Hoyt and the Redheaded Step Genre

Sarah Hoyt has a simply excellent meditation on her blog about her early love of science fiction (where I notice she is a fan of all the authors I love) about the narrowness of her teachers, and about the bitter and boring and petty narrowness of those who confuse ‘serious literature’ with good and deep and thoughtful literature.


She is in rare form, and this column should be the rallying cry of all of you who love science fiction and who do not love the locusts coming to eat up the fruit of our imaginations ,nor the harpies coming to befoul our feasts.

I must add: she and I are clearly clones from the same vat, because I also came across some dork who argued that 1984 and Brave New World were not science fiction (despite the presence of props like genetic manipulation, tactile-sensation movies, universal pharmaceutical control of the population, book-writing machines, earthquake weapon,  and twenty-five hour clocks) on the sole ground that is was serious.

As if a space opera like Doc Smith’s Lenseman series did not contain a meditation on the nature of prediction and free will, or the advantages of a free commonwealth over a totalitarian slave-empire; or as if Asimov’s Foundation trilogy or Heinlein’s Future History was likewise empty of big ideas.

And here I thought I was the only one who ever came across a doofus so dooferific as to claim that the definition of science fiction was that it was shallow, when, in fact, it dares far more often into far deeper philosophical waters than most mainstream literature.

Even as lighthearted an adventure story as A PRINCESS OF MARS contains a speculation, in this case about the loss of the family structure conditioned upon communal rearing of the young leading to a gradual loss of all sympathy and human fellow-feeling, which is a speculation philosophically deeper (and more pertinent to the present generation) than any thought in the last few mainstream novels I read.

For the record, those last few novels are GONE WITH THE WIND by Mitchell, EMMA by Austin, EMPIRE OF LIES by Klavan (or is a thriller considered genre fic hence not mainstream? It was not Sf), THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Dostoyevsky, ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH by Solzhenitsyn, and …. and …. uh… by Saint Jehoshaphat, I do not read many mainstream novels, do I?

Any way, go read Sarah Hoyt’s blog and look at the moving pictures. She is funny and to the point.