Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fantastic Planet's first Sale... and a point t be made (again)...

Fantastic Planet Blog

Well, it's official: Fantastic Planet had its first sale today, according to Sarah.
It was, in so many ways, rather appropriate to the mission of FP, since the book was 'technically' neither Science Fiction or fantasy.

Our first sale was "Ghostwritten" by David Mitchell, an author who has been highly lauded by the British literati, many US critics, and is virtually unknown in SF/F fandom.
It's true. I sat in a room full of people eager to discuss the topic of whether genre was needed anymore, and whether it hindered things, and when I brought up David Mitchell, all I saw were blank stares. When China Mieville was asked during his last tour, what authors he read/enjoyed/respected, he paused a moment before saying (and the pause, I'm sure, was the calculation of how many people in the audience might recognize the name), "Um. Well David Mitchell's been writing some great stuff; outside of the genre..."

I've been a fan of Mitchell's since I read "Ghostwritten" in advance, and it's been gratifying to see the acclaim he's constantly received.

His latest novel, "Black Swan Green" is probably his most accessible, in terms of widespread appeal: a (deceptively) simple coming-of-age story written with a care to character (the voice of a 13-year old), and place (early 80s Thatcher Britain).

The most complex, and some say difficult book, is his ambitious "Cloud Atlas", a novel in five narratives, arranged like a fugue, that take place over different time-periods, and take on just about every 'heavy' concept in literature; the meaning of life, love, technology, morality...

"Ghostwritten" and the Murakami-esque "Number9dream", were attempts at both fantasy and SF respectively, feeling his way around the techniques, and in "Cloud Atlas" they mixed effortlessly, like mixing two colors to make a third...

So, our first sale is by an author who 'does' SF and F better than most writers in the genre. But rather than simply be dismissive of the writers in SF/F, I hope that Mitchell's efforts serve as a challenge to these writers; to reinvestigate the tropes they use, the stories they tell, and shrug off what's 'pulp-ish' about some of the stuff coming out now.
Yeah, that last comment's sure to get me into hot water...

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