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Thursday, September 12, 2002

Dear Mr. Gaiman:

In a journal entry of yours for September 11, you posted a link to an essay
by China Mi�ville which you described as "lovely." After reading the said
essay, I could not help but be disturbed by the thought that a sensible
lover of fantasy literature like yourself could be in agreement with the
implications of Mr. Mi�ville's assertions.

This e-mail was written to inquire that such a case is not so.

I can't help but accuse Mi�ville of succumbing to "Philip Pullman syndrome,"
that fashionable malady prevalent among practitioners of the fantasy genre,
which, I'm comforted to notice, is evolving into a clich�. Tolkien and Lewis
bashing, after all, is a waning novelty that is approriately ignored when
earnest introspection sets in.

(Mi�ville should rightly vent his ire towards Salvatore, Jordan, Brooks,
Eddings, and the rest of their uninspired D&D brood).

Mi�ville, of course, makes a substantial point in his essay: to challenge,
to subvert, to question -- yes, these "drives" fuel and invigorate every
human field of endevour, more so the literary enterprise. But so does the
drive to console, to heal, to inspire, to tell stories that ennobles and
comforts without being compromising: posing hard questions without the
attitude, and searching for answers because the search by itself is
important.

Reading THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS during my recent confinement in the
hospital, or finishing MacDonald's PHANTASTES, or my present joy of slowly
leafing through the first few chapters of Lindsay's A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS,
grounds me in an experience of the fantastic (and of fantastic literature)
that is not at all escapist, not at all illusory, but painfully "real."

And I encounter the same experience in reading LeGuin, McKinley, Yolen,
Wolfe, Le'Engle, and a host of other storytellers. If we follow Mi�ville's
harangue to its logical conclusion, we might as well scoff at the legacy of
these writers as well.

I remain a great admirer,

Sonni M. Viudez
Manila, Philippines


I do think it's a lovely essay -- well-thought-out, passionate and well-argued. I agree with probably about 50% of it. But the nice thing about linking to stuff other people have done is that you don't need to agree with it all -- rather, you have to hope it makes people think. Or at least, that's what I do. (China does vent his ire on the legions of indistinguishable fantasy writers, or at least the phenomenon of indistinguishable fantasy at the start of his essay. But I'd venture he regards the authors you name as the symptom rather than the disease.)
...

And over at http://www.canada.com/winnipeg/story.asp?id={83E7F509-4D40-4D84-AF9C-11363BF3E5B2} is the true life American Gods Crime story.
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