May 11th, 2007


[writing] Post New Weird?

pauljessup asks if we are entering a Post New Weird season. As mme_publisher said a while back, "What was wrong with the Old Weird?"

It shouldn't come as a suprise to anyone that I have mixed feelings about the subgenre/movement game. At the same time, it would be idiotic of me to pretend that there aren't fads and fashions in literature, just like anything else. I've been reading scalzi lately, whose work I've seen described as the New Comprehensible. Even that name is a reaction to the New Weird. And he's certainly eschewed the roccoco excrescences that so characterize the New Weird in favor of a second-coming-of-Heinlein approach to story telling, to great success in several sense of the word "success."

You can chart a relationship from cyberpunk to slipstream (via mis/reinterpretation of Sterling's original essay), slipstream to New Weird (via VanderMeer and others), and New Weird to New Comprehensible. I'm not sure how New British Space Opera fits in there (meaning Peter Hamilton etc). The question is, is it meaningful? As I've said before, movements are a self-conscious identification by writers. Subgenres are a marketing category.

The real value, besides being a parlor game for writers, is providing "if you liked this, you'll love that" information for the readers, isn't it?

[writing] The name game

Freakonomics has a post about parents giving their children distinctive names in part to improve their future accessibility in seach engines. Not sure I believe it, but that's an interesting notion.

Likewise, Bob Silverberg once said to me as we sat together at a book signing table, "You're lucky, kid. You only have seven letters in your name."

I have a name which is very easy to hear, spell and remember, yet unusual to the point of distinctive at the same time. (I have literally never met another "Jay Lake" in my life, and can only find about six other people with my name on the Internet.) You can find me in Google, on Amazon, at the bookstore or at the library with a minimum of fuss. I wonder how much impact that has had on my ability to build readership? If you're a working author, what's your experience of the impact of your name, as a name?

[travel] San Fran :: yawn :: cisco

I'm such a party animal. I'm back at E's house at 9 pm. It was a terrific day, though. I lazed the morning, lectured over the midday, spent the afternoon rattling around bookstores and loitering creatively at Borderlands Books, then a lovely tapas dinner with dinogrl and dave_gallaher. Back at it tomorrow! More later, but I'm tired, lazy and on what passes for vacation in my life.

(And if you're in the Bay Area, don't forget Saturday night's party is an option.