Over at SF Signal, Charles Tan interviews World SF Blog contributor Athena Andreadis:
Athena Andreadis was born in Greece and lured to the US at age 18 by a full scholarship to Harvard, then MIT. She does basic research in molecular neurobiology, focusing on mechanisms of mental retardation and dementia. She is an avid reader in four languages across genres, the author of To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek and writes speculative fiction and non-fiction on a wide swath of topics. Her work can be found in Harvard Review, Belles Lettres, Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, Stone Telling, Cabinet des Fées, Bull Spec, Science in My Fiction, SF Signal, The Apex Blog, World SF, SFF Portal, H+ Magazine, io9, The Huffington Post, and her own site, Starship Reckless.
CT: Related to definitions, do you think genre boundaries are important? Or is it part-and-parcel of our genre, the way that Star Wars and Dune is considered science fiction when there’s a lot of fantasy elements in it?
AA: I think that genre boundaries are neither important nor useful. They may be convenient for publishers, bookstore shelvers and people who want to re-read the same thing over and over. But the most interesting work is always at the liminal areas, between worlds.
You’re probably aware I detest Star Wars, which combines the most pernicious clichés not only of SF and F, but also of triumphalist ersatz mythology and the cruelties of several religions (analyzed in my essayWe Must Love One Another or Die). Dune is a bit better, though not by much; it has a tad more imagination. Of course, space opera is invariably more F than SF: it routinely relies on scientifically impossible concepts – stable wormholes, FTL, a plethora of earthlike planets… not that hard SF is much better, mind you; as I said once, hard SF is at best sciency and its relationship to real science is like truthiness to truth. Its claims to verisimilitude are usually achieved by Hemingwayesque tricks. – read the full interview!