If you've been following the blog this last little while you'll have seen, if not necessarily read - and no sweat as to that, for reasons which will soon become clear - my reviews of Project Nim and All Your Base Are Belong To Us: respectively a documentary about a chimp brought up in a commune and a potted history of video games.
So certainly not speculative fiction, whichever way I swing it, and it follows, like the onset of night after the last light of day, that neither is quite the preserve of The Speculative Scotsman. Which is to say me, and this here blog.
That's all well and good, though. I've never been one to exclude something from coverage here on TSS simply because said lacks dragons, or intergalactic space battles. Not everything I read or see can be categorised so simplistically, and I'd have been climbing the walls long in advance of this moment if I'd restricted myself to speculative fiction -- if I'd closed the proverbial door on all that lies beyond its boundaries.
In the interests of clarity, then, let me say what I'm not saying: that the blog, going forward, will be all speculative fiction, all the time. That's not going to happen. I wouldn't let it, and anyway, in my experience I've found a little crossover here and there is a great way to bring in new readers; to TSS, yes, but also, in turn, to the fields of genre fiction I'm particularly interested in.
The thing of it is, to come back to the examples with which we started, I hadn't actually meant to review either thing. I didn't watch Project Nim with the intention of writing it up, nor did I read Harold Goldman's account of video games through the ages thinking that I'd review it when I was finished with the thing. I read it to have read it. As a matter of fact, I consumed each of these products specifically in order to consume something I wouldn't feel the need to take apart.
And yet, and yet... here we are, at the end of a period during which I've posted reviews of both All Your Base Are Belong To Us and a movie about a monkey.
Now I don't expect you all to be interested in the many and various strange things I am. You don't have to watch documentaries or read comics or play video games to stop off at TSS. Perhaps it helps, but I like to think there's enough speculative fiction coverage on the site to keep all comers content. And content is king.
In any case, what concerns me here is the critical instinct, rather than the reader's response to it. Because I couldn't resist writing these things up, however much they might have been outside of my usual purview. I couldn't not review Project Nim and All Your Base Are Belong To Us, because I'd been thinking of them critically all along, despite clear and present contentions to the contrary.
I guess what I'm getting at is a frustration I've been feeling recently. Having trained myself to read with a view to reviewing what I've read at the end of the day, I find myself in bit of a position now, whereby I can't just reach into me and turn that instinct off. Not for a single solitary second. I see pretty much everything in terms of merits and demerits... of what it does well and what it doesn't.
I watched Moneyball the other month, for instance - a great gripping film it was too, never mind that I couldn't give a fig for most sports, and nor, I imagine, could you - and honestly, the only reason you haven't seen a full-fledged review of it is because I contrived to forget my most pertinent thoughts about Moneyball whilst on holiday, without ready access to a computer to type them up.
So my question to other bloggers - and to a certain extent authors as well, because of course the author has to think critically about what they're writing if they have a hope of writing something worth reading - my question is this: what's a dude to do? Have I a hope in hell of ever experiencing anything without the critical instinct kicking in again, or can I not now unsee what I have seen?
I'd be fascinated to hear from any and all of you who find yourselves in a similar position. I wonder... is this a common problem? Come to that, is it even a problem, or do I assume much too much?