Feedback from Kim Stanley Robinson's book tour in London last week.
First the signing at Forbidden Planet (photo via their photostream):
More after the jump.
And second, the New Scientist meeting in the Yorkshire Grey, of which we get a detailed account from Robert Gordon at Future Conscience. Also present were writers Geoff Ryman and Paul McAuley. There were readings (Robinson read out from the Virginia Woolf letter to Olaf Stapledon he uncovered for the New Scientist article), a Q&A session (surprisingly for the PKD uninitiated, Robinson's favourite P.K.Dick novel would be Now Wait For Last Year and, less surprisingly, favourite SF novel in general Samuel Delany's Dhalgren -- if he had to choose) and general mingling of guests and attendees. Head over to Gordon's article for more details (photo by him).
Meanwhile, Robinson's article in the New Scientist published last week sparked quite a debate as one would have expected from its clear-cut position. Are science fiction novels under-represented or excluded entirely from literary awards such as the UK's Man Booker prize? Is there a literary genre that monopolizes literary awards? Are non-SF/fantasy/horror novels in general a genre in and of themselves that have their own prizes like SF has eg. the Hugo? Are the award jurys accountable or is it the publishers, who provide them with award candidates? Are award jurys and/or publishers snobbing SF, or is SF distancing itself from "mainstream" literature willingly? This is far from being the first time these things are being discussed, and SF as a literature has evolved and sophisticated itself a lot since the 1950s pulp era. Robinson himself has always described himself as a science fiction writer and been described by others as a literary science fiction writer in a milieu where many SF writers deny the branding of their work as science fiction in hopes it would be better regarded and not quickly categorized as non-literature.
The New Scientist article was relayed by The Guardian, which gathered reactions from the accused Man Booker jury members James Naughtie and John Mullan, who argued that it greatly depended on what the publishers chose to submit to the jury but who also described SF as a genre that is now "in a special room in book shops, bought by a special kind of person who has special weird things they go to and meet each other", which is hardly a non-discriminative comment. Academic and author Adam Roberts -- whose new novel Yellow Blue Tibia should probably be this year's Man Booker prize winner according to Robinson, and whose review of Galileo's Dream was very positive -- also argued in another Guardian article on these exact topics.
(photo by Greg Wood, via Boston.com)