Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's not SF if it's good.

Regular readers will know that I get annoyed by ignorant snobs who think SF and Fantasy are intrinsically bad.

What's worse are those who try to redefine something as "not SF" if it is somehow good. My tally is currently as follows:
  • "Battlestar Galactica" is not SF because it is a socio-religious-political drama about people.
  • Ursula Le Guin's "Left-hand of Darkness" is not SF because it's a superb commentary on life and prejudice.
  • The literary author of the novel about a future Earth where pollution has destroyed the environment - but it's not SF because she doesn't write SF. (And how dare you suggest such a thing.)
  • There is move to redefine the late great J. G. Ballard as "not an SF writer" because he was great; now that he is also "late" they think they can get away with it because he's not around to argue.
Wouldn't surprise me if there was a move to claim that Torchwood: Children of Earth is not SF, purely because it was phenomenal.

Of course there are great writers like Iain Banks who enjoy telling their literary audience how much they also enjoy writing SF. I hope it makes them squirm.

(Another annoyance are people who, due to their ignorance, cannot tell the difference between SF and Fantasy. Referring to SF as Fantasy is not too bad, obviously it is "fantastical", but I mean the ones who call Fantasy, SF. Like a rather silly woman in Broadcast magazine this week.)

I've not been feeling well this weekend. Hence the rant.

What's on the turntable? Nuffink


Paul McIntyre said...

That SF denying literary author you're referring to is Margaret Atwood - after she released her novel 'Oryx and Crake' she went on the defensive saying that it wasn't sci-fi.

After reading it, I could kind of see her point - the focus of the story is more on jealousy and relationships rather than the dystopian fantasy future that forms its backdrop.

I think the problem might be that people associate sci-fi with Star Trek conventions and nerds dressed as klingons - hardly the most glamourous thing to want to associate yourself with.

Jon said...

I seem to recall that Nigel Kneale long denied that his work was Sci-fi. He apparently saw the fictional science element as being the catalyst to exploring the human reaction and consequence. The irony (to me) is that he was far more sci-fi than the ocassional episode of Star Trek (or whatever) that I've endured where the only SF element is being set in space- everything else could have been done on earth in different costumes on different sets.

I've never been able to understand how two groups arguing over peace treaties (or some such thing) is made any better (or sciencey) for being done with blue- or green-skinned aliens as opposed to groups of humans.