Monday, May 6, 2013


Science fiction is in a unique--note I do not say superior--position to respond to the disenchantment of the world because it is the only literature that has taken as necessarily its central concern the very worldview that, to put it in perhaps overly schematic terms, leads to/results from this disenchantment. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, I urge you to read the linked posts, and ideally the book they're reviewing, carefully.)

That much sf has been and continues to be unskeptical boosterism is indisputable, but also irrelevant in terms of this unique position--that is to say, in terms of a potential which has been realized or not to various degrees in different works. At any rate, a great deal of sf is much more nuanced as regards the disenchantment than popular opinion might suggest, even where its writers might disagree (or claim to); and even that sf which is not anything more than unskeptical boosterism still often--though far from always!--has much to say to us.

The other areas of writing most often discussed alongside sf, in terms of either similarities or differences, are the mainstream, realism, postmodernism, and genre fiction (all of which really should have quotation marks around them, because a quartet of more tendentious terms can hardly be imagined). The first and last are certainly relevant--in discussions of economics. It is my belief, though, that beyond this these four (overlapping) areas of writing have essentially nothing to say to sf, and vice versa.

For the reasons above, however, it is my belief that modernism and sf, though rarely if ever discussed together, do have very much to say to one another. Some disclaiming may be necessary: for example, it is important not to erase the very real differences between modernism and sf; and the meanings and uses of both terms (as well as the one I used above in only its most general sense: literature) must be strongly and frequently interrogated. But disclaimers aside, the statement still stands.

I had all this written out much better on a sticky note, but I lost it on the bus.

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