No Longer New
Posted on June 11, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 16 Comments
SFSignal’s “Mind Meld” piece this week asks various SF/F notables to list tomorrow’s big names in the genre, which results in a bit of a mess as folks rack their brains to come up with new names. I’m not on the list; my name comes up a couple of times, but in the context of “but he doesn’t count as new anymore.” The irony here is that some of the names that are on thefinal, aggregated list as tomorrow’s new names, like Cory Doctorow and Jay Lake and Elizabeth Bear, have all been publishing professionally in the genre longer than I have, evidenced by the fact they all won their Campbell Awards for Best New Writer before I did, two years ago. I think people forget that Old Man’s War is only three years old as a published book, and that I had no appreciable profile in science fiction before that. This isn’t a complaint that I should still be seen as new and hot (and pretty!), since I agree at this point that the “rising star” spotlight should go to other people. I just think it’s interesting.
In any event, there are some excellent names tossed about in the list, and I’m personally delighted that someone (Niall Harrison, to be precise) named Rachel Swirsky as a name to watch. I had the honor of being the first editor to publish her professionally, in the Subterranean Magazine issue I guest-edited (a pdf of which you will find here), and everything of hers I’ve read since has pretty much knocked me on my ass. If you haven’t read her yet, you should correct that.
“Pretty?” Ah well, everything’s relative.
What an interesting list.
To me, new writers seem to be people who are writing under the radar, but I suppose that’s also pretty subjective. Anyway, it made me happy to see names like Greg van Eekhout, Ben Rosenbaum, Laive Tidhar, Paul Jessup, Ken Scholes, and Rachel Swirsky.
It is surprising that there’s no online/new media writers there. People like Mur Lafferty, Matt Wallace, and Scott Sigler. (Although as Podcastle editor, Rachel Swirsky probably comes pretty close to qualifying.)
Thanks for the link love. :)
Regarding the list: yeah, completely un-scientific and just an aggregate of those names listed more than once by people who were free to use their own criteria and definitions of “new” and “big”. And – to be fair – I misinterpreted the mention of Cory who was really being as excluded for his “bigness” (as it were). Chalk it up to late night blogging.
Maybe it’s not that you aren’t new, but that Cory and Elizabeth are new to the writers?
Ack! Nice typo in my last reply. I can’t even use the “late-nigh blogging” crutch, dagnabit!
I meant “was really being excluded” instead of “was really being as excluded”, which makes no sense unless you were my high school English substitute teacher who swore he was “the most bestest Englush teechur we’s all did ever will had.”
Check out “The Women of Our Occupation” by promising up-and-comer Kameron Hurley:
Yes you’re still very, Very Pretty. And Shiny.
Awww. Thanks, inkgrrrl.
I’m a little stoked that Karen Traviss’ name kept popping up. Yeah, she’s primarily known for her SW books, but the Wess’har series is some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time. I’m waiting to see what she comes out with next.
Scalzi: I’m not on the list; my name comes up a couple of times, but in the context of “but he doesn’t count as new anymore.” The irony here is that some of the names that are on thefinal, aggregated list as tomorrow’s new names, like Cory Doctorow and Jay Lake and Elizabeth Bear, have all been publishing professionally in the genre longer than I have…
I think it’s well to point out that the people recruited for this Mind Meld are pretty much all editors in the publishing industry, on the inside looking out, and going to have different values of “well-known” and “new” than will the average reader, such as myself. Just sayin’.
My real complaint with this Mind Meld is that nobody mentioned Tobias Buckell.
On the topic at hand … In some ways I think that peoples’ definitions of newness are more interesting than the actual names they come up with, since I think it says a lot about how they view the field, pace people naming Bear/Lake and not you. (Asking people what their definition of sf is can have much the same effect.) The aggregate list isn’t so interesting, at least not in the absence of a pre-specified definition of “new and/or little-known”, and a larger (but still selected) group of participants to give better separation in the rankings.
Yeah, Toby was robbed! And where’s Jaida Jones & Dani Bennett? Probably no one but me has read their book yet.
I notice how many of the people polled for this article are editors, who take the opportunity to plug the roster of writer’s they’re publishing. Naturally they would, of course. But it just seems to mean that everyone who’s getting published right now at all, just about, is a “writer to look out for”!
T.M. Wagner @12: But it just seems to mean that everyone who’s getting published right now at all, just about, is a “writer to look out for”!
And none of the editors polled were from Tor, Toby’s publisher.
Not wishing to overly smooch the gluteus maximus, you went from OMW (a damned fine Mil-SF) through to The Last Colony in those three years. OMW is Good Stuff – I’ve just handed out I think my fourth copy today. I’ve lost count of the number of people I flung Tor download links to. I figure most of ’em will buy TGB and TLC, just as I did – because you don’t write like a new sci-fi writer.
OMW I had a couple of times where I thought “hey, great first mil-SF!” to be honest, but with TGB I promptly forgot that impression, and when the tears dried after TLC I just settled down to waiting for the new Scalzi, the same way I settled down to waiting for the new Asimov or the new Harrison when I was a kid. Because you don’t write like a new author, you write like An Author.
Capital A on that. First names for officers only, bowb ;)
“… who write tie-ins to games and movies. Are they recognized as “stars” in the science fiction world?”
I find that a curious statement, but I might be misunderstanding it, so I will not write now. Suffice to say that Karen is the only one I know who *actually hit NYT #1* on that list, and is also consistently praised for good writing. I’m pretty sure that getting good feedback and selling enough books to hide your eyes behind £100 notes when people comment on the validity of media tie-ins would have most authors sleeping happy no matter what is said.
Nice to see some other familiar names there too.
…clearly, you were left off this list as a nod to those who wanted you left off the Best Fan Writer list.
Lousy rotten kids!