that as it may, two roads diverged in the woods, and I, well, I took the one in which intestinal emanations were used for humorous effect. And that has made all the difference.

The point is, one of the nice things about genre is that writing simply for the joy of telling a fun story is not necessarily looked upon as entirely wasting one's time or talent. It's fun to have fun, but you've got to know how. Genre still knows how. I think that's a good thing. Or at the very least, it's a good thing for me.

Posted by john at October 16, 2006 04:33 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.scalzi.com/mt2/mt-tb.cgi/4123

Comments

Tim Walker | October 16, 2006 07:06 AM

1. Now I'm gonna have to go back through *all* the Booker winners to see if any of them refers to farting. *sigh*

2. As for making things fun: It's more fun for me when I write plot-rich fantasy stories to entertain my daughter than when I (try to) write the heavier, mood-soaked stuff of the sort that might, in some conceivable world, draw the attention of, oh, the National Book Award committee. Michael Chabon reported the same thing in the intro to one of his "Mammoth Treasury" McSweeney anthologies: the *authors* reported having more fun when they were assigned to write plot-ful genre stories rather than the same-old, same-old plotless epiphanic short fiction that soooo often graces the pages of, for example, The New Yorker.

Keep having fun, John!

Chang, stealing the internet from his car! | October 16, 2006 07:28 AM

I didn't get into Bennington. :(

One more reason to drink from a goblet of hate...

Maybe after breakfast.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 08:44 AM

Congrats on the great reviews. I think that's also one of the reasons I like SF/F, you can crack jokes and get away with it. Although, there is this sub-trend in SF that screams about how SF should be Literature, high minded, and the writers need to have PhD's after their names, should all be futurists and help drag the unwashed masses into the glorious Gernsback Continuum of crystalline cities and skycars.

For me, I go back to the law that I postulated in college; faster computers lead to better computer games, higher intelligence leads to better jokes.

John Scalzi | October 16, 2006 08:47 AM

Steve Buchheit:

"Although, there is this sub-trend in SF that screams about how SF should be Literature, high minded, and the writers need to have PhD's after their names, should all be futurists and help drag the unwashed masses into the glorious Gernsback Continuum of crystalline cities and skycars."

Well, and that's fine. I probably won't ever get a Ph.D., however, so I'll just keep doing what I do.

Steve Buchheit | October 16, 2006 08:52 AM

John, I helped my wife get her PhD, so I have no desire to get one myself. Although I have mulled getting a Masters, but I just don't have any more time left in the day to devote to that.

Besides, just like you, I happen to like Douglas Adams.

Chang, stealing the internet from his car! | October 16, 2006 08:57 AM

Oh, I seem to have forgotten to say congratulations about the TAD review.

Congratulations! I'm still waiting for my copy. Wait wait wait.

I guess I was too focused on the ggoblet of hate. And the fact that I smoked through my Bennington interview. As did the interviewer.

Deserving of Cash Nathan | October 16, 2006 10:07 AM

[Opening lines of my 1200-page important work of fiction that is sure to change the world, as we know it]

“While driving home to my estate in the former German East Africa, I took pause to ponder how I’d arrived at this place in my life. Was it wrong that I’d amassed so much? Should I feel pity for those from whom I’d appropriated their last trifles, leaving them less than nothing on my way to the top? These thoughts hurt my head and I changed the mental subject to ponder cheese wrapped in edible gold leaf.”

I promise to finish this tome after you have forwarded the Man Booker plaque or cup or whatever the award is plus the $93,000. Thank you, Awards Committee.

Oh, and Scalzi,

You just go ahead and keep producing your little entertaining, well-selling, Amazon climbing books if that’s what makes you (and us) happy.

Robert Rummel-Hudson | October 16, 2006 10:31 AM

"...which appears largely designed for the authors to serve notice to their former classmates at Bennington that, indeed, they can write their way out of a paper bag, so ha! Ha! They should have slept with the author after all!"

God, I'm so transparent.

Gus | October 16, 2006 01:48 PM

"...farting an alien to death."
That does it, I'm going out to get my copy!

Brian Greenberg | October 16, 2006 01:59 PM

Gus - don't bother, I tried. Barnes & Noble, at least, told me to wait until October 31st. And me with a cross-country flight coming up & nothing to read...

Stupid release dates...

Stupid lack of eBook alternatives...

Grumble, grumble, grumble...

Gus | October 17, 2006 05:56 PM

Thanks, Brian. I checked a few sources, also.
Oct. 31st. Damn. Hope I can hyperventilate that long.

Post a comment.

Comments are moderated to stop spam; if your comment goes into moderation, it may take a couple of hours to be released. Please read this for my comment moderation policies.
Preview will not show paragraph breaks. Trust me, they're there.
The proprietor generally responds to commenters in kind. If you're polite, he'll be polite. If you're a jackass, he'll be a jackass. If you are ignorant, he may correct you.
When in doubt, read the comment thread rules.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)