Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Regarding the controversy of Lisa Manchev's story, "The Stolen Word" over at Dark Fantasy: Read the comments. I did.

Many comments were of the "Oh, get over it. It's just a story" variety.

Ah, but stories are powerful things. People scratched their stories on stone back in a time when writing couldn't hope to earn anyone a living. People have felt compelled to tell stories since Homo sapiens crowded out the Neandrathals. Stories are so powerful they now fuel a couple of multi-billion dollar industries. That's one power they have.

Another is their ability to make us examine our principles, our prejudice, our ignorance. Just read or watch Schindler's List if you think they can't.

Edit: comment I left at the Swivet in response to another comment: One of the most interesting ideas I found in the comments was a criticism of people for taking a fantasy story and looking at it through the filter of real world problems. In my experience, spec fic authors all live in the real world. We are all shaped by the real world. The best spec fiction is, if not aggressively allegorical, at least grounded in the psychological and sociological structures of humanity.

Not only that, but I was surprised (and a little revolted) by the number of "oh, it's just fantasy" comments by people who read (and possibly write) fantasy.

The whole point—I thought, anyway—of writing a story is to tell the truth. And the only way to tell the truth is to examine your own prejudices and ignorance. I don't think the writer really did that here. I think she changed what she thought she needed to in order to not offend, and failed because she refused to acknowledge she was ignorant.

I don't think the author of this story really examined it thoroughly at all. But I'm grateful for stumbling across this controversy before being published. One because it has made me examine my own thoughts about the power of the story, and two because it has made me examine my own ignorance.


writtenwyrdd said...

Interesting. I shall go follow all the linkage and figure out what you are referring to. But it should be glaringly obvious that no matter the genre, writers are making allegorical statements about the real world. Unless, of course, they are writing for themselves alone in a made up language!

freddie said...

Yes, I thought that was obvious, too. But I was also surprised to find that some people who read fantasy are just as dismissive of the genre as people who don't.