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More SF Lists

Jus ran across the The Speculative Literature Foundation. They have a bunch of lists that I thought were interesting.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

4 Comments on More SF Lists

  1. Giving a non-sf reading friend Dhalgren as an introduction to the genre is likely to end that friendship. Or get you killed. It would be like giving someone who had just learned to read a copy of Ullyses by Joyce to show him the joys of reading.

    A good way to judge what intro books to give people is to look at thier reading habits. People who liked Crichton’s Rising Son will probably like Philip K. Dick. Romance Readers will probably like Mortal Love, or anything by Tanith Lee of Catherine Asaro.

    Chip Delany (I think) once made the point that SF is a “bulletproof” genre, in the fact that it cannot stop being SF through the influence of another genre. Think of it virally: If a space ship appears in a western, it becomes an SF story. If a cowboy winds up in neo-tokyo, it’s STILL an SF story. This holds true if you combine other genres besides SF: If a cowboy finds himself in the noir 1930s, a Roman colliseum, or at Woodstock, a fantastic element is required.

  2. On your second point, Jeff, I think you’re treading some common and iffy ground related to the definition of science fiction. Personally, I believe that the science fiction elements need to be integral to the story to be truly labeled sf. You just can’t use a sf setting and call it sf.

    A popular (and controversial) example is Star Wars, which many have called a western with sf dressing. Others disagree, of course. Recently, Tee Morris of the Dragon Page said “(And to those nay-sayers who say “Star Wars isn’t Science Fiction…it’s a western in outer space.” I say, “It’s got spaceships, aliens, and laser pistols. Guess what?it’s Science Fiction, Sparky!”)

    On your first point, though, I agree. A good intro to sf should be based on the reader’s likes and dislikes.

  3. I should replace “SF” in my above post with “element of the fantastic” for clarification sake. ALthough even then I’m prone to use the SF label for a lot of material. Yes, A Ct Yankee in King Arthur’s Court doesn’t use a scientific method or device to get the protagonist to the past, but the bulk of the story is about the use of “modern” tools and sensibilities out of thier own time.

    I think it was Paul DiFilipo who made the arguement that Singin’ In The Rain was a SF film, as it deals with revolutionary new technology (talking pictures) and the attempt to use it in the face of adversity and resistance.

    John, your point about setting is good. But once again he concept of setting is viral. Garth Ennis’ Preacher comic could certainly be considered a modern western. Although it features a number of supernatural characters, the story is about the main characters moral universe and his compulsion to do good (a common western trope). Compare this to Westworld, which is clearly SF (albeit of the pop flavor) but uses a rigidly defined western setting. The single fact that this setting is a robotic recreation makes it SF.

    The boundries of SF have certainly been blurring lately, partially because of technology, but also due to a number of authors writing “literary stories” with SF tropes central to them. I have found that, for the most part, these stories suck.

    Personally I’d allow Star Wars into the SF camp. It’s on the same level dramatically as the Honor Harrington stories and most flying-through-space pulps of the past. If we ascribe a strict scientific code to SF, we’d be left with nothing but issues of Analog, which has been unreadable to me lately.

    It is when we hear marketing people use SF to discribe things like Pokemon that I start sharpening my daggers…

  4. SF

    This one makes me itchy; I’m scared to read it too closely: Science Fiction/Fantasy Authors of Various Faiths: a list…

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