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Old 09-04-2014   #31
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

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Similarly, I don't think science fiction's "explore it in detail" approach necessarily results in optimism, much less a liberal mindset. Much science fiction - including Butler's - often seems more horrifying than "horror", and everyone from Harlan Ellison to Greg Egan to J.G. Ballard has thrown out scenarios that are at least as pessimistic and demoralizing as anything in Lovecraft or Ligotti.
--Justin Isis
Interesting point. But even in Harlan there's always a didactic thing going on which might say , for example, "This particular story is really about the stupidity of wars and Why are we so damn stupid to hate and kill each other for patriotic slogans or stupid religions?" Don't get me wrong, that's a good message but it's largely a liberal one and it seems to imply some kind of optimism, that the reader can be enlightened by the story and so forth. I don't think you'll find much of that kind of thing in Lovecraft--except when he was really writing science fiction. In the Walls of Eryx reads like it was written by an anti-imperialistic liberal with its descriptions of colonizing a planet to enslave the natives and steal their wealth. It also has an interesting line near the end when the dying narrator thinks something like in a universe without absolutes how can one talk of a superior race...

Yeah, the old Gent was writing science fiction there.

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Googling the World Fantasy Award, I see that it is described as "one of the three most prestigious speculative fiction awards" and is given to "those who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy." There doesn't seem to be any focus on straight-up supernatural horror (which, keep in mind, Butler has written).
Well, the thing is when you get Gahan Wilson to design a bust of Lovecraft (that looks like an Easter Island Titan) as an award there seems to be a tacit understanding we're talking about supernatural horror and fantasy. At least that's how I see it. Besides science fiction already had the Hugo and the mystery writers had the Edgar so it was just reasonable to assume the WFA was for horror and fantasy.

Stop making me think, Justin. My head hurts!

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Old 09-04-2014   #32
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

In my view, Lovecraft only wrote three pieces of genuine science fiction. I won’t go into detail why I don’t consider other stories science fiction except to point out that a story like The Whisperer in Darkness may have science fictional elements, but the brooding atmosphere and the final hellish revelation pretty much revealls it to be a tale of pure horror. Not to mention that the Mi-go turn out to be as nasty as we initially thought they were.

So…Mountains of Madness, The Shadow out of Time and In the Walls of Eryx.

Now here’s an irony for you. Many years ago science fiction writers, including Isaac Asimov, voted “Who Goes There?” the best short work of science fiction. But Campbell’s work is pure horror. From the first page we’re told that the alien creature grew up torturing the equivalent of kittens on its native planet. The story is grim, dark, and paranoid to its xenophobic heart and is also the best thing John W. ever wrote.

At the Mountains of Madness, on the other hand, was hailed by Ted Ssturgeon as “true blue” SF “of the first water.” And what convinced me was the scene in which the human protagonists attempt to understand the star-headed Old Ones and even come to admire them. (Of course, being a horror writer at heart, Lovecraft had skillfully provided us with a creature far more terrible than the Old Ones: the shoggoths.)

But—again, in my view—it’s hilarious that these guys chose a horror story and willfully ignored the superior work that “Don A. Stuart” had ‘borrowed’ from…


btw, hasn't anyone ever told China Mieville you can always decline an honor?

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Old 09-04-2014   #33
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

In regards to the so-called dystopian novels of J.G. Ballard... the main impression I've gotten reading any of them is that sensation that Ballard possibly wouldn't mind living in such a world. His narrators usually view the disintegration going around them with a clinical, almost scientific fascination as opposed to horror.
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Old 09-04-2014   #34
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
Interesting point. But even in Harlan there's always a didactic thing going on which might say , for example, "This particular story is really about the stupidity of wars and Why are we so damn stupid to hate and kill each other for patriotic slogans or stupid religions?"
Ellison has the buried morality thing going, but Ballard saw the world as "competing psychopathologies" with no clear frame of reference, and the Burroughs mindset seems relatively Lovecraftian. On the harder end of the spectrum, writers like Greg Egan and Stephen Baxter have pulled off some phenomenally depressing scenarios that Ligotti would probably admire (stories with no human characters, the gradual entropification of the universe with the stars going out one by one, etc). Going further back, Olaf Stapledon's cosmic visions were relatively pitiless. So I think the liberalism thing is just one current in science fiction. And as you said, even "Optimism and Progress" Campbell managed to pull off some horror.

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
Well, the thing is when you get Gahan Wilson to design a bust of Lovecraft (that looks like an Easter Island Titan) as an award there seems to be a tacit understanding we're talking about supernatural horror and fantasy. At least that's how I see it. Besides science fiction already had the Hugo and the mystery writers had the Edgar so it was just reasonable to assume the WFA was for horror and fantasy.

Stop making me think, Justin. My head hurts!
I thought the Bram Stoker Awards were the horror ones? World Fantasy seems like a strange hybrid, which is maybe why people are uncertain what they should be feeling or who should be on the award. That's why I thought a hybridized statue would be a good idea.

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Old 09-04-2014   #35
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

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And as you said, even "Optimism and Progress" Campbell managed to pull off some horror.--Justin Isis
You know, I really think if a writer is inspired and not just creating hack work, a story might take him or her to some mighty strange places. There are, as you no doubt know first hand, stories that write themselves, unfolding in an organic fashion that surprises even the creator. And I think it's possible to write a story that goes against the writer's inclination every step of the way. A story that, even despite excellence, a writer might even detest...

Until you mentioned it, I had forgotten the Bram Stoker Award even existed! Fact is I've never been influenced to buy a book or check out a writer because they won an award. All awards seem like choreographed bull to me. To quote Durrenmatt: "What botches have not received their awards?"


btw, hasn't anyone ever told China Mieville you can always decline an honor?
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Old 09-05-2014   #36
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

They should replace Lovecraft with an envelope containing 500 dollars. Basically, as it is, the people who put on these awards make a bunch of money and even if you win one you just walk home with some badly sculptured bust of a writer I don't really have much interest in reading. The last one, in Brighton, we all spent a bunch of money and were treated totally shabbily.
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Old 09-05-2014   #37
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I'll pay 500 bucks for an authentic Gahan Wilson bust of the Providence Titan! What about it, China? Come on, you can use the money.



btw, hasn't anyone ever told China Mieville you can always decline an honor?
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Old 09-05-2014   #38
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

The Providence Titan? I suppose Olympus is Boston then.
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Old 09-05-2014   #39
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Olympus is Boston?

Well...yeah. And Scranton is the Underworld. Come to me, Persephone!
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Old 09-05-2014   #40
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I support Justin's idea of a composite of Lovecraft and Butler. "And the Butlercraft goes to..."
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