mjohnharrison   57

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M John Harrison: experts hate the Flat Earth Society for revealing this writing secret
Is he on the fediverse? he was one of my few writer-follows and always worthwhile on the birdsite
2masto  mjohnharrison  writing 
september 2018 by mikelynch
The Great Clomping Foot: Worldbuilding and Art
M. John Harrison decried worldbuilding as "the great clomping foot of nerdism". He called on every science fiction story to represent "the triumph of writing over worldbuilding", calling it dull and technically unnecessary. "Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent", he wrote. "Worldbuilding gives an unnecessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader's ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done."... Harrison claims that once worldbuilding was a tool, a means, but now it has begun to function as an end in itself. In this trend, he sees a movement opposed to the anxieties and tensions central to literature and art itself. If fantasy is about alienating the reader from the current world, generating a kind of culture shock that will shake them up and leave them open to actually being affected - then this trend is diametrically opposed to that objective. This trend becomes an attempt to domesticate the fantasy world and the book and thus neutralize its transformative potential as art.
mJohnHarrison  scienceFiction  worldBuilding  art  fiction  fantasy  escapism 
february 2018 by jamesmnw
on the white road to carleon | the m john harrison blog
"So he wasn’t writing for the money. As for the rest of what the trade might be about, you never really write what you hoped you would, not so much in terms of quality as in terms of content and structure: in the end, he admits, it’s never quite the story you intended to tell. Why do it, then? Well, to provide interest in a bland life, much the way mountaineers “expose themselves to horrors, miseries and the instant risk of death on the most desperate mountains of the world”. Life is “cold mutton”, he says, intolerable without sauce."
writing  bookreview  mjohnharrison  arthurmachen 
october 2016 by madamim
from empty space to stanage edge | the m john harrison blog
"Landscape in fiction is never just background, or you’re wasting your opportunities. Let the landscape do as much of the work of informing the reader of your intentions as possible. Entangle your ideas & meanings with the setting. Fold them into one another."
writing  mjohnharrison  landscape 
july 2016 by infovore
Viriconium FAQ | the m john harrison blog
"(1) Read as one book, not as three novels followed by a collection of afterthoughts.

(2) Freely intersperse the short stories between the novels.

(3) The novels can be read in any order, but order of publication makes a kind of sense if you are bound by expectations of linear time & causality.

(4) Start with “Viriconium Knights” if you need a readily-assimilable f/sf rationale for what’s going on in the rest of the book.

(5) Other rationales are available.

(6) Random dipping is just as effective an archeology. All beginnings are endings. Every reiteration is the (not an) original iteration.

(7) It is a metafictional critique of “epic” fantasy.

(8) It is a deconstruction of “epic” fantasy.

(9) It is a conscious disruption & abjection of the American ideological overmyth “Hero with a Thousand Faces”.

(10) It hates story. It hates the idea of character as fixed & causal. It hates relatability. It hates reader-identification. It hates the idea that because the real is disordered, fiction’s duty is to provide order; it hates the anodyne mouth-feel & simultaneous shrill desperation of ordering fictions. It hates immersive texts because immersion defuses political & social dissatisfaction.

(11) Read “A Young Man’s Journey to Viriconium” last. Or see (14).

(12) Titles, epigraphs & chapter headings are often significant parts of the text, so if you’re reading something framed as The Floating Gods, you aren’t reading Viriconium.

(13) Every available edition is problematical in terms of content, organisation & packaging.

(14) There is a new, as yet unpublished story."
mjohnharrison  linearity  storytelling  linear  nonlinear  novels  stories  via:robinsloan  2016  organization  time  sequence  viriconium  non-linear  alinear 
march 2016 by robertogreco
2014 reads | the m john harrison blog
Mike Harrison on the books he read this year, which is as good a recommendation list as any.
books  reading  2014  mjohnharrison 
december 2014 by infovore
in the simulator | the m john harrison blog
"If you want to know about the inevitable end-state of the Tarkovsky/Strugatsky zone, you should look at the development of the Alps (& now the Himalaya). What was a nightmare is controlled into a form of play by skill, technique and equipment. What used to kill you is now so well understood that you can enjoy it. Or, to put it another way: what used to kill explorers first begins to kill only experts who push their skillset too hard then winds up only killing the tourist the experts usher up the mountain for money–and even then only often enough to keep up the activity’s reputation."
mjohnharrison  zone  zona  tarkovsky  exploration 
november 2014 by infovore
fauxthentication | the m john harrison blog
"The constant bolstering of the “world” _constantly reveals it not to be one_, ie never to be complete the way the world is. This seems to say more about the limits of writing & the act of suspension of disbelief (an immersion which can clearly be brought about in other ways) than it does about the actual need for a world to seem to be present in front of the reader. Also, it strikes me as a bit mad to be a fiction writer if you have to struggle desperately with the pretence that you’re not." MJH on world-building again.
worldbuilding  fauxthentication  mjohnharrison  writing 
october 2014 by infovore
what I am like in real life | the m john harrison blog
"keep some parts of myself severely to myself, am thus able to maintain a deep fruitful disjunction between this real world & the real real world." (and: of _course_ the "Robin" commenting on MJH's blog is Robin Sloan)
mjohnharrison  writing 
june 2014 by infovore
retrospective | the m john harrison blog
"Things I have bought over the years to convince myself I was happy: a brass lizard; a wire lizard; two small boxes, one in some featherweight lacquered wood, the other ceramic and half glazed with a stylised picture of the local architecture; a bowl in striking fire and earth colours now faded; various earrings; two belts and some peculiarly sordid- and pre-used-looking suede shoes; Italian things; Canary Island things; Spanish things. All these things bought out of a mistaken elation or assumption, all this unwarranted semiosis, all these unmemorable memories and tokens from moments unviable from the very start. You can’t quite call them kitsch, but they don’t have a quality of personal nostalgia either. It was weird being a romantic and living in a constant aura or vibe, a “dream” I suppose, or at any rate a sense of something happening when nothing, in retrospect, was. Luckily, age lifts you out of that, enabling a proud shiny new impulse control in boutique, fleamarket and gallery shop; freeing you up to buy the rubbish you actually like. (Something resembling a small wormy stone brain picked up on a beach does not belong to this class of objects.)"
objects  possessions  consumerism  materialism  mjohnharrison  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
M John Harrison interviewed - infinity plus non-fiction
Rather good interview with MJH; covers lots of bases, carried out just before Light was published.
writing  interview  mjohnharrison  sf  fantasy  fiction 
october 2013 by infovore
The Kefahuchi Tract trilogy: A future without nostalgia
John Gray on M John Harrison - not just the Kefahuchi Tract trilogy, but also Viriconium and Climbers.
writing  sf  mjohnharrison  johngray 
october 2013 by infovore
the way back home | the m john harrison blog
"Why doesn’t popular fiction encourage writers as entertainingly skilful as this? Because we do not value the skillset itself, only the story it mediates. We long ago separated the skillset out and donated it to literary fiction. Danny MacAskill doesn’t tell a story. He just is. Indeed, by the look of it, he just is the skillset. As a result I cry every time I watch him perform, because the performance is so much more intense than anything I’ve ever made." Great writing, by a great writer, about a great performer. Perfect.
dannymacaskill  trials  bikes  cycling  mjohnharrison  writing  fiction 
october 2013 by infovore
a few rules of breathing | the m john harrison blog
"See this tattoo? It says the fix is in with all that hidden treasure shit"
writing  mjohnharrison  sea  maps 
september 2013 by rodcorp
a few rules of breathing | the m john harrison blog
"The compass knows the map, son, it knows when the map is near. Let the compass direct you to the map but whatever else you do in this stained forsaken world keep them apart. Else there won’t be sufficient salt water in the oceans to quench the soles of yr burning heart."
mjohnharrison  writing 
september 2013 by infovore
welcome to yr world | the m john harrison blog
"Apple’s iPhone 5C will come in yellow, green, blue and red. But is bright always right…? If you live in a world of toddlers it is. If you live in the world of people who manipulate toddlers to make their profits, the question itself is a gadget–a brightly coloured piece of plastic with no real function except to convince the user that she needs to pay for what it does. Fake objects, fake functions, fake commentaries, fake realities layered on top of the real function of everything, which is to make revenue and keep it moving up the hierarchy. Either you buy the plastic without a thought, or you think a marketing discussion represents the next clever level up. Welcome to your dinner party. Welcome to lifestyle. Welcome to your new housing bubble. Welcome to your new toy. Everything is going to be all right now. Welcome to business. Welcome to being a farmed consumer with a degree in farming consumers."
apple  gadgets  consumerism  iphone  marketing  hierarchy  capitalism  desire  mjohnharrison 
september 2013 by robertogreco
street etiquette | the m john harrison blog
Its fragments like this that make it easy to explain why I love Harrison's writing.
mjohnharrison  writing  fragments  culture  society 
july 2013 by infovore

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