My Hidden Shallows

Huan Tan put me onto a discussion about me over on this bulletin board. There are some nice things being said about my stuff there but also some of the usual ‘it’s not literature’ and ‘it’s not high-brow’ and ‘it’s a bit pulpy’. In a general sense I don’t particularly have a problem with these descriptions, since ‘literature’ and ‘high-brow’ are usually defined by literary snobs and ‘a bit pulpy’, from what I know about the pulps, is something of an accolade. However, I do get bugged by their condescension and that attitude of, ‘I enjoy reading them but don’t want to be seen reading them’.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to change any time soon. I don’t want one of you reading this to one day pick up one of my books, ready to relax into some sensawunda, weapons porn, weird monsters and high-tech violence, and end up scratching your head because I’ve decided to explore the deep social implications of cock-transplant technology – as seen by a miserable can’t-get-laid psychology student living in a garret.

But I do wonder if I’d started out claiming to write deeply meaningful socially relevant stuff about the effect of technology on identity, the meaning of death when its borders are blurred and the drawbacks of immortality, if the memes about me would have been different. Perhaps, for example, in interview and so forth, I should have focused on how with the Prador I was exploring the implications of a social structure based on utterly alien biology, rather than on their tendency to eat people and blow stuff up? Perhaps I should have pontificated about the subjective contraction of time in the mind of an immortal, rather than on how an old captain can rip off your head?

Now, removing my tongue from my cheek, I wonder if perhaps it is the case that if I fob people off with, ‘Nah, I’m just about the explosions, mate,’ many of them won’t explore my hidden shallows any further?

What do you think?

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