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U.K. SF Writers Dominate Hugos

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the u.s.-not-doing-so-hot-creatively dept.

Sci-Fi 290

gollum123 writes "The BBC reports that For the first time in its 63-year history, all the writers nominated for the prestigious Hugo award for the best novel are British." From the article: "Mr Stross says that what an author writes is a reflection of his society, and currently US genre writers are mirroring the 'deep trauma' that 9/11 wrought on America. 'What we write tends to reflect our perceptions of the world around us,' he says, 'and if it's an uncertain world full of shadows it's no surprise you get wish fulfilment or a bit downbeat.'"

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Look, Mom! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254134)

My second first post on Slashdot today!

-DT

Re:Look, Mom! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254173)

Not at all surprising, considering that all Americans are able to write nowadays is "rotf lmao lol!!!11!! gwbstehgraetestest"

P.S.: the captcha was "mammas". I like "mammas".

but but but (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254139)

But what about your bombs? Where's your trauma?

Re:but but but (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254283)

Too soon- just wait for next year when the Hugos will be dominated by the only people left to have any hope at all: Islamic Jihadists!

SF Writers Dominate Hugos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254151)

Did anyone else ignore the U.K., read SF Writers Dominate Hugos and then think, oh those Slashdot editors?

Re:SF Writers Dominate Hugos (yep) (1)

moultano (714440) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254162)

I certainly did. Provided a little chuckle.

Re:SF Writers Dominate Hugos (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254238)

Did anyone else... read SF Writers Dominate Hugos and then think, oh those Slashdot editors?

Sorry, I'll fix it in CVS. Oh, wait...

Wait... (4, Funny)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254153)

You can't hear the cool accents in writing. I don't get it.

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254273)

A question. Which British accents are cool? BBC RP? Glaswegian? Welsh? Brum? Manc? Chav?

Re:Wait... (1)

protohiro1 (590732) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254368)

Swedes on the BBC.

Re:Wait... (1)

robertc5 (55078) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254373)

Chav. Definatly, chav.

I set my phaser on yobbo.

Re:Wait... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254563)

Oh, it's got to be Brummie (Birmingham accent). Nothing says "cool" like an irritating nasal whine.... it couldn't be "scouse" (Liverpool accent) because that just screams "petty thief".

* For any Americans reading: Liverpool [wikipedia.org] is a city found in the North of England. It's famous for producing The Beatles and lots of car thieves and benefit scroungers. Brummies come from Birmingham [wikipedia.org] -- a city in the Midlands that isn't famous for anything at all as far as I'm aware.

Re:Wait... (4, Funny)

wfmcwalter (124904) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254667)

Oh, it's got to be Brummie (Birmingham accent). Nothing says "cool" like an irritating nasal whine....

The skoy waz the colir of a teleevishin tewned to ded chennel ...

Re:Wait... (1)

Col. Bloodnok (825749) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254767)

Could oiy 'ave sum feggots an poyse ployse?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

The Grey Clone (770110) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254170)

I appoligize if I've spelt the name incorrectly, but I purchased the book at some of the acclaim I heard about it, but does it's odd stylictic grammar happen to bother anyone else?

I'll be reading along and all of a sudden the lack of a period after Mr. or, if I quote the first sentence of the book, "Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians." I must be dense, but I had to read it twice to actually understand what Clarke was saying. The sentence structure, the grammar, it all just appears very foreign. Is this a normal British thing? I'm honestly at a loss.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2, Funny)

kt0157 (830611) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254224)

Alas you it is that has the problem.

K.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254245)

Ha! I just RTFA and the first thing I told a co-worker was that I couldn't even finish JS&MN because of the stylistic grammer. I just plain gets in the way of the damn story.

That, and 10 chapters deep I kept thinking "things should be picking up about now" but they never did. Almost the whole novel struck me as character-building setup.

It is a lot like an all uphill roller-coaster. You keep waiting for the dropoff but it never comes.

  -Charles

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254671)

She has poor "grammer"?

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

Ed_Moyse (171820) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254248)

Sounds fine to me (I'm a brit) ;-)

Just jumble the words around : "In the city of York there was once a society of magicians."

If it helps at all, it's pretty archaic-sounding british english, probably done for stylistic effect

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254278)

The problem is the ENTIRE BOOK is in an archaic Queen's English. The author does a very good job with the language and descriptions and dialog to transport the reader to Napoleonic-era England. The problem is, once there my mind kept screaming "GET ME THE HELL OUT!"

  -Charles

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254345)

Some years ago, there was in the city of York, a society of magicians. Seems, at least to me, that this writer and his editor need to read the proper use of commas.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254438)

Yours is awful. Those commas do NOT belong there.
Yuk. There are NO natural pauses in that sentence.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254748)

There are natural pauses, but not in the places the grandparent says. If I were writing that sentance, I would say:

Some years ago there was, in the city of York, a society of magicians."

As other replies have said, it's a little old-fashioned, but it doesn't sound strange to me as a Brit.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254358)

Weird, I actually found the stylized launguage to be part of the book's appeal (that and the wondeful footnotes).

But then, I'm a Canadian, and we apparently have different sensibilities.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254371)

I must be dense, but I had to read it twice to actually understand what Clarke was saying. The sentence structure, the grammar, it all just appears very foreign. Is this a normal British thing? I'm honestly at a loss.

FWIW, I'm an American, and I didn't find it particularly bothersome. I haven't read the entire book yet, but up to where I am, the grammar hasn't really been something I've noticed.

Then again, I really enjoy British literature, TV, music, etc., so maybe I'm just conditioned to accept it?

<shrug>

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

rdwald (831442) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254427)

I had the same problem with that book, though based on my previous experiences with British authors I suspect it's either that Clarke's style is weird or that Clarke was specificially going for a weird style. Along the same lines, the book took me at least five times as long to read as other equivalent-length fiction novels; it's probably the style which slowed me down.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (3, Informative)

ebichu (657775) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254499)

Well, it doesn't bother me, but then I'm British. The lack of a 'full stop' after 'Mr' is normal style in British punctuation; it is a little inconsistent, but full stops are becoming less common in abbreviations in British English. Then again, some American conventions are strange as well; like inserting a comma before 'and' in a list, such as 'apples, bananas, and grapes are fruit' compared to the British style 'apples bananas and grapes are fruit'. The comma is intended, historically, to represent the omission of the word 'and'; the American tradition would imply 'apples and bananas and and grapes are fruit' as the original etymology. Such is the price of diversity.

American and British punctuation and spelling differ in many places; I always find US spellings such as 'ax' versus 'axe' or 'color' versus 'colour' jarring. Sometimes a work is re-edited for publication on on the opposite side of the Atlantic to which it was written, but just as often -- as in this case -- it appears that the book has just been imported wholesale without being re-typeset. Typesetting is an expensive activity, and a book will need to be very popular to justify doing it all over again rather than just reprinting and slapping on a new cover.

For an interesting history of the different versions of a book check out some of the prefaces to later editions of the Lord of the Rings (an example that should resonate well with /. readers). It was very popular and underwent several versions with different spellings and house punctuation styles; both American and British versions were produced and in both cases they were published on the opposite side of the Atlantic then they were originally intended.

As for the second point, British writing these days has been tending towards old-fashioned and formal styles, I think as a backlash against the influence of informal American idioms. We are writing ourselves into Merchant-Ivory stereotypes that we have spent the last thirty years trying to escape. Go figure.

I used to find works written for the American market difficult to read, but I got used to it. We may be able to understand each others language, but we should not expect them to be the same. Languages have diverged to the point of unintelligibility in less time then we have been seperate nations. We should get used to each others lingustic foibles, and claim a new fluent reading language on our CVs (or resumes, as they say in the Americas -- a strange, alien land whose tongue I am studying in my spare time).

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

Wereon (842163) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254550)

The comma before "and" is not an Americanism, hence its name of the "Oxford Comma". Unfortunately, the lack of full stops has rapidly become a Briticism, and one that I personally detest.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254572)

"the British style 'apples bananas and grapes are fruit'."

Since when did commas in lists go out of vogue? The English I learnt (in England, and I'm only 30) definitely had commas. The way I learnt is different to both of the examples you gave: "apples, bananas and grapes are fruit." There are situations where a comma precedes an "and", but not in lists.

Talking of jarring and the word "and", I find this applies to American numbers. Take 104 for instance: en-US = "one hundred four"; en-GB = "one hundred and four". The American one there isn't consistent, but does seem to be the most common in American circles.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254698)

Probably the most common for 104 in the US would be one oh four.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

fireduck (197000) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254600)

Very much intentionally written to invoke the feeling of 19th century writers (e.g., jane austen). The book is enjoyable, but took a long time to really grab my attention. For about a month it was my "read on the toilet" book. Then, about 2/3rds of the way through, I was finally interested enough to read it in much longer stretches.

Re:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1)

ebcdic (39948) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254615)

One of the standard abbreviation conventions is that you don't put a full stop after an abbreviation if it ends with the last letter of the full word, so you have "Mr" but "Prof.". Maybe it's more common here than in the U.S.

The general style of the prose is often deliberately old-fashioned and weighty, but nothing more than that. I'm sure that it's just a matter of getting used to it.

So long as... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254181)

...Brit writing is better than Brit cars, I'm happy.

what about non-english language stuff? (3, Interesting)

kingduct (144865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254183)

Hey, I live in Ecuador, and I've always looked for sci-fi written originally in Spanish, but darned if I can find much. What authors write in other languages, and do they ever get Hugo awards?

Re:what about non-english language stuff? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254218)

Try looking online in Spain at a major bookstore - that would be my first try.

There have been winners who wrote first in another language which was then translated to English - I can think of a few who first wrote the story in French and the English translation won a Hugo.

But, in general, it's stories written primarily in English.

Re:what about non-english language stuff? (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254370)

Some of the Polish alternate history stuff is quite well done- there was a whole genre based on the idea that their constitutional monarchy was able to beat the Ottoman Empire (instead of losing, which is the real history) thus creating a strong Poland for the 19th century, and NOT sucumbing to repeated attacks by the Germans and Russians in the 20th. What the Polish would have done as a superpower- including beating EVERYBODY ELSE into space.

Re:what about non-english language stuff? (1)

robertc5 (55078) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254441)

Yeah, Victor Hugo.

Re:what about non-english language stuff? (1)

Unordained (262962) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254396)

French science fiction [wikipedia.org] -- Verne, Barjavel ... wait, planet of the apes was french (Boulle)? Woah. Sadly, wikipedia has no equivalent "Spanish science fiction" page, nor, that I can find, a page listing sci-fi by language. Sorry.

As they note, french sci-fi tends to be 'different'. I can't quite put my finger on it, despite having watched plenty of made-in-france sci-fi animated stuff as a kid ("Il etait une fois ... l'espace", "Mysterieuses Cites d'Or", "Ulysse 31") and read french sci-fi (like Barjavel's). It seems obsessed with the words "infinite", "time", and with ancient civilizations ... and a sort of steam-punk anachronism of those civilizations. I know it's not uniquely french, but it just seems much more present in french sci-fi than in, say, american. And a lot less with war (at least not told in the present tense) and more with the consequences of war, ancient history, etc. I guess we can attribute this to WW2, they were the ones being invaded, and dealing with that legacy, while we were the ones saving their butts, and dealing with -that- legacy (more with the concepts of prelude to war, justifying war, engaging in war, deciding which side to be on, etc.) And although it's again not literature, Jeunet's "Delicatessen" amused the hell out of me. (Freaked everyone else out -- again a story of ordinary life after a war.)

As to the Hugo question, I haven't a clue (and don't feel like checking.)

Maybe this will be helpful... (2, Informative)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254624)

It may not be quite what you're looking for, but this may be helpful. Amazon.com has a buried section (why, I don't know, and I can't even remember how I found it) called Libros en español [amazon.com] that is nothing but Spanish language books.

There's a section under it called Ciencia ficción y fantasía [amazon.com]

I'm not necessarily pitching Amazon.com. Even if you don't want to buy off of Amazon.com because of patent issues [slashdot.org] , it may give you a good list of titles to look for somewhere else.

Another possiblity is to look specifically at Spanish or Mexican online stores. For example, I was looking for a Spanish language book and couldn't find it in America anywhere. I ended up buying it from Spain at Casa del Libro [casadellibro.com] . Yeah, it cost more to have it shipped here and I had to pay in Euro (not a problem if you charge it on a credit card), but it was just what the doctor ordered. Bookstores in other countries will tend to focus more on authors from that country and authors who write in that country's native language.

Re:what about non-english language stuff? (3, Informative)

fireduck (197000) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254734)

What authors write in other languages, and do they ever get Hugo awards?

From the official FAQ:

Are non-American works eligible?
Yes. Any work is eligible, regardless of its place or language of publication. Works first published in languages other than English are also eligible in their first year of publication in English translation.

Two possibilities (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254192)

One: Backlash against US dominance in SF&F beforehand.

Two: Backlash against Pacific NW (esp. Seattle and Vancouver) dominance in SF&F beforehand. ... or ...

maybe they just wrote cooler stuff and filmed all the cool SF&F stuff up in Vancouver so we got shut out of the running?

back in the days of being a SMOF, i took Bill Gibson's Hugo from Australia to Vancouver thru customs ... good thing one of the security gaurds was a fan, but nowadays I'd never even be able to do that [looks like a rocket/mortar]

Re:Two possibilities (1)

FuckTheModerators (883349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254321)

WTF is an SMOF?

Re:Two possibilities (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254442)

Single Male Obese Fuck?

Re:Two possibilities (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254465)

Damn, and me with no mod points!

The Scoop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254447)

Don't worry, it's just Karma Whoring.

Re:Two possibilities (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254576)

WTF is an SMOF?

It's like a SMOG, but the fen version, not the gamer version.

Disappointed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254198)

I think this just shows how Anti-Americanism is running rampant in the world. There are plenty of good American SCIFI writers, anybody read an Analog lately? It's chock full of fun writings.

We should put together an American version of the Hugos and just ignore them forevermore, they've already shown American writers are not welcome.

There is one... (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254285)

It's called the Nebula Awards [wikipedia.org] .

I don't see the problem. There have been years when almost every author was American, and there have been years when almost every author wasn't. Statistically speaking, this isn't that unusual. Maybe it was just a really good year of British writing. I say congratulations to the British, don't sweat it, and maybe we'll do better next year.

Re:There is one... (1)

Justinian II (703259) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254815)

Can you point to some of the years when almost every author nominated for a Best Novel Hugo was non-North American for me? I say non-"North American" because quite a few SF authors were born in Canada and moved to the USA or were born in the USA and moved to Canada that it gets too complicated to bother with. I think "statistically speaking, this isn't that unusual" is just plain false. There has never been anything close to an all-British ballot prior to this. The closest is something like two British, two more-or-less Canadians, and an American.

Re:Disappointed (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254286)

We should put together an American version of the Hugos and just ignore them

Oh please, not another Academy Awards... besides, the Hugo people got a point. I'm sick tired of american talks, TV shows, and even a movie about 9/11. Yes, it was shocking, but the world doesn't move around Uncle Sam.

Re:Disappointed (1)

protohiro1 (590732) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254437)

Agreed. However, I would be interested to know what people think was the best american sci fi. And what scifi people think really demonstrates the effect of 9/11 on genre fiction, because I hadn't noticed it, per se, I just haven't been reading a lot of american sci fi. (except for John C Wright's stuff, which I didn't really care for)

Re:Disappointed (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254645)

the world doesn't move around Uncle Sam.

You know its the Neo-Copurnicons like you who are comforting our enemies.

Re:Disappointed (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254333)

I'd rather see American writers focus more time writing things that educate Americans in a global manner. There is already more than enough sci-fi,fiction written from the past 50 years, we don't need anymore startrek potter.

American education literally revolve around European history. I feel like we were only taught Hitler was the greatest leader of all time from highschool. I find myself doing research on the House of Saud and other foreign matters just to keep up on today's news. Who cares about the Hugo award. Shift focus, lets read something else.

why the hard-on for China Mieville? (1)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254215)

I read Perdido Street Station and King Rat,I thought they were jus OK.. I hope Stross gets it. I can't beleive Richard Morgan didn't get a nod for Broken Angels.

Re:why the hard-on for China Mieville? (2, Insightful)

Scooby71 (200937) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254607)

The nomination is for "Iron Council".


King Rat was an early work, haven't read Perido Street Station, loved "The Scar", thought "Iron Council" was good but flawed.


Agree about Richard Morgan, but I'd have thought the nomination would be for "Woken Furies".

Re:why the hard-on for China Mieville? (1)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254672)

Could be because Woken Furies hasn't been released in the US yet. I'm not sure how the nom process works.

Re:why the hard-on for China Mieville? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254653)

Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels are juvenile male ass-kicker fantasies -- they aren't even that well written, although they are quite gruesomely inventive, which is a plus for SF.

The British Are Coming! (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254236)

Bloody, hell. Star Trek goes off the air and Dr. Who comes back to the air. There are too many British actors on Battlestar Galactica. Now the red coats are taking over literature. I guess this is the end of Pax Americana. Where do I surrender?

Re:The British Are Coming! (1)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254268)

They were good books and honestly, I can't think of a single american who should have made the list...

Re:The British Are Coming! (1)

jangobongo (812593) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254662)

American culture does seem to be stagnating, IMO. Realism in TV (Reality TV) and sci-fi; movies based on sequels, TV shows, comic books, and remakes of old movies; and the recycling of fashion and music trends (disco and Afros?) show a lack of creativity, as far as I'm concerned.

I slowed down on reading sci-fi books when the realism became too big a factor in the stories. For example, I like David Brin, but just didn't like "Earth" because it focused too much on science and not enough on the characters. Brin's first three "Uplift" stories are much more to my liking, though. A good story should be just that, a good story - entertaining to read.

Anyway, I think sci-fi needs to get back to the optimism that was so prevalent in the last half of the 20th century. According to the article:
By contrast British genre writers are not looking back, they are eyeing the future with lip-smacking anticipation.

"We're a bit more upbeat and there's an openness about there being a future for us," says Mr Stross.
Maybe this will trigger a new wave of creativity in American sci-fi writers.

Re:The British Are Coming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254723)

The British embassy dear boy. Just go up to the door, lay down your firearm (we know all you yanks have them), apologise for all the bad teeth jokes and that messy business a couple of hundred years ago... and we'll think about letting you come home.

Re:The British Are Coming! (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254810)

Canada already is massing troops on the border so they can return our breakaway republic back to the motherland and win brownie points. I suggest Mexico.

Rowling (1)

ranson (824789) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254253)

Very surprising to me is that amongst all these British nominees, there was not even a nod for Rowling's fifth book in the Harry Potter series (HP & The Order of the Phoenix), given that book #4 in the series was the Hugo Best Novel Winner when it was released in 2001.

Just not that great? (2, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254577)

I really enjoy the Harry Potter books, and dread the wait for the next and last book in the series.

But lets get real: We're not talking about great literature or ground-breaking fantasy.

That said, I thought book #6 was the best since The Prisoner of Azkaban. A great read, but still not what I'd consider Hugo material.

Stefan

Re:Rowling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254587)

Why it won 2001 is a mystery, since it isn't science fiction. Perhaps they just got caught up in the euphoria for what, on reflection is pretty tedious rehash of The Worst Witch and Tom Brown's School Days.

Re:Rowling (1)

fireduck (197000) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254689)

Order of the Phoenix came out in 2003, so it would have been eligible last year. Altough, if one looks at the full listing of Hugo nominees [worldcon.org.uk] , the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie was nominated in the long form dramatic presentation.

Also exciting to see that Lost (the pilot) and Battlestar Galactica (33, the first episode) garnered nominations for short form presentation.

First time in history, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254255)

Yeah, it *must* mean that U.S. writers are suddenly uncreative morons, rather than mere chance.

That makes sense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254256)

Mr Stross says that what an author writes is a reflection of his society, and currently US genre writers are mirroring the 'deep trauma' that 9/11 wrought on America.
Why can't he just come out and say "Americans are wrting a heap of self-indulgent whiny bullcrap"?

Creative Slump (0, Offtopic)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254265)

Everytime the U.S. (or more broadly: any nation) goes to war, the arts suffer. People are too distracted by the war to put a strong effort towards artistic endeavors. Then, when the war ends, there is often a mini revival of the arts. The U.S. certainly is distracted by 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and look at the result: reality TV shows.

Re:Creative Slump (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254307)

and look at the result: reality TV shows.

You forgot to put the "Oh, wait..." in that phrase. Anyway it's still funny! Mod up!

Re:Creative Slump (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254420)

So why aren't the Brits in the same boat? They're in Iraq as well. If the US is still at war in Iraq (as the US media keeps telling us every day) then so is Great Britain because there are there along with us. So why all the Hugo awards to the Brits if they should be in the middle of an artistic slump?

Re:Creative Slump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254481)

So why aren't the Brits in the same boat?

Stop bringing up stuff that disproves his point. He hates that.

Re:Creative Slump (1)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254507)

Well maybe it goes like this: The citizens of the UK were much more resistant to the war in Iraq than the people of the US. The war, without much popular support, does not seem to hinder the arts. The same thing happened in Vietnam. As opposition to the war grew among the people, we had an increase in artistic output, especially in music. So maybe that has something to do with it.

Re:Creative Slump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254519)

uhhh, most of the reality shows we see are/were children of British versions... and in many cases we get spared the majority of the worst ones

Re:Creative Slump (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254569)

You are blaming reality TV shows on 9/11? Is there nothing that people won't blame on 9/11.

Besides, I really don't think your argument holds up. All sorts of classics were written in the mist and aftermath of war - just look at Walt Whitman, or T.S. Eliot. Art is inspired by life, and when things are difficult, is when it is most inspiring. Conflict doesn't distract from art it puts the difficult questions into sharp relief. It is when we are fat and happy that we are most distracted from the deep issues that make great literature.

Re:Creative Slump (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254618)

It is when we are fat and happy that we are most distracted from the deep issues that make great literature.

It could also be argued that we are fat and happy even though we're at war. The volunteer military does all the fighting for us, and but for questions of policy, the only people who really feel the impact of the war itself are soldiers and their families. I'd argue that we're disturbed by what is happening, but it's not affecting our day to day lives to any great degree, unlike every other war in which America has been involved.

Who cares where they're from? (2, Insightful)

Whumpsnatz (451594) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254301)

I've paid little attention to where a writer is from, I just revel in the superb work that's being done these days. Yes, China Mieville evokes a bizarre London, but I'm finishing up Singularity Sky from Stross, and it doesn't seem particularly "British". As for Alistair Reynolds, Dan Simmons, George RR Martin, Peter F Hamilton, and many others, as long as they keep producing brilliant works, I'll keep reading.

It never ceases to amuse me.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254323)

That the nominees are almost always boy-girl-boy-girl. It's so hilariously PC.

Deep Trauma??? (0, Offtopic)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254327)

Ya know, I was deeply affected by the events of 9/11. I've been a volunteer firefighter nearly my entire life, and I feel a bond of brotherhood with the guys from FDNY, despite the fact that they're career and I'm a volunteer, and the fact that they're up in NY and I'm in NC. I felt like I lost 343 brothers on 9/11.

But as painful as it was, the events themselves and the loss I felt on that day, isn't what I find most traumatizing about the whole ordeal. What bothers me most is the reaction TO 9/11 by others. Specifically I'm referring to actions taken by our government, done in knee-jerk fashion, which accomplish nothing and will infringe on the freedoms that Americans consider their natural birthright, for many years to come. Things like the Patriot Act, that thing authoring the director of DHS to do basically anything he wants, etc., in the name of the "War on Terror." That is what is truly traumatic.

Re:Deep Trauma??? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254422)

Ya know, I was deeply affected by the events of 9/11.

Yes, it was a horrible circumstance, but I wonder how soon the laggards will quit obessing about it. Moving on isn't the same as pretending it never happened, I am just saying that there is a time for grieving, and there is a time to move on with life.

I do agree on your points of the knee-jerk reactions.

I don't know how this really deals with Hugo. I don't read much SF, so I am out of the loop.

Re:Deep Trauma??? (1)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254491)

I'm sorry I have to do this. It's nothing personal. I deserve your scorn.
I felt like I lost 343 brothers on 9/11.

What bothers me most is the reaction TO 9/11 by others. Specifically I'm referring to actions taken by our government, done in knee-jerk fashion, which accomplish nothing and will infringe on the freedoms that Americans consider their natural birthright, for many years to come. Things like the Patriot Act, that thing authoring the director of DHS to do basically anything he wants, etc., in the name of the "War on Terror."

Too true, nothing as self-servingly inhumane as invoking other people's emotional tragedy to politicize and justify ones beliefs.

Re:Deep Trauma??? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254526)

> Too true, nothing as self-servingly inhumane as invoking other people's
> emotional tragedy to politicize and justify ones beliefs.

Yep. Quite apart from the fact that ultimately what people are doing is just publicly feeling sorry for themselves. I guess it's just another example of American emotional incontinence.

Re:Deep Trauma??? (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254505)

Mind if I mildly insult you and ask WTF?

I don't get the "brothers in arms" thing at all. Or how 9/11 effected anyone. Maybe I'm odd but I found it laughable at best. Lots of people running through the streets screaming like the sky is falling, so could you possiblely explain it to me too?

BTW, I'm English and not far from London but I had the same reaction. The bombings have changed nothing in my life so I don't see how/why Americans all freaked out over a couple of planes hitting some buildings when they're MUCH further then an hours drive away..

Thanks if you answer.

History and temperment (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254725)

The bombings have changed nothing in my life so I don't see how/why Americans all freaked out over a couple of planes hitting some buildings when they're MUCH further then an hours drive away..

That's why the use of 9/11 as a rationale for everything from the USA Patriot Act to the War in Iraq is so absurd. The government stoked the flames of fear and continues to do so to this day.

But there is more to America's reaction that just that. First, being a Londoner, you're familiar with the notion of an enemy reaching out and bombing the crap out of your city. You recognize that taking a hit doesn't mean the end, and that democratic societies are quite resilient.

America's geographic isolation, and the fact that other than a few pesky U-Boats off the Eastern Seaboard and a random Japanese balloon bomb in World War II, we haven't been hit by a foreign enemy since the War of 1812, when you guys came over and torched D.C.

We've been so isolated for so long that we have come to internalize the notion that wars happen in other places, "over there." They certainly don't actually occur here on our soil. Plus, the 9/11 attacks simultaneously targeted the seat of our government, the nerve center of our defenses, and the core of our economic power all at once. From literally out of the blue, we went from a state of relative tranquility to being attacked with a decapitation strike. You must admit, that's not your garden-variety event.

So yes, Americans were a bit freaked out by this. But we're not really as freaked out as we seem, even though our government wants us to be.

Who really cares? (3, Interesting)

tktk (540564) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254352)

How many people here buys books based on where the author is from? This is the first time in 63 years that it's happened. It might be an interesting statistic to help future Jeopardy contestants but right now it doesn't seem like a horrible occurence to me. If the same thing happens over the next few years then maybe something's going on.

On a side note, a friend of mine for a very long time didn't know that Octivia E. Butler was a woman. I haven't told him yet that she's also African-American.

Re:Who really cares? (1)

Whumpsnatz (451594) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254720)

Also, Octavia Butler writes what seems, from my male perspective, like science fiction based on a woman's perspective. Not that teddy-bear fantasy crap, but serious speculation arising from the view of a bearer of children and nurturer of life. Could a man have imagined a situation where men CAN'T impregnate a woman without alien involvement? I certainly wouldn't have.

This white male respects her highly.

The Algebraist was definitely deserving ... (1)

isolationism (782170) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254389)

... And an excellent book it was. If you haven't read it -- even if you aren't a Banks fanboy -- I'd recommend it. No Culture experience required (because it's not a Culture novel).

That said, I'm a little surprised Alastair Reynolds' "Century Rain" didn't get nominated, as it was also an excellent novel and, perhaps, especially relevant to the /. crowd. I've been meaning to write a review forever (since nobody else has) but I'm lazy, so I just write comments about it hoping someone else will.

Re:The Algebraist was definitely deserving ... (1)

Jett (135113) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254548)

I'm about 2/3 into Century Rain right now and it's blowing me away, definitely one of Reynolds best. There is a great slashdot reference in there too, it's subtle enough that you won't get it unless you know of slashdot. Reynolds, MacLeod, Stross, Morgan - they four of the best SF writers around these days, and all of them have referened Slashdot... it must be a sign.

And the winner is... (1)

1davo (692334) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254393)

How about we hold a /. poll and place our $0.02 for our choice of the finalists to win the prize?

My vote is for Charlie Stross .

Weird timing (4, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254421)

I read this story right after finally allowing myself to rent Gunner Palace [gunnerpalace.com] from Netflix. I don't watch TV news, because I feel it insults my intelligence, but as a result I don't see much footage of the war in Iraq. I knew about Gunner Palace for some time, but I never rented it until now probably because I wasn't ready for it.

It's not that I'm not ready to see the soldiers doing their thing in Iraq. I was a soldier myself, so I appreciate watching soldiers going about their business without any "analysis" from those doing the filming. Rather, I avoided the film until now because I was so angry at the monumentally stupid way in which the war was approached, from its rationale and build up to the invasion, to the beginnings of the occupation stage, to the large-scale operations in Fallujah and elsewhere.

It is supremely frustrating to see American soldiers doing their jobs with as much humor and professionalism as they can, all the while knowing that the civilian leadership at the top of the pyramid has let them down in a monumental fashion. I experienced something like that on a much smaller scale myself, when my unit left Somalia after not quite three months in country. A few months later, all American forces left Somalia. We had done our job very well, but because the American government had no real plan of action beyond immediate food security operations, a few casualties was all it took to send the global superpower packing.

So every time I see video footage of Americans in Iraq, I think back to Somalia and the way in which our leaders profoundly misunderstood the situation there before, during and after my deployment. I'm not suggesting that we stay in Iraq indefinitely to "make all those sacrifices worth something." I do, however, think that the monumental planning failures at the top of the food chain have done a tremendous disservice to the men and women of the US armed forces.

What does all this have to do with Charlie Stross's comment about the "deep trauma" of America? I think that in different ways Americans have been avoiding complex issues in our movies, our fiction, and our music specifically because we have been more deeply affected by the string of events (9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq) than we care to admit even to ourselves. For me, that means avoiding footage of the war. For others the reaction might be keeping minute track of every skirmish and ambush. Some might prefer to ignore the war entirely and pretend it isn't happening.

Those of us who believe wholeheartedly in the manner in which we are fighting Islamic militants don't want to see anything that will shake our convictions. Subversion in the cultural sphere could easily spread to the political.

Those of us who are profoundly disappointed by our leaders' lack of imagination, failure of vision, ignorance of history, and misunderstanding of the ground truth don't want to see more of the same in our entertainments. We want to be comforted that somewhere, even if only in fictional worlds, people with power are capable of making the right choice.

For the majority of the American population, who sit somewhere in the middle, the constant bickering between those who know what to do but can't do it, and those who know what not to do but can't figure out what *to* do is infuriating. We're at a watershed in American history, and people know it, even if they don't articulate it. Decisive, capable heroes, preferably unrelated to the current reality, fit the bill.

A friend of mine once said that everyone remembers the cultural achievements of Athens, but not of Sparta. Why? Because Sparta was a completely militarized society, while Athens was not. Perhaps yet another part of the bill America must pay for our hamfisted approach is that as we become more militarized, the creative and free-thinking aspects of our society become isolated and minimized.

The business of the future (2, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254787)

I'd mod this up if I had the points.

I can't bring myself to visit the SF & F section of bookstores often these days.

When I do, I'm struck by the large amount of "comfort food" fiction: Either outright fantasy, or fiction nominally set in the future but whose society and technology essentially duplicate that of a familiar and understandable past.

I've quoted this before, but it fits:

"It is the business of the future to be dangerous, and it is amoung the benefits of science that it equips the future for its duties."

Alfred North Whitehead, 1925


" . . . lack of imagination, failure of vision, ignorance of history . . . "

Damn straight.

American politics and culture seem dead set on crawling into the past where everything was swell and things made sense*, and when faced with something scary that might require sacrifice, imagination, and change, a class of professional blowhards, F.U.D. artists, and useful idiots rise to their feet screaming that there is no problem.

We're even losing our nerve when it comes to dealing with opportunities.

Stefan

* Assuming you were middle class, white, and didn't have a goddamn clue or did but didn't care.

Maybe they're all waiting out the regime (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254431)

and are really Americans living in the UK ...

hey, when your skills are in your head like writers are, you can live anywhere you want to.

Arthur C. Clarke, for example, lived in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). Many writers move when they want to, or reside in more than one country.

Besides, does it really matter?

Lets face it the Brits rule SF... (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254488)

...and have for a long time.

We Americans have given a good effort, but....

Why the future could be British? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13254508)

Possibly because that past was British as well.

I'm 40, and I remember much of the most thoughtful SF I grew up with was British. There were all kinds of TV and movies that would never have been made in the US but had big numbers in the UK. It was always very thoughtfull and hardly ever the action movies stuff that passes for SF in the US. It just seemed to be the British in general were more thoughtful, quirky, and odd and more accepting of those traits than Americans. Its seems they had a lock on most of the media and took a little time to catch up in the novel dept.

Utter bullcrap. (1)

Fermatprime (883412) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254567)

Let's just assume for a moment that about half of the Hugo "best novel" nominations are by American authors (I have no idea what the actual figure is, but this shouldn't be too far off). At five nominations per year, this gives a 1/32 chance that NONE of the nominees will be American. So the odds that something like this will happen in a 60+ - year time period are very high.

Even supposing that this can't be chalked up to pure chance, Stross' comment means nothing. He blames it on 9/11; I could blame it on a decreasing attention span of American writers (so they can't keep a novel together), an inherent anti-Americanism in the nominating process, or one of literally dozens of other possible "reasons." It doesn't make them all true.

Finally, anyone who wants to can find some sort of pattern in the nominees for any given year. (Oh look, none of the nominated authors' names begin with vowels! There must be some anti-vowel force in the universe at this moment...)

This is an interesting occurrence, but it's pointless to try to find a "reason" for it.

Goodbye, Miss American Sci-Fi (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254612)

Some of the best American SF was written by counterculturalists during the 1960s and 1970s. With the exception of Gibson, the "go-go 1980s" and science-fictional 1990s produced vastly worse signal:noise in SF. Americans have to pick another reason for our current decline, other than a couple of planebombs hitting buildings here in NYC, as bad as that was.

Maybe a better explanation is the rise of "faith-based" fiction, and undereducated consumers of SF generally? That "science fiction" has become really just "romance with special effects", with no experimental ideas or social "what-ifs". Or maybe American SF has always been marketing for technology, and we're now so saturated with that anyway, without any new ideas about ourselves necessary, that we just don't have to do the fiction anymore.

Great News for Banks (1)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254643)

Brilliant news for the Kingdom of Fife

Ian Banks stays down the road from me, don't actually know the guy but he's from Fife same as me so he must be a genius !!!!!

9/11, the cause of every american failure (-1, Flamebait)

ActionJesus (803475) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254680)

I know im gonna get modded troll, but to hell with it.

Im not american, so I never experienced what 9/11 was actually like (although I have lived through terrorists knocking out planes, buses, and most of ireland). With that in mind:

seriously, get a grip. Not everything is a direct result of what america wants to believe is the worlds worst tragedy. Hey, if every writer was british, that means there was no asian writers! They must all be traumatised by that big wave thing! (you know, killed like a billion people) But wait, theyre all foreigners, so fuck em.

Cant we just accept that maybe this year Britian got lucky, or had a decent skill team, or something else? Isnt it about time America started taking responsibility for things? For all slashdotters go on about parents taking responsibility for looking after children, maybe you can say "well, 9/11 was certainly a tragedy, but for it to cripple my writing for 4 years is a bit extreme, especially when I didnt even know anyone involved?"

Re:9/11, the cause of every american failure (1)

ActionJesus (803475) | more than 9 years ago | (#13254724)

*side note: didnt RTFA.

Appears the person who gave the original quote is (?) British.

He's still a tool though.
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