Neal Stephenson Thinks It’s OK to Like 300

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OK, I’m going to get back to the regular two-a-day postings any minute now, for reals. But honestly, how’s a nerd to concentrate? Somebody puts some crazy Russian version of the trailer for Stardust online, then (apparently) yanks it before I can watch it? Dangit, if Neal Gaiman writes something, and Ricky Gervais and Claire Danes act it out, I want to see it. Even if it’s in Russian. Strike that, especially if it’s in Russian.

And did anybody notice that the great Neal Stephenson uncloaked this weekend on the New York Times op-ed page to explain why 300 is getting such crappy reviews? Though I found his piece oddly, uncharacteristically incoherent. I’ll blockquote the bit I agree with:

The less politicized majority, who perhaps would like to draw inspiration from this story without glossing over the crazy and defective aspects of Spartan society, have turned, in droves, to a film from the alternative cultural universe of fantasy and science fiction. Styled and informed by pulp novels, comic books, video games and Asian martial arts flicks, science fiction eats this kind of material up, and expresses it in ways that look impossibly weird to people who aren’t used to it.

Lack of critical respect means nothing to sci-fi’s creators and fans. They made peace with their own dorkiness long ago.

He seems to be making two points: one, which I very much agree with, is that nerds watch movies with a different — but equally valid — set of references and aesthetic values from most professional critics. Two, that people are rushing to over-politicize 300. Well, I guess I agree with that too. But I don’t think nerds shrink from political interpretations, like Spartans behind a shield-wall, as he suggests. They just don’t let them overpower the other stuff that’s in play.

Stephenson’s author’s note on the piece gives nothing away about his next project, post-Baroque Cycle. Anybody know?

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