Why don’t we love science fiction?

December 2nd, 2007

It’s a little early for us here in NYC to be in the Deep Freeze, but here it is. Plus maybe a half inch of snow, which fell sometime this a.m. before we got up; now the weather’s undecided as to whether it shall snow more or — something.

Nice that the larder is so nicely and well stocked.

Cabin fever shall certainly ensue any moment now. I’m kind of like dogs this way. The need to Go Out builds and builds until it becomes unbearable.

Morever, this is the weekend the U.S. and Brit book review sections are doing “Christmas gift roundups.” Feh. I want Real Reviews of Real New Books! Not roundups about books I’ve already read about. Feh2. Especially on a shut-in day. Feh3.

Ah, the London Times comes through with an article about Science Fiction that is occasioned by the publication of a new edition of Brian Aldiss’s A Science Fiction Omnibus, “a fat collection of classic stories. In the 1960s.” Surely we’ve all read that one? I did, anyway.

There is much of interest in this long article. Here’s a sample:

“The truth is,” Aldiss has written, “that we are at last living in an SF scenario.” A collapsing environment, a hyperconnected world, suicide bombers, perpetual surveillance, the discovery of other solar systems, novel pathogens, tourists in space, children drugged with behaviour controllers – it’s all coming true at last. Aldiss thinks this makes SF redundant. I disagree. In such a climate, it is the conventionally literary that is threatened, and SF comes into its own as the most hardcore realism.

There’s a great deal in this article that I personally do not agree with, but it is worth reading, maybe just because of that!

Love, C.

4 Responses to “Why don’t we love science fiction?”

  1. LauraJMixonon 02 Dec 2007 at 2:37 pm

    I’m with you, Constance. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s an interesting column.

  2. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 03 Dec 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Indeed interesting. Slightly amusing also to read the verbal gymnastics the author went into to keep it a talk about “British literature” while occasionally slipping American authors into the discussion without mentioning they’re Americans, and then when the conversation was almost solely about Americans (because it’s a bit hard to talk about Cyberpunk without it) he adds in the “Oh yes, this one’s a Brit!” comment. And then there were the mentions of Lem and Borges and we’re not even talking about English language SF now, are we?

    Apart from that silliness, and the Aldiss quote about fantasy being more acceptable because it’s viewed and non-threatening kids stuff where there’s always a happy ending, umm… Actually, I rather like the metaphor about SF being considered the Disreputable Uncle but think it should be extended such that fantasy is the Dotty Aunt.

    As for living in the world of science fiction, we have our Dick Tracy wrist communicators (but better ones) but we don’t have his flying garbage cans let alone the flying cars. Nor do we have Moon Maid as a daughter-in-law.

  3. Takrannon 04 Dec 2007 at 5:12 am

    Comfort yourself Constance, for by inference in that article a certain type of fantasy, ‘high fantasy’, something I am passionate about, is pond life in comparison!

    http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2007/12/01/its-the-economy-stupid/#comments

    But then as a child of Moorcock and Peake I can see Hal holding that position. He is wrong in many ways, as is China.

    As Howard Jacobson wrote of Terry Eagleton (whom he has great respect for as a literary critic):

    ‘Few critics read a text better than Terry Eagleton, but he’s a
    Marxist – not some of the time, but all of the time, and you can’t be anything all of the time when it comes to art’.

    A work of literature is not irrelevant because it does not explicitly or even accidentally (and least of all by an act of grafted on deconstructionist revisionism) deal with the iniquities of class or worse: seem to reinforce them.

    And Tolkien is far from perfect, but the sum remains greater than the imperfect parts.

    I did respond on LJ,

    http://syndicated.livejournal.com/jeffvandermeer/122069.html

    Not realising that it was in fact Catherynne M. Valente guesting on Jeff’s journal. Too post-modern for a reactionary dodo fantasist like me! Couldn’t get me brain round it!

    Juliet E McKenna pwnd a lot of the old hat arguments about that, here:

    http://www.julietemckenna.com/articletolkien.html

    Which came out of a panel she was on with China Mieville once.

    So while SF might not have the sales, it has nowhere near the contempt THE fantasy has! (Which, perverse as I am, lets me know I am doing something right in investing my passion in it!)

  4. Constance Ashon 06 Dec 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Well, at least nobody in the article suggests we walk about, In Public, where we can be seen, and maybe even have photos and / or videos made of us, while wearing t-shirts of buttocks farting rainbows. That’s so good for the genre profile.

    Particularly after what I saw Our Citz of a Certain Sort wearing outside the country this summer: t-shirts proudly emblazoned with, “I Am Texan, I Fart in Your Face Because I Can” issuing from, of course, mooning buttocks. Among these gatherings of Europeans from all over and people from other nations, NOBODY wore anything rude and offensive, much less like that. Indeed, they tended to dress with a great deal of style.

    Love, C.

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