Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Notes from Saturday CSWS 40th Anniversary Celebration

Summary of "A conversation with Ursula Le Guin."

 If I could ignore the critics and the fixed opinions and the publishers' ideas, I would simply ... never think of genre.  There's this kind of story and that kind of story (stories without genre).  Some are more realistic, and more more imaginative. But they're all fish in the ocean of story.  And I'll catch any fish that comes to my net.  And all the rest in a sense is applied from on top by intellectuals trying to sort things out (OK) and by Capitalism (not so good).

Getting admiration from another writer is incredibly important to other writers  It's why the Nebula Award is extremely important.  That's really something.  I got a fan letter from Andrea Norton which said, "I really liked your novel," and OH Boy, I walked on air for a week.  The thing is--women got more of that kind of praise from women.  And getting it from Tiptree... we thought, "Gee, that's a neat man."  (The truth was confusing)

I'm a story teller who wants to tell a story.  The story is going to be political, whether you want it to or not.  It is going to reflect the politics of the time.  How much you want to control that mess...you have to decide for yourself.  With the caution that if you are perceived to be preaching by your readers, they will quietly go away (and they're right to do so).  

A story is not a vehicle for a message, a story is itself.  And what it tells you is what it tells you.  The less the story is about the author, the more readers get out of it... but the author can over-direct...  But on the other hand, if there is a message you want to get across, and the best way to to tell a story... then that's what you have to do.

Summary of "Feminists in the Archives" Panel.  

Take-away messages.  Feminist science fiction writers of the 1950-1970's had extended conversations with each other via letters; the community they formed created a forum of sorts for supporting themselves and also thinking about story and voice.

“Feminist Science Fiction as Political Theory,”Panel.Summary:  Feminist Science Fiction has explored "Women's Ways of Knowing." (WWoK was suggested to be "intuitive" or "spiritual".) Feminist Science Fiction has moved from utopia as a destination to utopia as a process or conversation.

 Just writing a female main character in the 60's-70's was a bold political act.  Science Fiction in the last forty years has made progress in terms of numbers of female authors, characters, and subject matter; but there's still a long way to go ("Wow, she writes like a man").

Speculative fiction in general is dismembered into niches not by authors, readers, or editors, but by marketing divisions.  Feminist science fiction is a cultural response to a political situation.  The message of feminist science fiction is:  "We are not satisfied with the status quo and we want it changed--and if we can get it , we will.  And if we can nudge folks to bring the change, we will.  Because change is needed for us to survive. "

The USA exports weapons and culture; it's important for us to write feminist (or rather, egalitarian)  science fiction as a challenge to patriarchy world-wide... but for goodness sake, write a good story, not a political one.  Write, not film, because Hollywood is still stuck in the male buddy story.   Fantasy is mostly War Stories.  The cultural process continues, and part of that process is for each and every one of us who is aware, to help others become aware.
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