Wednesday, 9 March 2011

World Book Night oversight? Stephen Hunt thinks so


Like many people, I’ve been avidly watching the Jamie Byng-organised World Book Night saga through to its inevitably successful conclusion (despite what the critics might have said). But you might have noticed that that old umbrella term, Speculative Fiction, wasn’t well represented in the giveaways. OK so Philip ‘mechanism of fantasy’ Pullman featured with Northern Lights, and David Mitchell with Cloud Atlas, which are both fantasy, but they are that type of book that straddle the tenuous literary fiction divide. Usually because they’ve reached a mystical level of success.

HarperVoyager author Stephen Hunt, Steampunk connoisseur of Court of the Air, is – and it’s a term I don’t get to use nearly often enough – outraged at BBC coverage of World Book Night because of the lack of Science Fiction and Fantasy on show. To quote:

I can forgive the committee of World Book Night itself, whose selection of twenty five titles to give one millions free copies away was made by a board which clearly apes the views of the Booker panel – which is that fantasy, horror and sci-fi, much like hardcore porn, has no place in any respectable fiction list, but the BBC?

I do wonder if it would have seemed like the BBC were making a point (heaven forbid) if they had broadcast an entire discussion in the middle of their WBN coverage about books that categorically were not on the list, but I support anyone standing up for speculative fiction who is eloquent about it (and useful to my dissertation).

I particularly enjoyed the image he created to accompany his post. I’ll have that. If you find yourself similarly outraged after reading his rant, you can ‘like’ the Facebook page he’s created to make his stand: ‘A community to educate the BBC and World Book Day that Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror is not a corrupting foreign influence.’ I like it. You should too.

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