Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hustley Tuesdays: Sibilant Fricatives

Did you know that Adam Roberts's book Sibilant Fricatives, which collects his essays and reviews of science fiction and fantasy books and movies, is completely different from his blog Sibilant Fricatives, where he posts essays and reviews of science fiction and fantasy books and movies? I didn't!

The ebook is a snip at £3.42. It includes, for instance, the David Blaine-ish endurance magic of reviewing the entire of Robert Jordon's Wheel of Time cycle, without ever being made to, or wanting to; it includes a review of The Hobbit which delves into the nitty-gritty of the rewriting Tolkien did himself, long before Peter Jackson started messing with canon; it includes an emulsion-wistful review which Greg Egan was inspired to anatomise as a Hatchet Job; and it includes an introduction by Paul Kincaid: "[...] I like to think I was invited to introduce this collection of his reviews because of those disagreements, not in spite of them."

The title relates to Roberts's tacit suggestion that fandom should refer to the object of our love with a sort of pervasive hissing, as if we didn't already:
'SF', when spoken aloud [...] is never, I think, pronounced as it is spelled, in part because there is something tongue-twistish about the cramming together of a sibilant and a fricative after this fashion. [...] But the difficulty of juxtaposing sibilant and fricative appeals to me as a small symbol of the larger, creative difficulty of the genre as a whole. SF ought to be difficult. The melding of science (technology, philosophy) and fiction (aesthetics and narrative) best not be facile, and SF in which this blend is too painlessly presented is generally bad SF.
Compare one of Stephen Sondheim's harrowing "love arse" masterclasses (YouTube):

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