Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 in Shit: Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction

My actual review of Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction was published in Strange Horizons in June; this post is basically a bit of errata and setting the stage for tomorrow's review, which will be another piece of fantastical materialist theorizing. Tomorrow's basically the sequel to my review of Menial, at least as far as I am concerned.

I think my review of Menial is the most I've ever drafted anything. It went through at least a half a dozen, all of which were effectively first drafts. I had a really hard time deciding on an argument, some of which is probably still recognizable in the finished product. I think it ended up in a good place; I really did want to highlight the work of the construction of the anthology, and how that played into the idea of political economy. I tend to be less interested, personally, in doing the close textual analysis bits, since I find them mostly unhelpful personally, but I know the opposite is the case for a lot of people and I'm pretty good at it, when I want to be, so I did it.

I don't know if I should try to produce another argument, so I'm going to try to talk about process a little. One of my early drafts, I think, was basically just a couple thousand word riff on this sentence:
The flashback [in "Didibug Pin"] takes a slightly Proustian form, an unbidden and irresistible flood of memory triggered by a simple object; unlike Proust's narrator, however, Lize is swept into this memory not by the sensual object but the economic object.
I really enjoyed "Didibug Pin," but that was a much weaker argument than the one I ended up adopting (which, I assume, won't have convinced all that many folks anyway) about structure. Probably the most useful point I made was that
A genre is only as vital as its canon is contested.
The question of canonicity, especially in genre, has been popping up throughout my work recently, especially in pieces I have written for publications. I think it's something worth considering seriously, as one vector of the ongoing struggle within the community.

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