Off to Russia

Today I fly to Russia, for a long and much anticipated trip. I will return the evening of Monday the 22nd Edit: Tuesday the 23rd. And while I intend to do some travel blogging in this space (expect picturers!), updates may be spotty at best. So here's some stuff I've been meaning to post about for a while, nice long things to keep you occupied.

First is an absolutely fascinating series of posts from Hal Duncan, author of Vellum. In a series called "Notes on Strange Fiction" on his blog Notes from the Geek Show, Duncan does an in-depth lit theory analysis of narrative, language and weirdness in fiction. An excerpt from "Narrative's Function (2)", the most recent addition:

All narratives live in the Village, some as guardians or wards of the social contract, others as seditious prisoners intent on asserting their autonomy, challenging the legitimacy of authority. ("Who is Number One?" asks McGoohan's prisoner, the real question being less who is in charge as what.) Whatever the ethical impetus underlying a transgressive aesthetic stance, to the reactionary, these refusenik narratives are as often damned for rudeness as much as anything else, for breaches of the politeness principle -- with accusations of pretentiousness (the immodest and anti-generous assertion of prestige) and controversialism (deliberate disapprobation, tactlessness and disagreement for the sake of it). To the reactionary there is no real autonomy; all ethics are moral, all mores are part of the natural order, and all individuals are intrinsically subject to that order. So if the aesthetic stance of a narrative is transgressive this can only be willful perversity.

Here's the series:

Next on the docket, Sarah Weinman has just finished her "Publisher Imprint Report Card" series, in which she goes through each of the major publishers in America and talks about their imprints, dissecting where they're successful and where they fall flat. She names names and points fingers. It's an amazing read for anyone who is interested in what the publishing industry looks like right now and where it's going. An excerpt from part one:

Right now, common wisdom is that authors are brands and publishers are not - no matter how hard ex-HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman banged that proverbial gong. Common wisdom is nowhere near so black and white, otherwise why would certain small press outfits like Soft Skull, Akashic, Hard Case Crime and Tachyon have clear publishing goals recognized by those who read their books (Soft Skull: offbeat, underground. Akashic: crime anthologies, literary punk. Hard Case Crime: retro-pulp fiction reissues and originals. Tachyon: smart SF/F that's not always easy to classify.) Conglomerates could, and should, learn from their less financially mighty cousins, as they should from the larger splintering of mass media, that their imprints should mean something to the reader. Sometimes that means staying with the status quo; other times it means doing away with the imprint altogether.

Here's the series:

Enjoy, and catch you on the flip side.