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As Others See Us

Borrowing the “From the Oustide Looking In” title used by David Langford in his Ansible zine, I submit this post from Sam Jordison at the Guardian Book Blog. A few choice quotes:

At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I’m beginning to think science fiction’s actually quite good.

Science fiction doesn’t get a lot of respect – and quite possibly it doesn’t deserve it.

There’s something about science fiction that just doesn’t appeal. Even though I’ve long recognised that I’m a bit of a geek, I just find much of it too nerdy. I have a strong negative reaction to all the warp-speed jargon, the masturbatory fantasies about alien sex queens and the frequent intrusion of half-baked mathematical theories.

You see, when it comes to the genre wars, science fiction is at a very curious disadvantage. As soon as someone writes a really good sci-fi book it nearly always seems to get reclassified as something else.

Does writing brilliantly preclude Vonnegut et al from the sci-fi genre? Or is it just that there’s so much more to their books than spaceships and aliens? Could it be that most sci-fi is just so bad that reasonable people can’t stand to tar literary heroes like Angela Carter with its brush? Conversely, have I been unreasonably depriving myself of other great sci-fi works for years? Or is it simply the case that I’m barking up the wrong tree and that my approach to literature would be far healthier if I just ignored such semantics and the labelling policies of high street chains?

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.

3 Comments on As Others See Us

  1. Gah. I hate it when someone who doesn’t read science fiction – anyone who thinks that science fiction is only space opera & alien sex queens clearly doesn’t read science fiction – starts pontificating on the genre.

  2. You mean that there is more than alien sex queens? Maybe I should broaden my reading list 🙂

  3. If this guy is starting to doubt his ideological opposition to science fiction, then we aren’t trying nearly hard enough to freak out the mundanes.

    Quick! Somebody call in a furry-strike to his position on the double. We’ve got sappers inside the wire. Repeat. We’ve got sappers inside the wire.

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