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Jetse de Vries on “Should SF Die?”

Dutch editor and writer Jetse de Vries discusses the future (and present) of science fiction in Should SF Die? over at the Shine Anthology blog. Jetse addresses issues of race, international SF, commercial concerns and much more in this thoughtful essay.

My viewpoint is that SF is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and that lack of relevance can be attributed to developments and trends already mentioned in the points above, and SF’s unwillingness to really engage with the here-and-now. That doesn’t mean that SF needs to die (actually, a slow marginalisation into an increasingly neglected and despised niche-cum-ghetto is probably a fate worse than death), but it does mean that SF needs to change, and that it needs to become much more inclusive of the alien (and I mean alien in ‘humans-can-be-aliens-to-each-other’ sense) and proactive, meaning it should not just shout ‘FIRE! FIRE!’ (and do almost nothing but), but both man the fire trucks *and* think of ways to prevent more fires.

That none of the 57 Hugo Awards for Best Novel have been won by people of colour (and 15 by women), is not a good sign. That all of the SFWA Grand Masters are white, and that only 3 of the 27 SFWA Grand Masters are women doesn’t help matters, either. Compare this with a literary prize like the Man Booker Prize (where 8 people of colour, and 15 women have been awarded among the total of 43 recipients), or the Nobel Prize for Literature (where 9 people of colour, and, admittedly, only 9 women have been awarded among the total of 106 recipients), then one can clearly see that SF still has way to go in that respect. OK: one could also say that the whole of western literature has quite a way to go in that respect, but I do note that the number of ethnic and women recipients of both literature and SF prizes has been going up since, say 1960 or so. If looked from that perspective, SF has much more catching up to do than literature.

Read the rest of the essay!

December 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

2 Comments

  1. I think it doesn’t help that there seems to be a subset of SF writers and fans who seek to excise from SF anything they don’t think conforms to their narrow vision of the genre (usually the while, male, ‘ideas’ type). If SF were to fully embrace the full variety of the genre, I don’t think its future would look bleak at all. There are plenty of different people writing Speculative Fiction that uses a future timeline (and therefore cannot be termed fantasy?) that is not ideas-based but uses sociological elements or just a cracking plot.

    Comment by Patty Jansen | December 25, 2009

  2. More diversity will come to the genre with time. But Jetse has penned an amazing essay reflecting where things are now.

    Since my own daughter loves science fiction, and since my wife is eagerly editing my latest SF novel, I say the future is bright.

    Comment by Joe Chiappetta | December 25, 2009


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