I broke these posts up because they were a little too erratic to link into one big post.
From my comment on ursalav's call for more fabulousity in fantasy, and truepenny's comments thereupon:
I come at it from a different angle. I adore that kind of mad fantasist stuff, but I can't write it.
I'm a synthesist. My brain is very good at looking at standard fantasy or science fiction tropes and going "Well, here's the logical implications of that that haven't been explored--" so that's what I write.
But I love me some bug-headed women. Just can't write 'em, because when I do, I find myself looking at what I'm writing and going "Bug-headed women? I don't believe this shit." I would love to do the verbal backflips and Weird Idea Generation that M. John Harrison does, or Alfred Bester did, or--good lord--R.A. Lafferty. I love that stuff. Lafferty! Yeah! That's the STUFF!
It's not what I write.
When I try it, it comes out contrived at best, and nonsensical at worst. We can only write the stories we get.
Now, I think it's incumbent on us to push the boundaries of those stories, to force them as far as we can. I think the craft of good writing--this came up in a conversation with arcaedia the other day--demands we try to do everything to the best of our ability. This means maintaining artistic integrity, to me, while also striving for accessibility. (And by accessibility, I don't mean dumbing things down. I mean making them as transparent as possible, *within the limits of maintaining artistic integrity.*)
Because I think accessibility is an artistic value, too. (Which is not to say that stick figures or throwing words at a wall are art, if you know what I mean, but there's something to be said for work that's utterly pellucid on the surface, and underneath, layered and craft-ful and possessed of vision.)
Artistic integrity means, to me, not taking the easy way out. It means working your ass off to do it all well. And failing. Of course. And being better at some bits than others. But pushing your limits, every time.