I'm supposed to be wearing a MedicAlert bracelet thingy, I really am. I'm anaphylactically allergic to at least one medication, and mildly allergic to another very common one. But the current MedicAlert disk I have is so old that it still has the CAPE TOWN phone number of the organization on it, and even if it was still valid (and since I lived in Cape Town a DECADE ago I seriously doubt that it is) who's going to make an international phone call to find out about stuff like this?
A beautiful essay on writing and genre can be found here
Here's the bit that made me nod vigorously:
Literary fiction (at least in its modern, trade-paperbacked incarnation) is, in large part, about damaged people. Throughout the course of the narrative, the characters explore, express, and potentially rectify that damage to arrive at a state of functional integration. They may also affect and change their environment in the process, but the chief action – and the chief demonstrable result – is internal.
Speculative fiction (at least in its classic incarnation) is, in large part, about highly functional people dealing with damaged situations. Throughout the course of the narrative, the characters explore and potentially rectify that situation in order to arrive at a functional environment. The characters may grow and develop throughout the course of the narrative, but the chief action and the chief and ultimate demonstrable result is external.
This, then, is why there is such a collision of perspectives between those two worlds, particularly in the minds of A)reviewers and B)young writers. These folks, when attempting to critique or review speculative fiction, are stunned to learn that the characters they meet at the start of the action are where they expect characters to be at the end of the action - i.e. fully functional and no longer inclined to put a salmon down their pants to express their basic unhappiness. As such, that sort of reader can only wonder where the heck the story can possibly go, since the characters are already where they should end up.
There's a new house built two lots down from us. It wasn't built on the lot NEXT to us only because we happen to own the next two lots, purchased in order to deny the giant maw of progress and preserve SOME woods around our place. SO this new house, it goes in into a postage-stamp sized lost, in the midst of existing woods, no?...
With a clear picture of the trees...?
Well, picture this. I get a phone call. "A neighbour" (guess which one, the other houses had been around for a while and nobody's been bothered much about things) has gone to the Association and complained that there are two dead trees which "may be a hazard" to their house. The two dead trees are on our second lot. They're bothering absolutely nobody - and sure, they might come down. So could a dozen other trees around the place. *They built in a forest*. But no, these dead trees are suddenly a disaster waiting to happen.
The association goes in and ribbons the trees to be removed. (at my expense, okay? They aren't bothering me, or anyone else, they may be dead but they're standing in a close knot of other trees which means that if they fall over they would probably be cushioned all the way, but what the hell.) They then come to my door.
"Bad news. I just went down there. I had a good look. There are in point of fact EIGHT trees that I have ribboned to be removed."
I go down there with him.
He points out an entire forest of trees.
I ask, "just where is the end of my property?"
Not sure, he says, but now that he thinks about it four of those other trees might be on another property.
But besides the two dead ones he points to two large ones squarely on my property. They're not blossoming, precisely, but then they're cedars, they aren't meant to be. They are large trees. Their removal would leave a huge hole in the place.
"Do I absolutely positively have to remove those?" I ask.
"Well, no......" But then he goes on about liability issues yaddayaddayadda...
Essentially I cut him off and tell him that I will not be touching these two. As far as I am concerned, they are habitat. That is partly why I bought that second lot, to preserve habitat.
But it seems to me that the other two, the two big dead ones - they're going to be a problem. And I am feeling militant. If the neighbor wants them down then the neigghbor should pay to get them down. The new house was built with the hazard clearly present - why,now, am *I* responsible for making them feel safer at night? I might suggest moving to a treeless subdivision, or to someplace a lot more graphic, if they get ornery about things. I have no idea how much these things are going to cost but they are on a steep slope with difficult access and they are enormous and I think I am looking at... shall we say... a large investment here.