Thursday, May 30, 2024 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Science fiction editor, writer, teacher, and musician.
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Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Do we really have to wander around apologizing for enjoying plot, just because James Wood and a few dozen other arch-aesthetes sniff at it? It's like being careful not to sing pop songs in the shower because some guy in the local alt-weekly is a music snob.
Hayden quotes
This is stupid. I now have stupid all over me.
As far as “plot” goes, as I get older I more and more suspect that “plot” is really being used, in the many incarnations of this argument, as a placeholder for a whole cloud of qualities found (or not found) in certain narratives, some of which actually constitute “plot” and many of which do not. What first led me to suspect this is the fact that many of the sternest exponents of “I want novels to have plots, dammit” are also demonstrably fans of, for instance, quite a few Robert A. Heinlein novels whose plots can barely be detected even by advanced scientific equipment. (Not just later Heinlein, either; go back and look at Beyond This Horizon). As it happens, I like some of those books, too, and what I learn from them, and from thousands of other books, is that what matters isn’t the presence of a carefully-engineered, structurally sound “plot.” What matters is whether a book entrances us into reading it or forces us to decode it — and “plot” is just one of several methods of getting us into the reading trance. It’s a good method. It’s not the only one.

Book publishing was never a heaven “run by editors”, and it is by no means today a hell “run by accountants.” If our “sole interest” was “instant profit,” not only would we never do any number of the things we actually do every day, we probably wouldn’t be in book publishing at all.
Hayden Patrick Nielsen
So many people’s school experience contains at least one instance of being looked down upon because they didn’t care for one or more of the sacred mutant outcroppings of High Modernism, and they concluded from this that Literature is all about impenetrable stuff that they don’t like. That damn Hemingway with his crazy free verse.
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