Something Star Trek-related!
As Kevin Lauderdale posted over at the TrekBBS and PsiPhi, Dean Wesley Smith has set up a website complete with a Strange New Worlds forum. I understand DWS has been a regular on AOL for some time now, so it's nice to see him on the actual Internet. According to his blog, DWS is going to focus his writing time on original work, not media tie-in stuff, so his editing on Strange New Worlds may be the only Trek-related stuff he does from here on out.
He's had a long and varied career. I first heard of him and his frequent collaborator, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, through a small press they ran back in the late 1980s or so. They published Pulphouse, a hardcover quarterly magazine that usually had a different genre featured each time out, alternating between fantasy, SF, and horror. It lasted about 12 issues and published work by a number of established and up-and-coming writers. It was a little expensive, but I usually found it worth it. (My local SF bookstore didn't carry their later regular magazine incarnation, so I don't know much about that.)
I was kind of surprised when they started writing media SF novels. There sometimes seems to be a real divide between "real" SF authors and media SF authors, even though "real" SF greats like Theodore Sturgeon and James Blish were doing tie-ins as far back as the 1960s. Rusch and Smith seemed to have gotten off to a great start with the "real" SF crowd, becoming well known as editors and writers, so their focus on media SF seemed like a step backwards. Or sideways, at least. I don't know whether they're still together, but in recent years it seems Rusch has been concentrating much more on her own prolific writing career, not doing as much media stuff as she used to.
So if Smith is going to put most of his work into his own creations, good luck to him. Will it be a major loss for Star Trek? Not as much as some, I think, but he and Rusch did write several solid, good books. There are other people writing Star Trek now that I'll miss more when their inevitable success leads them to do more work in their own fictional universes. But naming names might give the impression that I'm sucking up. Let's just say that we're really lucky right now to have a lot of writers who know Star Trek well, who love it, who communicate with the fans, and who produce really good Trek novels.
In other news...
Andrew Timson has set up a feed of this blog through livejournal. If anyone's interested, it's called sjroby_feed.
Current reading: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. I'm halfway through and not sure what to think of it. It's not just an attempt to cash in on the current fad for book clubs, or the ongoing interest in Jane Austen. There's clearly more to it than that, especially considering the author, who's well respected as a writer of fantasy and slipstream fiction. In each chapter, as the characters address another of Austen's books, there are parallels, sometimes very subtle parallels, between some element of the book and what's going on in the characters' lives. And of course it's a pleasure to read a book that acknowledges the joy of reading. It's fun to see how the one male member of the group, a science fiction reader, sometimes has interesting insights specifically because he is a science fiction reader and has a different way of looking at things and lacks the literary snobbishness of the others, which snobbishness is mocked gently by the author. And there are some good funny bits, too.
But it still feels rather vague and insubstantial. Yes, there's some kind of pomo game going on with the collective/mystery narrator, but it doesn't seem to have much real importance as yet. There's not all that much discussion of the Austen books, sometimes, but I don't feel that I'm really getting as strong a grasp of Fowler's characters as I should, either. And every so often there's a passage that reads like something annoying written by some precious and pretentious old woman to another. Slate's Stephen Metcalf quoted this paragraph as an example, and in context it isn't any better:
Metcalf wonders whether that's meant as some kind of satire, because it just can't be as awful as it seems. I'd kind of like to take the book at face value, myself, as a book about reading (on more than one level). It's also got me curious about reading some of the gothic novels of Austen's time, the ones she poked fun at in Northanger Abbey. (Fortunately, we watched the BBC movie of that one before I read that chapter of The Jane Austen Book Club.)
We had, most of us, also lost our mothers. We spent a moment missing them. The sun was blooming rosily in the west. The trees were in full leaf. The air was bright and soft and laced with the smells of grass, of coffee, of melted Brie. How our mothers would have loved it!
I suppose I could always fall back on the idea that a book you have to think about, even to decide whether you like it, must have some merit, and to be fair I'm enjoying it so far. It's a pretty fast and breezy read.
(Now playing: Cocteau Twins, "Sigh's Smell of Farewell," Love's Easy Tears EP.)