Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Harry Potter and the READ ANOTHER BOOK

This is going to be brief, since most of my free time right now is absorbed by a fiction writing project, so the following will be a bit disjointed.

One of the most striking things I'm seeing in discussions with the Pulp Revolution/Superversive crowd of Sci-Fi/Fantasy is the the sheer variety of influences that people reference.

Let's create a strawman and call him an “Average Sci-Fi Fan” who checks out a lot of the stuff that gets talked about by the enthusiast press. So he's familiar with Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, the Marvel and DC movies, Star Wars, Doctor Who and Harry Potter. Certainly the Lord of the Rings movies and maybe the books. Occasionally word of mouth will get him into something off the beaten path, like the Dresden Files or John Wick, but by and large, the genre fiction that he consumes is centered around big franchises with a lot of media marketing pull and reputations as “Must-See” because they're happening NOW and this is what's important NOW.

There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but its very narrow. Television, Film, and Books with ties to the former dominate that fan's attention. Video Games are in there too, nowadays, frequently represented by new editions of long-running franchises. This strawman is by no means indicative of all Average Sci-Fi fans, if such a thing even exists, yet it seems to be all anybody paying attention to enthusiast media (websites, blogs, reviews, etc) seems to talk about. Our strawman might be content with the popular content he has access to, but there's a darker implication: With enough advertising and ideology backing up specific Big Franchises, why would an enthusiast press that profits from stories about these franchises encourage anything else when they can gatekeep people into advertiser-friendly articles?

By contrast, I'm seeing the PulpRev/Superversive crowd being fully aware and involved in all of the above series, but then going off on widely tangent topics. I can guarantee that right now at least two people are arguing about Anime on Twitter. A month or two ago, people were having a serious discussion over whether or not Dune was a good book or not. Old pulp novels, old comics, new comics, mythology, even radio dramas are all mixed into a slurry of ideas sloshing around in people's heads. Yesterday I was talking with people about the Lone Wolf gamebooks from the 80s. I've seen heartfelt theological discussions. There are at least three people I know of who will fight to the death for the honor of Car Wars. There's even a subfaction of Furries who're getting along well with most everybody. Furries. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one, but they're all right.

There's a reason why Harry Potter similes and metaphors are met with “READ ANOTHER BOOK.” There's a near-infinite well of speculative fiction to draw from out there, if you know where to look. There's no need to settle for keeping up with what the popular kids are telling you to read.

The cross-pollination of ideas in the Pulp Revolution and Superversive movement is going to lead to an avalanche of creativity within the next six months. You can bet on that.


Steve DuBois said...

This post makes me want to broaden my reading. Which is a good thing for a post to do, I think.

K. Paul Kalvaitis said...


I'd say read anything that catches your eye. No such thing as a guilty pleasure when it comes to reading.