The Early Days of a Better Nation

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'... we might as well just call them all literature'

Scotland on Sunday books editor Stuart Kelly reviews Adam Roberts' New Model Army, China MiƩville's Kraken, and my The Restoration Game.

He points to 'one of the great ironies of contemporary literature: the books that ask the deepest and most profound questions tend to be situated in the most marginalised of genres.'

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That's not irony: that's characteristic, historical, and probably inevitable.

And anyway science fiction isn't marginalized anymore.

I don't even understand why people are surprised by any of this.

--Lucy Kemnitzer

Great to hear from you, Lucy.

Stuart Kelly is actually a very good friend of the literatures of the fantastic, and has shown it in his coverage of SF etc in the paper's review page as well as in various events. But he has a very mainstream audience to address, so he's bending over backwards a little here.

Tee hee. Literature, eh, he finally gets it. First the bookstores, next the libraries. Nothing sacred. Next they'll be shelving the graphic novels in with the word books and then it will be all the YA and children's books in with the grown-up stuff and how will anyone find anything they like, if it isn't just where they left it? When the poetry and nonfiction are on the same shelves our work will be done.

Lucy (ritaxis) - thinking about it, you are of course right. It's almost a truism to say that the deepest questions are raised in the least respectable genres. The respectable genres are such because of the questions they don't raise. When writers in literary fiction do raise such questions they find themselves writing fantasy and SF whether they admit it or not.

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