Evil Monkey Cares Not

Jeff VanderMeer • May 13th, 2010 @ 5:46 pm • Evil Monkey

Evil Monkey:
I care not.

Jeff:
Why not?

Evil Monkey:
I don’t care if SF is dying. Everything’s dying. Everything’s decaying and coming back. Sometimes it comes back as a ghost, but even a ghost has a story to tell.

Jeff:
It does seem as if this rant comes up all the time. It made me want to vomit.

Evil Monkey:
Because it upset you so?

Jeff:
Because it was like chewing old cardboard reading it. I couldn’t keep it down it was so familiar.

Evil Monkey:
That just means you’re old.

Jeff:
That just means I remember things more than five minutes.

Evil Monkey:
Everyone loves the new shiny. To love the new shiny, the old decrepit must suck. Even though the new shiny will soon be old decrepit.

Jeff:
Everything sucks if you’re standing at the butt-end of a century looking back. Every last damn thing. Nothing’s good enough. It’s all futile.

Evil Monkey:
That doesn’t mean anything. That just means you’re tired. And kinda stupid.

Jeff:
Where have you been, anyway?

Evil Monkey:
Someone said they didn’t like me.

Jeff:
So what?

Evil Monkey:
I dunno. It just made me go away for awhile.

Jeff:
Someone almost killed you!

Evil Monkey:
No. I’m back. It just took awhile. And I crapped in their shoes. And if they ever do it again, I will do much more than crap in their shoes.

Jeff:
Fair enough. So, what’s next?

Evil Monkey:
The next thing?

Jeff:
Will it be shiny?

Evil Monkey:
No. It’ll be messed up and totally wrong and it’ll be scowling and rancid and it won’t care what anyone thinks of it and it’ll get inside your head and won’t come out and no one will recognize it they’ll be so busy with the shiny-shiny.

Jeff:
Will we be alive to see it?

Evil Monkey:
I will. You’ll be entombed inside a hollowed-out copy of your book of weird.

Jeff:
Will Ann be there besides me?

Evil Monkey:
No. She’s too smart.

27 Responses to “Evil Monkey Cares Not”

  1. Paul Riddell says:

    Yeah, I seem to remember that tirade from back in the early Nineties. Didn’t some donkeyfelching shitweasel who didn’t know what the hell he was talking about write that for “Science Fiction Eye” or “Fuck Science Fiction” or “Tangent” or something? Did someone finally put that fool down like a rabid dog, or is he still out there yammering away?

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    He’s still out there, and we value him greatly.

  3. Grant Stone says:

    If all those À la recherche du temps perdu avec zombie books can teach us anything, it’s that there’s plenty of money to be made long after you’re dead.

    The old shiny is the new shiny tomorrow. The new shiny is too shiny. Where are my sunglasses?

  4. Ally says:

    Proustian zombies–snorf! Too right, Grant.

    Thanks Jeff– this is just what I needed on this pre-caffeine morning, GMT. Good to remember sometimes it’s best to let Evil Monkey drive the train (though my monkey is a rather creepy and inarticulate bogle.)

  5. Paul Smith says:

    Evil monkey lives! I was afraid the Weird book had driven you to put him in a car and drive him over the cliff into the sunset (a Titus Alone reference of course, not Thelma and Louise). Speaking of which, you have that sort of Muzzlehatch-ean glint in your eyes Jeff…

    When I saw that article, I just said “meh” and let it roll off my back. I’m tired of pointless arguments about genre, why can’t it just be about good books? The best writers refuse genre boundaries and labels anyway (i.e. Moorcock) so what is the big deal?

  6. Larry says:

    I’m too busy waiting for the final death of the Tube Top to worry about any possible “deaths” of SF. If you’ve ever seen a 400 lb. woman wearing a tube top…I think intensive therapy is in my future :(

  7. Angela Slatter says:

    I actually like the idea of your final resting place being a hollowed out copy of the compendium.

  8. Hellbound Heart says:

    oh lord, larry, that ain’t a pretty thought…….
    funny how the new shiny-shiny so often tarnishes and disintegrates…..

    peace and love…….

  9. Paul Smith says:

    Thanks Larry, with that and your modelling comment over on Mark’s blog, I have some lovely mental images in my brain this morning.

  10. Paul Riddell says:

    Larry, a friend of mine worked as an assistant roadie for a local show for the old metal band Skid Row. He said his worst nightmare was seeing all of the old Skid Row fans coming back out to the current show, wearing the same exact clothes they were wearing back in the Eighties. Sadly for us all, the most popular piece of apparel was the tube top.

  11. Larry says:

    I seem to have painted a vivid picture with my words. Perhaps I should go forth and write a tube top/model horror novel now? ;)

    Denial is such a sad thing to see. I don’t wear clothing styles similar to that of my youth because I’d look hideous. Cougar groupies are beyond desperate, no? :(

  12. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I think we might be a little off-topic here, and getting a little offensive.

  13. J M McDermott says:

    On-topic, I am reminded of the Gibson quote “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed”.

    About the internet: “all debates have already happened, just not where everyone can quickly access the debate before posting about it.”

  14. Paul Jessup says:

    Wasn’t there a fanzine publication in the 1950′s, asking “Who Killed Science Fiction”? Personally I like saying stuff like that because of all the interesting responses. And they are interesting. Ppl seem to have a strange love affair with their favorite genre, like an obsessive co-dependent lock them in the basement stalker relationship.

  15. Paul Riddell says:

    Paul, I was thinking more of the old Highwaymen song “No. 1″, which commented on a band that couldn’t escape its old-time fans. Science fiction’s biggest problem lies with those readers who still judge it based on what they were reading when they were first exposed, and anybody going in any other direction is either a subversive or a sellout. These days, I watch the Cat Piss Men hanging out at the skiffy section of the local Barnes & Noble, loudly disparaging any new readers for daring to buy something they find unfit, and I’m amazed that others are amazed at why the genre doesn’t get more readers.

  16. Where can I find uncommon Teddy Bears? says:

    [...] Ecstatic Days » Blog Archive » Evil Monkey Cares Not [...]

  17. Yatterings » The changing face of genre says:

    [...] Vandermeer’s Ecstatic Days blog has a link to a post on Next Read where gav has decided that sf is currently dying. Searching [...]

  18. Iain Emsley says:

    I wonder if sf is changing because the context has changed. Genre writing (or at least the exciting writing) is changing again to go with that change but it is not dying. We seem to have this conversation every few years.

  19. gav (nextread.co.uk) says:

    ‘SF is dead, long live SF’ to quote Iain.

    You might be missing the point of my ‘rant’ a little. Any genre has to go through cycles. My worry is that holding on to a dying cycle is harming the rebirth of another. There is a need for new fans and new people to share the love with. I’m suggesting that authors like yourself might be better hook than novels that are 50, 40, 30 years old. And questioning why their is a reluctance to do show off the new as well as protecting the old.

    Isn’t Science Fiction about the future after all?

  20. gav (nextread.co.uk) says:

    Actually that’s reluctance to accept the new… though show off the new is also true.

  21. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I just question the generalities on display in your post. And I don’t think you jettison the past to embrace the present and the future.

  22. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    But it’s not like I think you’re putting babies on spikes, so it’s in the nature of a mild disagreement. :)

  23. gav (nextread.co.uk) says:

    I have learnt a lot from the post posting discussion. So for me it’s been valuable. It’s a question of approach and I’m taking an extreme to find a middle ground but I am more new book fan than old. And I have my own biases that are coming out here too.

  24. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Sigh. Look, I really don’t want to be mean, but the intertubes don’t exist just so you can post something that shows no real knowledge of the last century of SF/F, and without having done much research of your own or much real reading. It just makes it annoying and excruciating for those of us who have gone through this discussion a million freakin’ times. How about instead you hold your fire next time, do some research and learn what the field has to offer, and then post something? If you only like contemporary fiction, chances are you haven’t even encountered most of what’s out there. Another generalization that makes my eyes want to bleed.

  25. gav(nextread.co.uk) says:

    Ah you’ve missunderstood what I meant by me saying I’ve learnt a lot and I don’t think it’s going to get either of us anywhere to rake over the coals as it’s one of those dividing lines that need to have trenches in complete with barbe wire and fortified positions.

    My interest is in healthy science fiction not in a history lesson… and that doesn’t mean I have explored SF. A lively SF should be a willing to mix the old and the new and be prepared to have people that see it differently.

    The reason for taking an extreme is the attitude that you’ve shown. A fan of SF isn’t allowed to have a casual interest in SF – you have to be initinated into the cult of SF and be tested on it’s canon.

    And what I’ve learn is there are always a queue of SF fans ready to say ‘come back and talk to us in 20 years and make sure you’ve read all these books first or we don’t want to know’

  26. gav(nextread.co.uk) says:

    Typo – it should say.. it doesn’t mean I haveN’T explored SF…

  27. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    You seem to be holding up a lack of reading background as a good thing rather than as a problem. I’m by no means a defender of “the Old Guard,” whatever that might mean, but it’s not cool to dismiss stuff you haven’t read and to think that the new stuff is always where it’s at. Much of the new stuff is just as stupid and thoughtless as much of the old stuff. The point is, there’s no real evolution in many ways–there are peaks and valleys. You find times of incredible innovation and renovation and brilliance followed by times of reactionary boring same-old.

    And, I say again, you don’t have to throw out the past to embrace the future. Because the past is as differentiated and as various.

    Also, if you do that, you tend to think current stuff is more brilliant than it is, because you have no idea what it’s building on, and you miss the stuff that’s great *because* it has an awareness of what went before and uses that for its own voice or corrective.

    This isn’t a cult of SF or a razor-wire line. It’s how all literature should be read, and how all literature interconnects.

    I would especially find bizarre a fiction writer who didn’t read widely through the past as well as the present. Such a person would be limiting themselves to the extent that those who did read more widely would look at them as if they were playing checkers rather than chess. (No offense to checkers!)

    It’s the same reason why writers should read widely across genres and modes of writing. And readers should do the same, as far as their interests will lead them.

    Jeff

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