Musings and a Retrospecitive

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April 26, 2012 by jcfarnham

See as how I’ve been neglecting this supposed schedual of articles I keep talking about setting up, and yet have nothing much to talk about I’m going to do a “random musings” post. It’s also Thursday aka article day. Nice coincidence.
Not sure how it happened but I recently found myself in the archives of the blog Omnivoracious, browsing some posts by non-other than China Mieville author of, amongst other things, Perdido Street Station and Embassytown. 
Neither a Contract Nor a Promise: Five Movements To Watch Out For was one such article I had stumbled upon, written back in the summer of 2009, in which China set about extrapolating and setting forth five trends, or literary movements he thought might occur in the future. Its an interesting read in retrospective. 
For example, Zombiefail ’09-ism was a movement detailed as standing against the slew of zombie fiction in the wake of the “28 day later event”. Clearly Zombiefail ’09-ism didn’t particularly catch on. I’ve seen less zombie fiction since 2009, but perhaps only thanks to rebranding. It appears the shambling hordes have migrated from horror and cult parody over to fantasy fiction, hell I’ve even seen new-and-improved-zombies in science fiction of all things. The Zombies are alive and … well not alive, nor particular well, but they still exist in fiction.
The forth and fifth installments in the article were:
  • Noird – a combination of the resurrection of Noir, Hard-boiled detectivism (which I’m guilty of contributing to in my own little way I suppose haha) and New Weird (fantasy fiction that takes after Lovecraft et al… perhaps China himself would fall under this with The City and The City?). “It’s to be broadly conceived, here, ranging from the explicitly Cthulhoid tentacular through to the slipstream oneiric. Lovecraft through Murakami, Machen via Svankmajerova, Ligotti and C.L. Moore through Louise Bourgeois and Stefan Grabinski. You’ll be reading Noird if a flawed hero/ine in fedora; peppers a Deep One with slugs; finds clues that reconfigure themselves after bagging-and-tagging into malevolent trinkets, tchotchkes and odradeks; or realises that the murderer is A Personified Nightmare of Opaque Quotidian Complicity.” Honestly that’s a genre that sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, and… I mean… I’m writing part-Noird fiction in the form of Faebound. That being said Catherine would hate to be associated with any kind or sort of professional or amateur sleuth.
  • Salvagepunk – China states – is a kind of reply to Steampunk and it’s fellows losing sight of the pure nature of their original, Cyberpunk, in which one writes not about an idealised, gloss varished version of ‘punk fiction, but something truer. Cited amongst other examples, are films like the Mad Max Trilogy and Water World. This is the fiction of rebuilding from distruction, digging around in scrapheaps. A “bits and pieces; rag and bone” kind of fiction it has been said, touching upon the J-horror of Hellevator and the bits and pieces sensibilities of Howl’s Moving Castle and everything inbetween. Interesting indeed and in fact there were a number of other proponents of this proposed new genre, back in ’09, seen here: and I must admit that I haven’t read anything near this genre in the past 2-3 years, but if anyone has any good examples of this post-’09 I’d been very interested in reading them.
Definitely food for thought, though out of the five listed movements Noird resonates the most for me. It’s also the most overtly obvious to me in 2012. Though I suppose there’s plenty of unappologetic LitFic Praetorian-ism going on. Not my genre, haven’t touched it for a while. 
Does anybody else have any predictions made back in the day (like the supposed “death of Steampunk” or of fantasy to name a few) that came either ridiculously true or died a quick death?
Although I don’t think it’s taken any form describe by China I have seen an awful lot of writers taking on far less subtle methods. Zombies are mainstream, they get absolutely everywhere. You could be reading a good old sword-and-sorcery when all of a sudden! Shambling hordes attack! The Lit fic trend highlighted by China has also definitely evident in 2012, no long do they have to be subtle about pushing a cause, or a moral or a neatly packaged metaphor on the Human Condition, they just do it, any one can.
I’m not going to even attempt to make any predictions of my own; 1) I don’t want the embarrasment of looking back in a couple of years time and eating my own hat and 2) where ever speculative fiction is concerned its rather pointless making predictions. We still have a good couple of years left of people copying the Tropes of fantasy past (and of course when the Next Big Thing comes around, that.)
What I do hope happens is a proliferation of decent, well written popular fiction, what ever form that may take. None of this Retrofuturism, none of this unending wave teen fiction diluting legendary fiction tropes down to quote-unquote romance (not looking at anyone inparticular) … actually, to be honest, as long as its written well and doesn’t knowing promote unhealthy attitudes in it’s target audience I don’t care what the Next Big Thing is. 
Once again China Mieville has gotten me to take a good look at what I’m writing and consider “The Other”. And once again I’ve found myself happily writing away and, would you believe it someone already labelled me. I’m not one to rally against labels without due cause, I write what I write and stuff the rest most of the time.
Fun word!

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