Saturday, March 12, 2011

No SF at the BBC

Well I know that - I tried to watch Outcasts.

Stephen Hunt is getting hacked off with the BBC attitude to genre fiction as we can see in his blog post here. There's also this article at the Guardian. I'm not sure I entirely agree. The Guardian seems more serious about genre fiction than just about any other newspaper, has published the article I've just pointed out, and it's also joined at the hip to the BBC. What do you think? Maybe it's only mentioned in the elitist spirit of 'inclusiveness' of the sneering intellectual pseud?

The good news is that the BBC has recently woken up to the decline of the printed word as an art form, and has belatedly decided to do something about it. The bad news is, shortly after they belatedly spotted all the high street bookshops going bust, they sent in the Sloanes with Purdey shotguns to lecture us on animal welfare.

Recently we’ve had Faulks on Fiction, where one of the bishops of the contemporary fiction high church, Martin Amis, laughed, ‘People ask me if I ever thought of writing a children’s book. I say, “If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children’s book.”’

Then we were offered World Book Night and a whole evening of BBC book coverage where the contemporary fiction team was trotted out onto the grass to kick the ball about – solely between themselves, of course.

The highlight of this was presenter Susan Perkins in the ironically entitled The Books We Really Read: a Culture Show Special making it sneeringly clear that she never normally reads any of our lowbrow genre tripe (although she might, you know, give it a whirl now, just for the sake of World Book Night). Fiction has to be painful, a little like school, she explained, before gushing all over some bemused beauty salon clients that her favourite must-read was Dostoevsky, who is all, like, really dark and stuff.

Fantasy was not mentioned once during the Perkins farce, fantasy, the very mother root of literature, JRR Tolkien and Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and JK Rowling and Joe Abercrombie and China Miéville and Michael Moorcock all stuffed inside CS Lewis’s wardrobe, the better not to be seen.

Not a single work of science fiction was brought up, so farewell then the brave new worlds of HG Wells, John Wyndham, George Orwell, Iain M Banks, Brian Aldiss, Sir Arthur C Clarke, Aldous Huxley, JD Ballard, Alastair Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton and Stephen Baxter.


Ryan said...

Its such awful snobbery to assume that you should read something because it is "hard". Literature should be about entertainment but also expanding your mind. How is any bog standard modern day fiction release intrinsically better than Wells, Asimov and Verne? Purely because it is based on the now and not on speculation.

I blogged over outcasts because it represents how truly awful SF is done on TV, one wonders if the writers came up with good ideas and plots and the know-it-alls who looked at it cut 90% vomited clichés into it and congratulated themselves on making a good "drama"

Disco Stu said...

How World Book Night (WBN) dare leave out genre fiction is completely beyond me.

The Guardian post seems sneering overall. It provoked the kind of comments below it that, on the whole, I think it was encouraging. i.e. literary-fiction fans telling SF/F fans to get a grip.

Hunts article I liked and even Barnett at The Guardian said that NO genre fiction even being mentioned on WBN is surprising and hard to defend.

The BBC just don't seem to understand that the vast majority of their SF output is crap.

There are PLENTY of rubbish genre novels out there - just because they exist doesn't make them good. Similarly just because the Beeb churns out these genre programmes doesn't mean they are good either.

Will the BBC ever give me some damn good scifi for crying out loud?!? Get a proper SF author involved - there's enough in the UK publishing right now!

All I get is bad scripted/storied/produced drivel that makes me weep for all the time/money/effort that has been squandered.

One more half-baked load of trash like that and everyone involved should have their scrotum sand-papered!!! to calm down

Neal Asher said...

Thing is, this is something that's been chewed over endless in the SFF world. It also leads some in that world to go cap in hand to 'the mainstream' pleading 'but my SF (or fantasy) is really relevant, meaningful, deeply intellectual etc. My attitude, to sum up, is fuck 'em.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

ive read a bit of the classics. some of them mind you, they stink for the most part. you get speculative, write the endings, and somehow they get better. many people think Dune is a classic when it was sorta lifted from a Jack Vance story. if you throw sf out there will it be covered correctly and intelligently? a: probably not.
i gotta tell ya though, at a few of ya doin a recommendation, i tried to sit thru season 2 of B5.

Babylon 5 was full of so many cop drama cliches and 'not so alien' aliens that i got really bummed out by it. i just don't get the soap drama in space fluff. Battlestar Galaxative took that turn with their space jockey season. dull stuffin. goddam, and those stupid names they came up with for ceremonies and persons. what did Harlan Ellison contribute exactly? hmph.

if this is the way tv execs see the future, it might as well be Wuthering Heights in silver lame'.

alibaba said...

I think Phillip J Fry neatly summed up all of TV's SF output when describing Star Trek:

"You know, Star Trek, 79 episodes - about 20 good ones..."

As for SF books being ignored, have a look at this Terry Pratchett post from John Connolly:

Fuck 'em indeed!