Why don’t we love science fiction?

Hello all –

Sorry I’ve been so quiet of late–a combination of a cold and trying to finish a freelance project I’ve been working on with the deadline fast approaching. Don’t worry–it’ll get done 🙂

But I wanted to come out of seclusion to highlight this article, ‘Why Don’t We Love Science Fiction?‘, from the (Sunday) Times Online.

It’s a wonderful interview with Brian Aldiss that makes a passionate argument for the desperate need the world has for science fiction right now. It’s written from a British perspective, but you can easily substitute in Canadian, American, Russian, German, etc. disdain for SF and come out with the same message: that science fiction (not fantasy or horror or ‘new weird’) is, as the article points out “the most vivid and direct chronicler of our anxieties about the world and ourselves, what Mary Shelley called ‘the mysterious fears of our nature’…How could fiction avoid considering possible futures in a world of perpetual innovation? And how could science begin to believe in itself as wisdom, rather than just truth, without writers scouting out the territory ahead? Which is why this widely despised genre should be read now more than ever.”

Ahhhh… Now that’s encouraging. Would that more people would take that advice. I feel energized just reading that; makes me want to go and write something.

And, thanks to this article, I finally know what I want on my tombstone:

“The literary snobs will say it’s badly written, which most of it is. So is most ‘literary’ fiction. Badly written literary fiction is, however, wholly unnecessary. There’s a lot of badly written SF that is driven by an urgent journalistic desire to communicate. That is necessary.”

– S.

2 thoughts on “Why don’t we love science fiction?

  1. It takes two to tango: critics can say whatever they want, but if people don’t listen it hardly matters. The problem is that in the case of science fiction, the critics are being critical and the people are listening.

    They’re listening, but not necessarily to the critics: the convergence is unfortunately complimentary. Critics are hidebound and work from hindsight. Many of them still have the cover of Amazing 1926 in their heads when considering SF.

    The people are ‘listening’ because science fiction is too hard. Who wants literature you have to think about to enjoy when you can watch foxnews instead?

    Science fiction is amazingly predictive though. Passing familiarity with “The Marching Morons” is the only roadmap you need for what’s going on today.

  2. I think the previous comment hit the nail on the head: people shy away from too much cognitive effort. Aristotle said that there is pleasure in learning, but take people too far outside their comfort zone (ie. change the nature of reproduction, warfare, physics, religion, etc) and they tend to put the book down and say “That could never happen,” as a means to reassure themselves. And “outside the comfort zone” is where science fiction lives.

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