Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Scotsman Abroad | Special Needs in Strange Worlds

Remember when I went to America?

Yeah, I do too. The good times, and the not so good.

Obviously, this week has been of the latter variety... but I'm starting to feel a bit better about things, or rather, a little less bad.

Anyway. When I was in America, I handed The Speculative Scotsman over to a few of my most eloquent internet friends. Rather that than let the site stagnate, I asked a handful or four of my favourite fellow bloggers to stop off and entertain you all. They did, I need not add, an incredible job. And amongst the guests that stepped up most magnificently: Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues.

Well, what goes around comes around.

This month, Sarah's been doing something extraordinary over at her brilliant blog. Rather than asking anyone to contribute anything, in the mode of me, she's hosting four weeks of themed content. Special Needs in Strange Worlds, wherein we consider disability in speculative fiction, is something like twenty posts strong already, and I'd recommend you read through every last one of them. Individually and as one, they've made for invaluable insights into an aspect of the literature we love that's all too rarely brought up, or thought of, full stop.

Now when Sarah asked if I might have something to say about the subject, I agreed immediately. Let me crib a bit from the resulting review to explain what followed:

"I didn’t think it’d be difficult to come up with a couple contenders.

"More fool me.

"I read, shall we say, rather a lot. More now than I used to, before the blog, but even then I was a bit of a bookworm; I enjoyed nothing more than the challenge of a new novel. Sarah’s suggestion, however, had me wondering whether I’d accidentally shut out a whole species of speculative fiction, because beyond a couple of all too obvious options,not a lot occurred." 
Long story short: it turned out that the book I was reading at the time, namely The Scar by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko, was in some senses an examination of one man's mental health, set against a sparse fantasy backdrop.

In the end, I didn't love The Scar - I don't know if I even liked it, though I'd point to the praise that's been showered upon it from here, there and everywhere for the opposing perspective - but I was absolutely fascinated by at least one aspect of it.

So I wrote about that, vis-à-vis disability in speculative fiction.

This, then, is actually a little bit more than a review, and a little bit less. Please do pop on over to Bookworm Blues to read the thing in its entirety. Then the rest of Special Needs in Strange Worlds, I need not add.

Unless you already have. In which case, here's to Sarah - a brilliant blogger with some exceptional assistance, all in support of a superb cause - here's to her for organising something so vast and so very, very valuable.

Sarah: I salute you!

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