Bruce Sterling x Genre Fiction
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
As American SF lies in a reptilian torpor, its small, squishy cousin, Fantasy, creeps gecko-like across the bookstands. Dreaming of dragon-hood, Fantasy has puffed itself up with air like a Mojave chuckwalla. SF's collapse had formed a vacuum that forces Fantasy into a painful and explosive bloat.
Short stories, crippled with the bends, expand into whole hideous trilogies as hollow as nickel gumballs. Even poor Stephen Donaldson, who struggles to atone for his literary crimes with wet hippy sincerity, has been forced to re-xerox his Tolkien pastiches and doubly insult the public. As Robert E. Howard spins in his grave, the Chryslers of publishing attach rotors to his head and feet and use him to power the presses. But the editors have eaten sour grapes and the writers' teeth are on edge.
Fantasy, for too long the vapid playground of McCaffreyite unicorn-cuddlers and insect-eating SCA freaks, has some new and dangerous borderlands. Suddenly, perhaps out of sheer frustration, fantasy has movement and color again. It is the squirming movement of corruption and the bright sheen of decay.
- Bruce Sterling, Cheap Truth #1, c1980