The Taste Of Mundanity

Posted on May 28, 2008

2


So, the Mundane SF issue of Interzone has come and gone. In case you’ve not been aware, there was a whole bunch of foohfarah about the Mundane manifesto, because I don’t know, the rhetoric rubbed people up the wrong way or something. And that was rekindled when IZ announced they were handing over the reins to Geoff Ryman and co for one issue. I’ve not seen any bloggings of seething vindication on either side since the issue came out, but that doesn’t mean the war ain’t raging somewhere.

Anyway. *Yawn*. Doesn’t matter.

My overall reaction to the seven stories that Ryman and friends have selected to exemplify their point is 1/ they are uniformly good, and 2/ this is the sort of stuff Interzone used to publish more regularly than it does now. I felt nostalgic. Nostalgic for the time when a copy of Interzone would throw you a flight of fancy and then on the next page tie you right back down to earth with a gritty, near-future piece that really made you think. Take a galaxy spanning Stephen Baxter or a baroque Richard Calder and follow it up with Greg Egan’s “Learning To Be Me” or Iain McLeod’s “Well Loved” or Chris Beckett’s “Welfare Man” stories. Really stretch your mind. I’m not saying that IZ doesn’t still strive to do this – David Mace’s “This Happens” still lives fresh in my memory – but it’s not as frequent as I remember it being.

So, if the Mundanistas are complaining that people generally aren’t writing enough of this kind of carefully considered, predictive SF; if it’s a spice, a flavour we’ve lost, then maybe they’re right. Especially if they’re as well written as Lavie Tidhar’s “How To Make Paper Aeroplanes”, or Elizabeth Vonarburg’s “The Invisibles”, or Geoff Ryman’s wholly thought-provoking “Talk Is Cheap”, which rounds off the fiction offering of the issue perfectly.

So, Mundane SF. Do I like it? Yes, when it’s done as well as this.

Will I write it? Probably, sometimes, but like most genre writers, not all the time.

Put it this way, if I were a chef I wouldn’t cook with it exclusively, but it’d be a flavour I’d be wanting to use more often in my restaurant.

Thanks to IZ for reminding us what it tastes like.

Advertisements