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"the great clomping foot of nerdism"

Happy birthday to homespunheart! homespunheart is new to LJ-land, and I'm glad she's here. Check out pictures of her quilting here and knitting here. May you have a fantastic day and wonderful year to come!

In other news...

* I was thrilled and honored to learned I was featured on the Artists Who Inspire Creativity blog on Friday. Many thanks to independent producer, writer, PR manager, and artist extraordinaire, Rebecca Kirkland!

* The 2007 Nebula Award Final Ballot has been announced.

* The "Philosophy Bites" podcast recently had an interesting installment on time and time travel: read more here.

I stumbled across this provocative quote recently, and thought it was too interesting not to share:

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding. Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.

- author M. John Harrison, from his blog


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 24th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Re: that quote

YES YES YES. Wow, I've never heard it put so eloquently; writing always wins. Thanks for finding that.

Also, you are listening to Timbaland. This makes me smile. :)
Feb. 25th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
I thought it was very insightful. I'm glad it struck a chord for you, too.

I can't help it; that song's really grown on me! :D
Feb. 24th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
That's great news. Congratulations!
Feb. 25th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
Feb. 24th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
LOL, great quote!

Rebecca's entry on you was...true! LOL She is really nice. I only got to speak to her a little, but she was so engaging and friendly. I can't believe how long ago the Gathering was. It seems like it just happened!

Your new LJ friend is quite accomplished. She makes me think of Amy/Prim, which is obviously a good thing. I hope she has a great birthday and enjoys her journal to the fullest!
Feb. 25th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! She really is very nice. I know exactly what you mean about it seeming like yesterday. It's hard to imagine it's been so long!

Thanks for visiting homespunheart's LJ, and for your good wishes!
Feb. 25th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
Feb. 25th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid that I disagree with Mr. Harrison's blog post. When you think about it, claiming that world building is unnecessary in science fiction is a most absurd statement. This is because science fiction by its very nature does not take place in the world as we know it. So not only is world building of some sort necessary in science fiction, it's unavoidable.
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
I got the impression that he was criticizing the "info dump" style of world building in which the author gives the God's-eye view of the way all systems work in a given setting, like the proverbial clockmaker winding it up and stepping back to watch it run.

I took it that he supports, as he shows in his own science fiction, allowing more organic glimpses of the world in question, only as much as given characters would know from their limited perspectives, so the reader must extrapolate some things for himself/herself. He sees this as a partnership with the reader, rather than a case of handing down the complete wisdom to a passive audience. For the most part, I concur.

I don't agree with him in every case: J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert come immediately to mind. (Of course, reading either of them is never a passive experience!) But for every Tolkien and Herbert, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of authors who live for the "info dump" and aren't of similar genius to Tolkien and Herbert, so I do grant that he has a point. Just because the author knows how something works in the grand scale, that doesn't mean that he/she must engage in an orgy of exposition so we know every abstract detail.
Feb. 27th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
The wording was vague enough that it came across as a blanket condemnation of world building. I think what particularly bothered me was the implication that world building automatically makes you a bad writer.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )