I just adore the way his anxiety and glossolalia and genre awareness pool together to turn a simple comic review into something so much greater than always reads like a judgmental time capsule angry at the present and wary of the past.
Ten Things: PROPHET | Savage Critics
Sometimes, I see PROPHET labeled as science fiction, and some ancient, dumbshit, kneejerk snobbiness in me twitches. Half-memories of ancient arguments that these things are DIFFERENT, of a different intellectual caliber, for a different audience, one cultured, the other beyond any ability to be civilized. Space opera was always hopelessly less than “true” science fiction (WHICH MUST NEVER BE REFERRED TO AS SCI FI because … I don’t even remember why…). I’m also old enough where “space opera” still buzzes in my ear with negative connotations, some ancient divide that started before my time because, I don’t know, Harlan Ellison and Andy Offut probably had words in some Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Hilton ballroom soiree in Rhode Island way back when. (Offut was more a fantasy guy, but spare me a google search for a better name there). Space Opera was the world of Waldenbooks trilogies, bereft of Allegory or Extrapolation– science fiction’s critical secret sauces.
This was all before the “New Space Opera”, though– Iain Banks and his Culture novels; whatever else has gotten published after I stopped paying attention to science fiction. (I discovered girls, in a rainforest, so you can all suck it using your erotic mouths, non-traditional literary genres!)(I don’t know why; the future just got old). These are probably old, dead “rules,” and I’ve just forever got my backpack only on one shoulder, here. The last time I checked, the hot noisiness in science fiction was “mundane sf“, a depressing-sounding strain built around a hopeless surrender to the currently understood limitations posed by various scientific laws e.g. “science fiction … with advice from a scientist, and with an endnote by that scientist explaining the plausibility of the story“. Weee!
There seems to be a strain of scientific fanatacism, good story be damned, that science fiction sometimes seems to invite, even if to its peril, that I guess I’ve been / maybe-still-am jerk enough to be sympathetic to. Some shitty part of me’s always got the square/cube law in the back of my head, trying to ruin giant Kaiju monsters. (Kaiju monsters win anyways because of course they do, but). To be fair, though, as Bruce Sterling put it in one of my all-time favorite speeches: “A good science fiction story is not a ‘good story’ with a polite whiff of rocket fuel in it.”