Writers Unite Against the BBC

Greetings all Montoya here

A recent special edition of the Culture Show by the BBC showcased fantasy, science fiction and horror books. The special was called The Books We Really Read. A group of 85 authors have complained to the BBC about the way the shows spoke about genre books. I agree with what the authors have done here and support them 100%. Below is the press release.

EIGHTY-FIVE AUTHORS HAVE SIGNED A JOINT LETTER OF PROTEST HANDED IN TO MARK THOMPSON, THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE BBC, COMPLAINING ABOUT THE BBC’S SHABBY TREATMENT OF GENRE FICTION DURING LAST MONTH’S WORLD BOOK NIGHT COVERAGE BY THE TV STATION.

The signatories to this letter range from Gold Dagger-nominated crime authors such as S J Bolton, writers of children’s fiction such as Debi Gliori, as well as many fantasy, science fiction and horror authors – from Iain Banks to Michael Moorcock.

The BBC programming which has raised their complaint was the state-sponsored television channel’s coverage of fiction during World Book Night, with programmes including The Books We Really Read: a Culture Show Special and New Novelists: 12 of the Best which went out on BBC2 on the 5th March 2011.

Fantasy author Stephen Hunt, who organised the protest, commented, “The sneering tone that was levelled towards commercial fiction during The Books We Really Read was deeply counterproductive to the night’s aims of actually encouraging people to read novels. The weight that was given to the single sub-genre of literary fiction in the remaining programmes was unbalanced and unrepresentative of all but a small fraction of the country’s reading tastes. And closest to my own heart, the failure to feature a single work from the three genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction was a disgrace. The official World Book Night list included Philip Pullman’s fantasy novel, Northern Lights. It is a shame the BBC could not.”

Hunt went on to say, “There have been weeks when one in three books sold in the UK were Harry Potter novels, or more recently, Twilight novels. The sweeping under the carpet of the very genres of the imagination which engage and fire readers’ minds shows a lot more about the BBC production team’s taste in fiction than it does about what the general public is actually reading. If the BBC really wishes to support reading in this country, then they should produce a literary version of The Film Programme, or commission a modern updating of the Bookworm show that had Griff Rhys Jones as its lead presenter in the ‘90s. A series with a mainstream slot. Then perhaps the BBC can do what it said on the tin the first time around: cover the books we really read.”

The list of writers supporting the petition…

Kevin J Anderson

Neal Asher

Iain M Banks

Greg Bear

Jacey Bedford

Gregory Benford

Michael Bishop

S J Bolton

David Brin

Michael S. Brotherton

John Brown

Ramsey Campbell

Gail Carriger

Mark Charan Newton

Michael Cobley

Diane Duane

Kevin Duffy

Steven Lundin (writing as Steve Erikson)

Geraldine Evans

Russell B. Farr

Matt Forbeck

Gregory Frost

Gary Gibson

Linda Gillard

Felix Gilman

Debi Gliori

Alison Goodman

Joe Haldeman

Elizabeth Hand

Steve Haynes

John Helfers

John Hemry

Jack Hessey

Liz Holliday

Matthew Hughes

Stephen Hunt

Jasper Kent

Kay Kenyon

M. D. Lachlan

Jay Lake

David Langford

Bob Lock

James Lovegrove

Jonathan Maberry

David Mack

Juliet Marillier

Ian McDonald

Juliet E McKenna

Karen Miller

L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Elizabeth Moon

Michael Moorcock

Theresa M. Moore

Yvonne Navarro

Stan Nicholls

Larry Niven

Jonathan Oliver

Phil Palmer

Steve Parker

Tamora Pierce

Jonathan Pinnock

Phyllis Irene Radford (writing as P.R. Frost/C.F. Bentley)

Robert V.S. Redick

Kit Reed

Mike Resnick

Adam Roberts

Steven Savile

Robert J. Sawyer

Ann Scarborough

Michael Shea

Lucius Shepard

Michael Marshall Smith

S.M. Stirling

Charlie Stross

Stephen Sullivan

Michael Swanwick

Harry Turtledove

Robert E. Vardeman

Tim Waggoner

Ian Watson

Simon West-Bulford

Sean Williams

Walter Jon Williams

Geoff Willmetts

Jane Yolen

GS Reporter: Montoya

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One comment

  1. Pablum Please /

    There are way too many books published yearly to even consider trying to keep up. So, I have a methodology to weed through the pile. Crime, children’s fiction, fantasy, science fiction and horror are off the table out of hand. Why? Because literature feeds my minds eye, not quick text.
    Example

    Gould’s Book of Fish : a novel in twelve fish

    Richard Flanagan

    published in 2001, i found the book fall of 2003 at the sydney airport on my way to montreal. i was looking over a bookrack for something to read on the long flight. when I read the title, Gould’s Book of Fish : a novel in twelve fish, it won my dollars on that alone.

    on reading it, i was shocked, stunned, amazed to have come across this superior piece of literature. it was the funniest, darkest, most humane and intelligent writing i had come across in a long time.

    it lead me to read about the author:

    flanagan lives in hobart, tasmania. he was at the national archives one day poking around, coming across a folder with watercolors of sea creatures painted by a william buelow gould. he researched who this artist might be.

    gould was a prisoner of the crown sent to a tasmania in the middle 1800’s. he lived a prisoner, he died a prisoner, no other information.

    so, flanagan wrote the book around how the watercolors came into existence, how gould became a prisoner, lived, painted the watercolors and died. he fronts each of the chapters with one of the watercolors he found.

    now, you tell me reader of crime, children’s fiction, fantasy, science fiction and horror, are you so moved?

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