SHORTGATE 2014

(Just so’s everyone knows, I really like overthinking things. I’m basically always writing thesis essays in my head. This is an example of such a thing. You’ve been warned.)

About once a year, various internet pundits will make broad, sweeping statements about various fashion elements and how they’re wholly unacceptable and should never be worn. Repeat offenders are usually flip flops, crocs, and, in this instance, shorts.

This past weekend, US foreign policy wonk Andrew Exum created the following flow chart, condemning American men for ever wearing shorts:

shortsgatwe

 

Now, at the time that I read this, I had just come in from running errands on a 102 Fahrenheit day in Austin, Texas. And yes, I was wearing shorts.

My response was not polite. In response to me, I was told that rudeness was a common characteristic of men dressed as children. I decided it must be a pretty position to be in if one could feign surprise that people do not respond well to being called children.

And normally, I would drop this. But this kept bothering me. And I wasn’t sure why.

Let’s get some of the basic stuff out of the way first.

THE UTILITARIAN ANGLE

So here’s the weather forecast in Austin, Texas:

Capture

This is actually quite balmy for us. We’ve had a cold front come through. We had 18 days over 100 this month, and today, the day I am writing this, the heat index is 107.

If I’m out running errands or going for a casual lunch, then I am not wearing jeans in this weather. Nor am I wearing slacks. I am not doing this because the sight of a grown man beet red and covered with sweat is far more unattractive than the sight of a man in shorts. And I’m also doing it because it could literally be dangerous to me. Heat stroke is real, and its chances get worse the older that you get.

For example, this past Sunday I went to a writing meeting in San Antonio. I wore jeans, because I’d be inside, and I’m not really a shorts guy. I don’t think I have badass calves, and I’m pale with long legs. That’s not my look. So I wore jeans.

BUT, when the writing group got out, I found that my wife and son had gone to the zoo. In extremely hot weather. They were dressed appropriately – loose shirts and shorts. But when I got there, I was dreading the idea of spending any time there, because – what was I thinking – I was wearing jeans. Luckily, we just rode the little train and went home. But man oh man, is wearing pants outside in public in Texas in summer just the worst idea in the world.

So, to a certain extent, telling people they can’t wear shorts in public is a little bit like saying, “I find air conditioning units unattractive. There is no way to render them attractive. As such, please remove them from all your homes.”

Anyone who said this would be a clueless, out-of-touch bastard, right? The entire thing drips of East and West Coast condescension, as if those who would wear shorts are hapless plebeians, who clearly have not received the scripture of fashion from New York or Europe – places which, I note, never really get into the 100s. And if they did, lots of people would die, because these places are wildly unequipped to handle these temperatures.

So there’s that.

But this goes further. Even I found I agreed that shorts aren’t great in all occasions, or most. But why? Why do I think this? What’s the problem? How does this rule work?

I think this is actually about our conception of how a straight, white man is supposed to look.

THE HISTORICAL ANGLE

Shorts being exclusively for kiddos isn’t a new thing. In the 1930 Laurel and Hardy short film Brats, a lot of the humor is derived from seeing the two grown men dressed like children, wearing shorts:

Annex - Laurel & Hardy (Brats)_NRFPT_01

This was tremendously amusing for people back then. The stars’ own children came to the set, and thought the sight of them was hilarious. This was because, back then, shorts were exclusively reserved for children – for male children, specifically. Girls wore dresses, naturally.

A real man did not dress like this. A real man was actually burdened with a tremendous amount of clothing, and looked more like this:

1930s_suit_03bmp

Observe the layers and layer of wool and cotton. Nearly every inch of these men’s skins are covered, with barely any flesh visible whatsoever. And usually a hat was expected as well. The only times that a man was allowed to show any skin was – as Mr. Exum cites – at play, or at the beach.

This attitude wasn’t born in 1930, though. This was a carryover from Europe in the 19th Century, where in Victorian times it was scandalous if a man of high society even took his coat off, revealing his shirtsleeves – let alone show a calf.

The same standards applied to women, though, as well. All of the mature adult form was to be veiled as much as possible. The Victorians, in short, were so devoutly terrified of sexuality (lie back and think of England, hon) that it’s had reverberations throughout our own history, and our sense of fashion.

However, the standards for women were slowly rolled back. In the 1934 film Some Like it Hot, Claudette Colbert was permitted to show her leg – something absolutely outrageous at the time.

Claudette_Colbert_in_It_Happened_One_Night

 

And things went on from there. Fashion for men changed, but with the emergence of such trends as Twiggy, short skirts, and bikinis, women were increasingly expected to show more skin. But for men, that expectation was far, far less.

Why? Well. If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of a double standard for men and women, then I’m not sure what cave you’ve been living in. Women were expected to show skin because men wanted to see it. Specifically straight, white men, who were basically running the show and calling the shots. And what are straight, white men disinterested in seeing? Other men, of course.

And that’s what this is really all about. It’s about what traditional, cisgendered men think about themselves, and what they allow each other to wear.

THE INSECURITY OF MAN

Let’s take a look at Andrew Exum’s flowchart. The chart is specifically addressed to men, and says that men are only allowed to wear shorts if they are children.

He never mentions women, though. The presumption is that women are allowed to wear shorts – and the presumption with that is it’s because we want to see their bodies. We do not wish to see the bodies of men, because we are… Well. Men.

And aren’t we all men? Aren’t we all straight men?

Wait. We’re not?

This, I think, is just another example of a really common problem: assuming that the default perspective is that of straight, white men. Many folks cheerfully refer to this as the “patriarchy,” a system in which everything is gamed to advance the interests of straight men, usually white. Including our fashion choices.

For example, what would Andrew Exum, or the people at Vox, who have supported the article, think if they saw a man in a dress? Or a skirt? As they seem to be (or think they are) generally progressive people, it seems unlikely that they would voice disapproval, or throw a rock or a bottle at him, or something along those lines.

This, it is assumed, is because a man in a dress has “opted out” of the expectations of a straight white man. Between SWM and “other,” he has selected other.

In addition, what about gay men? Popular culture – justified or not – assumes that gay men have far more fashion sense than most men, and even some women. Can gay men wear shorts? Is this permitted? Can they “pull off” shorts, whereas SWM cannot? Or are they doomed to the same failure – resembling children, by wearing shorts? Or are they too allowed to play to different expectations, solely because of their sexuality?

This strict rule about the appropriateness of male flesh seems to only apply to straight male flesh. We have no standards when it comes to male flesh of other sexual identities. Interpret that as you will.

And overlaid in it is this idea of desexualization. A straight man in shorts is a child – a male who has yet to attain the features of maturity. There is something distinctly un-masculine about shorts, to this way of thinking. To wear shorts in public would be to claim, in some ways, that you had the sexual maturity of a child, that you did not have the knowledge or even capability of sexual activity. What a terribly strange association.

And what about black men? Or Latino men? In Vox’s post, the picture is of a white male model in shorts. Would the expectations be different if the man was a person of color? Does this stock photo of a black man in shorts – one who does not seem to be at the beach, or going to the gym – look like a child?

Handsome-Black-Male-1182502

If not, why not?

And moreso, in any random list of the “Muscles that Women Love” – for example, this one from Men’s Health – glutes and calves are always prominently featured. While the authority of these articles is specious at best, it at least suggests that the legs of a cisgendered man are something some women would like to see (provided, perhaps, that they’re well developed.)

Perhaps this shorts panic is just another symptom of the wide-ranging insecurity of the modern straight white man, echoed from multiple perspectives – as the opinions of straight, white men so often are. Perhaps this is just the immediate reflex to the straight, white man’s realization that, for the first time in modern history, his opinions are no longer the majority’s.

He may be getting surpassed.  He is no longer the default victor, the usual protagonist. He is, for the first time, vulnerable – and as such, perhaps he’s doubling down on the archaic posturing of passed eras, reaching back to the 30’s and –  more popularly, recently – the 1960s*, and trying to siphon off the authority and command from models of masculinity that are, these days, hopelessly defunct.

And those guys sure as hell didn’t wear shorts.

* Though remember, when Don Draper was painting a room while wearing a pair of shorts, it was immediately commended by the woman who entered the room. While we can’t all be Jon Hamm, it isn’t the shorts alone that seem to be the issue.

The Age of Innocence

This past Sunday I was riding in a car on the way home from a longish trip and I glanced at my phone and happened to see a story unfolding.

It seemed, as I slowly learned, that one or more very dedicated and technologically apt people had ransacked the phones of several young girls, grabbed a handful of intimate photos, and put them up on the internet for all to see.

This sentence will likely fill you with disgust. However, the disgusted reaction that one would expect to see in the larger public has been quite tempered, because, it seems, these young girls happened to be famous.

This places a different set of moral strictures upon their persons and properties: the more one is known – and, really, the more one is desired – the less empathy the larger public is willing to grant you. It’s almost out of spite, it seems sometimes, as if we commoners cannot stand to see such a beautiful person doing such beautiful things, and as such we consider all aspects of their lives forfeit.

This has long been known, but as media invades our daily lives, this lack of empathy is being steadily blown up to a grand scale.

But here is the spectacularly shitty part of this, at least for me. Because of the nature of communications these days, lots of awful things become avoidable. For example, Twitter’s “preview” option has forced images of plane crashed and dead Gazan infants into everyone’s timelines whether they want to see them or not.

The internet bends to the story, like light bending around a planet. News, especially bad news, travels via osmosis, invading your pocket and your mind at a slow leak. And as such, whether I wanted to or not – and, more so, whether the young girl in question wanted to or not – I wound up tapping a tweet, and seeing a “preview” of one of these photos.

What I saw was a young girl of about twenty-two or so, wearing a bathing suit and standing in a rather nondescript room, taking a photo of herself with her phone. She was looking into the phone with an expression of such earnestness, and she was really trying quite hard to be sexy, posing with the insecure manner with which the very young attempt a thing they’re not sure they can do yet. And the instant I saw it I became aware that the person she was trying to be sexy for was not me.

It’s tough to describe the sense of violation that hit me. I felt, suddenly, like a giant, and the barest misstep of my enormous feet could wreck a home or a street or a shop. Without even trying, I had elbowed my way into this terribly intimate moment, a very rare and precious young person’s moment where they lay it all on the line, exposing all their vulnerabilities to someone they trust in hopes for a moment of pure connection, this very human, very frightened, and very fragile impulse to be unveiled, and seen, and liked, if not loved.

I shut my phone.

***

The idea of “innocence,” at its heart, is about a lack of knowledge. It is an ignorance that we admire, an ignorance that almost makes that person better, or perhaps makes it easier for them to attain an ideal state, for an innocent person is ignorant of the endless disappointments the world offers, the indifference and casual cruelty with which it operates.

Those who are not innocent often wish they were. They wish they did not know these things. They might not be better off for knowing the truth.

In today’s world, though, where we are steadily emerging into “the internet of things,” and we live with censors and input and output lining our very walls, it is far easier to know a thing than ever before. That delicate wall that maintains one’s innocence is thinner and more fragile than in any preceding generation, capable of being dashed aside with the barest of gestures. And there are people devoted all over the world to doing so, to ripping it aside and plundering whatever they find on the other side, and it is surprisingly, bafflingly easy to be complicit in this theft.

Though I think most people would pause before claiming the past few decades, or even centuries, were an age of innocence, future years may prove us wrong.

This hits close to home

I’m a stutterer, and my brother, who is also a stutterer, sent me this Slate article on stuttering and the film The King’s Speech

It’s quite brilliantly written, capturing the paranoia and careful self-regard stutters are forced to practice. I think of Ethan Hawke in the film Gattaca, scouring himself of all skin flakes and hair and nails each day before going to work; in this same manner, stutterers must prune their daily routines of dangerous words or situations. For example, for a long time, my trouble sound was “d,” which meant in high school when I called my friend, Derek, and his mom answered the phone, I could not ask if he was there, but instead had to ask, “Is your son at home?” as if I had a warrant for his arrest.

My new trouble sound is “m”, which was pretty shitty for a guy with a book called American Elsewhere, that big “uh-MERI-can” always swimming out in the deeps around me, and I tended to just casually call it AE, and terrifically hate any poor soul who happened to inquire what “AE” stood for. I somewhat regret that the character I’m now writing is called “Mulaghesh,” and suspect I will absolutely fucking dread readings in the future. (Which I dreaded and hated anyway.)

This section of the article, though, was tremendously interesting to me:

When stutterers don’t succeed in sidestepping an obstacle, or aren’t comfortable living with their words at such a remove from their thoughts, there is the problem of being literally understood. Stuttering ravages the sentence, the sentiment, the idea, such that following the stutterer’s train of syntax can be like trying to parse a line of Morse code. (Biden was nicknamed Dash in high school.) If you happen to be a verbally minded stuttering person, this is something you never get used to. Part of your mind holds onto the hope of speaking clever things as effortlessly as you think of them, of being witty and charming; words you wish you had the tongue to say instead flourish inside, feeding a sort of verbal fantasy life. Everybody dreams. But stutterers, perhaps especially, dream of verbal transcendence: those rare moments when an ungainly cargo of words rattling down the runway pulls itself together, roars into a final burst of speed, and meets the sky.

Sometimes, this dream gets fixed enough to become a vocation. A disproportionate number of stutterers end up writers, actors, and other voices of public life. They tend even to “do jobs that require them to speak in public, which you would have thought they’d have avoided,” someone pointed out to the stuttering novelist Margaret Drabble. This is an irony only until you realize that the labor of a verbal craftsperson, the work of nailing words onstage or in print, is virtually coterminous with a stutterer’s inner life.

I’ve had editors and agents and PR and marketing people comment on my quick turnaround time, and I’ve never thought it was anything to speak of. I have never missed a deadline, and in fact usually beat most of them by about three months or so, and I thought it was because what I was writing took little thought. But it wasn’t until this morning that perhaps the reason I pump out words pretty quickly is that this is how I live my daily life, carefully composing endless verbiage for future interactions.

If there is a device in your brain that puts together clever sentences, mine is never turned off – because it’s also my respirator, and without it I can barely get out of bed.

The Genre Fountain

All right, so this is something that’s been on my mind for a while.

Actually, that’s not true. This is something that’s been on my mind basically from the start of my career. I couldn’t not have this be on my mind from the start of my career, since the market has made it completely impossible for me not to think about this about once a day or so.

Let’s start here. Here are the things that I have heard CITY OF STAIRS called:

  • fantasy
  • epic fantasy
  • urban fantasy
  • steampunk
  • science fiction
  • mystery
  • spy novel
  • thriller

And there are probably some more that I’m missing.

About 50% of all the reviews I’ve been reading have, somewhere in their first third, a whole paragraph debating what the book is, essentially a discussion on how to label it, and they all have lines essentially saying, “Gosh, it’s hard to say what this is.” This is, apparently, of key importance. Finding an apt label for a story is a first priority, actively reviewing the work itself and figuring out what it’s trying to do - which is separate and distinct from its general taxonomy – is secondary.

This is bad. And it’s been a real problem for me for most of my career.

From my first book, people didn’t have a word for what I was writing. I didn’t know it, but I wasn’t using the right, recognizable recipe: I didn’t have the right tropes, I didn’t use the right pacing, my narrative structure wasn’t the usual one, and so on and so forth. It just wasn’t a recognizable combination. (I like to think that choosing whether or not to use a familiar recipe has nothing to do with the story’s quality – but then, of course I do.)

And what basically happened was that, if you think of the genre market as having a big fucking barcode reader scanning everything that comes in, the bright red lights flashed over my stuff and it didn’t find the right SKU. They just kept scanning and scanning it and all the machine kept saying was “?????”.

And because people didn’t know how to label it, it was hard to sell it. Because in a lot of ways, this is what the market looks like nowadays:

Pepsi Fountain2_0

So, in essence, when someone walks up to the genre-fountain and sticks their cup under the nozzle, they want to know exactly what’s coming out of it. They’re going to want to know the tropes, the pacing, the narrative structure, all that shit. They’re going to want to know what they’re buying before they buy it, or at least have a really general idea.

No one likes to buy an unknown product. And they really, really dislike it when what comes out of the nozzle isn’t what they expected.

Like, imagine getting a Pepsi at a Taco Bell and finding it tastes a little different. You ask about it, and the cashier says, delighted, “Oh, we decided to try something a little different with Pepsi today. Just trying out some new experiments. Let us know what you think!”

You’d be pissed, right? Of course you would be. You wanted a Pepsi. They gave you an experiment. Pretty selfish of them, really, to put their own curiosity ahead of what you wanted to drink with your burrito.

This is a great way of doing business.

It is a shit-ass-godawful way of doing art, or doing anything interesting.

Now, let me be clear here. There lots of ways to label things. You can label a story by its setting: say, if it’s set in a city, or in a setting inspired by medieval Europe. You can label a story by its plot structure: say, it’s a mystery, a whodunit, or it could be a thriller. You can label a story by its tropes: a Chosen One story. Or, you can label a story by how it tells the story: an epistolary novel, for example.

This is all okay. The problem is that, with some genres, the label sets the parameters for every single one of these aspects. 

Take epic fantasy. Epic fantasy these days implies:

  • Medieval Europe setting
  • Political struggle plot structure
  • Multiple points of view with lots of characters
  • And there’s a lot of tropes that are assumed to be in the game, too, of course: morally despicable men, giant armies fighting, courtly skullduggery, etc.

But the real issue is that merely by mentioning the genre, something is declared about multiple aspects of the story, maybe even all of the aspects of the story.

That’s not good. It’s not good to have the mold so firmly set. Some people say that City of Stairs is epic fantasy, because it’s a second-world story with grim, political underpinnings. BUT, its plot structure is that of a murder mystery, and it’s not a European setting, nor is it medieval. Because it’s not checking every one of those boxes, some people are refusing it as epic fantasy, while others are content to let it pass through.

We’ve all got our own weirdo barcode scanners, I suppose, and they’ve all got their own standards.

But let’s be clear, here: this is an old argument. Cavemen painted images of artists struggling with the genre classification system back in the paleo days.

But what’s strange is that, when I was writing CITY OF STAIRS, I kept thinking, “Well, at least I won’t have to hear all the bitching about classifications with this one. It’s got gods and magic. This is straight up fantasy. Nothing to think twice about here.” And yet, here we are again.

You guys! You guys, I thought this was a slow, soft pitch across home plate! I thought this was gonna be, like, the one obedient kid of mine who goes off to school and gets their degree! Are we gonna do this every time?

But more to the point, is this even worth doing? Is it bad to say “yes” to the list of all the things CITY OF STAIRS might be? Is it weird that a book can be all kinds of things? Is it even possible to write a book that’s just one thing?

And yet, if we sit down and discuss this system, we do two things:

1. We all immediately agree it’s pretty much useless.

2. We then spend one hour cataloging, qualifying, and debating the taxonomy for the label system.

It’s like this is heroin or smoking, or something. We know it’s bad for us, but we just can’t stop.

So now, I don’t know what the hell. I guess it’s a victory that the list of things people are wondering CITY OF STAIRS might be is smaller than what happened with my previous books. People couldn’t even decide if AMERICAN ELSEWHERE was horror or fantasy or science fiction, at least with CITY OF STAIRS they’re debating among different types of fantasy.

But here’s the real point: we’ve been talking a hell of a lot about trying to make genre stories talk about new things, primarily human diversity. For a long time genre has been male, pale, and stale, and there’s a slow revolution of people trying to change that.

This is good. I like this.

But it’s not going to mean a damn thing if the genre itself remains aesthetically stale. A predictable, derivative, uninteresting story featuring a non-white or LGBTQ cast is still, first and foremost, a predictable, derivative, uninteresting story. If your book reads like a fucking Dungeons and Dragons rulebook, it’s not going to be doing any favors for the wide cross-section of humanity you’re hoping to explore.

In essence, if your narratives and aesthetics aren’t diverse and dynamic, then you won’t be able to communicate anything worth telling anyone. Storytelling is like an immune system, it needs to be exposed to lots of things for it to respond ably. If it’s only experienced one or two things over its entire existence, it’s going to shrivel up and die when it comes into contact with reality.

We like to think we have a broad palette in our genre stable. We have vigorous debates over whether this story or that story is urban fantasy or epic fantasy.

But, within the broader realm of literature, we need to be aware that this is the very definition of hair splitting. Honestly, these discussions probably make no fucking sense to anyone outside the genre, even if they are a dedicated reader. And while this makes sense from a short-term market perspective – “I need to classify this so I know what I’m buying next time!” – it’s bad news from a long-term genre perspective.

In a lot of ways, we are in a very tiny corner of literature, arguing at the tops of our lungs about different shades of black. If we keep doing this, soon we won’t be able to say anything at all.

LonCon3

The World Science Fiction Convention is a damn big convention. It has about 12,000 attendees, by my guess, and is like a giant, floating city-island, bouncing off of smaller islands and gobbling them up and making them part of itself. It is riotous and incoherent, an enthusiastic mess of programming and ideas, which is basically what a convention always should be. It’s just that WorldCon – in this case, LonCon – has the dial turned up to eleven.

But anyway, that’s enough philosophizing. Let’s skip to what you really came here for, a video of John Hornor Jacobs sneaking up on Myke Cole and slow-dancing with him.

(I am obligated to note that I paid JHJ to do it, and you can see him insist for the money at the end.)

Here is a list of stuff I did at LonCon:

1. I met Anoya, the Discworld Goddess of Things Stuck in Drawers. (My mom was thrilled.)

photo 2

2. I went to the Jo Fletcher Books anniversary party, where I learned that CITY OF STAIRS is coming out in hardback in the UK – something I had no idea of, and was delighted with – and that the JFB team had done a really, really huge job in pushing it, as one can see below.

photo 3

3. I did NOT drink this beer, which sounds like the grossest shit ever, why the fuck would you do this

BvJ9qDnIUAAcWUQ

4. I might have eaten a cigarette. A hand-rolled cigarette. This takes some explaining:

At a party, John Hornor Jacobs was handed a very nice hand-rolled cigarette by Daniel Polansky. JHJ commented that he had not had a cigarette in 11 years, but he really wanted one now. I told him not to do that, that would be stupid, I’d do whatever it took to keep him from smoking that cigarette, including eating it.

He looked at me and said, “Would you eat it?” So I snatched it out of his hands and ate it immediately, filter and all.

Here is what I can say about eating a cigarette:

It is unusually spicy, in the most unpleasant manner possible. Smokers might be aware of that sort of musky, cherry-like spice to smoking tobacco – it is that, times a thousand, if you eat it. And it sticks around in your mouth, because all the shreds of tobacco get stuck in your teeth.

This caused JHJ, after a few minutes of disbelieving laughter, to turn to my wife and ask if she knew I was crazy, and she said yes she knew that, she was married to me after all, and yes he’s actually like this all the time.

As one final note, some amount of whisky had been consumed previous to this incident, but I am unable to comment on its exact quantity.

5. I kissed a robot. (They had no idea this was happening.)

photo 4

6. I did not go to the Hugos, instead choosing to go eat a truckload of high quality Indian food, but I livetweeted the events as I wished they happened.

huggos 1

huggos 2

huggos 3

huggos 4

7. I signed a great deal of first edition copies of CITY OF STAIRS at Goldsboro books.

BvWO0aJIQAI-eU5

If you’d like one, you can check it out here. These are available both to US and UK customers.

8. One thing I did NOT do at LonCon was talk to everyone I wished to talk to for the amount of time I wanted to talk to them. It’s virtually impossible to have the sitdown conversations with other writers that you actually want to have when coming to a con, because you want to do it with EVERYONE, thus ensuring that you’ll actually get to do it with no one. This is the double-edged sword of con fun, in that it tends toward quantity and not at all toward quality. C’est la vie, I suppose.

Anyway, more photos and stories can be found here, at my Facebook page.

Loncon Schedule

Been waiting for me to post my LonCon schedule? Well too bad, suckers, because the good folks at Jo Fletcher Books have already done it for me!

I Like My Secondary World Fantasy a Little on the Techy Side

Friday 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 4 (ExCeL)

Some secondary world fantasies, like Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law, Francis Knight’s Fade to Black, and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt, have ventured into industrialisation. To what extent can the kinds of narratives common in secondary world and epic fantasies find a home in these kinds of settings? Is technological development less “believable” in a world with magic?

Django Wexler (M), Robert Jackson Bennett, Floris M. Kleijne, Glenda Larke, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Carving A Legacy Among Legends

Friday 13:30 – 15:00, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

Horror is a genre dominated by icons. Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, and others have paced the horror field for a generation. Does this hugely successful minority disproportionately demonstrate a viable market for horror stories? How does a debut author break in? Have urban fantasy and paranormal romance replaced horror to any extent? Does this correlate to the success of horror stories in the independent publishing markets?

David Nickle (M), Robert Jackson Bennett, John Jarrold, Lisa Tuttle, Ann Vandermeer

Imaginative Resistance

Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)

Hume in his essay ‘Of The Standard of Taste’ asked why we are willing to suspend disbelief when authors make all sorts of wild claims but draw the line when the author makes moral claims contrary to our own. This might be less true today than it was in Hume’s time but we have our own moral rubicons. From sexual taboos to the role of government, what are the sort of things that readers tend to reject regardless of how skillfully the author makes the case? In other words, what sort of stories provoke imaginative resistance? How can this feeling be used to deliberate effect, for example within the horror genre?

Jeff VanderMeer (M), Robert Jackson Bennett, Pat Cadigan, Daryl Gregory, Sarita Robinson

Autographing 5 – Robert Jackson Bennett

Saturday 15:00 – 16:30, Autographing Space (ExCeL)

Kaffeeklatsch

Saturday 19:00 – 20:00, London Suite 4 (ExCeL)

Robert Jackson Bennett, Bridget Landry

Also, ifn’s you come to my autographing, I’ll be GIVING AWAY signed copies of CITY OF STAIRS, that book you’re supposed to be buying! Holy shit!