pink slime fiction
A genre’s landscape should be littered with used tropes half-visible through their own smoke & surrounded by salvage artists with welding sets, otherwise it isn’t a genre at all. But what Paul Kincaid describes here & here as “exhaustion” is something else. It’s not creative redevelopment, it’s not evolution by bricolage, it’s not the boring old being kicked apart to reveal an interesting new inside. It’s not even laziness. It’s the intense commodification of ideas & styles evacuated of their original meaning & impact, an apparently deliberate industrialisation of the commonplace & worn out. In using the term exhaustion, Paul Kincaid is not announcing the “death” of F/SF as a genre. He’s very clear on that. Nor is he suggesting, from his broad, long-term experience as a reader & critic, that no interesting fiction is being written into or out of the genre–you’d be mad to claim that in a year which has seen the publication of Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees, or the long-hoped-for return of Jeff Noon with Channel SK1N, to mention only two examples. What Kincaid seems to be bringing to our attention here is that while genre has always been economical in the way it scrapes the carcass, much of what is published now is the product of a thoroughly mechanical separation & disinfection: LFTB of the imaginative.