The Suck Fairy
Jo Walton at Tor
The Suck Fairy is an artefact of re-reading. If you read a book for the first time and it sucks, it’s nothing to do with her. It just sucks. Some books do. The Suck Fairy comes in when you come back to a book that you liked when you read it before, and on re-reading—well, it sucks. You can say that you have changed, you can hit your forehead dramatically and ask yourself how you could possibly have missed the suckiness the first time—or you can say that the Suck Fairy has been through while the book was sitting on the shelf and inserted the suck. The longer the book has been on the shelf unread, the more time she’s had to get into it. The advantage of this is exactly the same as the advantage of thinking of one’s once-beloved ex as having been eaten by a zombie, who is now shambling around using the name and body of the former person. It lets one keep one’s original love clear of the later betrayals.
In her simplest form, the Suck Fairy is just pure suckitude. You read a book you used to love, and—something’s happened to it! The prose is terrible, the characters are thin, the plot is ridiculous. Worst of all, that wonderful bit you always remembered, the bit where they swim into the captured city under the water gate at dawn, and when they come out of the water in the first light and stand dripping on the quay, it all smells different because the enemy’s campfires are cooking their different food—it turns out to be half a line. “Next morning we went in by the water gate.” This most typically happens with re-reading children’s books. It’s like the moral opposite of skimming, where you’ve dreamed in extra details the book never mentioned. The thin thing you’re re-reading can’t possibly be what you remember, because what you remember mostly happened in your head. The Suck Fairy has sucked all the juice out of it.
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Are Romance Heroines Forbidden to Kill the Villain?
First, the set up: I recently finished Catherine Spangler’s SHADOWER. Before I begin my mini rant, I want to say that overall I enjoyed the story and had fun with its lighthearted space opera adventures. While certain elements left me raising my eyebrows, they weren’t enough to deter my enjoyment of the story. I’m definitely going to seek out SHIELDER and Ms. Spangler’s other science fiction romances.
That said, I read a passage in SHADOWER that blew my mind. I am going to quote it here, but it shouldn’t spoil anything since I’m not going to reveal what happened *after* this scene. However, let this serve as a minor spoiler alert in case you haven’t read the book.
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Sex in Science Fiction: Are They Doing It Right?
by Heather Massey at The Galaxy Express
This week’s SF Signal’s 009 podcast is about “Sex in Science Fiction.” Given that science fiction romances frequently explore sex and sexuality in the context of relationships, I thought you would want to be part of this conversation.
The panelists were asked the following:
What is the role of sex in science fiction?
Authors Philip Jose Farmer, Robert Heinlein and Ursula K. Le Guin, to name just a few, have all had sex and sexuality in their stories in one way or another. Science fiction and fantasy is full of examples of blurred gender roles, cross-species sex, virtual sex – are these legitimate points to move the story forward or are they simply there to sensationalize the prose? What are some examples of sex in science fiction that, good or bad, still stick in your mind? What are some examples where you felt it was completely out of place?
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IAIN M. BANKS in conversation in Sydney 6 October
by Nicola Pitt at Orbit
Known for his literary novels, science fiction and personal politics, Iain M. Banks will be in conversation LIVE in Sydney via Skype on 6 October for the release of his new novel SURFACE DETAIL published by Orbit.
As he rarely travels by plane, technology will bridge the vast distance between the UK and Australia and enable Banks to talk to the Sydney audience while sitting in the Little, Brown office in London. Three cheers for technology!
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Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Le Guin debate science fiction vs. “realism”
By Claire L. Evans — Space Canon at io9
Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood are two of SF’s most famous living writers. Claire Evans was lucky enough to join 2,000 other people in listening to them discuss Star Wars, fantasy… and telling the truth in fiction.
Earlier this year, when I went to an event to meet NASA astronaut Jim Dutton at my local science museum, I was the only person in attendance over twelve. Last night, when I went to see Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood chat on stage as part of the Portland Arts and Lectures 2010 series, I felt like the only person there under forty. Alas, this is my life: the aspirations of a child and the literary interests of a middle-aged woman.
Pairing Margaret Atwood with Ursula K. Le Guin was smart: they come from similar backgrounds, both attended Radcliffe in the pre-Second Wave years, both are very prolific writers of indefinable genre fiction, and they’ve evidently been friends for years. Seated on little divans in front of over 2,000 people (yes, “only in Portland,” I know), they seemed like two old school chums swapping gossip even when they were deconstructing modern realism and debating whether or not the human race is doomed. The effect was intimate, convivial — Le Guin giggling uncontrollably, for example, when Atwood discussed how writing is like building a boudoir for the reader.
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Have you ever re-read a book only to be disappointed? What did you think of the rest of the articles?