Friday, January 13, 2017

Editor Peg Robinson

Strange Suns will be a shared blog from this point forward. As our editors can, they will post. It is our intention to set aside specific days of the week for their use. Peg Robinson has graciously set aside Friday for her comments. I hope you will come to like our staff's thoughts and ideas as much as I have.-DS Baker.

First things first. Hi! I’m Peg Robinson, the co-editor of the Strange Suns page. Right now I can take no credit. The page is David’s idea, and so am I. But y’all have some right to know who I am.

I’m 58, single, with a daughter who’s in college and in that furry, fuzzy space in which the world increasingly sees her as adult and her parents struggle to accept that notion, and the collateral idea that they themselves are getting old. I’m a professional writer and editor, using the definition that allows you to go broke as a pro. I’m an active member of SFWA, with a lifetime membership I paid while I had the cash—a wise move, IMO. I mainly write science fiction and fantasy, though I’m pretty genre friendly. It’s been awhile since I made an SF/F sale—I’ve been writing other things, including portions of text-books and commercial material lately. 

I am almost certainly the softer, fuzzier side of SF/F on this page. In that sense I think of myself as “color.” I mix it up a bit. 

I am very happy to be here. I welcome you to David’s shiny new page—and hope you will welcome me in time, too. Thank you.


I grew up in a time of conflict. One of my first concrete memories is of the death of John F. Kennedy, and of the nation-wide reaction afterward. I grew up in the glory days of the civil rights movement. I grew up with friends in a regular state of protest—Vietnam, nuclear proliferation, nuclear power plants, apartheid, dirty movies, clean movies, movies about Jesus, movies failing to mention Jesus, school dress codes, you name it, someone was in a lather over it.

I grew up in the time of the great wars over genre and genre naming. It started, for me, with Harlan Ellison and his cadre, whose fast reflexive reaction fight over whether Our Great Genre was science fiction or speculative fiction, and whether it belonged on the lonely little genre shelves in bookstores or properly among the respectable literary fiction at the front of the store. My favourite, beloved fiction (all flavors) was said to be delegated to a genre ghetto from which no author could launch a respectable career…or a properly profitable one. On grounds both literary and financial, there was great brouhaha and brawling, and to this day you can date those of us of a particular era fast, reflexive reaction to the term “science fiction” is to cut back with “spec fic.

After came a round I most associate with Isaac Asimov, and his then brand new magazine, titled “Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.” Soon enough after startup a whinge began and grew—the magazine was (shock, horror) given to publishing stories that could only tentatively be regarded as “science fiction,” rather than fantasy, or horror, or other properly tech-oriented material. The pages occasionally swarmed with outbreaks of imps, devils, dragons, unicorns, or, horror of horrors, material that applied an unnecessary SF gloss to war stories, westerns, or worse. For some time a true battle raged over what, properly, could appear in an SF magazine, and what should be assigned to other, less factually particular genres. 

Here is the trouble with all the battling of my youth. Regardless of what you call it, or how rigorous the tech, or how you place it on the shelves of the bookstores remaining—I read it all, loved it all, and was mainly grateful as hell that people made it easy to find by putting it in magazines and on bookshelves under a coherent set of genre terms. These days, in which everyone and her cousin has written something in the range of the imaginative literatures, and in which the whole muddled, magical, messy field has come to play a major role in best-seller lists and so-called “literary fiction” shelving, it can actually be harder, not easier to find the authors I want to find, or learn of new talent. These days almost everyone reads some sort of SF/F genre. It is a time of victory—and a time in which the old genre arguments are falling apart.

Here's the truth: I’m a generalist. I love some of all of it, and all of some of it. I even read horror, though that’s not my own niche. I love cross-over lit that blends the fantastic neighborhoods. I adore alternate history fantasy, or magical military fiction, or science fiction that focuses on social and cultural elements of distant past and future galactic empires. One thing that delighted me talking to David is that this is not an exclusive, walled community page. This is us—all of us. It makes me very happy. You see, while I was born into a time of conflict, I came away with the sense that some things are worth waging war over, and some are not, and the classification of literature we all love is less fun than just reading, or viewing, or listening to, or painting, or digitally illustrating the good stuff when it comes.

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