85 Authors Protest At The BBC’s Treatment Of Genre Fiction

85 authors have signed a joint letter if protest sent to BBC Director General Mark Thompson,  complaining about the Beeb’s shabby treatment of genre fiction during last month’s World Book Night coverage

Sue Perkins in a publicity pic for The Books We Really Read, ironically reading exactly the kind of book that was under-represented on the programme.

The signatories to this letter range from Gold Dagger-nominated crime authors such as SJ 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 5 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

And SFX supports the campaign 100%. We still remember the sneering attitude of the presenters and the talking head guests towards The Lord Of The Rings during the BBC’s coverage of The Big Read a few years back, even though it won a public vote to find Britain’s Favourite Book. Oh, and five other books in the Top 10 were SF or fantasy too. So, what books are we really reading?

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