Border crossing' is a recurrent theme in all aspects of my work -- editing, writing, and painting. I'm interested in the various ways artists not only cross borders but also subvert them. In mythology, the old Trickster figure Coyote is a champion border crosser, mischievously dashing from the land of the living to the land of the dead, from the wilderness world of magic to the human world. He tears things down so they can be made anew. He's a rascal, but also a culture hero, dancing on borders, ignoring the rules, as many of our most innovative artists do. I'm particularly drawn to art that crosses the borders critics have erected between 'high art' and 'popular culture,' between 'mainstream' and 'genre,' or between one genre and another -- I love that moment of passage between the two; that place on the border where two worlds meet and energize each other, where Coyote enters and shakes things up. But I still have a great love for traditional fantasy, for Imaginary World, center-of-the-genre stories. I'm still excited by series books and trilogies if they're well written and use mythic tropes in interesting ways.
People don't read anymore. And, when they do, they don't read books like this one, but instead read books that depress them, because those books are seen as important. Somehow, the Librarians have successfully managed to convince most people in the Hushlands that they shouldn't read anything that isn't boring.It comes down to Biblioden the Scrivener's great vision for the world — a vision in which people never do anything abnormal, never dream, and never experience anything strange. His minions teach people to stop reading fun books, and instead focus on fantasy novels. That's what I call them, because these books keep people trapped. Keep them inside the nice little fantasy that they consider to be the 'real' world. A fantasy that tells them they don't need to try something new.After all, trying new things can be difficult.
Cat Rambo: Where do you think the perennial debate between what is literary fiction and what is genre is sited?Norman Spinrad: I think it’s a load of crap. See my latest column in Asimov’s, particularly re The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I detest the whole concept of genre. A piece of fiction is either a good story well told or it isn’t. The supposed dichotomy between “literary fiction” and “popular fiction” is ridiculous. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mailer, did not have serious literary intent? As writers of serious literary intent, they didn’t want to be “popular,” meaning sell a lot of books? They wanted to be unpopular and have terrible sales figures to prove they were “serious”?I say this is bullshit and I say the hell with it. “Genre,” if it means anything at all, is a restrictive commercial requirement. “Westerns” must be set in the Old West. “Mysteries” must have a detective solving a crime, usually murder. “Nurse Novels” must have a nurse. And so forth.In the strictly literary sense, neither science fiction nor fantasy are “genres.” They are anti-genres. They can be set anywhere and anywhen except in the mimetic here and now or a real historical period. They are the liberation of fiction from the constraints of “genre” in an absolute literary sense.
An admirable line of Pablo Neruda’s, “My creatures are born of a long denial,” seems to me the best definition of writing as a kind of exorcism, casting off invading creatures by projecting them into universal existence, keeping them on the other side of the bridge… It may be exaggerating to say that all completely successful short stories, especially fantastic stories, are products of neurosis, nightmares or hallucination neutralized through objectification and translated to a medium outside the neurotic terrain. This polarization can be found in any memorable short story, as if the author, wanting to rid himself of his creature as soon and as absolutely as possible, exorcises it the only way he can: by writing it.
Space opera, as every reader doubtless knows, is a pejorative term often applied to a story that has an element of adventure. Over the decades, brilliant and talented new writers appear, receiving great acclaim, and each and every one of them can be expected to write at least one article stating flatly that the day of space opera is over and done, thank goodness, and that henceforth these crude tales of interplanetary nonsense will be replaced by whatever type of story that writer happens to favor — closet dramas, psychological dramas, sex dramas, etc., but by God important dramas, containing nothing but Big Thinks. Ten years late, the writer in question may or may not still be around, but the space opera can be found right where it always was, sturdily driving its dark trade in heroes.
From a tale one expects a bit of wildness, of exaggeration and dramatic effect. The tale has no inherent concern with decorum, balance or harmony. ... A tale may not display a great deal of structural, psychological, or narrative sophistication, though it might possess all three, but it seldom takes its eye off its primary goal, the creation of a particular emotional state in its reader. Depending on the tale, that state could be wonder, amazement, shock, terror, anger, anxiety, melancholia, or the momentary frisson of horror.
Anything that doesn't fit this mode has been shoved into an area of lesser solemnity called 'genre fiction,' and it is here that the spy thriller and the crime story and the adventure story and the supernatural tale and the science fiction, however excellently written, must reside, sent to their rooms, as it were, for the misdemeanor of being enjoyable in what is considered a meretricious way. They invent, and we all know they invent, at least up to a point, and they are, therefore, not about 'real life,' which ought to lack coincidences and weirdness and action-adventure, unless the adventure story is about war, of course, where anything goes, and they are, therefore, not solid.
Реализм: Заяц бежит быстрее Черепахи. Намного быстрее. И еще он сообразительней. Поэтому он побеждает. Рано или поздно. ОК? Сентиментальный романтизм: Самодовольный заяц прикорнул у обочины, а нравственно устойчивая Черепаха ковыляет к финишу. Сюрреализм (или рекламный ролик): Черепаха, снабженная роликовыми коньками и аккуратным рюкзачком из черной кожи, в солнцезащитных очках, легко мчит вперед, а оставленный позади зайчишка кусает себя за хвост. Из частной переписки: Милый Пушистик, припусти вперед и дождись меня у изгороди. Я буду на месте как только мне удастся уйти от них. Не может быть, чтобы они гнались за нами. Всегда твоя, Шелли. Детская сказка новейшего времени (написана экс-хиппи): Заяц и Черепаха, разочаровавшись в социальных и политических структурах, которые разжигают в обществе дух соперничества, покидают трассу и мирно доживают свои дни в убогой юрте, отказываясь давать интервью. Лимерик: Жила была черепашка Стью\ Простая как ду-би-ду\ Любила покой и уют\ и как-то свалилась в суп. Пост-модернизм: Я, автор, написал эту книгу. Это чистый конструкт. Заяц и Черепаха на самом деле не существуют, надеюсь вы это понимаете?