Sci-Fi is the Rodney Dangerfield of the book world

25 Jan

I just encountered an interesting article (that has absolutely nothing to do with robots) by Clive Thompson on WIRED. He says: “If you want to read books that tackle profound philosophical questions, then the best — and perhaps only — place to turn these days is sci-fi. Science fiction is the last great literature of ideas.” I completely agree…and that’s probably why I’m such a huge fan of science fiction. It’s all about the ideas.

He also asks: “So, then, why does sci-fi, the inheritor of this intellectual tradition, get short shrift among serious adult readers?” …and that is a question I’ve thought about many times. (Mostly when I recommend some type of sci-fi story to a friend and they act like I just asked them to eat their own poop. The only thing I’ve encountered that gets less respect than science fiction is comic books. And sci-fi comics? I keep those to myself…some of you just aren’t ready for things like Dreadstar. At least not until someone makes a movie. Anyway, I digress.) I’m sure the pulp adolescence of science fiction doesn’t help it’s credibility, but it seems like somebody might have noticed that sci-fi authors think. And the readers do too.

The evidence is right here: Sci-Fi Is the Last Bastion of Philosophical Writing

edit 1-29-08:

Children of the Mind

I just finished reading Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card and in the afterword he mentions the term “junbungaku“, which apparently means “pure literature or belles lettres“. He then goes on to say:

“I do not believe the tools of science fiction are any less suitable to the task of creating junbungaku than the tools of contemporary serious literature, though of course we who wield the tools may fail to use them to best advantage.”

I completely agree…and that’s probably why I believe that science fiction is as equally valid as contemporary serious literature. We just need more great minds wielding those sci-fi tools. And the best way for that to happen is to remove the stigma on science fiction.

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