Today, a legend died.

Arthur C Clarke died today. It’s a sad day – this man was one of my heros – an astonishing mind with vaulting vision.

He will be sorely missed.

All hail King Fry!

The intellectual and comedic colossus that is Stephen Fry has a blog. It’s new and only has two or three things on it, but because it’s Fry and not an ordinary human being, the few entries that are there so far are many, many thousands of words long, enourmously significant and massively entertaining. I think we should crown Fry king of humanity in an absolute monarchy and be done with. You know it would make sense. Eventually.

Anyway, if you haven’t been, you should. And if like me you have, you may find you slink away from Fry’s blog experiencing mild depression as a result of the realisation that you are in fact an insignificant carbuncle on the backside of literary expression.

If you’re also like me, you’ll also find your self slinking back, unable to stay away. Drats.

Dumbledore is what now?

Apparantly Dumbledore is gay. Seriously.

JK Rowling “. . . made her revelation to a packed house in New York’s Carnegie Hall on Friday, as part of her US book tour.

She took audience questions and was asked if Dumbledore found “true love”. “Dumbledore is gay,” she said, adding he was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a battle between good and bad wizards long ago.

Well, call me old fashioned, but I think if it’s not in the book, it’s not in the story. Did anyone think Dumbledore was ‘playing for the other team’ when they read the books? No, didn’t think so. So, can an author radically revise aspects of a published story by adding verbally later on key information?

Well, they can – and Rowling has – but I think that’s a king-sized cop out. If it’s in black ink on white paper, it’s in the story. If it’s not, it’s not.

As to the nature of the information – that Dumbledore is gay – I suppose it doesn’t mean anything really. It’s a fact of life that a certain percentage of the population is gay. Anyone living in the real world knows that. Unless I missed something in the books, at no point are we told there are no gay people in Harry’s world, so why would we presume otherwise?

Some critics have given Rowling a hard time because this aspect of the character didn’t come out more prominently (or at all) in the books and films – I’d guess they would have liked Dumbledore to have a gay lover ensconced at Hogwarts, to make a point. But isn’t this a children’s story, albeit one that appeals to adults as well? Did Rowling wuss out of showing Dumbledore being gay? No, I don’t think she did. I think it was totally irrelevant to the story, and it would have been fairly offensive tokenism to concoct such a subplot merely to be politically correct. Don’t you think?

On Writing as a Fantasist

Have you ever read something and wished you’d written it? While attempting to avoid work this morning, I looked at Scott Card’s website and he’s posted a link to an essay by a guy I’ve never heard of – Dave Wolverton. His essay, ‘On Writing as a Fantasist’ is a excellent read.

He’s articulated something extremely proficiently that I’ve long felt to be true and about which I’ve spent a lot of time arguing and talking with other people. Anyway, read these two extracts, and then click the link.

For decades no novel of science fiction, fantasy, or horror was allowed to appear on the New York Times Bestseller list, regardless of how many copies such a novel actually sold. Thus in the early 1970s a work by Stephen King that sold a million copies in a month wouldn’t even hit the list, while a book that sold fifty thousand copies held the number one position. Why? Because in New York, the work of fantasists wasn’t considered literature. (The same can be said for other genres. Romance, Westerns, mysteries–all forms of “genre” literature were considered beneath mention.) The same holds true to a lesser extent today. No Star Wars novelization has hit number one on the New York Times Bestseller list despite the fact that such books often outsell three-to-one those novels that are listed as number one. I suspect that romances generally sell much better than the list-makers would like to admit.

For the same reason, the works of fantasists have been consistently passed over for literary awards and publication in the mainstream magazines. Regardless of how original the piece is, how moving, how insightful, how enervating, or how beautiful, fantastic literature is considered incapable of being the equal of mainstream literature.

And what in Mr Wolverton’s opinion constitutes a good story?

A story that fascinates is better than one that bores. A story that is eloquent is better than the babboon howlings of the verbally damned. A story that is profound, that transmits valuable insight, is better than one that is pedestrian or that is opaque. A story that speaks to many is better than one that speaks to few. A story that is beautiful in form is better than one that is inelegant, rambling or clumsy. A story that transports me to another world or that transmits experience is better than a story that leaves me sitting alone and troubled in my reading chair. A story that artfully moves me emotionally or intellectually is better than one that leaves me emotionally or intellectually anesthetized.

Hear hear! Now click the link.

In print at last!

So it seems I’ve finally made it into print in book form, although not perhaps in the way I’d been aiming.

05-14-2007ngl_14peobriefgvl254unn1.jpgA quote from a review I wrote last year for Mia Gallagher’s excellent Hellfire novel has been reproduced on the inside cover in the paperback edition. Hurray! Sort of.

(Long time readers of the blog will now that fiction writing is something I’m interested in and I’ve been working on a novel on-and-off for some time.)

And if you’re wondering what this has to do with The Hoff, the picture is one of the first that came up when I googled ‘in print’ in google. Why, I’ve no idea, but does the Hoff need a reason?

Perish the thought . . . Anyway, I’m currently reading Piers Morgan’s highly entertaining Don’t You Know Who I Am? which heavily features The Hoff as one of Morgan’s fellow judges on America’s Got Talent. Very funny and very good reading.