Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Without Missionary Fervor

So let's see. I still have important-to-me books to talk about, and I wanted to write a fairy tales entry for copperwise and porphyrin, and skylarker wanted to hear about fantasies in which magic was a positive thing and not one of those bite-you-in-the-butt things. And also I should tell you all what some of you already know: that markgritter and I are going to London on the 2nd of July with my folks and my grands, returning on the 9th, and for the two of you to whom it matters directly, the flight times are on my calendar here in the office. So there's that. And then -- ah! I know. My conflicty feelings about speculative fiction conversion packs.

Some of you -- checking the friendslist, I can find yhlee inspired by vonnie_k, but I believe I'm missing someone -- have been putting together "SF conversion lists." Stuff to convert people to reading speculative fiction if they don't already. I'm a little weird about this: I don't want to drive people off, but I also don't want people who don't want to read SF to feel like they "ought" to. Books are not medicine. My grandmother enjoys Christian historical romances for sound reasons. They aren't my reasons for reading anything, but they work well for her. When she used to try to get me to read Christian historical romances, it annoyed me, because I tried them when I was in junior high, and they weren't my thing. But it's okay that they're her thing. We can have different things.

So I don't want to convert people, certainly not to my exact tastes. I'm willing to educate, and to welcome. But I have a hard time doing any of those things generally. They all seem personal to me. One person reads romances for one thing and another for another. Catherine Asaro would be ideal for one and appalling for another. I think part of the problem I have here is that I've seen too many people decide on what a genre is like by reading one volume of it.* In my fiction studio in college, one of the guys was trying to critique "In the Gardens and the Graves," my Asimov Award story, and he said, "I think this really hearkens back to more traditional sci-fi. It's a lot more like old stuff than new stuff. I like that better." Interested, I asked him what "old stuff" he thought it was like, and he said, "Well, I read Asimov and Heinlein for the old stuff, and then I read David Eddings and Terry Brooks, and it seemed like they were trying to do something entirely different with the new stuff. And I liked how you were kind of going back to what the old guys were doing and not getting caught up in, y'know, quests."


Yeah. I am terrified of people's sample size. If someone is already moderately interested on their own hook, I will sort out the people who should start with John Crowley from the people who should start with Terry Pratchett. Happily. But I don't want to be responsible for the entire genre because I was the one who said, "No, now, I know you don't want to, but here's a fantasy you'll really like," and then they didn't, and they didn't want to read fantasy in the first place.

(This is why I only provided the opportunity for gaaldine and the_overqual to meet and did not set them up: this way I get the credit; the other way I could have ended up with blame. So far I'm like this literarily, socially/romantically, and religiously, at least. Hmm.)

Also, I'm often wrong. I would never have predicted that timprov's mother's book club would universally like Tooth and Claw. I would have predicted that several of them would, probably most, but universally? no. I'd have guessed that someone would have balked at the funeral un-baked meats. This may be an example of where open-mindedness will get people that no amount of coaxing could.

*Oh, side note here: here are the rules for when you can sneer at what I'm reading:
1) You read it and didn't like it.
2) You read other things by the same author and didn't like them.
There is no three. There is especially no three if you don't read much at all but have appointed yourself Lord High Muckety Muck Of Appropriate Reading Material. If you believe that nothing interesting about the human condition, nothing entertaining, nothing thought-provoking, nothing, in short, worthwhile, appears in a book with oozy green lizard aliens, naked women, cowboys and covered wagons, or any other general category of image on the cover, you are wrong, and also possibly stupid, depending on how much you cling to your wrongness. Ignorant, at the very least. Uncurl your lip, bother to educate yourself, and move on.

Also I will say that even if you have read the book and didn't like it, your face might freeze that way, or, to quote one of my charming relatives, "Birdie gonna poop on your lip." (Pithy, no? I think of it every time I see a picture of the Sex Pistols.) So maybe there are better ways of expressing your disdain anyway.
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