21 September 2015

Drogon's Back

... and you're gonna be in trouble! America's second-favorite single mom finally gets the recognition she is due; now, if only we'd stop recognizing the "favorite"...

  • In a breathtaking, Oxbridgish, earnestly regressive interview, George Saunders and Ben Marcus condescendingly try to explain the "status" of the American short story by simultaneously (a) extolling the virtues of "magic" and "darkness" and "[f]antastical effects" and "tweak[ing] the setting into the future" while (b) never acknowledging the existence — let alone the excellence — of American short fiction that appears in periodicals with rocket ships and dragons on the cover. This is rather disturbing: Ursula Le Guin told us why forty bloody years ago (in a collection — The Language of the Night — that was sabotaged commercially and remains caught in rights hell), and even the Emmy Awards finally recognized dragons last night (for the second-weakest season thus far of Game of Thrones). Simultaneously, it's not surprising at all, given Granta's avowed audience (of which I was once a member, several decades back; not much has changed, at Granta anyway).
  • As a further demonstration of the culture of secrecy that pervades the publishing industries, consider (again) how many copies it takes to be a bestseller: Only a couple more than the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. The scary thing is that the numbers mentioned in that article have been largely unchanged for over two decades, despite population growth (both in the US and among English speakers more generally) and the softening of acquisition barriers.
  • Ponder some sobering thoughts on the nature of colonialism — and on how fiction reacts to it — from a native of Vietnam who now lives in the second-worst of the colonial powers (OK, Belgium was worse... but not by an awful lot, or perhaps any lot was awful).
  • All of which leads to the critical question asked by the editor-designate of an academic law journal: Are EU policy-makers fighting the right copyright battles? But it's not just the EU; it's not just the policy-makers; it's not just copyright. It's at least about for whom the "battle" is to be fought... and the definition of "successful outcome" of that "battle." Get either of those wrong — or, worse yet, fail to consider them in the first place — and several thousand years of military history demonstrates the certain result.