Intergalactic Medicine Show     Print   |   Back  

Question and Answer
    by Orson Scott Card

OSC was recently asked this question and we thought the answer might be of interest to IGMS readers.

Question: What do you think about the way science fiction is perceived by mainstream critics?

OSC's Reply: Fortunately for science fiction, we were ignored or treated with disdain by the critics and academics through our formative decades. Left to ourselves, we developed our own critical standards, had our own literary movements, and therefore grew and expanded by leaps and bounds -- while "mainstream" literature remained ossified, doing the same things over and over and still calling them "experimental" after nearly a century.

Modernism took over academia early on, and despite the cosmetic changes, the same canon continues; even multiculturalism didn't really challenge the canon, it just added to it the works of literature from other cultures that most closely reflected the values of Modernism.

Science fiction was, in fact, the next great literary revolution after Modernism -- arriving right on generational schedule. It immediately attracted the best and the brightest of young readers -- there are statistics on readers of the various genres, and sci-fi wins on IQ every time -- which drove the academics crazy, because they had already decided what "literature" was and none of their dogmas was relevant to science fiction. Behaving like normal human beings, the academic-literary tribe condemned what they did not understand.

More recently, however, the kids who grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy have become the professors at the universities. So far, they are still praising most of the books that least resemble sci-fi and most resemble the Modernists (i.e., performing the same tedious "experiments"), but more and more, the actual values and techniques of science fiction are creeping into the discourse.

At the same time, though, science fiction is fading as a genre precisely because our revolution has so successfully permeated the culture. We have, in a sense, become the literature; most of the hot new writers today are actually writing science fiction, or freely using the techniques invented there, no matter what label is on their books. This makes it less necessary for the genre to exist, and most of the best new speculative fiction writers are creating fantasy rather than sci-fi.

  Copyright © 2024 Hatrack River Enterprises   Web Site Hosted and Designed by