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Posts tagged ‘Ursula Le Guin’

The larger realities of Ursula Le Guin

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

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Coode Street and Me

the-coode-street-podcastA little after the fact, but if you get a chance you might want to check out Episode 154 of the Coode Street Podcast, which features me chatting with Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe about subjects ranging from Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Paul McAuley’s Quiet War series to Margaret Atwood, Tolkien and the future of science fiction.

I’m a big fan of Coode Street, which I think is necessary listening for anybody interested in science fiction or fantasy, so it was great fun to be a part of it. You can download the episode from Podbean or from iTunes.

If you’re interested I’d also very much recommend taking the time to check out M. John Harrison’s recent appearance on the show (available via Podbean and iTunes), in which he demonstrates he’s exactly as brilliant in person as on the page, and the conversations with Graham Joyce (whose new book, The Year of the Ladybird, is a delight (again, Podbean, iTunes)) and Ursula Le Guin (Podbean) from a while back.

The shame of snip and share

Offscreen Film Festival 2008 @ Brussels. Photo: Jeffrey De Keyser.

Offscreen Film Festival 2008 @ Brussels. Photo: Jeffrey De Keyser.

When I started this blog I was worried it would distract me from what I rather stuffily thought of as my “real” writing. I don’t feel that way anymore. Indeed this odd little online creation isn’t just very definitely part of my real writing, it’s also often the bit I enjoy the most.

The thing I didn’t understand back then was that the real problem with blogging isn’t that it’s time-consuming, it’s that it’s completely tyrannical. Don’t post for a day and you feel bad about it, don’t post for a week and you start to feel like you’re letting everybody (including yourself) down. Half the time I feel like I’ve woken up to find myself playing the part of Seymour in an online version of Little Shop of Horrors.

Which is, of course, a roundabout way of apologizing for the fact the site’s been a bit neglected lately. It’s not intentional, just that between work and the fairly appalling schedule I’m on with my novel I’ve been struggling to find the time to post. I think – I hope – things have turned the corner a bit, and I’ll be getting some stuff up this week, but I’m not going to go making any big promises.

To which end I’m going to do something I generally avoid, which is offer a few links in place of content. I’ve got nothing against linking per se, but it always seems a bit like cheating, the sort of thing you do when you’re too busy to write something original. Which I am, of course, but if I keep typing fast enough perhaps I can distract you from that*.

So, without further ado. The most recent issue of The New Yorker has a fascinating interview with Ursula Le Guin, focussed in large part on her 1969 classic, The Left Hand of Darkness, and her feelings about its then-radical take on gender politics, and the manner in which they simultaneously reflect the more conventional attitudes of its times. They’re interesting questions, not least because they recur in the context of Le Guin’s revisionist re-entry into the world of Earthsea in Tehanu (and to a lesser extent, The Other Wind), a book which attempted to unpick the patriarchal underpinnings of one of fantasy’s most remarkable – and enduring – creations.

Meanwhile, over at Sight and Sound, you can read the single best piece of writing about television I’ve read this year, as Kent Jones probes the allure of The Wire. As I’ve said here before, despite my admiration for its many very real achievements, The Wire is a show I often find frustrating. Given the critical consensus that it is one of, if not “the greatest television show ever made”, that often leaves me feeling like a naysayer, but Jones very elegantly teases out many of what I’d see as the show’s weaknesses, while simultaneously illuminating the things which make it so remarkable.

In a completely different vein, at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Michael Ruse uses an exploration of the scientific and philosophical antecedents to James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis to examine what has always seemed to me to be one of the more oddly neglected aspects of the climate change debate, which is the manner in which it encapsulates a more fundamental argument about the nature of science itself. And, at The Guardian, Lovelock himself gives one of his trademark doomsayer interviews to celebrate his 90th birthday.

And finally, ever wondered about the link between heroic drinking and great writing? Well at Intelligent Life Tom Shone has some answers (and they may not be the ones you want to hear).

* The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed I’ve been using Delicious to post links in the right-hand column for a while now. Sadly they’re not that obvious (and I’m less diligent than I might be in keeping them up to date) but when I finally get my redesign off the ground I’ll be expanding that functionality.

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And the winners are . . .

bsgbloodscalesThe nominations for the 2009 Emmys have just been announced. Unsurprisingly (and deservedly) Mad Men has done exceptionally well, taking four of the five nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, one of the Directing nominations, and a number of other, smaller nominations (including Outstanding Hairstyling – woo-hoo!) as well as a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series.

The other standout drama of the year, Breaking Bad, does less well (how its amazing pilot didn’t get nominations for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing is beyond me) but does pick up a nomination for Outstanding Drama (along with the neglected but brilliant Big Love) and a couple of smaller nominations.

At the other end of the spectrum, Battlestar Galactica has been almost completely ignored once again, picking up only one major nomination, for Michael Rymer’s direction of ‘Daybreak Part 2’. The take-home message? That even when a science fiction show produces episodes of the calibre of ‘Revelations’, ‘The Oath’ or ‘Blood on the Scales’, all of which are, quite simply, some of the best television produced in the last ten years, it’s still not enough to find mainstream recognition.

Not, it must be said, that the literary world is much better.

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