Gutsy of me to suggest, on my site dedicated to the discussion of Golden Age detective fiction, that a lot of the terminology used to talk about these stories is incorrect, eh? Well, thankfully I’m not the one trying to convince you; that job falls to Mr. Scott K. Ratner.
Those of you who know Scott from the Golden Age Detection Facebook group, or remember his previous appearance on the podcast, will know how intelligently he dissects the subgenre, and this is no exception. For a number of years now, he’s been working tirelessly to promote the idea that talking about “fair play” in GAD is a fool’s errand — detective stories aren’t games codified by objective standards, and so the idea of being “fair” in the doling out of evidence and clues doesn’t really apply.
And, y’know, he’s got a point.
You’ll doubtless be aghast at such apostasy, but, well, that’s why there’s some 80 minutes of discussion ready for your listening pleasure below. I admit that I’m one to use this terminology, and this discussion helped me clarify some of Scott’s opposition to the phrases and nomenclature we’ve come to adopt so easily down the years (this is why he should start a blog, see, so we could have all this sort of stuff in one easy-to-find place). And, let’s be clear: this is no attack on detective fiction itself, but instead simply an invitation to consider that using the terms we do might — just might — be to the detriment of the form.
Thanks of course go to Scott, who got up so early to record this that I’m not sure he even bothered going to sleep first, to Jonny Berliner for the music, and to all of you at home listening along and justifying this endeavour. The relatively paltry list of tags below is because I’ve been hit with the quandary of precisely what we do discuss that might crop up elsewhere and so be worth tagging: I’ve gone with the authors we cite directly and a few general topics, but if you think anything in particular needs highlighting, let me know.
More podcast in a fortnight, stay safe in the meantime.
All episodes of In GAD We Trust can be found on the blog by clicking here.