Friday, November 23, 2012

Stop Combining Science Fiction and Fantasy Into the Same Category!

Yes, I know there are some pretty big literary awards and many shows, books, and films that blend them into science fantasy, but we're not really talking about stuff  like Star Wars; we're talking about how it's become acceptable to categorize two different types of stories into one "geek" category — because something like Dragon Lance totally has everything in common with a book like Contact.

I see this all the time when people make lists. It seems that it occurs mainly to expand a pool of things to choose from. I know I can't make a top 100 greatest science fiction novels ever written list because there aren't that many I'd even consider to be great. And likewise, I can't do it with Fantasy. The serious talent is much rarer, and that's probably the biggest trait these genres share.

If you ask somebody who their favorite science fiction or fantasy author is, you will mainly hear these answers: Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Orson Scott Card, Issac Asimov, Frank Herbert, George Orwell, J.R.R.Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and even J. K. Rowling. I'm not saying they don't deserve being named ever; I'm just saying the fact that you'll most likely hear the same names over and over again means the pickings are rather slim.

Also, I think by generalizing them into this dork genre, it marginalizes the more serious stuff. And that generalization sends a message to the public that these stories are only for social outcasts and weirdos. Don't get me wrong; I likes me some outcasts and weirdos, but how are we going to get some of these great works into the hands of the average person if we're assigning it all to a marketing demographic that they're light-years away from? We're talking about the people who probably need to read this stuff the most! Hell, I've even heard literary geeks cry about Vonnegut being labeled as science fiction as if that was the worst insult you could ever give his work, or maybe they just really hated Tralfamadorians.

Anyways, despite my love of both, you won't find them intertwined on my book shelves! And they shouldn't be on yours, either! Don't let this stereotype prevail. A lot of people are often surprised to learn that literary fiction and post modernism are my favorite genres. They see me with a dragon claw necklace and think I wack off to Lord of the Rings and listen to bands like Sonata Arctica all day; my favorite musical genre is actually Jazz. But I digress, this is all probably just a justification for wanting to rant about something that annoys me.

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