I wasn’t going to mention the recent little spat about mainstream writers ‘borrowing’ SF tropes, kicked off by Jason Sanford’s article, ‘Dipping Their Toes in the Genre Pool: The US literary Establishment’s Need-Hate Relationship with Speculative Fiction’, published in the New York Review of Science Fiction. The affair was even summarised in the Guardian’s From the Blogs feature - yes, in a mainstream newspaper. Gosh. Matthew Cheney wrote an acerbic deconstruction, Sanford replied, and off it went. Anyway, the Nature discussion did get sidetracked on definitions of SF, and then I came across something Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his collection Wampeters, Foma & Granfallons:
‘[Science fiction} writers are joiners. They are a lodge. If they didn’t enjoy having a gang of their own so much, there would be no such category as science fiction. They love to stay up all night, arguing the question, "What is science fiction?" One might as usefully inquire, "What are the Elks? And what is the Order of the Evening Star?"’
And then this bunch of mainstream writers turns up at the party unannounced, and they don’t even have the decency to bring their own bottle...