The Skiffy and Fanty Show 4: Indecipherably Magical, Realist, and Not Quite Right

6 Jun

Another episode where we cross the river of reason and address some criticism and generally lose our minds.  As if that weren’t enough, we tease you with some surprises coming in episode five!

The question of the week is:  If you were to go one on one with a Left For Dead type of zombie, would you rather have a samurai sword or a Scottish dirk?  Feel free to email your answers to skiffyandfanty [at] gmail [dot] com or send us a voicemail at 206-203-1686!

On a side note:  at around the one hour and one minute mark, does anyone else get the feeling that we sound somewhat like a certain skit from Saturday Night Live?  You know, back when the show was good and Alec Baldwin played a character on a certain radio show…

We hope you enjoy the episode!  Here goes (the show notes are below):

Episode Four — Download (MP3)

Intro Discussion (0:00 – 14:03):

News (14:04 – 31:43):

The Main Event A (31:44 – 54:44):

The Main Event B (54:45 – 1:02:29):

The End (1:02:30 – 1:11:23)

That’s all, folks!


11 Responses to “The Skiffy and Fanty Show 4: Indecipherably Magical, Realist, and Not Quite Right”

  1. girlie jones June 6, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    Hey guys

    Listened to your podcast. I think where we essentially disagree is on where the onus is on Sutter to include and think about women. I think that it would be nice to think he had a long list of 30 women whom he originally asked and that for a host of reasons they all but one said no. If that was the case, I’d still say that to promote your book as a cross-sectional representation of the SF field, it fails and for that reason it should have been reworked. I think it’s unlikely that he asked more than 30 women and they all but one said no. Also he admits himself that he didn’t think about the gender breakdown, which kind of nullifies whether he originally thought of women, rather women were on his list by chance and random taste factors.

    I think the question of whether because there were women involved in the process of that book makes it less offensive (to me) – that’s like defending any argument with “but some of my best friends are gay/Jewish/black/women” – it’s kind of irrelevant. Just because you should have power doesn’t mean you wield it. Many people believe a lot of the fallacies surrounding ideas of women in SF, including what “pulp” should look like aka the cover of the book in question (or that more men write than women, men write better than women etc). Just because one person takes an offense or has an issue doesn’t mean everyone in their demographic is bound to as well.

    I think mostly we are actually arguing two different arguments. I never thought Sutter was sexist, had excluded women from his list or hated women or their writing. I do though think that as you point out, he should have been wider read, more inclusive and provided a book that was better balanced across a variety of factors. And to have failed on all these counts makes him open for criticism. He’s not a victim to be felt sorry for – he put a book out there into the world and we can make commentary on it. Just as people do of my books and both our podcasts.

    • shaunduke June 7, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

      Thanks for the comment.

      First, I don’t think Sutter is doing much in terms of promoting his book as a representation of the SF field. That seems mostly the publisher’s doing, though he certainly put it together.

      Second, I don’t know if there’s something necessarily wrong with people appearing on your reading list by random chance or taste. I would think that an organic reading experience is the better choice than to force oneself to read things you don’t like. In Sutter’s case, the fact that women appear on his organic list suggests that a) his biases are not necessarily as subconscious as one might presume, and b) that there is probably more an issue of his exposure to more present-day big female authors than a disinterest in their work. Personally, for me, the biggest issue has been getting female authors for review. The majority of books sent to me from publishers have been male, and I don’t know if that fairly represents reality. It feels to me that what gets pushed to me is 99% male, and I know there are dozens and dozens of women in fantasy (which is most of what I get) and a lot of great female writers in science fiction (Kage Baker, Elizabeth Bear, and so on). So my question on this point is this: what do we do to expose female authors to people who do read organically? This is not just a problem within the community, but within publishing as well. It’s a ridiculously large issue, and as much as women have begun sucking up awards rather frequently, it isn’t enough (especially if you don’t pay attention to awards).

      Third, I don’t think it’s irrelevant that there were women involved in the production. It’s not a “I have a black friend” argument. It’s more a question of “why.” Why, if there were so many women involved, did the book get through without more discussion or concern? Why weren’t the women more interested in the gender balance? I don’t know. Nobody does (maybe Sutter, but that’s a guess). I guess you’re right that maybe not all women are on the up and up with this issue, and that would likely explain it if that were true of the Paizo folks.

      Fourth, I find arguments that men write better than women retarded at best. A number of my favorite authors are women and some of them write better than most of the men I’ve read…But, you probably think the same thing, so we’re on the same page.

      Fifth, I think I tried to correct myself in this recent episode about Sutter in that mostly what I was talking about was Farah Mendlesohn, who did very much accuse Sutter of being a sexist, and then didn’t backtrack when the situation became very complicated and less…sexist.

      Sixth, I agree that he opened himself up to criticism, but I disagree that all of the criticism he received was necessarily correct, or that he deserved all of it. I feel sorry for Sutter because he was accused of things that weren’t true and nobody had the courage to apologize to him for that. The other stuff isn’t so much an issue for me (by that I mean it’s an issue I tend to agree with, but isn’t something that I take issue against in relation to this event, if that makes sense).

      And…I think I will address your other points on your blog now. Thanks for listening, though!

  2. Amy June 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Yes I am a long time listener. I agree with Adam. Magic Realism is just a sub genre of Fantasy. They use the word when they don’t want to look like dorks. 😉

    • skiffyandfanty June 9, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

      Well, the people I know who like the term “magical realism” don’t think it is a part of fantasy, and they’d get really offended if you said as much. Crazy? Totally.


  3. Loopdilou June 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    Yah, I’m not a believer in the fact that Magical Realism is a sub-cat of Fantasy. I’m just not buying it – There’s no way I would categorize Gunter Grass as a fantasy author and yet he definitely weaves in a little “Huh?”. One could even argue that Chocolat is a magical realist film, but NOT fantasy. I tend to only put books that are subtly magical into the magical realism category, where as magic is blatantly overt in Fantasy. Beloved, by Toni Morrison has incredibly fantastical elements, but it is not fantasy by any stretch of the imagination.

    Anyway, it’s not a sub-cat! SO 😛

    • skiffyandfanty June 15, 2010 at 11:08 am #

      Exactly. Gunter Grass is not fantasy. His fantastic elements are incredibly de-emphasized in the text. I don’t think Magical Realism can really be under fantasy precisely because so many magical realist are hardly fantastic at all (in terms of content, not quality).

      I disagree about Beloved. It’s fantasy. There’s a friggin ghost in it! Yeesh.

  4. Loopdilou June 16, 2010 at 3:23 am #

    Nu uh. Just because there’s a ghost doesn’t mean it’s a fantasy 😛 Yes, it’s a fantastic element, but there’s way to much REAL in the novel, Beloved’s ghost is largely… spiritual? Rather than fantastical. The best classification you can use is Magical Realism (because one could hardly call it Urban Fantasy).

    • shaunduke June 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

      I completely disagree. The problem with magical realism is that its boundaries of definition are so ridiculously fuzzy that when people say “aha, this ghost story is magical realism, and this is fantasy” the distinction becomes meaningless. It’s like trying to say “this is literary, and this isn’t.” If the subgenre must exist, then it must have very clear boundaries, and trying to say “well, this is a novel that is too real for its ghost story to be fantasy” doesn’t work. It’s fiction. It’s supposed to seem or feel real. If it doesn’t, then the author isn’t doing their job.

  5. Loopdilou June 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    Here’s the thing – Beloved may or may not be a ghost. It’s left entirely vague in the novel. So it’s still magical realism. Even the existence of a possible ghost never pulls you out of how real the story is, though, she is seamlessly integrated and you never actually feel as if you’ve been pulled into a fantasy – except if that fantasy is Sethe’s delusions (which, again, it could be).

    • shaunduke June 25, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

      Then it’s just really well written fantasy. That’s it. That’s the author’s job: to write a story that you believe, even if your rational mind says it can’t happen. But, I should probably read it again. I hated it when I read it last time…


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