The modern novel: is there a plot or just a conspiracy?

DAVID Nicholson-Lord is bang on target in his analysis of how members of the British literary establishment use the review pages of the broadsheet papers to serve their own short-term purposes. The Independent on Sunday is equally guilty of conniving with authors, publishers and agents in dictating what is and isn't a worthwhile read. In doing so it ignores all genre fiction except crime, despite the fact that some will live on long after we've had to use lottery money to purchase Mart's teeth for the nation.

While in no position to comment on the literary value of clog-and-shawl stories, or romantic fiction, I know that some of the most exciting writers turn out books that have "science fiction" or "fantasy" slapped on the spine. All we SF fans ask of what Ian Jack's final editorial rightly described as a paper that has "a social as well as a commercial worth", is the occasional acknowledgement, in the form of a review or two, that we exist.

Eugene Byrne