Sunday, 4 November 2018
Goldendark - a creative resistance
It has been an intense and busy time here aboard the Black Box mothership. I have been preparing for my Creative Writing PhD viva for the last couple of months, and on Monday it took place on campus at the University of Leicester. I had to offer a robust defense of my thesis: 'The Knowing - a Fantasy: a novel enquiry into creative process, form and genre' (a transmedia novel and critical commentary), but I am glad to say I passed with minor revisions! So, I am now Dr Manwaring! This is a real affirmation of all my hard work over the last 4 years, but also of the core of my thesis: a new ethical aesthetics of Fantasy I call 'Goldendark'. It emerged in part as a response to the cultural hegemony of 'Grimdark', a nihilist strain of SFF which I argue is the thin end of the wedge of Neoliberalism, and, at worse, a kind of proto-Facism: dog-eat-dog, only the strong will survive, etc. This has become so pervasive and normative that we don't even notice it anymore and cannot even conceive of an alternative. Not wanting it to be the only game in town, but also wanting to 'subvert the dominant discourse', I set out to define an approach as a 'mode of cultural resistance' (see my initial paper below).
Now, I acknowledge this is a bold project, one that may get some people's backs up (as it seemed to my external examiner - who rather appositely happened to be a Grimdark author!) but I believe in it as an approach (it is not just another ironical stance - mere Postmodernist posturing); and I think it is essential that as writers with consciences and eco-critical awareness we muster all of our remarkable imaginatives and ability to change the myth we live by, one that is destroying the planet and its fragile ecosystems - including the biodiversity of humanity. Goldendark is a work-in-progess and it has been fine-tuned since I wrote my 2016 conference paper, and will continue to be so in response to further reading, discussion with peers, creative practice and debate. The novel that came out of my PhD, The Knowing - a Fantasy, is really only one iteration of it - an initial enquiry, but over the course of my research degree (4 years) I have actually written 3 novels: the SF novel Black Box which I'm crowdfunding here; and a Viking-Biker mash-up (!) which explores Climate Chaos and the rise of the Far Right (currently with a publisher). Between the three of these novels I feel I have offered a more rounded (or triangulated) attempt at illustrating what I mean by Goldendark. Each has evolved out of its respective time: The Knowing (2012); Black Box (2016) and the latest (2018) and some ways offer creative responses to the state of the world, albeit through a glass darkly, But with Goldendark I believe it is important to offer not a mirror to the world, reflecting its casual horror, brutality, and injustice, but a window: showing that other worlds are possible.
So, have a read of the blog post and see what you think. Join the conversation. And if you believe that Goldendark offers a more positive alternative, then support this current project and help spread the word.
Resistance is fertile.