Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why is Science Fiction So Sneered At?

That's the question recently posed by the Spectator.

From the piece...

In recent years the question of why the literary mainstream continues to marginalize and ignore writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy has become a live issue, perhaps most eloquently demonstrated by the furious reaction to the BBC’s shabby and offhand treatment of the genres in its World Book Night program, The Books We Really Read.

As someone who reads widely in both fields it’s an irritation I have some sympathy with. Where forty years ago any reader worth their salt would have at least a passing knowledge of SF authors such as J.G. Ballard, Brian Aldiss and Ursula Le Guin, many now wear their ignorance of the form proudly, dismissing it with the same shudder they reserve for Twilight.

At least part of this shift stems from the fading of the notion of the avant garde Ballard and others operated within, a process that is itself a small part of a larger shift in the idea of what literature’s role should be. It’s possible Michel Houllebecq believes, as Ballard once did, that the novel is capable of rewiring reality, but he’d be one of the few.

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