Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mind Meld Madness

I was honored to be asked to participate in SF Signal's feature, Mind Meld. The topic for this round was about literary science fiction and fantasy, and whether it had mainstream respect. Go read all the responses here (big names! bright lights!) but what my response is below:

I think we need to talk about what we mean by mainstream respect and approval, because I think the entire discussion hinges on that. I get the feeling that what you're asking is "does literary sf/f have literary respect?" The answer to that, of course, is no. We don't win those awards, we don't appear in those magazines, we don't get filed on those shelves. And that's okay, because we have our own awards and shelves and magazines. There are a lot of voices calling for sf/f to get the recognition it deserves, but I think that's wasted breath. We're trying harder and harder to get recognized and admitted to a club that just keeps getting smaller and duller and less important. What we need to understand is that sf/f is the seat of innovation, modern creativity and true cultural relevance. Of course the literary establishment is borrowing from our toolbox. It's the best toolbox there is, and they're welcome to borrow it. It's kind of amusing to watch them treat time travel, or the apocalypse, or whatever else as a shiny new plot device. They probably won't hurt themselves.

But that's the literary community. You asked if sf/f have mainstream respect.

Let's be absolutely clear here; I'm not sure *books* have mainstream approval. Increasingly though, science fiction and fantasy are the default languages of true mainstream media - videogames, movies, television and their continuously evolving, singularity inducing internet spawn. You can blame short attention span if you'd like, but only if you haven't played World of Warcraft. WoW has eleven million subscribers, and it is the opposite of a short attention span game. The best television shows expect a lot of their viewers, emotionally and intellectually. We can pretend that we're losing market share because we're crafting a higher product in a lower world, but that's just inane. If anything, we're losing market share because we're writing books for each other, and not for our audience. Or our potential audience, I should say.

The heart of the matter is that we seem to think we have to choose between beauty and excitement. We write ponderously important books that no one really wants to read, or we write vapidly exciting books that expect nothing of their readers and less of their writers. We can do both. We can write exciting books that are beautiful, and beautiful books that are exciting. We can make our readers think while they're on the edge of their seats, and literary respect be damned.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I will be attending WindyCon this year, in lovely Lombard IL. My appearances follow:

5:00 p.m.
Junior Ballroom A: So What is Steampunk?
What makes Steampunk steampunk? Is it the Victorian setting, the gadgets? The characters? Our panelists will tell you.
T. Akers, J. Ballard-Smoot, R. Garfinkle


10:00 a.m.
Walunt: Reading by T. Akers

2:00 p.m.
Hallway: Autographings by T. Akers J. Hines, P.C. Hodgell

3:00 p.m.
Lilac A: The New Weird
No need to ask if it's really weird, but is it really new? Is this the same stuff that was always hiding around the corners, but with genetic recombination added? Our panelists discuss the idea and tell you their opinions.
T. Akers, F. Gehm, K. Hughes, A. Woolard

Y'all come out now, ya hear?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tor Love

Just a quick note to point to Lou Anders talking glowlingly about Heart of Veridon on Tor.com. I am, frankly, speechless.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can winter be postponed, like the Arena Football League?

Well, the main data server is down, but I still have internet access so... guess I'll blog a little. Beats staring at the wall or complaining about the server, which is what everyone else is doing.

I was sick all weekend. I was supposed to run a D&D game on Saturday, but stayed home and napped instead. The group still got together and started a new campaign. I told them I need to step away from gaming until I finish The Horns of Ruin, since that's due at the end of February. Don't like leaving a group, since gaming is so important to me, but I have to set up priorities. The campaign they're running in my absence is Pathfinder, btw, for those of you with such interests. I'm curious to see how they find it.

HoV's amazon number have been getting steadily better. There was the obvious baseline spike when it first dropped, but since then it's been tumbling. Over the weekend and today it's improved. Hopefully that's a sign of good word of mouth, since nothing has happened with its visibility. I'm doing some interviews in the next couple of months, too, so we'll see what kind of impact that has.

Also, I'm excited for Autumn, but dreading Winter. See what you can do about that, please.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Get your Heart for Less

Just a quick note to say that Tor.com is offering 30% off on a bunch of steampunk titles, including Heart of Veridon. Great way to get your stack on!