Saturday, September 19, 2009

Best British Literature ... is Sci-Fi

Alison Flood in today's Guardian reports that award-winning science-fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (left) has hit out at the literary establishment, more particularly Booker judges for ignoring science fiction, which he calls

... the best British literature of our time.
Literary fiction he says, usually turns out to be historical novels (and that is certainly true of most of the books on this year's shortlist) :

In his original piece published in New Scientist (and very well worth reading) he says :

... these novels are not about now in the way science fiction is. Thus it seems to me that three or four of the last 10 Booker prizes should have gone to science fiction novels the juries hadn't read. Should I name names? Why not: Air by Geoff Ryman should have won in 2005, Life by Gwyneth Jones in 2004, and Signs of Life by M. John Harrison in 1997. Indeed this year the prize should probably go to a science fiction comedy called Yellow Blue Tibia, by Adam Roberts.
And he throws down this challenge to the magazine's readers (I reckon its one we could all take up) :

Read science fiction, read historical fiction, make your own judgement, and then talk about it. Try this as a kind of experiment: read 30 writers new to you. It's a big project, but what a lot of good reading would come of it. And New Scientist readers will be quickest of all to see that the literature that best expresses our time, that speaks to our time, is science fiction. How could it be otherwise? Our world is a science fiction. ... This is important, because you need the literature of your time. You can't get the meaning of our life in 2009 from historical fiction, nor from science alone. Novels serve us, and are treasured, because we want meaning, and fiction is where meaning is created. Scientifically minded people could perhaps conceptualise novels as case studies or thought experiments, both finer grained and wider ranging in their approach to meaning than cruder genres such as religion, psychology or common sense. A literary life is an ongoing moral education, a complete geography of the human world.
Incidentally, New Scientist also announced a Sci-Fi flash fiction competition, and nowhere in the rules does it say that it isn't open to international readers - so go for it.

2 comments:

Richard said...

Problem is sci-fi has no boundaries. If I describe myself cutting my toe nails on a boring afternoon in the year 2050, it's also sci-fi! :)

GeneGirl said...

Sharon, I sent in my entry. Thanks for posting the link as it just made me come up with variants of what I wanted it to be!! Hugs-