Don't Fence Me In
Then, walking to the Farmer’s Market (yeah, I’ve been getting really bourgeois lately), I became more and more enraged by Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s piece in Asimov's, mostly because it exemplifies the lamentably pious, holy-than-thou obsession with definitions that's becoming rife in the science-fiction community. If you really want to kill SF as a genre, go right ahead and tell people what is and what isn’t really SF, and don’t forget to exclude people whose work borrows from and expands on the central themes and tropes of the genre simply because they forgot to include a heroic narrative or some other tick mark that meets the approval of the Guardians of the True Quill.
Listen, here’s the secret. There’s no one right way to write a novel. There’s no one correct style, or tense, or subject, or angle of attack. But the one thing all novelists should be doing is aiming at the Universal nerve. Literary novelists try to hit the Universal by particularising the experiences and inner life of a character. Science-fiction novelists try to hit the Universal by particularising the Universe. And since the Universe contains pretty much everything, SF should be a big, roomy mansion that welcomes all kinds of fantastic fiction. Instead, it’s becoming a shabby little theme park jealously guarded by self-appointed narrow-minded gate-keepers. If you want to save SF, argue right back. Better still, laugh at them. Because their Achilles heel is this: they don’t have any sense of humour.
And while we’re at it, what’s this American obsession with the New Wave? Look, it happened thirty years ago. It shook things up a bit, it added some useful stuff to the common humus of the genre, but the people responsible have moved on. It isn’t around anymore. It’s as dead as a parrot. So why are people still acting as if filthy dirty New Wavers are about to ravish their precious little genre and piss on the furniture afterwards? Get over it, or get out of the way.