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Scientific attitudes in hard, soft and fantasy SF

Scientific attitudes in hard, soft and fantasy SF | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it
In this post I discuss the attitude of a writer of science fiction towards science and what effect this can have on the SF itself.

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The Hugos are broken, science fiction is broken, everything is broken

The Hugos are broken, science fiction is broken, everything is broken | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

Last Sunday saw Hugo Awards handed out to several people for producing, or so the award would have us believe, the “best” of their category in the previous year. It’s complete nonsense, of course. The Hugos, despite half-hearted changes implemented over the years, are based on a model of fandom which hasn’t existed since the 1960s. What are “fan writers”? What are “fanzines”? Once, the profiles of these might have been high enough in the sf community for worldcon members to know what they are and vote intelligently on them. There’s a reason pro writers are winning the fan writer Hugo now – people know who they are. And despite having a World Wide Web for twenty years, the Hugos still have no idea how to deal with online content.

I’ve never understood why there are Hugos for best dramatic presentation. Television and movies have seperate fandoms and their own set of awards, genre or otherwise. I’ll concede that television show writers are more likely to value a Hugo win than a Hollywood director – but neither use the award in their marketing, or make any mention of it. Besides, the best dramatic presentation -short form award has turned into a best episode of Dr Who award. This year it went to Neil Gaiman for added squee.

 

The magazine Hugos are completely broken and have been for years. They’ve tried to patch it up, with their ever-mutating definition of semiprozine, but the whole award is based on a concept that hasn’t pertained since the early 1970s. There is no real market of pro genre magazines. There are a tiny handful of titles, with greatly shrunken circulations. But there is a thriving scene of non-pro magazines. Why should the Hugos exclude those venues that don’t pay for submissions? They might still publish excellent fiction. And then there’s the whole print vs online thing. But then, why should a magazine deserve an award? For publishing the best fiction? There are the three short fiction categories for that. To reward the editor for consistently picking the best fiction? There’s an editor – short form Hugo for that. For the magazine’s design? There are no Hugos for design.

 

Then there’s the short fiction categories. What is the point of the novelette? There’s the short story, and that’s pretty obvious. There’s the novel, likewise an obvious category. And something in between, longer than a short story but not as weighty as a novel: the novella. Back in the day, some novels were as short as novellas – the only distinction was that they were published as if they were novels, as separate paperbacks referred to in their marketing as novels. With the increasing growth in the ebook market, some of these distinctions are beginning to blur anyway. The category is at the discretion of the publisher or self-pubbed author – they’ll decide whether the $1.99 30,000-word story they’ve written is a novel or novella. And I seen no reason to ignore their decision.

 

It doesn’t help that the Hugo Awards claim to be global yet are clearly only American. The worldcon, the membership of which nominates and votes on the awards, takes place in the US four out of every five years, and even when abroad the shortlists are often dominated by American works. Works published globally are eligible for the Hugo (now; it wasn’t always the case), but it means little as the voters are chiefly US-based. Online publication of short fiction has confused matters somewhat – so much so that the BSFA Awards, which are for works published in the UK, have given up insisting on British-only publication for their short fiction category. As for ebook-only publication…

 

This week also saw the publication of an excellent review of the annual best of science fiction anthologies in the LA Review of Books by Paul Kincaid. See here. Paul makes a number of interesting points, but the chief one is that the genre has become so inward-looking that it’s now more concerned with trope mining than it is with the real world. Sf has locked itself within its own toy box, and is happy to just play with the toys it finds there. The review led to an excellent discussion on Twitter, with Paul, Jonathan McCalmont, Rose Fox, Paul C Smith and myself (there may have been others – we didn’t hashtag the discussion and I’m having trouble finding the tweets).

 

From what I remember, the chief point made was that sf seems to have lost confidence in the future because it has lost confidence in the present. Certainly there’s very little to celebrate in the present – climate change, climate change denial, rampant neoliberalism, oligarchism, the increasingly anti-science bent of public discourse, etc. – but should we really be celebrating as the best that sf which refuses to acknowledge it? Science fiction has always had a place for escapism, thanks to its pulp origins, but to elevate such stories above those that actually comment on the real world is pure cowardice. But then look at what won the Hugo for best novel this year – Jo Walton’s Among Others, a book whose message appears to be “sf fans are special people”…

 

I don’t actually agree that sf has chiefly been a tool for commenting on the real world – there’s no way in hell you can fit EE ‘Doc’ Smith’s works into that – but some of the best works of the past were clearly more about the time they were written than they were about the time they were set. Such as Joanna Russ’ The Female Man. And not just the good ones either – cf Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. It’s often been said there’s a steep learning curve to science fiction, that it’s a difficult mode of fiction to begin reading. Being self-referential only makes it worse, far worse. When literary writers have a go at sf, their efforts often appear old-fashioned, because they’re working from first principles, they’re not basing their works on the genre’s past use of tropes. It also makes their books much more accessible to non-genre readers – Rogers’ The Testament of Jessie Lamb, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Litt’s Journey into Space, James’ The Children of Men, Jensen’s The Rapture, Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, etc.

 

One of the nicest things to appear in a review of Adrift on the Sea of Rains was the comment “while the story is science fiction it is written as if it were not” (see here). True, the novella is not about the future but about an alternate past, but it doesn’t make use of science fictional tropes per se. The Apollo programme was real (although my extension of it is invented, of course); the Bell is a well-known element of Nazi super-science mythology. I’ve positioned the novella as sf because I think of myself as a sf writer – or rather, someone who writes in a sf mode. Perhaps I shouldn’t have done.

 

In one respect, I’m as guilty as those writers on the Hugo shortlists in that I’m not inventing futures which are about the present. That’s because I’m fascinated by the technological achievements of the mid-twentieth century, so they’ve been appearing more often in my fiction. Not just the Apollo programme, but also the bathyscapheTrieste‘s descent to Challenger Deep, Project Manhigh, the submersible Benjamin Franklin‘s 2300 kilometre underwater journey in 1969… Despite the Cold War and Mutally-Assured Destruction, the optimism of those times I find very striking. (See also my The future we used to have posts (snarky captions notwithstanding).) All that invention and engineering was going to make the world a better place. In the US, they believed they had the better toys and so would eventually defeat, or cow into submission, the Soviets. In the USSR, they believed they had the better political system and so would eventually subsume all other nations. Neither was proven correct. But the time and money and effort they spent improving their lot was phenomenal. Better living through engineering. We don’t do that anymore. And so our science fictions reflect that lack. Or rather, they should. Complain that sf is all escapism these days, and readers will respond, “what’s wrong with escapism?” Well, it doesn’t fix anything, for a start. That was one of sf’s characteristics in the past, that it posited thought experiments, that it could show the impact of something – good or bad – happening, that it could inspire people to do things.

 

Sf can use the past, or alternate versions of it, to discuss the present. Saying “we could have done this” is as valid as saying “why did we do that?”. And, at least, it has the benefit of being more realistic – the Bell, notwithstanding. True, readers would have to be of a certain age to remember the Apollo missions, but at least most people are aware of them and their achievements. (Though not everyone, as indicated by an astonishingly stupid Twitter exchange which did the rounds when Neil Armstrong’s death was announced.)

Sf seems to be not only ignoring the real world of people and politics and economics and society and such, but also the real world of science. It invents universes about which we can flit in matters of moments. Perhaps it takes hours, weeks or months, but we can reach other stars and other worlds. Which are, of course, habitable – if not already inhabited. The real universe is not like that, of course. There is only one place in the entire universe where we will ever be at home, and we are there now. Even Low Earth Orbit, less than 200 kilometres straight up, is about the most benign environment for humans not on Earth, and we can’t survive there without technological assistance, and not for long even with it. Trips beyond LEO are technologically possible – we did it once, we have the engineering to do it again and go further – but they will never be safe or comfortable or timely. And when we get where we going, will it have been worth the trip?

 

This is not to say all sf is like this. It’s a wide field, with many books and many writers in it. Two novels this year, for example – Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 and Alastair Reynolds’ Blue Remembered Earth – have made a point of treating the universe realistically. Ken MacLeod’s recent novel, Intrusion, and Bruce Sterling’s The Caryatids, from a couple of years ago, made a real effort to engage with the world as it might be in the near-future. Kelley Eskridge’s Solitaire and Gwyneth Jones’ Life did something similar. Adam Roberts uses the genre to satirically comment on the present. There are doubtless others…

But then I look at the award winners of recent years… A bloated paean to a theme-park vision of the Blitz… the infamous Mormon whale rape novella… a novella about a man who built a bridge which, for no apparent reason, is written as fantasy… a TV series based on a re-imagining of the War of the Roses…

Sf is broken, it refuses to acknowledge we’re in the twenty-first century – yes, I put my hand up, I’m guilty; but at least I write about the real twentieth century. And then I look around and see that not all science fiction is broken. But the non-broken sf… the various awards seem to be ignoring it.

 

So something is clearly broken somewhere.


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Discovered: Lord Byron's Copy Of Frankenstein

Discovered: Lord Byron's Copy Of Frankenstein | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

A copy of Frankenstein that belonged to Lord Byron and features an inscription by Mary Shelley has been discovered in a family library - is expected to sell for £400,000 at auction.

The copy of the best known fiction of the Romantic era had lain untouched for more than 50 years in the library of Lord Jay, the economist and Labour politician. His grandson Sammy, was sorting through his political papers for the archives of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, when he made the discovery.


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PAO VEGA's comment, January 2, 2013 5:55 PM
WOW.
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Floresta de Livros: Fénix 1

Floresta de Livros: Fénix 1 | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

"Esta fanzine é dedicada à divulgação da Fantasia, Ficção Científica e do Horror, constituída por contos e artigos de variados autores portugueses.
Este número foi organizado pelo Roberto Mendes e a belíssima capa é da autoria de Hauke Vagt"


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12 Greatest Science Fiction War Stories

12 Greatest Science Fiction War Stories | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it
War changes everything. War is an apocalypse and a technological revolution and a life-changing adventure, all rolled into one. So it's not surprising that many of science fiction's most indelible stories are about warfare.

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10 Great Science Fiction Novels with Go-Back-To-Bed Depressing Endings

10 Great Science Fiction Novels with Go-Back-To-Bed Depressing Endings | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

Most great science fiction and fantasy novels leave you with a sense of wonder, and maybe a final moment of hope and awe. There aren't that many authors who are willing to leave you so depressed and apathetic, you might forget to recommend their book. But some brave genre authors just go for it, and punch you in the gut on their way out the door. (Who here thinks George R.R. Martin will end A Song of Ice and Fire with everyone holding hands and singing?)

 

Sometimes you just want a book with a downer ending. And for those times, here are 10 science fiction and fantasy books that will leave you wanting to go back to bed and hide. Massive spoilers for old books ahead...


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William Gibson on why sci-fi writers are nearly always wrong (Wired UK)

William Gibson on why sci-fi writers are nearly always wrong (Wired UK) | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

William Gibson, one of science fiction's most visionary and distinctive voices, maintains that he and his fellow writers don't possess some mystical ability to peer into the future.

 

"We're almost always wrong," said Gibson in a phone interview with Wired. Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" in his 1982 short story "Burning Chrome" and expanded on the concept in his 1984 debut novel, Neuromancer.

 

In that book, which quickly became a classic, inspiring pop culture and science fiction for decades to come, Gibson predicted that the "consensual hallucination" of cyberspace would be "experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation" in a global network of "unthinkable complexity."

 

Yet Gibson says he simply got lucky with his prescient depiction of a digital world. "The thing that Neuromancer predicts as being actually like the internet isn't actually like the internet at all!" said the writer, who has since penned numerous critically acclaimed novels, including Count Zero (1986), Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988), The Difference Engine (co-authored with Bruce Sterling, 1990), Pattern Recognition (2003) and Zero History (2010).

 

Gibson's most recent book, a collection of nonfiction called Distrust That Particular Flavor, was published this year; he is currently working on a new novel, tentatively titled The Peripheral.

 

In this Wired interview, Gibson discusses a dizzying range of subjects, including antique watches, comic books, punk rock and fortune tellers.


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Movie Review: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW

Movie Review: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

When you think about the directorial debuts of some of our greatest auteurs, you think of some of the best style exercises that cinema has to offer. Two examples of this are Darren Aronofsky’s Pi and David Lynch’s Eraserhead, and we think it’s fair to say neither of which had the most compelling of plots yet the style overwhelmed the audience and they served as calling cards for what these directors would go on to do. Now there is director Panos Cosmatos and his debut Beyond the Black Rainbow, a fascinating and equally infuriating exercise in style over substance that demands to be seen at least once.


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Casa Fernando Pessoa fora de portas - Mundo Pessoa

Casa Fernando Pessoa fora de portas - Mundo Pessoa | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it
O blogue da Casa Fernando Pessoa com notícias de poesia e literatura. « post anterior | home. Sexta-feira, 14 de Setembro de 2012. Casa Fernando Pessoa fora de portas. Categorias: agenda setembro 12. publicado por CFP às 18:25 ...
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Memórias da Ficção Científica: Graphic Classics (volume four) 2007

Memórias da Ficção Científica: Graphic Classics (volume four) 2007 | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it
que ao longo dos anos fui guardando e que constituem as minhas memórias desde os 12 anos com a ficção científica, fantasia e horror. Foi nesse longínquo ano de 1972 que tive o primeiro contacto com o género através do ...
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Ouroboros Lair: "Eis as obras de ficção científica dos anos 60 que ...

Ouroboros Lair: "Eis as obras de ficção científica dos anos 60 que ... | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it
Num interessante artigo intitulado "Here Are the 1960s Science Fiction Novels Everyone Should Read", algo como: "Eis as obras de ficção científica dos anos 60 que toda a gente deve ler", o site io9 apresenta uma lista que ...
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Serpente Emplumada

Serpente Emplumada | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it
Metafísica e Teologia da Origem em Teixeira de Pascoaes, Lisboa, Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 2008. 20 – Da ... Ensaios sobre Teixeira de Pascoaes e Fernando Pessoa, Lisboa, Portugália, 2008. 23 - A Dor de ...
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Selo homenageia Fernando Pessoa

Selo homenageia Fernando Pessoa | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it
Selo homenageia Fernando Pessoa. Para comemorar a abertura do Ano de Portugal no Brasil e do Brasil em Portugal, que decorre até 10 de junho de 2013, Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas, ...
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MIND MELD: Directions Speculative Fiction Hasn’t Taken - SF Signal

MIND MELD: Directions Speculative Fiction Hasn’t Taken - SF Signal | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

Speculative fiction is always experimenting with new writing styles and creating new sub-genres. Some of the newish ones deal with shiny vampires, the inevitbale response to that, and steampunk. But there may be other areas speculative fiction hasn’t explored yet.


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Allan Dale Maurer's curator insight, April 1, 2013 2:18 PM

What's the next scifi subgenre? We have cyberpunk, steampunk, alternative history, alien contact, romance - what's next?

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le tiers livre : Lovecraft | notes sur l'écriture de la fiction surnaturelle

le tiers livre : Lovecraft | notes sur l'écriture de la fiction surnaturelle | Paraliteraturas + Pessoa, Borges e Lovecraft | Scoop.it

A lire sur le blog de François Bon www.tierslivre.net "Quand Lovecraft parle de son art de construire la fiction..."

 

Sur le blog, des retraductions de HPL

 

Howard Phillips Lovecraft a publié ces Notes on writing weird fiction, dans The Amateur Correspondent, n° de mai-juin 1937. On mettra en ligne ici, à mesure de la traduction, une suite de ces textes sur son art d’écrire et d’inventer, pour lesquels nous préparons une anthologie publie.net. Ces textes sont évidemment fondateurs bien au-delà de la sphère du fantastique. Ils sont loin d’être tous traduits en français.

FB.

 

Un article traduit par François Bon, en licence Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA)

 

H.P. Lovecraft | Notes sur l’écriture de la fiction surnaturelle

Ma raison d’écrire des histoires : me donner à moi-même la satisfaction de voir plus distinctement et avec plus de détail et de stabilité les impressions vagues, allusives et fragmentaires du merveilleux, du beau et de l’attente aventureuse qui me sont produites par certains aperçus (scéniques, architecturaux, atmosphériques, etc.), des idées, des occurrences et des images rencontrés dans l’art et la littérature. J’ai choisi les histoires surnaturelles (weird), parce qu’elles conviennent le mieux à mon inclination – un de mes voeux les plus forts et les plus persistants étant de réaliser, momentanément, l’illusion d’une étrange suspension ou violation des limitations exaspérantes du temps, de l’espace et des lois naturelles qui partout nous emprisonnent et frustrent notre curiosité des infinis espaces cosmiques hors de nos perceptions et analyses. Ces histoires renchérissent fréquemment l’élément horrifique, parce que la peur est notre émotion la plus profonde et la plus forte, et celle qui se prête d’elle-même à la création d’illusions défiant la nature. L’horreur, l’inconnu et l’étrange sont toujours reliés de très près, et il est difficile de créer une représentation convaincante des lois naturelles fracassées ou de l’aliénation cosmique ou de notre étrangèreté (outsideness) sans en passer par la crainte ou l’émotion de la peur. La raison pour laquelle le temps joue un si grand rôle dans tant de mes histoires, c’est que cet élément surgit dans mon esprit comme le plus profondément dramatique et la chose la plus farouchement terrible de l’univers. Le conflit avec le temps m’apparaît comme le thème le plus puissant et fructueux de toute l’expression humaine.

 

Alors que la forme de narration que j’ai choisie est d’évidence très spéciale, et peut-être même étroite, elle n’est rien de moins qu’un type d’expression persistant et permanent aussi vieux que la littérature elle-même. Il y aura toujours une certaine proportion de gens qui ressentiront une curiosité brûlante à propos des espaces extérieurs inconnus, et un désir brûlant d’échapper à la prison du connu et du réel, pour atteindre ces pays enchantés de l’aventure incroyable que nous ouvrent les rêves, et que des choses comme les forêts profondes, les tours urbaines fantastiques, ou les crépuscules enflammés nous suggèrent un instant. Ces gens incluent de grands auteurs aussi bien que d’insignifiants amateurs comme moi-même – Dunsany, Poe, Arthur Machen, M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood, et Walter de la Mare étant les maîtres les plus représentatifs de ce domaine.

 

Quant à comment j’écris une histoire – il n’y a pas de manière unique. Chacune de mes fictions a une histoire différente. Une ou deux fois, je suis littéralement parti d’un rêve ; mais habituellement je pars d’une sensation, d’une idée ou d’une image que je souhaite rendre, et la résoudre mentalement jusqu’à ce que je puisse envisager un moyen cohérent de lui donner corps par une chaîne d’occurrences dramatiques capable d’être dite en termes concrets. J’ai tendance à m’engager dans une liste mentale des circonstances ou situations basiques le mieux adaptées à une telle sensation, idée ou image, puis commencer à spéculer sur les explications logiques ou naturellement fondées de cette première sensation, image ou idée, qui puissent justifier la circonstance ou situation évoquée.

 

Alors le processus de l’écriture est alors aussi varié que le choix du thème et de la circonstance initiale ; mais si on analyse l’histoire de chacune de mes fictions, on pourrait déduire les règles suivantes de leur procédure habituelle :

 

1, préparer un synopsis ou un scénario des événements dans l’ordre absolu de leur occurrence – et non pas l’ordre de la narration. Les décrire avec assez d’ampleur pour couvrir tous les points vitaux et justifier de tous les incidents prévus. Dès cette esquisse temporaire, les détails, commentaires et conséquences prévues sont les bienvenues.

 

2, préparer un deuxième synopsis ou scénario des événements, celui-ci dans l’ordre de la narration (non de leur apparition réelle), avec le maximum d’ampleur et de détail, et des notes comme les changements de perspective, d’émotions, de climats. Modifier le synopsis original pour examiner si ces changements augmentent la force dramatique ou l’efficacité générale de l’histoire. Interpoler ou effacer les éléments selon vos souhaits – ne vous sentez jamais lié par la conception originale même si le résultat final c’est une histoire entièrement différente que la première envisagée. Autoriser les additions et les altérations partout où c’est suggéré par un élément quelconque du développement.

 

3, écrire l’histoire – rapidement, à la volée, sans être trop critique –, en suivant le second synopsis, celui qui est dans l’ordre de la narration. Changer les événements et les sujets partout où le processus de développement (developing process) semble suggérer un tel changement, ne vous sentez jamais lié par aucune idée initiale. Si le développement révèle soudain de nouvelles opportunités de développement dramatique, ou de  nouvelles colorations de l’histoire, les ajouter partout où cela vous semble à l’avantage – retour au deuxième plan et réaménagement pour concilier avec les éléments originaux. Insérer ou effacer de peines sections si cela semble nécessaire ou désirable, essai de différents débuts et fins jusqu’à ce que le meilleur arrangement soit trouvé. S’assurer que toute les références associées à l’histoire sont dûment en accord avec le dessin final. Enlever tout le superflu possible – mots, phrases, paragraphes ou épisodes ou éléments entiers – tout en observant les précautions usuelles concernant la compatibilité des références.

 

4, réviser le texte entier, faire attention au vocabulaire, à la syntaxe, au rythme de la prose, à la proportion des parties, aux beautés de ton, la grâce et la conviction des transitions (scène à scène, d’une action lente et détaillée à une action rapidement esquissée dans le temps, puis le contraire, etc. etc.), l’efficacité du début, de la fin, des climats, de la tension dramatique et de l’intérêt, la crédibilité et l’atmosphère, et tous autres éléments.

 

5,  dactylographier proprement la mise au net – sans hésiter à ajouter de nouvelles touches de révision finale là où elles semblent nécessaires.  La première de ces étapes est souvent purement et simplement mentale – un ensemble de circonstances et d’événements que j’ai assemblés dans ma tête, et jamais mis par écrit avant que je sois capable de préparer le synopsis détaillé de ces événements dans l’ordre de la narration. De même je commence parfois la rédaction sans même savoir comment je développerai l’idée – ce début étant en lui-même le problème à expliciter et exploiter.

 

Il y a, je crois, quatre types distincts d’histoires surnaturelles ; une exprimant une sensation ou un sentiment, une autre partant d’un imaginaire visuel, une troisième exprimant une situation, circonstance, légende, ou une projection intellectuelle, et une quatrième explicitant un tableau particulier ou une situation ou climat dramatiques particuliers. D’une autre manière, les histoires surnaturelles peuvent être regroupées en deux grandes catégories – celles dans lesquelles l’extraordinaire ou l’horreur concernent une  circonstance ou un phénomène, et celles dans lesquelles cela concerne l’action de personnes en relation avec une circonstance ou phénomène étrange. Chaque histoire surnaturelle – en considérant surtout celles relevant de l’horreur – semble impliquer cinq éléments définis : [a] une horreur ou anormalité basique, circonstance ou entité, etc., [b] l’effet général ou les relations de l’horreur, [c] le mode de manifestation, l’objet incarnant l’horreur et les phénomènes observés, [d] les types de réaction à la peur se rapportant à l’horreur, et [e] les effets spécifiques de l’horreur en relation aux circonstances dans lesquels elle s’établit.

 

En écrivant une histoire surnaturelle, j’essaye toujours de réaliser très précautionneusement le climat exact et l’atmosphère, et d’accentuer l’intensité où elle doit l’être. On n’a pas le droit, sauf dans la sous-littérature (pulp charlatan-fiction), de proposer un lot de phénomènes impossibles, improbables ou inconcevables comme un effet habituel de narration d’actes objectifs et d’émotions conventionnelles. Des événements et circonstances inconcevables sont un véritable handicap à vaincre, et ce ne peut être accompli qu’à travers le maintien du plus pointilleux réalisme dans toutes les phases de l’histoire, excepté ce qui touche au phénomène lui-même. L’extraordinaire doit être être traité le plus émotionnellement possible, et, avec un soin particulier dans la construction de cette émotion, délibérément autre que ce qui le rendrait plat et sans conviction. Étant le principal noeud de l’histoire, le fait même qu’il existe occulte les personnages et les événements. Mais les personnages et événements doivent rester conséquents et naturels, sauf lorsqu’ils touchent le fait extraordinaire. Mis en relation avec l’extraordinaire, les personnages doivent montrer la même émotion qui les submerge, que le feraient des personnages similaires confrontés à une telle étrangeté dans la vie réelle. Ne jamais considérer l’extraordinaire comme fait acquis. Même quand les personnages sont censés s’être habitués à l’extraordinaire, j’essaye de faire passer un reste d’intimidation (awe) et de magnificence correspondant à ce que le lecteur doit ressentir. Un style banal ruine toute fiction sérieuse.

 

L’atmosphère, et non pas l’action, est le grand desideratum de la fiction surnaturelle. Bien sûr, tout ce à quoi peut atteindre la plus merveilleuse histoire, c’est une peinture vivante d’un certain type d’émotion humaine. Les moments où elle essaye d’être quoi que ce soit d’autre devient puéril, non convainquant, bas prix. La première intensité doit être donnée à la suggestion du subtil, touches et nuances imperceptibles de détails sélectionnés et associés qui font ressortir les émotions comme des ombres et construisit la vague illusion d’une étrange réalité de l’irréel. Éviter les lisses catalogues des événements incroyables qui n’ont pas de substance et ne signifient rien que leur propre nuage de couleur et de symboles.

 

Voici les règles ou critères que j’ai suivis – consciemment ou inconsciemment – depuis ma première tentative dans l’écriture sérieuse de fiction. Que les résultats en soient concluants peut être discuté – mais je me sens au moins sur que, si j’avais ignoré les considérations mentionnées dans les paragraphes ci-dessus, ils auraient été bien pires qu’ils ne le sont.

 

écrit ou proposé par : tiers livre, grandes pages
(site sous licence Creative Commons BY-NC-SA)
1ère mise en ligne  et dernière modification le 20 juillet 2012.

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