Spec on Spec
From Miss Snark:
Dear Dame Snark,
I've noticed that the speculative fiction winning the big awards these days seem to be thinly disguised literary pieces. I keep reading stories about silent characters who softly reflect on their lives as they sip tea. At some point, something mildly otherworldly happens to qualify the story as sf or fantasy. Then it ends. But the stories I love to read (and write) have Action! Suspense! Adventure! They're heaped in either technology or magic but anchored with realistic and complex characters. Not pulp by any means, but far more exciting than "literary" work.
Please tell me, O High Priestess of Words, what is the state of today's speculative fiction? Will high action win out in the end? Or must I learn to write riveting prose about contemplating the wild stalks growing on the edge of a rippling lake if I'm ever to be published?
(I responded in the comment trail, but I thought I'd cross-post it here, being of general snippy writer geek interest):
Literary crap will always be literary crap. That some people aspire and beg to be crappy is the real mystery.
But what's more annoying is that some twits refuse to admit they have written spec-fic, and frantically market fantasy as literary. Genre is so dirty and beneath them. It's pathetic, but it also means I know for certain Miss Snark reads fantasy (aka spec-fic). Most people do, and they watch it too. They just don't call it that.
Fantasy is a wide genre. It includes fantasy, science fiction, horror, alternate history--anything where stuff is a little off, a little weird. Or more than a little. It's not frickin elves sitting in the woods musing about a chalice for 718 pages. At least not the uncrap.
Other than the bookstore floor staff, who have to Push the Booker Prize, nobody knows or cares who wins awards. It just doesn't mean anything. The only award winner I can think of is Bujold, and that's only because 'Hugo award winner' is frickin branded on the cover of every Miles book (which are awesome stories, but also breathless-action and hyper character driven, so ha!).
Seeing 'bestseller' is good, but only in the sense that if you like that author you're happy to know they probably aren't going to have to quit and get a better paying job.
You won't have any luck trying to sell your space opera to an epic fantasy magazine, no matter how good it is, but that's not awards or inside advantages.