Monday, April 30, 2007

What It's Not

Over at Lou Ander’s blog, there’s some lively discussion about whether the reaction to Kurt Vonnegut's death and Ray Bradbury’s Pulitzer Prize are signs that science fiction is about to get its long-overdue rehabilitation. Amongst other things, he mentions the pretzel logic deployed by one of Battlestar Galactica’s executive producers to distance the series from genre antpong*:

'It's fleshed-out reality,' explains executive producer Ronald D. Moore in the sci-fi mag SFX. 'It's not in the science-fiction genre.'

Too true. Because as far as SF is concerned, ‘fleshing-out’ reality doesn’t go far enough. SF is about leading reality into really bad habits. It’s about giving reality a shot of something dark and nasty that turns its tiny little mind upside down and inside out. It’s about setting fire to the audience’s preconceptions and burying the ashes six feet deep under the foundations of something new and strange and utterly wonderful. Just to begin with, you understand. After that, it lights out for the Territory, ahead of the rest. That’s when the real fun starts.

So if rehabilitation means that SF is taken seriously for what it is, and we no longer have to listen to people who disrespect it out of reflex snobbery, then I’m all for it. Just as long as it doesn’t mean that SF has to become all respectable and sivilised, and has to start behaving itself as far as reality is concerned.

*Coined by John Clute. I wish I could remember where.


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