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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Monday, 5 October 2015

In Praise of Bad Art

Hello hello!

So, life has happened, is happening, continues to happen, and I have a lot of good ideas sitting in my draft folder. But once in a while, my emotions and thoughts swirl and bubble over, and an impulsive post comes rushing out, overflowing tidy restraint.

Today, I need to complain and praise something strange: sub-par, bad, and merely average art.

Right now, I am reading a book that I know in my soul is Hugo-quality. I can't tell you whom it's by, because it's not finished yet, nor has it been published. I'm listening to Lana del Rey's Honeymoon album. It is very early, and so the world is quiet, except for this music and this book.

It is far from the only exceptional, stellar work I've had cross my plate in the last month or so. But having two superb novels to edit, having this one to read right now, and having The Brothers Jetstream on my Kindle app--having works of this quality should make me overjoyed.

But while it is not oppressive, it is overwhelming. There is so much beauty and amazingness that I need something less amazing to take refuge in. It's similar to the way I feel whenever we take a trip to the Rocky Mountains--everything is so beautiful and amazing and perfect that it becomes exhausting.

So--next time you find yourself shaking your head and lamenting the decline in culture, consider the alternative. Consider a world in which everything is so beautiful that you are struck with a kind of choice paralysis. "Precious cinnamon roll too good for this world, too pure", as a meme goes--but that stupid, amazing moment of clarity when you bite into a morsel that is perfection itself, that moment is too incredible to last. And when it does last, it's almost upsetting.

How can anything be that good? It's almost upsetting. The mind strains to comprehend real beauty. Better to have it in spoonfuls, scraps, drops, than to live it and bask in it daily. It would become boring, eventually, because brains just cannot appreciate every nuance day in and day out. And that which we called 'transcendent' once would become shlock--just because brains crave homeostasis.

So do yourself a favour, sweet reader--read some fanfiction. Grab a cheesy thriller or romance novel off a shelf. Look at some stupid cartoons. And try not to lose yourself in hunger for a world too full of beauty, because there is no way our frail human hearts could ever handle it.

Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie--get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 


  1. Good points. This reminds me of the Great Books they had us read in high school. At the time I didn't have a wide enough experience of lesser books to really appreciate how good those books were.

  2. Nice to see you back on the blog! :)

    Yeah, I love the Great Books myself, but I actually think we need to let students read simpler books in HS--kids don't have the frame of reference to appreciate great literature yet, and that's not their fault, it's a life experience thing. I mean, I LOVE great literature, but some things make so much more sense now than they did in high school, you know? And you're right--it takes a mediocre book to appreciate a great one.

  3. I got exactly what you need for times like this. Jojo: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6zZlQ1WSn5U


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