Mon 18 November 2019
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Science fiction author begins war of the books worlds
Stephen Hunt has grown so tired of the marginal status of his chosen genre that he has begun campaigning for equal genre rights

Stephen Hunt saw his first novel, For the Crown and the Dragon, published when he won the WH Smith New Talent writing competition in 1994. He's since had five novels in his Jackelian sequence published by the HarperCollins imprint Voyager, and is the man behind the hugely successful SF Crowsnest site, established in 1991. Science fiction and fantasy is big business for Stephen Hunt. Unfortunately, he says, not everyone feels the same way. And the biggest culprit is the BBC.

Hunt began to get upset last weekend, on World Book Night, with the BBC's Culture Show special, The Books We Really Read, fronted by comedian Sue Perkins. As Sue is "an English graduate and past Booker prize judge, her reading material generally consists of quite difficult literary fiction", the Beeb's programme information tells us, possibly a tad patronisingly. But for World Book Night, Sue was going to investigate some of the stuff the rest of us read: "Now she tries to find out just what she has been missing and what makes a bestseller so readable."

Hunt and thousands like him could have been forgiven for thinking that these selections might have had some SF, fantasy or horror titles among them, especially, as Hunt says in a blazingly angry blog posted the same night, given that these genres "together account for between 20%/30% of the fiction market." But no.

Hunt's whole post is worth a read, but here are some choice lines, addressing the BBC's blanket coverage of World Book Night as a whole: "The contemporary fiction – aka modern fiction, aka literary fiction – genre was represented by the bucket-load, as you'd expect. The TV producers then gently moved onto the genres that real grubby proles stubbornly insist on reading - romance, crime, thrillers, chick-lit, Jilly Cooper's sex-n-shopping novels, some of the humorous stuff, with presenter Sue Perkins making it clear that she never normally reads any of that lowbrow tripe (although she might, you know, give it a whirl now, just for the sake of World Book Night). Fiction has to be painful, a little like school, she explained, before gushing all over some beauty salon clients that her favourite must-read was Dostoevsky, who is all, like, really dark and stuff."

For the full article

The Guardian

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