Friday, May 27, 2005


On the Mundane

Over on his blog Ian MacDonald does a bit of point-by-poin take down of the Mundane SF Manifesto, which I'd not come across before now. I find that I agree with Ian on most points here, as I agree in principle with virtually all the arguments of the manifesto (with the notable exception of "No alternative universes or parallel worlds" and "No time travel or teleportation"... that's just crazy talk), but like Ian I'm not sure that such a manifesto is necessary. The fact that so much good SF has been done over the years that falls neatly within the guidelines suggests that there's already a strong tendency in this direction, anyway. But, obviously, I like a bit of multiverse in the mix, so what do I know?

I'm currently working on a wide-ranging space opera that, coincidentally, ticks off nearly all of the requirements of the Mundane SF manifesto. Hmmm.

UPDATE: Now Charlie Stross weighs in by explaining, in essence, why he won't be weighing in, making good points along the way. Personally, I find myself deeply distrustful of movements and manifestos, largely because I find it much easier to classify works that it is to classify writers. Rudy Rucker may have written cyberpunk stories and novels at the height of that particular scene, but does that make his novel The Hollow Earth, a wonky bit of adventure featuring an alternate reality Edgar Alan Poe, a cyberpunk novel? Not hardly. It's useful and instructive to compare, contrast, and categorize individual works, arguably, but it's needlessly limiting to do the same with the authors themselves. And anyone who only writes within the narrow confines of a particular movement's ethos, I think, is unnessarily circumscribing their possibilities. It's not just what the field is capable of being that is damaged by manifestos and the like, as Charlie seems to suggest, but the writers themselves.


I responded here:
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