12 May, 2009

Editorial: Bias and Speculative Fiction

     You have all seen the slight head shake or heard an offhanded comment when telling someone of your interest in science fiction or fantasy. Maybe it was a downcast look or a snide: "I don't read that kind of stuff", but if you have come out of the closet with your interest in science fiction or fantasy, I would bet my lunch money that you have met with your fair share of upturned eyebrows and forced nods.
     Bias can be defined as:
     Unreservedly, I feel that I am safe in saying that there is still significant bias out there against science fiction and fantasy in its many forms. However, I do not intend to paint those people who legitimately dislike the genre as somehow evil or repulsive. They are entirely entitled to their views, which I will honor and respect. This article is aimed primarily at those who snub the genre, yet have virtually no exposure to it, and consequently propagate a stereotype that is mostly unmerited and just plain wrong.
     The impetus for this post came from reading Calling Utopia a Utopia, by Ursula K. LeGuin (found through Variety SF). Her article, in response to an editorial at the New York times over the death of J. G. Ballard, briefly illustrates the kinds of insidious and inherent bias that can still be found throughout the literary world against speculative fiction. Leading from her article, I am going to discuss and analyze the origins of bias against speculative fiction, and then take a brief look at whether or not sentiment is changing.
     As I don't want to bore all of you with a lengthy diatribe, this discussion will be a two part series structured as follows: "The Origins Past and Present of Bias against Science Fiction and Fantasy" for tomorrow, and "Will the Blockbuster Vindicate Us?" for the day after. I hope that this topic is of interest to you, as I have already found many facts, both historical and psychological that have given me a fascinating new take on the subject. Till tomorrow my fellow enthusiasts!


Jam Lebrilla said...

Oh wow, I never thought that people's general opinion of science-fiction was that it was inferior. Why would they think that? We have just as much beautiful literature in this genre as in any other. And they make more sense too. Besides, I haven't read one fantasy book that's better or even equal to Brave New World.

mutineer826 said...

When were you born? It can't have been before Star Wars. And even then, SF was considered a fringe area. Few considered it "real" literature. Those of us who were drawn to it were caricatured as geeks and weirdos. Today, however, many of us have what the market wants.

bloggeratf said...

@ mutineer826

Were you talking to me or Jam? If you read the next post up from this one I try and downplay the geek aspect a bit, but its implicitly admitted.

Tomorrow's post will be how that has changed in the last couple years.